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Moby Nicked

Claim:   A student in a marine biology class turns in a term paper which includes a lavishly-drawn illustration of a whale and receives an A. The next year a different student copies the paper, submits it, and also receives an A. The third student to hand in the same paper, however, neglects to include the drawing of the whale and receives only a B from the professor and his written comment: "I liked it better with the whale."

LEGEND

Variations:   This Whale story is also told about a term paper for a history class that included an intricate line drawing of a ship. The third student to submit the paper felt it was too much of a risk to include the illustration and omitted it, prompting the instructor to note on the paper, "C — where's the picture?"

Origins:   This is one of several similar legends involving students who try to slip one over on instructors by submitting someone else's papers (such as Paper Melee and The Old Man and the 'C', only to be caught when the instructors recognize the works. Given that the
instructors in these legends always good-naturedly hand out passing grades to students who are clearly violating university rules against cheating, these tales might be considered more wish fulfillment fantasies (something along the lines of "kind-hearted professor remembers how difficult college was for him and takes pity") than cautionary tales warning against the perils of plagiarism.

Sightings:   In an episode of TV's Moesha ("Gimme a Break," original air date 10 April 2000), Dorian gets caught trying to pass of one of Mo's old papers as his own.

Last updated:   28 June 2011

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Sources:

    Bronner, Simon J.   Piled Higher and Deeper.
    Little Rock: August House, 1990.   ISBN 0-87483-154-7   (pp. 39-40).

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   Curses! Broiled Again!
    New York: W. W. Norton, 1989.   ISBN 0-393-30711-5   (p. 287).