Sloppy seconds

We need to come up with a different word for what Fareed Zakaria did, in lifting a paragraph from a Jill Lepore piece in The New Yorker. “Plagiarism” doesn’t seem to capture it.

I suggest the term sloppy.

As someone who cuts and pastes research into a document when writing, I can see who your words and the original can get confused. (I always italicize the pasted text to make sure I know which is which.)

But to put what he did on par with, say, Jonah Lehrer, is not instructive.

Jim Sleeper, a lecturer at Yale, thinks Zakaria should apologize to Yale, where Zakaria is a trustee. They take a strong position on plagiarism, Sleeper tells us–as if other universities turn a blind eye to it.

Then Sleeper writes this, which is baffling:

Worse still: Lepore, whom Zakaria wronged by misappropriating her work, is herself a Yale PhD. If anyone knows what it means to steal another scholar’s work, it’s Zakaria, who holds a PhD from Harvard.

If that’s an attempt at Ivy League humor, I don’t get it.

There is so much content on the Web and so much of it is recycled, retweeted, and rehashed. We had better get better at differentiating between liars and hacks and people who just make a mistake.