Monday, February 21, 2011

Kudos, Angela Merkel

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the German defense minister, has asked his university to withdraw his doctoral degree. Turns out some of it is plagiarized; how much is debatable. According to the BBC, a German newspaper identified two examples, with other texts attributed incorrectly. 

According to The Local, a website offering German news in English, participants in a Wiki-hunt have found "unattributed copying" on 270 of the thesis's nearly 400 pages. But the report is vague enough that I wouldn't be surprised to find that many of these incidences amount to three consecutive words that also appear in an earlier publication on the same topic. (What's this? A blogger who has little faith in the competence, impartiality and credibility of internet users? Gasp all you want, but yes.)

Anyway, that's not the point. My point is that Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has shown abilities remarkable in any politician: the ability to keep things in perspective, the ability to recognise a mere tempest in a teapot, and the ability to discern what's important. She has declined to sack Guttenberg. From the BBC:

"I appointed Guttenberg as minister of defence," she told reporters. "I did not appoint him as an academic assistant or doctor. What is important to me is his work as minister of defence and he carries out these duties perfectly."

You go, girl.

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