Amy Hundley writes in the New Yorker about a notorious recent case of unacknowledged literary quilting:
I [Hundley] was the editor at Grove/Atlantic to whom Quentin Rowan’s novel “Appearance and the Park” was submitted (“The Plagiarist’s Tale,” by Lizzie Widdicombe, February 13th & 20th). Widdicombe writes that the editor in question thought that “its plot was too close to that of another of the house’s books, ‘My Idea of Fun,’ by Will Self,” and I can only assume that this explanation came from Rowan. In fact, Rowan had lifted a passage nearly verbatim from Will Self’s novella “The Sweet Smell of Psychosis.” It was an especially delicious one, in which Self describes the media denizens of a particular bar. I recognized it immediately and informed his agent that he’d plagiarized it. Writing a plot similar to a successful novelist’s—something that can arise innocently—is very different from plagiarizing. Appropriating and remixing someone else’s work while acknowledging sources is also very different from attempting to pass off that work as one’s own. Rowan seems determined to communicate that he was never caught at his game until now, and that, somehow, publishing enabled him in his pathology. But he chose to plagiarize, and he’s lying about it now.
Once someone is outed as a plagiarist, it makes me less likely to trust anything else he writes. It’s pretty scary—or, should I say, it’s pretty “meta”—how Rowan now is apparently lying about how he lied about his lying. Shattered glass, indeed.
I’m glad that such things don’t happen in academic statistics. I’m pretty sure that if a statistician were caught plagiarizing, he’d give an immediate and sincere apology and do his best to make restitution for any public funds expended when he was plagiarizing instead of doing real research.