The piece reports that the University of California-Davis referred 196 plagiarism cases to the disciplinary office last year. But in the absence of comparison data from previous years, this number illustrates neither blur nor growth. By dropping so many numbers into its story, the Times is obviously trying to measure something. But what? I'm totally prepared to believe that campus plagiarism is increasing and that attitudes about plagiarism are changing, but the Times piece doesn't convince me of anything.
I've saved the worst for last. A Time magazine story asks in its lede, "Why are a rising number of French women killing their newborn babies?" The piece ("Why Are French Women Killing Their Babies?" July 29) informs readers that a mother allegedly smothered eight of her infants and buried them in northern France, and the incident was the fifth multiple infanticide in the country since 2003.
But the magazine makes absolutely no effort to look at pre-2003 infanticide data to prove its claim of an increase. None. I feel so intellectually cuckolded by Time that I think I'll check into a hotel room, invite the magazine's editors over, watch them make violent love to one another, and then make them lunch.
Thanks to bogus trendspotters Deanor Barkhorn, Steven Antalics, Jed Fowler, Mickey Snider, Paul Sweeney, Chris Dorman, William Montgomery, Jane Savage, Jon Blumenfeld, Dave Mulholland, Alan Stamm, and all who contributed. If you want to buy an occupied cemetery plot, a cuckolded cuckoo clock, a preowned term paper, or a dead baby, don't send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch my Twitter for random bogus-trend alerts. (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)
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Correction, Aug. 4, 2010: The original version of this story misstated the price a Florida couple was charging for the pair of cemetery plots and burial vaults they were selling. The passage has been removed. (Return to the corrected paragraph.)