Posts Tagged ‘Guttenberg plagiarism’

Guttenberg is toast – a tribute to the power of the internet

March 1, 2011

The power of the internet and we should not forget that of the shoes!!

zu Googleberg has bowed to the inevitable and has resigned.

Burnt Toast

German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has announced his resignation after weeks of criticism over plagiarizing parts of his Ph.D. thesis. ….The University of Bayreuth had already stripped Guttenberg of his law doctorate last week. Guttenberg apologized to the German parliament, and said he had made “grave errors” in his thesis, but insisted he did not intentionally copy it.

Pressure mounted on him to resign, after at least 17,000 academics signed an open letter to the German chancellor on Monday (over 20,000 according to the Updated ticker of Germans signing the open letter here), in which they said the plagiarism scandal made a “mockery” of the academic profession.

In recent days Education Minister Annette Schavan had called Guttenberg’s actions shameful, and parliamentary speaker Norbert Lammert said they were “a nail in the coffin for confidence in democracy.”

The shoes say it all!!

February 28, 2011

Shoes against zu Googleberg.

An impromptu protest at the German Defense Ministry demanding that Guttenberg step down. "Resignation = Progress" reads the sign.

An impromptu protest at the German Defense Ministry demanding that Guttenberg step down. "Resignation = Progress" reads the sign: photo DPA via Der Spiegel


Summa cum fraude: Now shoe waving to show contempt for Guttenberg

February 27, 2011

The German academic world is finally reacting to the Googleberg affaire. A demonstration was held in Berlin on Saturday and an open letter to Angela Merkel has been signed by more than 15,000 academics (as of Sunday noon).

Shoe waving as a means of showing contempt is spreading. It was very evident at the demonstration in Berlin on Saturday 26th February against Guttenberg and his fraudulent ways and against Angela Merkel for keeping him in his job.

Several hundred demonstrators protested in Berlin on 26th February 2011 against the fact that Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg simply copied parts of his doctoral thesis and therefore lost his PhD but still remains in his job as Defence Minister. Summa cum fraude was the poster in reference to the very lax standards of University of Bayreuth in awarding him a PhD with  “Summa cum laude”  for his plagiarised thesis.


"Summa cum fraude": Photo: DAPD

Shoe waving showing contempt for Guttenberg: photo DAPD

Professor Debora Weber-Wulff writes on her blog:

German scientists and doctoral students are signing an open letter to the German Chancellor by the droves. There are some 7000 (over 15,153 on Sunday at noon -ed) signatures as of Feb. 26, 2011. Since I didn’t go to the demonstration in Berlin this afternoon, I will offer this translation:

Dear Chancellor Merkel,

As doctoral students we have been following the current discussion about the plagiarism accusations against the Minister of Defense, Mr. Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. We are shocked and do not understand what is happening. We have the impression that you are trying everything in your power to keep a minister in your cabinet who still insists that he did not knowingly deceive in his doctoral thesis, despite massive evidence to the contrary.

With this course of action, the German government and the members of parliament from the coalition [of CDU, CSU and FDP] damage not only themselves, but much more.

Zu Guttenberg has had to distance himself a number of times from statements he has made about his dissertation. The Internet community has with an unparalleled effort managed to demonstrate numerous incidents of clear plagiarism in Mr. zu Guttenberg’s dissertation. The evidence can be openly seen and checked by anyone. It should not surprise anyone that experts in plagiarism are united in the opinion that this is not just a few “embarassing errors”. This is massive, systematic deception.
Zu Guttenberg copied large portions of his dissertation from various sources – apparently with great ambition – and did not name those sources in order to obtain a doctoral title that he used for, among other things, election advertising. The University of Bayreuth did not address this issue of deception [when revoking the doctorate].

In the face of the extent and amount of plagiarism found, it should be as clear to you as it is to us that at the end of an exact investigation by the university, only one result will be possible with respect to the intent to deceive on the part of the minister. This cannot be done unknowingly.

Calling the deception a deception has nothing to do with the minister belonging to a particular political party. We would also demand that politicians from opposing parties step down, if they had given their word of honor that the work was only their own, except for sources as noted, and had plagiarized in the same manner.

On February 23, 2011 Mr. zu Guttenberg stated that he only wants to be judged by his performance as Minister of Defense. He alluded to a phrase you had used when you said that you did not hire him as a research assistant.

This makes a mockery of all the research assistants and doctoral students who honestly endeavor to contribute to the advancement of science. This makes it sound as if obtaining a doctoral title by fraud is just a trivial offense and that the academic word of honor is meaningless in everyday life.

When following the rules of good scientific practice it is not just a question of footnotes, trivialities that can safely be neglected in the face of the larger political problems of the day. This is the foundation of our work and our trustworthiness. We strive in our own work, according to the best of our knowledge and conscience, to reach this high goal at all times. When we fail, we run the risk – and rightly so – of being expelled from the university.
Most of us teach younger students. It is often our job to teach them the basics of good scientific practice. We insist that the students be exact at all times, correctly quoting and clearly noting all help that was used. We don’t do this because we are fanatics about footnotes or because we live in an ivory tower and know nothing about real life. It is our intention to pass on the understanding that scientific progress – and with it progress for society as a whole – is only possible when we can depend on the honesty of the scientific community.

When our students violate these precepts, we grade their efforts as unsatisfactory. On repeated violation, as a rule we try to expel them. Those who have been expelled are denied access to numerous career opportunities – and rightly so – even for jobs that are much less in need of personal integrity then the office of the Minister of Defense.

We may be old-fashioned and are spouting outdated conservative values when we are of the opinion that values such as veracity and a sense of responsibility should also be valid outside of the scientific community. Mr zu Guttenberg seemed to be of this same opinion until very recently.

Research contributes a valuable service to the development of society. Honest and innovative science is the foundation of the prosperity of our country. When it is no longer an important value to protect ideas in our society, then we have gambled away our future. We don’t expect thankfulness for our scientific work, but we expect respect, we expect that our work be taken seriously. By handling the case of zu Guttenberg as a trifle, Germany’s position in world science, its credibility as the “Land of Ideas”, suffers.

Maybe you consider our contributions to society as being negligible. In that case, we kindly request that in the future you refrain from referring to Germany as the “Republic of Education and Culture”, as you often proclaim.


The Undersigned [at the time of translation]

3242 doctoral students
persons with doctorates
other supporters

(Updated ticker of Germans signing the open letter here)

I have no great faith in the level of integrity of European politicians. I cannot see that any principles of ethics or integrity will have any impact on Angela Merkel’s decisions. She will get rid of  Guttenberg if – and only if – she feels that he will be more of a liability rather than an asset in the March elections.

A man of no shame! Guttenberg reproduced work by a parliamentary researcher in his thesis

February 20, 2011


The GuttenPlag Wiki is expanding . Over 68% of the pages in his thesis contain plagiarised material.

Plagiat graphic.jpg

Pages where plagiarism were found (black). The Table of Contents (pages 1-14) and Annexes, page 408 (blue) were not included in calculating the percentages. Pages with imitations of various sources are shown in red. Plagiat graphic.jpg

Professor DEBORA WEBER-WULFF writes

I’m wondering if KTzG thought that this crazy quilt is how we do science. Or if he is perhaps suffering from an advanced version of cryptomnesia. Wikipedia quotes Macrae, C.N., Bodenhasen, G. V. & Calvini, G. (1999). Contexts of cryptomnesia: May the source be with you. Social Cognition, 17, 273–297:

Cryptomnesia is more likely to occur when the ability to properly monitor sources is impaired. For example, people are more likely to falsely claim ideas as their own when they were under high cognitive load at the time they first considered the idea.

Sounds fitting. The saga continues.

Perhaps the rumour that zu Guttenberg (aka “zu Googleberg”) actually used ghost writers for his thesis is more than just rumour.

Baron zu Googleberg image:

Der Spiegel reveals:

In May 2004, when Guttenberg was a member of parliament for the conservative Christian Social Union party, Ulrich Tammler, a civil servant in the department with two PhDs of his own, wrote an analysis for Guttenberg headlined “The Question of the Link to Faith in the US Constitution and Supreme Court Rulings on the Separation of the Church and State.”

Tammler completed the 10-page document on May 13, 2004 and passed it on to Guttenberg’s parliamentary office under the reference number WF III – 100/04, according to an article due to be published in SPIEGEL on Monday.Even though members of Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, are only supposed to use of the department for work relating to their parliamentary mandate, Guttenberg included almost the entire article in his dissertation, with only minor word changes.

Tammler himself isn’t cited in any of Guttenberg’s footnotes. Only the parliamentary research department itself is mentioned, a footnote 83. The 60 staff of the department are meant to help lawmakers fulfil their duties as members of parliament. The department’s guidelines state: “The German Bundestag reserves all rights to the work of the Research Department. Publication and distribution require the approval of the departmental management.”

A man of no shame!



And the question becomes whether his thesis contains anything original at all.

On Friday Angela Merkel was still giving her Defence Minister her public support but it is going to be difficult for her to continue with this line. Associating with him is now a burden that few will be able to bear. The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that the defense minister had plagiarised at least 19 authors. According to the Berliner Zeitung he also copied the work of first-year students at the Free University of Berlin.

Plagiarism and the morphing of a Minister

February 18, 2011

Misconduct in the scientific world takes months if not years to be investigated and sanctions – if any – are light. But for those riding high in the poltical world the consequences can be swift. It seems unlikely that Googleberg can continue as the German Defence Minister for very long.

Just 4 days ago he was

Baron Dr. Karl-Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg, Defence Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Baron Dr. Karl-Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jakob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg (

Then his plagiarism was revealed by the Süddeutsche Zeitung earlier this week, and his copying of some 24 passages for his PhD thesis has grown to be the copying of at least 78 passages. Even the first two paragraphs of his introduction appear to have been copied from a 1997 article in the center-right dailyFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Der Spiegel dubbed him Merkel’s Minister of Scandals.

Deutsche Welle decided that Googleberg was more appropriate than Guttenberg. Two criminal complaints have now been filed against him, claiming infringement of copyrights and lying in the sworn statement that accompanied the thesis. Others are claiming that he can’t be guilty of plagiarism – it must have been the fault of his ghost writer!

In a desperate damage control exercise after being read the riot act by Angela Merkel, Googleberg said on Friday that he would temporarily renounce his doctorate and relinquish his “doctor” title amid allegations that he plagiarized significant sections of his dissertation.

And now Der Spiegel has baptised him Merkel’s Copycat minister.

In the space of just 3 days,

Herr. Dr. Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg, Defence Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany

has morphed to

Herr Theodor Googleberg, Merkel’s copycat minister.

But at least Googleberg has upheld the reputation of German politicians in the misconduct stakes and managed to reduce the lead that was being being taken by Bunga Bunga Berlusconi in Italy and by the “free loading” ministers of the French Republic.

Guttenberg plagiarism: Germans fixated with academic titles

February 18, 2011
c. 2011: Axel Völcker,

Prof. Dr. Debora Weber-Wulff

The Guttenberg plagiarism saga continues while he has gone off to Afghanistan for a surprise visit – probably because it is less dangerous there right now.

Prof. Dr. Debora Weber-Wulff is Professor for Media and Computing at the HTW Berlin. She was involved in the BMBF flagship project “Virtuelle Fachhochschule” developing eLearning materials and carries out Internet- and eLearning-related projects. She also works on detecting plagiarism and has a plagiarism blog.

Following the apparently blatant plagiarism carried out by Germany’s Defence Minister for his PhD thesis, she was interviewed by which includes the folllowing:

What is your assessment of the Guttenberg situation?

What the rest of the thesis is like, and which chapter the alleged plagiarism is in – that’s another question. There are communities here who say it’s OK to plagiarize a little in your methodology section, but not in others. I think this is completely bizarre. Germans have a way of talking the problem down.The excerpts that the Süddeutsche Zeitung has online are scary, because they are one-to-one copies. And that’s not OK.

What is the real issue then?
This has to do with the German tendency to love titles, they are title-fixated, and people in politics love to have a doctor title so they seem wiser. But it should be about science, for scientists to prove that they can work by themselves – it’s the first proof that they can do research on their own.

Would you say there is a culture of plagiarising and cheating among German students?
I wouldn’t go that far. There’s a download culture. Young people download their music, videos, and why not download their thesis, because they just see it as busy work – something that stands between them and the degree they think they want or need so they can make lots of money and don’t have to work any longer.

She also writes on her blog:

Guttenberg, the conservative German defense minister from Bavaria, has left the country and gone to Afghanistan. They say this was planned, but right now, he’s probably safer there than in the streets of Berlin. The opposition is gleefully taking potshots at him (metaphorically, you understand).

His supporters accuse the scientist who discovered the plagiarism of being part of a commie plot to undermine the country, if I understand their tone of voice correctly.
No one believes that a professor might sit down one evening at the computer, in the midst of writing a review of a doctoral thesis that had been around for a while, but had a very prominent author, currently under fire for other things. The professor, Andreas Fischer-Lescano of the University of Bremen, poured himself a glass of Argentine red wine, looked over the thesis and put three words into Google: “säkularer laizistischer multireligiöser” (secular lay multireligious – the thesis includes a chapter on putting references to a god in a constitution).
And he got a hit. From an article in the Neue Züricher Zeitung by Klara Obermüller, written a few years before his thesis was published. Oops. He poured another glass and tried some other terms, and some more. Fischer-Lescano wrote a scathing review, and includes as an appendix 24 word-for-word passages that are not quoted and not referenced. The review will be published the end of the month in Kritische Justiz, 44(1), pp. 112-119.
A number of journalists have spoken with me today to question this way of working. How do I look for plagiarists? “Well,” I said, “pretty much the same. Except that I prefer Austrian wine.”

As a sociological phenomenon, the rise of the “cut-and-paste” culture together with the German love of academic titles is a worthy subject for study. But what does not seem to be in doubt is that Guttenberg is just another politician who is just another fraud. And a misuse of position – whether to get an academic degree or to amass huge sums of money – is still corruption.

Why voters continue to vote for frauds is an even more interesting subject for study.

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