The Element Encyclopedia of Plagiarism?

the-element-encyclopedia-of-vampiresWhen I critiqued Theresa Cheung’s The Element Encyclopedia of Vampires (2009), I took issue with her misidentification of the country Arnod Paole was stationed in (it wasn’t Greece) and her susceptibility to claims of by Federal Vampire & Zombie Agency—which, I hasten to add, is not a real a real government organisation (Hogg 2010; 2011).

Meanwhile, Niels K. Petersen called the book “an inaccurate mix of information taken from various sources” (2009).

So far, it doesn’t bode well as a reliable reference work. But it gets worse.

Skeptical Inquirer‘s Ben Radford “recently uncovered rampant plagiarism in a HarperCollins title The Element Encyclopedia of Vampires: An A–Z of the Undead, “written” (more accurately “cut-and-pasted-from-the-Internet”) by Theresa Cheung” (2013), then goes on to cite examples cribbed from Anthony Masters’ The Natural History of Vampires (1972) via Shroudeater.com, Answers.com, Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters (2005) and and the Mythical Creatures & Beasts Wiki.

And these are only some examples. Radford adds that the rest of his investigation appears in Skeptical Inquirer‘s July/August 2013 issue.

This case reminds me of another infamous plagiarist—and self-proclaimed vampire hunter—Sean Manchester, who ransacked Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), among other sources, to provide the narrative for his Highgate Vampire account (Hogg 2009a; 2009b; 2009c; Perrin 2010).

Except, unlike Cheung—as far as I know—he also maliciously pursues copyright violation claims against others. In one particular case, he issued a DMCA takedown notices against me after I used a picture from his book to refute a claim he’d (ironically) copy-pasted from elsewhere, concerning the identity of his Highgate Vampire. After the notice, he reported my use of the picture—and then stole my research, passing it off as his own. When I posted screencaps of his original blog entry and its revision, to establish they’d been revised after his DMCA notices, he issued me with two more, leading to the closure of my blog (Hogg 2013).

But I digress. So what happened in the wake of Radford’s exposé? Was Cheung’s book withdrawn? Did its publisher, HarperCollins, cast her out into the wilderness? Not quite:

HarperCollins, the owner of the imprint publishing the book, offered a justification that shocked Radford, but should not have. They told him that the author, Theresa Cheung, had merely mistakenly forgotten to properly credit her sources, even though as much as 50% of the book was not her own work. Radford demanded to know how HarperCollins could stand by the work of a plagiarist and the integrity and accuracy of her information. They declined to respond, and Radford was shocked at the handling of the book (Colavito 2013).

References

Colavito, Jason. 2013. “Steven Pinker: Books and Newspapers Made Us Nicer.” JasonColavito.com, June 18. http://www.jasoncolavito.com/1/post/2013/06/steven-pinker-books-and-newspapers-made-us-nicer.html.

Hogg, Anthony. 2009a. “The Mystery of Luisa, Pt. 2.” Did a Wampyr Walk in Highgate?, July 2. http://dawwih.blogspot.com.au/2009/07/mystery-of-luisa-pt-2.html.

———. 2009b. “The Mystery of Luisa, Pt. 3.” Did a Wampyr Walk in Highgate?, July 9. http://dawwih.blogspot.com.au/2009/07/mystery-of-luisa-pt-3.html.

———. 2009c. “The Rest of the Questions, Answered.” Did a Wampyr Walk in Highgate?, August 17. http://dawwih.blogspot.com.au/2009/08/rest-of-questions-answered.html.

———. 2010. “Critiquing Cheung.” Diary of an Amateur Vampirologist, March 15. http://doaav.blogspot.com.au/2010/03/critiquing-cheung.html.

———. 2011. “The FVZA Is Not a Factual Resource.” Diary of an Amateur Vampirologist, January 29. http://doaav.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/fvza-is-not-factual-resource.html.

———. 2013. “Downfall.” Did a Wampyr Walk in Highgate?, January 19. http://dawwih.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/downfall.html.

Perrin, Sam. 2010. “Bram Stoker vs “The Highgate Vampire”.” Spamosphere, 17 December. http://spamosphere.blogspot.com.au/2010/12/bram-stoker-vs-highgate-vampire.html.

Petersen, Niels K. 2009. “The Belgrade Vampire.” Magia Posthuma, October 18. http://magiaposthuma.blogspot.com.au/2009/10/belgrade-vampire.html.

Radford, Ben. 2013. “Investigating Plagiarism in New Age Books.” Skeptical Inquirer, June 20. http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/investigating_plagiarism_in_new_age_books.

Image

Monell, Megan. 2012. “Top Ten Tuesday – Best Vampire Books.” Love, Literature, Art, and Reason, March 13. http://meganm922.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/top-ten-tuesday-best-vampire-books.html.

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