The Dissertation Kent Hovind Doesn't Want You to Read
A Review of Kent Hovind's Thesis by Karen Bartelt, Ph.D.
You can see the thesis here.
What is a thesis or dissertation anyway?
A thesis is a body of ORIGINAL research, and is one of the requirements for an advanced degree (M.A., M.S., Ph.D.). Whether this encompasses laboratory or field study (typical of the natural sciences), surveying and statistical analysis (typical of the social sciences) or a critical analysis of some facet of an earlier body of work (typical of the humanities), the key is that it must contain original and new data or theories that ADD to the body of existing knowledge, otherwise, it's just a glorified high school theme or term paper.
There are no prescribed lengths for these documents, although individual universities may require a certain minimum number of pages. In a recent biography of Carl Sagan, it was mentioned that his Ph.D. thesis was 85 pages long (Davidson, 107). Generally, it is the content rather than the length that is important in a thesis.
Once written and approved by the committee, a thesis is considered a completed document AND DOES NOT CHANGE in length or content. A person is certainly free to pursue the dissertation topic at greater length, and publish more on a particular issue or set of experimental data, but the thesis itself does not get amended.
Why a review? Why not just post the thesis?
Mr. Skip Evans, who has a website critiquing Kent Hovind, initially requested a copy of the dissertation from Kent Hovind with the idea of doing just that. Hovind replied that his copy had been lost in a move. Evans then requested, and with the permission of the author received, a copy of Hovind's dissertation from Patriot University in March 1999. Since that time, Evans repeatedly asked for permission to post the dissertation at his website. His communications were ignored until this recent email from Kent Hovind:
Anyone wishing to get a transcript of our current material to post on a web site or distribute to others is free to do so as long as no changes are made and credit is given including my name, address, and web site. Permission is given only for the most recent version to be posted. (1-16-00, Skip Evans email).
The last sentence is significant, and will be addressed later.
What is unusual about this?
Patriot University as it appeared in 2001
A dissertation from an accredited college or university is available to anyone who wants to view it. There is usually a copy in the university library, and most universities require a thesis to be microfilmed and sent to a depository. A thesis is not as easy to view as an encyclopedia, but there are mechanisms by which these documents may be seen....BY ANYONE!
What Hovind says about his education, thesis, and critiques.
[Material accessed 1/10/00 from "Where did you get your degree?"] (Note: The linked page was removed from the Internet Archive in September 2010. PB)
Every once in a while someone will ask me the question, "Where did you get your degree?" While I am not the least bit ashamed of my education, I have learned by experience that they could be asking the question because they have come to the point where they cannot attack the message I bring against evolution so they wish to attack me personally instead. This is called an ad hominem argument. They mistakenly think that by belittling the man they have answered his points and won the debate. When the opponent in a debate begins using ad hominem attacks, it is an obvious signal that they are losing the debate on facts and must resort to other means to try to save face or divert attention. It is also interesting to watch how the evolutionists will spend much time and effort scrutinizing a subject like my degree or credentials yet won't spend 2 seconds scrutinizing how ridiculous the evolution theory is! They truly strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. Matthew 23:24
Back to the degree question. I took advanced math and science classes at East Peoria High School graduating in 1971. I earned my first 60 (+ or -) credit hours majoring in math and science at Illinois Central College in East Peoria, Illinois. I then transferred to Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan where I double majored in education and the Bible and graduated in 1974. (I took 18-20 hours each semester plus summer school to graduate in 3 years.) While I taught math and science in Christian schools for the next 15 years I took courses at several Bible colleges in my spare time. I finished my Masters (1988) and Doctorate (1991) degrees in education from Patriot University. At the time it was small Christian university in Colorado Springs that offered an extension program for people involved in full time ministries. I was taking courses from Patriot University (established 1980) while it was a ministry of Hilltop Baptist Church and offered a Ph.D. in education. I spent many years working on my degree and learned a lot - as anyone who has watched my debates with evolutionists or seminar series will testify. Long after I graduated, Patriot became independent of the church, moved their offices into a house and dropped the Ph.D. in their education program. Some ill informed scoffers have even circulated a picture of the house where they are now located. I don't understand their logic but evidently they think this somehow discredits me. Patriot allowed students to give offerings to the school instead of a regular tuition payment. Some scoffers have laughed at this idea yet they don't seem to realize how many thousands have gone through secular schools without using any of their own money via grants, scholarships or their parent's savings.
Some have ridiculed the size of the school. If Harvard offers a Ph.D. degree program with only 3 or 4 students (this happens at many schools- sometimes with only 1 student), does the small number automatically mean they are not "earning their degree" or that they are attending a "diploma mill" school? Of course not! Nearly all schools offer classes by correspondence.
My 250-page dissertation dealt with the subject of the effects of teaching evolution on the students in our public school system. My 20-year study of the creation evolutionism subject led me to start Creation Science Evangelism in 1991. I now speak over 700 times each year on the subject, have had 40+ debates and have been a guest on over 3500 radio and television talk shows. My itinerary is available from my office or on my web site, and any evolutionist interested in a public debate any place they chose is welcome to contact me to arrange a time while I am in their area. Since they think I don't have a degree, they can call me Kent, Mr. Hovind or even "hey you," if it will make them feel better. Since they don't think I am "properly educated" it should be easy for them to demonstrate how wrong I am and how much evidence there is for evolution. I should be a pushover, but I am willing to debate them anyway and run the risk of publicly embarrassing myself.
Obviously Hovind has been affected by criticisms of his education and thesis or he would not have written this rejoinder. What I intend to do in this review is discuss the accuracy of Hovind's remarks above, and then focus on the quality of the thesis itself. Because Hovind did not grant permission to post any part of his original thesis, there cannot be any direct quotations from this document.
Two discrepancies were obvious upon inspection.
Patriot University in 2006
(1) The dissertation is NOT 250 pages in length. Patriot University sent Mr. Evans a dissertation that is 101 pages in length, including the dedication. The pages of Hovind's thesis are NOT numbered, so my references to page numbers start with the "Dedication" page being number one. There is no table of contents, but on pages five and six Hovind describes a thesis that has 16 chapters. The thesis that Mr. Evans received from Patriot University was a four-chapter thesis.
Recently, Hovind attempted to explain the discrepancy in an email exchange with Evans:
My dissertation was originally about 100 pages. I continued adding material and it grew to 250 pages. Over the last 10 years I have constantly been adding material. It is now many hundreds of pages and will be put into book form as time permits. (1-16-00, Skip Evans email)
This is a ridiculous statement. A dissertation does not continue to grow and (gasp) evolve beyond the completion of the degree. The thesis topic may be pursued, but the additional material is not added to the bound, completed, microfilmed, archived thesis!
(2) The dissertation DOES NOT deal with the subject of "The Effects of Teaching Evolution on the Students in our Public School System". NONE of the four chapters of the Patriot University document addresses this subject, and - IT IS NOT EVEN ONE OF THE SUBJECTS MENTIONED IN THE TWELVE "MISSING" CHAPTERS!!! I agree that this would be a legitimate subject for an advanced degree in education, and that there might be methods to pursue it. However, there is no empirical evidence that Hovind did anything of the kind.
Hovind appears sensitive to criticism of Patriot University and implies that despite its small size and the fact that it is a correspondence school his education is legitimate and so is his degree. What I will show in the rest of this review is that the quality of this thesis, which was apparently accepted by Patriot University, falls WAY below what would be accepted at ANY regular university OR legitimate distance-learning facility. Neither the content nor the writing quality is Ph.D.-calibre by any stretch of the imagination.
- There is only one committee member, a Dr. Wayne Knight. Normally, a thesis must pass muster with 3-5 committee members, all of whom make suggestions and ultimately "sign off" on the thesis. Even the undergraduate honors theses at my institution require the signatures of two faculty members.
- Misspellings are rampant. A careful, knowledgeable editor/adviser would never allow a student to get away with misspelling "Caanan", "Voltair", "Nyles Eldridge", Madelyn Murray "O'Hare" (just like the airport), "Shintu" (the Japanese religion), "peersuaded", "centrifical" (force!!!), "aught" (to!), "disippated", "immerged" (from the slime), or "epic" (as in geological!). "It's" is used as a possessive pronoun. There are several non sentences. This is especially interesting since the course catalog of PU offers courses like "Refresher English" and "Mechanics of Composition".
- THE THESIS HAS NO TITLE. There are no references or footnotes. A few partial citations are included in the body of the thesis, but they are not in standard form, and are incomplete. In at least two places (pp 65-66) the citation simply notes that there is a book title to be added. This has no place in a final version.
- The single illustration, the electromagnetic spectrum, is cut out of a science textbook and taped on; it does not fit the page. Additionally, there are substantial formatting errors typical of a draft, but not a final, version. The final version is printed on a dot-matrix printer, an absolute no-no, even in 1991.
- The Ph.D. is in "Christian Education", not "Education" - that's what the title page says. The coursework for the two degrees is substantially different, but as late as 1-10-00, Hovind still seems loath to advertising the "Christian" aspect of his degree. Curious that a Christian would leave that part out!
At this point Hovind would surely cry "sour grapes", though these conventions of format and style are typical, minimal and reasonable for a "real" Ph.D. It becomes more evident that this thesis fails as a Ph.D. dissertation when one examines the content.
As stated earlier in this review, a thesis is supposed to be a body of ORIGINAL research. A thesis contains original and new data or theories that ADD to the body of existing knowledge. This fundamental requirement, more than the length of a thesis, differentiates a thesis from a high school theme or term paper. PU says very little about the doctoral dissertation except "Minimum of 150 typewritten pages; a popular writing style is permitted for the dissertation" (1998 PU Catalog, 19). From the content of this particular thesis one can conclude that either Patriot University has substantially lower standards for content and style (than conventional degree-granting institutions) for its Ph.D., or that Hovind's thesis adviser never read the dissertation. A chapter-by-chapter description follows:
INTRODUCTION (5 pages).
- The first sentence is a greeting, equivalent to "Hello, my name is Barney, the Big Purple Dinosaur". This may well reflect the "popular writing style" accepted by PU. At this point in time (no later than early 1991) Hovind already claims to be preaching about creation 400 times a year and has a weekly radio program (where he claims to have gotten some of the ideas for the thesis chapters). Though he states that as a science teacher he wants to keep an open mind, he also says that if the Bible says that something was created in a particular way, then that's just what happened. He admits that there is nothing new in the thesis, and it is just an explanation of the things that he has learned. Chapter descriptions are included: Chapter 1 is the history of evolution; chapter 2 is evolution as a religion; chapter 3 allegedly deals with the effects of evolution, and chapter 4, allegedly with the age of the Earth. The twelve missing chapters (reminiscent of the 12 lost tribes of Israel) are described also: the big bang (5), the geologic column (6), radiocarbon dating (7), cave men (8), archaeopteryx (9), creation of life in the lab (10), scientists who were/are creationists (11), the Genesis 1/2 conflict (12), dinosaurs in the Bible (13), whether dinosaurs are extinct (14), human and dinosaur footprints at Glen Rose (15), and an alternative theory to evolution (16). There are no chapters entitled "The Effects of Teaching Evolution on the Students in our Public School System".
CHAPTER 1 (38 pages)
- The first chapter demonstrates Hovind's abysmal grasp of the nature and scope of science and his inability to write at the postgraduate level. Hovind begins with a non-standard definition of evolution - that with time, things left to themselves can improve - and a ramble about thermodynamics. For the first time evolution is described as a religion (hang on to your hats). He then proceeds to a long pair of inaccurate definitions of microevolution and macroevolution. He finishes this section with a second misstatement about evolution by pinning the idea of "evolution = progress" on the evolutionists.
- Hovind then begins the actual purported history of evolution, starting with Satan, whom he believes fell from heaven about 100 years after the creation of Adam and Eve. It is alleged that the snake brought the theory of evolution to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. No Bible verses are cited to substantiate this assertion. Then there are nearly three pages of Biblical quotations dealing with pride and how God hates it. Pride and evolution are conjoined in Hovind's mind because evolution allegedly teaches that man is its ultimate product. Evolution proceeded through Cain, Hovind goes on, and continued to be propagated after the Flood (2400 BC), like a virus. Pride caused Ham to laugh at the naked Noah, so Ham's son, Canaan, was cursed! The virus traveled from Cush through Nimrod to the Tower of Babel (which Hovind says was built in 1900 BC). After the fall of Babel, the people dispersed all over the world and the religion of evolution (bing) went with them.
- Ancient Greek civilization, from Thales to Alexander, takes it on the chin next, with a regurgitation of the Henry Morris-type biographies that I saw when I visited the Institute for Creation Research. Since Hovind's only reference in this chapter is a passing mention of Henry Morris' The Long War Against God, I suspect that most of this material is rehashed from that book.
- Having trashed Western civilization, Hovind gives thumbnail sketches of Eastern religions (Hinduism, Confucianism, Zoroasterism, Buddhism, and Taoism), but has very little to say about how they relate to the subject of this chapter until the big whammy - Hovind alleges that communist takeovers of these countries were very simple because their religions did not place much importance on God. (Kinda makes you wonder how they did so well as civilizations until communist takeovers within the last 50-100 years. Evolution surely was with them since 1900 BC; see Hovind's date for the Tower of Babel). According to Hovind, evolution also made an easy entry into these cultures, as it did not challenge the existing religions. It is interesting that there is no mention of evolution in Chinese or Indian literature, and that it took a couple of mid-nineteenth century Europeans to formulate the theory of evolution!
- After a page of digression about how to reach people who have been brainwashed by evolution, Hovind takes on the early Christians. Clement tried to make God a pantheist God; the Alexandrians rewrote parts of the Bible; Origen taught Genesis as a myth; Augustine was a theistic evolutionist. Islam is squeezed in here also, and it is alleged that this religion accepts evolution. Tell that one to your favorite Islamic fundamentalist! No supporting evidence or references are given for any of these assertions.
- Hovind then concentrates on the secular, early evolutionary thinkers, and it is here that the poor writing style is most evident. These short, choppy biographies include more commentary on lifestyle than on science. Since I am precluded from direct quotations, but want to make the reader aware of the style, here is the identical sentence structure of one of the biographies, substituting Charles Darwin as the subject of the biographical sketch:
He was born in 1809 and died about 1880. He was very anti-Christian and tried to influence anyone he could not to believe in God. He was very full of godless ideas. He was a very avid agnostic, racist, and an evolutionist. He believed in a great infinite age of the universe. He was very influential in furthering the ideas of evolution, particularly in the country of England.
- Substantial numbers of sentences are of the "He was" or "He did" type. This is not typical of postgraduate-level writing; high schools and colleges encourage complex, varied and interesting sentence structure.
- Voltaire's connections to Abbe de Chateuneuf are mentioned, only to observe that the latter might be a homosexual.
- Erasmus Darwin is described as a very fat, immoral doctor. The number of legitimate children (12) and illegitimate children (2) are listed, as is this Darwin's tendency to have affairs.
- The section on Lyell is shot through with flood geology and references to II Peter 3 (the scoffers verse). It is mentioned that Lyell was a lawyer by trade, not a geologist. Though any good history of science book details the development of the geologic column in the years prior to Lyell, Hovind inaccurately states that Lyell developed the column. Darwin's contributions are summarized as a justification for nasty social consequences like child labor and sweatshops.
- Karl Marx, Alfred Russel Wallace, and Thomas Huxley all end up with more verbiage than does Darwin. The racism prevalent in the mid-1800s is exploited and is supported by a 1926 magazine quotation! This is a recurring theme with Hovind today, who seems oblivious to the fact that the Christians of that time period tended to have the same racist ideas. Haeckel and the recapitulation theory are tied to Adolf Hitler and as a justification for abortion. Freud is mentioned briefly, as are Julian and Aldous Huxley, the latter being blamed for the drug culture of the 1960s.
- The chapter concludes as Hovind blames Shintoism (which Hovind claims is based on evolution), for what Japan did in World War II.
CHAPTER 2 (12 pages)
- This chapter begins with the assertion that evolution is a religion (bing) and that there is no empirical evidence to substantiate it. Rather than attempting to support this statement, however, Hovind discusses the removal of prayer from the public schools and spends the next three pages discussing four options for alleviating the evolution/creation controversy: Teach evolution only (which he says is done now), teach creation only, teach them both, or teach nothing concerning origins. While these options may be worthy of discussion, they are not germane to the topic at hand.
- The remainder of this chapter is largely a discussion of Humanist Manifesto and Humanist Manifesto II and an attempt to link the theory of evolution to humanism, thereby making it a religion. There are also undated and uncited quotations by "evolutionists" such as Sir Arthur Keith: "Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it because the only alternative is special creation and that is unthinkable". From this, Hovind concludes that evolution is a religion (bing), and restates this one page later (bing). After a lament about how preachers are portrayed in movies and TV, Hovind digresses to an attack on what he perceives as the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record using out-of-context and uncited quotations by Gould and Eldredge, D.S. Woodruff, and a 1980 Newsweek article. One last mention of evolution-as-religion (bing) and an evolution-as-faith (bing), and the chapter concludes with Romans 1:21 (cutting off in the middle of verse 28) and an undated, uncited letter-to-the-editor by Hovind.
- In this last section Hovind perpetuates the creationists' oft-repeated-but-never-cited Arthur Keith quotation. The quotation is probably really revised from a D.M.S. Watson quotation in a 1929 article in the journal Nature. Even if it is somehow traceable to Arthur Keith (1866-1955), it is outdated and probably out-of-context.
CHAPTER 3 (17 pages)
- One gets a real sense of deja vu when reading this chapter because large portions are EXACT, VERBATIM PARAGRAPHS from Chapter 2. Pages 60-61 are identical to pages 50-51; page 56 is repeated nearly verbatim on page 63 and again on page 64. The Newsweek quotation on page 55 shows up intact on page 65; D. S. Woodruff, as well as Gould and Eldredge from page 55, are reprised on page 66.
- There are only six pages of the seventeen that legitimately deal with the effects of evolution, which Hovind believes are Hitler/the Shintu [sic] religion/WWII, Stalin and Communism, and the fact that evolution does not "lock-step" with his traditional "linear" scientific method. There is also an attempt to link evolution with acceptance of abortion. The sole supporting evidence for any of these assertions is an ICR Impact article about Stalin. Towards the end of the chapter evolution (or the waste of class time teaching it) is blamed for the crisis in science education, and the fact that students in other countries score higher than US students (never mind that many of them come from countries where evolution is taught without apology).
- The remaining eleven pages are composed of a disjointed ramble about how great it is to live in a free country where we are free to discuss these issues (not great enough, apparently, to pay income taxes!), and a lament for those (foreign and domestic) who reject the Bible. The evolution-as-religion (bing) mantra continues. There is another inaccurate description of microevolution and this is followed immediately by a Scientific America [sic] quotation about the inflationary universe and an exhortation for those who want to teach evolution to start private schools. More partially-cited quotations by "evolutionists" are used to "prove" that since evolution cannot be detected within the lifetime of a single observer, it's a religion (bing) , and yet another evolution-as-religion (bing) statement. A discussion about the separation of church and state follows, including an assertion that the first amendment precludes the teaching of evolution because evolution is a religion (bing). After repeating the Gould/Eldredge, Woodruff and Newsweek quotations about transitional forms, Hovind closes the section by saying again that both creation and evolution are just religious beliefs (bing).
- The last three pages of this chapter are a rehash of Hovind's caricature of evolution (no fossil record, no observation, no experimentation, evolution-as-religion (bing)). Rather than drawing his evidence about the effects of evolution (sparse as it is) to a conclusion, the chapter ends with a discussion of life on the moon and the pads the lunar lander needed because scientists feared a deep layer of cosmic dust!
I have focused on the content of this chapter in particular to demonstrate Hovind's inability to stick to the topic, which was, after all, the EFFECTS of evolution. If one read the chapter without knowing the title, one would be clueless about its subject. Hovind has success in some debates because he uses the same style: no issues are discussed in depth and he can flit rapidly from flower to flower. He refuses to participate in long-term exchanges via the Internet or other media where these issues can be discussed in depth and where his material is easily refuted (and HAS BEEN refuted).
CHAPTER 4 (27 pages)
- The repetitive style continues. As an example, I have retained Hovind's sentence structure in his introductory paragraph on time, but changed the subject to a discussion of money:
First we will look at the subject of money. Lack of billions of dollars is the Achilles heel to [sic] Democrats. If there isn't a lot of money, the argument is absolutely over. Money is essential to the Democrats. Their entire argument is built on the premise that there is plenty of money.
- Rather than continuing on the topic of time, Hovind spends the next four pages digressing on the apostle Paul's vision of heaven, that God is not locked into time, and that in heaven there will be no time. A further digression talks about the electromagnetic spectrum (hence the textbook cut-out of the electromagnetic spectrum), and an explanation of the fact that there are other "colors" that the eye can't see; yet that does not mean that these colors don't exist. The conclusion is that just as a blind person accepts that there are colors by faith, we who have limited senses also admit by faith that God exists. The makings of a philosophical argument, perhaps, but not germane to the age of the Earth.
- When he returns to the age of the Earth, Hovind asserts that its age can be reasonably estimated by adding up the "begats" in the Bible. He ties the publication of Origin of Species to the falling-away of Christians from the 6000 year-old-Earth (ignoring the huge body of evidence that the age of the Earth had been a subject of controversy way before Darwin). He blasts gap-theory creationists and mistakenly says that theistic evolutionists consider the six days of creation in Genesis to be longer geologic ages (some might, but this is characteristic of "day-age" creationism). Scientists are accused of being deceitful by selecting only the few dates that confirm a great age of the Earth and ignoring all evidence for a young Earth. No confirming evidence is offered.
- Hovind's "proofs" of a young Earth are from Henry Morris' list and largely unchanged on his website today, despite numerous rebuttals by scientists (including those from other young-Earth creationist organizations like the ICR). They include the old "dust-on-the-moon" argument, lack of helium, presence of comets, the slowing of the Earth's spin, and the "declining magnetic field" theory. After a slight digression about not being able to measure the distances to the stars accurately, he returns to the subject at hand, believing the Earth to be six to seven thousand years old. The supporting evidence for this belief is that he taught high school science for fourteen years, college level science for three years, and he knows that "science" has been wrong before. He specifically notes that once it was thought that the Earth was flat (gee, where did they get that idea I wonder?), and at one time bloodletting was used to cure illnesses. Because of this, much of modern science is wrong!
- A radical gearshift then occurs and it appears that Hovind is writing a conclusion of sorts. He returns to the evolution controversy, Darwin, and missing links, and then within a paragraph is back to the age of the Earth, this time ragging on Ken Taylor, the author (?) of The Living Bible. It seems that this translation tends toward a day-age interpretation. In the same paragraph, he associates Communism with evolution. A quick Gish frog-to-prince story and then it's back to proofs of a young Earth: coral reefs, bristlecone pines, and the pressure of oil wells (All of these "proofs" are "oldies-but-goodies" and have been refuted elsewhere). His total ignorance of plate tectonics is apparent when he discusses the ocean floor and continental erosion. Actually, I take that back: he attributes plate tectonics to evolutionists .... never mind that this theory surfaced a hundred years after Darwin! He finishes with an argument about the recession of the moon, actually stating that scientists taught for years that the moon was pulled from the Pacific Ocean and that this is offered as an explanation for volcanoes in Hawaii. George Darwin, Charles's son, did offer a "fission" hypothesis in 1880 but no serious scientist has considered it as a possibility in the 20th century. Someone who has taught high school science for fourteen years should be aware of this fact. Though he provides NO recession speed for the moon, Hovind states that by multiplying the recession speed by the presumed evolutionary age, the moon should be much further from the Earth than it is. Finally, he cites Kelvin, incorrectly stating that Kelvin thought that the Earth was thousands of years old (it was actually at least tens of millions of years old according to Kelvin). After one last slap at day-age theory and The Living Bible (effectively repeating pages 85-86), Hovind finishes with the classic Henry Morris population argument for a young Earth.
- Citing Matthew 19:4, that Jesus said Adam and Eve were created in the beginning, Hovind finishes by saying that the lies about the age of the Earth are all from Satan. The document ends here.
- It is almost unheard-of to advertise the length of one's Ph.D. dissertation. One is forced to conclude that by doing so, Hovind is attempting to dazzle his largely scientifically-illiterate audience with the large number of pages. However, there is no 250 page dissertation; when one subtracts the duplicated material, the document is 95-96 pages. The "I added material to it later" excuse is in the same league as "My dog ate my homework". Hovind demands empirical evidence for evolution, yet there is NO EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE that there ever was a 250 page dissertation! If a 250 page thesis exists, Hovind could silence his critics by producing a document of the purported length that was obviously written in 1991.
- The topic of this dissertation DOES NOT HAVE anything to do with the effects of evolution in the public schools Instead it is a hodge-podge of recycled, discredited, young Earth ideas, digressions into Bible stories and quotations, and a litany of "Evolution-as-religion" statements, embedded almost in 1984 manner into the text. If Hovind wished to silence his critics, he could do so by posting a 250-page document on THE EFFECTS OF TEACHING EVOLUTION ON THE STUDENTS IN OUR PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM with evidence that supports its 1991 origin.
- No original thought is presented. This is nothing more than a rehash of long-discredited theories. It is a rambling, low-quality book report, sans the references. It is not an original, thoughtful, coherent body of knowledge. To award a Ph.D. for this is a travesty and an insult to anyone who has actually worked to achieve one.
- Ad hominem, shominem! No one, regardless of race, color, sex or religious background should be able to produce a work of this quality and claim an advanced degree. If Stephen Jay Gould had produced a thesis like this, I would be writing about him.
- If Patriot University did, in fact, accept this dissertation and award a Ph.D. in Christian education, then it does fall into the category of a diploma mill, for the reasons listed below.
- There is no original research presented.
- Large portions of the dissertation are repeated. Formatting errors are rampant.
- References are absent.
- Spelling errors that are typical of high school (but not college) writing are present in this document.
- The writing style, "popular" or not, is typical of high school-level writing, not college, and certainly not postgraduate. The writing style, as well as Hovind's lectures, are reminiscent of drive-by shootings, where many disjointed topics are presented in rapid-fire order (so as to not allow the reader or listener to really think about any particular topic).
Kent Hovind says (in his statement above) that he doesn't care whether he is addressed as "Mr." or "hey you" by the scoffers. In fact, his Ph.D. is very precious to him or he would not be listed as "Dr. Kent Hovind" in the Pensacola, FL, phone book (it is very unusual for a person with a Ph.D., even a real one, to do this). One has only to look at his itinerary to substantiate my claim that being called "Doctor" is very important to him.
It is certainly possible for a person to acquire expertise in a scientific field by studying that topic independently. However, such a person does not claim to have an advanced degree in the field. There is NO EVIDENCE that Kent Hovind has more than a college sophomore level of course work in ANY science. There is NO EVIDENCE from his thesis that he is widely-read in the areas of evolution, astronomy, geology, paleontology or even the history of science beyond what is written in a few young-Earth creationist books. There is ABUNDANT EVIDENCE that the requirements for a Ph.D. degree from Patriot University fall far below those of typical secular or religious institutions.
Ask yourself whether you would visit a medical doctor, an auto mechanic, a plumber, or an investment counsellor with similar dubious credentials. If so, then Hovind is your science guy! Or see him for what he is, the snake-oil salesman, peddling salvation and pseudo science in the late 20th century and even unto the 21st century.
I join the ever-growing list of those who challenge Kent Hovind to clarify his background in the sciences and participate in an in-depth, web-based discussion of his assertions and ideas. This Ph.D. dissertation might be a good place to start.
1. Davidson, K. Carl Sagan: a Life. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1999.
2. Hovind, K. Available from http://web.archive.org/web/20010816220051/www.drdino.com/FAQs/FAQmisc13.jsp. Accessed 1-10-00. (Note: The linked page was removed from the Internet Archive in September 2010. PB)
3. Patriot University 1998 Course Catalog.
Addendum: my qualifications to assess the dissertation
Mr. Skip Evans acquired a copy of Kent Hovind's Ph.D. thesis from Patriot University in March of 1999 (the dissertation was released with the permission of the author). Mr. Evans requested input from several people who have written Ph.D. theses or who have advised people on their theses. My own Ph.D. (in organic chemistry) was completed in 1988.
I proof read and critiqued my husband's entomology Ph.D., have read and critiqued two other organic chemistry Ph.D. theses and have read other theses in a variety of fields. For the last eight years I have been on the faculty of a small liberal arts college that emphasizes writing across the curriculum. Our curriculum includes designated "writing" courses where writing excellence is expected. Even though my subject area is chemistry, I teach two of these "W" courses, and am quite accustomed to assessing college-level writing. Furthermore, some of our students transfer from Hovind's first "alma mater", Illinois Central College, so I am aware of the level of writing expertise typical of a 20-year-old student from Central Illinois. I am also well-acquainted with Hovind's website and presentations.
NOTE: My Ph.D. thesis contains the following statement: "In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment for a doctoral degree at Montana State University, I agree that the Library shall make it available to borrowers under the rules of the Library. I further agree that copying of this thesis is allowable only for scholarly purposes, consistent with 'fair use' as described in the U.S. Copyright Law. Requests for extensive copying should be referred to University Microfilms International, 300 North Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48106, to whom I have granted 'the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute copies of the dissertation in and from microfilm and the right to reproduce and distribute by abstract in any format.'" There are tens of thousands of Ph.D. dissertations archived at University Microfilms.