Friday, February 18, 2011

When Plagiarism is Really Bad News

The German Defense Minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, is in deep trouble for having plagiarized his dissertation.  The funny thing is that his PhD is, well, unnecessary because he previously had the reputation for being one of the more dynamic and charismatic German politicians.  Now, his extraneous PhD may bring him down since he cut and pasted his way, apparently.  While he has not been perfect, I am sorry to see this happen as he had the guts to be more honest with the German people than any other politician on Afghanistan.  That it is not just a crisis scenario but a real war.  However, zu G may have blown his honesty resources on the nature of the war in Afghanistan and not have much left over for some incidents that occurred there and elsewhere or on his dissertation.  Indeed, the key thing about plagiarism here is that it indicates a character flaw that may have also appeared elsewhere.

We shall see if he lasts through this storm.  I doubt it because he had ruffled feathers by being more straightforward on some issues and much less so on others.  Accountability is a funky thing--people expect consistency. 


Jess Fortin said...

Dear Steve,
Just a little update. This crisis is far from over: Die Zeit now has it that he might have not written the dissertation at all:

Also Der Spiegel says that he might have (mis)used the services of the German parliament's research department when he was an MP, and cut and pasted some 10 pages of their work in the dissertation. This is a pretty serious accusation because it entails misusing public office for private use.,1518,746573,00.html

Moreover he is being badly advised through this crisis (damaging press conference Friday). With the CDU taking the worst beating of their history in the Landtag elections in Hamburg yesterday (although KTzG is from the CSU), it is not looking good for zu Guttenberg right now...

Here is a link to the GuttenPlag Wiki according to which some 68.70% of the dissertation is plagiarized.

Schöne Grüße from Germany!

Steve Saideman said...

Thanks for the links, Jess! Very helpful, although it is depressing to see Zu Gutt getting his own wiki for this.