Dear AACC: Want to Avoid Plagiarism? Follow These Guidelines.

Two weeks ago, Jimmy Queen spokesman for American Association of Christian Counselors owner Tim Clinton told the Christian Post that Clinton has a “zero tolerance for plagiarism.”

Queen had to make that declaration because Dr. Aaron New and I have found some plagiarism in his articles and books (e.g., here). I have documented much of it on this blog. Queen blamed AACC interns and former employees for the infractions. He told CP that careless interns and employees took material from the work of other people, put Tim Clinton’s name on it and they didn’t realize the extent of it until Dr. New and I brought it to light.

If that is so, then there is a very easy way to avoid plagiarism. According to the CP article, AACC purchased software to detect plagiarism in their “mountains of content.” I have an easier method. Just follow these pointers.

First, do your own work.

Yes, that’s right. Write your own articles and books and when you quote someone else or want to use their ideas, look up the source and cite their work. I know it seems crazy and very time consuming, but it works. If Tim Clinton wants his name on something, then he should write it all himself. Sure, interns can track down sources, but as we have learned, they make lots of mistakes. If your name is on the byline, you’re responsible.

But what if someone else writes some of the article or book? That leads to the next guideline:

Give credit where credit is due.

If an intern writes something, put that person’s name on it. The AACC code of ethics discourages ghostwriter. The AACC code of ethics also requires authors to give credit to people in relation to the work they did. If an employee researches a topic and writes it up, give the person credit. Your name doesn’t have to be on everything.

Doing these two things would take care of a multitude of problems.

While we are at it, here is a sample of Clinton taking material from an edited book and putting it in one of the books he authored himself. If he says this is because of interns or employees, then the authorship of his books is open to question.

First, here is a section from his 2006 book Turn Your Life Around.

This appears to have been taken from a 2001 article by Michael Lyles in the Soul Care Bible. See below:

Just one more.

I call this writing a book by press release.

The highlighted parts all came from a Harvard press release which was reproduced by Science Daily. See below:

Elsewhere in the book more of the press release shows up but I feel like this demonstrates the point. The footnotes in the book point to an article in the AMA’s Journal which doesn’t contain any of this material. I am willing to believe an intern or employee goofed up on this. However, if true, that adds strength to my recommendation that preventing plagiarism is mainly about doing your own work.

In addition, any writer who wants to keep to the straight and narrow will profit from this list of 28 guidelines.

What Does the American Association of Christian Counselors Foundation Do?

Next week, the American Association of Christian Counselors is holding a conference in Dallas, TX. According to the AACC’s owner Tim Clinton, nearly 2,000 people will attend, making it one of the largest gatherings of Christian mental health professionals in the nation.

While many think of the AACC as a professional association, it isn’t like any of the other groups for psychologists, counselors, or social workers. Those associations are not-for-profit and are run by representatives elected by members. Officers are elected and paid staff are accountable to the membership through the elected representatives.

In contrast, according to all evidence publicly available, the AACC is a for profit business owned by Tim Clinton. According to a 2003 filing with the SEC, Clinton is the sole shareholder of the AACC. Clinton is president for life and the other officers work for him. The AACC advisory board doesn’t have much of a role. I used to be on what is now called the Board of Reference (then called the Advisory Board) and we never met as a board. I was never told I was removed from it. It didn’t matter because we never did anything; it was just for show.

AACC Foundation

Many professional associations have foundations which seek donations to provide support for the profession as a whole. For instance, the American Psychiatric Association Foundation solicits donations to advance research in psychiatry and funds various innovative programs. However, that is not how the AACC Foundation operates.

AACC’s business model is complex and because it is a private business, can’t be known with certainty from information available to the public. However, in an effort to better understand the relationship between AACC and the Foundation, friend of the blog and former auditor Jason Watkins and I recently reviewed data from AACC Foundation 990 forms. Watkins compiled the data from 2002 through 2016 (see an image of his spreadsheet here). My analysis which relies on his work is below.

Essentially, the AACC Foundation collects donations and sells products to support the for profit business of Tim Clinton. Less than one percent of the revenue from the past 15 years has been spent by the Foundation on charitable causes which did not benefit one of Clinton’s businesses. More on that below.

According to the IRS 990 forms, the Foundation and AACC provide services to each other. On balance the for profit AACC wins. Here is how the Foundation’s 2016 990 form described the arrangement:

Over the past 15 years, $14.8-million was paid by AACC Foundation to Clinton’s for-profit businesses. As noted above only a fraction go to causes that don’t benefit Clinton’s businesses. The head of the Foundation is Tim Clinton’s brother-in-law Jimmy Queen. There is obviously no independence in this arrangement. Queen is COO of AACC under Clinton and he runs the Foundation. Clearly the Foundation isn’t independent of AACC.

Wildfire Weekend Bailout

The largest grant from the Foundation during the period we reviewed was given to one of Tim Clinton’s businesses — Wildfire Weekend, LLC. In 2014, Clinton canceled several Wildfire men’s conferences. These conferences featured testosterone and the Bible but didn’t get enough registrations to make money so some were canceled. To help make up the short fall, the AACC Foundation gave AACC (Tim Clinton) $230,000. See the 2014 990 entry below:

The 990 disclosed that the funds were used to “support the deficit the organization sustained in holding the conference.” Clinton didn’t make enough money on these conferences so the Foundation’s tax free revenues bailed him out.

It is worth noting that it took AACC two years in some cases to return registration fees to people who signed up but couldn’t go because AACC canceled the conference. Some of those bad reviews are still on AACC’s Better Business Bureau page.

In recent years, the activity of the Foundation has changed slightly. Revenues from media sales are down while contributions are up. However, on the most recent (2016), no grants to charitable organizations are listed. The Foundation is asked on the 990 (page 2) if any new program services had been undertaken and the “no” box is checked. No accomplishments are listed in the space on page 2 for such items. Funds just go to AACC.

Clinton and his folks run busy conferences with many options. They provide contact with Christian mental health providers who want to explore how their profession and faith interact. However, Christian mental health professionals do have other options (e.g., CAPS) when it comes to how they align themselves. This information is provided for my colleagues to make informed choices.

 

AACC Owner Tim Clinton Clarifies Relationship with James Dobson Institute

Recently, the owner of the American Association of Christian Counselors Tim Clinton sent an announcement clarifying his relationship with James Dobson and Family Talk Radio.

Clinton has recently been embroiled in a plagiarism controversy. Although he denies taking the work of others, through his spokesman and brother-in-law Jimmy Queen, he has acknowledged not writing the material attributed to him where the plagiarism has been found. Thus far, his defense has been to blame others when plagiarism has been found in a book or article. Despite some of those articles being on James Dobson’s website, that organization has not commented on the matter.

 

 

Brief Note: David Barton and Ronald Reagan’s Pretty Shallow Faith

Photo: David Barton (Left); Eric Metaxas (Right)

In a Wednesday Onenewsnow article about Ronald Reagan’s Christianity, David Barton is quoted as saying:

Reagan’s faith matured over the years from a “pretty shallow” faith early on to more mature understanding of scripture.

While many people did doubt Reagan’s sincerity, Reagan biographer and Grove City College colleague Paul Kengor told me that Reagan never had a shallow faith. While Barton can be credited with acknowledging that Reagan had a faith, Kengor has shown via his many articles and books that Reagan’s faith was important in his life from his childhood.

Barton was asked to comment on a newly discovered letter written by Reagan to his atheist father-in-law. The letter was in essence an evangelistic appeal for his father-in-law to convert to Christianity. Kengor has a commentary on the letter here.

My concern in this post is not about Reagan’s faith. It seems clear to me that he was an imperfect believer as is the case with any believer. In my view, any comparisons to Donald Trump as court evangelical Robert Jeffress attempted earlier this year are faulty because Reagan actually believed in Christianity. In my opinion, Trump is acting the part and giving evangelicals just enough to keep them as a voting bloc.

Rather, this comment from Barton is another illustration of why he can’t be trusted as a historian. There has been a resurgence of interest in Reagan’s faith over the last decade or so. A historian familiar with the literature should be aware that there are good reasons to believe Reagan’s personal faith was meaningful to him throughout his life. One might contest various applications of his faith or how consistent his actions were with the faith but to call his beliefs or faith shallow isn’t accurate.

By the way, if you want to get an icy silence from Wallbuilders, ask Mr. Barton about his earned doctorate.

There’s More Than One Side to Every Mark Driscoll Story

In a post at his Patheos blog (how strange to be writing that), former Mars Hill Church co-founder and pastor Mark Driscoll provided an excerpt from his new book, Spirit Filled Jesus (read a review of the book here).

My wife Grace and I have five kids—three boys and two girls. We moved to Arizona for a hard reset of life and ministry after years of feeling like a crash test dummy in a car with no airbags. After about two decades in ministry, I took some time off to heal up before entering the next season of God’s will for our life.

That’s one way of looking at it.

Let’s rewind to August 8, 2014. On that day, the Board of Acts 29 church network made public their decision to remove Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church from the network. Here is a portion of the letter:

Over the past three years, our board and network have been the recipients of countless shots and dozens of fires directly linked to you and what we consider ungodly and disqualifying behavior. We have both publicly and internally tried to support and give you the benefit of the doubt, even when multiple pastors in our network confirmed this behavior. In response, we leaned on the Mars Hill Board of Advisors & Accountability to take the lead in dealing with this matter. But we no longer believe the BoAA is able to execute the plan of reconciliation originally laid out. Ample time has been given for repentance, change, and restitution, with none forthcoming.

We now have to take another course of action. Based on the totality of the circumstances, we are now asking you to please step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help. Consequently, we also feel that we have no alternative but to remove you and Mars Hill from membership in Acts 29.

Then on August 21, 2014, 21 former elders brought formal charges of wrongdoing against Mark Driscoll as pastor of Mars Hill Church. Clicking the link will take you to the charges. Some of those elders felt like crash test dummies.

Then on August 24 2014, Driscoll requested 6 weeks off while the charges were being investigated. According to church by-laws he had to submit to the process of being investigated.

Then on October 14 2014, Driscoll resigned amid the completion of an investigation into the charges filed by former church elders. The Board of Overseers reported:

We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry. Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.

Later, the elders who investigated Driscoll said he was offered a plan of restoration to return to pastoral ministry but declined to accept it.

So yes, he “took some time off” but his explanation leaves out many important components. It is astounding that he does not mention the name of the church which made him famous.  The elders and members of Mars Hill Church might also feel like crash test dummies. Although several years have passed, the scars run deep, apparently on both sides of the crash.

Gospel for Asia Continues to Raise Money for Flood Relief Without Saying How the Funds Will Get to the Needy

A month ago, I asked Gospel for Asia how they planned to distribute donor funds to flood victims in Kerala, India. In 2017, Gospel for Asia’s comparable organization in India (now called Ayana Charitable Trust) and their ecclesiastical arm (Believer’s Church) lost registration with the Indian government to accept foreign contributions. Thus, these groups can’t accept any of the funds now being raised by K.P. Yohannan from foreign donors. GFA very deliberately is raising these funds on the organization website and on social media. If GFA is giving these funds to another nonprofit in India, why can’t GFA simply inform the donor public about this?

When I asked GFA’s public relations firm, I was told:

GFA has headquarters in Kerala, India. Volunteers are actively rescuing, feeding those affected by flooding and providing other supplies.

However, InChrist Communications did not respond when I asked how those headquarters could accept funds when the registration to accept foreign funds had been revoked.

The later a friend of the blog was told that funds were being sent to Believers’ Church in India. Furthermore, the GFA representative said it could not be guaranteed that the donated funds would actually get to flood victims since GFA has no control over Believers’ Church. Actually, this explanation doesn’t make sense because Believers’ Church cannot legally accept foreign contributions.

Saying One Thing and Doing Another

When Compassion International lost their registration with the Indian government, they left the country. GFA has never addressed their loss of registration, nor why they continue to raise funds to send to India when the organizations they claim to support can’t take them. This is an issue for more than flood support. GFA has continued to raise support for sponsored children, missionaries, and all sorts of activities. GFA is telling the public they are doing something that the Indian government says can’t be done. If GFA is getting donor funds to the intended targets, GFA should disclose how they are doing that.

It is a mystery to me why investigative reporters have not taken up this issue. If there is an easy way around this issue, then why didn’t Compassion International use it? While there may an explanation, given GFA’s size and current legal difficulties, it seems like they should have to be more accountable.

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Image Fair use, GFA Facebook page

Gospel for Asia Suing Insurance Company over Attorney Fees in RICO Case

Gospel for Asia has retained Locke Lord to defend them against the allegations of fraud by Garland and Phyllis Murphy. One of their attorneys is Harriet Miers, former White House counsel to President George W. Bush. Furthermore, GFA has to pay the costs of a Special Master since they were sanctioned by federal judge Timothy Brooks. No doubt the costs are high for all of that.

According to a suit filed by GFA in March, GFA’s leaders (K.P. Yohannan, David Carroll, Pat Emerick, etc.)  hoped to recover those legal fees via an insurance claim with Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company. Although details are sealed, it appears the insurance company declined to fully pay GFA’s claim. Here is a brief statement of the dispute from a recent court document.

1.1 GFA Parties bring this action for Philadelphia’s breaches of its common law duty of good faith and fair dealing and the Texas Insurance Code for unfair settlement practices and for failing to promptly pay covered claims as a result of its wrongful denials and/or wrongful delays in providing defenses in lawsuits against them.

1.2. Philadelphia denies that any reasonable defense fees or expenses remain unpaid and contends that, accordingly, this case should be dismissed. Additionally, Philadelphia denies that it breached its common law duty of good faith and fair dealing or the Texas Insurance Code. Philadelphia contends that it had a reasonable basis for the coverage positions that it has taken and liability was not reasonably clear.

For more detail, see GFA’s original petition.

One crucial court document is sealed and Philadelphia Insurance declined to speak to me. In plain language, it appears that the insurance company has found a reason why they believe they are not liable to pay the claim GFA made. It may be that Locke Lord’s fees are beyond reasonable or that Philadelphia believes GFA is at fault in some way. In any case, the trial is to be by jury in late 2019, probably after the RICO trial.

GFA and Lawsuits

For a Christian ministry, GFA here and abroad, is involved in many legal battles. Aside from the RICO suit, and now the action against their insurance company, GFA has sued the Church of South India for defamation. Back in 2015, GFA threatened Patheos with legal action when I published audio of a staff meeting. I wonder how many donor designate their funds for the legal defense fund.

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Image Fair use, GFA Facebook page

Happy Constitution Day! Still a Rising Sun.

During the summer of 2017, I did a daily series summarizing James Madison’s notes to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Today, I am reprinting the final entry in that series in recognition of Constitution Day. On this day, after a change (tinkering to the end) in the document and a little dissent, the document was signed.

I read Madison’s notes looking for the Christian influence proposed by many Christian nationalists. While many of delegates were affiliated with Christian churches, I found very little interest on the part of the delegates to create a Christian republic.

……………………………………………….

(originally published September 17, 2017)

Today in 1787 the delegates to the Constitutional convention made one last minute change and then most signed the document.

Nathaniel Gorham from Massachusetts wanted to change the number of representatives by changing the ratio of one representative for every 30,000 instead of 40,000.

Mr. GORHAM said, if it was not too late, he could wish, for the purpose of lessening objections to the Constitution, that the clause, declaring that “the number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every forty thousand,” which had produced so much discussion, might be yet reconsidered, in order to strike out “forty thousand,” and insert “thirty thousand.” This would not, he remarked, establish that as an absolute rule, but only give Congress a greater latitude, which could not be thought unreasonable.

Mr. KING and Mr. CARROLL seconded and supported the ideas of Mr. GORHAM.

When the President rose, for the purpose of putting the question, he said, that although his situation had hitherto restrained him from offering his sentiments on questions depending in the House, and, it might be thought, ought now to impose silence on him, yet he could not forbear expressing his wish that the alteration proposed might take place. It was much to be desired that the objections to the plan recommended might be made as few as possible. The smallness of the proportion of Representatives had been considered, by many members of the Convention an insufficient security for the rights and interests of the people. He acknowledged that it had always appeared to himself among the exceptionable parts of the plan; and late as the present moment was for admitting amendments, he thought this of so much consequence, that it would give him much satisfaction to see it adopted.1
No opposition was made to the proposition of Mr. GORHAM, and it was agreed to unanimously.

Then the delegates voted with majorities of state delegations agreeing to the Constitution.

On the question to agree to the Constitution, enrolled, in order to be signed, it was agreed to, all the States answering, aye.

However, Edmund Randolph declared his intention not to sign.

Mr. RANDOLPH then rose, and with an allusion to the observations of Doctor FRANKLIN, apologized for his refusing to sign the Constitution, notwithstanding the vast majority and venerable names that would give sanction to its wisdom and its worth. He said, however, that he did not mean by this refusal to decide that he should oppose the Constitution without doors. He meant only to keep himself free to be governed by his duty, as it should be prescribed by his future judgment. He refused to sign, because he thought the object of the Convention would be frustrated by the alternative which it presented to the people. Nine States will fail to ratify the plan, and confusion must ensue. With such a view of the subject he ought not, he could not, by pledging himself to support the plan, restrain himself from taking such steps as might appear to him most consistent with the public good.

Elbridge Gerry also declared his intention not to sign.

Mr. GERRY described the painful feelings of his situation, and the embarrassments under which he rose to offer any further observations on the subject which had been finally decided. Whilst the plan was depending, he had treated it with all the freedom he thought it deserved. He now felt himself bound, as he was disposed, to treat it with the respect due to the act of the Convention. He hoped he should not violate that respect in declaring, on this occasion, his fears that a civil war may result from the present crisis of the United States. In Massachusetts, particularly, he saw the danger of this calamitous event. In that State there are two parties, one devoted to Democracy, the worst, he thought, of all political evils; the other as violent in the opposite extreme. From the collision of these in opposing and resisting the Constitution, confusion was greatly to be feared. He had thought it necessary, for this and other reasons, that the plan should have been proposed in a more mediating shape, in order to abate the heat and opposition of parties. As it had been passed by the Convention, he was persuaded it would have a contrary effect. He could not, therefore, by signing the Constitution, pledge himself to abide by it at all events. The proposed form made no difference with him. But if it were not otherwise apparent, the refusals to sign should never be known from him. Alluding to the remarks of Doctor FRANKLIN, he could not, he said, but view them as levelled at himself and the other gentlemen who meant not to sign.

Madison also records that George Mason didn’t sign the document.

The Constitution being signed by all the members, except Mr. RANDOLPHMr. MASON, and Mr. GERRY, who declined giving it the sanction of their names, the Convention dissolved itself by an adjournment sine die.

Madison showed his literary side by recording the following observation to end his notes.

Whilst the last members were signing, Doctor FRANKLIN, looking towards the President’s chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art, a rising, from a setting sun. I have, said he, often and often, in the course of the session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President, without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting: but now at length, I have the happiness to know, that it is a rising and not a setting sun.

1787 Constitutional Convention Series

To read my series examining the proceedings of the Constitution Convention, click here.  In this series, I am writing about any obvious influences on the development of the Constitution which were mentioned by the delegates to the Convention. Specifically, I am testing David Barton’s claim that “every clause” of the Constitution is based on biblical principles. Thus far, I have found nothing supporting the claim. Today is the last day of the series since the work of the delegates was done and the Constitution sent on to the states for debate and ratification.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading these notes and hope you have benefited as much as I have. To read all of the entries, if you have a few hours, click the following link:

Constitutional Convention Series (click the link)

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Facebook (blog posts and news)
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The Master’s University Board Responds to Accreditation Charges

On the school website, the board of The Master’s University responded to the probation imposed by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The letter was sent to faculty and staff this morning by John Stead, the provost of the college.

You can read the letter. Here is the closing:

In addition, since receiving the report, the full Board has met on three separate occasions to discuss the findings and requirements in the Final Commission Letter and to develop a definitive action plan. As a result of many hours of discussion and planning, including the tireless work of smaller groups and committees, we have made significant progress.

Working with the administration, faculty, and staff, we have created a comprehensive plan—a thorough set of specific action steps to address every concern WSCUC has raised. To ensure that these steps are implemented, we have assigned all of them to specific staff or members of the Board. We have also laid out a clear timeline in order to demonstrate to the Commission that we are making real progress toward meeting or exceeding their recommendations. The Board will thoroughly assess our institutional progress in implementing this plan at our October
meeting.

It is our hope that our resolute response will allay concerns among our University and Seminary family. We recognize the crucial importance of this issue to all our students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, and ministry support partners.

My reaction is that keeping the plan private appears to cut the faculty out of the process. While it may be typical at small schools not to involve or inform faculty, that seems to be part of what the WASC report raised as a concern. I don’t know how hearing that a plan is in the works but not knowing any of the specifics could allay concerns.

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Image: The Master’s University, by Lukasinla [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons 

Tim Clinton Channels Urie Bronfenbrenner with Borrowed Quote

Urie Bronfenbrenner was a legendary developmental psychologist who is best known for his influence on the creation of Head Start and his theory of environmental influences on child development. Family Talk Radio head and Tim Clinton’s boss, James Dobson, thinks highly of Bronfenbrenner. In his book What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women, Dobson said:

Dr. Bronfenbrenner, is in my opinion, the foremost authority on child development in America today, and his views should be considered carefully.

Dobson’s new understudy, American Association of Christian Counselors president and Trump advisor Tim Clinton apparently considered Bronfenbrenner’s views so carefully that he channeled them into a quote he is now claiming as his own.

Bronfenbrenner believed that parenting should be child centered in such a way that children feel secure and significant. Capturing that sentiment is a popular quote attributed to Bronfenbrenner:

Every child needs at least one adult who is irrationally crazy about him or her.

The quote exists in various forms and may never have been used by Bronfenbrenner himself. After an extensive search, I have been unable to find it in any primary source. However, about 1979, the quote began to be associated with him by child psychologist Henry Maier due to his frequent assertion in his writings and talks that every child needs an adult to have an irrational involvement with him or her. Bronfenbrenner often followed that claim by saying: “In short, somebody has to be crazy about that kid!” Several of Bronfenbrenner’s colleagues and followers summarized this sentiment in the now popular quote associated with him.

There is no mistaking that the quote represents Bronfenbrenner’s work to his colleagues and students. For instance, a 2005 obituary published by the International Child and Youth Care Network, concluded with the quote:

We remember Urie Bronfenbrenner for one of the best known and most evocative dictums in our work – that “Every child needs at least one person who is really crazy about him or her”.

Bronfenbrenner taught at Cornell University. The quote is considered a fitting conclusion to a tribute to him published by the college newspaper.

A proponent for the power of family ties to help children reach their full potential, Bronfenbrenner saw Head Start as a buffer against the stress experienced by impoverished parents. Day care would allow parents to spend more time with their children, forming the passionate attachments he saw as a cornerstone of lifelong success.

“Every kid,” Bronfenbrenner frequently declared, “needs at least one adult who is crazy about him.”

It is very possible that Bronfenbrenner said this informally and that it will eventually turn up in a speech or obscure source. However, no published citation which points to the quote actually contains it.

I will provide just one more instance (of many) where the quote is considered a representation of Bronfenbrenner’s work. Larry Brendtro considered the quote Bronfenbrenner’s epitaph.

Urie Bronfenbrenner was a deeply compassionate man committed to the belief that there are no disposable children (Brendtro, Ness and Mitchell, 2005). His vision was rooted in boyhood memories of his father struggling to reclaim cast-off troubled children in an institution. For all of his fame, the spirit of this pioneer is his enduring epitaph: Every child needs at least one adult who is irrationally crazy about him or her.

Brendtro told me via email he never heard Bronfenbrenner say that but the quote was always associated with him because that was exactly what he taught his whole career.

Enter Tim Clinton

Clinton in several places take credit for a quote which, in essence, is the same. Most recently, it appeared on the AACC Facebook page. Perhaps anticipating that attention would come to that quote, someone has removed it from the page. The image which was on the page is at the top of this post.

Clinton takes credit for various versions of the quote (some closer to Bronfenbrenner than others) in notes to his radio show, in a 2008 Christian Counseling Today column, a 2012 book with Gary Sibcy, and a book with John Trent. In a 2013 interview with Tony Wheeler and John Trent, Clinton expressed the quote verbally without giving anyone else credit for it. Here is a tweet from his personal Twitter account:

I did not do an exhaustive search so there may be others.

If there wasn’t a pattern of this sort of thing, one might consider this an oversight. One hears many quotes over a long career and can easily bring something back from training or a lecture and think it came from your own thoughts. I do know what should be done about it and it will be worth watching to see if it happens.

Concerning Clinton’s use of the quote, it doesn’t matter that Bronfenbrenner may not have used the exact words. What matters is that the quote existed for many years before Clinton came along, was attributed to Bronfenbrenner, and was well known to people in the developmental psychological community as representing Bronfenbrenner’s work. There are many sources which Clinton could have cited for the quote. I don’t see how he can blame an intern or employee for this one.

Bronfenbrenner was a giant in his field and a true innovator. I can’t think of any other psychologist who was more passionate about the needs of children and families. His concepts of “irrational involvement” and parents being “crazy about their kids” weren’t new ideas but his manner of expressing them was unique to him.  On the whole, his ecological approach was truly innovative and for many people this quote embodies the Bronfenbrenner approach to children and families.

Because of this, Clinton should do more than remove all obvious signs that he ever tried to appropriate this great man’s work.  This seems more serious than some of the other instances which have come to light previously. He needs to step up and personally explain what happened.

UPDATE:

After I published this post, I ran into a wrinkle. Clinton attributed this quote in the past to Fran Stott who was once the Dean of the Erikson Institute for Advance Study of Child Development. Others have also attributed the quote to her. I wrote to the Erikson Institute who in turn reached Dr. Stott about the origin of the quote. A representative of the Institute said that Dr. Stott said that the quote might have come from Bronfenbrenner (as demonstrated above it has been associated with him since the late 1970s). The representative also said Stott reiterated the quote in her classes, but the “takeaway being that attributing this directly to Fran would be an incomplete/inaccurate attribution.” The earliest I can find anyone attributing the quote to Stott is 1995. Henry Maier attributed the quote to Bronfenbrenner in a 1979 article based on a 1977 Bronfenbrenner lecture.

The fact remains that Clinton has for years borrowed a quote that he knowingly took from another source and has continued to use it as his own. Now others are attributing it to him (see also herehere and here). If his defense is to blame interns or employees, then my next question is: what, if anything, that has his name on it did he actually write?

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Image: Fair use from AACC’s Facebook page.