Famous Cases of Plagiarism


“Mrs. Simpson, don’t you worry. I watched Matlock in a bar last night. The sound wasn’t on, but I think I got the gist of it. ” –Lionel Hutz

There have been a lot of high profile plagiarism issues recently.  These cases can be used as tools to highlight the consequences of plagiarism for students. For example, Senator John Walsh suffered public shame and had his master’s degree revoked when it was discovered that he had plagiarized his thesis (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/11/us/politics/plagiarism-costs-degree-for-senator-john-walsh.html?_r=0).  Recently, potential presidential candidate Ben Carson came under fire for plagiarism in a recent book of his (http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/08/politics/carson-plagiarism-charges/).  Ben Carson’s scandal along with past plagiarism scandals by Joe Biden and Rand Paul promise to bring the issue of plagiarism into the spotlight during the upcoming presidential races.

Unfortunately, other cases of plagiarism are rampant. The actor Shia LaBeouf has had a long history of passing off other ideas as his own (http://time.com/6094/shia-labeouf-plagiarism-scandal/) and Vladimir Putin is apparently as good at plagiarism as he is at warmongering (http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1067113.html).  Other famous people who plagiarized include activist Jane Goodall, Roots author Alex Haley, and many more (http://www.politico.com/gallery/2014/07/10-high-profile-plagiarism-cases/001951-027782.html).  Sharing with your students these cases and the embarrassment committing plagiarism brought them can help students begin to realize the seriousness of plagiarism.

*Lionel Hutz picture and quote from http://consequenceofsound.net/

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