[INDOLOGY] Malhotra's motives

Al Collins nasadasin at gmail.com
Sun Jul 19 07:53:14 UTC 2015

I still question whether Rajiv Malhotra intentionally plagiarized, even in
view of the citations presented on this list and RISA. He could have made
it clearer he did not agree with Nicholson, Halbfass, and others about the
interpretation of their data and ideas, but plagiarism (like theft, murder,
and so on), implies intent, in this case intent to steal another's work and
present it as one's own. Intent, in turn, implies motive, a reason why he
would want to present another person’s work as his. I see no compelling
evidence of intent or motive here. Part of what happened could be what
psychoanalysts have called "cryptomnesia," or forgetting that one has read
something elsewhere, then remembering the content without the detail that
it was found in another’s work.  That is a phenomenon so common that
probably everyone will remember doing it (though the eventual recognition
is inevitably less frequent than instances never recalled).  The apparently
flagrant 77 word unattributed quotation could be what Malhotra “remembered”
(wrongly) to have been his paraphrase of a section of Nicholson’s book. He
could simply have forgotten that he wrote down verbatim what he found in
the other man’s book, and later thought the note he had typed was his own
restatement of the idea.  He might even have “remembered” thinking it
himself! Either case would be akin to the “false memory syndrome” studied
by Elizabeth Loftus and others which shows memory to be constantly
reconstructed under the influence of personal motives.  This is well
established to be a universal phenomenon to which we are all prey, although
careful research procedures can minimize it.  Malhotra was not careful (to
say the least). But, then, he is not doing research.

            Considering Malhotra's aim may clarify matters. He is defending
a position that owes almost nothing to the texts he quotes. Rather, he is
proof texting, selecting what he thinks supports his own, deeply held
opinions. There is no desire to be original in his choice of data; in fact,
he wants his data to come from someone else. If they didn't, they wouldn't
"prove" his point.
Al Collins

Al Collins, Ph.D., Ph.D.

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