From: Dave Haith <email@example.com> Date: Mon, 6 Jan 2003 01:51:40 -0000 Fwd Date: Mon, 06 Jan 2003 12:59:33 -0500 Subject: Levengood Credentials Following the correspondence below on UFO UpDates from Jim Spieser (JJS) I emailed Nancy Talbott of the BLT Research Team about Levengood and the controversy. I reproduce her letter of reply to me below in its entirety with her full permission in the hope that it will clarify this matter once and for all. Regards Dave Haith ----- From: Jim Speiser <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Sat, 7 Dec 2002 13:53:34 -0700 Fwd Date: Sat, 07 Dec 2002 16:14:44 -0500 Subject: Re: Phony Credentials? - Speiser >From: Bruce Maccabee <email@example.com> >To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <firstname.lastname@example.org> >Date: Sat, 7 Dec 2002 12:26:11 -0500 >Subject: Re: Phony Credentials? >>From: Robert Gates <RGates8254@aol.com> >>To: email@example.com >>Date: Thu, 5 Dec 2002 23:48:40 EST >>Subject: Re: Phony Credentials? >>>From: Jim Speiser <firstname.lastname@example.org> >>>To: <email@example.com> >>>Date: Wed, 4 Dec 2002 11:40:43 -0700 >>>Subject: Phony Credentials? [was: Re: Frank Kaufmann Exposed] >><snip> >>>Unfortunately, to this list it now appears we may have to add >>>the name of William C. Levengood, who up to now has enjoyed a >>>fairly unblemished reputation as a plant biologist. It seems he >>>bolstered that reputation, and his crop circle work, by placing >>>the word 'Dr.' before his name, and/or not objecting when others >>>did so. >>>Acting on a tip from a well-known UFO 'Internal Affairs >>>Division', I asked Levengood, point-blank, if his Doctorate were >>>legitimate. He insisted that it was, and said it was a "Ph.D. >>>equivalent," handed out by the National Academy of Science. >Ph.D. is preceded by a B.S. (yes, more BS if he doesn't have a >Bachelor of Science degree from somewhere) and an MS (yes, More >of the Same) if he doesn't have a Master of Science from >somewhere. Few (if any) people get a Ph.D straight out of high >school. Few get a Ph.D. as the next degree after a BS, although >it does happen, I guess (I was told I didn't have to complete an >MS degree to continue in the Ph.D program, but once you've done >MS level work you may as well take the degree... which I did.) Sorry, I did not mean to imply that Levengood does not have a legitimate degree of some kind, just that he does not have a Ph.D. Here is his CV (however you pronounce it): LEVENGOOD, W.C. - Biophysicist M.S. in Biophysics, Univeristy of Michigan, 1970 M.A. in Bioscience, Ball State University, 1961 Research physicist at the Institute of Science and Technology and the Dept. of Natural Resources, U. Michigan, 1961-1970; Director of Biophysical Research for private-sector companies, 1970-83. Published 50 scientific papers, including eight in the prestigous journal Nature; three papers (1994; 1995; 1999) present results from studies of crop circle plants and soils. Currently pursuing various research interests at his laboratory (Pine- landia Biophysical Laboratory) in Grass Lakes, MI. Note that he does _not_ list "Ph.D. Equivalent." But we all know that he has allowed himself to be addressed as "Doctor" without correction. This is unlike Stan Friedman, whom _everyone_ wants to call "Doctor" yet he corrects them instantly. (Stan, why don't you just get a PhDE so you don't have to correct people? :-) ==JJS== ----- January, 2003 Dear Dave.... At the end of November when I got back to Cambridge from the Tempe, AZ Crop Circle Conference your email, and many others - asking for more information about Levengood's credentials - were waiting for me, along with the piece which I think was on UFO Updates by JJS. I was sorry to see these questions raised in the manner they were, but can certainly understand the concern people have. Here's what I can tell you. Five or six years ago (mid-l990s) I was writing some material for the press and general public about the BLT crop circle work and wanted to include short bios on myself, John Burke and W.C. Levengood (at the time the primary members of the team). Because the material was being designed for public/media dissemination, and because I felt that absolute clarity regarding each of our individual credentials was of primary importance, I asked Levengood for a copy of his vitae, which he supplied. On it was the "PhD-equivalent" designation...which I had never seen before, but which I accepted - copying precisely the bio that Levengood had supplied to me onto the bio sheet for the new "BLT Info Pak." At some point subsequently, a year or so later I think, it occurred to me that I needed to understand exactly what this equivalency was, and I phoned Levengood about it. He told me that he had, many years ago, been asked to present a paper to the National Academy of Science (NAS) and that, among the papers they had sent him about this presentation, he was informed that only people who had a PhD or who were "PhD-equivalent" could present. Apparently because of the Ph.D level course-work Levengood had completed and the number of his papers which had already been published in respected, peer-reviewed scientific journals, he was considered by them to be Ph.D-equivalent. I knew that it was a considerable honor to present one's work to the NAS, but I still wasn't absolutely clear as to just how I should refer to Levengood in print, or in public, so I did just what JJS did - I called the NAS for more information. The NAS told me exactly what they told JJS: the NAS does not confer degrees. Really confused at this point, I called Levengood back. He sounded irritated by my continuing questions - perhaps because, in the scientific arena it is one's work, not one's credentials, that counts (note that in all mainstream scientific journals no degrees are indicated after author's names at all). Also, Levengood never had much interest in the media and, clearly, was not as concerned as I was with the presentation of his work to them (I was the person who had to deal with reporters). Subsequently, a colleague of Levengood's told me the following: (1) Levengood did complete the required course-work for his Ph.D in biophysics; (2) he did write a paper as a Ph.D thesis, which was published in August, l973: "Bioelectric Currents and Oxidant Levels in Plant Systems," J.Experimental Botany, Vol. 24, No. 81, pp. 626-39; (3) however, for personal reasons, he had not completed his Orals examination, the final requirement for the Ph.D degree. Consequently he had not received the formal Ph.D, instead receiving a second Master's degree from the University of Michigan. The fact that Levengood went on to publish more than 50 papers in respected, peer-reviewed scientific journals (including multiple papers in Nature and Science) is further evidence that, among his colleagues, he is considered to be professionally competent and credible. In science, it is one's work that matters...and a great deal of his work has been accepted by his peers. However, the fact that Levengood uses the PhD-equivalency on his Vitae was a real problem for me, since it was my interest to legitimate the study of crop circles for the general public, and to do this I have to deal with the media all the time. I knew that the media might see this PhD-equivalency as an attempt on Levengood's part to misrepresent his educational backround and capabilities, and that if they did so they would then be highly likely to dismiss all of his results in this area. This would then affect not only Levengood, but all of the rest of us who were helping him in one way or another - not to mention the way in which the crop circle phenomenon itself might be perceived. Because the study of crop circles is considered "fringe" by the media and because one has to be very very precise ("extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs) about all work in areas like this - and because I could foresee the very likely possibility that any question about credentials could undermine credibility in Levengood's work, I decided to stop listing the "PhD-equivalency" in the written materials put out by BLT. I removed the reference from all of our printed materials, removed all references to "Dr." Levengood, and stopped using the title "Dr." in my lectures, etc. When I put together the web-site (this last May) I did not include the PhD- equivalency, listing only his M.A. in Bioscience (1961, Ball State University) and his M.S. in biophysics (l970, University of Michigan) degrees. Further, I began informing the people in the crop circle community with whom I work regularly, so that they would also know how to accurately represent Levengood to the media, when they had reason to refer to him. I did this out of respect for the phenomenon itself, as well as the sincerity of the hundreds of lay-people who have been involved in helping Levengood and BLT with the research, and in an attempt to avoid any questioning, ultimately, of the inherent value of Levengood's work in the public media. Clearly, Levengood has other ideas. He is a maverick, I would guess in more ways than one. This is his prerogative. It would be a lot easier for me if he were more conventional in this matter. But if he were a more conventional individual, perhaps he would not have been as interested in subjects mostly ignored by mainstream scientists. What the interested public needs to consider is that Levengood is a career scientist. He has had extensive graduate academic training. He has published more than 50 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He is highly intelligent, well-trained, and is rigorous in his methodology. His laboratory work is solid - there is no reason whatsoever for him to present inaccurate data and every reason not to (I will be able to demonstrate additional proof of this very clearly as soon as the new clay- mineral crystallization study can be posted on the BLT web- site). Whether his theoretical ideas are correct I don't know... but time will certainly tell. The fact that he chooses to use the NAS's PhD-equivalency standards is an eccentricity - it is unusual - and it appears that it does result in some people questioning both his personality and his work. But nowhere is it written that scientific insight and capability necessarily come hand-in-hand with traditional values or customs; in fact, they frequently don't. It would be a mistake to throw the baby out with the bath-water. As much as some of us might, upon occasion, want to. Nancy Talbott BLT Research Team Inc. P.S. In all the years I knew and worked with Levengood he never requested that I address him as "Dr." Levengood... in fact, he always preferred to be called "Lefty."
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