Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jane Goodall Book Postponed

Seemingly beloved by humans and primates everywhere, British primatologist, ethologist and anthropologist, Jane Goodall, has announced that the publication of her new book, Seeds of Hope, will be postponed while Goodall and her publisher investigate allegations of plagiarism.

On March 19, the Washington Post’s Steven Levingston compared passages from Goodall’s new book with words on the topic from previously published books and web sites.
In Seeds of Hope, Goodall has crafted a passionate narrative about plants, their effect on our lives and her desire to preserve the natural environment. Her first-person reflections are full of her well-known charm and humanitarianism. It is when the book moves away from Goodall’s own stories to deliver background information on plants and their history that the instances of borrowing creep in. 
Levingston points out that Goodall isn’t alone in allegedly cribbing material from unattributed sources:
High-profile cases of literary borrowing are leaping to view with increasing frequency. Jonah Lehrer not only reused his own material but also made up quotes, resulting in his departure from his job as a New Yorker staff writer and the pulping of two of his books. Time columnist and CNN host Fareed Zakaria was briefly suspended for using passages from another writer’s work in one of his columns. Questions of borrowing have touched historians Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin and novelist Ian McEwan. Publishers have taken the heat in some cases for their less-than-rigorous fact-checking of manuscripts.
Though Levingston was gentle with Goodall under the circumstances, he made it clear that -- whatever had happened with regard to Seeds of Hope, it wasn’t acceptable:
Appropriating another author’s ideas as one’s own and inventing material and presenting it as fact are among the gravest literary lapses. Neither appears to have occurred in “Seeds of Hope.”
Goodall and her publisher have taken a step back, announcing that the book that had initially been scheduled for an April debut be postponed indefinitely. From the Los Angeles Times:

“Together with my publisher, I have decided to postpone the release of my new book, SEEDS OF HOPE, so that we may have the necessary time to correct any unintentional errors,” Goodall said in a statement released Friday. “It is important to me that the proper sources are credited, and I will be working diligently with my team to address all areas of concern.”


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