Hauser response to plagiarism allegations

So, I’m not sure exactly how I wound up covering this story here. Somehow I have this vague memory of posting a link. Then there was a green fog, and some comments, and tiny dogs riding tricycles, and Katie Holmes struggling to escape from her Katie-Holmes-shaped prison cell, except she had giant fangs, and next thing you know, here we are.

Anyway, a few days ago I mentioned that Gilbert Harman had reposted his mini-paper in which he lays out the case that Marc Hauser had taken many of the ideas in his book Moral Minds from a young researcher named John Mikhail, and that Hauser had not given Mikhail adequate credit for those ideas. Harman argues that Hauser’s qualifies as plagiarism, not of Mikhail’s words, but of his ideas.

A commenter noted that Hauser has responded to the allegations, and Harman provided a link to Hauser’s response, which he has posted on his webpage. You can view the response here. Briefly, Hauser argues 1) that many of the ideas in the book, which Harman claims were copied wholesale from Mikhail, were, in fact, indebted to a number of non-Mikhail sources, many of which predate Mikhail’s work (e.g., Chomsky), 2) that the scope and thrust of Moral Minds is quite different from Mikhail’s, and 3) that Harman seems to be lobbying for a standard of citation that is not at all standard in the field (or any field), and would result in books being completely overwhelmed with citations.

It is worth remembering that Harman himself has stated that his original allegations (which you can read here) were meant to be “a draft of a case for the prosecution and not a final verdict on this topic.” So I think that even Harman would not want any of us jumping to any conclusions without reading and considering Hauser’s response.

What I would love is to hear from someone out there who is familiar with the work in question, but is not connected to Hauser, Mikhail, or Harman. Does any such person exist out there?

Blog 4 Book Lovers review of Remarkable

So, regular reader will already know that my wife, Lizzie Foley, has her debut middle-grade novel coming out next April. I have already explained to you how excellent the book is, and how you should plan on buying it for your kid, and how you should buy a second copy for yourself.

Now, you may be thinking that since she is my wife, I’m not in a position to provide an unbiased assessment of her book. That may be fair in general, but in this case, my biased appraisal of the book also happens to be exactly correct.

As evidence, let me point you to this review, which was just posted at Blog 4 Book Lovers. Here’s an excerpt:

One of the many things about this book that impressed me was how the author juggled an incredible range of topics without making anything in the book seem ridiculous.  The story goes from pirates to sea monsters to fortune telling pizza makers.  I’d never read anything like that.  Another thing were the realistic characters – it must have been something in the writing, because I swear I could picture Jane right next to me.

Here’s a reminder of what the cover looks like (modulo any tweaking that happens in the next six months):

Buy. Read. Enjoy.

Sunday Linkasaurolophus: October 23, 2011

So, welcome back to Sunday Linkasaurolophus.

Remember, it’s like the Winter Linkolympics, but on just one ski.

1. Philosopher of Biology, blogger, and awesome-name-winner John Wilkins is looking for help to bridge a financial lacuna. If you’re in a position to loan or donate, please do. He’s one of the good guys.

2. Who says high schools aren’t preparing kids to function in our society? One consequence of the decade-long War on Terror™ (a wholly owned subsidiary of Haliburton) is the proliferation of secret courts, which are able to pass down judgments with absolutely no public scrutiny or oversight. Well, the kids are getting in education in twenty-first century American Justice at Alice High School in Texas, where a student was kicked off the cheerleading squad and suspended. The student claims that he is being punished for a same-sex kiss that was caught on one of the school’s surveillance cameras. The school says,

The Alice I.S.D. has recently reviewed the recent removal of a student from the Alice High School Cheerleading Squad. After reviewing the Alice I.S.D. Student Code of Conduct and the Cheer Program Handbook, the removal will stay in effect. The student’s parents are in agreement with the district’s decision. The student code of conduct and cheer handbook are designed to improve conduct and encourage students to adhere to their responsibilities as members of the school community. The student and parents are clearly aware that the student was not removed from the squad for kissing another student at school. While the student is free to discuss certain aspects of his discipline in the media, the District cannot discuss the specifics of this incident and must respect the privacy rights of the students involved in this matter.

Except, that the student’s family is not in agreement, and still claims it is about the kiss. But, you know, privacy concerns, so I guess we’ll just have to trust them. Via Jezebel.

3. Did you know that Oral Roberts has a gay grandson? Me either. He sounds awesome. He’ll be giving a series of public lectures starting today. Read about it here. And no, it appears he is no longer invited to family functions.

4. Global warming is real. Now most people who are not ideologically committed to global warming NOT being true already knew that. So what’s the news here? Well, a group of researchers called Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature has done a careful reanalysis of the major temperature records, and has concluded that, yes, things are getting warmer. The results are important in part because the group is not made up of existing members of the climate-science community, and in fact approached the question with a degree of skepticism. In a rational world, that would satisfy climate deniers. Oh well. Via The Economist.

5. And finally, if you haven’t seen it yet, here’s Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, and a whole crowd of folks singing at Columbus Circle in support of the Occupy movement. Via Boing Boing.

How would Cain’s 9-9-9 plan affect you?

So, something like four fifths of you would wind up paying more in taxes under Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax than you do under the current system. Which four fifths? The poor fifths, of course!

Which just makes sense, of course, because, as Cain says, “It is not someone’s fault if they succeeded, it is someone’s fault if they failed.” So, to you bottom four fifths of American households out there: you are failures, and you need to own up to it; these success yachts aren’t going to buy themselves!

But how, specifically, would the upside-down 6-6-6 plan affect you? Here is one of the best graphs ever, created by Brian Highsmith, and posted by Jared Bernstein. The bars show the change in tax liability for different American households under Cain’s plan:

Gilbert Harman plagiarism piece on Marc Hauser back up

So, a few weeks ago, I linked to a short piece written by Princeton Philosophy Professor Gilbert Harman in which Harman made the case that Marc Hauser’s book Moral Minds plagiarized the ideas of a young researcher named John Mikhail.

Then, suddenly, the Harman piece disappeared. Harman commented that he had not meant for the piece to go public. He had posted it to his website in order to get comments from a small circle of colleagues. When it received wider attention, Harman pulled it down so that he could give his ideas some more thought before publicizing his accusations.

Well, an expanded version of the piece is now back up. You can read it here. I haven’t diffed the files, but it looks like the original piece is still there, with some additional discussion at the end.

Connoisseurs of academic scandal, enjoy.

Hat tip to Laila Waggoner.

Edit: Post title had Marc Harman instead of Marc Hauser. Der . . .

Best postdoc ever: last call

So, a few weeks ago I posted about three-year postdoc opportunities at the Santa Fe Institute. This is a reminder, since applications are due on November 1. Go to the original post for a complete explanation of why you should be applying for one of these positions.

Here’s the short version: it’s three years of complete freedom to pursue whatever research you want in an intellectually stimulating transdisciplinary environment with a bunch of cool colleagues.

Read more about the fellowship and access the online application here.

What would baseball’s poet laureate actually be like?

So, apparently, there’s this guy, Tom Martin, who has been tweeting haikus about the Milwaukee Brewers (@brew_haiku). According to the Times baseball blog, Bats (via the Poetry Foundation), Martin is lobbying to become baseball’s poet laureate:

Tom Martin texts haikus about Brewers games on Twitter, and he wants to be baseball’s poet laureate, a role that has been vacant since, well, forever. (The late, great Dan Quisenberry wrote some pretty good poetry, but never earned the national superstardom and universal acclaim that comes with the title of poet laureate.) Martin’s verses celebrate the joys and sorrow of following the Brewers. Joys, from Sunday: “At Miller Park now/ready to go with game two/packed house is rocking!” Sorrows, from Wednesday: “It’s tough to win when/we can’t keep the ball in yard/see you on Friday.” It is as if Dick Stockton were calling a game, only concisely. 

Martin would be willing to work for no money, taking his compensation in the form of booze, just like any good poet. However, even this alco-altruistic stance is not consistent with baseball’s actual economics. The fact is, if baseball were to have a poet laureate, not only would the poet not get paid, they would have to pay baseball for “promotional consideration.” This would ultimately wind up with the poet laureate position being held by some multi-national corporation.

Which means that the haikus written by baseball’s poet laureate would look something like this:

Poet Laureate Citibank Group:

          Step up to the plate!
     Open a checking account,
          you’ll hit a home run!

Poet Laureate Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America:

          Steroids can be safe
     and effective. Unleash
          your inner champion!

Poet Laureate Bank of America:

          B of A, leading
     the league in stolen “bases,”
          by which we mean homes.

Poet Laureate Goldman Sachs:

          Slide into second
     quarter earnings with our new
          accounting methods!

Poet Laureate Novartis, makers of Ex-Lax:

          Try our new bunt cakes!
     Is your last meal “stuck on third”?
          Drop one in the grass!

Occupy Darwin Eats Cake

So, for the next . . . um . . . span of time . . . lasting, I guess from now until I run out of ideas, my Darwin Eats Cake webcomic is changing formats. Normally, it updates approximately twice a week, on approximately Monday and approximately Thursday, and the strips are mostly self contained. For now, though, the strips will be coming more frequently, and will form a continuing storyline.

This change was necessitated when Eleonora convinced the rest of the cast to go into New York and join the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Here are the first two installations in the new series:

Best URL for sharing:
Permanent image URL for hotlinking or embedding: 
Best URL for sharing:
Permanent image URL for hotlinking or embedding:

Like everything at Darwin Eats Cake, and all original material here at Lost in Transcription, these comics are licensed through Creative Commons, meaning that you’re free to share, copy, print, etc. them, preferably with attribution, and, ideally, a link back to the site.

Remember, sharing is caring 🙂

BREAKING: Rush Limbaugh is a lying sack of 5#!7

So, there may be some of you out there who thought that there must exist some level below which even Rush Limbaugh would not stoop in his partisan hackery.

You would be wrong.

You may have heard about how the US is now sending 100 military advisors to Uganda to help the government deal with the Lord’s Resistance Army. Now, this may or may not be a good idea strategically, and it may or may not help anything on the ground, and certainly the Ugandan government is no paragon of human rights, so it is certainly reasonable to question whether or not this is the best course of action.

But how would you voice that question if you were, say, a compulsive liar, hypocrite, and generally worthless human being? If your only consideration was making the Obama administration look as bad as possible?

Well, if you are a compulsive liar, hypocrite, and generally worthless human being whose name happens to be Rush Limbaugh, you question it by arguing that the Lord’s Resistance Army is a Christian group fighting to liberate Uganda from oppression.

Now, up until today, most Americans have never heard of the combat Lord’s Resistance Army. And here we are at war with them. Have you ever heard of Lord’s Resistance Army, Dawn? How about you, Brian? Snerdley, have you? You never heard of Lord’s Resistance Army? Well, proves my contention, most Americans have never heard of it, and here we are at war with them. Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians. It means God.

(quote via The Lede, where you can read a lot more about this)

The problem is that the LRA is actually a notorious group that engage in particularly horrific murders, and is heavily involved in sex trafficking, slavery, and so on.

Over at Boing Boing, Xeni Jardin shares this snippet from the Human Rights Watch report on a massacre recently carried out by the LRA in the Democratic Republic of Congo:

The vast majority of those killed were adult men, whom LRA combatants first tied up and then hacked to death with machetes or crushed their skulls with axes and heavy wooden sticks. The dead include at least 13 women and 23 children, the youngest a 3-year-old girl who was burned to death. LRA combatants tied some of the victims to trees before crushing their skulls with axes.

According to that report, 321 people were massacred in this incident. Many were also abducted, and those who were too slow to keep up were killed along the trail.

Note that in the world of reality, even the “reality” of US politics, this is not a partisan issue. The military advisors are being sent as a result of the “Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009.” The bill had 46 co-sponsors, including both Republicans and Democrats, and was passed unanimously by the Senate. It passed by a voice vote in the House, with no dissent.

So, whatever you might say about the people in congress, none of them are siding with this particular group of mass murderers, which is more than we can say for Rush.

But at least they’ve got the word “Lord” in their name.