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David Bednar's recent conference talk is said to have been plagiarized


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14 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I will readily acknowledge that my appreciation for C.S. Lewis stems from, though is not wholly dependent upon, the frequency with which he was quoted by Elder Neal A. Maxwell and other Church leaders over the years. Now, come to find out, their quotation of him was a “disheartening” practice. Who knew?

If only the Good Professor (J.R.R. Tolkien) had been able to persuade him to be Catholic. He tried! Alas. 

Edited by MiserereNobis
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29 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I sure hope they don't have speechwriters, that's disappointing to me. They have 6 months to write their talks right? I think it should not be speechwriters, sorry.

Conference talks aren’t the only ones they have to give. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are giving a talk almost every week or at least several per month.  I doubt if they use speechwriters, that the speechwriters do much more than research quotes for them and help plot out a topic from the direction given them by an apostle and then proofread it. It isn’t like church leaders need to have extremely polished talks like politicians want to have. 

Edited by Calm
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14 hours ago, morgan.deane said:

'd say its even worse for Elder Bednar, because he was plagiarizing, a type of stealing, for a talk in his official capacity as one sent forth from God. I'm stunned at the people here minimizing that. 

Sorry if I conveyed the wrong impression. I’m not minimizing that he plagiarized. I’m denying it. 

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9 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Sorry if I conveyed the wrong impression. I’m not minimizing that he plagiarized. I’m denying it. 

Why did he go back and add four footnotes on paragraphs that were lifted from Reid, after it was pointed out? Every other paraphrase was already footnoted except for Reid. 
 

For an authoritative voice on plagiarism:

 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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On 10/7/2022 at 10:30 AM, The Nehor said:

Last minute in this case meaning enough time for the translators to deal with it.

It was not the best talk in conference but plagiarism is a bit of a stretch.

When he started I was hoping for a new insight into the two groups of people invited but he focused on the wedding garment bit which I find the least interesting part of the parable.

This is one of those parables that would have made sense to the people whose it was written for. There is also a corollary parable. There are underlying concepts we don't get in our day and age. I don't remember it all well enough to get into and it isn't important enough for me to research, but with explanation it does make sense. However, I have never heard of the wedding garment give away...I'd like some more references to that aside from "a Christian author." 

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8 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

Elder Bednar referenced both James Talmage and John O. Reid verbally in his talk, so anyone looking up the sources would know where he is getting his material.  That would be a really foolish thing for anyone to do if they are really plagiarizing, i.e. trying to pass off the work of others as their own.  And, it is really awkward in public speaking to provide verbal references for everything you are quoting. 

And yes, four more footnotes have been added to the the published article on the Church's web page since it was first published on Wednesday.  Personally, I like that the Church rushes to publish the conference talks on their web page three to four days after the conference broadcast (I want to get access to the text as soon as I can), even if it's not the same as the finished product that will appear in later printed publications (in prior years we had to wait a week or longer).  Above you said "he" went back in to add four footnotes.  Do you know it was "him"?  Obviously I'm not suggesting that you mean that Elder Bednar literally edited the web page.  But there is much more work that goes into these published articles than can be blamed on one man.

To me it’s a minor thing, but also a thing that should be owned and rectified. If you read through the Archive.org talk, it was extremely thoroughly footnoted. Almost every paragraph had a footnote except for the ones that came from Reid. That was an oversight and certainly meets the definition of plagiarism. I’m not saying it was done with intention to deceive. It likely was just a sloppy mistake. 
 

I think blaming the “rush” falls short here. If you turned in a school paper that you had plenty of time to prepare (six months)and left off some of your footnotes, your teacher would be absolutely correct in pointing out the error. And it doesn’t matter who made the changes. It was Bednar’s talk. It was his responsibility. 

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7 minutes ago, Brahms said:

 

Elder Bednar did mention the names of John Reed and James Talmage while prefacing his talk with a plea for the Holy Spirit to guide and assist him in his talk.  Do you think that is enough for this world? 

I think that if you are issuing a written sermon that is to be studied as scripture, you should give proper reference to where you are pulling the content from, which Bednar failed to do, until it was pointed out.

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5 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

I think that if you are issuing a written sermon that is to be studied as scripture, you should give proper reference to where you are pulling the content from,

That's the process of transforming the version of the talk that appeared on the teleprompters at General Conference, to the printed page as it appears later in the Ensign (in the past) or Liahona.  It hadn't even made it that far.

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4 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

That's the process of transforming the version of the talk that appeared on the teleprompters at General Conference, to the printed page as it appears later in the Ensign (in the past) or Liahona.  It hadn't even made it that far.

Are you saying that General authorities write their talks without footnotes and then there are church employees that try and reconstruct the footnotes after the fact and do so in two days based on the closed captioning??

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45 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

Elder Bednar referenced both James Talmage and John O. Reid verbally in his talk, so anyone looking up the sources would know where he is getting his material.  That would be a really foolish thing for anyone to do if they are really plagiarizing, i.e. trying to pass off the work of others as their own.  And, it is really awkward in public speaking to provide verbal references for everything you are quoting. 

And yes, four more footnotes have been added to the the published article on the Church's web page since it was first published on Wednesday.  Personally, I like that the Church rushes to publish the conference talks on their web page three to four days after the conference broadcast (I want to get access to the text as soon as I can), even if it's not the same as the finished product that will appear in later printed publications (in prior years we had to wait a week or longer).  Above you said "he" went back in to add four footnotes.  Do you know it was "him"?  Obviously I'm not suggesting that you mean that Elder Bednar literally edited the web page.  But there is much more work that goes into these published articles than can be blamed on one man.

That's not how plagiarism works. Citing an author once doesn't mean you can quote paragraphs or even a single line verbatim. Verbatim quotes need quotation marks. Every time you reference an idea that isn't your own also needs a citation. (This is like freshman in college stuff, does no one know how citations work?) So citing the author once doesn't make every other unattributed citation okay. You are correct though, it makes this example of plagiarism rather odd, because it was easy to look up and see all the citations missing. I've done oral presentations before and still had no problem with the footnotes. They won't be heard in my presentation of course, but even oral presentations can't be stolen. This doesn't seem like a transcription error at all, but a problem with not including proper citations in the first place. 

Edited by morgan.deane
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4 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Are you saying that General authorities write their talks without footnotes and then there are church employees that try and reconstruct the footnotes after the fact and do so in two days based on the closed captioning??

I'm saying we don't know the process, and I highly doubt every talk is done exactly the same way. 

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1 hour ago, morgan.deane said:

Verbatim quotes need quotation marks. Every time you reference an idea that isn't your own also needs a citation. (This is like freshman in college stuff, does no one know how citations work?) So citing the author once doesn't make every other unattributed citation okay. You are correct though, it makes this example of plagiarism rather odd, because it was easy to look up and see all the citations missing.

This is part of what I think would be covered by my lost in the editing process comment near the start of the thread. 
Perhaps he had all the Read stuff in one block and initially had it covered by a single reference, and then rearranged stuff and the references got lost.

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3 hours ago, InCognitus said:

Obviously I'm not suggesting that you mean that Elder Bednar literally edited the web page.  But there is much more work that goes into these published articles than can be blamed on one man.

I wonder if it is likely that a speaker, in this case Elder Bednar, may simply make a minimal note of where he got his material and then secretaries/editors are the ones who do all the complete footnoting when getting the talk ready for publication.  Footnotes are not needed for the speaking aspect, after all.  I think this would depend on how busy a particular GA was.  
 

I have also noted on some of the Church’s webpages, there is not as much detail in the footnotes…at least that is my memory, I should go check to be sure (will later).  But if I am right, I figured that was in response to users in general preferring less (I know they do surveys checking preferences on how the website is formatted and content because I have participated in such).  Pure speculation, but is it reasonable—asking of those who have had editing experience for non academic publications or are familiar with the process—that an editor could have been instructed to combine footnotes where possible and in this case they overdid it?  I am not saying this actually occurred, just asking informed people’s opinion if likely that footnotes would be simplified in a non academic publication.  (I am just curious about the possible process as I haven’t really thought about it before; I am not looking for reasons to excuse Elder Bednar for any errors since I don’t think it is a big deal anyway as long as the material gets to a decent presentation by the time the hard copy gets published and I believe anyone who is troubled by the lack of immediate detailed attribution won’t be affected by learning about the process because ultimately it is Elder Bednar who is responsible for his own material).

At times like these I wish the Church was much more open about what the life of church leaders is like (this would imo help make connections stronger too) as well as behind the scenes of the productions of most things that don’t need confidentiality protections.

Edited by Calm
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3 minutes ago, Calm said:

I wonder if it is likely that a speaker, in this case Elder Bednar, may simple make a minimal note of where he got his material and then secretaries/editors are the ones who do all the complete footnoting when getting the talk ready for publication.  Footnotes are not needed for the speaking aspect, after all.  I think this would depend on how busy a particular GA was.  

This is exactly what I was thinking.  

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4 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

you turned in a school paper that you had plenty of time to prepare (six months)

Nitpick:  This is unrealistic, imo, because I highly doubt it is actually how it is done, starting on the next talk as soon as they are done with conference.  They want to have relevant talks as well as keeping open to inspiration (which might be harder if they fix too soon on a particular topic), so while I have no doubt preparing for their talk is always in the back of their brain, I doubt they fix on a topic much before a month before conference.  It makes sense not to do too much before then if only to avoid major rewrites or even having to start from scratch again.  
 

However, having said that, conference talks are a major part of their calling and I assume that means they, including Elder Bednar, set aside more than sufficient time once they hit the deadline for starting the actual process to prepare a decent talk…including footnotes these days (as is likely evidenced by the other footnotes in the paper).

Edited by Calm
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On 10/8/2022 at 4:05 AM, Calm said:

The thing is it’s not an academic paper nor an academic setting.  Why would you expect academic protocols?

You would expect correct citations and credit be attributed to the author of the work because these speeches are distributed in publications throughout the world. Publications which are subject to copywriting laws.  

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What the critics are attempting to do is to question the validity of a general authorities talk. Did it come from God type of question. These days I don't think that no general authority would cheat. Copy and paste is a wonderful tool these days to catch cheaters and they all know that. Mistakes are made, if a mistake was made. We all know of politicians who plagiarized someone's else'.s speech or slogan. The Build Back Better slogan came from Britain and copied by the democrats  It was the conservative party's program slogan. What to do?

Edited by why me
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7 hours ago, why me said:

Mistakes are made, if a mistake was made.

This is what I just can’t wrap my head around. “Elder Bednar made a mistake.” Why is that so hard to say. Disaffected critics are preached to by believing members for expecting “perfection” (or some such nonsense), from church leaders. But here is a perfect low stakes mistake that is actively being denied. Or blamed on an underling as if Elder Bednar isn’t ultimately responsible for his talk? To what purpose?

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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51 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I haven't really seen the "why can't members just admit he made a mistake" issue.  I've seen the "why can't members admit that he plagiarized" issue--which implies intent in a way that mistake doesn't--and that's where I've seen the pushback.

With all due respect to you as a very thoughtful poster, intent is immaterial. 
 

https://policy.byu.edu/view/academic-honesty-policy

This is BYU’s academic honesty policy. Please note the “inadvertent plagiarism” section. If plagiarism required intent how could it be inadvertent? 
 

Here is wiki:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Plagiarism
 

“The University of Cambridge defines plagiarism as: ‘submitting as one's own work, irrespective of intent to deceive, that which derives in part or in its entirety from the work of others without due acknowledgement.’”

Intent is immaterial. 

51 minutes ago, bluebell said:

But, to speak to your point, I don't think many members are afraid or unwilling to admit that an apostle made a mistake and forgot a quote mark or two on a written talk.  I think it's that most members are unwilling to act like they know what happened, when it's very clear that no one does because no one knows how this process actually works.

Are you saying that Bednar is not responsible for properly footnoting a speech that bears his name? That despite footnoting it properly some low level church employee removed just the footnotes to Reid in this talk?

51 minutes ago, bluebell said:


Instead most members are more comfortable providing different scenarios of what could have happened, with mistakes by Bednar being one possible option.

I guess I just can’t see how this works. It’s Bednar’s words, Bednar’s talk. If he delegated some of it, he is still responsible for it. 
 

Personally I see the actual incident (a mistake that was quickly rectified) as a nothing burger. The lack of ownership from Bednar, and the apologetic responses and denials here however are disappointing. 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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10 hours ago, why me said:

... We all know of politicians who plagiarized someone's else's speech or slogan. The Build Back Better slogan came from Britain and copied by the democrats ...

That's right!  Joe Biden loves Neil Kinnock!  Now, if he would just say that slogan with a British accent, all would be forgiven!  "Build Back Bettah!" ;):D :rofl: 

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