So true and especially problematic on a website such as Medium. This is a tough one for me because I like to write about big ideas and esoteric topics. It is very easy to (hopefully unintentionally) pass something off like you are the first person to have thought of it when it fact that is not the case. Writing on a website like this where reference citation or attribution of any type is not required or even very common makes it that much easier to fall into that trap. In my own defense, and no doubt others as well, I will say that in many instances I truly do not know, and frankly don’t care, if any particular idea is my own or original or not. I have to worry about appropriate references and citations in my dayjob as a research scientist, but one of the things I love about writing here is that I don’t. Here I can focus solely on the idea generation and writing process and leave all that boring part for somebody else or for nobody. The key is the reader needs to be wary and understand this limitation (not the right word) of the works they read here. For the most part, this is not the place to come for meticulously sourced and fact checked articles on any topic. In the realms of philosophy and other speculative areas it is even more difficult to determine what is original vs. what is a regurgitation. Ultimately, I am not sure it matters all that much as long as the author is not selling themselves as the second coming of Wittgenstein (position taken, lol!) and using their purported originality as a cudgel against others or to try and pump up the “value” of their writings. For me, I don’t have to worry about this so much in my social life (to the extent I have one) as talking about big ideas is about as interesting to me as watching grass grow. My brain just does not work that way and if someone tries to engage me in deep philosophical conversation I immediately tune out and/or look for ways to change the topic. Verbal communication is much too imprecise and error prone to effectively communicate in those realms in my opinion so I don’t have to worry about being the jackass at the party spouting off someone else’s thoughts and claiming they are their own. Of course I rarely (never) get invited to parties either so I am speaking hypothetically….lol!

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Research scientist (Ph.D. micro/mol biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, Fish hater

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