Could Ben Carson's Plagiarism Kill his Presidential Ambitions?

(Spectrumbot) #1

BuzzFeed announced today that prospective Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson plagiarized portions of his 2012 book "America the Beautiful." Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon and Seventh-day Adventist Christian ironically wrote in the book that he got caught plagiarizing a college paper, an incident he called a "moral dilemma":

Not long after that, when I was a psychology major delving into the mysteries of the human mind, I stepped unknowingly into yet another moral dilemma. During my research for one of the papers in an advanced psychology course, I found some passages that seemed particularly appropriate, and I included them in my writing. I did not, however, indicate that this was the work of someone else; frankly, I had never even heard of the term plagiarism. When the professor asked me to make an appointment to discuss my paper, I was befuddled. When I stepped into his office, however, I could immediately sense the weight of the moment. He pointed out that I had plagiarized and told me that the consequences for doing so normally included expulsion. I could see all of my dreams of becoming a doctor dashed by my stupidity. Even though I did not know the implications of plagiarism, I certainly should have known inherently that what I was doing was wrong. I had done it before without consequences and probably would have continued doing it if I had not been caught. Fortunately for me, the professor was very compassionate, realized that I was naïve, and gave me a chance to rewrite the paper. This raises another question: Is ignorance an acceptable excuse for unethical behavior?

According to BuzzFeed's report, Carson plagiarized from a website that has been online since at least 2002 called "America the Beautiful" exploded in popularity following Carson's strong remarks at the 2013 Prayer Breakfast in which he decried "Political Correctness" and the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature legislation.

Carson has not yet announced his intention to make a bid for the White House in 2016, though he aired a televised documentary called "A Breath of Fresh Air" in November, which most pundits viewed as a move to gain credibility and name recognition with the American public. Carson has done well in some early straw polls of likely Republican voters, and has become a favorite of many Tea Party activists. He placed third out of 26 candidates in the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll, but his very conservative views on a range of issues may hamper his viability as a candidate. BuzzFeed's revelations certainly will not help. Still, while presidential ambitions have been derailed by far less significant offences than plagiarism (think Howard Dean's notorious 2004 "yee-haw" moment, for instance), popular candidates have been elected or re-elected after doing far worse (though rarely have they been presidential candidates).

If Carson does run for President of the United States, it will be the first time a Seventh-day Adventist will have sought the highest office in the land--arguably the most powerful office in the world. In the near term, it remains to be seen how the revelation of plagiarism will impact his ambitions.

Read the full article on BuzzFeed here.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(George Tichy) #2

I don’t get it! What is the fuss about?

Plagiarism was never a problem in Adventism. Carson is an Adventists. He learned from his Church that plagiarism is OK, and now he used the technique himself. What’s the problem?

I hope those who still defend and excuse EGW’s plagiarism will not jump on him for doing the same. If they do they can easily be accused of discrimination. Which wouldn’t be good.

(Robert Sonter) #3

What he did was wrong, but for an undergrad, is pretty trivial. It would be a shame if it were this that knocks him out of the presidential race, however it may be a blessing in disguise. Something needs to knock him out of the race - neither Ben Carson nor the Adventist church will cope with the light that’s shone on the church if he continues…

(Rohan Charlton) #4

It would be very interesting to see if he embarked on the traditional presidential visit to the Vatican.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #5

the demands of the Office of President are 24/7. One dones’t say, wait until Sundown and I’ll take your call to Putin. Is it within the Adventist ethos to be Commander in Chief of the armed forces? Tom Z

(Elmer Cupino) #6

OTOH, it might be beneficial for the church should BC find himself in the presidential race, as now the secular world press will have to place all her doctrines under the microscope for the world to see. Then the push will begin to rectify those beliefs and doctrines we have outgrown and correct those mistakes we’ve swept under the rug.

(Kevin Paulson) #7

Ben Carson has far more things to worry about than this particular allegation. Personally, I can’t see how he has any more business running for president than I would attempting to perform neuro-surgery!

(Beth Again) #8

If it was only as an undergrad, that would be one thing, but the accusation is that he also plagiarized parts of his 2012 book.

(Richard Larsen) #9

Not worth any kind of fuss. He will not win a presidential race even if he gets that far.

(George Tichy) #10

Carson’s supposed efforts toward the Presidency are fake. He is just taking advantage of the momentum to benefit in some way, maybe a radio show. I don’t see how a faithful Adventist could be the US Prez.

Now, writing a book with plagiarized portions… this is serious stuff. He may end up in a major trouble with the law.

(George Tichy) #11

The troubling issue is that it was not only during his undergrad years. It seems that he didn’t learn his teacher’s lesson. Now it’s portions of his book. But again, people will say, “Oh, what the heck, he didn’t plagiarize, he just ‘borrowed’ those parts.”

I remind everyone that plagiarizing is not a privilege that only prophets are entitled to. Therefore, BC should be OK in the Church’s eyes.

(George Tichy) #12

:thumbsup: Great point. I bet very soon someone in the media will link BC’s plagiarizing with EGW’s plagiarizing (aka “borrowings”…) and the Church’s support of this practice will finally be properly challenged.

(George Tichy) #13

:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Kevin, you came back making a lot of sense!
(so far… :slight_smile: :slight_smile: )

(Elmer Cupino) #14

In the original article, BC admitted to the incident so it is not an allegation anymore.

Welcome back. We missed your posts. Any report worth sharing with us about the GYC (?) you attended?

(George Tichy) #15

Even biblical writers like Paul gave credit when quoting from the OT, and this was about 2K years ago. So there is no excuse for plagiarism even when he was an undergrad student.
Plagiarism can’t ever be minimized or excused. Not even if it’s a prophet writing “boox.”

(George Tichy) #16

I gave Kevin @kevindpaulson the benefit of the doubt, understanding that when he said “far more things to worry” he was referencing to Carson’s general weakness as candidate.

(Beth Again) #17

I agree, but I think he would be a contender for vice if he doesn’t shoot himself in the foot too much.

(jeremy) #18

jeb bush and hillary will be the ones facing off…ben is really running for surgeon general…

(Jared Wright) #19

Just to clarify, the BuzzFeed article notes that Carson admitted plagiarism in college (though says it was inadvertent), but he has not admitted to plagiarism in his 2012 book.

The article says,

Carson’s representative Sealey Yates, who functions as his lawyer and
literary agent, said they had “begun to review the materials” provided
by BuzzFeed News but had “not been able to communicate with the
publisher’s editorial staff.”

“If it is determined that additional citations or attribution are
required, the appropriate revisions will be made in subsequent
printings,” Yates said. “Thank you for bringing this matter to our

(Elmer Cupino) #20

I should have been more specific with my post to @kevindpaulson . Thanks for the clarification and I stand corrected.