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Exploring Academic Integrity - A Self-Guided Tutorial

A tutorial to guide you through the concepts of Academic Integrity and your obligations as a student.

11 - Plagiarism


In October 2013, Senator Rand Paul delivered a speech in Virginia, where he described the filmGattaca. Within a day, political commentator Rachel Maddow noticed striking and suspicious similarities between Paul’s speech and the Wikipedia article for Gattaca.

The text of the Wikipedia article at the time of the speech is below, and a video of the speech is below the text. How similar do you find the two?

"In "the not-too-distant future", eugenics (in the form of conceiving "improved" children by genetic manipulation) is common, and DNA plays the primary role in determining social class. A genetic registry database uses biometrics to instantly identify and classify those so created as "valids" while those conceived by traditional means and more susceptible to genetic disorders are derisively known as "in-valids". Genetic discrimination is forbidden by law, but in practice genotype profiling is used to identify valids to qualify for professional employment while in-valids are relegated to menial jobs.

Due to frequent screening, Vincent faces genetic discrimination and prejudice. The only way he can achieve his dream of becoming an astronaut is to become a "borrowed ladder", a person who impersonates a "valid" with a superior genetic profile..."

After news of the Wikipedia plagiarism surfaced, Paul responded by calling his critics “footnote police” and “hacks and haters,” and by threatening to retire from politics and return to his medical practice. Paul has also been accused of plagiarism in other speeches and writing.