Sunday, June 29, 2008

From Budapest: 38th World Congress of IIS (edit: Santana)

I'm at the 38th World Congress of the International Institute of Sociology in Budapest. It's a glorious city and my hotel room overlooks the Danube and the Szechinyi Bridge (sorry no accents here) and I can see the castle in the distance.

My paper, with Peter Lederer, is "Becoming a Global Lawyer". I have discussed my research with Peter before. The argument of the paper, briefly, is that globalization has become a taken for granted concept that appears to have been inevitable. There has been an over-reliance on structural explanations. Even though Giddens and Held emphasize the contingent aspects of globalization, implicitly it appeared to follow a template because of economic forces.

I want to re-introduce ideas of agency. Who were those who created globalization? Peter Lederer was the 17th partner to join Baker & McKenzie, one of the largest law firms in the world. Being trained in US and German and Swiss law and directed to the law firm by Max Rheinstein of Chicago Law School, Peter was the ideal candidate to run the Zurich office for Baker.

At that time even the idea of an "international lawyer" was a highly contested concept with some saying that it was meaningless. But the vision of people like Peter and Russell Baker were able to overcome the doubters and develop entirely new fields of practice.

Edit: Although this is not to do with academia or lawyering, Santana played tonight in Heroes Square, Budapest. His free concert clashed with the conference dinner and a small group of us (3) decided Carlos was the more substantial fare. For me this was terrific as I had only seen him at the O2 (Millennium Dome as was) the week before. His London gig was one of the best concerts I've ever attended. Budapest made it that bit sweeter.

Turns out Carlos is two floors above me in my hotel. I've already had to complain about the bloody noise level. Can't he lay off that guitar for a bit and turn it down? It's all the same with these rock musicians....

At another time I will explain why Santana was actually one of the most formative experiences that convinced me law was a subject worth studying. I was in Morocco when I had this conversion.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Persaud's Verdict is In

Raj Persaud's psychiatric career is in ruins after the General Medical Council ruled that his fitness to practise had been impaired because he plagiarised the work of other academics.
as reported by the Daily Telegraph.

The General Medical Council now has to decide the punishment for Persaud having ruled
that he was guilty of serious misconduct, which brought his profession into disrepute.
The GMC Fitness to Practise Panel chairman didn't hold back in criticizing Persaud:

"The panel has determined that your dishonest conduct and plagiarising other people's work on multiple occasions represents a serious breach of the principles that are central to good medical practice. The panel is in no doubt that this amounts to misconduct which is serious."

He added: "Your dishonest conduct brings the profession into disrepute and the panel has... concluded that your fitness to practise is impaired by reason of your misconduct."


Persaud has been suspended for 3 months for plagiarism. More details are in the comment below.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Plagiarism, Persaud, and Perfidy

Over two years ago Persaud's lifting of Thomas Blass' work on Stanley Milgram landed him in trouble (see here also). Persaud is a media psychiatrist who presents a number of programs on British television. Since the demise of Anthony Clare, the doyen of this group, Persaud has tried to take over. Persaud's problem is that he spread himself too thinly and something had to give.

In Persaud's case it was originality with a move to plagiarism. Persaud is an academic as well and he well understands how academics deplore plagiarism. Today he faced charges of dishonesty before the General Medical Council which has the power to strike him off the medical register.

The BBC reported:
Three years ago an article was withdrawn from Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry after US professor Thomas Blass claimed that "over 50% was my work".

At the time, Dr Persaud apologised for the error and told the Guardian newspaper that it had been a cutting and pasting error which meant some references had been omitted.

A second article was retracted by the British Medical Journal "owing to unattributed use of text from other published sources".

"Cutting and pasting" is the usual excuse with forgetting to add the citation.


Jeremy Donne QC, GMC counsel, accused Dr Persaud of enhancing his own reputation at the expense of the hard work and scholarship of other people.

"The articles, we say, speak for themselves and they all demonstrate the extent Dr Persaud has appropriated the work of others as his own."

Academics spend years studying and researching their ideas, usually without much thought for commercial gain. That's not the reason we are academics. So to have someone steal your ideas, is to have them steal your soul.

I have seen it happen to others and it's happened to me. It's theft. And so at first you don't believe it's really occurred. Then all the emotions associated with theft arise: anger, hurt, wonder. It damages one's feeling of trust. Persaud is a psychiatrist: he of all people ought to understand that.