In brief:

  • A researcher asserts that self-professed Bitcoin inventor, Craig Wright, plagiarised his doctoral thesis.
  • This isn't the first time Wright has been called out for plagiarism.
  • For Wright, the timing couldn't be worse as the date for his billion-dollar court battle looms.

Craig Wright, the self-professed creator of Bitcoin, allegedly plagiarised the vast bulk of his 2017 doctoral thesis, according to a research article.  

At least 30 pages of Wright's thesis—including an entire chapter—constitutes "substantial, deliberate plagiarism," alleges a pseudonymous researcher dubbed "Paintedfrog."

"Wright plagiarized huge swaths of content and reworded it to avoid automated detection tools. In most cases, he simply substituted synonyms every few words," he stated, in the blog post.

“There’s nothing new here, this has been gone over many times and simply isn’t true,” a spokesperson for Wright told Decrypt.

The researcher points to the "Data Mining Desktop Survival Guide," a book first published in 2004 by Professor Graham Williams. Comparing two excepts—one from Wright's thesis and one from William's book—Paintedfrog highlights some fairly conspicuous similarities.  

Comparison between works by Williams and Wright. Image: Medium/Paintedfrog

The researcher maintains that other examples of plagiarism are evident throughout the thesis, adding that none of the allegedly copied materials were cited. 

In one instance, the researcher declares that Wright erroneously copied over grammatical mistakes made within another source. 

Comparison between Wright's thesis and various literary sources. Image: Medium/Paintedfrog

Other examples include charts and diagrams allegedly lifted from multiple origins.  

The university will investigate

Paintedfrog provided Decrypt with an email conversation between himself, Cornell university professor Emin Gün Sirer and multiple professors of the Charles Sturt University, which Wright attended.

"Thank you for bringing this to our attention.  We take plagiarism issues very seriously.  We’ll investigate this case and decide a course of action as per our academic integrity policy," wrote Professor Tanveer Zia PhD SFHEA, associate head at the School of Computing and Mathematics.

Paintedfrog had emailed the university informing them of his research. He explained, "I am writing anonymously because of the frequent legal threats and retaliation for which Wright is well-known." Wright has sued multiple members of the crypto community for calling him a fraud.

He also copied in Sirer in case the university had any questions. "You'll be judged not by what slipped through the cracks, but by your reaction to it after you saw the inescapable evidence," Sirer wrote to the university.

Zero credit 

This isn't the first time Wright has been embroiled in a plagiarism scandal. Wright's 2008 law dissertation was similarly questioned by Paintedfrog in early April.

Similar to the new analysis, the researcher cited plagiarism ranging from a simple rephrasing of existing material to similarities between entire chunks of work. 

The research came out just days after a date was set for Wright’s trial over his billion-dollar court battle. A court case in which he was criticized for allegedly...submitting forgeries.

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Update: The email conversation between PaintedFrog and the university has been added to the article.

Update: Comment from Wright's spokesperson.