January 27, 2005

Conjecture, not evidence

It's simple really. Suspicion, even if felt by countless readers, does not amount to evidence. Conjecture does not amount to evidence.

There was plenty of evidence that the man committed plagiarism. He got what he had coming for that. I have no argument there.

On the other hand, there is no evidence that the man committed credit card fraud. Yet judging from what's already out there, many people have assumed that he did. One reason is this post that has those words in its title.

The post has conjecture: I bet something will happen; and I can't imagine what might happen except what two other criminals did -- a classic use of guilt by association.

It has the assumption that this conjecture amounts to credit card fraud (We have complained ... about the credit card fraud; and A gentleman named Kumaraguru pointed the way to the credit card fraud.)

It has this claim: This is clearly a criminal offence now.

There are plenty of people who read all this, got suspicious, and in their turn called this credit card fraud in as many words. For one example, see this.

I would like to know, where is the criminal offence? Where is the credit card fraud? Is there one person who has been defrauded, one actual criminal offence anywhere? Where's the evidence?

There is none. There is just conjecture. A man has been damned for credit card fraud based entirely on conjecture. Think of that.

(Related note: please see the exchange in the comments section here, which makes no bones about the plagiarism. But among other things, there are these sentences: If he were to be charged with a crime unrelated to website copying, TalkLeft would be concerned that he not be convicted in the court of the blogosphere, as appears to be happening now. Unsubstantiated allegations about Mr. Pinto are potentially libelous and will be removed from this thread. And in fact, it seems such removal did happen -- see the "*****" just above these sentences).

In some ways, this is the downside to what I wrote earlier about Chris Anderson's Long Tail and blogging. Blogs allow you to bypass editors and publish, putting the power of publishing directly in the hands of the writer. That's often a great boon. Yet consider: a good editor would have stopped conjecture where it should have been stopped. Before being published.

---

May I ask that you also read the postscript to my previous post on this subject, No Bended Knees.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Dilip,

seriously... You putup a pretty noticable line in this post pointing readers to a "postscript" of another post altogether, with your apologies for using a phrase from a private email exchange.

THAT my friend is being humble, clear precise honest and direct with no hidden agenda.

I have seen multitudes of posts all over the web with excertps of this RP guy apologizing, but never found anything posted by him directly. I notices that RP has changed his website entireley to a non-blog some techie thing. Therefore i assume that these bloggers are using excerpts from some email correspondence that this RP guy may have been having with some folks in this community of bloggers. but are these excerpts being published with attribution or permission or was it against his will? if so someone should get this RP guy to now start blogging again and do a payback routine to all those who used phrases from his emails without his explicit consent.

go to war guys. kill each other. let mankind get extinct. we could all gather around a campfire in hell and claim victory to our own doings.

Anonymous said...

it's me again..the one who posted the prior post.

here's the attribution to this post: http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Mahatma_Gandhi/

"Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes" - Mahatma Gandhi

"Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress." - Mahatma Gandhi

"I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers. " -Mahatma Gandhi

"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err. " - Mahatma Gandhi

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. " - Mahatma Gandhi

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy? " - Mahatma Gandhi

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." - Mahatma Gandhi

"To answer brutality with brutality is to admit one's moral and intellectual bankruptcy." - Mahatma Gandhi (http://www.ieer.org/latest/oct2quot.html)

"Hatred is not essential for nationalism. Race-hatred will kill the real national spirit." - Mahatma Gandhi (http://www.ieer.org/latest/oct2quot.html)

"My greatest weapon is mute prayer." - Mahatma Gandhi (http://www.ieer.org/latest/oct2quot.html)


- and these words - from the one "figure" that you/we all revere as the father of our/your nation.


All the best you bloggers of blogosphere. slam Dilip as much as you can at for voicing out his perspective (which from my angle HE IS is absolutely right and we hate to admit it because of our great ego: this includes me-partially) - now you know why i'm posting this anonymously - JUST TO PREVENT MYSELF FROM BEING BLOGROLLED !!! I do not want anybody googling my ID and obtaining the amount of accusations that this RP guy has gotten.... I sympathise with him but do not want to be in his shoes....

Yazad Jal said...

This sounds like a personal crusade now.

After we spoke yesterday, I thought long and hard about it and my conclusion is simple. If you have suspicions, you take the risk of talking about it and being proven wrong. (or the risk of keeping quiet and having those suspicions coming true). As of now, none of us are sure about the credit card fraud. However, a lot of us have strong suspicions. Let each one choose the risk level.

And by the way, from your definition, I doubt there's a single good editor in the country. I see conjecture everyday in the news. It's up to me to accept or reject it. The same choice is there for readers of Amit's blog or yours or mine for that matter.

I'll repeat what I said on Dina's blog.

It seems to me that Dilip and you prefer to repair the reputation of a thief at the expense of those who caught the theft.Rohan Pinto seems to have moved on. (www.rohanpinto.com redirects me to this LDAPguru website with a box on top stating "Rohan Pinto Rebranded Reblogged"). I suggest we move on too.

Anonymous said...

I just read the entire post and comments at http://Talkleft.com

and excerpt from is as follows :

"Posted by: amit on January 23, 2005 01:55 PM
Jed, plagiarism is just a civil offence, but I wasn't referring to that. Scroll up to my previous comment or click here."

The "click here" linked directly to : http://indiauncut.blogspot.com/2005/01/from-plagiarism-to-credit-card-fraud.html


and also the following :
"Posted by: amit varma on January 23, 2005 01:52 AM
Plagiarism is the least of this guy's crimes. I'd originally outed him here, and we've now discovered that he seems to be into ***** as well. Read more here.

We need to bring this guy to justice, but are not sure who to complain to, so we're leaving it to the blogosphere. Can TalkLeft or its readers help? This is a criminal offence, and needs to be reported to the relevant authorities.
"

SO: there really is something really shady going on. hard to uncover but very very shady. I believe the motive here is not to "out" this RP guy but something else altogether... I dont know what the motive or the driving force is, But am pretty confident that "plagiarism" is/was NOT the issue at all....but thats just my perspective...

ALSO amit posted the following content on his own site http://indiauncut.blogspot.com (excerpt as follows):
"Rohan had the mistaken belief that copyright is not an issue on the internet. Well, it is. Everything that you read on the internet is copyrighted - "

He put this up even tough his post on http://www.talkleft.com was answered. an excerpt from http://www.talkleft.com is as as follows:
"Posted by: Susan Hollis Merritt on January 23, 2005 05:24 PM
As an academic scholar and teacher, I have done a lot of research about plagiarism and copyright infringements. Plagiarism or piracy of copyrighted intellectual and/or artistic properties (those whose copyrights have been registered with the U.S. or other government copyright offices) is a form of theft. Such theft and piracy are indeed crimes. The term for such crime on the internet is "cybercrime." The people who engage in them are breaking current copyright and intellectual property laws.

....If a copyright notice is posted on a blog and if the notice says that readers of the blog need to request permission from the copyright holder (in this case TalkLeft) to reproduce materials (created by TalkLeft) elsewhere, or in another format, then it is not ethical for someone to plagiarize (steal) text or artwork or other materials from the blog. One may only quote and give attribution for the quotation, but the amount that one may quote is limited by the "fair use" provisions of copyright law.

....If one has not registered the copyright, it is probably not possible to file suit against the offending blogger. "


What could the motive here be ? I wonder ? and I guess we all would just wonder...instant fame? but for whom?

Dina Mehta said...

Dilip, this, in some ways tells me that people are now beginning to understand what you and i have been saying. And hopefully, they'll be more circumspect in the future. Even TalkLeft refused to take up the allegations for fear of a libellous suit.

My personal advice - let it rest. Sadly, the damage has been done. Still, everyone has learned something from this, some have been more gracious about it than others. Thats the way of the world.

Fadereu said...

Finally, just before I was about to gut myself Gandhi is making a comeback. Go Gandhi!

Link: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=115457
Convicts shed tears, try experiments with truth
Excerpt:
Squatting on mats on the floor of the makeshift examination hall in the jail, the candidates—mostly undertrials—answered questions on Mahatma Gandhi’s life and trials during the hour-long examination.

‘‘During the orientation lectures, some of these boys had tears in their eyes,’’ revealed T R K Somaiya of the Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal. ‘‘Many have expressed a desire to join the mandal.’’

Anonymous said...

excerpt from http://stochastica.blogspot.com/2005/01/poor-mrpinto_23.html ( not plagiarized but assuring 100% attribution to KARTHIK)

"Poor Mr.Pinto
All the Indian Blogs seem abuzz with a story about this guy called Rohan Pinto plagiarizing content from numerous other blogs and putting them up on his site as his own. (Details here.) Amit Varma also touches upon the fact that plagiarism is not restricted to the blogosphere. Why pick on Mr. Pinto? He is just a symptom of a wider malaise.

Several online-only Indian publications do the same thing,and try to make money out of it. Case in point: http://www.cinesouth.com/ plagiarizes almost all its content from newspapers and magazines and passes it off as their own. Cinesouth is brazen enough to have a section called "Nangal Suttavai" (Stolen Content) which has articles and interviews from several magazines and make it part of their paid section.

As a society India doesn't really care about plagiarism. Every other Hindi movie seems to have Hollywood roots. Most of the popular composers have plagiarized at least a few songs from somewhere. ( http://www.iespana.es/i2fs/) . Even one proven instance of stealing, and a western composer would have lived the rest of his life in ignominy. We dont care : we will still watch "inspired" movies ; listen to "influenced" albums and generally pretend like it never happened. And we blog away furiously about the Pintos, while listening to Anu Malik's latest."

Anonymous said...

this is geting very very interesting...
am excerpt from what shanti the "affected party" writes

(source: http://www.madhoo.com)
"Rohan called me last night and as far as I am concerned it is over for me. As for the people who were in no way related to the events who want to have their say, I think they are like those who witness a fight in their neighbor’s house, go back into their own house and then scream at the top of their lungs for attention."

Yes. She's absolutely right. people/bloggers are continuing to RANT about Rohan, and a handfull of folks standup for the fact that they too, themselves are sorry for initially participating in this wild "massacre of a character", and they now become targets by this bloggers with a "mob mentality"

I APPLAUD THE FEW WHO ARE VOICING OUT THEIR PRESPECTIVES ON THIS AND NOT LETTING IT PASS WITHOUT PROPER ACKNOWLEDGEMENT FROM THOSE ACCUSERS.... NOT AFTER ENSURING THE ACCUSEE APOLOGIZED FOR HIS MISTAKES, IT'S NOW TIME FOR THE ACCUSERS TO ADMIT THEIRS AND NOT HIDE BEHIND THE SHOWER CURTAINS.

(source: http://www.hexleyinmotion.com/archives/2004/08/31/dont-be-economic-girlie-men/)
"Dont Be Economic Girlie Men"

If I could rephrase that it would probaby be: STEP UP TO YOUR PLATE YOU GIRLIE MEN, ADMIT IT. YOU ACCUSED HIM OF FAR MORE THAN plagiarism and are now hiding in your underpants. STAND UP FOR YOUR OWN WORDS AND NOT SUBTLY EDIT YOUR POSTS.......

....but then if I did that it would be copyright infringement?? or plagiarism??

and why cant we post comments on amits blog at http://indiauncut.blogspot.com ???? is it because he chooses to receive emails so that he could edit content and then post responses on his blog ??? interesting....or elementary my dear watson, elementary...

amit varma said...

I have made a post on this matter here. Please do read that.

Just to answer a few points raised above:

"his website entireley to a non-blog some techie thing. Therefore i assume that these bloggers are using excerpts from some email correspondence that this RP guy may have been having with some folks in this community of bloggers. but are these excerpts being published with attribution or permission or was it against his will?" - Anonymous

Fair question. Rohan spoke to us, and then emailed us, and the excerpt was published as per his wishes.

"and why cant we post comments on amits blog at http://indiauncut.blogspot.com ???? is it because he chooses to receive emails so that he could edit content and then post responses on his blog ???" Anon

Fair question, again. I do not have comments enabled because I used to recieve too much abusive mail while writing my cricket blog, 23 yards. Much of that would have translated into comments here. Many of our biggest bloggers, like instapundit and andrew sullivan, also keep comments disabled, and that is a choice left to each individual.

What I see on Dilip's blog reinforces my view. In a previous post of his, repeated personal attacks have taken place against him in the comments. He has been called a liar, which is mild compared to what others have called him in the past. I think that is outrageous. Dilip and I disagree on many things, like here, but he is no liar, and such abuse is pathetic. Disagreements should be conducted in a civil manner, and many users tend to use such forums to vent their frustrations. He can deal with it; I like to avoid it.

On the issue of enabling comments, also read this.

Anonymous said...

To Dilip, Amit & Co., I discovered yr blogs since the days of your Tsunami coverage and found them to be an interesting read. Unfortunately the RP episode has taken much of our collective bandwidths. Why dont we just move on? An incident like the recent temple tragedy which would've otherwise elicited well-articulated opinions from you guys (for the sheer folly of the turn of events - rediff says it started with 'minor skirmishes') somehow got overlooked, what with your preoccupation with a non-issue (the RP thing). That's a sad thing to happen for the blogging world. - An avid blog reader

Parii said...

Being a 'victim' of plagiarism twice myself, (of course I have no claims to being a bigwig in the blog world) I can understand that responses can range from mild irritation to vindictive fury, and I have followed this Pinto case with mixed views.

On one hand, it IS an important issue and copy cats should not be allowed to carry on as and when they please. And this case has blown so much out of proportion that anyone will think a million times before repeating this 'crime'.

On the other hand, bitterness begets further bitterness and just goes on forever. I chose to extend a hand rather than point a finger, and today my first 'plagiarizer' is among my closest friends. I suppose it's how you look at it.

Yazad Jal said...

This for the various anonymous commenters. I'm not sure if all the comments are from one person or not. Maybe you could "sign" below. Use your real name / nickname / handle whatever so that if anyone wishes to respond is not unduly confused!

Dilip D'Souza said...

Let us indeed move on. To the person who says you've followed us since the tsunami reports, you're entirely right. But please do read my 8 (!) posts on the demolitions on Ambujwadi (titled with that name). And perhaps there will still be a piece on the temple tragedy.

Whirlwings, you've every bit a bigwig as anyone else. Thank you for showing us some sense in what you say about hands and fingers.

Amit, about comments: I choose to let them be visible because -- let me be frank here -- I enjoy seeing the abusers undermining their own case.

To other issues, and that particular finger points decidedly at me.

Rohan Pinto said...

Hi Dilip,

I wanted to send you all an email, but then thought that posting this message wherever I could "may" be better.

Please...Please...Please... DO not pursue this issue. I have let it go with no anger or malice. Like Amit Said "people make mistake, shit happens, lets moven on". So lets all do so. I made mistakes, and (not to offend anybody or start another chain) others did too... Why dont we all let bygones be bygones and just move on....

I admit that my rep has been ruined, years of hardwork has gone down in a matter of 3 days and may take 20 years to rectify. But thats the price I pay. I do not want others to pay a price like I did for mistakes that they "may" have commited.

This issue is causing a huge "rift" between people who knew each other so very well and were "brothers in arms". Who am I to cause this. If you do get an opportunity to do anything abot this, i request you to advise everybody else to just let this go. let it be a closed chapter with a "lesson learned".

Nobody could every rectify the damage it has caused. But we could all stop pursuing this and not fight like cats and dogs.

If people really want to do something about it, then delete all those posts that are out there. If posts could be edited, they could be deleted too... (but thats just my thoughts). Or let the posts remain, but do not contibue badgering each other.

"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself"

this exact same post would be posted on all blogs I see that indicates any continuation of this topic. (and probably some which have references to me directly and no continuation)

Rohan Pinto

Anonymous said...

Was that really "the" Rohan Pinto, or a phony? How can we ever know?

Rohan Pinto said...

It really was me.

For any doubts please email me at rohan at rohanpinto dot com and I shall personally clarify it for you.... (I have emailed this exact same post to several of you who are already on a discussion email thread with me, so they could clarify it for you too... as the contents are exactly the same...). You would find the same post on the other sites too...

people do weird things for a few minutes of fame, but my stunt of plagiarism gave me instant blog-fame in a manner I didnt even expect...(which I never really wanted)... Whew!! It's all over now. (-hopefully-), even though my personal saga of restructing the perception of what people had of me continues, but thats my problem....

Dilip D'Souza said...

Is that the real Anonymous, or just a phony Anonymous? Oops, we already know the answer to that one, don't we?

Dilip D'Souza said...

Rohan, I don't believe you need to be answering suspicions of phoniness, let alone from guys who don't even sign their names. Here's my take: I believe you were wronged and I had a part in that. I will do what I can to make amends.

MadMan said...

Dilip, I think you should install a Blogger hack that lets people enter their names in without signing up for Blogger.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that I posted that smart-aleck remark above about the phony Rohan Pinto. I thought if logged in anonymously I could get away with saying anything and people would chuckle and it would be forgotten. But I was wrong. I deepen the wounds. I don't know what came over me really. Sometime people do weird things for a few minutes of fame, but my stunt of plagiarism gave me instant blog-fame in a manner I didnt even expect...(which I never really wanted)... Whew!! It's all over now. (-hopefully-), even though my personal saga of restructing the perception of what people had of me continues, but thats my problem....

Rohan Pinto said...

emm I am confused reading this previous comment myself..... another post by "anonymous"... with an excerpt from my previous post embedded....

my post as it reads a few posts above this reads as :
"Sometime people do weird things for a few minutes of fame, but my stunt of plagiarism gave me instant blog-fame in a manner I didnt even expect...(which I never really wanted)... Whew!! It's all over now. (-hopefully-), even though my personal saga of restructing the perception of what people had of me continues, but thats my problem...."

and the very previous post by "anonymous" reads as :
"I'm sorry that I posted that smart-aleck remark above about the phony Rohan Pinto. I thought if logged in anonymously I could get away with saying anything and people would chuckle and it would be forgotten. But I was wrong. I deepen the wounds. I don't know what came over me really."... which continues with an excerpt from my post...

emm... strange....

Anonymous said...

LOL - Someone gave you a taste of your own medicine, Mr.Pinto :) Peace! - Not that someone

Rohan Pinto said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I am posting comment here that I just put on Dilip's other artucle, "No Bended Knees".

Yes, I agree with the previous commenter who said this is a case of the blogger going on the witch hunt. I don't know how many of you saw the "Update" Dilip had on his other post on Pinto (It is called "Conjecture is Not evidence") for a few hours on Thursday nigt (US Time). It told about how Varma had quietly changed some words in his post, like "fraud" to "mechanism" I think.

Luckily Dilip had the link to the google cache of the orginal post. It was shocking to read the changes. Then the words changed back to orginal, and Varma put up his "Clarification" post in which he said he went too far, then Dilip took off the update.

What happened to that update, Mr Dilip? It does not matter because me and others have got caches of both posts. My respect for Varma went down fully afterwords.

B. Ravikumar.

(Note to other poster, I am sorry, I am not from Warnagal).

Rohan Pinto said...

Hi,

I saw the pervious post and had posted a reply, then on second thoughts I felt that I myself was leading this discussion further when people wated to forget about it altogether, (and i myself had asked people to move on)... So I deleted that post... with hopes that this would stop.

From my perspective, we are all humans and we are all prone to err from time to time. I made mistakes and I paid for it, from mine and some other peoples perspectives, there are a lot of other people who have also made mistakes, maybe not plagiarism but something else... So what, we all make errors, and if we keep badgering each other over mistakes it would just go on and on... one mistake leads to another, this vicious cycle would never stop.

Why dont we just forgive and forget???

To Err is Human To Forgive is Divine...

... and let this not make us self proclaimed makers of justice...

and again... no badmouthing others, no sarcasm, no pointing fingers, just simply forgive and forget.

I remember from the days when I was a kid, I was told never to point fingers at anybody, as if I did point a finger at someone, I would at the same time have 4 other fingers pointing to myself...


Rohan Pinto

Dilip D'Souza said...

This thread is now closed for comments. Thank you.