The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

October 7, 2014 2 7409


One of the most frequent claims we hear from critics of academic ghostwriting is that we’re engaged in a flagrantly unethical line of work. We would like to politely disagree and point out some of the evidence to the contrary. Ghostwriting, as a professional enterprise, has been around for decades, if not centuries, and is only growing in popularity. In fact, ghostwriting is often used even by professional writers themselves. When popular demand for Tom Clancy’s books far exceeded his ability to write them, his publishers hired ghost writers to write books in Clancy’s style, which were then published under his name. The estate of the late romantic novelist V.C. Andrews hired ghostwriters to write more books in a similar style years after the author had actually died. Ever wondered why new books keep being published by the same author even after that author has died? Ghostwriters, that’s why.

When politicians are inundated with thousands of thousands of pieces of public correspondence, ghostwriters are used to generate the responses. Speaking of politicians, who do you think is actually writing all those glowing, five hundred page memoirs, whose publication just so happens to coincide with the next election cycle? Do you really think high ranking public officials engaged in the legislative process have the time to sit down and write hundreds of pages of personal introspection and dramatized moral reflection? If you answered “no,” you are absolutely correct. All of them, almost without exception, are written by ghostwriters. Two of the memoirs attributed to President John F. Kennedy were written by ghostwriters, as was the autobiography of Ronald Reagan. In 2001, The New York Times published a story stating that the ghostwriter of Hillary Clinton’s memoirs earned half a million dollars for the work. So no matter what you might have heard about this business, let there be no mistake; everyone is doing it. The apparent authorship of dozens of written works by societies most respected and celebrated people is an absolute illusion.

This isn’t a trend that’s limited to just politicians and professional writers either. In almost every single profession there are ghostwriters doing the actual writing while others receive the credit for it. The music industry in particular is heavily reliant on ghostwriters. From hip-hop to pop to country music, in almost every genre there are ghostwriters coming up with the actual lyrical and musical content to be performed by famous artists. Aretha Franklin’s hit song “Respect” was actually written by Otis Redding and Johnny Cash’s song “A Boy Named Sue” was written by children’s author and poet Shel Silverstein. Virtually every piece of pop music on the charts in the 1990s was written by a single producer named Max Martin. Martin’s contributions aren’t just limited to the 90s either. Virtually every hit single performed by Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne and Britney Spears in the past decade was written by this single producer. Even Mozart is reported to have ghostwritten music for wealthy composers who then passed the pieces off as their own.

Now one might think that all of these examples are somehow ethically distinct from having an essay or term paper written by a ghostwriter. But guess what? Ghostwriters are common in academia too. There are thousands of grad students and even professional researchers using ghostwriters to do the bulk of their research only to have it published in their name. The same is true of medical literature too. Many of those companies will even go so far as to hire ghostwriters and then pay recognized scientists or physicians to attach their name to the work. The University Of Washington School Of Medicine even went so far as to explicitly permit ghostwriting because the practice had become so common among researchers.

Your professors would like you believe that they have some moral high ground from which they can cast moral judgments about students who hire ghostwriters to complete assignments. But how many of them got to where they are using the very services that they publicly condemn? Meanwhile, universities around the world are in quiet agreement with text book publishers to create a racket in which they can charge students hundreds of dollars for a perpetual cycle of modestly revised “new edition” textbooks which are required for the course. In many cases the authors of these new books are the professors or department heads themselves. It takes a lot of audacity to accuse a student of unethical behavior, when the very people making the accusations are engaged in a system of financial extortion, the likes of which the world has never seen.

When you begin your first year as an undergraduate student you might have a nice vision in your mind of some glorious place exclusively devoted to higher learning. The grim reality is, that while colleges do help facilitate learning and expose students to new ideas, they are in no way devoted to it. The modern higher educational system is devoted to one thing and one thing only…money. Tuition will continue to steadily increase in price year after year while the quality of your educational experience stays exactly the same. Money is the reason universities force their students to use barely functional and outdated software, like MyMathLab, as a required part of the curriculum; because they don’t actually care about the quality of your education. They themselves are outsourcing the job of teaching their students to their software publisher friends. Why would they want to pay to have a qualified professor teach students advanced mathematics, when they can hire a stereotypical “scarcely intelligible grad student whose first and only language is Mandarin,” to do the same thing for a lot less? Money is the reason why all of you credits from other schools will never transfer and the reason why fifty percent of your courses, will be taught by other student debtors rather than experienced professionals.

So don’t fall for the ethics lecture when your professors start preaching about “academic integrity”. It doesn’t exist. The entire higher educational industry is corrupted to the core. Ages ago, the purpose of a college was to provide students with an education. Today they exist purely to sell you one. For a select few (science, engineering and computer science majors) there will be jobs waiting the instant they set foot off campus, but these examples are by the exception and not the rule. For the majority of college graduates, obtaining a degree means having a sixty thousand dollar piece of paper to show potential employers, in entirely unrelated fields, that you were capable of “following through”. More and more, college students are learning the hard way that getting a degree means leaving school with extraordinary levels of debt and zero job prospects.

When you leave school you aren’t going to remember the essay you outsourced on 18th century gender relations, or the eight page paper you did on impressionism as an emerging movement in Neolithic cave paintings. What you will remember, are the times you spent enjoying your youth with like-minded friends and making new ones. Claims about the importance of academic integrity are today, espoused by institutions with zero integrity regarding their professed purpose. These claims come from the very same institutions who are constantly trying to find ways to get students to pay more while they deliver less. So why not take a night off, spend it with friends or family, and still make a decent grade on an irrelevant assignment? The choice is entirely yours. We are academic ghostwriters…and we are very good at what we do.


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