Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Plagiarism at a glance

I reported yesterday on a thesis, Studies of Active Information in Search, I retrieved from the BEARdocs archive at Baylor. If the document is authentic, then Distinguished Professor of Engineering Robert J. Marks II, a.k.a. the "Charles Darwin" of intelligent design, approved extensive plagiarism of publications he coauthored with William A. Dembski.

Here are images, purposefully low in resolution, of pages 1-7 of the 8-page introduction. Passages plagiarizing papers by Dembski and Marks are highlighted in color. Those copied from papers by the thesis author (with Dembski and Marks as coauthors) are "lowlighted" in gray. The gray areas are hard to see, and some of you have suggested that they should be white. But I emphasize that the bibliography does not include the papers, and that Dembski's name is omitted from the copyright release forms in the appendix. I call shenanigans.

There are also comment boxes in my annotation of the document. They indicate the sources of the copied passages, and I include that content here to cover myself legally. Most of you will want simply to glance at the images, and gauge the scale of the plagiarism.

YELLOW: I give a reference list below.
PURPLE: Begin at first sentence of [1].
YELLOW: Begin at paragraph 2 of [1]. A period has been changed to a colon, and "no free lunch theorem" has been capitalized.

GRAY: First sentence of [4].
RED: Begin at third complete paragraph of second page of [1].

GRAY: Points (a-c) here come from the third sentence of [3].
GREEN: Begin about midway in the second column of [1], with "can" changed to "often" in the last sentence.

BLUE: Begins with the third sentence on the second page of [1].
PURPLE: Skip 3 sentences, arriving about midway in the first column of second page of [1].
GRAY: First 3 paragraphs of [4], with one awkward sentence rewritten. This gray passage runs to the end of the thesis section.

PURPLE: Opening of Sect. II-A of [2], with a period changed to colon, and with a reference deleted. Note that the copied period in the equation should have been changed to a comma.

YELLOW: The fourth sentence in column 2 of [2], with one reference removed. Note that the period at the end of the equation is copied, and that the "bits" should have been inserted ahead of the period.
RED: Skip two sentences following Equation (3) [(1.3) here] in [2].
GREEN: Begin with second sentence, third paragraph of Sect. II of [2]. The colon prior to the equation is changed to period here.
BLUE: Begin with third sentence following Equation (2) in Section II-A of [2], eliminating initial clause, and changing "for" to "of."
PURPLE: Begin with last paragraph of first column of page 2 [2].
YELLOW: Begin with the second sentence of footnote 3 of [2].

RED: Begin with second sentence, column 2, second page of [2]. Note that exogenous information is given above (1.2), so the copy here of the definition in [2] is redundant.
GREEN: Begin with last sentence of first full paragraph in column 2 of page 2 of [2], and move footnote 4 into the body.
BLUE: [blue highlighting, yellow box by mistake] Second full paragraph in second column, second page of [2]. Here "dB" is changed to "decibels," and "instead" is changed to "rather."


It seems to me that 4+ pages are highlighted. In other words, at least half of the introduction is copied from papers by Dembski and Marks. If Marks in fact approved this, then he has suffered a serious lapse in ethics.


[1] William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II "Conservation of Information in Search: Measuring the Cost of Success" IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics A, Systems & Humans, vol.5, #5, September 2009, pp.1051-1061,

[2] William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, "Bernoulli's Principle of Insufficient Reason and Conservation of Information in Computer Search," Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics. San Antonio, TX, USA - October 2009, pp. 2647-2652,

[3] [Student], William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, "Evolutionary Synthesis of Nand Logic: Dissecting a Digital Organism," Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics. San Antonio, TX, USA - October 2009, pp. 3047-3053,

[4] [Student], George MontaƱez, William A. Dembski, Robert J. Marks II, "Efficient Per Query Information Extraction from a Hamming Oracle," Proceedings of the 42nd Meeting of the Southeastern Symposium on System Theory, IEEE, University of Texas at Tyler, March 7-9, 2010, pp.290-297,

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