Margaret Wente’s column on willpower shows she could stand to exercise a bit more self-control with quotation marks.
Quotes and other material from the introduction to Baumeister/Tierney’s book, “Willpower” figure prominently in her piece, but Wente seems to blur the line between the authors’ observations and her own, and again uses what seem to be migrating quotation marks. The overlapping sections Wente leaves out of quotes (part identical wording, part paraphrase) are highlighted in bold caps.
Wente: Most social scientists look for the causes of social failure outside the individual: deprivation, oppression, discrimination and so on. “Searching for external factors is often more comfortable for everyone,” the authors write, “particularly for the many academics who worry that they risk the politically incorrect sin of ‘blaming the victim’ by suggesting that people’s problems might arise from causes inside themselves.” Social problems can also seem easier to fix than character defects – despite the overwhelming evidence that they aren’t.
Baumeister/Tierney Introduction, available here : Most social scientists look for causes of misbehavior outside the individual: poverty, relative deprivation, oppression, or other failures of the environment or the economic and political systems. Searching for external factors is often more comfortable for everyone, particularly for the many academics who worry that they risk the politically incorrect sin of “blaming the victim” by suggesting that people’s problems might arise from causes inside themselves. Social problems can also seem easier than character defects to fix, at least to the social scientists proposing new policies and programs to deal with them.
Wente: “Self-regulation failure is the major social pathology of our time,” concluded a team of researchers quoted in the book. This failure contributes not only to obesity, but to high divorce rates, domestic violence, crime, addiction and a host of other social problems.
Baumeister/Tierney: “Self-regulation failure is the major social pathology of our time,” they concluded, pointing to the accumulating evidence of its contribution to high divorce rates, domestic violence, crime, and a host of other problems.
Wente also describes the “marshmallow experiment” cited in the introduction. “Remember the marshmallow test?” she asks, without mentioning the authors’ use of it. Observations about the Victorian era also appear the introduction, but Wente makes no mention of the authors’ comparison