"But these days fewer people believe in wizards."
Professor Dan Ariely and his lab manager Aline Gruneisen decided to investigate essay mills, the companies which write student essays for a fee.
"When and why do people cheat? Consider the social circumstances involved in dishonesty, and provide a thoughtful response to the topic of cheating. Address various forms of cheating (personal, at work, etc.) and how each of these can be rationalized by a social culture of cheating."
The results were universally horrendous. Here’s one example paragraph, from a paper which seems to show a less than accurate command of English:
"Cheating by healers. Healing is different. There is harmless healing, when healers-cheaters and wizards offer omens, lapels, damage to withdraw, the husband-wife back and stuff. We read in the newspaper and just smile. But these days fewer people believe in wizards."
They also discovered, by submitting the essays to the website WriteCheck.com, which detects plagiarism, that two of the papers had plagiarized parts of their content from other works.
When they contacted the companies to demand a refund because the essays were plagiarized, one company threatened to contact the dean of the school and expose them for cheating.
Read the whole essay (unplagiarized): Essay mills — a coarse lesson on cheating. A sampling of university-level papers, full of bad writing and gibberish, on the subject of cheating shows that technology has still not solved students’ problems, Los Angeles Times>>