Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lying, Cheating and Stealing - Why?

What do an author,  a Tour de France repeat winner, and unscrupulous bloggers have in common?  Apparently dishonesty is an equal -opportunity vice.

I waited for a few weeks to get Jonah Lehrer's book , Imagine - How Creativity Works, from our local library.  It sounded so interesting - investigating how the creative process works and what we can do to nurture it.   By the time I got the book, controversy swirled around Mr. Lehrer who had apparently made up some material - quotes by Bob Dylan that really were imaginary quotes made up by Mr. Lehrer.  (The irony of fabricating material in a book on creativity wasn't lost on anyone).  Making up quotes in a book about science is not like making up the science, so I was ready to read it anyway.  Then it turns out that some of the science was suspect and brought to Mr. Lehrer's attention prior to publication, but he didn't correct the errors.  I lost my enthusiasm and returned the book unread.  (Many libraries are pulling the book and Harcourt has pulled the books and stopped ebook sales).

Also turns out that Mr. Lehrer  had some issues in the past - pesky things like recycling columns written for one newspaper to another without proper acknowledgement.  When the papers are the Washington Post and The New York Times, people notice these things.

Why does a prominent, well-respected author do this?  Too busy to fact-check?  Too busy to write new material?  Or just plain chutzpah ?


Can we talk about Lance Armstrong?  Our DC son was a serious cyclist in high school, so I know more about the Tour and Lance Armstrong than any woman my age should.  We cheered Lance's every victory, not only for his athletic skills but also because of his history of surviving cancer and his work to promote cancer research.   While other winners got caught in doping scandals, I wanted to believe that Lance was clean, not that he had figured out a way to avoid detection. 

He recently lost all his medals rather than continue to fight growing investigations into his alleged doping.  While he technically hasn't been found guilty, (there may still be further investigations), it seems to me unlikely that he would have walked away from an historic accomplishment if he really were clean.

Why would a successful athlete do this?  Because everyone else is?  Because once he tasted victory and all that endorsement moo-lah, he wasn't willing to chance riding sans juice?

Dont Steal My Post!

And now, who on earth would steal blog posts and pass them off as their own?  The blogosphere has been buzzing about stolen content . Many bloggers with lots of traffic are truncating posts in feeds and watermarking photos to make it harder for content to be stolen.

One of my favorite bloggers recently had posts stolen and her DIY projects posted on someones blog in a "look what I made" post.  Really - stealing someones craft project and pretending it was something you created?  One of the wonderful things about blogging is the free-sharing of ideas and projects.  Instead of being inspired to go make something, apparently some folks are taking a shortcut.   We're not talking forging an Renoir to sell for a bazillion dollars - what is the bang for stealing someones idea for making a wreath or whatever?  No talent, no creativity, no imagination required to copy and paste a talented, creative, and  imaginative person's work.

These sad cases remind me of The Capitol Steps assessment of John Edwards (now there's a study in lying and cheating):  "What a piss-a-dointment"!

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