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Why Alicia Juarrero Got Mad at Terry Deacon

Posted Feb 05 2013 12:00am

In response to allegations that Terry Deacon, a Berkeley professor, plagiarized from Alicia Juarrero, a professor at a community college , UC Berkeley created a website that (among other things) tried to smear Michael Lissack , one of the accusers. Less obvious is that the committee that investigated the allegations ignored their core: The overlap with Juarrero is relentless. It goes on and on. Juarrero explained this to me when I asked her what she thought of the committee report :

I’m disappointed, but not surprised. Not sure what the difference is between “reckless” (which their definition of plagiarism includes) and “negligent” (which they critiqued as a “novel interpretation” of plagiarism). I’ll tell you how my cri de coeur spreadsheet came about: as I read Deacon [Incomplete Nature] I got angrier and angrier, so I decided to start the spreadsheet. The index in my own book [Dynamics in Action] is very bad (my fault, my inexperience) and so I was having a hard time finding the parallel material in my own work. I knew I had said something to that effect somewhere in the book but couldn’t remember where and couldn’t find the entry in my own index. But suddenly, a pattern emerged: All I had to do was read on a few pages or paragraphs further down from the previous “problem,” and there would be the next item. This happened over and over again in huge chunks of the work (which I highlighted to point out the big chunks of seriatim similarities) it’s the seriatimness (!) that’s so damning and to me, clear evidence this wasn’t just someone who vaguely remembered what I had said in a talk and then reconstructed the ideas for himself. The sheer number and sequential nature of the similarities are just too improbable to be a coincidence, or two people working in the same field. He was quite clever about it. He hid it with neologisms, talking about whole-part instead of top-down causality, insisting that self-organization is not enough (and then turning around in advocating it), etc. And, of course, not discussing intentional action, which is the explicit subject of my book.

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