The career of a paper mill writer (MIE)

by on November 16, 2010 at 3:54 pm in Education, Religion, The Arts | Permalink

From one of those people who writes other peoples' term papers for a living:

I do a lot of work for seminary students. I like seminary students. They seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat in courses that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow. I have been commissioned to write many a passionate condemnation of America's moral decay as exemplified by abortion, gay marriage, or the teaching of evolution. All in all, we may presume that clerical authorities see these as a greater threat than the plagiarism committed by the future frocked.

The article is interesting throughout.  The fellow can write a 75-page paper in two days, has never visited a library for his work, and earns far more — $66k last year — than most ostensibly professional writers.

For the pointer I thank David B.

Andy November 16, 2010 at 12:12 pm

For a professional writer, he doesn't write very well.

zbicyclist November 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm

I know this sounds like a joke, but I could swear I've read this article before, despite its November 12, 2010 publication date.

Kevin Miller November 16, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Vivid story, and I bet some of it is even true.

FXKLM November 16, 2010 at 1:18 pm

I know this sounds like a joke, but I could swear I've read this article before, despite its November 12, 2010 publication date.

Is this a joke about the article being plagiarized? Or a joke about the article on precognition?

Loren Gatch November 16, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Low academic standards create the space for this literary niche.

J November 16, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Maybe it's my mainline protestant background, but the quoted passage overloaded my BS meter. I can't imagine ANY seminary grad I've ever come across writing a "passionate condemnation" of any of the issues listed, even the holy rollers. The "blissfully unaware" nonsense sounds like something a high school kid would write.

In the comments over at CHE, note the one that goes into the math of the author's claims. I know this business exists, but a lot of this article seems made up.

Buck Farmer November 16, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Tyler, what's your take on oral defenses?

In undergrad, for my introductory physics exam I had a take-home, in-class, and oral exam. While this might be time-intensive for instructors, it seems like a pretty full-proof way of weeding out this sort of wholecloth cheating.

Some might object that speaking to professors is intimidating or that this opens the door to partiality. For the former, I'd say oral presentation is as vital a skill as written presentation, and for the latter, well, I doubt you'll see much more significant partiality than already exists. Tape the orals so there's a record.

Jacqueline November 16, 2010 at 9:14 pm

I just want to learn his techniques for writing so much so fast.

Andrew November 16, 2010 at 10:58 pm

"While this might be time-intensive for instructors"

The entire education system is built around keeping costs low.

widmerpool November 17, 2010 at 12:37 am

@ Buck. In Russia there are oral exams in all subjects, most have no written exams. It doesn't seem to do anything to stop students paying people to write their theses.

Winston McGrain November 17, 2010 at 5:00 am

"Through a literary agent …"

This article is obviously part of a publisher's marketing campaign for a tell-all book. Why are we supposed to believe the story of a self-professed deceiver? And why did The Chronicle of Higher Education go along with this?

The entire story strikes me as a bit too well-crafted. Every quote seems test marketed to elicit the most ire from students and educators alike. I just don't trust the person who wrote the story and believe large portions of it are pure fabrication.

If the person is who he says he is, why should we believe him?

techreseller November 17, 2010 at 6:14 am

Really, why would expect seminarians to be any different than the rest of students. While they feel called to the ministry, they probably recognize that the papers they have to write in class have little or no bearing on their ability to be an effective minister. Most of them have very little interest in deep theological thinking. So they just want to pass their class and get out in the world and get a job.

I am an atheist so I have no skin in this game to defend the seminarians for religious reasons. Just looking at it logically as I am sure the seminary students do as well.

Not saying it right either. But it rings true to me.

Winston McGrain November 17, 2010 at 7:06 am

"Through a literary agent …"

On second thought, this is probably pre-marketing from the agent looking to find a publisher for their client (the author.) The agent can now point to all the commentary being generated from the topic and use it in their pitch to a publisher.

Shane November 17, 2010 at 8:59 am

@chris: man, you must get way different emails than I do. The grammar in some of mine, even from native English speakers, defies belief. I definitely have no trouble with the verisimilitude on that account.

Others: doubt if you want, but doubting bc he describes some seminarians as "writing" polemic pieces on abortion, etc seems bizarre. So he picked the most interesting examples of his job to write about instead of writing a legal brief — boo hoo. It's called craftsmanship, and the battle has been won: everybody's talking about his article.

So maybe he's a pretty good writer after all.

mravery November 18, 2010 at 11:38 am

Have you guys met undergraduate students at large universities? None of this stuff sounds too outlandish to me….

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