My response to Gerhard Besier

by Jerry Bergman 54 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Jerry Bergman
    Jerry Bergman

    Are All Creationists Liars?

    A Response [i] to “Professor Dr. Dr. Gerhard Besier”

    Jerry Bergman Ph.D.

    The Problem

    Creationism is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as the belief that God, gods or a higher power had a role in the creation of life and the physical universe. It is commonly claimed by Darwinists, atheists, and others who oppose the creationism and Intelligent Design world views that “all creationists are liars” (see, for example, Plimer, 1995). A® internet search located 666 articles using the words “creationists are liars,” and a whopping 6,860 articles were located using the phrase “creationist lies.” One Web site (, after calling the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) the “Institute of Cult Retards” (in fact, all of the professional staff have either a doctorate in their field of expertise or, at the minimum, a master’s degree), concluded that “creationists seem to be pathological liars.” The Australian skeptics have a whole Web site titled “No Answers in Genesis” ( htm) that includes a section listing many alleged examples of “creationist dishonesty.”

    Another Web site ( titled “Buddika’s 300 Creationist Lies” listed what the author claimed were “300 creationist lies.” Max Webb, in an article on, concluded that it was hard for him to respond to the creationist liars because there are “so many [creationist] liars, [and] so little time [to respond to all of them]!” Another example is the statement by the late Harvard professor Stephen J. Gould that “scarcely a day goes by when I do not read a misrepresentation of my views (usually by creationists, racists, or football fans, in order of frequency)” (1990, p. 28). Note that Gould ranks creationists even above racists, which is about the worst type of person one can be today in the West (I cannot comment about football fans). These statements are put in perspective when it is noted that surveys have found over 90 percent of all Americans hold to some form of creationism, and about half are conservative creationists (Bergman, 1999). Are only the 10 percent of us honest, and all the rest of Americans “pathological liars”? This is the worst form of name-calling (and this name-calling is often translated into behavior, including job termination and denial of degrees or worse—see Witham, 2002, pp. 177-178, and other pages).

    It is actually difficult to find a book or article written by authors critical of the conclusion that an intelligent Creator exists (and Who had an active role in creating and sustaining the universe and the life in it) that does not include the charge of lying or something close to it. The discussions in major books and magazines are typically demeaning, blatantly slanderous, or worse (see, for example, Chapman, 2001). Typical is a recent editorial in the Toledo Blade (a major Ohio newspaper) that called those persons who feel God had an active role in creation “science illiterate” people who “froth at the mouth” and are “old-time, know-nothing fanatics intent on swamping science and reality, plus the state’s reputation, with faith masking (sic the word should be masquerading) as fact,” while those who listen to them are “immature, know-nothing” persons who “would pollute the rest of us” (Foley, 2002, section A p. 11). Ian Plimer (1995) even wrote a whole book titled Telling Lies for God; Reason vs Creationism, published by the respected publisher Random House, in which Plimer, in almost every chapter, accused creationists of being liars (for example, see pp. 63-72).

    Henry Morris recently reviewed the standard charges against creationists, concluding that the charges include such claim that “we are not only ignorant, but also ... liars” (2003, p. b). The claim that specific creationists, especially Dr. Duane Gish, Dr. Henry Morris, Dr. Gary Parker, and Dr. Philip Johnson, are “liars” is commonly made by anti-creationists of various stripes, but probably most often by those who think of themselves as “free thinkers,” “atheists,” or “humanists.” I have not researched all of the many allegations of lying made against these persons and others, but I have looked into several charges against them, and have concluded that, of the charges which I examined, all are totally without foundation.

    Actually, almost everyone who publishes articles and books in support of creationism or Intelligent Design will sooner or later be unscrupulously attacked by those who believe that neither God nor intelligence had anything to do with the creation of life on Earth (or anything else not made by humans). Since I have now published over 500 books, monographs, book reviews, and articles in 14 languages on this and related topics, I also not unexpectedly find myself at the receiving end of this pervasive tendency to accuse creationists of being liars. In view of the large number of allegations made against the most prominent creationists, though, my complaints may seem minor. Fortunately, I have thus far been attacked in print only a relatively few times. Also, fortunately, I have the documentation to prove that all of the published charges against me are not only false, but blatantly slanderous and libelous. I feel that it is important to respond to these charges, because an effective response says something critically important about those who oppose the idea that intelligence was involved in the creation of life.

    Why Bother Responding?

    For a long time, I ignored the false charges against me, reasoning, “Why should I dignify slander and libel by a response?” I now believe that it is important to respond to these charges, because they illustrate the bankruptcy of the tactics commonly used by certain Darwinists, atheists, and secular humanists in trying to suppress those persons who have found scientific and logical problems with the “goo to you by the way of the zoo” dogma. Many Darwinists evidently feel that the most effective way to respond to the many challenges to Darwinism, or at least an important approach, is to try to marginalize the opposition by attacking their credibility. Under the subtitle “Baloney Detector Kits,” Jan Covey lists several methods Darwinists use in an attempt to win arguments, including the ad hominem attacks. For example, he says

    evolutionists claim Dr. Duane Gish is a liar, and because he’s a liar, nothing he says can be trusted. Evolutionists tend to believe all creationists are either liars or deluded by the lies of other creationists. This kind of personal attack distracts attention from good arguments (2002, p. 1).

    In this paper, I will examine only one of the claims leveled against me, namely that found in a footnote on page 458 of the book Die Neuen Inquisitoren - Religionsfreiheit und Glaubensneid Band II (The New Inquisitors - Freedom of Religion and Envy of Faith Vol. II) Verlag A. Fromm, Zürich, 1999 by Gerhard Besier and Erwin K. Scheuch (I will discuss Besier later; Scheuch is a professor of sociology at Harvard University and Cologne, Germany). In this footnote, Besier makes the following statement:

    In the 1980s Bergman was in conflict with the law more than once for using academic titles that he had no right to use (U.S. District Court, Toledo, Ohio No. C 80-390, Dec. 5, 1985, p. 2, Findings of Facts 1; Dec. 6,1985, p.12, Finding of Facts 35). Bergman also falsely claimed to have more than 400 published articles (Source: Memos Background Information and Discrepancies regarding Published Works, pp. 1f., in the archives of Prof. Besier) and he also falsely claimed to be the author of books that were never written (solemn declaration by Harriet P. Stockanes, University of Illinois Press, December 12, 1988, in the archives of Prof. Besier) [ii]

    I have heard most of these claims many times before, and the most charitable interpretation is that the authors of Die Neuen Inquisitoren did not do their homework. Therefore, I am obligated to respond in order to help stop these demonstrably false charges from continually being irresponsibly circulated. Dr. Besier, a professor of theology at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, trains Lutheran pastors [iii] . On his Web site he refers to himself as “Professor Dr. Dr. Gerhard Besier.”

    Besier’s Allegations Refuted

    The first claim, “In the 1980s Bergman was in conflict with the law more than once for using academic titles he had no right to use,” is not only erroneous, but also slanderous. I have never been “in conflict with the law” for using academic titles that I had no right to use (and Besier provided no evidence whatsoever for this false claim). Nor have I ever been in trouble with the law for anything, excepting a few minor traffic tickets many, many years ago. The only support of his claim that Besier provides is a quote from the ruling in my district court case against Bowling Green State University. Specifically, the judge stated:

    Bergman was hired by Bowling Green State University for the 1973-1974 school year in the Department of Educational Foundations & Inquiry (“EDFI”) of the College of Education. (P. Ex. 4). He was initially hired as an Assistant Professor but was reduced to the rank of Instructor later during that school year because he had not yet received a Ph.D. degree. (D. Ex. B). Bergman taught in the areas of Educational Psychology, and Measurement and Research.

    These Findings of Fact 1 say nothing about using “academic titles which he had no right to” but is mostly a simple statement of fact. Furthermore the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit (820 F. 2d 1224; filed June 16, 1987) stated that

    Plaintiff was first hired by Bowling Green State University (BGSU) for the 1973-1974 school year Department of Educational Foundations and Inquiry (EDFI) of the College of Education. He was initially hired as an assistant professor but was reduced to the rank of instructor later during the school year when he did not receive his doctorate as soon as he had expected.

    The University alleged that because I did not complete my first doctorate as soon as I expected, my rank was reduced to that of instructor. The fact is I was hired as an Assistant Professor. The claim that my contract was incorrect was dealt with in my appeal, and was not mentioned by the appellate court, presumably because it was convinced that this charge was false. The indisputable fact is, I was offered a written contract and signed it. University officials, soon after discovering my religious sympathies, claimed that they offered me the “wrong” contract, and then blamed me for accepting it! If it was “incorrect,” this was the University’s fault, not mine.

    Furthermore, I do not see how signing a contract that I was offered was wrong in any way. I was offered a rank in the contract that was signed by both parties; thus, I had every right to use this title (it was my rank when I was hired, and to use any other title would be wrong), and the judge does not claim here that I used a title that I had no right to use. My claim is proved by the very documents that Besier cites (and is a good example of the misstatements that typify Besier’s slanderous charges).

    The claim that I “falsely claimed to have more than 400 articles published” is also not only false, but irresponsible. Which publications that I claim to have, but don’t, Besier never says. Does he claim I have 399 or 0? He gives no date, but as of when the book was published in 1999, I had over 500 publications in print or in press. This could easily be checked by contacting me (which any responsible researcher would have done) for documentation. I would have gladly provided copies of all my publications. To support my claim, I retained rare book museum director, Mr. William Chamberlin of Clarkston, Michigan, to review all of the publications listed on my vita. He then completed an affidavit, verifying my claims (a scanned copy can be obtained by contacting the webmaster).

    The claim that I describe myself as the author of books that were never written is also a false charge. This charge stems from a court case that I testified in as an expert witness. To counter my testimony, the opposing attorney wrote to a publisher, the University of Illinois Press, inquiring if I had published a certain book. They paid an employee of the publisher, Harriet Stockanes, to complete an affidavit (dated Dec. 20, 1988). The affidavit of Harriet Stockanes was written in response to the letter by attorney Carolyn Wah for a brief that she produced in support of Froilan Rayes and filed in the Abilene, Texas, court in the Marcus Rayes case (case No. 6936-C), in opposition to my involvement in this case. It is my understanding that the brief was also written by attorney Carolyn Wah.

    It was this document that Besier cited (which mentioned only one book, not books in contrast to Besier’s claim). The book listed in the letter as “In Lieu of Prison, the Community Treatment Project,” was not published by University of Illinois Press, but by University Microfilms in Ann Arbor, Michigan (publication number AAT-7709368) and is not 467 pages in length, but is considerably longer (actually, 822 pages). I have never published any book with the University of Illinois Press, and Besier should know this from past court cases in which I have testified.

    Why does Besier make claims that he surely must know are wrong? One reason is he knows it is unlikely that someone else can (or will take the time to) check the record. How many persons will take the time required to obtain all of my publications in order to determine how many I actually had at a certain point in the past? In short, he uses this tactic because he feels he can get away with it. Besier evidently feels that, because I live in another country, he can employ allegations that he should know are false.

    It is a basic rule of research that a researcher must contact the person about whom they are writing, especially if the article contains material that could potentially be slanderous or libelous. Besier never contacted me before he wrote the quote under review here. I have contacted Besier three times about these concerns, and he has yet to extend to me the courtesy of a single reply. He is clearly not interested in the facts, but only in slandering those with whom he disagrees.

    My Response to the Court Brief

    This section briefly responds to the claims of Gerhard Besier in a brief filed with a German court. Besier here repeats the claim refuted above, namely that

    In the 80s he was more than once in conflict with the law because he bore academic titles which he had no right to (US District Court, Toledo, Ohio No. C. 80-390, Dec. 5, 1985, p. 2, Findings of Fact 1; Dec -. 6, 1985. p. 12, Findings of Fact 35). He also claimed to have published over 400 articles (Memos Background Information and Discrepancies regarding Published works, pp. 1 f. Besier archive) and described himself as the author of books he had never written (declaration under oath by Harriet P. Stockanes, University of Illinois Press, of 20 Dec.1988, Besier archive).

    This brief excerpt is an excellent example of dishonest behavior. It no more proves my conclusions false, than does evidence that Martin Luther King Jr. plagiarized large sections of his doctoral thesis prove that his contentions about the treatment of African-Americans in America is false (or that Einstein lied on a job application proves the theory of relativity wrong). None of the authors that cited the Besier reference has ever consulted me before using this reference. A file cabinet full of documents exists on the Bowling Green Case, and scores of articles and several books have been published that discuss the case. It is grossly irresponsible to write on this matter without consulting this vast body of literature. The need to resort to slander indicates that arguments for a specific worldview lack substance, and therefore necessitate unscrupulous ad hominem attacks. One reason for this approach is explained by professor Stephen Schneider:

    On the one hand, as scientists, we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but—which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well (as quoted in Schell, 1989, p. 47)

    Schneider argues that a scientist or professor who is convinced that he is right, frequently desires to influence public policy, and to achieve this goal he needs to influence the public. Schneider adds that to do this, the scientist needs to achieve

    broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both (Schell, 1989, p. 47).

    Unfortunately, this approach can be very effective (and therefore is commonly used). I will let the reader decide if the charges by Darwinists in the case discussed in this paper are honest. Arthur Biele provides some background on why charges of creationists “lying” are so common.

    In the 1970s and early 1980s, evolutionists were losing every debate to Creationists. It got to the point where Carl Sagan openly declared that evolutionists should stop debating Creationists. Instead, starting in 1981, there came a flurry of books and articles from evolutionists attacking Creationists and propagandizing for evolution. These were marketed to the general public and for Junior and Senior High school students. Even worse, evolutionists threw all morality out the window by deciding on a new approach to winning the evolution/Creation debate, and this was to launch vicious and numerous character assassination attacks on Creationists in order to publicly discredit creationists and to soil and muddy their image. Those that participated ought to be ashamed, for the anti-creationists books contained trash science, and the personal attacks where simply mean-spirited and anti-science. Top pro-evolutionary scientists agreed not to debate the science with Creationists and opted for mob and wolf pack obfuscations of the science, as found on internet groups such as talk origins, and by propagandizing through the liberal media and in schools while denying Creationists the opportunity use the same venue for presenting Creation (also known as censorship) [2003, p. 1].


    Bergman, Jerry. 2000. “The Attitude of Various Populations Towards Teaching Creation and Evolution in Public Schools.” Cen Technical Journal 13(2):118-123.

    ______. 2002. “Lying in Court and Religion: An Analysis of the Theocratic Warfare Doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Cultic Studies Review: An Internet Journal of Research, News and Opinion, 1(2):1-31, 2002. German translation “Lügen vor Gericht und Religion: Eine Analyse der Lehre der Zeugen Jehovas von der theokratischen Kriegsführung.”

    Biele, Arthur. 2003. Personal correspondence (quoted with his permission).

    Chapman, Matthew. 2001. Trials of the Monkey; An Accidental Memoir. New York: Picador USA.

    Covey, Jon. 2000. “Defeating Darwinism.” A Review of Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Unpublished manuscript

    Foley, Eileen. 2002. “The Fanatics don’t Get what Science is About” The Blade, Toledo. Ohio. Section A P. 11.

    Gould, Stephen J. 1990. “The Golden Rule—a Proper Scale for Our Environmental Crisis.” Natural History. September. pp. 24-30.

    Iannoccone, Laurence R. 1994. “Why Strict Churches are Strong.” American Journal of Sociology, 99(5):1180-1211.

    Johnson, Phillip. 1997. Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Downers Grove, Il. InterVarsity.

    Morris, Henry. 2003. “Evolutionary Arrogance.” Back to Genesis. No. 170

    Plimer, Ian. 1995. Telling Lies for God; Reason vs Creationism. Australia: Random House.

    Schell, Jonathan. 1989. “Our Fragile Earth.” Discover, 10(10):44-50.

    Scott, Eugenie. 2002. “A Conversation with Eugenie Scott.” Research News and Opportunities in Science and Theology, 2(8):3,16.

    Witham, Larry. 2002. Where Darwin Meets the Bible. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Zahn, Gordon. 1962. German Catholics and Hitler’s Wars. New York: Sheed and Ward.


    [i] Four reviewers of this paper concluded that “Dr. Dr.” in the title is a misprint. It is not a misprint. This is actually what he calls himself!! As I have two earned Ph.D.s, I suppose I, too, could use the term “Dr. Dr. Jerry Bergman”—but would be the brunt of ridicule if I did so! I am no longer as impressed with such titles as I once was, due in part to the appallingly irresponsible behavior of so many of those with such titles, such as “Professor Dr. Dr. Gerhard Besier.”

    [ii] My translation. For the original see Appendix II

    [iii] Ironically, some of the staunchest opposers of the biblical creation world view (and often any theistic view of origins) are theologians, especially those who teach at a college or university (Witham, 2002). Many theists feel that the reason Darwinists try to claim “there is no conflict between Darwinism and Theism (specifically Christianity)” is to allow them to exploit the clergy to help them eventually achieve the goal of “demolishing theism” and replacing it with non-theistic humanism (Witham, 2002).

    The head of the largest anti-creation organization in the world, the National Center for Science Education in Berkeley, California, self-proclaimed atheist Eugenie C. Scott, noted: “the most effective allies for evolution are people of the faith community. One clergyman with a backward collar is worth two biologists at a school board meeting any day!” (2002, p. 16). Besier is evidently one of these “allies for evolution” (if I am wrong I will gladly publish an apology). Dr. Scott, soon after she “lost a tenure tussle at the University of Kentucky,” moved to Berkeley to fight creationism in all its forms wherever it “rears its ugly head” by whatever means possible (Witham, 2002, p. 62 and a NCSE fund-raising letter, December 2002, p. 3).

    It also appears to me that the German Lutheran church, or at least many of its leaders, long ago abandoned most of the fundamentals of Christianity, including the validity of the Scriptures. Could this be part of the reason this denomination is rapidly losing its influence in Germany? Research has shown that those churches that hold to the fundamentals of Christianity are growing, while those that have abandoned historic Christianity (and the Bible) are losing large numbers of members (Iannoccone, 1994).

    In Ohio alone, the official statistics show that the Methodist Church has lost over 8,000 members during the latest year for which records are available (see Christian Methodist Newsletter, 12(13):1-3, Winter 2001-2002). Since the 1950s, the most “liberal” churches have declined the greatest, while the “most conservative” (those that hold to the fundamentals of Christianity) are growing, in some cases enormously. The German protestant church (Evangelische Kirche) has reported an average loss of around 200,000 members each year since 1991, and a mere 4% of the German population now attend the Evangelische Kirche ( As further evidence of the state of the German Lutheran Church, we need only cite the fact that this is the same church (along with the other mainline “Christian” churches) that gave “almost complete support to Hitler’s wars of raw aggression and ruthless conquest” (Zahn, 1962, introduction on book jacket).

    Appendix I

    I will be glad to publish a response by Professor Dr. Dr. Besier or any other interested party with relevant information to add to this review. Likewise, if I have misunderstood the situation, I will be glad to note the misunderstanding here and retract as necessary.

  • Holey_Cheeses*King_of_the juice.
    Holey_Cheeses*King_of_the juice.

    Too much for my alcohol addled brain this late at night. I'll take my medication and sleep on it.

    cheeses will understand it.

  • Abaddon

    Jerry, check out the 'JWs and the problem of Creation en toto' and 'Are humans simply intelligent animals?' threads.

    I'm afraid I really don't see much interest or point in you showing that one particular mention of you is incorrect. It's a bit of a Red Herring 'People say creationists lie, look, in this one instance they were worng'. I can understand you being upset if such false claims are made, and you have my sympathy, but I'm far more interested in dealing with the undeniable amount of old, debunked, plainly deceptive or scholasticaly flawed and un-peer reviewed material foisted upon unsuspecting people of faith by Creationists as fact.

    What I like to see is this, a statement on the ICR web site about the Paluxy 'human' footprints;

    Even though it would now be improper for creationists to continue to use the Paluxy data as evidence against evolution, in the light of these questions, there is still much that is not known about the tracks and continued research is in order. We stand committed to truth, and will gladly modify or abandon our previous interpretation of the Paluxy data as the facts dictate.

    What I don't like to see is stuff like this

    For these rocks, long-age geologists have assigned an age of around 230 million years based on their fossil content and their relative position in the sequence of rock layers in the region. Recently, a creationist geologist measured the carbon-14 content of a piece of wood found in a quarry in the overlying Hawkesbury Sandstone. 7 Long-age geologists wouldn’t bother analyzing for carbon-14 because they believe the rock is 230 million years old. All carbon-14 should have disappeared by 50,000 years, at the most. There should be no carbon-14 left. However, the analysis confirmed a small but significant amount of carbon-14 in the wood—clear evidence that the sandstone is less than 50,000 years old. The small level of carbon-14 does not reflect an age, but rather the low concentration of carbon-14 in the atmosphere before the Flood (carbon-14 has been building up since the Flood).

    The first section highlighed red is appalling; readers are being asked to link the age of a lump of wood found in a quarry with geological features. There is no linkage. To me this is more than bad science, it's almost dishonest. The second highlighed section is not supported by any reasonable interpretation of the evidenece given. The third section I would LOVE to see the proof of.

    Another good example is here;

    In it the arguement is;

    1. We know the Universe and the Earth are young
    2. Light travels at a certain speed
    3. Certain objects are far to far for light to have reached us given the age we know the Universe is
    4. We had a theory that explained with Riemannian surfaces, but apparently it's bunk
    5. We had a theory that explained this wih varying values of c, but apparently it's bunk
    6. Even we have to accept that the 'appearance of age' arguement is probably a load of bunk

    It then tells about a new creationist cosmology. A creationist who had spent a year trying to prove the value of c had changed decided there was another explaination which "It passed peer review, by qualifying reviewers, for the 1994 Pittsburgh International Conference on Creationism." Now, it's curious that his work hasn't passed peer review by any mainstream publications, or that it's not been presented at any non-Creationist symposia. One therefore wonders what is meant by qualifying reviewers! To me it seems the article is giving an apparent sheen of competence and authority to something that would NOT be viewed as authoratative or competent under normal peer review; if it could have got into Nature, it would have.

    What is also ignored is the entirely presuppositionalistic and cirular nature of the 'science' involved. The assumption is that the Universe is young, the goal is to prove this, and any nasty facts which get in the way must be explained away!

    That's not science.

    There's more, I'm tempted to go into the woeful treatment of thermodynamics here;, but there is so much choice of bad science as well as cases where honesty can be questioned, we'll go for a list;

    A further example is the use of a Red Herring in your own article here You must realise 17th Century natural philosophy misconceptions regarding the generation of life are totally different from modern concepts of abiogenesis. I, in your shoes, would not have even bothered to mention it (after all, most people who claimed such things were theists), as it is comparing two different things.

    So, to me, very often the authors of Creationist material only have themselves to blame if their works are doubted or torn apart in review. Bad science is bad science. Lies are lies. Theories that leave out inconvenient data are unreliable. Circular reasoning is circular reasoning.

  • Jerry Bergman
    Jerry Bergman

    Faster Than the Speed of Light: The Story of a Scientific Speculation
    by Joao Magueijo , Jooao Magueijo

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    0 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

    1 out of 5 starsA Bright Idea That is Not His Own, March 30, 2003

    Reviewer: R. Joseph, Ph.D. from San Jose, CA
    In early 2000, when I published my text: "Astrobiology, the Origin of
    Life, and the Death of Darwinism" the book was met with a storm of
    accolades as well as condemnation. In one review, it was described as
    the "most important book of all time." In another, a dept. chairman
    bragged that he burned all copies in order to prevent students and
    faculty from being influenced by the book.

    Why the controversy? For one, I argued and presented data supporting my theory that "light can travel faster than the speed of light" and that "light travels at different speeds in different regions of the cosmos." I also had the audacity to argue against the theory of the big bang and to present an alternate view of the origin of life on earth; i.e. that life and its DNA fell to earth encased in the debris that was pounding the new born planet.

    I also predicted that these theories would be attacked, but over time, more evidence would accrue to support my arguments, and that, over time, other scientists would not only adopt my views, but try to take credit for them.

    Many of the ideas and theories proposed in the first edition have since been substantiated and supported by new research. Joao
    Maqueijo, has also proved yet another of my predictions correct: Others would try to take credit for my work. The theory of the variable speed of light was first detailed and proposed not by Joao Maqueijo, but by yours truly, Rhawn Joseph.

    R. Joseph, Ph.D...

    3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:

    5 out of 5 starsThe Lenny Bruce of physics.., March 27, 2003

    Reviewer: jaa125 from New York
    The thing that nobody seems to mention, including the professional reviewers, is how freakin funny this book is. It is most unique in this aspect. I could not put it down nor stop laughing.

    Like another reviewer said, it is two books in one - typical of the pop-sci genre:

    1. A layperson's translation of the science itself. For this there is not much information in there that could not be found in a short paper elsewhere. However, he has a talent for explaining things.

    2. A biographical sketch. This is where it is a real gem, not so much for his own development but for his brutal insider attacks on academia.

    A misconception of this book is that it is the rantings of a paranoid delusional trying to sell his theory and claim that the establishment is against him. The most important characteristics of a good scientist are total honesty and the ability to know when your are wrong. In this he does not fail. He is certainly the most honest (and brave) and also the most comedic author of a science book I have seen. And he is probably wrong.
    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

    2 out of 5 starsBias, philosophy, and some science too, March 24, 2003

    Reviewer: john harp from Oklahoma City, OK United States
    If you would like an illustration of how one's personal biases, philosopies, and political views influence their "science", this is the book for you. The author proves the case that pure science is as rare as theories that actually predict outcomes.

    1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

    5 out of 5 starsA revolution in science?, March 23, 2003

    Reviewer: A reader from Middle USA

    This book was much better than I expected. As a molecular biologist, I only have a limited background in physics but found that I could follow most of the book. Actually, much of it was very interesting in part due to the stories, such as what life was like at Cambridge, and the personal autobiography parts (which was much of the book). These sections made the book more like leisure reading. I find the authors theme of special interest. I was first introduced to the variable speed of light idea (sometimes called the tired light hypothesis) through reading creationist works. I was skeptical, to say the least, about this idea. Then I noted that many neoDarwinists used the writings of creationists on this topic to prove their absolute stupidly as a whole and even many creationists felt the theory was an embarrassment to them. Now when it is proposed by a member of the club it is considered brilliant, a breakthrough, the work of a genius, and featured as a book club selection! I cannot judge the validity of this theory, but I think that it needs to be examined carefully and I hope that those who are qualified will do so.

    1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

    4 out of 5 starsA Good Read, March 16, 2003

    Reviewer: A reader from The Bay
    I found this book quite interesting. The first half of the book is basically a review of modern physics. The second half of the book delves into the author's recent theories. He has taken a bold step in arguing that Einstein was wrong. He discusses his theory which states that the speed of light is not actually fixed, as Einstein argued, but variable. From this premis, he discusses everything from the beginning to the end of the universe. I found the book a tad confusing at times, but an enjoyable read, none-the-less. It was in many ways similar to the book STILL PITYING THE FOOL.

    3 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

    1 out of 5 starsOffensive and Trivial, March 14, 2003

    Reviewer: Owen W. Dykema from Roseburg, OR USA
    Definitely not worth the read.. The book is little more than a meandering autobiography of a young, well-educated man who badly needs to grow up. He makes every effort to offend everyone, including most of his fellow cosmologists and all technical editors, then complains bitterly how everyone is against him. He even goes out of his way to offend his readers, with a sprinkling of totally unnecessary four-letter words. Although I have long advocated the concept of a speed of light variable with time, but not of space, Magueijo gets himself totally wrapped around the axle trying develop such a concept without in any way offending his personal God Albert Einstein (heresy!). Is this where modern 'science' has gone?

    3 of 7 people found the following review helpful:

    5 out of 5 starsReveals the truth about "diversity" in culture of science, March 6, 2003

    Reviewer: Mel Beckman (see more about me) from Ventura, CA United States
    Others have detailed the contents of this book very well. I enjoyed Magueijo's writing and think the tome is a reasonable balance between technical detail and fascinating anecdotal accounts of the scientific publication process. Some reviewers have complained that the book never describes the author's actual VSL theory, but I think that was a smart economy. Including those details would make the book unwieldy. Majueijo's papers explaining VSL are readily available online (, and there is no benefit in loading down this book with them.

    What I found most intriguing is the book's depiction of extreme intolerance on the part of established science to even entertain what is a very reasonable hypothesis. Detractors of VSL talk about the "physical law" that requires the speed of light be constant. But there is no such law. We say the speed of light is constant today, but we have no reason to believe it was constant at the beginning of the universe. C is a cosmological "constant" with no supporting experimental evidence, for the simple reason that nobody was around to observe the speed of light during the big bang.

    Reading Magueijo's actual paper and follow-up documents, one sees a reasonable presentation and defense of a hypothesis that fairly well fits contemporary observations of the universe. What those papers don't reveal, and what the book documents, is the scientific establishement's behind-the-scenes manipulation undertaken to squelch discussion of the VSL theory in legitimate scientific venues. That's not science. That's religion.

    Although this book is an admitedly one-sided view of Magueijo's battle for VSL, you can readily corroborate some of the scientific press' outrageous obstructionism by simply reading Internet discussion groups. Magueijo may go over the top in his characterizations of his opponents, but he raises a very legitimate question about the integrity of those holding the purse strings of scientific research.

    17 of 19 people found the following review helpful:

    3 out of 5 starsIntriguing look at the cutting edge of science, but..., February 26, 2003

    Reviewer: Howard L Ritter, Jr., M.D. from Toledo, OH United States

    It may be poor form to start off a review with a sentence that immediately establishes a tone, but this book could have been subtitled "A Self-Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Turk". The science is by no means secondary, but the constant reminders that Magueijo has a very decided young-mavericks-vs.-old-fogeys world view of institutional cosmology often becomes intrusive.
    The author is a cosmologist in England and his book is the story of his development of an idea, that the velocity of light (the 'c' in E = mc-squared) is not constant but has varied during the history of the Universe. His contention is that if the value of c had been enormously greater in the extremely early universe (trillionths of a trillionth, etc., of a second after the start of the Big Bang), that may account for numerous curious attributes of the observable universe, including the so-called "flatness" and "horizon" problems as well as the origin of matter and the nature of Einstein's cosmological constant and the "dark energy" of the universe. Suggesting that the speed of light has not been an eternal constant is such anathema in physics that it is difficult to convey the magnitude of the heresy. It would be comparable to asserting to the Church that Jesus was not divine
    I can't comment on the validity of the science or the theory that Magueijo espouses (I don't think that anyone at this point in history can do more than just comment) except to guess that this book will become an eventual classic if VSL becomes widely accepted. Like many of the best writings about scientific progress, this is a first-person view from one of the central participants--THE central participant, if Magueijo's account is accurate. As such, and in its iconclastic, highly personal, and not always flattering second-person references to other participants and peripheral characters, it calls to mind James Watson's "The Double Helix" (and I'm guessing this is no coincidence). If VSL grows to repectable adulthood, the book will be a valuable record of its gestation, and this is where it really shines. Whether the reader really understands the basic science, or even whether VSL is correct or even well regarded, or not is almost irrelevant. The science is intriguing, especially if correct, but the unambiguously valuable, and enduring, content is the insight into the inspiration, the realizations, the excitement, the grinding intellectual labor and sweat, the reconsiderations and reworkings, the value of collaboration, the disappointments, the satisfaction of seeing one's young theory go from strength to strength--and the challenges and frustrations: of trying to air radical ideas without risking losing priority, of maintaining professional respectability while pursuing an idea utterly at odds with one of the nearly absolute and unassailable pillars of modern physics--and of trying to get into print with it. And contending all the while with the requirements of holding a post in academia.
    However, the next reminder that the author holds himself aloof from the mundane world which provides him with a nurturing cocoon in which to develop his ideas is never far ahead. This is manifested in numerous ways. One of the most obvious is the gratuitous use of "hard" four-letter expletives (only one of which is in the context of a direct quote), where more ordinary expressions would have been better suited to a mass-market book. Another is the blatant criticism he liberally dishes out to those whose role in life he considers to be to thwart him and his efforts. Some of this seems to me to border on the libelous. For example, the identity of the editor of a named physics journal in a particular year is virtually a matter of public record, and I can't imagine that that individual can be pleased with the characterizations made in repeated references to "the editor of PRD". Several journal referees accused of "idiocy" and worse are referred to in contexts that will probably render them identifiable, even if only to insiders. And the continuing references to the fossilized natures of the administrative echelons of academic departments and university leaderships rapidly grow old and distracting. Come on! We all know how young scientists feel about academic departmental dinosaurs. But Magueijo carries this past the point of necessity; a much more economical brief description would suffice to let the reader know that the author, too, experienced this common perception. In particular, the especially vitriolic criticism of the senior leadership at his own institution (Imperial College London) seem not only carping but downright ungracious. Tenure should not be regarded as license to kill.
    There are other curious habits; for example, a recurring character to whom Magueijo refers as his "girlfriend", and of whom a snapshot is printed, is identified only by her first name. Their informal and indefinite relationship would have made a reference without name or picture more appropriate for a published work. Cosmic strings are likened to pubic hairs. Also, the values of several physical/astronomical quantities are spectacularly incorrect as stated.
    I suppose much of this is what passes for courageous, tell-it-like-it-is honesty and intellectual brashness, but in a popular science book it just looks puerile. Some of the quirks can be attributed to the fact that the author is not a product of American/English culture and, to judge from a subtle (and engaging) "feel" to the structure and cadence of his narrative language, probably not a native speaker of English (Magueijo is Portuguese). Better editing would have solved much of the irritating details. One wonders whether the overall tone of the non-science aspects of Magueijo's story accounts for the fact that this book's publisher was not one of the major science-book houses. All in all a worthwhile book, a look at a work in progress and a vivid portrait of the personal process, but I think this is a dish that could have been served without the whine.

    16 of 19 people found the following review helpful:

    2 out of 5 starsPop-science book that degenerates into rant, February 23, 2003

    Reviewer: Adam Liebling (see more about me) from Long Island City, NY United States

    It is interesting to wonder whether theoretical physicist João Magueijo risks his career and reputation more by asserting his varying speed of light (VSL) theory-which goes against the fundamental law of physics that the speed of light is constant-or by revealing the unpleasantness of the academia field.

    The book is divided into two parts: the first half gives a run-through of the history of cosmological physics from Einstein to present (purposely excluding quantum mechanics). The problem with this half is that this information has been rehashed in layman terms a million times over. Magueijo is very lucid and the first 125 pages serve as a great refresher to those who haven't picked up a physics book in awhile. But you get the feeling that this half is to set the stage to better explain his controversial VSL theory, and it seems he shifted gears midway. Instead of explaining his theory and work in detail, the second half is used to describe the battle between him and the establishment in getting his ideas heard, if not accepted.

    That's not the problem-the second half is interesting and funny, if often whiny and catty (he insults editors of science journals that rejected his papers, collaborators that got cold feet on him, and university bureaucrats that demanded more "practical" research). The problem is that I read 125 pages of Physics 101, only to never really hear about his ideas or be given the chance to understand how VSL, as he asserts, helps solve the Big Bang problems that have been plaguing cosmologists since Einstein.

    It seems that midway Magueijo decided that ranting against the fools he had to suffer from made a more interesting book than his theories. Maybe he's right-the second half is a fun read, and it's amusing to hear him curse and bash other academics (science always seemed like a genteel field...). But the drastic change in direction from an academic work to personal accounts is a bit weird and disappointing, and it doesn't help him in getting his theories heard and understood by the mainstream if he doesn't bother explaining them.

  • Jerry Bergman
    Jerry Bergman

    It then tells about a new creationist cosmology. A creationist who had spent a year trying to prove the value of c had changed decided there was another explaination which "It passed peer review, by qualifying reviewers, for the 1994 Pittsburgh International Conference on Creationism." Now, it's curious that his work hasn't passed peer review by any mainstream publications, or that it's not been presented at any non-Creationist symposia. One therefore wonders what is meant by qualifying reviewers! To me it seems the article is giving an apparent sheen of competence and authority to something that would NOT be viewed as authoratative or competent under normal peer review; if it could have got into Nature, it would have I find this statement interesting in view if the book reviewed above. I also am amazed at the absolute viciousness of so many scientists, as is obvious in this review. This is why so many people do not put much stock in scientists, and why Ph.D is often referred to as piled high and deep. It would take a book to respond to your concerns and I hope to get to this someday.

  • Abaddon

    Jerry Jerry, linking to an Amazon book listing a response does not make. You do not address anything I mentioned in your own words, and just touch on one topic (variablity of c) in linking to this book review. Sadly, having looked at the paper, although I will happily admit the maths is well beyond me, I can see that there is nothing in this theory which relates to attempt by Creationists to show a variable value of c to explain the visability of objects more than 10,000 light years from Earth.

    Oh, and to be fair, whilst every Creationist attempt to come up with a structure of variable values of c that would support Creationism has failed, I should say that light HAS been shown to vary in speed - through different materials, and more interestingly in entangled particle experiments where it has been exceeded. This chap's theory MAY be right (I don't know enough of the maths to even speculate on its falsibility), but that there are other Cosmological theories that imply light MAY travel at different speeds in different parts of the Universe. Don't rush of and get the Scientific American this article appears in though; it relates to multiverse theories and such light would not EVER be observable on Earth.

    So, to be blunt, you posted something which doesn't help your arguement.

    I look forward to a more comprehensive response to my points.

  • Abaddon

    You posted whilst I was typing;

    I find this statement interesting in view if the book reviewed above.

    You can find it interesting, I don't see it's relevence to the points I was hoping you would address; you raised a point about whether Creationists deserve the reputation you outlined, I merely demonstrated that this was reasonable in many cases compared to the single instance you focused on where it was not

    I also am amazed at the absolute viciousness of so many scientists, as is obvious in this review.

    Irrelevent. Unless ALL Creationists are meek and mild, I can't evenb begin to imagine what your point is.

    This is why so many people do not put much stock in scientists, and why Ph.D is often referred to as piled high and deep.

    You're the guy with the Ph.D, I wouldn't even dream of commenting on that... and STILL nothing I bought up actually discussed.

    It would take a book to respond to your concerns and I hope to get to this someday.

    Are you saying it would take a book to respond to my concerns about the scietific competence and integrity of Creationism? I'm glad you are aware it is such an issue...

    ... answer the issues Jerry, please. Hooberus has blown his credibility (IMHO) entirely by abadondoning Bible chronology when it suits. I do hope you won't blow yours by evading the specific issues I raised.

  • Valis
    One Web site (, after calling the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) the “Institute of Cult Retards” (in fact, all of the professional staff have either a doctorate in their field of expertise or, at the minimum, a master’s degree)

    Eh...and then this..

    This is why so many people do not put much stock in scientists, and why Ph.D is often referred to as piled high and deep.'

    *LOL* One can't have one's cake and eat it too...I have always found that creationists are usually the worst in regards to flippantly dismissing scienctific findings, particularly geology and the fossil record, in order to purport their particular flavor of creationism...maybe if they didn't insist on including biblical mythology in their own PHD BS, psuedo science, people wouldn't call them liars or retards so often. As well, if it were not for some idiotic, yeah I said it, notion of a global flood, and the rest of the creation mess, the intelligent design people wouldn't have it so hard. I mean really, either you believe in all the bible myths or you don't. As far as I know the concept of picking and choosing is a no no...Or is it that some fairy tales concocted by delusional sheep herders are more plausible than others? *LOL* If you don't swallow the whole load , where is your foundation for intelligent design or creationism? Where does this notion come from that there is a creator without some scientific proofs? Nowhere, and that's where the rubber meets the road.


    District Overbeer

  • funkyderek

    Jerry, perhaps the reason you get called a liar so often is because you appear to be so woefully ignorant of the fundamentals of a subject you claim to have a PhD in, that people come to the conclusion that you're deliberately twisting the facts to fit your religious beliefs. Those who know you better know that the real reason is that the now-defunct diploma mill where you got your "PhD" didn't teach you much about biology.

  • Jerry Bergman
    Jerry Bergman

    Jerry, perhaps the reason you get called a liar so often is because you appear to be so woefully ignorant of the fundamentals of a subject you claim to have a PhD in, that people come to the conclusion that you're deliberately twisting the facts to fit your religious beliefs. This is pure name calling. Those who know you better know that the real reason is that the now-defunct diploma mill where you got your "PhD" didn't teach you much about biology. This is out and out slander and this kind of behavior is one reason why I moved from an atheistic world view to a Christian one. As once said, even is there is no Christian God, one is usually better off believing in him (as is society). Do you know what is involved in earning a Ph.D. in biology? How do you know what my course work and research at CPU involved? Of course you don't. Why do atheists and agnostics focus on mocking and attacking the person of others? As one famous (now dead) atheist said "I am not a Christian and I can hate whoever I want to." In my experience that is sure true. I am now working on a paper about CPU (which is not defunct but operates in another state) , and when I put it online your response will be, "well OK but I found another area to put you down".

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