Well here I am again, after a lengthy break from blogging. I must confess I didn’t expect to break my “purdah” with this particular post and would much rather be writing about something more edifying. However…
Some of you will be familiar with the BCSE, the notorious anti-creationist organisation here in the UK that models itself loosely on the NCSE in the USA, but has none of the scholarly gloss or presentational panache.
In the past I’ve pointed out their inability to get even basic facts right and so I hesitate to draw further attention to them. But in the last couple of days members of the BCSE forum have been making some serious allegations about me and so I have decided to set the record straight here.
It concerns comments posted in this forum thread.
Peter Henderson of BCSE began the latest exchange on 17 November:
In fact, this talk was given over five years ago in March 2008, but that is only the most minor error. Mr Henderson then continued:
The link is to a recently uploaded Youtube video in which the video blogger (WildwoodClaire1) cites part of my ECG talk to make some (as it happens, erroneous) points about the Coconino-Hermit contact in Grand Canyon. The blogger appears unaware of recently published data supporting a tectonic origin of the sand-filled cracks at the base of the Coconino, contrary to the older interpretation that they were desiccation cracks.
Nevertheless, in the video the blogger states: “…Paul Garner, who calls himself Dr Garner, and I don’t know what his doctorate is in, but it’s not geology.”
The claim that I call myself “Dr Garner” is likewise erroneous, and the blogger provides no evidence to support it. I have categorically never called myself “Dr Garner” and I do not have a PhD, earned or otherwise. I am at a loss as to how the blogger came to this conclusion, especially since my credentials (as they were in March 2008) are accurately reported on the very first slide of the presentation that she is seeking to critique, namely “BSc, FGS”. (I have since also obtained the MSc in Geoscience).
On the BCSE forum, Roger Stanyard weighed in:
Mr Stanyard is, of course, correct that a masters degree is not a PhD, but I have never claimed otherwise. Nor have I ever claimed that my first degree was from the University of Cambridge, as Mr Stanyard suggests.
He then insinuates that I have been making false claims about the nature of both my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, very serious allegations indeed if they can be substantiated. However, Mr Stanyard is wrong on both counts.
My undergraduate degree programme was labelled “Environmental Science” or “Combined Science”, but students specialised in one of three fields: geology, biology or geography. I specialised in geology.
Further, my MSc in Geoscience has not “suddenly become” a PhD. Rather, an ill-informed video blogger made an erroneous claim that was then repeated (without checking) by Peter Henderson on the BCSE forum and then used by Mr Stanyard (again, without checking) to cast aspersions upon my honesty and integrity in reporting my qualifications.
Mr Stanyard then went on to say:
This, despite the fact that the ICR has never granted PhD degrees. (It did once have a graduate school granting masters degrees). The ICR web page that Mr Stanyard had apparently by this time googled did incorrectly list me as “Dr. Paul Garner” but ICR kindly and very quickly corrected this mistake as soon as it was pointed out to them.
Finally, Brian Jordan of BCSE added:
Again, the suggestion being that I have been claiming to have a doctorate since graduating with my MSc.
So I contacted the BCSE committee to set the record straight. You will appreciate that wilfully misrepresenting one’s academic qualifications is a serious matter, and since the claims that I had done so were wholly untrue I felt that some kind of retraction was in order.
Mark Edon initially replied on behalf of BCSE suggesting that he post my email to the BCSE forum and invite those making the claims to respond. I replied:
Do you not think that the BCSE needs to take responsibility for potentially defamatory comments posted on its public forum, by moderating/deleting them and offering apologies where appropriate, rather than leaving a decision about how to respond up to individuals?
Mr Edon then replied again to say that the BCSE was unwilling to delete comments on its forum without first looking into the matter, and again suggesting that he post my email to the forum.
I responded that it might have been better for BCSE members to look into matters first, before posting such serious allegations, but that he was welcome to contact the individuals concerned privately to invite their response.
However, later that evening Mr Stanyard posted another diatribe on the BCSE forum accusing me of having “a phony PhD”.
This led to further email correspondence with Paul Braterman and Mark Edon of BCSE, in which it became clear that their tack now was to try to blame ICR! Indeed that is the tenor of Mark Edon’s email now posted to the original forum thread. My response to Mark was as follows:
You are now seeking (without any evidence at all) to pass the buck onto ICR. The fact is that members of your forum plainly stated that I was falsely claiming to have a doctorate and that I had misrepresented the nature of my first degree, the former evidently based on hearsay from an internet atheist. Only later was an error in my title on a single ICR web page brought into the discussion, with no evidence that was the source of the internet atheist’s error and despite the fact that ICR made that error in good faith and very quickly corrected it as soon as it was drawn to its attention.
Your suggested solution to these aspersions upon my personal honesty and integrity (namely to blame ICR) is unconscionable and clearly intended to divert attention from the mistakes and worse of your own forum members. It is one thing for ICR to have made a simple error in calling me “Dr” and quite another thing for those associated with BCSE to publicly claim that I am wilfully misrepresenting my qualifications, a very serious allegation as I have repeatedly said, and one that warrants a full apology and retraction.
The fact that BCSE is unwilling to give such an apology and retraction on its forum tells everyone all that they need to know about the BCSE.
Enough said (for now), I think.