Ghostwriting's plagiarism problem

A few months ago Los Angeles Magazine published a denoument to a plagiarism scandal featuring professor David Agus, who found himself in the unfortunate position of having to explain why his latest book was full of plagiarism. The answer: my ghostwriter did it. [via]

Agus says he dictated the substance of the book; Loberg added the color. She assured him that she had run the books through plagiarism software multiple times. She assured all her authors the same thing. It was in her contract. But the L.A. Times found that The Book of Animal Secrets, which argues that species such as pigeons and pigs can help humans deal with conditions like memory loss and chronic pain, had passages yanked from theNew York Times, National Geographic,scientific journals, college websites, Wikipedia, and a South African safari company's "Ten Craziest Facts You Should Know About a Giraffe." (Some of which aren't even crazy, such as number one: They're tall.)

A constant theme of the article is But The Plagiarism Checker Said It Was Fine. The Plagiarism Checker turns out to be "The Secret to Creating Truly Original Content," an old article by Loberg. Her journey from "Use the plagiarism checker to preclude even the appearance of plagiarism" to "If the plagiarism checker doesn't see it, I'll get away with it" is a beautiful one! Just because we're all writing for machines now doesn't mean humans ain't reading it.

Agus is posed as her victim, which he is, along with other clients of Loberg's such as David Perlmutter and Sanjay Gupta. But all this swiftly-extruded pop science shit is theirs no matter who cooked it for them, so they get to eat it.

I loved this paragraph:

"She has issued a public apology, stripped her website of all of its content, and sent me very nice emails saying she didn't have more to say right now. From what I can tell, none of the sentences in those emails was taken from any other source."