by Con Chapman
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Harvard University yesterday announced a shift in tactics in its war on fraudulent work by faculty, saying it will allow professors to make stuff up in order to deter them from plagiarism.
“Plagiarism is a liability because people sue when you steal from them,” said President Drew Gilpin Faust, who has not been accused of plagiarism in writing “This Republic of Suffering,” a light-hearted romp through the subject of death in the Civil War. “Making stuff up, on the other hand, is a victimless crime.”
Faust cited Amy Wagers and Marc Hauser who published research papers in academic journals that were subsequently determined to be based on falsified or non-existent research. “The old VE-RI-TAS motto is out the window,” said Faust, referring to the Latin word for “truth” that appears in the school’s crest. “From now on, our message is ‘Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.'”
Because scholarly journals are not actually read by anyone, a false statement in an academic article is not punishable as either a crime or a civil tort.
“There’s no law on the books that says you can’t bore somebody,” said Sergeant Jim Hampy of the Cambridge, Mass. police force. “Take my brother-in-law Mike, f’r instance.”
Harvard had encouraged plagiarism under former President Lawrence Summers, who went on to become Secretary of the Treasury. Summers is currently a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and supplements his academic salary by hosting “Make That Spare!”, a bowling show filmed in Paramus, New Jersey.
“Plagiarism is a Harvard professor’s droit de seigneur,” Lawrence said, referring to the practice among French nobles of taking liberties with their serfs’ daughters. “You’ve got all these land grant cow college professors cranking stuff out. Just photocopy it and you’ll have more time to rack up big consulting fees and talking-head appearances on public television shows.”