Doug Wilson plagiarism Bingo

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 1.06.05 PMTo play: shuffle excuses, print them out, distribute to friends. Obviously, this is more Bing than Bingo, but it should provide for some entertainment while we wait to see how many of these regurgitated excuses we’ll hear from Doug Wilson before the dust settles. We’ve heard many of them from him before.

Thanks in no small part to Rachel Miller’s academic skills, we know that Doug Wilson has his name on the cover of at least four works (nine volumes in total, given that all six volumes of the Omnibus have his name on the cover) that contain plagiarism. In this latest instance, he is featured as an author and, perhaps more importantly, as an editor. Named editors are (in theory if not in practice) responsible for overseeing the compilation of text into a workable volume, and checking all the text for potential plagiarism. This includes sidebars and captions — in some cases, involves writing or directing the sidebars or captions, where applicable. “Editor” in this sense does not mean copyeditor, although it should involve some measure of that also — it means quality control overseer; editors are hired for their domain expertise and ability to get the best. And to do this, they should (in theory, if not in practice) oversee the final work and OK it for publication. As the managing editor for my magazine, I sign off on individual pages for publication. And I also oversee running corrections if we make a mistake, which we’ve been known to do.

So far, Doug Wilson’s response has shown a profound lack of awareness of his responsibility as an editor. Which means there are two options: either he has no idea what editors of academic volumes actually do, and has no business being one — or that he does have an idea, and is unwilling to take responsibility for his failings, which means he has no business being an editor or a pastor.

As to one of the points he raised about using open-source information in the copied Omnibus text: It is true that it is not uncommon to use open-source information to create glossaries, captions and so on. The problem is not using open-source information; it lies in acting as if this open-source information is proprietary; your own intellectual property. This is true even if you went to a lot of trouble to format and combine the information. For example: our magazine publishes a localization-industry glossary compiled with the help of any number of crowdsourced and open-source sites — and individual contributors. However, 1. we note that we used other sources, 2. nobody is listed as an author, and 3. we don’t sell it. It’s free online to everyone.

People create free, open-source information so it can be shared by everyone, not profited from by a few. Taking open-source data and changing a couple of lines, and then selling it, would be a little like stealing from the collection plate for personal use. Which, come to think of it, Doug Wilson doesn’t seem to have a problem with either.



6 thoughts on “Doug Wilson plagiarism Bingo

  1. I have been thinking a lot about why Wilson is getting his Mea Culpa so horribly/tragically wrong. He’s not stupid. He has to know, at some level, that these excuses simply don’t pass through the logic filter. Here is my attempt to psychologize to an explanation:

    Let’s assume that he truly owned up to these massive plagiarism problems. What would be the implications for New Saint Andrews (including his son, son in law, and whatever other family members might be teaching there)? What would be the implications to Canon Press (and his son, and whoever family members might be associated with that)? What would be the implications to Christ Church, Greyfriars, etc…

    Wilson’s world, and the world of so many closest to him, is completely intertwined in the above institutions that he created. Those who know how the real/normal academic world works know that these institutions could not possibly survive there. By continuing to make excuses – however lame – he can at least continue to appeal to a small group of brainwashed sheep who will follow him wherever.

    At this point he has lost any hope of operating in the real academic world – if that hope ever existed. So why not just continue to operate in the little world you created….The little world where you get to make all your own little rules?

    1. Exactly. Preserving his following is much more important than doing the right thing. And when you have your own captive crowd of students to inculcate, it’s easier to make up your own rules.

  2. 1. I think CJ is on to something about the Wilson bubble. Aside from building his little empire, what has he done other than a stint in the Navy as a young man? He literally can’t afford to have everything he has built crumble to the ground. Like so many of these pseudo celebrity pastors, this is all he knows how to do. Unlike the apostle Paul, he has nothing to fall back on, such as tent making.

    2. With Rachel’s research, I think it’s obvious that these Omnibus volumes are not worth the retail price of $100 each. I’m now also wondering if the education Kirk children get at Logos and NSA is worth the cost of whatever tuition they charge. I don’t know how many parents actually pulled up stakes to move to Moscow, ID just so they could put their kids in Wilson’s schools (as well as join his church), but I hope they’ve begun asking some hard questions of the elders and teachers. Wilson’s grand experiment was supposed to prove the superiority of classical schooling over all other types; I think they’ve managed to prove it ain’t necessarily so.

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