Monday, 16 February 2015

Tanveer Ahmed's Weird Article Seems To Have Been Plagiarised

Tanveer Ahmed, a psychiatrist and ex-Sydney Morning Herald columnist, wrote an extremely terrible opinion piece for The Australian last Monday the 9th of February, re-entering the heady world of opinion writing after he was revealed on ABC's Media Watch as a serial plagiarist - the show lists an unbelievable number of examples of Ahmed plagiarising himself, or directly copying and pasting the text of other journalists:


His most recent work in The Australian is reprehensible. He hypothesises a cause for male violence as such:
"Family violence within newly arrived ethnic groups is often related to the sudden dilution of traditional masculinity, leaving men lost and isolated, particularly as females enjoy greater autonomy and expectations"
MP Tim Watts explains why this view is abhorrent much better than I can:



Ahmed is, ridiculously, still an ambassador for White Ribbon - a movement that works to reduce domestic violence. This piece by Petra Bueskens at The Conversation is excellent.




Out of curiosity, and following some of the social media commentary around Ahmed's piece, I plugged his writing into a bunch of online plagiarism checkers, and, lo and behold, a portion of his article is either plagiarised from work he's published well into the past, or ripped directly from another website.

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This paragraph seems to have been copied from the website Prospect.Org:

The Australian, February 2015 (full text)

"...it is critical that improving arrest and prosecution rates, establishing shelters and abuse hotlines, pushing for state provisions against stalking, and creating protections for immigrants all have the goal of getting victims out of abusive -relationships"

Prospect.org Feb 2013, Marcotte

"Improving arrest and prosecution rates, establishing shelters and abuse hotlines, pushing for state provisions against stalking, and creating protections for immigrants all have the goal of getting victims out of abusive relationships and into safe situations."
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This paragraph has been used four times in the past five years, with only minor alterations, most recently in an article on 'Online Opinion'. It's been copied so many times by Ahmed that it actually shows up in the PDFs hosted on the Media Watch website, from his appearance on the show in 2012.


The Australian, February 2015

"Men for whom the security of unionised labour in the manufacturing industries is becoming a distant memory are experiencing a huge displacement from modern economic trends. It’s been replaced by casualised, service-oriented work with relatively low wages. In essence, their work has been feminised."

Online Opinion, 2013

"In the Western world, it can be seen among the traditionally white Anglo-Saxon working class, for whom the security of unionised labour in the manufacturing industries is slowly but surely becoming a distant memory. It is (sic) been replaced by casualised, service-oriented work with relatively low wages. In essence, their work is being feminised..."

Sydney Morning Herald, 2012

"Men, for whom the security of unionised labour in the manufacturing industries is slowly but surely becoming a distant memory, are experiencing a huge displacement from modern economic trends. It's been replaced by casualised, service‐oriented work with relatively low wages. In essence, their work has been feminised...."

Sydney Morning Herald, 2011

"Men for whom the security of unionised labour in the manufacturing industries is slowly but surely becoming a distant memory are experiencing a huge displacement from modern economic trends. It's been replaced by casualised, service-oriented work with relatively low wages. In essence, their work has been feminised, a development exacerbated by the financial crisis"

Sydney Morning Herald, 2010

"Men are experiencing a huge displacement from modern economic trends. In the Western world, it can be seen among the working class, traditionally white Anglo-Saxon, for whom the security of unionised labour in the manufacturing industries is slowly but surely becoming a distant memory. It's been replaced by casualised, service-oriented work with relatively low wages. In essence, their work has been feminised, a development exacerbated by the financial crisis."

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This rabbit hole is curiously deep. Ahmed wrote an article in the Medical Journal of Australia in 2013, outlining his views on alternative medicine. At the end, there’s this note:

“Dr Ahmed has given an assurance to MJA InSight that this is his original work”

To the plagiarism checker:

Ahmed, MJA, 2013

“The thinking is that the human body has an energy to it that can be guided by external manipulation, much the way that matter and tissues are influenced by chemicals and radiation in conventional medicine.”

Dworkin, 2001

“Supposedly, the human body has an energy to it that can be guided by external manipulation, much the way that matter and tissues are influenced by chemicals and radiation in allopathic medicine.” 

Dworkin was the source of Ahmed's plagiarised SMH articles (in that case, a different article Dworkin wrote for The Atlantic).

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Ahmed wrote another piece, this time more recently, in January this year, in The Australian, on the same topic. Some paragraphs are ripped directly from his article in the MJA:

Ahmed, The Australian, January 2015 (full text)

“According to the National Institute of Complementary Medicine, two in three Australians use complementary medicines each year and spend almost four times as much on out-of-pocket expenses for these medicines as on pharmaceuticals. Mostly, the use of vitamins or supplements is unwarranted in healthy people.”

Ahmed, MJA 2013

“According to the National Institute of Complementary Medicine two in three Australians use complementary medicines each year and spend almost four times as much on the out-of-pocket expenses for these medicines as they do on pharmaceuticals. In most cases, the use of vitamins or supplements is unwarranted in healthy people.”

Which itself seems to be taken directly from this website:

Life Sciences Queensland, Date Unknown

"Research has shown that two in three Australians use complementary medicines. Furthermore, consumers are spending four times more in out of pocket expenses on complementary medicines than on pharmaceuticals"
Another line has been edited slightly, but clearly self-plagiarised:

Ahmed, MJA 2013

"There also needs to be an admission of the power of placebo, the inherent doubts that are part and parcel of health care, and that the veneer of omniscience within the medical profession is, in part, charade"

Ahmed, The Australian, January 2015 (full text)

"We need to recognise the power of the placebo and that the veneer of omniscience in the medical profession is, in part, a charade"

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When you submit work to a publisher, you agree that what you've written is original work - copying something you've submitted to another publisher also counts as plagiarism, given you're forcing an outlet to unwittingly publish and derive revenue from content also published elsewhere.

Plagiarism is a shitty thing to do for a large variety of reasons, but to me, putting other people, who have placed their trust in you, in a legally compromised position, is really nasty part.

In an interview on ABC's Radio National in late 2012, Ahmed confusingly confesses his sins, tries to explain his plagiarism, and pleads to be given a 'second chance':

"And already, I must say, the…I’ve been…I’ve felt well supported. I’ve felt lots of journalists and doctors too have said, okay, look, you screwed up but nobody really thinks you need to plagiarise but, you know, this’ll take time. You need to steadily ride up again, build trust. And that’s, that’s what I’d like to do, you know, and do it in a humble way with purpose."

I have very strong feelings about the perpetration of domestic violence (a big part of the reason why I'm not really qualified to offer meaningful commentary on the issue). A huge number of men get away with the infliction of harm because they're talented at creating awkwardly misshapen justifications for their actions - post-hoc rationalisations that allow them to slip easily and regularly into state of stupidity.

Ahmed's incoherent justification of plagiarism seems to mirror his twisted explanatory reasoning around domestic violence. He characterises himself as some sort of innocent automaton - carelessly copying paragraphs from other people's work, only semi-aware that his actions are wrong.

In his article in The Australian last Monday, he imagines male perpetrators of violence in the same way - stressed, struggling with identity and reacting only to external pressures - devoid of any personal responsibility.

Both arguments are devoid of logic and evidence, and both are ethically indefensible.

2 comments:

  1. Well-spotted, Ketan. Amazing that this bloke is continuing on with his plagiarising ways after already being found out back in 2012. It seems that The Australian has low standards for who they choose to do op ed pieces - after all, the disgraceful climate denier Maurice Newman is a regular there. (Think I can feel the next ice age coming on, better burn some coal....)

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  2. I have three comments about his article: 1. He failed to show any link between the disenfranchisement of certain male groups and domestic violence, 2. He (wishfully) attributed the lack of clear differences between the sexes to leftist policy rather than to decades of scientific research, and 3. Rather amusingly, he criticised the radical feminists for being decades out of date, but then quoted from Margaret Mead and Lionel Tiger to bolster his own (!) opinions. Let's face it - he's just another right wing propagander tool in the same shed as Andrew Bolt, Paul Shean, Miranda Devine and Tim Blair.

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