Top critic nixes plagiarism charge
We've just uncovered something rather disturbing, and would like to inform our readership about it. Dirk Anderson, one of Ellen White's most avid critics, regularly condemns her for alleged plagiarism. (We say "alleged," for we have yet to see valid and untampered-with proof of the charge.) Yet we have just discovered evidence that Dirk has believed for years that there is absolutely nothing wrong with pretending that you wrote something that you really copied from someone else.
We present for your consideration the following comparison between one of his web pages and something posted on another web site around 1997. To be fair and balanced, we have given in their entirety three paragraphs from both web pages. We have not shortened these paragraphs at all, and thus are not trying to skew the evidence. The text highlighted in yellow is an exact match:
Count and see: 186 of the 236 words in Dirk's three paragraphs come from David Gilbert, with no credit given whatsoever. That's 79%. Perhaps Dirk could have gotten away with this wholesale copying in Ellen White's day, given the difference in standards back then, but not today. Especially is this so since he is so condemnatory and intolerant of 19th century writers who borrowed a few words here and there from others.
We enquired of the Dansville Public Library to see if Dirk had asked permission to use this material from their web site. Here is the reply we received on December 12, 2004:
Bizarre isn't it? Using the less charitable language Dirk himself uses when he talks of the alleged plagiarism of Ellen White, it appears that Dirk "stole" a picture from the Dansville Library site, and even "stole" its caption. First, here's a snapshot of David Gilbert's essay on the Dansville Public Library web page:
Now here's a snapshot of Dirk's page showing the "stolen" picture and caption:
We find the "stolen" picture extremely troubling, given the fact that we received a number of emails about our use of his picture from his web site. American copyright law allows for what is called "fair use." If a work is being commented upon or critiqued, then excerpts can be used without getting permission. Perhaps we were wrong, but we considered it fair use to use a cropped picture of Dirk on one of our web pages that evaluates his research and theology.
Here are excerpts from a few emails that we received from him. The first is from February 7, 2004:
This one is from February 8, 2004:
What we ended up doing was taking a snapshot of his web page and using that, which in our mind would most definitely constitute fair use. We never heard from Dirk again on that issue, which coincidentally coincided with the disappearance of our page on Dirk from the #1 spot on Google's search results.
Back to Dirk's web page, "Mrs. White's Health Visions: Was it God? Or Dr. Jackson?" It wouldn't be so bad if Dirk hadn't claimed to be the author, but we find that his Site Map page makes that very claim:
There is always the possibility that, unknown to us, a 19th century author did indeed obtain permission to copy and was not required to give credit. But today's standards are different. Even if Dirk had asked Dr. Witte for permission to use material from the Dansville Public Library's web site, he must still give credit when copying that material verbatim.
Yet after more than 4½ years, no credit is being given on his web page. How much of his other material has also been "plagiarized"?
Thus, we are forced to conclude that Dirk does not believe that plagiarism is all that big a deal. And if he believes that plagiarism is fine today, especially for critics of Ellen White, then he must certainly have no problem with a 19th century writer using a few words here and there from others, especially since that wasn't considered plagiarism at the time.
We've posted the rest of the story on a separate web page.
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