Wednesday, March 28, 2007

An Incompetent Plagiarist

I edit a mathematics journal, the Journal of Integer Sequences (JIS). It's a completely free online journal, where submission, refereeing, and publication are all done electronically.

Recently I got a submission, and, as usual, I sent it to a referee for his opinion. I was a little surprised to get the following response (redacted so as not to display any names):

Dear Professor Shallit:

I downloaded and read [the submission] by [Mr X]. Also in JIS, there is another article by the same name, which I wrote in 2000... Unfortunately, [Mr. X] is a plagiarist. He literally copied and pasted my article. If you peruse the two articles yourself, you will see what I mean. His is mostly a verbatim copy of mine. The only instances where [Mr. X] deviates from my article are when he adds his own results. His results have two qualities: one, they are trivial cases of the main result from my paper (which was a simple result in its own right), and two, they are written awkwardly, as though by somebody who does not know how write about mathematics. This is by far the most ridiculous "submission" to a journal I have ever come across. I am speechless. If you wish, I can still write a formal referee's report; please let me know.

All the Best,

[The Referee]

PS This is priceless. Here's a guy who plagiarizes an article, and then submits it to the very same journal from which he plagiarized the article in the first place!

I don't think I need to add anything more.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Canadian Preachers Rake In the Cash from Gullible Flock

From the Toronto Star, one of the few newspapers in Canada that still does some investigative reporting, comes this appalling story about a family of Pentecostal preachers that have been apparently raking in tons of cash from their poor parishioners.

According to the Star, Paul Melnichuk and his sons Tim and Tom "lead lavish lives in contrast to the mainly working-class black families that make up the bulk of the church."

"Between them, the pastors have amassed a real estate fortune worth about $12 million. Each owns a multi-million-dollar country estate north of Toronto (Tim's is worth as much as $5.5 million), they share a Florida vacation villa, and the pastors and their wives drive luxurious cars – among them a Porsche Cayenne SUV, a Lexus RX 330 SUV and a Mercedes-Benz CLK 320 convertible."

Melnichuk's Prayer Palace claims to fund charities, but "a continuing Star investigation into Canadian charities has found the church devotes little money to charitable work. In fact, the church's most recent financial statements show that only $9,443 was spent on 'benevolent and charity' activities in 2005. The church's annual 'missions' fluctuate between $500 and $36,704 in the past few years."

The Star deserves a lot of praise for investigating these creeps. But the parishioners don't seem to care: a follow-up article reveals that the reporters who blew the whistle were called "wicked" by congregants. But these letters from Star readers show not everyone is fooled.