So this Korean academic just got out of jail for embezzlement, and for forgery of a Yale doctorate. Here’s what she says about the doctorate in her just-published memoir:

In her book, she admits that someone else wrote the thesis for her, but says she never had any doubt about the authenticity of the degree. Yale confirmed the diploma was a forgery in 2007.

“Though I neither got the degree through hard work nor wrote the thesis by myself, I paid tuitions, submitted papers, finished a thesis defense in front of three Yale professors, not to mention that I passed graduation tests,” she writes.

I’m having some trouble unpacking this re: authenticity.

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7 Responses to “Brain Twister”

  1. theprofessor Says:

    Yale only has three profs on dissertation committees?

  2. ricki Says:

    Fake your thesis, get a fake diploma? That seems to work.

    I attended a small state school for my Ph.D., but was required to have five profs – including one from “outside the department” on my committee.

    And yes, I did the research myself and wrote the whole dang dissertation myself. (And gained the 15 “stress pounds” during the process myself)

  3. bfa Says:

    we also only have three profs on a dissertation committee. it’s not an unusual number.

  4. Robert Mathiesen Says:

    This could have been any number of students I had in my classes at Brown University. Their rationale seems to be as follows:

    1. A degree, like anything and everything else you need or want, is merely a commodity to be purchased.

    2. Unlike many other commodities, the price of a degree in not only a certain amount of money, but also a certain amount of academic paper. There are also negotiations with the people who control the product, which differ in no way from negotiations with people in business deals.

    3. Just as it doesn’t matter where you got your money, so it doesn’t matter where you got your paper.

    4. Negotiations in business need not be conducted with full openness, provided one’s deceit remains hidden while the negotiations are going on. The same is true for negotiations in academia.

    5. In business, a deal is a deal once it has been made. If you uncover deceit later, that doesn’t invalidate the deal retroactively. Why should academia differ from business?

    6. No other product you purchase requires any mandatory transformation of the buyer. Why should an academic product entail any mandatory transformation, i.e., any actual learning?

    All this can probably be summed up as:

    Who do academics think they are, to demand anything of students other than what merchants and businessmen demand of their customers?

    Of course, in my 40 years at Brown I have taught very, very many wonderful students who do not feel this way. But the attitude I describe above is not all that uncommon, even at an Ivy League university like mine.

  5. Robert Mathiesen Says:

    Delete “cannot” in the next to the last paragraph of my comment. I shouldn’t try to comment before ingesting sufficient caffein.

  6. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Robert: “cannot” deleted.

  7. Robert Mathiesen Says:


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