Subject: Gross breach of ethics, potential legal liability at UMD CS dept.
From: Mircea Popescu
Date: Fri, June 26, 2015 4:41 am
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
It has come to my attention that two individuals claiming association with
the institution you represent, specifically one Elaine Shi and one Andrew
Miller are advertising a "CMSC 818I: Science of Crypto-Currency, Spring
2015" course. Properly speaking this would be a discussion of Bitcoin, a
subject matter which they are in no way qualified to discuss to any degree
- a state of affairs signalled for instance by their unfamiliarity with
the proper terminology, complete absence from the Web of Trust, failure to
make any sort of contact with the Bitcoin Foundation and so on.
This notwithstanding, the two in question exhibit the unmitigated audacity
to propose that 20% of the mark will be based on (unpaid) contribution to
a so called "Ethereum project", which other than being a private concern
is a widely known scam, its fraudulent nature being widely discussed up
until that point where it finally folded, after which everyone lost
The exact equivalent would be a situation in which an assistant professor
and a PhD student in the Mathematics department start a "Science of A
Certain Herbal Extract Supplements" course, whereby a fifth of the mark
depends on your students doing unpaid work for a commercial multi-level
marketing scam known as "Forever Living". That they would have the cheek
to actually discuss "Academic Integrity" on the same page, in terms that
readily reduce to "you must provide us with something of actual value we
can pawn off to our private concern" is mere icing on the cake.
Leaving aside the ample legal liability this episode has created for your
institution - no, students are not actually slave labour, no it's not
actually legal to whore them out in this manner just yet, etc - the
intellectual respectability of the University of Maryland has received a
significant blow from which it conceivably may never recover.
Please kindly let me know as to the results of your investigation into the
matter, and as to the measures that have been taken against the two
All the best,
Because yes, stupidity does have consequences.