Sunday, November 27, 2011

Guttenberg: I was a bit scatterbrained

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg reappeared on the German scene this past week. He gave the editor in chief of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Giovanni di Lorenzo, a three-day interview that is to be published next week as a book, Vorest gescheitert (Failed - for the time being). A portion of the interview was published online, a longer version with nice pictures was published in this week's Zeit.

I must admit to having be extremely angry when I read the interview. di Lorenzo so often quits asking questions on sensitive topics and switches to other topics, such as if he is going to start a new party and when he will be coming back. zu Guttenberg does not admit to having plagiarized, but keeps coming up with excuses. He had over 80 diskettes, and 4 computers, and 2 kids, and this and that and another excuse and this and that and I was really scatterbrained and and and and.

He just does not understand why plagiarism is a problem for science - the only thing we have is our credibility. If we lie or steal, we are no longer reliable. If we pretend to be authors of something that is from someone else, we are liars.

Luckily, the rest of the press pretty much heaped scorn on zu Guttenberg. The best one was a faked interview in the Süddeutsche Zeitung about zu Guttenberg looking like the soccer player Lothar Matthäus, with answers that Guttenberg gave di Giovanni. If you understand German, you will enjoy this interview.

One hopes that he returns to the US and finds something useful to do for society. I don't think, however, that writing another dissertation in the US will be a good idea for him to try. Maybe he can learn a useful trade.

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