Saturday, February 17, 2007

Just what the Doctor Ordered?

In November of 2006, I published an article entitled Sungenis and the Jews: Doctoring the Record, in which I defended some earlier comments regarding the legitimacy of Robert Sungenis' doctoral degree from Calamus International University. My conclusion, which contained my reasons for bringing up the subject in the first place, was as follows:

The reader can think what he will about the validity of Sungenis' degree. The evidence suggests, however, that Sungenis is no kind of scholar worthy of the name. It would rather appear that his drive to be recognized as a scholar, by being able to stick a few letters after his name, over-rules his responsibility to actually be scholarly in his research and writing. It has been demonstrated repeatedly that his agenda-driven essays on personal "pet" issues contain sloppy and inaccurate research, misrepresentations, false quotes, wrongful accusations, and misleading suggestions. It can only be hoped that the reader will, after considering what has been written here, think twice before uncritically accepting anything Sungenis has to say, especially on matters relating to the Jewish people.

This all comes, of course, in the larger context of Sungenis' repeated demonstrations of anti-Jewish sentiment, which has been dealt with in multiple articles by multiple authors (cf. Michael Forrest, Sungenis and the Jews; Christopher Blosser, Carl Schmitt, Israel Shamir and Robert Sungenis; David Palm, Sungenis and the Jews: David Palm's Defense of Michael Forrest; Dr. William Cork, Antisemitism and the Catholic Right; and my own Sungenis and the Jews: Comments on a Controversy, Sungenis and the Jews: An Update on the Negotiations, Jewish Protestant Speaks Out: Sungenis is an Anti-Semite, Sungenis vs. Suprenant - More Fun Facts, Michael Forrest's "Gig Promoter" Speaks Out, and so forth). It must be repeated clearly that my calling into question of Sungenis' degree from CIU did not take place in a vacuum, but rather, that it is part of an on-going effort to inoculate innocent readers who may inadvertently be taken in by Sungenis' anti-Jewish writings. Part of that inoculation, unfortunately, is demonstrating that Sungenis is not the expert he makes himself out to be. In the above quote, I concluded that Sungenis has a motivation to be perceived as a scholar that overrides his ability to actually behave as a scholar, and in his recent defense of himself (cf. My Ph.D. from Calamus International University, hereafter "PhD"), Sungenis confirms this very thing by his own public admission:

But I already have a profession, and my peers and patrons acknowledge that I'm quite good at what I do. In that sense, the Ph.D. from CIU is just icing on the cake, as it were. I don't need it to get a job or make my job viable. The only thing it does is allow me to show the world, in a glance, that I have the same academic credentials as those who receive a Ph.D. in Religion from a United States accredited institution. (Sungenis, "PhD", p. 26)

It is an established fact that Sungenis had been working on a manuscript called Galileo Was Wrong (hereafter GWW) since at least August of 2004 (cf. Question 117 of the August 2005 Q&A at CAI), and it is also an established fact that this manuscript served (at least in part) as his doctoral dissertation (cf. Mr. Michael and the Jews, p. 55). That will be an important relationship to keep in mind going forward - GWW and Sungenis' doctoral dissertation are materially the same thing. There was nothing stopping Sungenis from simply publishing his manuscript upon its completion; but, as he says above, he wanted to be able to say that it was more than just another book - he wanted to be able to call it a doctoral dissertation, and to publish it under the name of "Dr. Robert Sungenis". In his own words, he didn't need the doctorate, he wanted to "show the world, in a glance, that I have the same academic credentials as those who receive a Ph.D. in Religion from a United States accredited institution." In short, going to Calamus for his doctorate was all about obtaining recognition.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with this desire, in and of itself. For someone in Sungenis' line of work, it is completely understandable, and I bear him no grudge for wanting to have a certain level of academic recognition attached to the project. However, the way in which he went about it is certainly open to criticism, because, as was demonstrated in the original article on his degree, he took a short-cut and sacrificed academic standards in order to obtain the appearance of a certain status.

His recent defense of his degree leaves much to be desired for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he could not manage to stay focused on the topic at hand without pursuing several irrelevant rabbit trails, and indulging in some rather meandering personal accusations and anecdotal gossip. Thus, for example, he spends the first five pages of his 41-page defense going on a rant about anti-Semitism and Jewish issues. His comment that some of his "worst enemies are a renegade assortment of 'Catholics' who simply refuse to accept my ongoing warnings about the Jewish, Zionist and Neocon infiltration into the heart of the Catholic Church today" ("PhD", p. 2) is a little troubling. He categorizes as "Catholics" (the quote-marks indicating a certain degree of sarcasm) those who refuse to heed his "ongoing warnings" about "Jewish, Zionist and Neocon infiltration into ... the Catholic Church," as if to indicate that those who disagree with his anti-Jewish writings are not true Catholics - they are only so-called "Catholics."

We may be permitted to take issue with his claim that "I'm not an anti-semite, don't tend toward it, and I detest anyone who is or does, respectively" and "For the umpteenth time, and I don't have any animosity toward the Jewish people," when he immediately follows this with the statement that "I merely reject their politics and their religion because I'm a Catholic apologist who is supposed to do such things for those under my tutelage." (ibid., p. 3) It is more than a little ironic that in the very same statement in which he protests that he is not an anti-Semite, he simultaneously broad-brushes the Jews again by referring to the "politics and religion" of the "Jewish people." He claims that this is part and parcel of being a Catholic apologist, and thus, he admits what Michael Forrest, David Palm, and I have been saying all along: Sungenis thinks that it's his job to single out the "Jewish people" and criticize their "politics and religion," as if all Jews can be assumed to have one political and religious agenda. For Sungenis, this is a matter of known fact: "the Jews haven't been humble at all. They do intend to rule the world. And now the problem is that they want to rule the Catholic Church, too." (Q&A, November, 2006, Question 47)

The epic-level and grandiose rhetoric which Sungenis employs is also quite disturbing. He says that he "would not want to be Jacob Michael and have to stand before God's judgment seat" ("PhD", p. 4), that he has "been continually surrounded by Judas-like figures since this apostolate started 14 years ago" (p. 4), that he has survived all the opposition "because God has been with this apostolate since its inception" (p. 4), and that his opponents "will never be successful, of course, because God is on my side." (p. 5) Quite the self-appraisal, especially coming from someone who accused me of having an inflated ego ("PhD", p. 24). One might actually walk away with the impression here that Sungenis seriously thinks he possesses some kind of Divine mandate to issue "ongoing warnings", and that he really enjoys the protection of the Almighty Himself. I have already suggested that Sungenis suffers from an acute Messianic Complex, and he vociferously denies that this is the case, but such a denial is hard to take seriously when he claims that God is on his side, and labels those who have opposed him as "Judas-like figures."

Thankfully, I can at least be sure that his assertion that his opponents "know that my work is making an impact and they simply don't like it" (p. 4) is incorrect; I have received a number of emails from readers who have expressed their gratitude for what Michael Forrest, David Palm, and I have done, and not a few of them have indicated precisely that they were once inclined to accept Sungenis' word because of the authoritative manner in which he presents himself - until, that is, they discovered how shoddy his scholarship has been of late.

Sungenis also focuses heavily upon the juxtaposition between his achievements and credentials, on the one hand, and my lack of achievements and credentials, on the other hand. His "books have received the Catholic Church's imprimatur", his "articles have been published by over a dozen reputable journals and periodicals", he has "written and hosted television programs for EWTN," and he has "debated the best and brightest of opposing religions before live audiences." (p. 6) Conversely, I have a "vacuous academic background" which I fail to "advertise" on my web site, hoping that "people won't notice." (p. 24) I have "no degrees in theology, religion, history or any related field," my "day-job is in computers," I have "been in the Catholic Church for only about ten years," I have "no independently published books," I have "never been recognized by any official of the Catholic Church as being an authority, a theologian or even a qualified commentator on any subject whatsoever," I am "only in [my] 20s," I have "no public endorsements from any prominent Catholic figure," and worst of all, I am "not even recognized by the U.S. government as a religious entity for tax purposes." (p. 24)

It is difficult to understand what point Sungenis is trying to make here. As has been pointed out before, Sungenis' own "senior apologist" and "vice-president" at CAI fits into all of these descriptions as well - except for the fact that he has not been a Catholic as long as I have - and so apparently my credentials (or lack thereof) are enough to qualify me for a position as CAI's vice-president and resident senior apologist. I must hasten to say that I am in no way taking a shot at Ben Douglass here (whose recent promotion at CAI as "source-exonerator" and "fact-checker" at least demonstrates that he has a leg-up on Sungenis in the area of prudence and scholarly accuracy), I am merely pointing out that Sungenis is once again employing a double-standard.

We might also ask, in response to Sungenis' trumpeting of his own accolades, where precisely he has been recognized as an authority on secular history or political science in general, or Jewish history and Jewish politics in specific? What in his educational background gives him the confidence to pontificate at such length on the Talmud, the Holocaust, Zionism, etc.? These are the areas in which he is receiving criticism, not in areas of general theology, patristics, liturgy, and so forth. In other words, his educational background and professional achievements, as impressive as they are, really have no bearing on the present controversy. It might also be reasonable to point out that Sungenis' previously widespread recognition by EWTN, Catholic journals and periodicals, notable Catholic authors, and debating opponents from the Protestant religion has waned drastically ever since he decided to focus his attentions on Jewish issues. Perhaps this decline in popularity is evidence enough that his recent foray into semitic studies is not recognized by his peers as being authoritative or reputable.

I have never pretended to be something I am not. I have never indicated on this web site that I am an expert on any subject. I have never, for example, put academic letters after my name for degrees I have not yet earned (as has "Robert Sungenis, M.A. Ph.D (cand)"). In my articles and Q&A forum I regularly defer to higher authorities and better-qualified writers - it's one of the reasons why I make such frequent use of fully-referenced sources (a practice that Sungenis has not quite grasped at his own web site).

But aside from all of that, it is particularly interesting to me how Sungenis' opinion of my talents seems to have taken a sharp dive ever since I took up a public disagreement with him on the Jewish issues. In 2002, after submitting two pieces for publication at CAI (one on the liturgy and one on Pius XI), Sungenis remarked:

All I can say is "EXCELLENT." My wife read [the articles] too, and was very impressed with you. She said: "He's just like you. He thinks like you. I like him." So, you've passed muster with the highest authority (next to God) on the goings-on at CAI.


Great, great, job. God has blessed you, Jake. (email of August 26, 2002)

In 2004, Sungenis invited me to be one of the contributing authors to his book on Biblical Inerrancy: "I invite you, as I did Ben, to make this chapter [on the NAB's treatment of St. John's Gospel] part of our book on Biblical Criticism. You would be one of seven scholars contributing to this work." (email of August 9, 2004) When I offered to write a chapter on Fr. Raymond Brown, Sungenis responded, "Go to it, my friend and colleague. You have been called for such a time as this." (email of August 9, 2004) When I expressed concern that the book would be going to press before I would have a chance to do justice to my contribution, Sungenis was ready to stop the presses: "Okay, how's March. The last thing I want to do is limit your talents." (email of August 10, 2004)

In 2005, when I shared with Sungenis an article I had written on Pope Benedict XVI, he praised it highly and asked for permission to use it at CAI: "Jake, wonderful job! Probably the best article on Benedict XVI I've read yet. Balanced, thorough and faithful. I'd like to post this as a Feature Item on our site, if that is okay with you." (email of April 22, 2005) Again, when I shared with him some thoughts on why Benedict XVI greeted the Jews in his inaugural Mass homily, Sungenis cooed, "Well done, my good friend. Brilliant. Masterful. If you don't mind, I would like to put this on our QA board, with your permission." (email of April 26, 2005)

From 2003 until 2005, then, I was, in Sungenis' estimation, a fine apologist, worthy of being numbered among the "scholars" contributing to his book, a man "called for such a time as this," someone whose talents he did not want to "limit," and a writer of "great," "excellent," "brilliant," "masterful," and "wonderful" articles. Of course, that was before I took a strong stand against Sungenis' anti-Jewish polemic; now I am a "20-something upstart" ("PhD", p. 23), who is "famous for the damned if you do, damned if you don't school of justice" (p. 21), trying to "make a name for himself by climbing up the back of Scott Hahn" (p. 18), and with a "young and impressionable mind" that has so easily been corrupted by the smooth sales-pitch of Michael "Judas" Forrest.(p. 4) Most interesting of all is the fact that, according to Sungenis, he suspected me of ill motives all along; he now sees me as "little more than [a] social climbing [opportunist]," and while he was busy praising my work during my days at CAI, he was actually hiding the fact that he "was suspicious of that possibility even when [Mr. Michael was] working for me at CAI." (Q&A, November, 2006, Question 16)

Of course, this says nothing very flattering about Sungenis; either he was being two-faced with me when I was with CAI, or else he is only pretending now to have had a secret intuition about my motives. A similarly unflattering conclusion must also be drawn with regard to his statement (quoted above) that he has had "Judas-like figures" surrounding him ever since CAI's inception: apparently Sungenis is a miserable judge of character (that is, apparently he does not possess the humility to seriously consider the possibility that the problem is not everyone else around him).

In the midst of what can only be called a very distracted defense of himself, he also takes the opportunity to indulge in some juicy gossip concerning Scott Hahn. Some brief context is in order: in my original article on Sungenis' degree, I noted that those who read and approved his dissertation had no expertise in the field in which Sungenis' degree was being granted. His degree was ostensibly in "religious studies," and yet his dissertation readers (the ones Calamus was willing to divulge, at least) hold doctorates in Physics and Hypnotherapy. I underscored the importance of this by using Scott Hahn as an example: his degree was also in religious studies, but his dissertation readers (whose names were far easier to obtain than the names of Sungenis' judges) all held doctorates in theology. The point is simple: Hahn had qualified readers who were competent to approve his dissertation; Sungenis has unqualified readers who had no expertise in the field of study he was pursuing. Choosing to dodge the substance of this point completely (certainly a wise move on his part), Sungenis used this as an opportunity to lapse into an extended bit of anecdotal gossip:

The interesting fact about this defense of Scott Hahn is that it is not a description of his doctoral experience that Hahn would want to sign off on, and never has been. I was visiting with Scott Hahn at his home in Steubenville in 1997 some time after he received his doctorate from Marquette. In brief, Hahn didn't have very nice things to say about Drs. Laurence, Kurz, Schmitt and Dempsey. In fact, Hahn more or less denounced them all as heretics. (Sungenis, "PhD", p. 18)

The reader is advised not to spend too much time trying to figure out how this information is relevant to the point. It isn't. It's just gossip, the unnecessary sharing of privileged information that Sungenis has made his habit of late (cf. especially the exceedingly strange, suggestive, and misleading comment made by Sungenis in Mr. Michael and the Jews, "As for being a 'hot-head,' perhaps Mr. Michael should tell you the stories he told me about his personal life." [p. 21] I can spare you the excitement: there are no such stories).

Not only is it gossip, it is highly dubious gossip at that. For example, Sungenis claims that Dr. Hahn "denounced" his dissertation readers "as heretics," and yet, somehow at least one of those "heretics" (Dr. Kurz) managed to make it as one of Dr. Hahn's Senior Research Fellows at his St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. If Dr. Hahn really thinks of Dr. Kurz as a heretic, he has a strange way of showing it.

Sungenis' lapse into highly dubious gossip here is all the more interesting when we consider that he accused me of being "just another opportunist waiting to churn the gossip mill" ("PhD", p. 22), someone who has "created a whirlwind of gossip, innuendo and slander about me that makes Bill Clinton look like a choir boy." (p. 4) The psychological term for this is "projection," a phenomenon in which one person projects their own faults and shortcomings onto those around them.

A shining example of such psychological projection appears on page 24 of Sungenis' self-defense. Remarking on the content of my web site, he writes:

I've read a few of his website articles and his self-published book. I noticed a common thread running through them. He commandeers a lot of ideas from Scott Hahn, yet without giving credit to Scott Hahn. Mr. Michael merely puts these ideas on his website and makes it appear as if he is the original source. Some people would call this plagiarism. I will not enter into a judgment here. (Sungenis, "PhD", p. 24)

Aside from the fact that this is just another transparent attempt at insinuation and innuendo (going hand-in-hand with "As for being a 'hot-head,' perhaps Mr. Michael should tell you the stories he told me about his personal life"), it is bizarre in the extreme that Sungenis would insinuate that anyone was engaging in "plagiarism," given his own track record. Recall that Dr. William Cork, in his article Antisemitism and the Catholic Right, exposed several examples of genuine plagiarism in Sungenis' 2002 article, Conversion of the Jews Not Necessary?? In just this one article, Sungenis literally copied and pasted several paragraphs from numerous places (including the Nazi minister Dr. Robert Ley, Lt. Col. Jack Mohr, John Vennari, and Mark Weber), and failed to give any source references whatsoever, thus giving the appearance that the words, ideas, and research were his own. A recent analysis of this same 2002 article revealed that Dr. Cork had barely scratched the surface with regard to Sungenis' plagiarism of Lt. Col. Jack Mohr; Cork only compared three paragraphs in Sungenis' article with Mohr's work, when in fact all of the last sixteen paragraphs of Sungenis' article (1,500+ words) were copied directly from Mohr's online book, with a few words here and there omitted or swapped for synonyms by Sungenis. A side-by-side comparison of those sixteen paragraphs with Mohr's book can be viewed here. In an upcoming article, David Palm will be sharing even more examples of plagiarism on Sungenis' part (such as his plagiarism of Fr. Denis Fahey). Truly, it is remarkable that Sungenis voluntarily chose to pursue this line of attack with me, when he knew that bringing up the subject of plagiarism would only put the spotlight right back on his own skeleton-filled closet.

What can be said, then, of the actual subject at hand, namely, the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of Sungenis' degree? Quite frankly, Sungenis utterly failed to answer the central criticisms that I raised in my original article. The fact remains, even after 41 pages of grasping at straws, that Calamus International University is an unaccredited institution whose legitimacy has been called into question even outside the USA (see my original article). The fact remains, despite Sungenis' counter-attacks and anecdotal gossip, that his dissertation readers were not qualified to serve as his judges, because they lacked any expertise in his chosen field of study. Above all, the fact remains that Sungenis' primary dissertation reader and academic supervisor is the same man who co-authored the dissertation, thus creating a serious conflict of interests.

Upon further investigation, in fact, it appears that I had not initially grasped the full importance of the chronology involved here in my original article. In January of 2006, Ben Douglass published a Q&A in which he said concerning Sungenis' academic progress, "The Maryvale Institute has accepted his thesis and is mailing him his doctorate." (Q&A, January, 2006, Question 54) In April of 2006, Sungenis was awarded his degree by Calamus International University. This would mean, then, that it took him precisely four months to switch from Maryvale to Calamus, get his dissertation approved by Calamus, get his academic supervisor (Dr. Robert Bennett) approved by Calamus, write a 700-page dissertation, submit it for approval, and receive the degree. However, we know that Sungenis did not simply start working on this dissertation (Galileo Was Wrong) in January of 2006; we saw earlier that he was working on it back in August of 2004. Was Dr. Bennett involved with Sungenis then? Indeed he was.

As such, it is the universe, or firmament, which is revolving around the Earth, not the stars themselves. At night we see all the stars move together in revolution around the Earth, without hitting each other, because they have been placed in their specific locations in the firmament and revolve with the firmament.

This, and much more will be explained in our upcoming book "Galileo Was Wrong" authored by me and my colleague Dr. Robert Bennett.

Robert Sungenis

Catholic Apologetics International


(post at Catholic Answers Forum, bold formatting added for emphasis)

Dr. Robert Bennett was helping Sungenis write GWW as early as December of 2004, more than a full year before he applied at CIU, got his "colleague" approved to be his academic supervisor, and submitted as his dissertation a text which he and his new academic supervisor had been working on together for quite some time. That is a conflict of interests, plain and simple, and no reputable institution would accept such an arrangement; Sungenis' protest that "Mr. Michael knows next-to-nothing about Dr. Robert Bennett, much less is he able to make himself the judge of whether Dr. Bennett could serve as a supervisor of my dissertation" is quite beside the point - I never judged whether Bennett could serve as Sungenis' supervisor, I raised the question of whether Bennett should have served, or been allowed to serve, as Sungenis' academic supervisor, given the circumstances - a question which Sungenis completely side-stepped, and wisely so.

I also raised the question of Sungenis' track record with regard to his standards of accuracy; I gave several examples from his past writings where he had engaged in poor research, ascribing false quotes to John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger, plagiarizing from multiple sources while writing his 2002 article against the USCCB, etc. In that context, I mentioned that an online web-forum participant had caught Sungenis using a fabricated quote within the text of GWW itself, and rightly concluded that this called into question the quality of his dissertation. His defense of himself on this point was, rather predictably, another dodge that avoided the substance of my critique:

Next, Mr. Michael tries to discredit my whole dissertation on ONE misquote that came to light ... When I was alerted to this, I apologized and quickly corrected the mistake. But what does Mr. Michael make of this one mistake? You guessed it – a mountain out of a mole hill ... Because he has evidence of ONE misquote in the over 1400 footnotes of the book, Mr. Michael quickly concludes that this must be the case with the rest of the book! But how does Mr. Michael know this? By nothing more than his own biased conjecture. In order to prove his point, Mr. Michael would have to take the time to look up many more of my citations to see if they were accurate. If he found, say, a dozen instances where I misquoted or paraphrased incorrectly, he would have a case. But, of course, that would take too much time. It's easier just to accuse someone of doing "seriously sloppy scholarship" than it is to actually look up the various quotes to determine if his judgment is correct. (Sungenis, "PhD", pp. 20-21)

Understandably, Sungenis tries to play down the significance of the critique by making it sound as though I tried to discredit his entire dissertation based on "ONE misquote"; of course, this ignores the fact that I situated this "ONE misquote" in the context of a larger past history, demonstrating that Sungenis has developed a pattern of such slip-ups. He attributes the phrase "seriously sloppy scholarship" to me, when my article made it quite clear that it was his online interlocutor who leveled this charge:

"Sylas" seemed somewhat unimpressed with the explanation, when he responded, "It still stands as an example of seriously sloppy scholarship. The quotes should not even be presented unless read for themselves. If a quote is given indirectly from a secondary source, then the secondary source should be cited. This is pretty basic. I'm agreeably surprised that Sungenis has reacted so swiftly and positively to fix the error; but it should never have been made in the first place." (source, emphasis added)

What of Sungenis' challenge, that if "a dozen instances where I misquoted or paraphrased incorrectly" could be found, I would "have a case"? I will return to that in a moment, but first I must add that I also gave one other example of "seriously sloppy scholarship" in GWW, namely, that Sungenis included a quote from an un-named author, and gave as a reference ""; this is the web address for the home page of Florida State University's Department of Physics, and the quote which Sungenis attributed to this address is nowhere to be found at this URL - in fact, there are no articles of any kind at this URL. Sungenis' response is worth quoting at length:

... in the world that Mr. Michael lives in, if he can't find the specific reference in the thirty seconds he read the Florida State homepage, he concludes that the reference does not exist, and in his mind, this allows him to make further denigrating remarks against me. If Mr. Michael would have taken the time to either plug in the words of the quote into the search engine, when he got to their home page, or any search engine, he would have easily found the precise quote and its source in about a half-second ... The reason I did not put in the whole website address in the footnote was because it was simply too long to fit in my margins without causing a double blank line. (Sungenis, "PhD", p. 22)

The reader is certainly permitted to be astonished at this excuse, especially as it is offered by a man who calls himself a doctor of religious studies. In effect, Sungenis' defense here is that it is perfectly acceptable for him to simply give the entire Florida State University web site as a reference, and it is the responsibility of the reader to locate the one specific page which Sungenis had in mind. Perhaps this is a new form of research methodology taught at Calamus University: the interactive, see-if-you-can-pick-my-reference-out-of-a-crowd method, which allows the reader to go on exciting treasure hunt of sorts to see how many legitimate references he can find in the dissertation. Very cutting-edge and forward-thinking! As for the excuse that "The reason I did not put in the whole website address in the footnote was because it was simply too long to fit in my margins without causing a double blank line," I invite the reader to consider Sungenis' other published works, such as Not by Bread Alone, where page 413 features a grand total of two lines (only nineteen words) of main body text, the entire rest of the page being taken up with footnote #545, a footnote so long that it also bleeds over and occupies one-half of page 414 as well. Since when did Sungenis develop scruples over the length of his footnotes?

I had initially thought that I should draw an exaggerated comparison here to demonstrate the absurdity of Sungenis' defense, by saying that this is like quoting the words of Jesus and simply giving "the Bible" as a reference, or quoting St. Thomas Aquinas and giving only "Summa Theologica, somewhere near the end" as a reference - but I second-guessed myself, thinking that this was too far-fetched a comparison. However, when I took a glance at GWW to see if I could meet Sungenis' challenge to find "a dozen instances" of similar misquotes, I discovered that my exaggerated comparison was actually a reality.

On page 32 of GWW, Sungenis quotes from Albert Einstein, and footnote 61 gives this as a reference:

Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, Dell, Pinebrook, NJ, 1954; Wings, reprint edition, 1988.

As with the reference to the entire FSU web site, so also here it would appear that Sungenis expects his readers to go on a scavenger hunt to find the precise page he had in mind.

On page 92, he quotes from both Marcello Truzzi and Vannevar Bush, and footnotes 202 and 204 read:

Marcello Truzzi, former editor journal of The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of the Claims of the Paranormal, The Skeptical Inquirer.


Vannevar Bush, MIT Dean of Engineering (d. 1974).

While these may certainly be bits of interesting biographical information, they leave something to be desired as source references, only in the sense that no sources are given at all.

On this same page, a quote is provided from Richard Feynman, and the entirety of footnote 205 reads: "Attributed." Attributed by whom? In what source document? Apparently Sungenis has an affinity for "attributed" quotes, because he gives another one on page 196, after quoting Leo Tolstoy; footnote 433 on this page simply says, "Attributed."

On page 107, an alleged quote is given from Carl Sagan, but footnote 242 informs us:

"The quote is attributed to Sagan, but is invariably included among other quotes from Carl Sagan."

Not only is no source reference supplied, but Sungenis intimates that the reader is supposed to accept the legitimacy of the quote because it is "invariably included among other [legitimate?] quotes from Carl Sagan." This fits Sungenis' pattern perfectly; remember that when he falsely attributed a quote to John Paul II and was called on the carpet by David Palm, his argument was, "your attempt to make me look like some kind of pope-basher (due to the quote) is totally lopsided and unfair, considering the fact that John Paul II has said dozens of statements that are very similar and often worse than the quote in question." (source) For Sungenis, as long as a quote sounds like something you would probably say, it can reasonably be attributed to you.

After plodding through about 200 pages of GWW, I gave up; he can't expect someone to verify the accuracy of his quotes when he gives references like, "Time, December 31, 1999" (p. 108, fn. 249), "Autobiography of Mark Twain" (p. 119, fn. 273), "New Scientist, October 8, 2003" (p. 163, fn. 363), "'The Observational Impetus for Le Sage Gravity,' Max Planck Institut fur Astrophysik, 1997" (p. 175, fn. 388), and "Taken from website" (p. 190, fn. 421; this is the URL for the Society of the Divine Savior - the actual address that Sungenis wanted is , but even on this correct URL, no such quote appears - once again, an entire web site is given as a source, and the reader is expected to locate the precise page intended). I found some 20 such instances of unattributed quotes and "buckshot" references ( i.e., the quote comes from this book/magazine - good luck finding the right page) just in the first four chapters of GWW; when Sungenis can find the time to give proper attribution for his sources (as he does elsewhere in the book, thus demonstrating that he does know how), then he can challenge his readers to verify the accuracy of the quotes he gives.

All that this little exercise demonstrated is that I was correct in the first place: "how many other examples could be shown, if someone had the time and energy to comb through 1,000+ pages of text, double-checking every reference? The point is that such an exercise is unnecessary; once it has been demonstrated that Sungenis regularly dispenses himself from any obligation to follow scholarly standards as long as he is already convinced of his conclusions, all of his work becomes suspect." (Sungenis and the Jews: Doctoring the Record, emphasis added)

Much, much more could be said by way of response to Sungenis' attempted defense, but this would be to no point. The main objections raised in my original article were evaded by Sungenis in his response, and his excuses have only led to the uncovering of further problems and the raising of more difficult questions.

Why wouldn't Calamus release the names of the individuals who sat on Sungenis' dissertation committee? How is it that Calamus allowed Sungenis to use Dr. Bennett as his academic supervisor, when Bennett had already been engaged for at least a year in co-authoring what would become Sungenis' dissertation? What does it say about Calamus that they gave Sungenis a grade of "excellent" on his dissertational research, when examining only the first four chapters of GWW reveals serious short-comings in terms of proper source attribution? Why did Sungenis tell Ben Douglass in January of 2006 that his degree was coming from Maryvale? What dissertation was Sungenis working on through Maryvale (cf. "PhD", p. 7, "I was in a doctoral program at Maryvale Institute in Birmingham England, writing my dissertation on an entirely different theological topic"), and - most importantly - when did Maryvale accept that dissertation topic, if ever? Why does Sungenis insist that "I do not need a United States accredited degree simply because I have no intentions of teaching in a United States university ("PhD", p. 26, emphasis added), when for several weeks he was advertising the fact that he would be teaching courses for Euclid University just as soon as Euclid obtained US accreditation? Whatever happened to his position with Euclid? Did they turn him down because of his degree from Calamus?

In the end, my criticisms stand. Sungenis has not demonstrated why his doctorate should be considered legitimate, nor has he given acceptable answers to the questions raised. Calamus is a member of the Adult Higher Education Alliance, says Sungenis; then again, all it takes to get into the AHEA is to fit into the category of "any college, university or other group that has implemented or plans to implement an alternative degree-granting program for adults" (source), and payment of the nominal $100 membership fee.

Sungenis protests that Calamus is "fully accredited by the International Interfaith Accreditation Association, a non-profit body whose headquarters are in Florida ... and CIU is an Approved Member of the International Association for Distance Learning" ("PhD", p. 27), but as an employee of the Oregon Office of Degree Authorization recently explained to me, "Neither of the private accrediting associations mentioned [the International Interfaith Accreditation Association and the International Association for Distance Learning] are recognized by the US Department of Education ... Since one of the accreditor's headquarters are located in Florida, if it were a serious accreditor, you would expect it to be recognized by USDE." (email of January 31, 2007)

I will conclude the way I concluded my original article on this subject: the point is not to belittle Mr. Sungenis or make a mockery of him. He obviously has the intellectual capacity to earn a real doctorate at an accredited institution, but for whatever reason, he decided to take the easy route to academic recognition. Were it not for the fact that 1) he has repeatedly engaged in rotten pseudo-scholarship in his numerous attacks on the Jews, and 2) his anti-Jewish screeds now have at least a thin veneer of respectability as a direct result of the fact that he now signs his name "Dr. Robert Sungenis", I certainly would never have said anything about his "doctorate". As long as he uses this academic status to give weight to his anti-Jewish sentiments, however, it is only appropriate that the legitimacy of his doctorate be called into question, if only to disabuse innocent readers of the notion that his opinions on the Jews have anything like real academic weight behind them.