Saturday, October 04, 2008

An Iranian 'Shin Jeong-ah'?

Ali Kordan
Need to hire "two lawyers and three detectives"?
(Image from The Telegraph)

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.

"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.
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:
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.

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10 Comments:

At 9:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do know some people in the ministry who thought a "doctorate" degree connected to their name would enhance their standing.
One fellow Bible college acquaintance decided to become an evangelist, contacted a 'ThD mill,'
wrote a thesis on Sunday School topics, paid his $600.00 fee, and became Evangelist Eldon Weaver, ThD. Another preacher chided him, and he said, "Well, I earned it...it cost me a lot of money!"
There is probably more of this than we realize.
My uncle Isam, who founded and was first president of Golden Gate Baptist Seminary, had several ThM degrees, but was proudest of his honorary Doctor of Divinity. He told my mother, "Now you can call me Dr. Hodges." Mom said, "That's nice, Isam." Later she told us kids, "Well, Isam is some kind of doctor, but he doesn't treat any paitients." Probably as good a commentary on those things as you could get.
Cran

 
At 4:54 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

At least your Bible college acquaintance wrote a thesis . . . of some sort.

Shin Jeong-ah simply 'borrowed' one from a library. And Mr. Kordan simply 'recycled' one that he had already written.

But I have to admit . . . a lot of English 'teachers' here in Korea have been discovered to hold fake BAs or MAs (occasionally even PhDs!). There's such a demand for English teachers here that many academies and even universities haven't looked too closely.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it my imagination, or did you promise to give me a ThD in return for my youthful experiences and a "gift" of only $39.95 plus tax and postage expenses?
Cran

 
At 5:58 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

That was probably my imagination, but either way, it's imaginary.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:31 PM, Anonymous Hajir said...

Dear Prof. Hodges,

Interestingly, the Azad University's president announced that Mr. Kordan had not received any credentials from that university ,which has hundreds of branches in Iran. He only attended a few courses, as Azad officials stated. Kordan claimed that a earned a BA and a Master from Azad University. He even was teaching in the university after submitting his fake degrees.

This issue of fake credentials is not the only one. Formerly some of top officials were accused of receiving degrees from The University of Hawaii buy paying large sums of money.

Well, Ayatollah Khomeini, himself did not have any respect for the new sciences, i.e. he once said: "Economics is for donkeys", And other similar comments. These days having PhD has become essential,and it worth to know that there is a quota for university admissions. Therefore people who are members of 'Basij' or other governmental organizations have privileges to get admitted to schools, even I remember that some of them in my former school who were on duty during the exams later would take different exams, which I doubt that they were fair.

There is also another system in which they convert Islamic titles to academic titles. For instance Dr. Beheshti did not graduate from a university with a PhD but studied in traditional Islamic schools, after the revolution this has become so prevalent and even in many cases there are people who without spending the required years in Islamic schools and taking proper test have become Ayatollahs, Hojjatol-Islams ... overnight.

Best Regards

Hajir

 
At 3:16 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the comment, Hajir.

I recall Ayatollah Khomeini's remark: "Economics is for donkeys."

It seems that donkeys are important after all, and one would have to be an ass not to recognize this.

I'd also wondered about some of these Islamist spokespersons with their 'doctorates'. Funny, though, how they want doctorates from the very best 'infidel' schools.

Imagine a conversation:

First Islamist: "Look at me! Look at me! I've got a Ph.D. from Harvard University! It's the best school in The Great Satan!"

Second Islamist: "Wow, that's great! How did you get it?"

First Islamist: "I paid 5000 dollars for it. A real bargain!"

Second Islamist: "Five thousand!? You idiot! I could have gotten you a Harvard doctorate for half that!"

First Islamist: "Yeah, but mine is with the words spelled correctly."

Second Islamist: "Ah. That's different. You did get a bargain. Congratulations on your degree."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:09 AM, Anonymous Hajir said...

I heard about LARGE sums a money, maybe over 200,000. These people mostly cannot speak English, In the case of Mr. Kordan when they asked him in the parliment that when you don't know Enlish howcome did you recieved the dergree? He responded I had a translator/interpretor, then they asked that you claim that you had written articles in theology why did you recieve a law degree, there was a long pause.

I assume the Supreme Leader needs him for the upcoming presidential election in order to get the desired outcome, otherwise he would have resigned already!

There are so many sever criticism against Lary king for his 'bad' interview with president Ahmadinejad in the Persian media. They were both smiling and no important issue was raised. Do you tink it was only a mistake while Ahmadinejad avoided having any interview with US based Persian journalist as usual? Was CNN paid?

 
At 3:52 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I know nothing of the Larry King interview, but King is not especially known for his intensive grilling of those whom he interviews.

I doubt that CNN was bribed -- if that's what you mean by 'paid' -- but the network does get a lot of free publicity by interviewing such individuals.

By the way, your description of the Iranian parliament grilling Mr. Kordan gives me hope that the political system there can change since they're obviously free to criticize openly . . . or is that also a sham?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A contemporary of yours and mine in Texas, the late Lena Guerrero (who grew up ten miles fom me, I might add), was appointed by Governor Ann Richards as chair of the Railroad Commission (which according to Texas logic regulates the petroleum industry). She had to blame the false claim of graduating from UT magna cum laude, and membership in Phi Beta Kappa, on an overly zealous aide who penned her biography. Inconveniently, she was found to have frequently quoted that false bio in recorded speeches. Having actually earned those recognitions, I have often said I graduated from Baylor on the Lena Guerrero plan.

I suppose it's a cultural thing whether to be more mortified to admit that you lied about a degree, or that you believed someone from Oxford would really sell you one.

Tom Ball

 
At 1:11 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Tom, good to see you here again . . . been a long time.

Yes, it was inconvenient of Ms. Guerrero to have quoted those mistakes. How odd of her not to have noticed them before.

When I think what great things I could have accomplished on the Guerrero Plan...

Jeffery Hodges

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