The Berkeley Emails

Sept 3

Dear Mr. Lissack,
 
I wish to make crystal clear to you, your associates, and to all those to whom you are communicating that the University of California, Berkeley has not found that Professor Deacon has engaged in any form of research misconduct.  The sole reason for undertaking an investigation are the claims made by you and your associates.  The fact that it has been undertaken indicates absolutely nothing other than that we have received your allegations.  At this point there has not been even a prime facie case made in support of your claims.  The only controversy surrounding Professor Deacon is the one that you and your associates have stirred up through your website and blogs.  The idea that you would use my communications with you and the ongoing examination of your allegations by UC Berkeley as part of what increasing strikes me as a vendetta against Professor Deacon is reprehensible.
 
My letter to Alicia Juarrero ends with this paragraph:  "Our University policy on research misconduct, as well as the federal regulation on which it is based, require that all stages in the research misconduct investigation procedure are treated as strictly confidential. (UCB “Research Misconduct: Policies, Definitions and Procedures,” item IC and Federal Regulation 45CFR93.108). I expect that you will adhere to this requirement."  Rather than adhere to the stated requirement of confidentiality, Dr. Juarrero shared the letter with you and you, in turn, posted it on your website.   What purpose is being served other than to make it appear that Deacon is guilty of something before even a single one of your claims has been validated?  This sort of tactic will be familiar to those who remember the history of Joe McCarthy.

 
Robert Price
Associate Vice Chancellor for Research
Professor of Political Science
119 California Hall, UCB, Berkeley, 94720
510-642-1049


On Tue, Aug 7, 2012 at 3:35 PM, Robert Price <rprice@berkeley.edu> wrote:

Dr. Juarrero,

 

The brief document referred to in your email was not attached to the message I received.

 

I have never claimed that the Berkeley policy on plagiarism contained the "word for word" standard to which you refer.  The "appropriation of ideas" certainly falls within the definition of plagiarism.  Having said that, I think you will acknowledge that it is far more difficult to prove the latter type of plagiarism than the former. 

 

Robert Price

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research

Professor of Political Science

119 California Hall, UCB, Berkeley, 94720

510-642-1049

 



July 24, 2012

Dear Professor Rubino,

 

I have received your letter of July 21, 2012 which reiterates your claim that Deacon/Cashman, in their "Eliminativism, Complexity and Emergence," plagiarized your and Alicia Juarrero's book chapter "Emergence, Complexity, and Self-Organization."  In my communication to you of July 2, 2012, I indicated what you need to do in order for us to consider your claim a bona fides allegation requiring an investigation of research misconduct.  Specifically,  for your claim to be "sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified" you need to specify what ideas in your and Deacon/Cashman's work are parallel and explain the basis for believing that the parallelism resulted from the appropriation of your ideas.  In your letter of July 21 you write:   

 

There are many suspect parallels between DeaconCashman and our 2008 piece,

which covers much the same ground: note the discussions of and references to Kant,

Pepper, Prigogine, etc.  An especially striking example is the Deacon-­Cashman

discussion of Mill, Broad, Alexander, Lewes, and Morgan, which carefully tracks both

our discussion and our references.

 

In this paragraph you satisfy the first but not the second important criteria for establishing a bona fides allegation.  The two works in question cover very similar, nearly identical, intellectual terrain.  Hence, it is not unusual that both works would reference the same contributors to the scholarly literature on the subject, especially if their contributions were seminal or foundational.  Indeed, it would be surprising if parallel references did not occur.  So the mere existence of reference to the same scholarship is not plagiarism, unless it can be shown that the explication or treatment of the referenced authors in the Deacon/Cashman piece is so similar to that in your and Juarrero's chapter that the former had to be lifted from the latter.  If we are to undertake an investigation based on your claim of research misconduct you will need to show by specific reference to the texts why you believe that Deacon/Cashman's treatment of the authors you mention could not have been developed other than by appropriation of ideas from your chapter.

 

 

 

Robert Price

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research

Professor of Political Science

119 California Hall, UCB, Berkeley, 94720

510-642-1049

 

July 2, 2012

Dear Professor Rubino,

 

In a June 5 letter to Vice Provost Broughton you appear to be making a charge of research misconduct, namely plagiarism, when you state that a book chapter you co-authored with Alicia Juarrero  contains numerous parallels with a paper by Deacon and Cashman “that cannot be written off as mere coincidence.”

 

Our University’s policies and procedures for dealing with allegations of research misconduct conform toFederal Regulation 42CFR 93 which requires that before an investigation is launched an allegation needs to be "sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified."  The statement in your letter to Broughton does not meet that test in as much as mere “parallelism” may often occur when two authors are working the same or similar intellectual terrain.  As such, parallelism in ideas or concepts is not by itself evidence of plagiarism.  If you want us to investigate Professor Deacon for plagiarism with respect to the Deacon/Cashman paper you will need to indicate two things.  First, you need to specify what ideas in the two works are “parallel.”  Second, you need to explain the basis for believing that the existing parallelism resulted from the appropriation of your ideas by Deacon/Cashman, rather than having been independently arrived at.

 

Truly yours,

 

Robert Price

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research

Professor of Political Science

119 California Hall, UCB, Berkeley, 94720

510-642-1049

 



May 27

Dear Mr. Lissack,

This responds to your various communications regarding Professor Terrence Deacon and his book /Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter./After careful review of the material you provided, I have concluded that the information available to me does not warrant appointment of an Investigative Officer under our campus faculty disciplinary procedures.The conduct you have alleged would not constitute a violation of the University of California’s Faculty Code of Conduct.

The Code defines unacceptable conduct in the realm of scholarship to include “[v]iolations of canons of intellectual honesty, such as research misconduct and/or intentional misappropriation of the writings, research, and findings of others.”UC Berkeley policy defines “research misconduct” as “fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism.” You have not alleged fabrication or falsification; thus an allegation of either plagiarism or intentional misappropriation of writings, research, or findings of others would be required to constitute a basis for appointment of an Investigative Officer.In the communications you have sent me, however, you have expressly disclaimed making allegations of plagiarism or intentional misappropriation.For example, in your January 27, 2012 e-mail to Professor Deacon you wrote that “use of ‘plagiarism’ was much too strong a word.I regret the pain which my use of the word must have caused you.The way forward here is NOT to evoke that word.”In the same email, you stated: “I do believe (and have from the beginning) that you have not done anything here with nefarious intent.”

You have proposed that Professor Deacon should publicly acknowledge certain contributions of other scholars and should participate in seminars with those scholars.Please be aware that if Professor Deacon should decline to take these steps, this would not subject him to disciplinary action.

Finally, your May 22, 2012 email states that the Institute for Study of Coherence and Emergence “is making this complaint as the copyright holder.”In your May 23 email you state that “we at ISCE believe this to be a matter of ethics and integrity more than a matter of law.”My understanding is thus that ISCE is not raising a legal claim of copyright infringement.If I am wrong about that, please let me know, and I will ask the University’s lawyers to respond.

Sincerely yours,

Janet Broughton
Vice Provost for the Faculty

May 24

Dear Mr. Lissack,

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your recent messages concerning publications by Professor Deacon.  I have requested a legal review of your messages, and I will write to you more fully when that review has been completed.

As the Vice Provost for the Faculty, I have primary responsible for questions concerning faculty conduct.  You need not copy others at Berkeley in order to raise such questions.

Sincerely yours,

Janet Broughton
Vice Provost for the Faculty


January 24

Dear Michael Lissack,
Thank you for your message. I take this very seriously and I will be in contact with Terry Deacon to discuss how to proceed.

Sincerely,

Carla Hesse
Dean of Social Sciences
Peder Sather Professor of History
Department of History
3229 Dwinelle Hall
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley CA 94720-2550

chesse@berkeley.edu


December 12

From: Robert Price <rprice@berkeley.edu>
Date: Mon, Dec 12, 2011 at 2:21 PM
Subject: research misconduct
To: ALICIA JUARRERO <aliciajuarrero@gmail.com>

Dear Dr. Juarrero,

I have reviewed the material you sent to me last Wednesday and consulted with another expert in the research misconduct area.  On that basis I have concluded that what you have provided to me is not “sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified."    The fact that certain concepts or phrases used by Dr. Deacon in the article you provided are the same or similar to concepts that appear in chapters from your book is not evidence of plagiarism, as these concepts may not be unique to your work.   Perhaps the way you use these concepts is unique, which then would constitute plagiarism.  In order for me to determine whether that is the case, however, you need to choose several of what you consider the more significant ideas that you believe have been plagiarized, explain the basis for your belief that these specific ideas are unique, and then send me passages from your and Deacon’s books that express those ideas so that I can do a “side by side” comparison that reveals the extent of similarity.

Robert Price

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research

December 6
On Tue, Dec 6, 2011 at 6:33 PM, Robert Price <rprice@berkeley.edu> wrote:

Yes, the fax arrived.  Will you be sending me a copy of your book?  Once I get your book and acquire Deacon's I will be recruiting an Inquiry Officer(s).  I will let you know when the Inquiry is set to begin.  Given the imminent arrival of the holiday season and the hiatus which that creates in the academic world, I suspect that I will not be able to get things actually moving until after the new year.

Robert Price


December 6
On Dec 6, 2011 4:41 PM, "Robert Price" <rprice@berkeley.edu> wrote:

Dear Dr. Juarrero,
 

The Federal Regulation (42CFR parts 50 and 93) requires that an allegation of research misconduct be "sufficiently credible and specific so that potential evidence of research misconduct may be identified."   In order to meet this test you need to first state which ideas, specifically, you believe Dr. Deacon appropriated from you.  Are the 11 items in your email the ideas or concepts that you believe Deacon appropriated?  Second, you need to provide evidence that Deacon got these ideas from you rather than thinking of them on his own.  This is where comparison of text enters the picture.   For each of the ideas that you believe were appropriated a comparison of text in which those ideas are elaborated would constitute evidence.   You needn't supply every instance in which the ideas appear but at least one example that reveals the appropriation occurring.    Your spreadsheet may be a guide to which an investigator can refer, but it is in itself not evidence of anything.  The evidence would be in the text to which the items in the spreadsheet refer.  You needn't supply the comparison texts for each of the spreadsheet items, but a sample of them linked to the ideas you believe appropriated by Deacon is what is needed.  At the time you send this material to me please also send a copy of your book.

Based on your previous emails, I presume you have already read, via the Web,  our research misconduct policy and procedures and as such you understand that once I receive a formal valid allegation from you I will appoint a Inquiry Officer whose task will be to decide whether sufficient credible evidence of misconduct exists to warrant a full investigation.


Truly yours,

Robert Price
Associate Vice Chancellor for Research
Professor of Political Science
119 California Hall, UCB, Berkeley, 94720
510-642-1049