I haven't done a good plagiarism story in a long time.
For the last couple of months, conspiracy and prophecy nuts have been fixated on mid-September as the time when something big is going to happen. They don't agree on the details, but a giant comet or asteroid hitting the earth has emerged as the favorite. Hunt online and you'll find dozens of blog posts and YouTube videos screaming that NASA has confirmed that a 2.5 mile-wide something is going to splash down into the Caribbean. And, as with the Mayan calendar and/or Niburu nonsense, NASA has finally had to issue a stop-being-silly press release.
I read the story about the press release in the British tabloid The Daily Mail. Toward the end of the short article, they linked to Huffington Post UK for details on one element of the conspiracy theory. I clicked through and found a slightly longer version of the same article. The first few sentences were so similar that I went back to the Mail to to see if they were both by the same writer. They're not. The HuffPo version is by Sara C. Nelson, the Mail version by Ellie Zolfagharifard. According to the timestamps, the HuffPo version went up thirteen hours earlier than the Mail version.
Take a look:
HuffPo: A gargantuan asteroid is hurtling towards Earth, with enough power to wipe out life as we know it.
The Mail: A massive asteroid is on a collision course with Earth, and it is large enough to spell the end of humanity.
HuffPo: That’s the belief of an online community of biblical theorists who predict our collective demise will occur between 22 – 28 September 2015.
The Mail: This is the radical claim of an online community of biblical theorists who say that life as we know it will be wiped out between 22 to 28 September this year.
HuffPo: Though sources are dubious, chatter about the impending end of life as we know it has prompted Nasa to speak up.
The Mail: Despite their lack of credentials, the popularity of the prediction has now forced Nasa to speak up, dismissing the theory as unfounded.
HuffPo: Other similarly questionable sources cite a meeting between French foreign minister Laurent Fabius and US Secretary of State John Kerry in May 2014 as being further evidence the Rapture is approaching.
The Mail: Some cite a meeting between French foreign minister Laurent Fabius and US Secretary of State John Kerry in May 2014 is further evidence the Rapture is approaching, according to the Huffington Post.
HuffPo: At odds with talk of the Rapture, however, is the theory that the asteroid isn’t going to get us – but the CERN Large Hadron Collider will.
The Mail: Others have even predicted the events will be started by Cern's Large Hadron Collider.
HuffPo: One blogger points out: “The CERN logo is 666, the sign of the beast in a circle.”
The Mail: One blogger, said: 'The Cern logo is 666, the sign of the beast in a circle. The Cern collider looks like the all seeing eye or stargate we see so much of.'
I don't know the peculiarities of British news publishing or whether HuffPo and the Mail have some kind of arrangement that makes this possible, but, from my seat, it looks like a big steaming mess of plagiarism seasoned with a generous dose of chutzpah.