Sally found out how to feel important: you start a social media page that says you’re a specialist in something that nobody has heard of, you find a great website template and you start copy-pasting journal articles from the web. Bam! Instant ethnobotanist.
Sally spent months flashing her title around at theatres, fancy restaurants, family gatherings and even to strangers on the bus. She eventually ran out of scholarly articles to copy from the web, and she’d grown so used to her esteemed title, that she began to make up her own articles. What she copied from the web was all related to plants and primitive jungle tribes. They were using things like canellila to treat ovarian cycsts, cordoncillo as an anaesthetic and suma as an aphrodisiac.
Why not follow the theme? There’s clover in the garden. It looks appetising. Sally writes an article on its cancer preventative properties. There’s a lot of buffalo grass at this time of year. Why not write about its high levels of omega-3? The website begins to take off when a woman claims that eating clover cured her husband’s cancer.
The articles have to keep coming or the feeling of approval will leave Sally. The next piece is about the benefits of using tomato leaves as a substitute for spinach.
The hate begins to roll in. “Don’t you know that tomato leaves are poisonous!” Reads one comment. “You’re going to kill someone’s children” reads another. “You’re worse than Hitler.” “But I’m an ethnobotanist” is Sally’s simple response. Her army backs her up:
“Don’t you know she’s an ethnobotanist!”
“She’s an ethnobotanist you moron.”
“Do some research before you hate on an ethnobotanist you uneducated gnat.”
“Shut your face.”
“Go and die.”
The many comments are all much the same, but one stands out.
“Private message sent.”
Sally checks her private message inbox. It’s from one J.A. Deakin. The name sounds very familiar.
“It has come to my attention that you have plagiarised a number of papers that I published with my peers. Now you are spreading misinformation and undermining my field of study. If you don’t stop I’ll have my Amazonian friend Chabaraty turn you into something nasty with his jungle magic.
The website has been inactive for the past few months. No one has heard from Sally for a while. Meanwhile, there’s a new fire hydrant in the city. It used to dispense lies and misinformation, but now it just dispenses water.