The Purloined Letters

NIH scientists thought they could prove whether a biographer accused of plagiarism was guilty or not. They used a computer and raised more questions than answers.

Nearly everyone who writes for publication has had the Nightmare. Not the one about appearing naked in a public place, or the other one about being forced to take a final exam without having attended any of the classes. These are nasty but tolerable, given the alternative. An author's worst dream is to be accused of plagiarism, of stealing ideas and language from someone else and parading them as original. This charge is a lightning bolt to the bole of a writer's reason for being -- the task of adding to, as opposed to filching from, the sum total of human...

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