So it goes like this. The NY Times does a story about a drug called paco. In it is this passage:
Paco is highly addictive because its high lasts just a few minutes—and is so intense that many users smoke 20 to 50 paco cigarettes a day to try to make its effects linger. Paco is even more toxic than crack cocaine because it is made mostly of solvents and chemicals like kerosene, with just a dab of cocaine, Argentine and Brazilian drug enforcement officials said.
Slate's Jack Shafer read it and thought it made a good "Stupidest Drug Story of the Week" candidate.
"The unsourced assertion that paco was highly addictive because its high is short-acting struck me as suspicious nonsense," Shaferwrites. "Plenty of drugs are short-acting without being highly addictive."
So Shafer did a quick search and found a 2006 story by Miami Herald reporter Alejandra Lebanca about paco that included this line:
Paco is highly addictive because its effect is so short -- a couple of minutes -- and so intense that many users resort to smoking 20 to 50 cigarettes a day to try to make its effects linger.
So Shafer not only found the source of the "suspicious nonsense" -- but also an obvious plagiarism by the NYT.
How can you not love this business?