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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Say It Ain't So, Jane Goodall

Posted by on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Well, this is incredibly disappointing:

Jane Goodall, the primatologist celebrated for her meticulous studies of chimps in the wild, is releasing a book next month on the plant world that contains at least a dozen passages borrowed without attribution, or footnotes, from a variety of Web sites.

The borrowings in “Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder From the World of Plants” range from phrases to an entire paragraph from Web sites such as Wikipedia and others that focus on astrology, tobacco, beer, nature and organic tea.

Damn. Jane Goodall is a hero of mine. I hate that she's capping an amazing career with what appears to be some petty plagiarism.


Comments (17) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Monkey see, monkey do.
Posted by DOUG. on March 20, 2013 at 11:44 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 2
Please join me in hoping the blame will settle on her co-author. The linked article has plenty in it to suggest the co-author was a journeyperson writer hired specifically to do the factual grunt work. Fingers crossed.

And I hope we needn't worry this is going to be remembered as "capping her career". The women in her family are vigorous into their nineties, and Jane's more productive at 78 than I am at 47.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on March 20, 2013 at 11:50 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 3
This gives me a real sad. Goodall has been a hero of mine since I found that beat up old copy of "In The Shadow of Man" at a thrift store and read it about 103 times.

It just amazed me that this young woman packed up, went out to the jungle and just fucking did it. Essentially learned everything we now know about chimpanzees and their social lives, and presented it to the world in a way that is not only highly accessible to the common man, but a real joy to read as well.

Very strange someone who was so accomplished in both writing and gathering data would resort to this.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on March 20, 2013 at 11:54 AM · Report this
rob! 4
I can't help but laugh @DOUG. (Still, "Apes are not monkeys, yadda yadda.")

That said, Jane is strong enough to take responsibility for this. It would not look good to palm it off on her [largely clerical] co-author, even if she's the one who failed to keep accurate notes on sources for included material. Jane as a scientist knows better; the standards for peer-reviewed publications are very strict.

Another point: even a good-hearted, conscientious person like Goodall can be affected in insidious ways by decades of adoration by the public and awards from all and sundry.

Also, what @3 said. Jane Goodall, Birute Galdikas, and Dian Fossey were three strong women who, whatever their failings, endured dangers and privations for years that would send most of us packing in a few days tops. We owe much of our current knowledge about the great apes to this trio.
Posted by rob! on March 20, 2013 at 12:06 PM · Report this
T 5
Anyone can edit Wikipedia. Who's to say she didn't write those passages?
Posted by T on March 20, 2013 at 12:07 PM · Report this
rob! 6
(And the great apes may well owe their continued, though precarious, existence to these women as well.)
Posted by rob! on March 20, 2013 at 12:08 PM · Report this
Yup, I figured this as an intern/journeyman writer problem, even before getting to the comments.

College professors across country tear out their hair at the younger generation's sourcing without sourcing whatever they can cut and paste from the web.
Posted by judybrowni on March 20, 2013 at 12:11 PM · Report this
If this is true, I'll never be able to look at her the same way again. Whatever respect I had for her (and I didn't really follow her work) will be gone. I still can't look at doe eyed, well-spoken Doris Kearns Goodwin without remembering that she was once exposed as a cheater. And she's still always on TV! (Or frequently.)

It would probably be the same for Goodall.
Posted by floater on March 20, 2013 at 12:12 PM · Report this
Jane Goodall possible plagiarist, Peter Murphy befuddled hit n' run driver possibly using meth. What the hell is going ON?
Posted by The Anti-Malkmus on March 20, 2013 at 12:13 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 10
@ 5, until she makes that claim, don't let your hopes lead you to make such suppositions.

I think the chances that this is the work of her co-author or some other helper are excellent, but it's still a valid reflection on Jane Goodall herself. We need to wait to see what facts come out (such as, whether the co-author has ever been accused of plagiarism before, which Goodall should have vetted; or if she read the material and checked it's sources, or just accepted them as is) to determine how much responsibility she bears. But her name came first on the title page, so she's going to carry some. Her fans will have to prepare to judge her fairly for that and guard against scapegoating the co-author.
Posted by Matt from Denver on March 20, 2013 at 12:15 PM · Report this
Reutte 11
Seems pretty weird that someone would source some materials and not others. Usually it's an all or nothing.
Posted by Reutte on March 20, 2013 at 12:30 PM · Report this
Fnarf 12
I'm quite a bit more disappointed that she's capping a scientific career filled with actual research results and observations with drippy feel-good New Age rubbish like this, properly attributed or not.

But she's old, and she's already had the career, so she gets a pass. Funny how the women I admire so often turn into hippies in their dotage, while the men turn into mush-brained rageaholics (cf. Kingsley Amis). Must be the booze.
Posted by Fnarf on March 20, 2013 at 12:35 PM · Report this
How old is she? I'm worried this might be a sign of dementia :/
Posted by planned barrenhood on March 20, 2013 at 1:16 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 14
Copyright is a fiction maintained by lawyers.

Jane Goodall is ahead of the curve on this issue, and is just showing you what the world will look like in 2040.

Well, other than the median 40 C temps in the US and the crop failures due to climate change.
Posted by Will in Seattle on March 20, 2013 at 1:37 PM · Report this
Fnarf 15
@13, I don't think so. Dementia looks more like @14.
Posted by Fnarf on March 20, 2013 at 1:51 PM · Report this
mikethehammer 16
Maybe this is just the human equivalent of the millions of monkeys banging away on typewriters for an eternity and eventually reproducing the works of Shakespeare. Excpet in this case it was millions of people publishing books and eventually reproducing a wikipedia entry, coincidentally about monkeys (or apes, or whatever.)
Posted by mikethehammer on March 20, 2013 at 2:16 PM · Report this
fletc3her 17
This feedback is entirely created from words copied directly from Wikipedia.
Posted by fletc3her on March 20, 2013 at 3:03 PM · Report this

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