Here is an amusing bit of OL trivia -- a delicious bit of irony that most readers probably missed.
Imagine my surprise when Stephan Kinsella, who had overtly threatened me and several of my friends with legal coercion for violating some principles that he professes to oppose, showed up on OL recently. Here was my cryptic response:
There is a growing recognition among libertarians of the evil of IP and defamation law ("reputation rights"), and from what I can tell, this is also true, to a smaller degree, among Objectivists.
So you are opposed to defamation laws? Hmmm.... That comes as a surprise to me. I'm sure it would also surprise Sharon Presley, Tim Starr, and some other libertarians who were based in SF in 1998.
Of course, Kinsella never responded -- gee, I wonder why?
That thread is titled "Kinsella and Thin Air." It should have been called "Kinsella on Thin Ice."
Is there such an organization as "Hypocrites Anonymous"? Or must all lawyers take a pledge to be whores who will do anything for money?
I doubt if Mr. Kinsella will be returning to OL any time soon. But I really
wish he would. If you think you've seen me go for the throat before, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Come on, Kinsella, you fucking coward. You got any balls, or did Wendy cut them off? You are a second rate intellectual hack who merely parrots Rothbard and others. I doubt if you have ever had an original idea in your soon-to-be miserable life.
Wanna threaten to sue me again for defamation of character?. Wanna sue others who might forward my posts where I listed dozens upon dozens of passages of plagiarized material?. Go ahead, you two-bit legal whore. Take your best shot and we will see who is left standing.
Wanna know why you could never win a defamation of character lawsuit against me? Because you cannot defame the character of someone who has no character.
I rest my case and appeal to the good sense of the jury.
P.S. If you want something current to sue me for, here is one of the missives that I wrote in 1998, when this volcano of shit first erupted. Pay attention, OLers. This is one of the many things that that great defender of free speech and opponent of the State, Stephan Kinsella, wanted to use the power of the State to keep Sharon Presley, Tim Starr, Laura Kroutil (my future wife) and others from circulating to others, even in private emails.
In other words, according to our great champion of freedom, if any OLer should forward the following ditty, via the Internet, to anyone else in the world, even a single
person, then the power of Leviathan should be used against you.
THE LIGHTER SIDE OF PLAGIARISM
George H. Smith
I wish to thank the many people who have emailed me and expressed their outrage at the overt and massive plagiarism of Wendy McElroy in THE REASONABLE WOMAN. Many of you have asked whether I contacted Wendy before going public. The answer is yes: I emailed her two days earlier with some of the evidence, told her I had a good deal more, and offered to settle this between the two of us. She refused, though I cannot imagine why.
Now that the dust is beginning to settle on this controversy, and now that my anger is beginning to subside (thanks largely to the moral support I have received), I thought some of you out there might be interested in the lighter side of plagiarism.
A problem arises when a person copies from someone else’s material, namely, the plagiarist may not understand what the original writer was getting at and so may misconstrue his meaning. There are two notable examples of this in the eight pages of parallel quotations that I distributed earlier.
The first appears on page 5, beginning with the sentence “But!” (This is italicized in both my original and in Wendy’s copy.)
Smith: “But!, Popper pointed out, you can disprove a theory by observing one single white swan. Therefore a theory which cannot be verified, can be disproven. All it takes is one counterinstance, one counter factual condition and the theory is proven false.”
McElroy, p. 211: “But! Popper pointed out, you can disprove the theory by observing one single white swan. Therefore, a theory that cannot be conclusively verified can be absolutely disproven. All it takes to falsify a theory, such as “Swans are black birds,” is the presence of one swan that is not black.”
Consider the thrice-accentuated “But!” in this passage – the first emphasis consisting of a single-word sentence, the second of placing the word in italics, and the third of using an exclamation point. The context of this passage scarcely justifies this kind of rhetorical device, to say the least. It would be more suited to a pamphlet written by an evangelical preacher, e.g., “Believe as you like. But! You will suffer the agonies of hell for all eternity.”
I never intended for this “But!” to appear as part of a published manuscript. For one thing it reeks of cheap theatrics ( which may explain why Wendy included it in her book.). This passage is a verbatim transcript from one of my Fundamentals of Reasoning classes, where I was speaking off the cuff, without any notes in front of me. . When looking through the transcript, however, I realized that this was in fact a misinterpretation of Karl Popper, so I inserted the “But!” to remind myself that this passage needed to be reworked at a later time.
Professional writers will know what I mean. All of us have flags that we insert in early manuscripts as an alert not to leave the passage as is. That was my purpose in inserting an italicized “But!” in the comment about Popper. (Incidentally, when I knew her, Wendy had never read even a page of Popper or anything else on the philosophy of science.) Popper did not in fact claim that one counterexample could always disprove a theory. He was fully aware that theories can and often do incorporate apparent counterexamples by resorting to ad hoc explanations, and that a theory long-established is never likely to be discarded on this basis (nor should it be, according to Popper). . .
At the time I read this passage in the transcript, I had not figured out a way to do justice to Popper’s approach, so I tagged it for later revision. I needed to bring in the notion of a “crucial experiment,” but hadn’t yet figured out a way to explain this in a non-technical way. (Indeed, I considered cutting out the section on Popper altogether, owing to the complexities involved.)
All this, of course, went right by Wendy while she was busy lifting my material. She included the “But!” as if were meant to be part of the finished manuscript!
A similar example occurs on pp. 7-8, where I inserted a note to myself in the rough draft of my FOR transcripts.:
Smith: “Note: this is quite different from saying that they could not be refuted because they were correct. Instead, the theories were constructed in such a manner as to eliminate any possibility of disconfirming cases.”
Again, I inserted this note in the discussion of Popper, because I felt that something else needed to be explained in more detail, when I undertook a rewrite. In my loose and informal account of Popper, I had not mentioned that he viewed his falsification test as a “line of demarcation” between science and philosophy (or, to use his word, “metaphysics”). . The main problem was that I do not really agree with Popper on this issue, though I found his approach useful as a kind of informal test. I therefore felt I should explain my disagreement in more detail. Some propositions cannot be falsified because they are self-evidently true (such as the laws of logic), but I don’t regard these as “unscientific.” Moreover, Popper’s falsification principle suffers from the same flaw as all such quasi-positivistic criteria, viz., the principle itself cannot pass its own test. Hence I inserted a note to remind myself that I needed to take these (and other) issues into account later on.
True to form, however, Wendy forged ahead in her plagiarism, oblivious to the significance of my “Note.” Thus she wrote:
McElroy, p. 214: “It was not that Freudian theory could not be refuted because it was correct, but that the system of theory was constructed in such a manner as to eliminate the very possibility of disconfirming cases.”
Exactly what does it mean to say: “It was not that Freudian theory could not be refuted because it was correct….etc..”? This passage borders on gibberish; certainly Popper never said anything like this. Rather, Wendy simply removed the word “Note,” and, instead of realizing that there was a problem with Popper’s approach -- one that I needed to flesh out at a later time -- she blended my remark into her text with no understanding of its meaning.
This is not only plagiarism, this is incompetent plagiarism.
All of you future plagiarists out there take heed! If you are going to steal someone’s material, try at least to understand the meaning of what you are about to steal. Otherwise you will, like Wendy McElroy, only succeed in making a fool of yourself.
Oh, what a horrible crime it would be to send this post to others! Such monsters must be stopped, or they must pay dearly!