A couple of months ago I read a fascinating article about a “shadow scholar” with the pseudonym of Ed Dante who lived on the East Coast. He apparently makes his living writing for an online company; he covers everything from admission essays, legal briefs, poems, lab reports, theses, and book reports, all for desperate people (most of them students) who are willing to pay.
The article is amazingly entertaining and slightly discomforting. He now claims to be an authority on whatever there is to know and write about. For the right price, he will sit for twenty four hours straight and write a Ph.D thesis for a desperate student. One such lady finally got her Ph. D. after hiring him to write a 165-page graduate thesis. She didn’t even have to write a single word, except for maybe her name. She showed her gratitude by sending him a check and a quick email:
“thanx so much for uhelp ican going to graduate to now”
So at least there is a demand, or possibly even a dire need for it, with writing like that. What about the money?
“I will make roughly $66,000 this year.” Not the greatest, but not bad either. I suppose a lot of writers have done a lot worse. Now for the truly discomforting part:
“You’ve never heard of me, but there’s a good chance that you’ve read some of my work. I’m a hired gun, a doctor of everything, an academic mercenary. My customers are your students. I promise you that. Somebody in your classroom uses a service that you can’t detect, that you can’t defend against, that you may not even know exists.”
Okay, okay. We get the point. There is a lot of cheating that goes on. But just among large, secular schools, right?
“I do a lot of work for seminary students. I like seminary students. They seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat in courses that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow. I have been commissioned to write many a passionate condemnation of America’s moral decay as exemplified by abortion, gay marriage, or the teaching of evolution. All in all, we may presume that clerical authorities see these as a greater threat than the plagiarism committed by the future frocked.”
Anyhow, a couple of months after reading this article I got work writing for an online company. Technically, I am neither an academic nor a mercenary. But I have entered a similar business—that of writing for others. The company I work for, however, doesn’t gather students looking to turn illegitimate essays in, but rather people looking for text to put in the public domain; websites, blogs, advertisements, encyclopedias, etc.
So I find myself on Tuesday morning surfing through the entries for job postings. Those who need articles place an ad of sorts under different categories, with directions about exactly what they are looking for. Since it would probably just be easier (and cheaper) to just write the text yourself, you would presume that some of these people have serious reservations about writing. I clicked on “Health & Family”, and found this wonderful little description about what the client was wanting. He is looking to promote his website for IVF. He writes (and this is all un-changed):
“You can done one introduction but i don’t need you develop some themes: ivf success stories, ivf failure, ivf twins, ivf doctors, ivf duo date calculator, ivf side effects. I will develop this them in single posts and I put that in textbrokers too. If you want fill free to write them to me too. If you coud please include some images. I will publish the articles with my name.”
I find that you get pretty good at interpreting bad writing; in a way, it is like getting used to another dialect.
The money? I won’t be making $66,000 this year, but it is rewarding enough for a part time job; as an added bonus it is honest work. But as long as our system keeps churning out people who haven’t the slightest idea how to compose an essay, a fellow who has no qualms about it can make a decent living as an academic mercenary.
Fill free to write me them to any commnts. Any inpoot isn’ many apreesheated.