Bergman Wichita State RecapAugust 19, 2006 at 9:15 am | Posted in Journal of Anti-Science meetings | 9 Comments
The size of the crowd was surprisingly small for this particular event, topping out at 70. The crowd for Bill Lucas’ first visit was much larger. The crowd was made up mostly of people who don’t work or attend WSU, a few families, a few teenagers, some older people, and a few scientists, a few of my fellow students, and myself.
Normally, I try to focus only on the science the presenter offers, but CORR leaders, de-facto leader Dave Lehman and faculty sponsor Dr. Paul Ackerman, burned us in the past by bringing in a speaker with false credentials, Dr. Charles William (Bill) Lucas Jr. (which can be found many times on this blog). So I focused on that, and left the science, of which there were many concerns, to faculty scientists and fellow students in the audience. Bergman’s presentation was to promote his “soon to be released book,” The Long War by Darwinists Against Darwin Skeptics, where he claims he “documents hundreds of cases of discrimination against Creationist professors,” a group he counts himself among. In my research of his story, I found that not to be the case, and so it was my focus in this presentation.
Note: For information about the scientific issues about Bergman’s lecture please fast forward to about 1:47:00 of the audio supplementing this blog, where a working scientist who I know and that I invited to attend began a discussion about the scientific accuracy of Bergman’s presentation. Pay attention to how Bergman responds. I can’t get into the scientific discussion here because it is lengthy, as is the topic of this blog entry, Bergman’s credibility and the claim that he has been subjected to religious persecution by Bowling Green University.
At around 55 minutes of the audio that suplements this blog entry, Bergman talks about being subject to, what he calls, personal attacks.
Bergman: It bothers me that… find my mistakes, fine. I want dialogue about my work, but don’t attack me as a person. Cause over, and over, and over, and over, and over what they do is, ‘Bergman you can’t trust what he has to say, why he goes around claiming he has credentials in psychology and he doesn’t have any credentials in psychology.’ While the court ruled, the sixth circuit court of appeals ruled, a unanimous decision of 9 judges ruled he has no credentials in the area of psychology. And he goes around claiming that… you can’t trust what he has to say. And over and over and over this is the kind of arguments they bring up. I have a degree from Columbia Pacific University, ‘ah, it’s a diploma mill.’ Over… ‘it’s a diploma mill.’ Do you know anything about the school? Do you know what happened? ‘Well, it’s a diploma mill.’ And they repeat these, and it’s really very disappointing for me…
On and on, why doesn’t someone look? All this can be checked. You can get my transcripts. You can consult the board of psychology. I’ll give you permission to consult the board of psychology. You can look at the school’s I taught, you can look at the courses I taught. I still have all my grade records. You can see I taught psychology. You can look at the Spring Arbor catalogue and see that I was associate professor of psychology. You can check this if you want to. But they don’t check it. They just go on to these ad hominem attacks over and over again.
I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to get Bergman everything he asked for. I got as many scientists in the audience as would attend (2.5, the half being a scientist who sat through the first part then had to go home because he couldn’t take it anymore), and I did check on his credibility. Everything that deserved attack was attacked, which is his science and his credibility.
Here is a transcript of our first exchange, which begins at around 1:56:30 of the audio that supplements this blog entry.
Me: Well, I’ve been a member of CORR since the very first meeting. I’ve seen Dr. Lehman and Dr. Ackerman present several different things, and actually the last speaker that they brought in, he ended up not having any credibility. He-
Bergman: Don’t talk about the last speaker please. Talk about this presentation-
Me: Look, I’m just saying that-
Bergman: I know Dr. Lucas very well, and I really think your criticism of him is very very unfair. He is one of the most intelligent people I have known. He is an incredibly thorough researcher. He may have made a mistake on drawing a water molecule, but my-
Me: Actually the problem was that he had professorships that he actually didn’t do on his resume, and-
Bergman: And these are the kind of attacks that bother me, because these things are by and large not true. And we get tired of being attacked on these grounds. That’s the same thing as saying I don’t have -
Me: Actually, he admitted to the fact that -
Bergman: Okay, part of this is on the website. You will notice I am over and over called a psychiatrist. I am not a psychiatrist, I don’t have an MD. Over and over they label me as a psychiatrist. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to correct these websites? To contact these people and say this information is incorrect? My on colleagues the website is inaccurate. I try to get them to correct it, they say ‘oh, it doesn’t matter that much, I brought in my transcripts, I brought in my diplomas. They finally got around to correcting it. A lot of people just don’t see that as important. And I think that attacking the person by doing this is wrong. It bothers me to no end that you attack the person. And it bothers me to no end that you attack someone that I think you really don’t know that much about at all. Now, I can’t say that I agree with Lucas’ ideas, but I’ve never been able to not know anyone who refutes his ideas. I think his ideas are, frankly, way out.
Me: I actually have the court decision right here, from your appeal to the Sixth District court, and you said that the entire reason what they gave, that you gave, was ethics. Actually-
Bergman: That was part of the reason.
Me: This is actually a very interesting court decision, and if anybody’s interested it’s number 86- -
Bergman: This is attacking the person, you’re attacking me.
Me: You’re making allegations saying that you’re being persecuted against when you’re not. It’s apparent that Bowling Green has been very very kind to you. And it ends up, it’s not ethics only. It’s ethics, teaching, quality of publications, relevance of publications, quality of teaching-
Bergman: Quality of publications, that’s true.
Me: This is in the court decision. You said that it’s only ethics. It’s not. Furthermore, your mention of Columbia Pacific University, it’s not an accredited university, it never was. It was established in 1978. The reason why it’s no longer in existence is because, uh, it was denied… I lost the word.
Bergman: Let me explain Columbia Pacific University. Columbia Pacific University was one of the pioneers of what we now call distant learning.
Me: Were they accredited?
Bergman: They were one of the pioneers in distant learning. Which is now very very common. What Columbia Pacific did was, when you earned a degree there you had a mentor from some other school. My mentor was Dr. Short, who taught at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. I learned from Dr. Short and from Medical University of Ohio. I did my thesis under Dr. Short, who was a professor at the medical university in Pittsburgh. He was the one who supervised me. Columbia Pacific, what they did, is they take credits from other schools, they offer some courses on their own, and the thesis that they review is done under a mentor situation by a PhD from another school. There are thousands of professors who have their degree from Columbia Pacific, thousands of professors.
Me: Actually the denial of accreditation was due to awarding excessive credit-
(Something lost in the exchange, I can’t pick it out.)
Me: I have a summation.
(Something again in the exchange. I talk about how much ink it would take to print all of this stuff out, but I found a summation so I think he was accusing me of not researching this matter.)
Bergman: Have you read my article?
(Something lost in the exchange)
Bergman: Would you sit down, sir.
(Something lost in the exchange)
Me: – and not preparing their PhD. students. It’s not a valid school.
Bergman: What about my other 8 degrees?
Me: Which one is the biology PhD.?
Bergman: The Medical College, it’s not a PhD. It’s a master’s. It’s a master’s of science in biology.
Me: What did you get from Columbia Pacific?
Me: OH! Is it a biology? Is it a biology PhD.? Did I just make that up? Am I attacking you now?
Bergman: Thank you, sir. You illustrate very well my concern. You illustrate very well my concern.
Me: I’m also curious about -
(This is where I brought up the NAAWP letter and asked Bergman whether or not it was religious or racial discrimination, but too many people were telling me to sit down for it to come through.)
The exchange is filled with statements that show Bergman’s love of the “persecution” card, and how little accountability he has, dodging the truth when it looks bad. His PhD in Biology from Columbia Pacific for example. I’m sure it dawned on him at some point before he was giving this lecture about evolutionary biology, which he does no actual scientific research in, that the fact that his PhD in Biology was from a university that was never accredited and ordered to shut down by the state of California. For an excellent summation of the events concerning Columbia Pacific, that has many lengthy court documents available, please go here.
Here is how his CV lists the degree from Columbia Pacific, “1989-1992: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Columbia Pacific University, San Rafael, CA 94901. Major was human biology (4.0 GPA).”
Certainly, he makes no effort to explain that the university was never accredited. Never. And the parts that most affect that validity of his degree are all over the decision for denial of accreditation. The school (a) awarded excessive credit for prior experiential learning to many students; (b) failed to employ duly qualified faculty; and (c) failed to meet various requirements for issuing Ph.D. degrees. Any rational person would not only see this as a degree that is not valid, but would also see the institution as a diploma mill when reasons such as those are given for its termination.
Bergman’s claims, which are varying, about his treatment at Bowling Green University simply don’t check out. In an interview published on the website, Revolution Against Evolution, which Bergman endorses, submits work to, and mentions several times in his presentation, published the transcript to a radio interview that Bergman gave on WEXL, Royal Oak, Michigan on February 17, 1984.
Bergman claims that he was denied process as per Bowling Green University policy (which is shown in the court’s decision to be untrue). Actually, very little of what Bergman says here is true, as is evident by the court decision.
Caller: I heard Dr. Bergman mention that his department had supported him and I was wondering if he was actually recommended for tenure on the departmental level?
JB: The department area first reviews the person. These are the people who taught the same courses I did, and this area almost unanimously supported me. Then the department evaluated me and I did not get enough votes (a two thirds majority) to recommend tenure. Then it went to the chair and the chair recommended me for tenure. It then went to the faculty evaluation council, and they recommended me for tenure. The Dean also recommended me for tenure. The Provost though, said he’s changing the system. He voided the process that I followed.
Hal: They changed the rules of the game after it was played?
JB: Right. Under the old rules, you collected votes, and when you got to the top level, they evaluated the votes. You might have four for you and one against you (I had five for and one against). Then they evaluate the total package. Under the new system, any “no” vote at any level stops the process; so anywhere along the way someone could say “no” and you’re out of the game. And that’s exactly what happened, but the system was changed again after I left. It’s now back to the old way.
Hal: That’s pretty unfair.
Caller: Were their objections based on teaching or research?
JB: My student evaluations were among the highest in the university, I had over 200 publications in print or press or in review at that time; which is more than my entire department of 30 or so people combined. They never hinted teaching or research was the concern.
The court document can be found here, published by Jehova’s Witnesses United who have a bone to pick with Bergman (more on that later). It is the decision by the United States Court of Appeals by the 6th Circuit about Bergman’s situation with Bowling Green (he confirmed it is the court document), of which Bergman is now claiming he was fired as a victim of religious persecution. This was not found by the court, however, nor any other ruling body in the entire process of dealing with Bergman’s case. Please read the decision, it is interesting in its details over Bergman’s behavior and the process he went through leading up to and after he was denied tenure.
In a conversation I had with Begman after the presentation (and during the presentation as well) I brought up a letter written by Bergman, and which Bergman also admitted to writing, that appeared in the journal for the National Association for the Advancement of White People, an organization founded by noted white supremacist David Duke. An excerpt that is important to the discussion, which Bergman also admitted to writing, is pasted below and the entire letter can be found here.
NAAWP News. 1985 [ca December 1]. Page 2: “Letters to the Editor”:
Probably the most blatant example was a position the writer applied for at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. It was specifically stated in writing that unless a minority candidate could be recruited (specifically a black), the position would not be filled. The college was not able to recruit a minority candidate (they all probably had far better offers elsewhere) and felt the position needed to be filled, thus the writer was finally hired, but only temporarily. The writer was then terminated after seven years, and a minority was hired…
Admittedly, in the writer’s case, other elements entered in, such as objection to the writer’s political-religious values. Nonetheless, reverse discrimination was clearly part of the decision to terminate the writer…
Another case was when the writer was employed at a small college. At the same time he was hired, a black was hired in the same department. This man had a master’s degree, but hadn’t published and had no teaching experience. The writer had a decade of teaching experience, over 230 published articles, and the equivalent of three Ph.D.’s, and was formally completing his second Ph.D. at the time. Because of a severe decline in enrollment, it was decided that one of the persons hired in the writer’s department should be let go. Needless to say, the writer was let go instead of his black colleague who was far less qualified. He discussed this with the dean and others, and they were quite open, stating simply “There’s no way we could let so and so go. He would bring a charge of discrimination against the college and probably win.” He further added that a black with a master’s degree is about equal to a white with Ph.D
Now, I do submit that it’s disturbing enough that Bergman would appeal to a white supremacist organization for support, it’s not the point of bringing up this letter. The point is, Bergman says to the NAAWP that he was discriminated against by Bowling Green, and elsewhere, on racial grounds and not religious ones. I asked him about this in our conversation afterwards and he said that he discovered documents years after he was let go from Bowling Green that showed that race was the issue. I asked him which it was, and it was left up in the air in our exchange interrupted by Lehman interjections.
In that WXEL Radio interview, Bergman did mention the same sort of things that he mentioned in the letter to the NAAWP, but never said that it happened to him.
Hal: Civil rights laws, and I’ve seen them at every place that hire people, says that equal opportunity employers are not to discriminate on race, color, national origin, or religion and you’re saying that BGSU overtly discriminated against you because of your religious beliefs and convictions?
JB: Clearly, because the law relative to religious discrimination is often not enforced. The government’s concern is primarily with racial and sexual discrimination. They should show equal concern for religious discrimination, but they don’t. In fact, an Ohio Civil Rights employee told me, in essence, that, “We don’t believe that today one could be fired because of their religion.” Of course, this is ludicrous.
During the same conversation I mentioned to Bergman how absolutely insane his CV is (which I posted here, verbatim except for the contact information for Bergman), and I told him I made an Excel spreadsheet of time versus place that goes, at times, as many as 7 columns out (meaning he was working or attending school at 7 different places), and that’s with 3 pages of information that I couldn’t place because he provided no dates for them.
When I brought this up, Bergman again exploded in his persecution claims saying that websites publish things like that to discredit him and so I had to mention, after a bit of a pause, “Actually, I got it from Dave [Lehman].”
And so, I asked Lehman, “Dave, what are you doing to Bergman? Why are you persecuting Bergman?”
All I got was a grin. Bergman asked Lehman to go get his CV, and Lehman told Bergman that it was time for them to go because the doors were locked and they wouldn’t be able to reenter (it was past midnight). I told Bergman that his vita did have problems and I was merely pointing them out and I told him the source of this whole madness may be his secretary, and I recommend that he fire her and write his own vita. I asked him if we can be friends, he said yes, and we shook hands and he left. I did it in a gesture to tell him that I am willing to give him a fair shake, as during the conversation he promised to send me things proving his innocence.
When I got home I had 3 emails from Lehman waiting for me, 1 was a link to Revolution Against Evolution, and the other 2 were articles that Bergman himself wrote about Columbia Pacific and Bowling Green. I thought about reading them and then I remembered how many innocent men are in prison… nearly all of them. So, I simply emailed back, “Do you have anything from a neutral source?” I’m still waiting.
This meeting was a bit of an odd experience for me. I normally go to these things with the intention to defend science, scientists, and nonscientists, and stay out of everything else. What I ended up doing was trying to defend people who really are persecuted, and so I ended up defending Christians and all religious people against Bergman’s false claims of religious persecution by Bowling Green University. I wonder how many of the hundreds of stories in his upcoming book, The Long War by Darwinists Against Darwin Skeptics, are similar to his. I just hope that Christians do independent research on the book if it is released and express outrage at its factual inaccuracies. I tried my best to give Bergman a fair shake, and I find, as the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals does, that the charge of religious persecution is not one to be taken lightly. If I could have found any evidence that Bergman was in fact persecuted I would have been at his defense, there simply isn’t any, but there is evidence that Bergman is more than willing to avoid accountability for anything that may look bad and that he’ll bend the truth to look good, if not flat out lie. As I told him in our conversation at the end, “You making these false claims of persecution make Christians look like cry baby idiots and make scientists look like assholes. You wanted me to check, I checked. It didn’t happen. Bowling Green treated you very well.” He responded to that with a claim that he was physically attacked, but I couldn’t get out of him who attacked him.
Oh, and about that bone that the Jehova’s Witnesses have to pick with Bergman (and the whole issue of why he insists he is not a psychiatrist, etc.)… If you look at Bergman’s publications list you’ll see that he is obsessed with Jehova’s Witnesses, and he has a large library about Jehova’s Witnesses that he says he plans to donate to Princeton. In at least 3 court cases, Bergman acted as an expert witness as a psychologist, Redman v. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, Vauls v. Lambros, and Pater v. Pater. All 3 are interesting reads, and show you the lengths that Bergman will go in order to persecute against Jehova’s Witnesses, on religious grounds, making ridiculous claims about Jehova’s Witnesses in efforts to keep the Watch Tower from getting the inheritance left to them (claiming the Jehova’s Witnesses engage in “theocratic warfare” (intentionally perjure themselves), diagnosed a woman he met one week before her lawsuit for undue stress caused by the Jehova’s Witnesses, and testified that “that mental illness occurs more frequently among the Jehovah’s Witnesses than it does in the general population” in an attempt to have a woman’s custody of her child taken away and awarded to the child’s father because she was a Jehova’s Witness. He was unsuccessful in all 3 attempts, but reviewing the cases shows the lengths that Bergman has gone to do what he claims happened to him. His bias is shown in a book review here.
I didn’t do as well in this meeting as I should have in showing the audience that I am not their enemy, and I’m sure that the majority of the crowd left thinking I’m the devil. I was told to sit down and heckled while I was raising legitimate concerns about Bergman’s story. I should have done better, and I know how I could have, it’s just this time I failed.
Thank you to the biologist who I invited and will not name here until he allows me to, Dr. Van Stipdonk, and for my fellow students Zack, Chris, and Ryan for handling this meeting so much better than I did.