Ireland's Chief Science Advisor has bogus degree

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by galanga, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    What government investigators? If you mean the investigators that approved the PWU business degree then I think this approval actually predated the split in PWU's personality.
  2. irlprof

    irlprof New Member

    Returning to McSweeney. I now have no sympathy for him and he should be fired. He said on this news interview:

    that he would not produce his PhD thesis although some of it had already been published in the Lancet and the Annals of Clinical Biochemistry.

    The Irish Independent wrote the following today:

    "Harney criticises scientist's use of dodgy doctorate

    THE use of a "very questionable" doctorate by the former Government chief scientific advisor brought his office "into disrepute".

    Health Minister Mary Harney made the claim about Barry McSweeney yesterday.

    Ms Harney, who had appointed Mr McSweeney during her term at the Department of Enterprise, said however, the "fairest" thing to do was to retain his talents in the public sector.

    **Message edited by George Brown and URL below added to preserve copyright**


  3. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Irish Examiner:

    The investigations mentioned in the various articles. If all this quackery is tied into any and every version of PWU it doesn't seem that much was done to combat it.
  4. George Brown

    George Brown New Member

    I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt on this. Clearly his PhD was awarded purely on life experience and past work. No new work was required. Deary, deary me.


  5. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

    The Lancet is a major medical journal, read internationally. It is available in virtually every major city across the globe. Searching the database is rather simple. Why would someone make such a claim, knowing that verification would be so easy.
    Pride goeth before a fall.
  6. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Didn't CPU also do this?
  7. George Brown

    George Brown New Member

    I am not entirely sure. As I stated previously, I know of one CPU PhD holder whose wife told me he had worked night and day at his. I have no reason to doubt this as it was in casual conversation at a cocktail party and she didn't bat an eyelid when she said it. Am I too trusting?

    Maybe John B can help on this one. John Walsh of Brannagh has a PhD from CPU. I wonder if he did work for his, or it was purely based on life experience?


  8. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

    I don't think you're too trusting.

    In a recent thread I asked about this general scenario. If a person is enrolled in an unaccredited university as a doctoral student and they produce a dissertation that is, by anyones standards, at least adequate, what does this say about the university?

    The answer I received from most members was that it does not necessarily mean anything about the university. This is the problem that crops up. Whether it's George's friend, or Neil Hayes, producing a decent dissertation does not mean that the school is good or even legitimate. Both may have produced excellent research (I don't know) but their universities might still be mills. If you want to say that their research is equivalent to that produced in legitimate universities I may not argue (mostly because I'm probably not qualified to judge) BUT THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE SCHOOL IS A GOOD, LEGITIMATE SCHOOL and so it does not mean that the degree is a good and legitimate degree, regardless of the quality of the research. You can do the research without earning a degree. You can be recognized the world over as an expert without earning the degree. You can be at the top of your field and not have a PhD and NOT NEED A PHD because your ego doesn't require it. Ask Alasdair Mcintyre.
  9. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    FWD: Didn't CPU also do this? [award doctorates based on prior learning entirely)

    John: Most definitely not on my watch (roughly 1978-82). Possibly later.

    I remember seeing the dissertation of John Walsh, who had traditional law degree at the time he enrolled at CPU, but I don't recall the particulars, although no alarums were sounded. The only doctoral committee I was on was for Louis Luyt, a very controversial South African businessman, rugby hero, head of the National Rugby Football Union, and late in life Member of Parliament. His 500-page dissertation analyzing trade law south of the Sahara, was, as I recall, read by three academics with this specialty who were very impressed, even though two strongly disagreed with his politics, as in general, did I.
  10. George Brown

    George Brown New Member

    Thanks John. And this appears to be what causes much of the confusion, contention and debate. A PhD candidate at an unaccredited institution, however their work is externally examined by faculty who work at RA institutions and have RA credentials themselves. As Jack has highlighted, this scenario does not change the status of the unaccredited degree granting institution, but the value of the credential is severly devalued by this fact.


  11. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Dr. Bear
    I wonder if this happened?
  12. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I have agreed with degree mill shills for years that degrees from fake schools have real value. I thank Dr. McSweeney for making that point very clear.

    I've also contended for years that the reasons these degrees work are the wrong ones, and that when brought to light, these degrees can cause great trouble where they were once blindly accepted. Again, kudos to Dr. McSweeney for demonstrating that.

    Finally, I've always felt employers--public and private-can be quite gutless regarding this matter. Thanks to the Irish government for being such a case in point. Not that the U.S. government has anything to be proud of:

    Principle Deputy Undersecretary Charles Abell's biography
  13. RXI

    RXI New Member


    I am not sure why people today are so critical of schools like CPU or PWU or other similar California schools who have awarded degrees to those people, especially in the 1970s' and the 1980', and possibly in a few circumstances today. I understand today the availability of accredited schools makes these older unaccredited school appear obsolete but in the 70s' and 80s' and possibly later these school served a needed and functional purpose.

    Schools like Columbia Pacific and Pacific Western were spoken in a highly positive and favorably way in the older Bear guides. No wonder many people have degrees from PWU and CPU and other similar schools. Those schools worked. Though they may have been low-end alternatives, they were accepted and used in many situations.

    Yes, people did work for them and some still do. I believe it is sad to see people scorned today for something they worked for that was acceptable yesterday. I personally believe PWU is getting unfair criticism in this political upheaval in Ireland, for if anyone was to read the older Bear guides, one would know it was written not as a notorious mill from the 70s' but a positive, usable, alternative as was Columbia Pacific and many other similar schools.

    My 2 cents.

  14. George Brown

    George Brown New Member

    More on Dr Con Power & his PWU doctore

    Dr Power told the Irish Independent that his PhD was never a factor in his work as he obtained his last career employment in open competition in 1979, nine years before he was awarded the doctorate.

    He said he was on secondment to the Department of the Taoiseach as Special Economic Development Officer from 1 April 1992 to the end of April the following year. His salary was paid for by the Confederation of Irish Industry (now IBEC) and was recouped from the department.

    He strongly denied that he was ever an adviser to the Taoiseach Albert Reynolds or to any other politican.


    "I cannot see how me holding an earned PhD is a matter of public interest," he said. "I have a BComm [Hons - UCD - 1963], MEconSc [Hons - UCD - 1965], together with three earned professional business qualifications - FCIS, FCMA, FCIS," he added.

    Is it?


  15. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Re: Confused

    It is not fair to lump together PWU and CPU. Not only was CPU obviously more robust and real, it eventually had some of its programs approved by the state. When the state eliminated the Authorized category, CPU was approved. This was, of course, never the case with Pacific Western.
  16. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Re: More on Dr Con Power & his PWU doctore

    Well, he did the PWU doctorate for some reason, and he could have chosen an accredited school. From the article it appears he didn't actually do a doctoral program. Rather....

    "This morning's reports said he was insisting that his PhD was legally awarded on the basis of many years of research and publications."

    Sounds like a life-experience award to me. Gee, why pick a joint like PWU when he could have gone to that pinnacle of higher education, Knightsbridge University?
  17. DesElms

    DesElms New Member

    Re: Re: More on Dr Con Power & his PWU doctore

    vBulletin needs the [SARCASM] tag. ;)
  18. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    why knoght sbridge?

    Maybe he still resents the Viking invasions.
  19. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Re: Confused

    One of the inherent dangers of being an expert was stated perhaps most clearly by Niels Bohr:

    When making life-affecting decisions, the onus is on the decision maker to consider a variety of sources of expert opinion, layman opinion, word-of-mouth, chicken entrails, seers, fakirs, Dalai Lamas, I Ching, coin-flipping, instinct, personal and career goals, and cost-benefit analysis. This goes for any university -- not just the unaccredited variety.

    Decisions based on information from any one source are never wise, no matter the source. One must be holistic in one's approach, or risk tempting both Murphy's Law and Bohr's observation. And if one errs in one's judgment -- in the end the onus falls upon the decision maker. (That's why"disclaimers" such as "Your Mileage May Vary" were invented.)

    But Ireland's former Chief Science Advisor didn't err in his choice of alma mater, IMO. He erred the moment he claimed he wrote a dissertation for his doctorate, and did not produce that dissertation.

    Lateral demotion was perhaps an attempt at some unbeknownst to us humanitarian goal, and to the casual observer, an obvious attempt at saving face on both sides; and if it was done for humanitarian reasons (I don't know what the man's situation was) -- perhaps it will allow him enough time to correct his judgment, find a new source of income and do some soul searching. If it was done purely as a face-saving measure, and had no underlying humanitarian cause -- it had the opposite effect in most observer's eyes, I would venture to say.

    It could have been, had the fellow just said, "It was awarded for past competencies," an open and shut case leading to debate on the merit of PLA doctorates. Instead, it became an issue of whether or not the particular state in question tolerates apparent lies about scientific results that never materialized when someone called upon the scientist to produce them. That hits scientific principles of procedural ethics pretty hard. The former would have just been one heck of a fun debate. The fellow sat at a fork in the road -- and picked the wrong artery, IMO.

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