The Millenium Project

Home > Comments and Articles > Kent Hovind > The Dissertation Kent Hovind Doesn't Want You to Read
Bookmark and Share

Alphabetical ListCategoriesCommentariesArchiveAbout the SiteHate MailBook ShopSite Map/Search

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.

Kent HorvindWhat 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.


Patriot University as it appeared in 2001
What is unusual about this?

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.


Patriot University in 2006
Two discrepancies were obvious upon inspection.

(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.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS

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).

CHAPTER 1 (38 pages)

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.

CHAPTER 2 (12 pages)

CHAPTER 3 (17 pages)

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)

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.   

CONCLUSIONS

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.

References

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.


All donations gratefully accepted
Please help out with a donation.

Back to The Millenium Project
Email the
Copyright 1999-
Creative Commons