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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2003 > Jan > Jan 6

Levengood Credentials

From: Dave Haith <visions@ntlworld.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.

Dave Haith


From: Jim Speiser <jimspeiser@yahoo.com>
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 <brumac@compuserve.com>
 >To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates@virtuallystrange.net>
 >Date: Sat, 7 Dec 2002 12:26:11 -0500
 >Subject: Re: Phony Credentials?

 >>From: Robert Gates <RGates8254@aol.com>
 >>To: ufoupdates@virtuallystrange.net
 >>Date: Thu, 5 Dec 2002 23:48:40 EST
 >>Subject: Re: Phony Credentials?

 >>>From: Jim Speiser <jimspeiser@yahoo.com>
 >>>To: <ufoupdates@virtuallystrange.net>
 >>>Date: Wed, 4 Dec 2002 11:40:43 -0700
 >>>Subject: Phony Credentials? [was: Re: Frank Kaufmann Exposed]


 >>>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

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?



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

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."