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How a Times reporter found a pattern of plagiarism in a USC doctor’s books that his editor missed


Good morning and welcome to Essential California Newsletter. Is Monday March 20.

Dr. David Agus is a USC oncologist who directs the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine. He is a frequent guest on “The Howard Stern Show,” appears as a medical contributor to CBS News, and is the author of four books on health and wellness.

His latest book, “The Book of Animal Secrets: Nature’s Lessons for a Long and Happy Life,” was scheduled for release on March 7 and had topped an Amazon best-seller list on animals before it was released. its release.

But check that amazon listing today and all you’ll find is a cute dog under a giant “SORRY”. Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Agus’s book, suspended sales last week after the Los Angeles Times discovered that 95 parts of the text had been plagiarized.

Corinne Purtill covers health and medicine for The Times and investigated Agus’s latest headline after being tipped off by a source concerned about its content.

Corinne’s reporting raised questions about Agus’s other books and whether a major publisher reviewed a book on human health and animal research.

As Corinne told me, it took little more than a Google search to find reputable plagiarism checking software and an email to its editors.

“I got permission, paid $300, uploaded the PDF, and it showed me the results,” he said.

“That whole process took less than 15 minutes,” he said, adding:

There’s no reason any publisher, including Simon & Schuster, couldn’t have done exactly what the LA Times did.

The Times has also hired a forensic plagiarism investigator to analyze the text of Agus’s book on blood circulation in giraffes. He discovered that some data on giraffes had been copied, word for word, in some cases, from a blog post on the website of an African safari company.

In a statement to The Times, Agus said he “(takes) seriously any claim of plagiarism” and apologized “to the scientists and writers whose work or words were used or not fully attributed.”

Corinne turned her attention to Agus’ earlier books, “The end of the disease” “A Brief Guide to a Long Life” and “Lucky Years”.

On Friday, he reported his findings: Those books contain “more than 120 passages that are virtually identical in language and structure to previously published material, including newspaper and magazine histories, scientific journal articles, popular science books, Wikipedia, and blogs.” “.

Agus’s name appears only on the cover of his books, but all four were produced in collaboration with Los Angeles writer Kristin Loberg (whose the website now appears blank).

Loberg is credited as a co-author or contributor to at least 45 books on the market, Corinne reports, from all the so-called Big Five publishing houses in the US Most of those titles are related to health, diet or wellness. That includes some books by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s top medical correspondent.

Some of those publishers, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House and HarperCollins, told The Times that they had begun reviewing the titles Loberg worked on.

“I accept full responsibility for any errors that may have been contained in my work,” Loberg wrote in a statement to The Times. She said that Agus was not to blame for the plagiarized portions.

“I am grateful that my collaborator has confirmed that I did not contribute to or be aware of any of the plagiarized or unattributed passages from my books,” Agus said in a statement. “This has been a painful but valuable learning experience for me, and I want to reiterate my deepest regret at my own lack of rigor in supervising my collaborator in our manuscript completion process.”

But some plagiarism experts, Corinne spoke up to say that Agus is not blameless.

“If your name is on the cover, you take full responsibility for what’s inside.” Deborah Weber-Wulff, a professor of media and computer science at the HTW Berlin University of Applied Sciences told him.

Talking to Corinne, I was wondering what the average reader is supposed to learn about blood pressure from a giraffe.

She argues that there isn’t much actionable information in Agus’s latest book. Research on giraffe heart health could be useful to cardiologists and drug development, he said, but experts who might act on such findings would get them from peer-reviewed studies, not from a popular science book that mined information. no credit to giraffe researchers.

“There is such an absence of other sources that I think it actually detracts from the text making sense,” Corinne said. “You don’t really know: ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’”

Overall, Corinne said, her research on Agus’s “Franken-book” and other titles highlights ethical standards in book publishing. She sums it up:

Words matter; It matters where our information comes from.

“When money and marketing efforts, time, shelf space, and publisher space… go to these books that aren’t really of quality or credible sources, it also means they don’t go somewhere else, maybe time (to) researchers who have really done work in these areas,” he told me.

You can read Corinne’s initial investigation and follow-up reports on The Times website.

And now, This is what is happening in California:

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The 38th annual Los Angeles Marathon drew more than 20,000 people — including elite runners, but also Elvis and Marilyn — on a 26.2-mile course through some of the city’s iconic neighborhoods. I feel a little breathless just reading about it. Los Angeles Times

A runner dressed as Marilyn Monroe runs through downtown during the 38th Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday, March 19, 2023, in Los Angeles.

(Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times)

Mayor Karen Bass is aiming to move 1,000 homeless Angelenos inside through her Inside Safe program by Tuesday. But homeless advocates are criticizing the operation, citing abrupt shifts by some homeless people from one hotel to another, and sometimes to a third. Los Angeles Times

“I love my job, but the pay is horrible and has been horrible for many years,” Bernice Young, a longtime LAUSD custodian recently told the Times. she is one of thousands of non-teaching workers preparing to go on strike this week for better wages and working conditions, in a move slated to close Los Angeles schools for three days. Los Angeles Times

Check out “The Times” podcast for essential news and more

These days, waking up to current events can be, well, daunting. If you’re looking for a more balanced news diet, “The Times” podcast is for you. Gustavo Arellano, along with a diverse group of reporters from the award-winning LA Times newsroom, delivers the hottest stories from the Los Angeles Times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.


California is preparing to start manufacturing a brand of insulin. Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $50 million contract with Civica, a nonprofit generic drug maker. If the deal goes through as planned, a 10-milliliter vial that is normally priced at $300 would sell for $30. Los Angeles Times

While the rural town of Pájaro was flooded this month when the aging levee holding back a surge of stormwater failed, another poor, largely Latino community survived in an equally precarious situation. The key difference? A new dam and 35 years of fighting for government aid. the mercury news

In an effort to “modernize the way California treats mental illness, substance use disorder and homelessness,” Governor Newsom is unveiling a new plan that state voters could decide next year. The initiative would fund the construction of new community mental health facilities across the state and amend previous legislation that counties use to pay for mental health programs and services. the sacramento bee


The snow abundance of the Sierra this winter also contained a discovery: microplastics inside the snowflakes that cover the mountains. State regulators are working to understand the effect contaminants have on our drinking water supply. San Francisco Chronicle

Maternal deaths have risen sharply during the pandemic, more than 40%, according to federal data. A recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics found that the death rate for black women was more than 2 ½ times that of white women. California has been at the forefront of the fight to reverse the trend. Los Angeles Times

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from today california landmark comes from bill osgood from the yucca valley: the aptly named giant rock near the town of Landers in the Mojave desert.

Three people stand in front of a huge rock under a clear blue sky.

Bill Osgood took this photo at Giant Rock in 2015 with his mother-in-law, Marion Kelsey, sister, Marjorie Lattka, and niece, Anne Lattka, standing in front of the massive rock.

(Bill Osgood)

Bill writes:

It is the largest freestanding rock in North America and is supposed to be the largest in the world at seven stories tall. Native Americans in the Joshua Tree area consider it sacred. In the 1950s, this was a gathering point for UFO believers and considered a landing site for alien spacecraft. In the year 2000 a large chunk of rock fell away overnight, exposing its white granite interior. It is not yet known if alien spacecraft were involved.

What are California’s essential landmarks? Fill out this form to send us your photos of a special place in California — natural or man-made. Tell us why it’s interesting and what makes it a symbol of life in the Golden State. Be sure to only include photos taken directly by you. Your presentation may appear in a future issue of the newsletter.

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send feedback to essentialcalifornia@WhatsNewDay.com.

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