Men from Mars, Women from Venus, Ph.Ds from Uranus

by Kieran Healy on March 19, 2004

Via Kevin ‘the Animal’ Drum we learn that John Gray, author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is pretty touchy. He’s threatening to sue a blogger who pointed out last November that Gray’s Ph.D was of dubious provenance. I thought this was pretty well known—I mean, I knew it, and it’s not like I keep up with the news. He got it from Columbia Pacific University, an unaccredited diploma mill somewhere in California. There was a TV story about it a while ago. But though CPU may be defunct (by the by, what computer scientist would not want a degree from CPU?) there are plenty of others. Enroll at Strassford University, for example (discussed further in this CBS news report), or Glencullen University, notionally located in the heart of Dublin], or just cut to the chase and design your own degree—literally—at This last site helpfully reminds you that, although “All our diplomas are printed on high quality parchment paper [and] all transcripts are printed on tamper proof, security paper,” and that  ”You also have the option of adding a security hologram to any transcript”, nevertheless “none of our items are intended to be used for unlawful misrepresentation or fraudulent purposes.” 

fn1. Glencullen also operates as the University of Wexford, which I suppose isn’t that far from Dublin, but also as the University of San Moritz, which makes you hope the students don’t have to walk across campus to get from one lecture to the next.



tcb 03.19.04 at 6:54 am

What is your objection to computer science? It’s been a legitimate field since the 1950s at least.


David Brake 03.19.04 at 9:22 am

The diploma mill problem was covered by the BBC not long ago. Here’s a tip – if a UK institution’s website doesn’t end with it’s not a university (though it may be a legit institution of learning).


Kieran Healy 03.19.04 at 10:58 am

What is your objection to computer science? It’s been a legitimate field since the 1950s at least.

[Rolls eyes.] Oy veh. Please tell me not everyone read the relevant sentence that way.


Backword Dave 03.19.04 at 12:05 pm

I didn’t.


chris 03.19.04 at 12:07 pm

Nah, you’re all right. In the olden days computer scientists did machine architecture courses. Want to fund me setting up Rotherham International Science College?


Julian 03.19.04 at 11:20 pm

Just when I was reading this post I got an email that seems to invite me to another academic sham. I quote at length:

“Dear potential VIP Speaker:

We are pleased to invite you, as a VIP Forum speaker, to the CAITA-2004 conference, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA (arrival: Thursday July 8, 2004. and departure
Sunday July 11, 2004.).

All relevant information and the detailed invitation letter can be found on the web (
This is a broadband conference, aimed at bringing together the scientific/technical elite. Keynote: Dr. Dag von Lubitz, Laureate of the Smithsonian Award. Important deadlines:

Abstract – March 20 (the deadline is short, but 100 words is easy). Full paper – April 10.”

I’d be interested to hear if other academics have received similar emails. It’s certainly the first one of this kind that I received. But would anyone with a degree from a real university be stupid enough to reply to this – especially after visiting the conference website?


Troy 03.20.04 at 12:03 am

Naw, your joke regarding the acronym “CPU” was commonly understood, and pretty funny.


bad Jim 03.20.04 at 5:31 am

Kieran has it exactly backwards. Computer scientists don’t want an MD from CPU, they want a CPU from AMD.

These non-technical types, really …


Curtiss Leung 03.21.04 at 2:52 am

Hrm…I wonder if any of these place will allow me to get a PhD in John Gray studies.

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