Thursday, April 28, 2005

Re: A Question of Honesty

April 28, 2005 and AuthorSkeptics take a close look at:

A Question of Honesty


Whether one is liberal or conservative in politics, all of us who care deeply about honesty in academic and literary achievement should focus on the plagiarism and ghostwriting which have occurred at Harvard. That plagiarism and ghostwriting have now gone completely unpunished in the Larry Tribe affair.

For better or worse, Harvard often sets the standard. Now its President, Lawrence Summers, has acted in a way that impairs academic integrity: he has in effect declared that there will be no punishment for ghostwriting -- for getting ahead by having others write parts of a book but putting your own name on it as the sole author.

Ghostwriting has become a major problem, including in science (and, we note, in medicine). Judge Richard Posner has said it may sometimes be a fraud, and the phenomenon is analyzed extensively in a recent posting by Dean Lawrence R. Velvel on Because of the serious nature of ghostwriting, and the failure of President Summers to punish it even though it lacks integrity, Dean Velvel has called for the dismissal of Summers after the latter’s long series of contretemps.

The comments of Judge Posner and Dean Velvel not only appear on their own blogs, but have also been posted on the website of

Dean Velvel and AuthorSkeptics hope that people, whether liberal or conservative, will take the trouble to learn about and comment on this serious issue of basic honesty. To facilitate comments relating to Dean Velvel’s numerous points, AuthorSkeptics have numbered each of his paragraphs on the AuthorSkeptics website. Persons who are willing to comment publicly on ghostwriting can forward their views to Dean Velvel or to AuthorSkeptics for posting. Or people can, of course, comment on their own sites. If people comment on their own sites, we hope they will tell Dean Velvel and AuthorSkeptics that they have done so.

Robert Kent
Administrative Assistant to Dean Velvel

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