Zak Bagans, the star of popular “reality” ghost hunting show Ghost Adventures and owner of a Las Vegas haunted house featuring allegedly cursed objects, was revealed in January to have plagiarized his new book.
Researcher Kenny Biddle discovered the plagiarism when reviewing Ghost Hunting for Dummies, credited solely to Bagans. Biddle discovered extensive plagiarism from at least twenty uncredited sources, including almost an entire chapter taken from Skeptical Inquirer’s own Joe Nickell, from his book Camera Clues: A Handbook for Photographic Investigation. Biddle published his findings in a January 29 online article titled “Ghost Hunting for Dummies by Zak Bagans—and Many Others” (see https://tinyurl.com/wcpek6y).
The investigation took an unexpected twist when one of the authors whose work most prominently appears uncredited in the book, Troy Taylor, wrote:
I would like to thank Zak Bagans for allowing me the opportunity to assist him in conducting research for his book, Ghost-Hunting for Dummies. … I agreed to serve as an uncredited researcher … [and] take full blame for neglecting to appropriately attribute references to some of these sources, owing to the extremely tight deadline given to Zak to finish this book. I must emphasize that this was NOT in any way Zak’s fault; it was completely mine. The publisher is already printing new copies of Ghost-Hunting for Dummies to ensure that appropriate credit is given.
This seems like a thinly veiled attempt by Taylor to shield the much more prominent Bagans from blame (and/or potential copyright infringement lawsuits), but the fact remains that whoever really wrote Ghost Hunting for Dummies—whether Zak Bagans, Troy Taylor, or some unknown ghost writer—plagiarized other people’s work.
Biddle responded in a follow-up February 6 article (see https://tinyurl.com/vbobsdo) noting that when he had originally contacted Taylor about the plagiarism, Taylor stated, in part, “I already knew about it and this was a battle I actually won. I received a substantial payment for this. Whoever the ghost writer was (and you KNOW it wasn’t him [Bagans]) used a ton of material but I got a settlement from it and let it stand.”
Though future editions of the book may (or may not) have the material correctly attributed, Biddle noted that “references and attributions are for quotes or small sections of another’s work that you’re building upon or critiquing—not when you outright copy pages worth of material you don’t credit. Adding references after the fact does not fix the issue.”
After several requests for clarification, a representative for the publisher, Wiley, responded, “We take these matters very seriously and have already taken action, including adding appropriate source information. These changes will be reflected in the eBook and in the print version at the next printing.”