Well, this has to be a record. I believe this is the shortest university decision process in the last 400 years or so. Last Tuesday evening the story broke, just over a week later the university commission for good scientific work at the University of Bayreuth reached a decision.
They are rescinding his doctorate.
They didn't go into details, and most important, didn't decide if he plagiarized on purpose. He says he didn't, the documentation found on the GuttenPlagWiki screams a different story. Since he has announced that he wanted to withdraw his doctorate anyway, he won't contest it, so they don't have to do the normal detailed analysis.
Spiegel notes that he has sacrificed that title for his career as minister. And that his popularity has risen through all this. Some are calling him the German Sarah Palin.
And I am a bit worried about the tide of anti-intellectualism washing over Germany at the moment. People who have been irritated for years at people with doctorates pulling rank and being high and mighty about having this special title. It's been demonstrated to be a sham, all this "summa cum laude" stuff, so just ignore them. The Green party was being very snide during the public grillings today, constantly calling him "Herr Dr." - since the doctorate had not yet been rescinded, they could not be rebuked by the president.
This whole affair has done a great disservice to the German scientific community. We have been tried in the court of the mass media and found lacking. We must get serious about the topic of plagiarism and scientific misconduct NOW. No more playing around, being gentle to colleagues caught red-handed. No more doctoral titles easily purchased. No more made-up data. The hard part will be convincing the ministers of education that funding universities on the basis of quantitative measures is nonsense.
I suppose I should thank Mr. von und zu Guttenberg for getting my topic of plagiarism into every newspaper and every Stammtisch. Can we get back to work now, please?