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Envisioning, hindsight bias, plagiarism, or cheating

Posted on August 30, 2012 by James Kohl.

By John Lauerman – Aug 30, 2012 5:32 PM ET

Excerpt: “Harvard is using the incident to increase student awareness of the importance of academic integrity…”

My comment:

An example might help others recognize how likely they are to be caught if they are are tempted to plagiarize. Here’s the example: I detailed precisely how the epigenetic effects of nutrient chemicals and pheromones cause ecological adaptations. An antagonist: Clarence “Sonny” Williams, who has repeatedly denigrated my work, then said in a public forum: “... I envision some unconditioned stimuli to have been such a prevalent and regular feature of past environments that it makes sense to bypass the normal learning mechanism and encode the process in the DNA.” Does anyone recognize that statement as plagiarism?

In case you need help: Nutrient chemicals and pheromones are unconditioned stimuli, and they are also a prevalent and regular feature of all past environments in all species. Their epigenetic effects on intracellular signaling and stochastic gene expression bypass what most people consider to be normal learning mechanisms by encoding the molecular biology of learning in DNA, which actually is “normal” learning at the cellular level.  That’s how the epigenetic effects of nutrient chemicals and pheromones on stochastic gene expression in cells cause adaptive evolution from unicellular to multicellular organisms, or simply put, from microbes to man. Other sensory input from the environment plays a lesser role, via responses that are conditioned to occur due to nutrient chemical and pheromone exposure.

All organisms innately “know” how to acquire nutrient chemicals. Conspecifics also “know” whether or not to reproduce via their innate ability to recognize pheromones. How many different ways can someone say that — and then detail how nutrient chemicals and pheromones cause adaptive evolution — without exemplifying plagiarism.

I will add that this form of normal learning is innate, and not something that any organism must be trained to do, so that behaviorists and behavior analysts don’t bring up the importance of animal training experiments? I’ve already learned that many of them don’t know how to distinguish between Pavlovian (i.e., classical) conditioning, and operant conditioning (i.e., training).  Perhaps someone from Harvard can teach them.

Until then, if (e.g., in the context of adaptive evolution, which has nothing to do with training), I said that olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans (e.g., via ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction), would I be plagiarizing myself or someone else? Has anyone else detailed how the epigenetic effects of any sensory input from the environment cause adaptive evolution? Has anyone else detailed this “eco-evolution?” So far as I know, it can only occur via the four stages of niche construction: ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive.

Has anyone else detailed the required bottom-up / top-down reciprocity of the gene, cell, tissue, organ, organ system pathway, which is exemplified in the honeybee model organism that I used to link the adaptive evolution of microbes to man? If not, you will probably see more examples of plagiarism as more people become aware of the details of my model. Perhaps they too, will claim that they envisioned what I spent twenty years detailing in a series of presentations and published works. If it happens at Harvard, it’s probably happening elsewhere, and it may be more important to scientific progress than most people realize.

Why would anyone trained to integrate data from different scientific disciplines ever bother to do so, and publish their work, when there are people like Clarence “Sonny” Williams who stand ready and willing to blatantly claim it as their own vision after-the-fact?

Addendum: 2/6/14 A correspondent commented on this post and told me about another resource for information on plagiarism.

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James Kohl
Retired medical laboratory scientist

James Kohl




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