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Beware of People who claim to have "Doctorates"

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 30-08-2008, 01:50 PM
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Default Beware of People who claim to have "Doctorates"

Shrewd businessmen are buying degrees from degree mills and passing themselves off as "Dr" so-and-so.

Straits Times journalist Sandra Davie even managed to buy a degree for her dog! (ST, August 29, 2008).

Yes, Harry Doggy the cute beagle is now officially a "Doctor of Arts". For just US$599.

Other people spent years slogging to get a PhD and "Dr" Harry didn't even move a paw to be conferred a doctorate.

So who are the famous people in Singapore with degrees that are similar to "Dr" Harry Doggy's? Straits Times mentioned the following:

- Expressions International founder "Dr" Theresa Chew.
- Bread Talk founder "Dr" George Quek.
- "Dr" T. Chandroo who runs 60 Montessori kindergartens.
- "Dr" Clemen Chiang who runs options trading seminars.

I remember Clemen Chiang even called his degree-mill alma mata "the prestigious Preston University" in his ads. Now, we all know Preston is a virtual university that gives out PhDs freely for a fee.

What's worse is that Clemen Chiang is also "widely quoted in the local press", including the Business Times (see example). Given BT's past record of uncovering at least one case of people who lied / misled about their credentials (see discussion about the famous Dennis Lee case and article in Time magazine), I don't know why BT did not do more diligence and still invited "Dr" Chiang to write in its columns.

More from the very enlightening ST article:
"Mr Chiang sheepishly admits that he continues to use his doctorate as it helps to pave the way in business... But he added: 'But I am thinking of dropping my doctorate title altogether until I complete the current PhD I am working on with the University of South Australia.' "
Er... which University of South Australia is he referring to? Let's hope it's the legitimate one and not another degree mill.

Update (6 Sep 2008): Preston wrote to ST and took up a full-page ad announcing the "factual errors" in that ST article and "superficial" research done by ST. Nothing surprising - they're just protecting their business interests. In the same vein, T. Chandroo also wrote to ST Forum and wished for people to understand his "disappointment". The ST editor retorted:
"For over a month, Mr Chandroo's secretary said he was 'too busy' to answer e-mails or calls... Preston University is not accredited by any US Department of Education-recognised accrediting body. The state of Oregon refers to Preston University as a 'degree supplier' and has named it on its list of unapproved schools... In 2001, the US-based Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Preston University had listed faculty members who had nothing to do with the institution (a fact later admitted by Preston)..."

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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 30-08-2008, 03:36 PM
Jonathan Wong--
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Default 2541

Haha... yeah, I lived through the whole Dennis Lee incident when I was working at Elipva many years ago. The guy went beyond just embellishing his credentials - he was flat out a compulsive and pathological liar.

In fact, many of the employees on the ground (admittedly, not me) suspected something long ago already, but it's not always easy to accuse your director of something like that. It also didn't help that Singapore at that time was especially desperate to find a local Internet hometown hero which it can rally behind. Perhaps that may of led to a few "closed eyes" I believe.

You have to give the guy an A++ for effort - he even used his own money to print out copies of his fake books and made his own fake plaques!

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  #3 (permalink)  
Old 30-08-2008, 05:32 PM
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Default 2543

i want to buy. still have a not?
buy and frame it up looks nice too.

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  #4 (permalink)  
Old 30-08-2008, 11:16 PM
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Default 2546

hahaha... my boss is also one of them who is not only Dr but also xxxx (sorry can't reveal much, least I got sued. Want to know why, then read my blog). He has many friends who did the same also. He even laughed about the article yesterday when speaking to his manager.
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  #5 (permalink)  
Old 30-08-2008, 11:22 PM
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Default 2547

I think all the students from "Dr" Clemen's classes do have a case against him.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 30-08-2008, 11:43 PM
Dr. AC--
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Default 2548

Yea, I hate ppl who have get a Dr without going through all the pain. That is because I got my Dr. through slogging hard, on a lousy stipend, with full of stress and alone in a lab for 3.5 yrs. (My PhD is from UNSW btw, so it's not fake. Admin, I think University of South Australia is genuine...but then again different fields demand different rigour so it really depends..)

Going through all that hard work to get a PhD and not being well recognized in Singapore is demoralizing enough (I really am comtemplating migrating), we don't need fake wannabes to rub it our face. Kudos to those who really earned their PhD, they really have substance and really deserved their recognition.

If you want to know what hard work you need to put in to get your PhD, let me know. I will be glad to share. Just a heads up, my supervisor asked me to "join a social club" before I start my PhD, so that gives you a hint on how hard it can be.
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old 31-08-2008, 02:54 PM
Posts: n/a
Default 2549

i do not know why people are so enamoured by PhD and Dr this and that. if anything - it will just make me sceptical if someone tries to spruce their "credentials" in business. a phd is only necessary in research and academia and in those fields, you would imagine that people do have a semblance of what degrees are credible. in business/finance? no way - maybe in quant finance that's about it.
Also, absolutely hate it when people sign their business cards with John Tan, B.Com, BSc, and FCSPA, and all other funny letters past their name - i suspect that is more of a ploy to impress heartlanders than anything.

Also, I don't agree with Dr AC, on all PhD's who have "substance and deserve their reconition" - it all depends on the rigor and in what field. In my disciple - I don't think a PhD is hard to get at all.

Btw, I'm not in academia and not in Singapore. My industry's/countries views on PhDs outside the fields of academia and research will probably mirror mine.
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  #8 (permalink)  
Old 31-08-2008, 08:41 PM
Dr. AC--
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Default 2551

Dear e,
May I know what discipline are you in such that it makes you say that a PhD is not hard to get ?

Also I like to gently point out that I didnt say ALL Phds have substance and deserve their recognition. I merely said those who earned their PhDs.

Maybe it's true that not all disciplines require rigourous work. However, for hard sciences and engineering they do. Also, I think I should point out that there is a difference between a DBA and a PhD, both upon completion, will confer the title of Dr. To my knowledge, I believe that DBA is more applicable to the business industry than a PhD. However, I am not sure about the rigour of work that DBA demands.

Fair enough, is not required for the business industry; ppl who sincerely do their PhD usually do it out of interest and the pursuit of knowledge and nothing else. There are other skills to be gained whilst doing a PhD. Success in business work rely on pure performance and of course luck. A few cases of successful non-business PhD holders are Jack Welch and Dr Cheong Choong Kong of OCBC Bank. But I don't think they use the titles to get there.

Most ppl who get honorary PhDs (PhDs that do not require you to submit a thesis) are doing it to get the title. It's a status thing, not something out of pure interest.
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old 01-09-2008, 10:32 AM
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Default 2562

Discipline is finance/economics - as I've mentioned, i don't think it is hard a PhD (not DBA which I have no clue about)in my field at all. just study a few more years and write a few more papres and get published. I'm talking about PhD's here - where you are expected to submit a peer reviewed thesis and to notionally "contribute to the body of knowledge".

Like you said - people who do their PhD's do so out of interest + pursuit of knowledge. However, you get three-five years to write a thesis and if your supervisor is any good - you should expect to pass (maybe not with distinction - but a pass nonetheless)

In academia as well - you also need luck to make it famous - instead if languishing on page 89 of some obscure journal.

On honorary PhDs - you don't "get one" unless you are someone prominent in the community. Granted - another "back door" way is to donate a huge amount of money to the school and you sould get one as well... lol. Like you said - its a status thing but i sure would prefer an honorary one than a real one...
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old 01-09-2008, 02:09 PM
Dr. AC--
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Default 2564

Dear e,
It seems to me you have a very strong prejudice against PhD per se.

I dunno about PhD in pure finance and economics, what they require and all. As to your claims on "just study a few more years and write a few more papres and get published", I don't think its that simple. A lot people I know drop out of PhD or fail them because they can hardly publish anything. The requirements of PhD looks deceptively, emphasis on deceptively, simple.

The difficulty of PhD are as follows:
1. The meaning of PhD is to introduce a new philosophy (not application) to way things are being done in the world today. Philosophy can translate to design theory, models and the like. Thus, having novelty + stamping your claim on it is extremely difficult. Masters and Bachelor degrees are not required to have philosophical novelty. That said, I am not sure if most honorary PhDs have introduced some form of philosophical novelty in their fields. If they have, I respect them and they deserved their PhD.

2. Writing a paper and a thesis is not as easy as it seems. Having good results does not mean writing good papers, i.e., have good positive experimental results does not mean you can publish. Publishing a journal paper requires a lot of thought and formal wording. The hardest portions to write in a journal paper are the classifications, your theory and the introduction. Especially the introduction. It's takes a long thought and writing process to hatch a journal. It's an even longer time for a thesis, so I hope you can respect and am aware of that. Maybe you can try writing solid journal paper to realize the difficulty of it.

In academia you do need luck to be famous, luck in finding the relevant topics + industrial funding. Usually they get famous at conferences, where it is easier to display their results.

Journals are meant for people in the community, and in the industry so it may not be of value to people outside of the community. Thats the purpose of it.

PhD does have its value, and great things can come out of it. People like Rudolf Kalman, Claude Shannon, R.A. Fisher have come up with great things for engineering and IT.

Of course some may laugh at Robert Merton, Myron Scholes and Fischer Black, who are PhD Nobel Laureates, E Derman for the introduction of Quantitative Finance with the collapse of LTCM ( in fact it's collapse is not totally due to their mathematical models). IMHO, I think people who think this way are small, jealous, ignorant and short sighted, cos it's only one extreme case out of many (who criticises D.E.Shaw and Citadel?). If not for these people, I dont' think there be as big a market for derivatives and MFE programs.
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