When Does A Lack of Attribution and Citations Threaten
The Rubino Emails
August 6, 2012
In reply to your letter of August 3, I note that
Complexity and Self-Organization: Precursor and Prototypesis a book that
collects and presents the original sources and draws them
together by means of a detailed introduction. Thus my
statements that "Alicia Juarrero and I were the first to do
this" and that "no treatment prior to ours brings together these
I would also note that a Goggle search of "precursors and
prototypes," "precursors prototypes," "precursors and prototypes
emergence,""precursors and prototypes complexity,"etc immediately turns up our book and not
the works you mention.
I call your attention once again to my remarks about the
"pattern of argumentation" and to Alicia Juarrero's spreadsheet,
which meticulously tracks the correspondences between
Deacon-Cashman and our Introduction.
I am gratified that you intend to go forward with an
investigation of our claims. Your letter, however, raises
concerns that you, the person in charge of conducting that
investigation, seem to be acting as Professor Deacon's advocate
in the matter. That, I hope, will not be the case.
I have, as you will note, sent copies of this message to
Alicia Juarrero and Michael Lissack, since their involvement in
this matter entitles them to be aware of these proceedings.
Carl A. Rubino
July 25, 2012
You write, "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."
In reply, I note the following:
1. Our introduction was published in 2008, three years before the
2011 Deacon/Cashman piece. If Deacon/Cashman, as you admit,
"covers very similar, nearly identical, intellectual terrain," our
work, which was published three years prior to theirs and has been
readily accessible on the web since then, should have been cited.
2. We are not talking here about "scholarly literature" on the
subject, but, as the title of our book notes, about the "precursors
and prototypes" of the notions of emergence and complexity. To
the best of my knowledge, Alicia Juarrero and I were the first to do
this. Your investigation needs to determine the likelihood
that Deacon/Cashman just happened to track nearly identical terrain
and independently come upon so many of the same "predecessors and
You also write, "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."
In reply, I note that the pattern of argumentation--i.e., the order
in which the premises are presented and the examples used in those
premises--is part of an author’s "explication or treatment."
Therefore I refer once again to the example of our discussion of
Kant, Mill, Broad, Alexander, Lewes, and Morgan (see our Table of
Contents vi-vii and pp. 10-11, 4-5, and 13-16). The
Deacon/Cashman piece meticulously tracks that discussion and
duplicates our references (pp. 201-202 with reference on p.
205; pp. 195-196, with references on pp. 204-205). I
know of no treatment prior to ours that brings together these
sources--especially one that associates John Stuart Mill with the
so-called British emergentists.
As I indicated in my letter, I would also recommend a comparison of
the Deacon/Cashman discussions of Prigogine-Stengers (p. 198 and
reference on p. 205) and Pepper (p. 196, with no reference--because,
I would suggest, we did not give a full one) with ours (Prigogine on
pp. 7 et passim; Pepper on pp. 18-19).
If you want a more detailed description of the parallels between
Deacon/Cashman and our Introduction, I have attached a spreadsheet
prepared by Alicia Juarrero that also notes some striking
correspondences between Deacon/Cashman and her piece "Intentions as
Complex Dynamical Attractors," in J. H. Aguilar and A. A. Buckareff
(eds.), Causing Human Actions: New Perspectives on the Causal Theory
of Action (MIT, 2010).
It is an established fact that Terrence Deacon is acquainted with
the work of Alicia Juarrero and Michael Lissack, who is the
Executive Director of Institute for the Study of Coherence and
Emergence, which published our book. I therefore contend that
he did not come upon the correspondences with our work independently
and that he failed to cite our work to in order to make it appear
that it was his own.
Carl A. Rubino
July 21, 2012
Robert Price Associate Vice Chancellor
Research Integrity Officer (RIO) Professor
of Political Science
119 California Hall
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720
Dear Professor Price:
As I wrote to Professor Broughton
on May 25, my charge against
Terrence Deacon involves the
Introduction that Alicia Juarrero and
I wrote for our 2008 book
Emergence, Complexity, and
Self-Organization: Precursors and
Prototypes. A comparison of
our Introduction with the 2011
Deacon-‐Cashman piece entitled
"Eliminativism, Complexity and Emergence"
reveals parallels that cannot be
written off as mere coincidence.
Both pieces are attached. I
note that our Introduction and a
detailed Table of Contents have
been readily accessible on the
web since the book's publication back
in 2008 (see
The Deacon-‐Cashman piece is from
There are many suspect parallels
between Deacon-‐Cashman 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. At no point do
Deacon and Cashman cite our work.
As you know, Alicia Juarrero has
already noted the same sorts of
similarities between our Introduction and
Deacon's 2011 book Incomplete Nature.
Deacon’s failure to cite our work
cannot be dismissed as mere
"sloppy scholarship,” no more than
shoplifting can be called "sloppy
shopping." To me it is
abundantly clear that he has
been mining the work of others
and passing it off as his
Your last message to me refers
to UC Berkeley’s "policies and
procedures.” If those policies
condone this sort of dishonesty, it is
indeed a sad day for the
University of California.
I hope that you and your colleagues
will treat this matter with the
seriousness it deserves.
Sincerely, June 5, 2012
Dear Vice Provost Broughton,
I write to state my opinion that Professor
Terrence Deacon has intentionally misappropriated
the work of Alicia Juarrero and myself (I refer to
our Introduction to Emergence, Complexity,
and Self-Organization: Precursors and
Prototypes [ISCE Publishing, 2008]).
I sincerely hope that the University of
California will take the steps necessary to deal
with this matter.
Carl A. Rubino
Winslow Professor of Classics