耶鲁教授 致北大学生的一封信
发布时间: 2012-10-30 浏览次数: 329


Prof. Sterns
是耶鲁大学知名进化生物学家,本学期在北大开设Key Issues in Evolut
Principles of Evolution 两门课程,总计40余名学生。 12月初,有一位学生交的期末论文中发现明显剽窃,为此教授公开宣布判此人零分并致函所有同学以示告诫。然而所有论文都递交之后,又发现两人有严重剽窃行为。教授因此非常伤心,致函如下:


To my students in Beijing, Fall 2007:

While grading papers today I encountered two more cases of plagiarism.
One was sophisticated but serious. The other was so blatant that it
was almost unbelievable. That makes a total of three students who
have failed my courses because of plagiarism.


If I had not warned you and given you the opportunity honestly to
correct your essays, there would have been several more. I thank those of
you who were honest and showed me what you had copied.


Plagiarism disturbs me greatly, both because it corrodes my relationship
with you as my students, and because it tells me things about China and
Beida that neither you nor I want to hear.


It corrodes my relationship with you because I work hard to be a good
teacher, I take time to prepare good lectures, and I spend many hours
providing detailed feedback on essays. It is hard work. You cannot
imagine what it is like to correct the details of the 500th essay until
you have done it yourself. I do that to help you
learn to think more clearly, to express yourself convincingly, and to
develop your intellectual power, your ability to understand the world.
I also do it because I value you, I value your ideas, and I think the world
will be a better place when you can all think clearly and behave
intelligently. Later in life, some of you will be leaders with important
positions. I want you to be competent and honest,
for I have seen too often what terrible things can happen when
leaders are incompetent and dishonest. Leadership aside, I want all of you
to be able to create value in your lives, whatever you end up doing,
and you cannot do that if you deceive.


When a student whom I am teaching steals words and ideas from an
author without acknowledgment, I feel cheated, dragged down into the mud.
I ask myself, why should I teach people who knowingly deceive me?
Life is too short for such things. There are better things to do.


Disturbingly, plagiarism fits into a larger pattern of behavior in China.
Cxiaoneinternational intellectual property rights. Beida sees
nothing wrong in copying my textbook, for example, in complete violation
of international copyright agreements, causing me to lose income,
stealing from me quite directly. No one in China seems to care.
I can buy DVDs in stores and on the street for about one US dollar.
They cost $20-30 outside China; the artists who produced them are
losing enormous amounts of stolen income, billions of dollars each year.
China has become notorious for producing defective products that have to
be recalled because the pose health threats to consumers. A recent cartoon in
American newspaper shows the Central Committee reacting to an accusation that
they have violated human rights. The response? "Wait until they see what
we put in their toothpaste next!" Corruption is a serious problem in a boomin
economy. For example, in the mining industry, about 5000 miners die each year
and mine owners cut corners in violation of the law. The social fabric breaks
when workers die because owners are greedy. The Mandate of Heaven is lost.

让人不安的是,剽窃已经成为整个中国行为模式的一部分。中国忽视国际知识产权。比如说,复印我的书彻头彻尾违反了国际版权协议,使我损失了收入,对我而言近乎直接的偷窃,然而北大人却对此安之若素。再比如,我只花大约一美元就能在街头和店铺买到DVD光碟,这些碟片在别国要卖上二三十美元。创作它们的艺术家因此损失的大笔收入全是被偷走的,每年几十亿。因为生产劣质商品对消费者造成潜在的健康威胁而不得不召回,中国已经是臭名昭著了。最近美国报纸上刊载的一幅漫画描绘了中央委员会被指责侵犯人权。猜他们怎么回答?往他们牙膏里搁点东西,看他们还敢吭声不?经济繁荣的背后,腐败已经成为严重的问题。就拿矿业来说,每年大约有五千名矿工死去,就因为矿主为了省事为了利润而不惜违反法律 (译注:cut corners 指贬义的抄近道,此为意译。)

China appears to have lost her way. Confucius said, do not
do to others what you do not want them to do to you. He also said, a
gentleman is honest. Honesty and reciprocity are the basis of trust and
community. We cannot get along in a world filled with deceit and defection;
such a world becomes a Hobbesian war of all against all, nasty and brutal.
We cannot do science if we cannot trust what others publish. There is no
reason to try to replicate a result if it cannot be trusted. It
would not be worth the effort. Without replication there can be no shared
knowledge that is tested and trustworthy - that is, no science. Without
science, there can be no technology. And without technology, there can be
no steady increase in productivity, economic growth, and a better life for al
中国似乎已经迷失了她的道路。孔子说过,己所不欲勿施于人。他还说过,人而无信不知其可。(直译是君子有信,不过一时想不起原话是怎么说的了。) 诚实互惠是信任与社群的基础。在一个充满欺诈和背叛的社会中,我们无法生存,这样的世界成了霍布森(是他吧?哲概的东西快忘干净了)式的每个人与每个人为敌的战争,险恶而野蛮。若是我们不能相信别人发表的东西,我们就没法做科研。谁都没有理由去企图重复一个不可信的结果,不值得费那功夫;而没有重复就不会有经过验证而可信靠、可共享的知识,也就没有科学。没有科学就不会有技术,没有技术就不会有生产力的稳步发展,经济水平的持续增长,也就不会给所有人都带来更美好的生活。
The penalties for plagiarism that you will encounter later in life are very
serious. If you do it as a graduate student, you can be expelled from
university, and you will not get your degree. If you do it as a faculty
member, you can lose your job. I know you may not believe that, for
the sociology professor at Beida who translated an entire book into Chinese
and published it with his name on it only lost his administrative positions
but kept his professorship and salary. But things are not like that elsewhere
When plagiarism is detected in the United States, it can end the
career of the person who did it. That is also true in Europe.
在你们今后的人生里,剽窃将会遇到极为严厉的惩罚。身为研究生如果剽窃,就会直接开除,没有学位。身为教员如果剽窃,就会丢掉饭碗。我知道你们可能不信,因为北大那位把整本书翻成中文就署上自己名字出版的社会学家 (这是谁啊...) 仅仅丢了行政职务,却仍然保有教授之位和薪水。然而事情在别处并非如此。在美国如果发现有人剽窃,此人的职业生涯可以就此毁于一旦。欧洲亦然。

The fact that I have encountered this much plagiarism at Beida tells me
something about the behavior of other professors and administrators here.
They must tolerate a lot of it, and when they detect it, they cover it up
without serious punishment, probably because they do not want to lose face.
If they did punish it, it would not be this frequent.

I have greatly enjoyed teaching some of you. I have encountered young minds
here that are as good as any in the world. Many of you are brave, most
of you work very hard, most of you are honest, and some of you are brilliant.
But I am leaving with very mixed feelings. It is quite sad that so many
promising young Chinese think it is necessary to cheat to succeed. They
damage themselves even more than the people from whom they steal and the
people whom they deceive with stolen words.

Sincerely, Steve Stearns