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Note To Cheaters: Next Time Hire the Brains 349

Posted by timothy
from the in-canada-of-all-places dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A man and his accomplice are accused of cheating on a Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) by using a wireless pinhole camera and cellphone to send realtime images of the exam questions to a team of people supplying the 'correct' answers. One problem: the 'answer team' was tricked into the job by being told they were taking a test to qualify them as MCAT tutors. There were several clues the 'tutor exam' was bogus, including the poor quality of the images of the questions. Suspicious, the 'answer team' discovered the real MCAT test was occurring at the same time. They started feeding wrong answers to the accused cheaters and called campus security. The two accused cheaters now face several charges as a result."
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Note To Cheaters: Next Time Hire the Brains

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  • Criminal Charges? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Since when does cheating on an exam result in criminal charges????
    • Re:Criminal Charges? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by enderjsv (1128541) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @07:45PM (#36303154)

      Could be fraud charges related less to them cheating, and more to them duping people into thinking they were applying for a job. But I'm not a lawyer.

      • Oh that's because they were using an i-Phone
      • Re:Criminal Charges? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Alien Being (18488) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @10:05PM (#36304068)

        It's more abhorrent since it's a medical test. I had the recent displeasure of working in an IT job related to med schools. From the bits and pieces that I saw of the more promising applications I processed, I'm truly horrified by the entire "profession". How could someone have such good college transcripts and MCAT scores yet write such stupid essays, I wondered? This explains a lot.

        • That sucks, you were working in IT but got stuck processing applications.
        • by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @11:19PM (#36304562) Journal

          It's more abhorrent since it's a medical test.

          No, not really. If this were an exam that you take on the way out of med school, then yes, it would be more abhorrent. On the way in, all it does is mean that some people who shouldn't have been admitted will waste a whole lot of money unsuccessfully trying to pass classes that they weren't really ready for.

          I'd expect that anybody who couldn't take the MCAT and do well on his/her own would wash out of med school anyway. It's not like you can keep up that sort of charade all the way through med school. When the prof asks you questions in class and you show a complete inability to think on your feet, when you can't pull off the most basic tasks during lab sections, or when you prove completely inept during your residency, they're gonna know that you're not cut out for a career as a doctor.

          Basically, cheating works until you get caught. If you keep cheating, you will eventually get caught. The severity of the punishment tends to be directly proportional to how long you went without getting caught. Therefore, cheating is something that only a moron would do for very long. Ignoring the ethical question for a moment, this means that it can only be useful as a way of getting past some seemingly impossible hurdle like getting a near-perfect score on the MCAT so you can get into a top-tier medical school instead of having to settle for a lesser school.

          So basically, it's not very likely that this would have any real negative impact on the quality of medical care (beyond the question of whether you'd want somebody with such poor ethical judgment taking care of you). And ironically, it might actually improve medical care if the lesser students went to the better schools and vice versa. In short, the only people who are really harmed by this are the other people taking the MCAT, who are competing against these alleged cheaters for spots in specific medical schools. This is not to say that the behavior is excusable, just that it is no more abhorrent than cheating on a GRE, an SAT, an ACT, or any other school entrance exam.

          • by wisty (1335733)

            * Basically, cheating works until you get caught. If you keep cheating, you will eventually get caught. *

            Not true. Lots of people cheat through a large swath of uni.

          • by Alien Being (18488) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @11:41PM (#36304698)

            If the cheaters get in then honest students are kept out.

            I can't understand why anyone would try to rationalize this type of bullshit.

            • by PitaBred (632671)

              He's not condoning it. He's simply explaining that the post he is replying to doesn't have a valid concern and why, not saying people should cheat at anything. A car traveling at 60mph is a completely different situation when it's traveling toward you at 60mph. The GPP is saying the car isn't really coming at us at 60mph.

              Reading comprehension FTW for both you and whoever modded you up.

          • Taking my cue from the summary, you might be missing the "brains" axis.

            I think that cheating is very high up on the abohorrent list ... because "done right" it grows epic. The media likes to parade the dumb cheaters as a cheap schadenfreude ad-click generator. The smart cheaters blend it in better. So in your examples, the never did want to be a doctor - he just needs his degree to become a senior med insurance adjuster. His knowledge is good enough to know the vocab, and then using power plays he gets to c

    • by pclminion (145572) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @07:52PM (#36303204)

      Since when does cheating on an exam result in criminal charges????

      Next time a "doctor" is about to put you under and saw through your sternum to operate on your heart, ask yourself the same question.

      • by Velex (120469) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @08:02PM (#36303282) Homepage Journal

        Next time a "doctor" is about to put you under and saw through your sternum to operate on your heart, ask yourself the same question.

        I hope if I get to that point (heart problems run in my family) I've another citizenship besides USA in a country that doesn't try to shoehorn capitalism into medicine.

        After working at an answering service for 5 years, I've learned that doctors in the USA at least are duplicitous, technically inept (as in can't understand their pager doesn't work when turned off), and willing to lie left and right just to get a small discount on their bill. I've stopped going to my doctor altogether because the board of directors at the affiliated hospital let us know that it might not be safe to be a patient of one of their doctors any more over a billing dispute.

        I have less respect for doctors than I do lawyers, because at least the lawyer clients have some basis for an argument when they dispute their bill. All doctors know are cuss words, and I intend to drop my health insurance next open enrollment period because I'm sick of subsidizing these pigs.

        • by kcitren (72383)

          I hope if I get to that point (heart problems run in my family) I've another citizenship besides USA in a country that doesn't try to shoehorn capitalism into medicine.

          What does a capitalist vs socialist economy have to do with how to test and qualify doctors?

          I've stopped going to my doctor altogether because the board of directors at the affiliated hospital let us know that it might not be safe to be a patient of one of their doctors any more over a billing dispute.

          If this is true, then you should publicize this behavior. Treating a patient differently, especially if, as you said, in a dangerous manner, based on who they work violates the rules of ethical behavior and codes on conduct.

        • Yep, and due to our horrible system we are attracting the very worst of them. MD means nothing to me anymore. They're the sleaziest of them all.

          Here in Massachusetts, where we have some of the finest medical schools, we are legally obligated to buy their shit. Mitt Romney is now trying to explain why that's right for MA but wrong for the nation.

          Doctor, heal thyself.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I've another citizenship besides USA in a country that doesn't try to shoehorn capitalism into medicine.

          You make the mistake common mistake in believing that business wants capitalism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Capitalism is a system where ruthless competition between suppliers creates a system where the best quality goods and services are delivered for the best possible cost to the consumer. What business (what medicine has become) wants is protectionism. They want a monopoly and a guaranteed source of income without having to compete.

          In the USA, between the lawyers, and HMOs and AMA, we have

    • by syousef (465911) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @08:01PM (#36303268) Journal

      Since when does cheating on an exam result in criminal charges????

      Since it could put lives in danger. Cheating on an exam for a pilot's license for instance would get you into similar trouble. (So could lying about your current qualifications as a pilot or experience). That's a glamorous example but basically any specialized job which requires qualifications, if you lie about them, could land you with a criminal record. And it makes sense. You don't want someone not qualified as an engineer designing a bridge. You don't want someone who doesn't know what they're doing with gas pipes installing a gas water heater. The potential for death and injury is just too high.

      The only difference in this case is that it's a college entrance exam, not one for getting accredited or qualified, as others have pointed out. Still, I don't think someone cheating to get in is going to go straight and stop cheating once they are in.

      • Nah--From TFA: each facing six charges including theft, unauthorized use of a computer, using a device to obtain unauthorized service and theft of data.

      • by rhook (943951)

        Except the MCAT doesn't give you a license, it is an entrance exam to medical school. Cheating on it is similar to cheating on the SAT.

    • by milkmage (795746)

      "They started feeding wrong answers to the accused cheaters and called campus security."

      I'm thinking campus security not only enforces the law, but the rules in the student handbook as well. Cheating is probably listed as an offense in the handbook, thus the "charges"

    • Re:Criminal Charges? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @09:12PM (#36303702) Homepage

      This being Canada, and all that. We take a very dim view of this type of stuff. So cheaters beware, you will be criminally nailed to the wall for it. [justice.gc.ca]
      Ala:

      404. Every one who falsely, with intent to gain advantage for himself or some other person, personates a candidate at a competitive or qualifying examination held under the authority of law or in connection with a university, college or school or who knowingly avails himself of the results of such personation is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

      Summer conviction means 2 years or less.

    • From TFA: each facing six charges including theft, unauthorized use of a computer, using a device to obtain unauthorized service and theft of data.

      • We should add "crimes against humanity" or somesuch. Let me see a doctor cure the fractured skull I give him for fucking up my friends health and getting rich from it.

        • by rhook (943951)

          Passing the MCAT does not give one a license to practice medicine, it only allows them to get into medical school.

  • by pclminion (145572) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @07:46PM (#36303166)

    According to documents filed in provincial court in Richmond, B.C., Josiah Miguel Ruben and Houman Rezazadeh-Azar are each facing six charges including theft, unauthorized use of a computer, using a device to obtain unauthorized service and theft of data.

    THESE are the charges? How about "conspiracy to commit murder," or "reckless endangerment?" These are the people who will be our medical doctors?!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @07:52PM (#36303206)

      The MCAT just gets you into med school. It's basically a college's way of weeding out people out that aren't worth their time. The MCAT isn't what gets you your license to practice medicine.

      Of course, I agree that I wouldn't want such a person being my physician.

      • "Oh, I really wanted to learn when I am accepted, honestly, I just wanted to cheat to get in and THEN I start to learn for real"

        Sorry, but do you really expect someone who cheats for an admission test to stop there? They don't have the knowledge and skill to start a curriculum, how do expect them to pass without continued cheating?

        • Your rich uncle dies and leaves you $30 million but *only* if you complete medical school by a set date, but he didn't understand the timeline and set the date too soon to be realistic *unless* you connive your entrance *before* you've had time to master the entrance exam.

          Of course, you could just walk into any admissions dept. with a lawyer attesting to the legitimacy of the will and the funds behind it, and explain how *very* generous you feel toward your prospective alma mater if the conditions of succes

    • by xero314 (722674)
      If given the choice of who to pick as a medical doctor would you rather have one person that thinks they know what they are doing, or a person smart enough to hire a team to double check his work. Just saying, you can't judge a persons skills just because they chose a more efficient way of by passing an unnecessary barrier to entry.

      Oh and quit the hyperbole, no one was endangering any one here. This was not about practicing medicine, just about getting into an establishment to learn how to practice me
      • by hedwards (940851)

        This is less about a barrier to entry than it is about ethics. They need to weed folks out in some fashion and I for one wouldn't want somebody that was willing to cheat on an exam to get an artificial boost into med school. On what basis would you suggest that the individuals would stop there?

        • by xero314 (722674)
          They already weeded most people out by the shear lack of interest in becoming a doctor. Then of those that are interested, they automatically weed out all of those that can't or chose not to dedicate the next 10+ years of their life pursuing it. Then they automatically weed out all the people who can not afford medical school and do not qualify for scholarships or grants. Do we really need yet another way of weeding people out? Are there really that many people interested in becoming doctors that we nee
    • by Ruke (857276) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @08:31PM (#36303460)

      You can't make "suspected future intention to cheat on a licensing exam" a crime. The unauthorized use of a computer doesn't even make any sense, as well as using a device to obtain unauthorized access to a service. I'd be interested to see if they can make "theft" stick: the tests usually come with boilerplate preventing you from making unauthorized copies, but seeing as they paid for the test and were given it freely, that probably doesn't apply. The tests do usually come with boilerplate saying you can't make unauthorized copies, but that'd fall under contract violation, which is a civil violation, not criminal.

      The thing is, they cheated, but that's not really illegal. It's wrong, but not illegal. They didn't endanger any lives; sure, they might have at some point, but they didn't actually do anything yet. They shouldn't be allowed into medical school, they should never be doctors, but they shouldn't be arrested.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        I'm surprised that they aren't also getting nailed for wire fraud and conspiracy as well.

      • I was thinking the same thing. A decent lawyer will make the case that a crime wasn't committed. Seems to me like you really can't pass a sensible law against cheating on a scholastic entry exam, but you could create a contract which provides suitable penalties for cheating.

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        If they did nothing illegal, keeping them out of medical school is clearly discrimination.

        You can call it discrimination between qualified and unqualified people, but it is still discrimination and they can probably sue to gain entry. I'd say with some juries they might stand a pretty good chance of winning a lawsuit.

        Then where are we?

        • In the US at least, there's no law against discrimination on the basis of the ability to pass admissions tests that are rational. (They may not even have to be rational if the school isn't government--I'm not sure off-hand.) I suppose there could be one in Canada... I can see the fights in the press over it now... but it would be a remarkably stupid, dumb, stupid (and maybe redundant) idea that tends to show off the most inefficient and dumb (and redundant) parts of Canadian government.

    • I'm all for medical science but most modern practitioners are charlatans.

  • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @07:56PM (#36303230) Journal
    I think the cheaters probably have a much more rewarding career ahead of them with an organisation such as the CIA or ASIO.
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      I think the cheaters probably have a much more rewarding career ahead of them with an organisation such as the CIA or ASIO.

      What are you trying to say? Are CIA/ASIO glad with employees without brains?

      • Sure. Who else are they going to hire as designated fall guys for when excrement encounters rotary cooling devices? Granted, they wouldn't want all their employees to be this dumb, but having a subset of their employees like this seems obviously beneficial. The guys are technically competent, and logistically incompetent. IE, they'd make perfect fall guys--capable of performing their technical jobs, but not capable of outplanning their bosses when they've been setup to fail.

        • by c0lo (1497653)

          Sure. Who else are they going to hire as designated fall guys for when excrement encounters rotary cooling devices?

          You're right.
          Unfortunately, seems to be valid in a larger context than only CIA/ASIO - I'm seeing quite frequently some managers (at least in IT) doing the same; for the said managers, doesn't seem to mater that the delivery capacity is impacted: the hired persons just need to be cheap, then it's quite easy to use them as screens for the excrements.

    • Would have had. I doubt the CIA would hire someone who got caught cheating.

      • by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @08:41PM (#36303516)

        Indeed, the CIA actually wants people that know what they're doing. They'll train agents on any cheating and trickery that's necessary to do their job, but most agents don't need that type of thing for their jobs. The CIA employs a surprising number of people in support roles doing things like analysis.

    • by bosef1 (208943)

      Would that involve promotion as GLG-20 field agents?

  • so much trouble (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theCat (36907) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @07:56PM (#36303236) Journal

    That was a really elaborate ruse. With that much free time to cook up something like that, you'd think they could ... oh I don't know ... maybe just study for the test?

    Or maybe the cheaters were just working up a movie script idea. Do a few months in the slammer, sell the rights, then buy a really good test tutor for next time.

    • by Ruke (857276)

      The MCAT is incredibly difficult. If you don't know the answers, there is very little room to use your multiple-choice-guessing skills like you were able to do on the SAT. Someone who - let's be realistic - probably cheated their way through their undergrad has just about zero chance of getting a score good enough to get into any medical school.

      I don't know what the moral here is, though. Cheaters never prosper? That can't be right... Cheaters seldom prosper? No...

      Ah: When cheaters fail, they do so spectacu

      • Re:so much trouble (Score:5, Insightful)

        by demonlapin (527802) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @08:20PM (#36303388) Homepage Journal
        The secret to a good score on the MCAT is to ignore verbal (everyone does very well, so the difference between an 11 and a 14 is not how many you answered wrong, but which specific question you got wrong) and know chemistry and physics cold. The Physical Sciences is nothing but chem and physics, and Biological Sciences includes organic.

        Yeah, if you're dead-set on a top-ten school, the mid-30s score might not cut it, but it will get you into one of your state's allopathic schools - and unless you are sure you want an academic career, where you went to school matters far less than what your Step 1 and 2CK scores are when it's time to find a residency.
        • Allopathy (as in 'allopathic schools') is a derogatory term used by purveyors of 'alternative' medicine (or quacks) to describe evidence based main stream medicine.

  • by casings (257363) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @08:22PM (#36303406)

    The only reason they were caught is because those helping weren't in on it. That's a very scary thought, because I'm sure for the right price, this could very well be done.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bughunter (10093)

      Aye, similar to my reaction, which was, "The real story here is that there is a market for this kind of cheating assistance. How many unqualified people have made it past MCAT screening this way? Have any of them provided care for me or my loved ones?"

  • The real question is what opportunities lie in leveraging an Ender's Game-like approach to solving problems. Obviously cheating on tests is one of the, what about productive approaches?

  • by bmo (77928) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @09:00PM (#36303624)

    ...or chemistry, or pharmacy, or anything else dealing with human lives directly or indirectly at the end of the chain:

    You don't belong in the profession.

    You are going to kill people. No question. Someday you will kill someone with your incompetence.

    --
    BMO

    • by sulfur (1008327)
      What qualifications are required to get into the military? I don't think they are comparable to either PE or M.D. (and thus may not induce cheating), yet military personnel in some cases may have more potential of killing "wrong" people.
  • Honestly - I'd almost like to see some sort of charges/significant fines pressed against these people.

  • As a guy who endured a poor GPA all through college because of his morals, I'm glad their "tutors" caught on and put the cheaters in their place.

    • by dcollins (135727)

      "As a guy who endured a poor GPA all through college because of his morals..."

      WTF does that mean? It makes you sound like a self-deluded idiot. Seriously.

    • by jandrese (485)
      You had a moral objection to studying?
  • The MCAT is crap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @09:27PM (#36303774) Homepage Journal
    Pre-med students spend their undergraduate days obsessing over that test, learning how to memorize and regurgitate - but not comprehend - information for it. Pre-med students don't care whether they understand the material they take in school, as long as they pass the MCAT and pull the GPA that they need for the med school they want to go to.

    This is not the way we should select who our new doctors will be. We are screening for automatons when we should be screening for thinkers. Cheaters like this are exactly what the MCAT is pretty well looking for - people who will do just the right amount of work to pass the test, without bothering to comprehend the information that it is supposed to be testing people on.
    • We are screening for automatons when we should be screening for thinkers.

      Please tell me how you can efficiently screen for this. For current med school freshmen in the AAMC schools, there were 42742 applicants (31834 of whom were first-time applicants). There were 18665 matriculants. (Source [aamc.org]) The MCAT allows schools to reject clearly unqualified applicants out of hand, while interviewing a group of people that actually stand a good chance of doing well.

      Pre-med students are merely training for what life is like in med school, and they are demonstrating adaptive behaviors for tho

  • Let's face it.

    Cheating in college is rampant, it's just that most people are good at it.

    Like how you'll study your ass off at a test and get a 30, which was pretty high all things considered, then there's a group of Chinese students that get 100 on it but can't answer even basic questions about the material if you come to them and ask them since they did so.

    Or how companies complain that they'll hire an engineer who will have a degree and good GPA but doesn't even have a basic grasp of how their field of en

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Well, that does happen, but that's what the technical portion of interviews are for. Get a group of three or four engineers asking simple, rapid-fire questions about the field. You'll find out real quick whether or not your candidate knows their stuff. I swear to God, I've seen "engineers" who couldn't solve a quadratic equation without a calculator, or who thought Ohm's law was V = I/R.

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.

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