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The Fundy Post: Sorry Seems to be The Hardest Word

The Fundy Post 19 - Sorry Seems to be The Hardest Word

(An online version of this post can be found at http://www.nzarh.org.nz/fundy/thepost019.htm )

Feeding Frenzy, anyone?
Help us choose a new logo for Maxim at http://aboutown.blogspot.com/2005/10/maxims-new-logo.html

Land O' Links

Well, it has been a busy couple of weeks. First the story of Bruce Logan's cutting and pasting in Fundy Post 18 was picked up by Russell Brown, then by various bloggers, then by the print, radio and TV media. For those who like links, here are some. For those that don't, normal service will be resumed below.

Fundy Post 18 was published on the NZARH site at at http://www.nzarh.org.nz/fundy/thepost018.htm and on About Town (http://aboutown.blogspot.com/2005/10/logans-ruin.html) the blog I have the honour of sharing with the Honorary Vice Patron of the New Zealand Fencible society http://aboutown.blogspot.com/2005/10/sux-2-b- u.html, amongst other notables. The notable Xavier made his own comments: http://aboutown.blogspot.com/2005/10/maximum-impact-odgers-2005.html

The story was taken up by Russell Brown has given extensive coverage on Public Address:

http://publicaddress.net/default,2627.sm#post2627
http://publicaddress.net/default,2637.sm#post2637
http://publicaddress.net/default,2638.sm#post2638


The first papers to pick up the story were The Press : http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3448100a11,00.html
and the Herald http://www.nzherald.co.nz/search/story.cfm?storyid=000A3FD2-BD36-1354-9C8483027AF10017
(sorry it's premium content; you have to pay to view). Yvonne Martin of the Press also wrote, on Saturday, an additional story on Page 3 and a full-page backgrounder in the news section; neither are online, alas.

On Wednesday last week, Russell Brown interviewed me on his radio show on 95bFM : http://www.95bfm.com/default,casts.sm;jsessionid=7DA8AF6CD4BDE6C7D598A6E8B0993750

Mary Wilson of Radio NZ's checkpoint interviewed me later that day: http://www.radionz.co.nz/nr/programmes/checkpoint/20051019

TV3 News covered the story and interviewed me.

TVNZ also covered the story: http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411749/620815


Radio NZ's Nine to Noon on Thursday led by interviewing Chris Banks, then Greg Fleming of Maxim; they also spoke to Paul Morris of Victoria University, who made some perceptive comments about Maxim: http://www.radionz.co.nz/nr/programmes/ninetonoon/20051020

The National Business Review has commented: http://www.nbr.co.nz/home/column_article.asp?id=13276&cid=1&cname=Media

Gay NZ has done two editorials: http://www.gaynz.com/aarticles/templates/features.asp?articleid=1020&zoneid=16 and http://www.gaynz.com/aarticles/templates/features.asp?articleid=1024&zoneid=16

On Thursday's Campbell Live on TV3, John Campbell attributed almost everything he said to Maxim. The show ended with David Bowie's song 'Fashion,' to accompany an article about NZ Fashion Week. Campbell introduced it, saying "the Maxim Institute wrote this song."

The story has also appeared on numerous blogs:

David Farrar at http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/archives/012239.html
Cut Fold and Glue at http://www.cfng.co.nr/index.php?post=1129785160
Tillnet at http://till.co.nz/tillnet/?p=361
The Everlasting Man at http://theeverlastingman.blogspot.com/2005/10/whats-up-at-fairfax-and-apn.html
and at http://theeverlastingman.blogspot.com/2005/10/plagiarism-or-be-damned.html
Spleen at http://vital.org.nz/blog/2005/10/20#maxim
AgriChristian at http://agrichristian.blogspot.com/2005/10/maxim-institute-are-here-to-stay.html#comments
Comrade Tweek at http://comradetweek.blogspot.com/2005/10/tweek-of-week-17-october-2005-well-its.html
Joe Hendren at http://joehendren.blogspot.com/2005/10/is-maxim-director-bruce-logan-also.html
Trivium at http://trivium.gen.nz/2005/10/20/why-we-need-to-be-squeaky-clean/
Big News at : http://big-news.blogspot.com/2005/10/loganed-and-littericked-this-is-not.html#comments
Party Vote Act at: http://partyvoteact.blogspot.com/2005/10/fuck-press.html
Sir Humphrey's at: http://sirhumphreys.blogspot.com/2005/10/plagiarism-or-point-scoring.html
Stephen Thomas Cooper at: http://redbears.blogspot.com/2005/10/maxim-intellectually-bankrupt.html#comments

Finally, someone has tried to introduce the phrase "pulling a Litterick" into the language:http://aboutown.blogspot.com/2005/10/im-meme.html

This is going to be a hard act to follow.

Wait, there's more

But follow it we must: Christchurch readers can skip this bit, because The Press has already reported it, but the rest of New Zealand should know that Maxim's plagiarism issues are not confined to Bruce Logan.

In The Independent of 7 May 2003 Dr Michael Reid, then a researcher with the Maxim Institute, wrote Giving aid doesn't right the wrongs of terrorism, which was on Maxim's site at
(http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/news_page/givingaid.html) until this week, but has gone down the memory hole, along with all of Bruce Logan's work. Reid is now Maxim's Senior Policy Analyst.

It includes four paragraphs that have been taken in part from Sustainable Development: Promoting Progress or Perpetuating Poverty? edited by Julian Morris published by Profile Books, London, August 2002. The first chapter, from which Reid borrows, is available here: http://sdnetwork.net/page.php?instructions=page&page_id=221&nav_id=131


Reid
Property rights
The institution of private property more than anything else has enabled people to escape the mire of poverty. Property rights are capital; they provide incentives for people to invest in their land as well as provide an asset against which to borrow.


Morris (page 5)
It is the institution of private property that, more than any other, has enabled people to escape from the mire of poverty. Property rights are capital; they give people incentives to invest in their land and they give people an asset against which to borrow...

Reid
Intellectual property rights Strong, readily enforceable intellectual property is particularly important for those products and processes that require large investments in research, development and marketing. Patent and copyright protection law allows creativity to flourish.

Morris (page 6)
Strong, readily enforceable intellectual property is particularly important for those products and processes that require large investments in research, development and marketing.

Reid
Freedom of contract
This includes both the freedom to contract - the freedom to make whatever agreements one desires, subject to fair and simple procedural rules - and the freedom from contract - the freedom not to be bound by the decisions of others. This is an essential part of the freedom to associate with others.


Morris (page 7)
Another fundamental institution for sustainable development is freedom of contract. This includes both the freedom to contract – the freedom to make whatever agreements one desires, subject to fair and simple procedural rules – and the freedom from contract – the freedom not to be bound by the decisions of others...


What do we make of all this, then? Before we do that, let us take a moment to guffaw uncontrollably about the irony that Dr Reid took someone else's words to make a point about intellectual property rights...

And we're back. Let's take a look at what Greg Fleming, Maxim's CEO, had to say to Eva Radich on National Radio's Nine to Noon last Thursday. For example: "I have spoken to a large number of writers and journalists over the last three days and every single one of them has expressed relief that it's their work [sic] that's been dragged through this process" Leaving aside the slur against journalists, was one of those writers Dr Reid, I wonder? Mr Fleming claimed this would not happen again, since they had "invested quite heavily in" some software called Reference Manager, that does what it says on the box: it manages references. Now I know my software and Reference Manager is not a plagiarism detector. It is used for citations in academic publishing; it is not a lie detector.

Mr Fleming also said that Maxim had apologised unreservedly. This is the statement he made in Maxim's Real Issues of 20th October:


The following is a statement that was released on Tuesday 18th October 2005 in response to criticism of the inadequacy or omission of citation of sources used and quoted in some of Bruce Logan's published material:

"Two web bloggers have since sought to link my wider writing with ideas and wording sourced from other publications.

There is some validity to this claim: ideas and even the wording, from external sources have been applied by me to the New Zealand context. This has not, however, been done with any deliberate attempt to misquote or mislead. The work I am engaged in is debating and promoting ideas and in this I freely acknowledge I owe much to the work of others. I believe that the ideas discussed have generic applicability and deserve to be heard and debated in New Zealand. In some cases, writers have provided direct authority for this but full acknowledgement and accuracy of citation has not always been present in others. I unreservedly apologise for this and assure readers of increased attention and vigilance concerning this matter in the future."

Maxim Institute's Board of Trustees has received an explanation from Bruce Logan, which, while it does not excuse what has occurred, is sufficient to satisfy us that the errors were honest and not intended to deceive. Maxim Institute expresses its disappointment and has taken internal measures to ensure this does not occur in the future. (http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/current_page/ri.php?issue=179#179.4)

By way of comparison, this is what an unreserved apology looks like:

sorry


Spot the difference. Fleming did not apologise unreservedly at all; he flailed around making excuses about hand-written notes and assimilating ideas. He also claimed this was a common problem: "I think if that was the standard to be applied, that because someone has committed this type of error they're no longer able to write or research, then I think you'd find about ninety percent of people involved in writing and journalism in this country would be shuddering at the the thought themselves."

He also said that I had committed plagiarism: "For example, Paul Litterick from the Humanist Society, his own work has been put through the same copy scan mechanism that Bruce's was put through, and I guess it's no surprise but probably just as disappointing that Paul's work similarly comes up with large degrees of uncited work."

Oh does it now? After the programme, I was emailed by a very well-known legal expert, who offered to advise and who also emailed Maxim to invite them to substantiate Fleming's comments. Their response was to send links to two blogs, both of which had made allegations against me. At this point, let us remind ourselves that Maxim claims to be a research organisation; is this the best they can do, to parrot the remarks of two bloggers? Could they not at least have run my writing through Copyscape themselves, or used the newfangled referencing software in which they have so heavily invested? Incidentally, Reference Manager costs $US300 a copy.

No, instead Fleming believes stuff he reads on the web, because it suits his purposes to do so. The allegations against me were inane, to say the least. There are two of them. The first was made by someone calling himself Mr Tips (http://theeverlastingman.blogspot.com/2005/10/damn-lies-and-internet.html) or the Everlasting Man (I would comment, but we don't entertain that sort of sexual innuendo at the Fundy Post). Mr Tips said I had copied words from an online report in Fundy Post 12. It is in Paragraph 8, if you are interested, where I talk about websites that been blocked by X-Stop filtering technology. I used the descriptions of these websites from the report. Here is the important bit: I quoted my source. Mr Logan did not do that sort of thing; neither Dr Reid.

The second allegation, made by Dave from Big News (imaginative pseudonyms and titles are a feature of blogging), was that that I had used sentences in Fundy Post 15 ( http://big-news.blogspot.com/2005/10/loganed-and-littericked-this-is-not.html#comments) from an Investigate Magazine review of Tammy Bruce's book and had not attributed the source. This is simple to deal with: no I did not. I took the sentences from the print edition of Investigate (April 2004, Page 35) where these words are attributed to Tammy Bruce herself, and I acknowledged them accordingly.

I am not sure if Mr Fleming is aware of this, but Dave has also alleged that I have plagiarised myself (http://www.haloscan.com/comments/greylynncc/112947155738277749/). There may be grounds for this allegation and so I have spoken to my lawyers who are vigourously pursuing action against me. My other lawyers reject the accusation of defamation that I have made against me and are preparing a robust defence. Both my lawyers are insisting that I should apologise to me and seek costs against me.

That aside, Mr Fleming's claim that I had committed plagiarism on a scale comparable to Mr Logan's rests on the first two allegations. Fleming made this comment, not only on Nine to Noon, but also on Checkpoint the previous day.

I shall wait for an unreserved apology from Mr Fleming. Keep it short, Greg.


Join The Dots

Incidentally, Mr Fleming has been awarded a Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader Award, made by the Sir Peter Blake Trust to "recognise, encourage and celebrate leadership potential." One of the criteria for candidates for this award are that they must "have shown integrity of character"

Incidentally still, one member of the selection panel for the award was John Graham. It was at a meeting organised by Graham that the the Maxim Institute was born and he now heads Maxim's Board of Advisers.

The Sir Peter Blake Trust was founded with $3.8 Million of taxpayers' money.


Websites of the week

After all this, you might need some light relief, so turn to Agri- Christian (http://www.agrichristian.blogspot.com/) the personal weblog of A. J. Chesswas -the Agrarian Christian Kiwi Philosopher. Among the philosophical musings of Mr Chesswas are his views that gay men don't have the 'backbone' to dance with women, that Hurricane Katrina was God's Wrath against New Orleans for hosting a gay carnival and that women are incapable of doing pretty well anything except bringing up children. When you have had enough of him, turn to his nemesis, Maria von Trapp, (http://www.mariavontrapp.blogspot.com/) the singing Anglican feminist.


The Fundy Post is written by Paul Litterick, Spokesman for the NZ Association of Rationalists and Humanists. NZARH Membership details are available at http://www.nzarh.org.nz/member.htm. Previous editions of the Fundy Post can be viewed at http://www.nzarh.org.nz/fundy/postarchive.htm.

ENDS

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