Top 10 Hoaxes List plagiarizes me

Cranky Media Guy drew my attention to a list of the "Top 10 Hoaxes of all time" posted by Kelvin Lynch on Cranky asks: "Haven't we seen this exact list before... recently, in fact?"

I can't recall if this list had been posted elsewhere recently, but as I was reading through it, I felt that a lot of the language was strangely familiar. And then I realized why this was so. Much of the text has been lifted directly from the print version of The Museum of Hoaxes, published back in 2002.

For instance, here's part of what I wrote in my book about the Surgeon's Photo:

A highly respectable British surgeon, Colonel Robert Wilson, was driving along the shore of the loch on April 19, 1934, early in the morning, when, he said afterward, he noticed something moving in the water. He happened to have a camera with him, so he quickly stopped his car and snapped a photo. The resulting image showed the slender neck of a serpent rising out of the loch. For decades this photo was considered to be the best evidence ever obtained of the existence of a sea monster in the loch.

And here's what Kelvin Lynch writes:

Colonel Robert Wilson, a highly respectable British surgeon, said that he noticed something moving in the water and took a picture of it. The resulting image showed the slender neck of a serpent rising out of the Loch. The photo came to be known simply as "The Surgeon's Photo" and for decades it was considered to be the best evidence of the monster.

What I wrote about the Hitler Diaries:

On April 22, 1983, the German magazine Der Stern announced that it had made the greatest Nazi memorabilia find of all time: a diary kept by Adolf Hitler himself. And this was not just one thin journal. It was a sixty-two-volume mother lode, covering the crucial years of 1932-1945.

What Kelvin Lynch writes:

On April 22, 1983 the German magazine Der Stern announced that it had made the greatest Nazi memorabilia find of all time: a diary kept by Adolf Hitler himself. And this was not just one thin journal.

And it goes on like this for a number of the other items in the list. Strangely, Kelvin Lynch doesn't cite the Museum of Hoaxes as a reference. So I guess he just coincidentally came up with the exact same words as I did to describe these hoaxes!

I've had this problem before with finding my writing posted on associated content and (My list of the Top 100 April Fool's Day hoaxes has been a popular source of content.) The people who write for those sites seem to think that if they slightly shuffle other people's words, that makes it their own, and there's no need to give any credit. What makes this not only rude but illegal is that they're getting paid to post these articles.

Update: Looks like took down the article. I never even got around to complaining directly to them.


Posted on Fri Jul 24, 2009


I'm curious if you've notified the offenders, both in this incident and in the others as well.
Posted by Duck  in  Georgia, USA  on  Fri Jul 24, 2009  at  11:51 AM
Posted by Unfairly Balanced  in  Earth  on  Fri Jul 24, 2009  at  12:02 PM
Embarrassment is the best, I think, if you can come up with some way. resolved an incident once by changing images that the plagiarizing article had hotlinked from their site. That won't work in this case, but something in that spirit would be quite appropriate.

Maybe use your field to do so? Start a rumor that they are responsible for some hoax?
Posted by Crazy Ivan  on  Fri Jul 24, 2009  at  12:21 PM
Ugh, don't you find out you get in trouble for that like in fifth grade?
Posted by Whittier  in  Minneapolis  on  Fri Jul 24, 2009  at  04:17 PM
In a touch of irony, is also 'trolling'(?) for 'online freelance writers'. They say in their ads (I have one on in another tab) "Examiners are independent contractors" which allows them to disclaim any violation of law on their part. Reading the information they have it apparently depends on 'click-throughs' to get any money - which one can do independently via Google Adsense. "Examiners are paid a very competitive rate that is based on standard Internet variables including page views, unique visitors, session length, and advertising performance.​​​​"
So, are any of the old millionaires who made their money 'stuffing envelopes at home' around to tell us how good that job is?
Posted by John Paradox  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Fri Jul 24, 2009  at  05:24 PM
Wow, Alex. When I read the article, it just sounded very much like some other "Greatest Hoaxes" list I seemed to recall reading recently, possibly even on this site. I had no idea it was swiped from your book (I haven't read it in a while).

I'm not sure there's a lot you can do legally, but pointing out their plagiarism here can't hurt.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Jul 24, 2009  at  06:03 PM
You get em, Alex!
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Fri Jul 24, 2009  at  08:58 PM
Actually it's illegal to copy your work whether it's for money or not.

Sue their asses off.
Posted by Carl Fink  on  Sat Jul 25, 2009  at  06:40 AM
Maybe I'd get to read more hoaxes if you'd ignore this stuff, and I don't know that fighting it'll be worth your effort, but I do appreciate your not simply ignoring such plagiarism. It sure seems to me that more & more such plagiarism seems to be more & more accepted as standard Web practice, and that stinks. It'd be nicer if people did not learn how the world works simply from watching tv and reading the Web but, as long as that is so, writers shall need to be wised up that plagiarism is not acceptable. Things sure would be simpler if everyone was smarter and less lazy.
Posted by hoaxinghal  on  Sat Jul 25, 2009  at  08:34 AM
y'now, I'm constantly getting ripped off, too. I coined the phrase "Eat Or Go Home" years ago, (40+, thenk yew) and upon googling the phrase, I find it everywhere these days. The name of my band was stolen by many others, as was my stage name. I can't win, but I'll bet you can, A-man. Sic 'em
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Sat Jul 25, 2009  at  09:53 AM
Back when the Lifewave Energy Patch thread in the Old Forum was going hot and heavy, I did a Google search to see if there were any other sites that were skeptical about that scam. One of the few hits was a site called Anne's Anti-Quackery & Science Blog. It had a post on June 17, 2005 that questioned the validity of the patches:

I immediately noticed there were two paragraphs that were copied word-for-word from my Lifewave post on Sat April 30, 2005 at 12:29 PM:

I appreciate that this person thought my comments were noteworthy, but just cutting and pasting them as if they were her own is a little annoying.
Posted by Captain Al  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Sat Jul 25, 2009  at  10:42 AM
@Captain Al There is a time when the lifewave thread wasn't going hot and heavy?
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Sat Jul 25, 2009  at  02:21 PM
Article is currently 404 -- says it's in the process of being published, and I should check back in 5 minutes.

That was also true 15 minutes ago...
Posted by Mark  in  The wilds of Georgia  on  Sat Jul 25, 2009  at  02:43 PM
Here it is happening once again? It's happened before more than once?

Sounds like a "conspiracy" to me...

Posted by Mark-N-Isa  in  Midwest USA  on  Sat Jul 25, 2009  at  04:59 PM
Somewhere recently I read an article about documented cases where people have rewritten sentences verbatim without realizing it. He may have seen your book at some point and written the exact sentences without meaning to! Or he may be copying and pasting.

If the former is true, you should feel honored! His subconscious loves your writing style!
Posted by John  on  Sat Jul 25, 2009  at  07:34 PM
Captain Al, the Lifewave thread is still going hot and heavy. I suspect it's the longest thread on this site, although I don't know that for a fact.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sun Jul 26, 2009  at  01:23 AM
Razela & CMG, yes it's still going but it seems to go in spurts now. Back in the first few months (years?) you could count on it for daily entertainment.
Posted by Captain Al  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Sun Jul 26, 2009  at  09:32 AM
Now all we need is for somebody to plagiarise Alex's comments about being plagiarised.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Mon Jul 27, 2009  at  12:25 AM
LOL, i went there and started spamming about the thing.
Posted by Silvar  in  Philipines  on  Mon Jul 27, 2009  at  01:54 AM
Hi Alex,

Well you are hurting them! I've placed a link to your website on my teeny little Pranks Page at some time ago simply because I love your website (I didn't have the odasity to copy your work although I would love to!) and guess what ... I found this page purely by accident while searching on google! Just leave this thread open forever and soon everyone will know that the examiner failed!!
Great website these people do an injustice to your work!
Posted by Sanet  in  South Africa  on  Sat May 29, 2010  at  08:34 PM
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