An Iranian 'Shin Jeong-ah'?
In a piece of news that also could easily have come from Korea in the past year, Nazila Fathi reports for the International Herald Tribune that a high-ranking "Iranian official admits [that his] Oxford doctorate is [a] fake" (October 1, 2008):
Iran's interior minister[, Ali Kordan,] admitted that a doctorate he said he had earned from Oxford was a fake, and said he was pressing charges against an intermediary who had forged it without his knowledge . . . . Kordan said he had been victimized by a man who introduced himself eight years ago as a representative of Oxford and gave him the fake degree in return for a thesis he had written previously.I sympathize with Mr. Kordan. Every day, I receive countless emails promising to award me a doctorate for my "life experience," for which I -- like Mr. Kordan -- surely deserve honored recognition from some preeminent institution of higher education. So far, however, I've been put off by the price and haven't taken up any of the offers. Why should I shell out hard cash for recognition that I so legitimately deserve? I've already paid my dues in the school of hard knocks, so why the extra tuition? The money thing is enough to make one skeptical, but some of us have to learn the hard way:
"My degree was issued, based on my management and executive experience and in return for a thesis, by a man who had opened an English language school in Tehran," Kordan wrote.
Kordan said that he reacted with "utter disbelief" when he discovered that his doctorate was a fake. He said he had filed a complaint against the man, but had not been able to trace him. He did not give the man's name.Mr. Kordan is to be commended on his new-found incredulity. He has learned a valuable lesson from his experience and would likely now truly qualify for a doctorate in Pyrrhonian skepticism -- undoubtedly a Pyrrhic victory for him (though as a Pyrrhonian, he would be entititled to continue doubting).
In my initial remark that this news about Mr. Kordan "could easily have come from Korea in the past year," I was thinking of the Shin Jeong-ah case. The talented Ms. Shin -- formerly a Dongguk University assistant professor and also originally slated as a director for the 2008 Gwangju Biennale -- claimed to have a doctorate from Yale University, but like Mr. Kordan, she was 'deceived':
According to the JoongAng Ilbo, she recently told a reporter that she had not faked the diplomas and was actually the one being deceived, saying she had hired two lawyers and three detectives to search for a tutor who had helped her write her Ph.D. thesis. (Kim Rahn, "Shin Jeong-ah's Life Full of Mystery," Korea Times, September 12, 2007)Ms. Shin's "two lawyers and three detectives" were apparently unsuccessful, but all is for the best because Ms. Shin is currently enrolled in an institution of learning where she will certainly earn the highest of degrees in hard knocks.
Perhaps Mr. Kordan can look forward to the same opportunity.