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The plagiarist (not; see correction below) next door strikes back: Different standards of plagiarism in different communities

Commenters on this blog sometimes tell me not to waste so much time talking about plagiarism. And in the grand scheme of things, what could be more trivial than plagiarism copying of errors with unclear citations in an obscure German book of chess anecdotes? Yet this is what I have come to talk with you about today.

As usual, I will make the claim that this discussion has more general relevance, that a careful exploration of this particularly trivial topic can give us larger insights into statistics and human understanding.

Earlier this year I learned that a fellow student from my graduate program, Christian Hesse, who for many years has been a math professor in Germany, ripped off material for a chess book that he wrote. In the comments to my post on the story, Christian wrote, “The author falsely accuses me of copying material for my chess book.” And by “the author,” Christian is talking about me. But, from the linked material from Edward Winter, it seems pretty clear that Chrissy did copy material, introducing errors in the process.

As I wrote in response to Chrissy’s comment, if you’re gonna copy material, you should give the source. Otherwise you’re misleading your readers and allowing yourself to propagate misinformation. And why do that?

But that’s all background. Today I want to focus on a particular aspect of this dispute, which is Chrissy’s implicit argument that this sort of copying in standard in the world of chess, and that Edward Winter and others accuse of plagiarism “anybody who later writes about the same chess games and matches, chess positions, studies, events.” I think what Chrissy is saying is that it’s commonplace to do what he did, which is to copy material from an old chess magazine or book, not attribute the source, and not check it for accuracy. And, indeed, you can go far in the world of chess journalism by copying, much more shamelessly than Christian Hesse has ever done.

So here’s the question: If everybody does it, and Christian’s book has been well received (he quotes a glowing newspaper review), then should we care?

I don’t mean, “Should we care?” as in “Is it important?” In that case, no, we shouldn’t care, any more than we should care whether Tom Brady had his footballs deflated or whether Pete Rose gambled on baseball or whether Lance Armstrong ever uttered a true sentence in his life. This is not an Ed Wegman situation in which professional misconduct was used in the service of potentially consequential political activities, or even a Mark Hauser story in which professional misconduct was used to waste a lot of people’s time and money. It’s just chess. It’s just sports.

No, when I say, “Should we care?”, I mean “Does this matter in the context of the chess book?” In the same way as we could care about Pete Rose because we are baseball fans and don’t want to see the sport become as scripted as the NBA, for example.

And this gets back to the way in which we (that is, Thomas Basbøll, me, and anyone else out there who happens to agree with us) like to frame plagiarism copying errors with unclear citations in particular, and scholarly misconduct more generally: It’s not about the wrongdoing, it’s about the corruption of the communication channel.

OK, so that wasn’t so pithy; maybe one of you can punch this up enough that it can make it into the lexicon?

Ok, to continue: If the problem with Chrissy’s copying-without-attribution is that he’s cheating, one could well respond that, no, he’s not cheating: the value-added in his chess book does not come from the games and stories themselves but in how he arranges them. If the problem is that he’s breaking the rules, one could well respond that, no, in the chess world, “the rules” allow this sort of thing. If the problem is that he’s stealing, one could respond that chess games are free for all to share, as are stories, and even any directly copied material might be in the public domain by now anyway.

T. S. Eliot wrote, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” Similar quotes were then attributed to Igor Stravinsky and Pablo Picasso, two other great artists from the modernist period.

Also, Martin Luther King, Jr., plagiarized—have I mentioned that recently??

So, sure, steal and steal and steal away. It’s a waste land out there.

No, the problem with copying without attribution is, if anyone’s going to want to care about these stories, they can learn a lot more by knowing where the stories come from. As Basbøll and I wrote, it’s a statistical crime. Which is one reason it makes me sad to see a statistician doing it.

P.S. Chrissy also notes that the world chess champion and his father are dear friends of his. I think it’s safe to say that Chrissy is a much better chess player than I am. Much much much better! If we played a game where I got an hour and he got 2 minutes, I’m almost certain he’d destroy me. Also, let me be clear that I am not claiming that his book has no value. Not at all! It could well contain some plagiarized material erroneous material with unclear citations and some good material. Even some of the plagiarized material erroneous material with unclear citations could be good. Actually, it should by good, otherwise why copy it?

P.P.S. I’ve corrected the above post as Chrissy objects to the term “plagiarism.” He may have a point here. Plagiarism is defined as “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.” But as Chrissy notes, he doesn’t really pass these stories off as his own.

Here’s what Edward Winter had to say:

From page 399 of The Joys of Chess by Christian Hesse (Alkmaar, 2011):

‘All in all Akiba Rubinstein played 1985 tournament games in his life, of which 1763 had rook endgames.’

The book’s author/compiler does not believe in using primary sources or in specifying his secondary sources for particular items (many positions and other material are taken from Chess Notes, in exchange for a one-line mention of our website in a list on page 427). Since The Joys of Chess gives no source for the Rubinstein statistics, we shall do so. The sentence was written by Irving Chernev on the inside front cover of the July 1952 Chess Review, was reproduced on page 270 of his book The Chess Companion (New York, 1968) and was an obvious joke.

And this:

In 1899 George Alcock MacDonnell died, a fact which did not prevent Christian Hesse from stating in a ChessBase article that MacDonnell lost a game to Amos Burn in 1910.

Actually, that’s not so bad. If you’ve been dead eleven years, you’d lose at chess too!

Also this:

In 1900 Wilhelm/William Steinitz died, a fact which did not prevent Christian Hesse from quoting a remark by Steinitz about a mate-in-two problem by Pulitzer which, according to Hesse, was dated 1907. (See page 166 of The Joys of Chess.) Hesse miscopied from our presentation of the Pulitzer problem on page 11 of A Chess Omnibus (also included in Steinitz Stuck and Capa Caught). We gave Steinitz’s comments on the composition as quoted on page 60 of the Chess Player’s Scrap Book, April 1907, and that sufficed for Hesse to assume that the problem was composed in 1907.

Hesse told various false stories in his book with citations so vague that it would be difficult for a reader who didn’t already know the material to (a) realize that the stories were false, or (b) track down the sources of the stories. So, not plagiarism. Poor referencing that makes it difficult for the reader to figure out which stories are true and which are false.

I apologize to Hesse for characterizing this as plagiarism. I think his book would’ve been stronger with direct citations—if he takes story X from source Y, say so with a page reference—but, based on the evidence I’ve seen, to characterize this as plagiarism is simply wrong, and I’m sorry.


  1. Jonathan (another one) says:

    Tom Lehrer’s Famous Contribution in Lobachevsky:

    Let no one else’s work evade your eyes,
    Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
    So don’t shade your eyes,
    But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize…
    Only be sure always to call it please, “research”.

  2. Rahul says:

    “if anyone’s going to want to care about these stories, they can learn a lot more by knowing where the stories come from.”

    How about: If anyone’s going to care about “Les Miserables” they can learn a lot more via a massively annotated version that has footnotes for every unfamiliar locale, personality & context.

    Maybe. But doesn’t mean we criminalize every un-annotated version.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I was just reading about “everybody does it” in a different context this morning:

  4. hjk says:

    This is an unusually clunky read for you – did you write it yourself?

  5. Plagiarism doesn’t just degrade the source; it degrades the discourse.

  6. ejh says:

    Regarding the earlier piece, Professor Hesse writes thus:

    “people like T.Krabbé and E.Winter who – over the course of decades have been compiling thousands of chess items – have a record of easily and frequently accusing anybody who later writes about the same chess games and matches, chess positions, studies, events – even in a completely different manner – of copying their material. This is widely known among chess people.”

    It’s not so widely known that I know it, and I’m a chess person. Perhaps Professor Hesse could give some examples?

    Regarding whether it’s OK to plagiarise in chess – it isn’t, because there is no chess world with ethics, practices and law separate from the normal world. There may well be lower standards in the chess world, in some areas, than elsewhere, just as there may be more corruption in the construction industry than in others and more doping in professional sport than in other areas of life.

    That doesn’t make it all right: matter of fact, it makes it especially important that it’s not all right, because it’s precisely when your standards have fallen below the standards of others that you need to be working on raising them. I don’t believe in it’s only chess as a reason to overlook abuses, since at the end of the day that’s just an invitation to people who want to cheat and get away with it.

    In most circumstances it’s very easy to give attributions. So do it.

    • Andrew says:


      In the linked piece, you write, “You can get away with it forever as long as you get away with it at the right people’s expense.”

      Well put. I’m reminded of this recent horror story.

    • anon says:

      No, Christian Hesse, you make false claims about Krabbe and Winter.

      What is widely known among chess people is that Ray Keene is a plagiarist.
      I hope it will now also be widely known among chess people that Christian Hesse is also a plagiarist.
      If you’re a university professor, there is no excuse for not knowing how to cite other people’s work properly.

  7. Elin says:

    I know nothing about the context of chess, but I will say this gets to an important issue of what plagiarism is about. It is not copyright violation. I’m sure you cannot copy right the set up of positions on a chess board just like you can’t copyright a recipe. I’m sure you also can’t copyright a series of moves. But plagiarism isn’t wrong because it is a legal offense, it’s wrong because it is taking credit for someone else’s work without crediting them.

    • Andrew says:


      From the standpoint of the original author, the crime of plagiarism is that it’s stealing. From the standpoint of the reader, the crime of plagiarism is that it removes context; it’s wanton destruction of information.

    • jrc says:


      “But plagiarism isn’t wrong because it is a legal offense, it’s wrong because it is taking credit for someone else’s work without crediting them,”

      I don’t think this is Andrew’s point. Not that I am totally convinced Andrew is right, but he has consistently pointed the conversation about plagiarism in another direction. For him, I think, plagiarism is a problem because it impedes knowledge. If we cite appropriately, we know where and how knowledge was generated. If we don’t cite appropriately, and just re-phrase what other people say, then the discourse loses track of the original source and eventually the field starts to think that lots and lots of people have confirmed some piece of knowledge when really it is just people repeating what they’ve heard.

      Plagiarism is more akin to something like adding repeat observations in your dataset, but your dataset here is the literature in the field – “Plagiarism is a statistical crime” – Andrew Gelman

  8. Chris G says:

    > So, sure, steal and steal and steal away. It’s a waste land out there.

    “Wasteland”, but +1 anyway.

  9. Martha says:

    This is a little off topic, but related:

    Something that really bugs me is “citations” that are vague. I have encountered them a lot in reading biology papers. Perhaps the worst I’ve seen said something like, “We obtained this by regression,” then gave as reference Draper and Smith’s book on regression — just the book, not a specific page or section or even chapter. Totally useless. (And clearly the authors didn’t understand the importance of explaining just how they used regression.) My experience in math is that references are made very explicit — not just to a paper, but to the label of the theorem, lemma, definition, etc. (or at least to a specific page in the case of a definition or comment that doesn’t have a label in the source cited.)

    • Jonathan (another one) says:

      +1. And it’s not just textbook citations. Articles are cited for propositions all the time that they don’t demonstrate and it takes hours of work to figure that out.

    • Nick Menzies says:

      In my field — simulation modelling to project the long term consequences of policy change — it is common practice to derive parameter values for your simulation model from the literature. Sometimes people will cite a study that generated the information, but just as commonly people will cite another published simulation model that used the same* parameter. This can lead to a frustrating rabbit hole when you try to trace back to original sources — you track back to one study, which tracks back to another study, which cites some narrative review, which cites a bunch of studies which are tangentially related to the issue, or which just makes a claim as self evident (the recent history of X has shown…). It is easy to end up with the conclusion that ‘this is a number that the field has been using for some time and it seems to work’.

      * Noting what appears to be the ‘same’ parameter might actually be quite different, depending on how the models are structured, in the same way that an interaction term changes the definition of a main effect when doing regression.

    • Martha (Smith) says:

      “Martha” above is not me, but I agree with her point.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I just thought of killer app idea. It involves two apps actually. The first is free and auto-populates psychology papers with so many citations they average one citation for ever two words. Then I’ll charge $100/year for a second app that removes citations from psychology papers to give them a chance of being human readable. Mmmmm….. maybe the first app already exists?

  11. Eli Rabett says:

    One of the questions this raises is where is the border, because if there is no border between where plagiarism is allowed and not allowed, it is allowed everywhere in every amount.

  12. It’s not about the wrongdoing, it’s about the corruption of the communication channel.

    You seem to me to touch upon the moral of Feynman’s “7 percent solution” – never rely on the experts; work it out for yourself.

  13. Snarfblaat says:

    This wasn’t the point of the post, but may I ask how the NBA is more scripted than MLB? Are you thinking of the donaghy scandal, showing knowledge of the officiating crew gave reliable enough predictions on game outcomes?

  14. Coburn says:

    Readers are rarely injured by plagiarism. Words repeated, with or without attribution, remain the same to readers. Paraphrased or modified original words spark no automatic injury to readers. Words are useful or not useful to readers… they are absorbed and evaluated subjectively.

    Fictional/False and Non-Fictional/True wordings are often difficult for readers to discern apart, even in serious scientific contexts. The “credibility” to readers of copied wordings may or may not be increased by a subjective audit trail (attribution) back to the alleged originator of given wordings/ideas. Ultimately the validity of words must stand on their own — attribution does not itself protect against ‘corruption’ of knowledge, nor provide some mystical perception of ‘context’.

    Plagiarism is an insider’s fixation with the arbitrary rules of “their” game, much like professional sports rules/customs. If you are a professional scientist, academic, journalist, writer, etc — the game you play for a living, reputation, nobility of your chosen field, and hard cash is based on the supposed value of your originality.

    It is a very big deal to insiders, not so much to readers or the general populace of the world. Plagiarism protection is an important aspect of a narrow business model, but not some grand keystone of progressive knowledge and civilization.

    • Andrew says:


      Of course no one is injured here. It’s just chess. But, to the extent it’s worth writing historical article about chess in the first place, then, sure, readers are injured by being told false stories, having jokes repeated as if they were true, etc etc. Or, to use your phrasing, plagiarism makes the words less useful to readers.

      • I think Coburn’s assertion is that repeating “plagiarism makes the words less useful” doesn’t make it true, and that as a matter of actual practice, this may only rarely be true for most readers.

        I’m not sure I agree with that point of view or not, but I do agree with the general idea that plagiarism is more of an issue for “insiders” in the academic “game”. To the extent that Chess is not much of a part of academia, it’s not surprising that there may be significantly different norms there.

        My general perspective is that the assertion that plagiarism is morally wrong because it is somehow “stealing” from the original author is more or less bunk. This is the same bunk argument that says that we need to extend copyright on Mickey Mouse for eternity because Disney morally owns “Steamboat Willie”. That seems to me to be utter self-serving baloney.

        Your point, however, that plagiarism corrupts a chain of knowledge applies independently from the moral assertion of “stealing” from an original author, so I think it’s a good additional line of discussion.

        • Andrew says:


          Coburn wrote, “Words are useful or not useful to readers… they are absorbed and evaluated subjectively.” My point is that the source of a text is valuable meta-information that helps in this evaluation. This is the point that Basbøll and I made in our article.

          Just speaking more generally, from a statistical perspective, “data” can only be evaluated with some knowledge of where the data came from. For a simple example, suppose you told me that basketball player X made 10 out of 10 free throws. If these are the only 10 shots he took, that’s different than if he took 100 shots and you selected 10 of them to tell me about.

          To return to Chrissy’s book: where did these stories come from? Did he read them in a book? Did someone tell him the story about the player with the 1700 rook endgames? Etc. For the reader, evaluating such a story can best be done by knowing where it came from. For Chrissy to not give that information, that just degrades the usefulness of the story.

  15. Bill Harris says:

    In the business world, I was once counseled by a well-meaning colleague that my ideas would be better accepted if I just stopped giving their attributions. “People know you aren’t smart enough to have come up with all that yourself,” so went the statement; they’d ask if they really wanted to know where an idea originated. People were supposedly intimidated, so it was claimed, because they hadn’t read the material I had and didn’t feel as if they could enter into the conversation.

    I still find myself giving references, although today they’re more likely to be linked words and phrases in a document than to be explicit references or even parenthetical comments.

    To be clear, this applied to memos and presentations, not to technical papers.

    Have others heard such encouragement not to provide references for ideas?

  16. Jonathan (another one) says:

    Where are you on the following (true) anecdote? I was privileged to be present at the opening night of the play Proof. In the play, Daniel Auburn makes several of the most famous anecdotes in mathematics attributes of his protagonist. In particular, the famous story about Hardy and Ramanujan and the taxi numbered 1729 is transposed (to days of inactivity) and semi-attributed to the characters themselves (there’s certainly no referent to the original.) I got the chance to ask Auburn at a party after the debut why he’d use a story that famous dropped into the play as if the characters themselves used it and his reply was that he knew people who knew the story would get the reference immediately and that that absolves him (in fiction) of deception of the audience.

    Is it only fiction where these sorts of things don’t matter? Or do they matter even in fiction (as Rahul notes above?)

  17. John Mashey says:

    Readers can be damaged by plagiarism.
    Readers have to assess the credibilty of authors.
    If someone plagiarizes text, they may be able to create a false illusion of competence, either lowering chance of reader checking them out, or providng basis for false claims, confusing readers or at least wasting their tine.
    There are plenty of examples by two of Andrew’s favorites, but fhey are hardly alone.

  18. Martha says:

    Life’s Little Ironies Department:

    I just got an email announcing a workshop titled “Designing Integrity: Writing Assignments that
    Discourage Plagiarism.” I quote one paragraph:

    “It’s clear that plagiarism is a serious problem. According to a survey of
    over 63,000 US undergraduates, 36% of undergraduates have copied uncited
    information from online and 38% have copied uncited information from
    written sources. A full 77% of undergraduates report that failing to
    cite internet sources is not a serious issue. Overall, 62% of
    undergraduates admit to cheating on written assignments in some way. There
    is a gap in student understanding about the nature and gravity of using
    uncited sources.”

    There was no citation for the survey mentioned.

  19. Richard says:

    For me, it’s just tremendously depressing when it happens. It just makes me think: why did I bother? If people don’t like what I do, then they’ll ignore it, and if they like it, they’ll steal it. I can’t win, so why even try?

  20. o.g.u. says:

    The facts about Christian Hesse are clear: as shown in the article “Copying” (, he takes other people’s material with little or no acknowledgement, often miscopies it, refuses to correct his blunders and then attacks, without any specifics, the very writers (Tim Krabbé and Edward Winter) from whom he has lifted the most material. It is despicable conduct.

    By the way, although he will not rectify his many gaffes, the heading on page 244 of his book “The Joys of Chess” quotes Confucius: “A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it is committing another mistake.”

    People like Hesse (and fortunately there are not many like him) deserve no place whatsoever in the chess world.

    – Olimpiu G. Urcan

    • Andrew says:


      Yes, I was disappointed by Chrissy’s reaction to the criticism (although not surprised; conditional on him copying without attribution, it’s not exactly a shock that he denies it). On the plus side, he’s a friend of Magnus Carlsen’s dad, so there’s that.

      • anon says:

        If I knew Magnus Carlsen’s dad, I’d advise him to dump the name-dropping plagiarist.
        Would he like it if someone just rewrites one of his mathematics papers, perhaps in a different language, and passes it off as his own? Christian Hesse, if you don’t want to be accused of plagiarism, just stop plagiarising and apologize for your past plagiarism.

    • the friend says:

      Couldn’t agree more.

  21. Professor Christian Hesse says:

    Some remarks are in order:
    Falsely accusing someone of plagiarism constitutes serious ethical misconduct, especially in academics. People have been stripped off of their academic positions because of making such false accusations. Hence, the conduct of the blogs’ author is a matter for the Ethics Committee of the National Science Foundation.
    To be very clear: My book (and by the way: it is not an “obscure German publication of chess anecdotes”, but a massive undertaking consisting of about 100 essays on a variety of chess themes, with editions in several languages including English, being shortlisted for the English Chess Federation Book of the Year award ) “The Joys of Chess” contains a seven page reference list with detailed sources and attributions, even to the work of E. Winter.
    No material has been copied, plagiarized, etc. Chess games, chess positions are in the public domain and can be written about by anybody giving his own take on them or telling new stories about them, one does not have to cite a compiler (such as E. Winter, O. Urcan and other collectors of chess facts, for whom, by the way, my strong advice is to entitle themselves as chess historians only if having successfully undergone a formal education in the science of History. Otherwise, they open themselves to the charge of imposture.), who has taken a game or position from some journal, magazine or game collection and placed it on the internet. Obviously the blogs’ author and many commentators are not knowledgeable about my book, the world of chess, chess publishing or the demeanor of some of the people creating chessic compilations on the internet.
    On a personal note: Apart from both being students at Harvard, where our mutual animosity started, the blogs’ author and I also served together on the faculty of Berkeley. But while I moved on to a prestigious position in Germany being appointed by the Governor of a German State to a professorship, becoming the youngest professor nationwide, the blogs’ author got kicked out of Berkeley for reasons of not merely substandard research quality (deficits still noticeable in several blog entries) but also personality issues (as evidenced by the aggressiveness of some of the blog entries, wild accusations, etc.)). This, too, obviously didn’t improve our relationship.
    Professor Christian Hesse

    • Andrew says:


      Good point. I looked more carefully and I agree that I should not have used the term “plagiarism.” What it appears to be is unclear referencing: the individual stories are not clearly tied to where they came from, which allows errors to creep in that are hard to check. This is not plagiarism and I apologize for saying so. I corrected this post and my earlier post on the topic.

      Regarding Edward Winter and the others: I’m not sure what is a “charge of imposture” but I think if he does good history he can call himself a historian and no one should object. Nate Silver has not undergone a formal education in the science of statistics but he does good work and I don’t mind if he calls himself a statistician. Law and medicine are different because there are formal licensing rules. At least in the U.S.

      Regarding your personal note: I did not know of any mutual animosity during our time at Harvard—this is news to me! I remember you as a quiet student who pretty much kept to himself. I did not feel any animosity toward you, and I certainly had no idea that you had any thoughts about me at all! Similarly at Berkeley: we would say hi when we saw each other in the hallways but I don’t recall any conversations longer than that. Kinda like what one might expect of two mathematicians, I guess.

      Regarding Berkeley: you and I both left that university from our own free will, in both cases because the statistics department no longer wanted to renew our contracts. And both of us got good professorship jobs elsewhere: you in Germany, me in the east coast. It’s enough to make me think that these Berkeley guys didn’t know what they were doing!

      Finally, it’s news to me about my “substandard research quality.” Could you please supply some examples? The false theorem (coauthored with another Berkeley prof, ironically enough) and the retracted paper don’t count, as the falsity of the theorem wasn’t actually discovered until after I left Berkeley, and the retracted paper wasn’t written until more than a decade later. If I have other substandard research, I’d like to know!

      Main point, though, is that you’re right about the plagiarism, I was wrong to call you a plagiarist, and I apologize.

    • LOL says:

      LOL – the super professor strikes back!

    • Peter says:

      As Mr Hesse has never been “the youngest professor nationwide” he opens himself to the charge of imposture.

  22. BrianB says:

    An apology might be in order in the Carson case as well.
    Whether libeling someone without waiting for the facts qualifies as “substandard research quality” I’ll leave for others to decide.
    Certainly seems to qualify as irresponsible and a reckless attitude toward the reputation of others.

    • Andrew says:


      My post referencing Carson isn’t research at all! Wrong category.

      • BrianB says:

        That’s kind of my point. You parroted an unsubstantiated, and in the end false, accusation about someone without looking into the truth of it or even looking for the accused’s response or any evidence contrary to the accusation, all of which had been published at the time you used those false accusations to libel him as a “pathological liar”.
        Considering that in tandem with your retraction of your recent plagiarism claim; do you think you might spend a little time researching the info you use to defame other people’s reputations?
        I’m pretty sure you would expect the same from others toward you. These aren’t exactly small claims you’re making toward others and they’re not exactly being privately made. And you might consider their effect on the perceptions of your objectivity, standards and credibility.

        • Andrew says:


          But the Ben Carson story did come from a reputable source—in my earlier post I linked to a report from ABC News. Sure, maybe there’s more to the story, and as I said I’m happy to be corrected (it would help if you supplied a link of your own on this), but I’d say my blogging on this is completely reasonable. To link to an ABC News report is not “defaming” anybody. That’s what bloggers do; we link to things.

          As for Christian Hesse: what can I say? I used the term “plagiarism” inappropriately. Christian did not source his anecdotes well, and as a result his book has errors that would be difficult for a reader to track down. But poor sourcing != plagiarism.

          If you’d like to take a link to ABC News and a misuse of the term “plagiarism,” and from that make a judgment that my research is of substandard quality, you can feel free to make that inference. I think that would be a silly inference, but, hey, it’s your call.

          • BrianB says:

            You don’t even do research in your own comments a half an inch and a half or 40 minutes away.
            Your comment at 12:19 asks for a link when right above it at 11:36, directly under your first comment requesting a link, is a link I provided disproving your “reputable” source.

            More importantly this, “To link to an ABC News report is not “defaming” anybody. That’s what bloggers do; we link to things.” borders on either the pathological or the instrumental, perhaps both. It is most certainly profoundly deceptive.

            You stated in the body of the story itself this; “But the pathological liars, people like Ben Carson who will go to the trouble to make up an entire course at Yale just for the benefit of an already-implausible story, or this other guy I dealt with online, who scared me so much that I don’t even want to mention his name here: that scares me.”

            And you stated in the comments to your story that “Ben Carson, though, he really seems to be in a different league, more like the pathological liars I have known.” and ” But Ben Carson making up “Perceptions 301”—that just seems out of control. I’m not saying that pathological lying is morally worse than instrumental lying or exaggeration, it just seems like behavior that is outside our usual experience.” and ” But making up an entire college course, just for the purpose of a story that makes no sense anyway? That’s outta control, kinda like that guy I knew in college who would just make up these ridiculous stories.”

            Your statement you only linked to what others said about Carson while ignoring your assertions as fact that Carson is a pathological liar is, what’s the word I’m looking for, dishonest.Profoundly so.
            So you’re reckless, careless and a liar. Good to know.

            • Andrew says:


              Have a nice day to you too!

            • Andrew says:


              P.S. In all seriousness, of course I don’t appreciate being called a liar (I don’t actually see where I was knowingly telling an untruth, but perhaps you could call me a passive liar because I believed what I read on ABC News), but I do appreciate your providing the link which I’d not noticed, and I updated my earlier post in response.

              • BrianB says:

                Pretty sure Ben Carson doesn’t appreciate being called a pathological liar either, if he had noticed.

                In either case I’m not sure what the term for your response would be other than dishonest.

                I brought to your attention that you, personally, not ABC, had directly called Carson a pathological liar on not just flimsy but apparently false information.
                Your response to me was to say that your blogging was completely reasonable because, hey, you were just quoting ABC, a reputable source. Did ABC call Carson a pathological liar?

                Your response was not only unresponsive I don’t know how it could be characterized as anything other than misleading and deceptive. After all we’re not talking about an incident that happened twenty years ago, are we? Your last comment was yesterday.

                That you still refuse to take responsibility for what YOU said and try to shift the blame to ABC is bizarre and slightly pathetic.
                Now I will dismantle on the other thread your continued smearing of Carson.

              • Andrew says:


                Conditional on Carson inventing an entire course at Yale and making up this whole elaborate story, yes, I think “pathological liar” isn’t far off the mark. But given that there’s more to the story, I agree with you, as I’ve noted on that other post. I also agree that Carson would not appreciate being called a pathological liar. He would have every reason to be mad at me (if he were to know of my existence). So, yes, I was too quick to draw a conclusion from a media source and at the very least I should’ve waited, or perhaps simply clarified that the news media reporting of Carson story made me think of pathological liars, whatever was the case with Carson. One might say that I was writing about “Carson,” the person reported in the news story, rather than Carson, the actual person. So it was good of you to call me on this.

              • Andrew says:

                P.S. I should also perhaps clarify, for those who are coming into this thread randomly a few years later, that Ben Carson was a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election campaign. And he’s been known to tell lies. The discussion thread on the other post centered on whether these were pathological lies or instrumental lies. I originally characterized Carson’s lies as pathological (i.e., unnecessary) but I’ve been persuaded that they actually were instrumental: serving some direct purpose, whether to sell books or to make him a more plausible presidential candidate. One of Carson’s difficulties was that the lies that help sell books (here I’m thinking about exaggerations and made-up events as part of his life story) ended up making him look bad as a presidential candidate. It’s complicated.

  23. BrianB says:

    Sorry *an inch and a half*

  24. jrc says:

    “P.S. I should also perhaps clarify, for those who are coming into this thread randomly a few years later, that Ben Carson was a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election campaign.”

    I think you should pre-register this and place it in the queue for 5 years from now. And 10 years from now.

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