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Plaig!

This one is no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but . . . wow! Pretty blatant. Maybe someone could endow the Raymond Keene Chair of Cut-and-Paste in the statistics department at George Mason University. Anyway, say what you want about this dude, at least he’s classy. He steals not from Wikipedia but from Gary Kasparov:

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12 Comments

  1. ejh says:

    Thanks for covering this. It’s not just blatant but on an extraordinary scale. I doubt there’s been a more extensive plagiarist in the history of UK journalism than Ray Keene between 2011 and this year. The fact that his editors continue to turn a blind eye is quite extraordinary too.

  2. zbicyclist says:

    I’m not sure I see the motive for this. I tend to think of chess columns and bridge columns as similar. It’s pretty common in bridge columns to plug a book, and then give the write-up of a hand from that book, summarized to fit into the word count for the column, but probably not much changed. The book gets a plug, the columnist gets a column, the reader is entertained.

    So if he had just plugged Kasparov’s book and indicated his column depended heavily on Kasparov’s analysis, would his paycheck or his reputation have been hurt?

    • ejh says:

      I’m not sure I see the motive for this

      Well, laziness is one answer. Ray has a daily chess column (and a weekly one in The Spectator, also heavily plagiarised) and a busy social life. A daily newspaper column is actually hard work, which he doesn’t want to do.

      So why not just attribute? Well, because he’d have to do it so often, is one answer. But another is that Ray has for more than thirty years been in the habit of copying his own analysis from one book or column to another without saying it’s been published before. (He has a long, long record of misconduct in all sorts of fields, and he gets away with everything, including plagiarism, for reasons that are obscure even to long-time observers such as me, but probably involve being well-connected, having been at it so long that the publications can’t admit it without implicating themselve and the fact that it’s only the chess column so who cares.) Anyway, having been in the habit of passing off his own old work as new for so long, it was perhaps only a short step to passing off the work of others as his own, if only because he thought “why bother?”. And since he’s allowed to do it, why bother indeed?

  3. Nick Cox says:

    Not to defend this, but just to underline some variations in practice:

    Donald Knuth has pointed out that people are often lax about citing sources for problems (i.e. exercises) in mathematical and computing texts. Setting really good problems is harder than it may seem.

    In cookery journalism, there seems little or no tradition of citing sources, yet most recipes seem to be at best very minor variations on previous recipes. I don’t know if there have been rows about plagiarism. No doubt many cooks keep collections of cuttings; those I know personally never bother to record sources, and they don’t need to, but I’d guess the habit is widespread and self-perpetuating.

    To compile a dictionary of quotations, one would surely start with some dictionaries of quotations and select from each. (Naturally you might add some more.) A dictionary of quotations that didn’t overlap with others would be mighty odd, unless it was the first in a very restricted field (e.g. quotations about MCMC). Detectable plagiarism here could only be that your dictionary was virtually identical to somebody else’s.

    • ejh says:

      It’s an interesting point, and it’s true that Ray is far from the only practioner of plagiarism in the history of chess literature (although he’s by far the most extensive). But when the Times and Spectator come out and say openly “we’re OK with this, it’s just normal practice” then perhaps that’s the time to discuss whether or not it might or might not be so. It’s their silence that’s perhaps the most shameful part of the whole saga.

      Oh, here is today’s post, in which we conclude a demonstration that Ray produced at least eight consecutive plagiarised columns in June this year.

    • Rahul says:

      One reason is, a lot of casual communication would become pretty tedious to read if one had to cite every source.

      I thank plagiarism, especially self plagiarism is an overrated offense.

      • Andrew says:

        Rahul:

        I do not think it would be at all tedious for Keene to write, “As Kasparov wrote” when he copies Kasparov’s published notes. I actually think it would be much clearer to know the source. We’re not talking about a lot of extra words here. Keene’s columns are pretty chatty as is, I think he could spare three words to tell us his source. Unless, just possibly, Keene doesn’t want his readers to know that he is copying. If he actually wants people to think that “Ray Keene” wrote these words, then indeed he has a motivation to not give the source. As an author, I find this behavior contemptible.

        Whether plagiarism is “overrated” is another question, hard for me to answer because I don’t know how it’s rated, exactly. I agree that there are a lot of crimes far worse, starting with mugging and embezzlement and going up from there.

  4. […] buffoons such as Ray Keene, who maintains a column at the London Times despite a career of the most blatant plagiarism imaginable. And when Keene isn’t plagiarizing, he and his associates are […]

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