The Shadow Scholar speaks: term paper mills are flourishing

You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ ” (Mark 10:19)

Jesus was speaking to the Rich Young Man who had fallen at Jesus feet and had asked “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer in short is to have faith in Jesus’ work on the cross, and repent of your sins, including cheating, lying, and defrauding. However, today’s ethical climate is one rife with cheating, lying, and defrauding. Here is one example: cheating in the education business.

Above photo from an actual Academic Writing Service ad

The Chronicle Review of Higher education received a query from and then executed an extensive email interview with someone only named The Shadow Scholar. The Chronicle opened their article thus: “Ed Dante is a pseudonym for a writer who lives on the East Coast. Through a literary agent, he approached The Chronicle wanting to tell the story of how he makes a living writing papers for a custom-essay company and to describe the extent of student cheating he has observed. In the course of editing his article, The Chronicle reviewed correspondence Dante had with clients and some of the papers he had been paid to write.”

The Shadow Scholar “Ed Dante” wrote: “I work at an online company that generates tens of thousands of dollars a month by creating original essays based on specific instructions provided by cheating students. I’ve worked there full time since 2004. On any day of the academic year, I am working on upward of 20 assignments. In the midst of this great recession, business is booming. At busy times, during midterms and finals, my company’s staff of roughly 50 writers is not large enough to satisfy the demands of students who will pay for our work and claim it as their own. … I will make roughly $66,000 this year. Not a king’s ransom, but higher than what many actual educators are paid. … Of course, I know you are aware that cheating occurs. But you have no idea how deeply this kind of cheating penetrates the academic system, much less how to stop it. Last summer The New York Times reported that 61 percent of undergraduates have admitted to some form of cheating on assignments and exams. … [P]art of my job is to be whatever my clients want me to be. I say yes when I am asked if I have a Ph.D. in sociology. I say yes when I am asked if I have professional training in industrial/organizational psychology. I say yes when asked if I have ever designed a perpetual-motion-powered time machine and documented my efforts in a peer-reviewed journal.”

This industry of hiring others to complete your work and passing it off as your own, is not limited to higher education. A recent roman a clef titled “Schooled” was written by a NYC upper crust teacher/tutor named Anisha Lakhani. Until 2006 Anisha Lakhani taught English at the Dalton School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side where she also chaired the Middle School English Department. Ms. Lakhani received both her B.A. and her M.A. degrees from Columbia University. In other words she walked the walk and she knew the ropes. In 2006 she quit to write her book, fictionalized, but thinly. The Amazon.com summary states:

Schooled “takes yet another peek into the gilded lives of Manhattan’s über-rich. Schooled is about recent Ivy League graduate Anna Taggert, who lands her dream job teaching at Langdon Hall School, an oh-so-exclusive Upper East Side private school (Ms. Lakhani taught English at Dalton). Anna is disturbed to find out that the majority of her students get by through the use of expensive private tutors—who basically do the work for them—until she’s lured into taking advantage of the lucrative benefits herself.”

In the higher education cheating mill article, The Shadow Scholar said not only that he made his money by defrauding colleges and universities, but that eventually he realized that he had to become a liar himself in order to lure and retain clients, by presenting himself with credentials that he had not earned. He rationalized this by saying at least his work environment was not a cubicle, and that he made decent money.

In the Schooled novel, the author was tempted beyond her ability and unable to withstand the money lure, and eventually succumbed to writing papers for clients herself. She knew it was wrong, but she did it anyway, rationalizing all the way. The interesting thing about this book is the incremental way the author showed her sliding further and further into the evil pit of the sin of defrauding.

As for the educational system, in The Shadow Scholar article, he includes snippets of correspondence with his clients. “did u get the sorce I send please where you are now? Desprit to pass spring projict.”” “where u are can you get my messages? Please I pay a lot and dont have ao to faile I strated to get very worry.”

Note, that this correspondence is from a college business student in which English is her first language.

Paul wrote that in the last days “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

Always learning, yet never able to come to knowledge of the truth. In one regard, these students are always in the cycle of learning yet never end up knowing anything – because they refuse to be ethical and mentally apply themselves. In other regard, they are always seeking the truth but in failing to acknowledge Jesus, will not find it.

The students who cheat and the tutors/ writers who defraud are part of a vicious cycle of end time sinful behavior. Their lives are not profitable for the Kingdom. They pile up treasure but are losing their lives.

And on a personal note, if you have recently been wondering why America is becoming a nation of childish know-nothings, whiners, and lazy butts, now you know.
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