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Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s resignation.

Not long ago today, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resigned from his position as Minister of Defense.

In his speech he explained that he made the decision partly because of his doctoral thesis and partly because of his responsibility for the soldiers. He stressed that under the circumstances, he cannot devote full concentration to his duties and attention is being diverted away from the soldiers, who put their lives on the line every day. It should remain obvious though that the core of any of the given reasons for his resignation is his blatant plagiarism. It was yet another statement in which he merely used the word “mistake” with regards to how his thesis was produced, without explaining anything or acknowledging the severity of his actions*. I find this very disappointing.

What also remains is great disappointment with Angela Merkel. She accepted his resignation “with a heavy heart” and somewhat reluctantly. As a doctor of natural sciences, she of all people should have seen that systematic cheating in order to obtain an academic qualification cannot be compatible with a public office. She should have removed him from office in the first place, rather than now appear surprised or even sad about the resignation.

It’s shocking how many people seem to think that committing fraud in science is only a serious offense within the world of science. This is very sad given that scientific efforts make an enormous contribution to the advance of our society. These events in Germany therefore tell us scientists that we have to explain much better what we are actually doing, rather than lock ourselves up in the lab every day.

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*Ok, he does say that he will “help to answer” remaining questions regarding his thesis, but that seems bizarre given that he as the supposed writer should be able to answer any questions on the spot.


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