The master and his student: Collaboration at a Hungarian university

Today’s post is an update (and a pretty juicy one at that) on what has happened in the Zsolt Semjén plagiarism case since I last wrote about it on November 19. Just as I suspected at the time, HVG had more information than the first articles led us believe. In good journalistic fashion they dragged the story out for a while and released information in bits and pieces.

The Christian Democrats responded to HVG‘s revelations by calling them attacks on Christianity itself and the Hungarian right rushed to Semjén’s defense. Zsolt Bayer in his typical fashion called the people who discovered the plagiarism “hyenas'” who should “be done in.” A day later, on November 21, Zsolt Semjén demanded an official apology from HVG, which the paper refused. Two days later the dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of ELTE announced that there is simply no Semjén case. All this is no more than a political attack. It seems that ELTE didn’t consider the submission of basically the same text at two different universities an issue.

But then came HVG again. When the accusation first surfaced, Semjén willingly made his transcripts and dissertations, including his senior paper written for the sociology department of ELTE, available. That was his downfall. It turned out that the copy of the senior paper he provided was different from the one HVG had managed to acquire. In fact, it was designated a “second revised edition.” I remember my total amazement at the time. I’ve seen a lot of dissertations and senior papers in my life but never one that bore the designation second revised edition.

Zsolt Semjén used German-language material although he doesn't know the language / Hírcsárda

Zsolt Semjén used German-language material although he doesn’t know the language / Hírcsárda

On November 26 another article appeared in HVG with the title “New suspicious texts in Semjén’s paper: culprit or victim?” It turned out that the revisions in the “second edition” were copied  from an article by his adviser, Attila Károly Molnár, which appeared a year later (1993)  in Valóság, a well respected monthly.

Semjén had to revise his senior paper because the reader flunked him on his first effort, even though his obliging adviser gave him an A. At this point Attila Molnár must have lent Semjén a helping hand by sharing with him his article, still in manuscript form. Semjén dutifully copied out Molnár’s text word for word.

A few days later there was a short article about Attila Károly Molnár’s outraged statement that he never plagiarized from his students’ works. Now that is really laughable because no one could possibly think that he copied from Semjén. Rather Semjén, presumably with Molnár’s knowledge, copied from him.

Well, at this point the dean of the faculty of social sciences at ELTE who only three days earlier had said that there was no case to investigate named a three-member panel to take a look at the senior paper. HVG decided to be helpful to the members of the investigation. On November 29 it published another article which revealed new portions of the text that could be traced to another article of Attila Molnár entitled “Religion and Politics in Our Time” written in 1992 but published only in 1998 as part of a collection of essays.

After studying the Semjén plagiarism case, the members of the panel couldn’t come to any other conclusion but that  Semjén plagiarized. As Katalin Tausz, the dean of the faculty, said, Semjén “made a serious professional and ethical mistake.” Past and present rules and regulations concerning such situations, however, don’t allow the university to take legal action, especially after the fact. She added that if Semjén were caught using his adviser’s works today, he would fail and would be called before the executive committee to face disciplinary action.

This verdict didn’t shake Zsolt Semjén’s confidence, as can be seen on the video. He was an excellent student and if he did something wrong his professors should have told him so. As far as he is concerned, the case is closed.

And now let’s return to Attila Károly Molnár. It seems that ELTE cannot bring disciplinary action against him either. Most likely because of  the same fuzzy regulations that apply to student plagiarism. But I’m sure that a number of people in the faculty of social sciences wouldn’t mind at all if Molnár got what he most likely deserves in this case. Because Molnár has a history.

In December 2011 a blogger discovered a comment by someone who called himself “Tölgy” (Oak). The remark was made during a discussion of the fate of  Attila Petschauer, a famous  fencer who received two gold medals and one silver medal in 1928 and 1932 at the Olympic games. He was Jewish and ended up in a labor battalion where he died a terrible death. “The guards shouted: ‘You, Olympic fencing medal winner . . . let’s see how you can climb trees.’ It was midwinter and bitter cold, but they ordered him to undress, then climb a tree. The amused guards ordered him to crow like a rooster, and sprayed him with water. Frozen from the water, he died shortly after.”

And here is the comment by Tölgy. “This poor guy was hazed and he died. Ugly, no question. How many of you have served in the army? You know, the duty of every democrat and supporter of the republic. If you find someone who did serve in the army, he will tell you how the soldiers used to haze each other. Indeed companies of men are like that. Your example is nothing else but a rough hazing that ended badly. Otherwise I am still waiting for all those stories about how Hungarian soldiers were methodically and purposefully killing those serving in the labor battalions.”

Tölgy turned out to be Attila Károly Molnár who at this point, in addition to his full time job at ELTE, also taught part time at the Péter Pázmány University. Molnár admitted that he used the name “Tölgy” but claimed that the comment above came from someone else who stole his IP address. The editors of Mandiner, the moderate conservative online paper where the comment appeared, believe in absolute freedom of expression and as a result the most awful comments appear on that site. The dean of Pázmány’s faculty of social sciences couldn’t prove that Tölgy was Molnár but thought that his presence there was undesirable. He lost his job.

By mid-January forty-two faculty members of ELTE signed a declaration distancing themselves from the “person whoever he is” and this man’s unacceptable views. Far-right sites immediately labelled them anti-Hungarians who didn’t appreciate Tölgy’s “historically correct comments” and who are “the enemies of free speech.” Moreover, they are the ones who falsify history.

Normally, I don’t read Hungarian comments, but this time I went through some of those that mentioned Molnár. According to one by “weiner” in Népszabadság, a Hungarian paper should pay some attention to Molnár one day. “weiner” sees a connection between Molnár’s giving help in 1992 to Semjén during his difficulties with the senior paper and the former adviser’s getting a job a couple of years later at Pázmány. Another commenter, “jotunder” (orulunkvincent), seems to know that everybody in ELTE’s sociology department was aware that Attila Károly Molnár after the 2010 elections desperately wanted a job at one of the ministries as undersecretary or department head. He had to be disappointed. Some of the commenters are certain that neither Semjén’s nor Molnár’s troubles are over.

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gdfxx
Guest

These people have no shame, typical psychopaths.

Member

Why don’t someone give a well deserved hazing to Molnar I wonder? A similar death to Attila Petschauer’s was portrayed in the movie Sunshine (1999).

Guest

London Calling!

That’s so funny! Foolishly publishing the paper after ‘gifting’ it’s contents to the dishonest Semjén!

Are these people just thick? Or arrogant too?

The damage to education in Hungary is inestimable – and they continue in their jobs with arrogant immunity.

Regards

Charlie

Member

To steal your thesis is one thing but calling the Rolling Stones a satanic band, as he did in his dissertation about New Age, is quite another. This guy is a real wing nut. Our moral beacon in the parliament.

Another thing about his very Christian values. The fucker is an avid hunter. In 2011 he was lobbying for taking off a bunch of endangered birds of the hunting ban list.

One of the most prestigious sport of the commie big wigs under Kadar was hunting. Looks like the new holy Joes of our new elite have the same weaknesses.

Petofi1
Guest

According to Index, Semjen apparently said that if he had committed a sin, they should’ve called him on it 20 years ago. Well that’s a novel idea: sinning has a time element–after some time, it ‘wears down’ and has no effect if you’re a god-fearing Hungarian Christian!

dvhr
Guest

Petofi1 :
According to Index, Semjen apparently said that if he had committed a sin, they should’ve called him on it 20 years ago. Well that’s a novel idea: sinning has a time element–after some time, it ‘wears down’ and has no effect if you’re a god-fearing Hungarian Christian!

Foul deeds will rise,
Though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes.

Bowen
Guest

Petofi1 :
According to Index, Semjen apparently said that if he had committed a sin, they should’ve called him on it 20 years ago. Well that’s a novel idea: sinning has a time element–after some time, it ‘wears down’ and has no effect if you’re a god-fearing Hungarian Christian!

Meanwhile, Fidesz are intent on criminalising the whole Socialist era? My mind cannot cope with so much cognitive dissonance! However do the Fidesz voters manage!

Guest

Mutt :
To steal your thesis is one thing but calling the Rolling Stones a satanic band, as he did in his dissertation about New Age, is quite another.

I may have posted a link to this site before:http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Evils%20in%20America/Rock-n-Roll/rolling_stones.htm

If you want a good laugh – or a horrible shiver, depending on your mood – then look up this.

Maybe Semyen believes this type of stuff ?

It’s fantastic where these people find “the number of the beast” aka 666, just look at the pictures …

Member
Guest

London Calling!

dvhr – impressive knowledge of William!

Regards

Charlie

spectator
Guest
Mutt : To steal your thesis is one thing but calling the Rolling Stones a satanic band, as he did in his dissertation about New Age, is quite another. This guy is a real wing nut. Our moral beacon in the parliament. Another thing about his very Christian values. The fucker is an avid hunter. In 2011 he was lobbying for taking off a bunch of endangered birds of the hunting ban list. One of the most prestigious sport of the commie big wigs under Kadar was hunting. Looks like the new holy Joes of our new elite have the same weaknesses. Why, he even declared, that his ‘professional competence can not be questioned’!!! I somehow missed the specific definition of that profession, – what ‘profession’ could he mean, anyway? Is there something, what we haven’t yet heard of? Even if the ‘comrades’ favorite pastime was the hunting too, I never heard Kádár lecturing about moral and christian values in the parliament, not to mention, that the man lead a rather puritan lifestyle as a person – as opposed to our present day party-notabilities. Apparently ‘comrade’ Semjén has neither moral, nor religious problem slaughtering God’s creatures for pleasure, – between… Read more »
Member

What I love about these moral guides of Hungary, how they go out of their way two sets of values, one for their group, and another to all others. Semjen is the second in the (probably long list) of morally corrupt politicians tied to the Fidesz who has proven how seriously he takes learning (first one is our ex-president, Schmitt). Thank goodness it is hard to go any lower than the current head of Media Authority, Annamaria Szalay, as it is an open book where her priorities are being a past publisher of sex magazines. (I guess as the current government trying to screw everyone, she is least an expert amongst the group of amateurs.) I hope HVG does not stop with their investigation, as all these hypocrites need to be ousted.

Member

PANNONIAN PECADILLOES

From what we hear told here, both SZs and his mentor, MAK, sound a right unsavory pair. (A flair for slaughtering innocent creatures, for example, whether for pleasure or profit, is never a happy harbinger.) But I do wonder what it profits a teacher to abet plagiarizing his words by a student who is not a minister in power: Would it have been prescience? Not setting much store by scholarship? Or just promoting one’s own notions by other means?
http://users.ecs.soton.ac.uk/harnad/skywritings/index.php?/archives/198-On-Monarchism-and-Morality.html

Member

Mutt :
The … is an avid hunter…

Though I would not use his epithet in a serious forum, I do think Mutt has come up with the right expression…
http://forum.index.hu/Article/viewArticle?a=94106795&t=9015243

Member
BREAKING News Molnar says he did not see the second amended dissertation. The one Semjen altered with a part of Molnar’s article after he flunked the first review. Dang! Our altair boy mentor should have payed off Molnar for his services with a cushy job in a ministry. Now it’s too late. Well, “forgiveness is Devine, but never pay full price for late pizza” (TMNT). Semjen just did a press conference yesterday. The below link is 15 seconds longer because from the official government version, from kormany.hu, they edited out when the journalists asked questions at the end (“Will you resign?”). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ia7qSV_ySVw The guy basically says he was A+ all the way so nobody can question his abilities. This is a political attack … yadi yadi yada. The most disgusting is this: “… my life mission is the re-unification of the Hungarian nation, 150,000 new citizen each year, and I’m prepared to withstand any attacks for that” (my translation). He was kinda hyperventilating, obviously nervous. For a moment I thought this bozo may actually believe in what he says about himself. He looked like mommy’s boy, the teacher’s pet who just got his first B in elementary school. He almost… Read more »
Member

Ooops. My bad. Eva already included the press conference.

Member

wait … there is more …

Gabor Jobbagy, a professor from the Pazmany Catholic University, defended Semjen by accusing the ELTE committee. He says they are wrong because the definition of the plagiarism is using an already published manuscript. The poor fellow said this before Molnar came up with the denial that he saw the second version. Man, this is better than a tabloid!

Member

I hate to do this to those who worked very hard for their degrees, but I think at this point anyone from Hungary who is seeking any jobs outside of Hungary with any kid of degree obtained the last twenty years also, should be required to re-qualify. In Canada for example, if you want your foreign degree to be valid, many cases you have to go back to university for a kind of “bridging”. WHat I heard is that not everyone is able to keep up.
Maybe if this re-qualification would become mandatory, more Hungarians would wake up and protest against those who cheated and lied to obtain a diploma. When Hungarians would see that their degree worth nothing, they would finally wake up.

In view of all the education quality that Pazmany or ELTE provide I am wondering if with the new fee for education, is it even worth it for any person who is serious about their education to enrol in a Hungarian institution any more? Let’s face it, those questionable degrees will only worth something in Hungary soon. When you see the quality (Schmitt, Semjen, Matolcsy, etc.) of those who run the country, you must wonder….

Member

I re-watched the video. I am not really sure what is more disturbing, Semjen’s works of ethics, or that he has no clue what is really wrong with what he done. He does not grasp the concept that it should be no time limit for academical incompetence. WHen he says that it was “twenty years ago”, buhuuu. Do not forget that these are the same people who cry wolf on every liberal thinking young person, saying that they were communists under Kadar (even if they were not even alive yet). A pathetic bunch.

Member

Eva S. Balogh :
Mutt: “Molnar says he did not see the second amended dissertation. The one Semjen altered with a part of Molnar’s article after he flunked the first review.”
And who will believe this? That an adviser doesn’t read his advisee’s paper when he and the reader must discuss the grade? Molnár is lying just as he lied when he claimed that it wasn’t him who wrote the comment on Petschauer.

Molnar is threatening them with taking this to court. If he does this, we are in for a great dog eat dog fun. Brother Semjen, after dropping the stealing ban, may have to cross out another commandment from his version of the tablets, the “you shall not bear false witness”. But 80% of the 10 commandments is still good. For him.

Bowen
Guest

@ Mutt: “He says they are wrong because the definition of the plagiarism is using an already published manuscript.”

Well, this sentence at least demonstrates that ‘original thinking’ is being used to defend Semjen’s plagiarism of someone else’s ideas. Maybe there’s some hope at Pazmany university after all!

Out of interest, do Hungarian universities currently use anything along the lines of Turnitin to check each and every student’s work?

spectator
Guest

Even if they dancing around the definition of plagiarism they still have to answer the simple question: just how right is that Semjén used in principle the same thesis in two different universities to gain a degree?
In any event, this is still an ‘academic fraud’ as we learned a while ago, isn’t it?

Paul
Guest

Right now if I were an employer somewhere in the West, I wouldn’t take any Hungarian degree seriously. I like Some 1’s re-qualification idea – that would cause panic amongst the ‘universities’ and students in Hungary.

Paul
Guest

wolfi :

Mutt :
To steal your thesis is one thing but calling the Rolling Stones a satanic band, as he did in his dissertation about New Age, is quite another.

I may have posted a link to this site before:http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Evils%20in%20America/Rock-n-Roll/rolling_stones.htm
If you want a good laugh – or a horrible shiver, depending on your mood – then look up this.
Maybe Semyen believes this type of stuff ?
It’s fantastic where these people find “the number of the beast” aka 666, just look at the pictures …

Even more fantastic when you consider that 666 may not be the number of the beast. In papyrus fragment P115 (dated to 300 AD, and therefore one of the earliest known copies of Revelations), the number of the beast is given as 616.

The poor dumb schmucks may have been ‘finding’ the wrong number all these years!

Member

BREAKING NEWS

In the municipal elections in Szolnok the MSZP candite gave a big time ass whooping to the FIDESZ dude! This is huge considering the big FIDESZ win in the last election!!

We can do it!!

wpDiscuz