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Plagiarism Story...Part I


Whenever someone violates the code of ethics, breaks the rules or does
something wrong to benefit from it, we often give him the benefit of the
doubt, saying maybe he doesn't understand the rules...maybe he made a
minor mistake or didn't realize it. Then it happens again. Then again.
We tell him  to stop. He denies he did anything wrong and continues as
before. Well, that is what has happened and continues to happen.

Read the story I will tell you. Try to understand why I am telling it.
It is about Ben. It answers the questions...What did Ben do? When did he
do it? What proof exists? And does it rise to the level of

But first some background information. I joined the AHS sponsored Robin
called honza  in January 1997 at the suggestion of Ran Lydell....to
communicate with friends, to exchange information about hostas and to do
it more rapidly. I joined because it was a challenge for me to keep up
with the younger generation of hosta enthusiasts (I'm 78 year old).  At
that time it had been active for less than a year, I believe. I was a
complete novice with computers but caught on to simple the operations of
e-mail communications with hosta friends. Around February 1997 I
initiated private correspondence with Ben Zonneveld. I assumed that
since he was active on the Robin, was connected with Leiden University
and was interested in scientific subject matter, that we had much in
common. I was very wrong. Our correspondence soon developed into a
public debate in which Ben was to be the "winner".I found that he wanted
to control every discussion, was an authority in all subjects...not just
Genetics, was very aggressive in wanting to dominate  and actually
distorted scientific facts beyond  belief. I decided I did not want to
participate in these kinds of discussions in which his ego was so
all-important. I stopped communicating with him when he deliberately
"put me down", so to speak in a public, not private  post of April 21,
1997 entitled "Re:P700 and 680" in which he said:

   "Thanks for your interesting information. I must disappoint you to
a     certain extent P700 mean protein 700"....(Typos are not mine)

In this post he tried to tell me that P700 was a protein when, as a
plant physiologist, I knew full well it was a chloropyll a molecule, 
that he was giving me incorrect information in my own area of
specialization. I wrote soon afterward the Article "Those Blasted
Plastids" to set the record straight on what P700 really was, and
expanded upon the theme of the  structure and role of plastids in
photosynthesis and pigmentation in hostas. This is all somewhat
technical and those without a plant science backgound may not fully
understand this subject or how this kind of  communication violated
accepted ways of communication between one scientist and another. I
broke off communication because I realized that Ben was a fake outside
of his field of expertize. We never discussed subjects in his

Ben's habit of writing e-mail posts was often very odd in my opinion, 
with much information that was incorrect. I did not want to argue with
him so I did not dispute him in any fashion. I thought it strange that
he was perpetually asking people on the Robin for information and
suggesting that they send him plants and pollen for his scientific
research. I found this to be excessively demanding.I learned that Ben
had a "following " of people on the Robin to whom he addressed "Dear
Hosta Fans", which was different, to say the least. He was considered by
several as "an emminent authority". Ben had other types of supporters as
well..those who recognized him as "a true scientist,  someone who , when
he gets us hooked. will guide us in things about science." These views
were those of Bob Olson , President of AHS at the time, in an e-mail
post to Frank Niykos on the occasion of Ben's instructions to about 100
people regarding counting pods in their gardens...the purpose of which
was to gather scientific data on pod count on different hosta cultivars,
to correlate such data with other research he was doing with pollen
fertility and seed germination viability. The data presumably was sent
to Ben who was to compile it, draw conclusions and report to the hosta
community about his findings. I don't think this was ever reported...at
least I have never seen it reported in any fashion. I gathered the
impression that the reason for getting people to gather data for him was
more to draw their attention to him, rather than to conduct valid
experimentation. I admit that I may be mistaken in making these
assumptions. If so, many of my friends who have drawn the same
conclusion are also wrong. 

These and other events tended to create a sort of polarization between
those who supported and aided Ben and those who recognized him as a
fraud when it came to hosta knowledge and technology. There is no need
to identify these people. The polarization exists to this day and is
becoming more obvious and more serious. The rank and file membership may
not even be aware of this serious dichotomy. My amazement is that the
AHS leaders are not aware of the serious nature of this dichotomy. I
wonder why  they support, aid and abett a fraud, a plagiarist, a liar. I
ask, why the AHS publishes articles authored by Ben when the substance
and data within the article is copied from Journal articles previously
published by others? Why does the AHS praise Ben (see Journal Vol 29.2,
pg 90) for his research in gathering data on sports when the research
consisted in copying data of names, descriptions and sources of sports
presented by others in previous publications...all without citation or
acknowledgment of source of the information. Why do they allow him to
advertise his Book of Sports on the AHS Robin or sell his Book at the
National Convention when it contains obvious examples of plagiary?

There you have some background and the essence of my charges...that Ben
plagiarized data and concepts previously published and did so without
citation of sources of his information. By all standards this is
plagiary. He has denied that he did so. In further parts of my story I
will give specific examples of what was stolen and used in an
unacknowledged way to make it appeared as his own work. I will prove
what I claim to be the facts of the case with documented evidence... not
merely my statements. The evidence will be Ben's own words in e-mail
posts from Holland which you may be able to verify by withdrawing them
from your computer's trashbin  as I have done. In fairness,  Ben is
offered the opportunity of rebuttal of my facts if he wishes.

Part two will begin with a definition or two  so that readers will
understand what plagiarism is and what it is not. 

Jim Hawes

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