Monday, June 12, 2006

Lies and the Plagiarizing Liars who Plagiarize Them

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The Rude Pundit catches Ann Coulter plagiarizing a 30 year old article:
Here's Coulter from Chapter 1 of Godless: The massive Dickey-Lincoln Dam, a $227 million hydroelectric project proposed on upper St. John River in Maine, was halted by the discovery of the Furbish lousewort, a plant previously believed to be extinct.

Here's the Portland Press Herald, from the year 2000, in its list of the "Maine Stories of the Century": The massive Dickey-Lincoln Dam, a $227 million hydroelectric project proposed on upper St. John River, is halted by the discovery of the Furbish lousewort, a plant believed to be extinct.

Strangely similar, no? By the way, that's a story from 1976. Coulter doesn't tell you that little tidbit, making you think it happened last week.
More importantly, the Furbish lousewort has been observed in the wild since 1976. Indeed, here's how the Fish and Wildlife Service describes it (PDF):
A northern plant with a strange name seems to love a challenge. It lives, quite literally, on the edge - the edge of a river that forms the border of Maine and New Brunswick, Canada. For only140 miles of this one river, Furbish lousewort lives on the north-facing river banks, anchoring itself against spring floods and ice scouring. Only one species of bumblebee pollinates the plant, and it reproduces only by seed. Parasitic as a seedling, Furbish lousewort hooks into the roots of neighboring plants for nutrients. Discovered in 1880, declared extinct by 1975, and rediscovered in 1976, Furbish lousewort lives in the extreme.
In other words, the Portland Press Herald was right that the plant was believed extinct in 1976, but the same statement is false in 2006. Funny how time catches up with you. Several thousand individuals survive in Maine and New Brunswick, operating in a very tightly constrain system with their environment. Altering the river's dynamics would have been disastrous for the plant.