Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Faux-degree plans on hold?


I am in despair, Dear Ones. I was all set to go full speed ahead with my plans to obtain a few faux doctoral degrees, as I’ve discussed here previously. After reviewing numerous institutions of higher earning…I mean, learning, I had pretty much narrowed my search down to a couple of prestigious universities: Belford University and The University of Metaphysics. I was quite excited about these schools, as I noted in a recent blog post (second item). And I was saving up my hard-earned money to buy some impressive degrees.

But then – wouldn’t you know it! – some of our local CBS (Channel 11, KHOU) news guys went and rained on my parade. Those journalists! They’re always ruining things for the rest of us. The story that caught my eye last night on Channel 11 was one of those exposé-type pieces about phony degrees, reported by a young muckraker named Mark Greenblatt. It seems that some of our city and state officials in Texas, as well as a university professor or two, have been lured by the siren song of bought credentials, and some folks are pretty unhappy about it. Here's the online version of the story.

I learned from this story that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) maintains a list entitled, Institutions Whose Degrees are Illegal to Use in Texas. With my heart in my mouth – well, actually, it was still in my chest, but it was beating more rapidly than usual – I jumped onto the THECB page and, much to my dismay, saw several familiar names on this list.

For example, there’s Belford University, which has "locations" in Houston as well as in Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Here’s the scoop on Belford, according to the THECB: "No degree-granting authority from the CB & no accreditation from a CB [Coordinating Board] recognized accreditor. Under investigation by the AG [Attorney General] for operating from a mail forwarding service in Houston. Diplomas mailed from the UAE. Previously had a presence in NV or AZ."

Well, that still left The University of Metaphysics, I thought, hoping against hope. But my hopes were dashed when I saw that it, too, was on the THECB "illegal" list: "No accreditation from a CB recognized accreditor. AKA University of Sedona." [GOOD NEWS! See update at the end of this post. ~CC]***

Gosh darn it.

But really, what’s the big fat hairy deal, as Garfield the Cat might have said? So what if a phony degree is "illegal?" It’s not like rape or murder or robbery or fraud.

Well, okay, so maybe it is fraud, of a sort. And in the state of Texas, depending upon how one attempts to use that phony degree, it is a punishable offense:

The Texas Penal Code (Section 32.52) prohibits the use of fraudulent or substandard degrees "in a written or oral advertisement or other promotion of a business; or with the intent to: obtain employment; obtain a license or certificate to practice a trade, profession, or occupation; obtain a promotion, a compensation or other benefit, or an increase in compensation or other benefit, in employment or in the practice of a trade, profession, or occupation; obtain admission to an educational program in this state; or gain a position in government with authority over another person, regardless of whether the actor receives compensation for the position." Violation of this law is a Class B misdemeanor.

According to the Texas penal code (§ 12.22), a Class B misdemeanor is punishable by "(1) a fine not to exceed $2,000; (2) confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days; or (3) both such fine and confinement."

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m sure there are many money-making ops in jail – and especially after jail, particularly if you’re Paris Hilton (if you follow that link, scroll down to the third item). And heck, a $2,000.00 fine is nothing compared to the infinite amount of ready cash in the Universe.

Nevertheless I think I’ll pass.

I’m sure some of you are still saying, "Oh, Cosmic Connie, so what? Give it a rest already! This is much ado about nothing. After all, accreditation is an arbitrary tool of the establishment, and it’s no reflection on real merit."

Hmmm.

You know what? Maybe you’re right. Maybe I shouldn’t be so squeamish. After all, I’m not planning on running for public office, where every detail of one’s past, present and future is scrutinized. I’m shooting for the non-thinking public, people who are so gullible and worshipful that they never bother to question credentials. If a phony doctorate can work so well for so many New-Wage gurus, why can’t it work for an intrepid blogger?

Plus, as I’ve noted before, why earn your degree the hard way, if you can buy it the easy way?

Thank you for letting me get this off my chest, Dear Ones. I feel better already. And as an added bonus, I’ve just discovered another really good university which seems legit, because they have stringent admissions standards. I’m hoping they have a good doctoral program.

PS - Phony degrees are not just a Texas thing, of course, and not just a US phenomenon. Take a look at the articles and links on the Diploma Mill News blog.
(My recently expressed idea about getting a doctorate for Rex The Farting Dog was not that far-fetched; here's a link to an article about a kitty cat who got an MBA.)

And here's another interesting and informative site about the law (state, US, and international) and phony degrees.

PPS - Type "phony degrees" into Google and you get some very interesting "sponsored-link" results. This is the one case in which those scam schools who sell these phony degrees are actually being honest about their phoniness, but they're not going to pass up a selling op. Is this the ultimate in cynicism, or just great marketing – or both?

*** UPDATE added on 8 May, 2009: A commenter going by the moniker I.A.T.H. pointed out to me that the University of Metaphysics/University of Sedona are no longer on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) "Illegal" list. According to this person, the institutions were mistakenly placed there and have since been removed (you can read this person's full comment by clicking here). I have sent an email to the THECB web site asking for more details. My guess is that since U of Metaphysics/Sedona go to some pains to define themselves as "non-secular," they are outside the jurisdiction of the THECB. In any case, I wanted to be fair and inform you, as my commenter suggested I do, that these institutions are no longer on the Texas s--t list.

Do you realize what this means, Dear Ones? Not only does it mean that a certain person I've snarked about here has only one fraudulent doctorate (legally speaking) instead of two, but it also means that maybe I really can realize my dream of getting a flaky degree without running afoul of the law. Who said the Universe wasn't on my side?

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25 Comments:

Blogger blissings.com said...

Oh, Cosmic Connie, so what? Give it a rest already! This is much ado about nothing. After all, accreditation is an arbitrary tool of the establishment, and it’s no reflection on real merit.

Blissings!
Dr. Robert

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 2:15:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

The big question is: Are you fully certified to bestow blissings, Dr. Robert? Doesn't matter; it's good to see you here!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 2:30:00 PM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

Blessings - Sad thing is that some people actually buy that kind of reasoning. Perhaps I should go buy myself a degree or two! :-)

Friday, October 26, 2007 6:21:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Buy a couple for me while you're at it, Ron. Maybe they'll give us a quantity discount. :-)

Friday, October 26, 2007 6:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Barbara said...

Anybody who thinks the UOM is a diploma mill is out of their mind. Diploma mills simply grant you a degree under a phony name for peanuts. UOM doesn't simply grant degrees, one has to work their behiney off to get it by writing, writing, writing and more writing -- not to mention the reading and research involved. This is hogwash. Who gives a dinky if the State of Texas doesn't approve. It's all about US and how we feel about the degree program. I learned something from it and I am using this learning in a home based business that is really helping others. How many businesses can say that from the heart? Honestly now, I am weary of the bashing that this lauded learning system provides. For me, its about moving forward and that doesn't have to take place in a classroom. I've spent hours upon hours in different schools and guess what? When I moved to Maryland, the credits didn't count! Imagine .. over 60 credits and they meant nothing and all from 'accredited' schools of learning, like St. John Fishers in Rochester, BOCES in NY State, FIT in NY (oh . they would take 9 credits from there!), NALS (National Association of Legal Secretaries) and the PLS certification program (supposed to be 45 credits ... uhhhh... nope!, Drake Business School --- its all non-usable toward a degree anywhere I've attempted to use them. The UOM courses are wonderful and really give you what you need to continue on in your chosen field of Metaphysics. It is a viable career for those inclined to follow its path. Quit dissin on it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Barbara (or Dolphyn, as the case may be), you make a good point about the inconsistencies in, and sometimes arbitrary nature of, the accreditation system.

I won't bother to address the core issue of the validity of metaphysics as a course of study; I'll leave that task to others.

However, what I am "dissin on," as you put it, is the general tendency of people with "unconventional" degrees (whether those degrees were earned or outright purchased) to exploit the degrees to increase their professional credibility. Then when they are criticized about it, they say, "So what? The accreditation system is a joke anyway." So on the one hand, they're attempting to use a conventional method -- an advanced degree -- to establish credibility. At the same time they are saying that these conventions are in essence meaningless. Thus many of the metaphysically oriented degree-holders seem to want to have it both ways.

"Who gives a dinky if the State of Texas doesn't approve?" you ask. Actually, my reference to the illegality of certain schools' degrees in the State of Texas was directly related to the fact that I live in Texas. More significantly, so does an increasingly well-known spiritual/marketing guru who obtained his "degrees" from the institutions --- U.O.M. and Belford University -- that I named in my post. He has been called on this by several folks but has ignored the criticism, and continues to refer to himself as "Dr.", as do many of his fawning followers.

I have no doubt that possessing a masters or doctoral degree in metaphysics or some other "out-there" field will give a person credibility in some circles. And if your experience at the University of Metaphysics/University of Sedona has paid off for you, Barbara/Dolphyn, more power to you.

Apropos of that -- and pardon the digression -- I think about all of those ads I see in the New-Wage freebie rags for Intuitive Counselors and various sorts of "readers." I wonder how many people who try to establish a home-based business in metaphysics, with or without a degree from a metaphysical university, are really able to make a living at it -- without being subsidized by a spouse or partner with a real job.

In the world at large, having a degree from the University of Metaphysics or some similar institution -- no matter how hard you worked to get it -- generally won't buy you much. Is that unfair? Maybe, but that's the way things currently are.

Sunday, March 23, 2008 2:53:00 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Great blog, Cosmic Connie ...

These hucksters of pop spirituality are con artists and snake oil salsemen, after all.

Friday, April 04, 2008 9:28:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Rob.

Friday, April 04, 2008 1:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Cosmic Connie, for us who had to go deeply into debt to get real degrees from real universities, nothing is as deplorable as the new-age phony Ph.D.s, and Dr.s. cropping up everywhere. Thank you. I've earned my degrees with 6-7 credit course a semester and many, many semesters.

Monday, April 20, 2009 8:23:00 PM  
Anonymous I. A. T. H. said...

Hate to bring up an old subject, but I believe it is merited. On Oct 23, 2007, you wrote: "Well, that still left The University of Metaphysics, I thought, hoping against hope. But my hopes were dashed when I saw that it, too, was on the THECB "illegal" list: "No accreditation from a CB recognized accreditor. AKA University of Sedona."

I think you should know, and in turn, you should tell your readers that both the University Of Metaphysics and the University Of Sedona were mistakenly placed on THECB list - and since your article was published ,they have been removed!

This is important for a number of reasons. First, once something untrue or defamatory gets published on the internet, it is extremely hard to correct, as people will continually refer back and quote to it.

Second, As you can tell from the tone of the THECB web site, these are really hard core people that ain’t taking any B. S. from anybody. And if, after an investigation of both the University Of Metaphysics and the University Of Sedona, they have removed them from their list of nasty rip offs and diploma mills, that has got to be saying something about the legitimacy of the Universities.

I am not privy to the entire process, but I know that The THECB people were asked to remove the universities from their list, and that in reply, the THECB then proceeded in an in-depth investigation into them. They began with the biased conclusion that they were fakes, and ended up eating a bit of humble pie and removing both the universities from their list. If you know anything about government, you know how hard it is to get any government agency to admit a mistake, let alone correct it.

I can tell you that the THECB had to have found that Metaphysics, especially New Thought Metaphysics, is a recognized and established religious philosophy (Think Unity, Religious Science, etc... Unity, by the way has a very beautiful church in your neck of the woods…. Houston Texas ) Both universities teach and grant degrees exclusively in New Thought Metaphysics as well documented in their web sites.

To come down on either of these universities is to come down on any and all religious institution which grant degrees in the study of their specific religious philosophy – of which there are many… both in number, and denomination.

We are in agreement about much of the chicanery and outright foolishness involved in the New Age field, and you should know that the universities, as well as their founder has been a strong voice for exposing the rip offs and scams in the field for over 50 years.

In conclusion, both universities are recognized by the federal government as being able to grant religious degrees in the field of New Thought Metaphysics, and have been so for nearly half a century – long before metaphysics and new age became the catch phrases and invitations to scams that they now are.

New Thought Metaphysics is as legitimate a philosophy as Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Unitarian, Catholic, or any other religious belief system. So to be fair, you should either correct the record on University Of Metaphysics, or get started on all the other recognized and established denominations out there.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 7:07:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you for your comment, I.A.T.H. As you can see, I've made the correction on my post, via an addendum.

I am well aware of the history of New Thought and am quite familiar with Unity; my partner Ron and I used to attend that very church in Houston (that's where we met), and we still have a few dear friends who attend. I guess you could call the new church building beautiful; some of us refer to it as Caesar's Palace.

While I recognize that New Thought Metaphysics is, on one level, just another religion/philosophy/way of life, on another level it is not. It is far more loosely defined, and more inclusive, than most established denominations. Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with that. (If I were forced to go to church, I'd pick Unity over a Baptist or Methodist church any day.)

However, because of its "open-mindedness," New Thought stuff does seem to lend itself more to craziness and downright silliness than, say, Lutheranism. That's one reason that traditional organized religion in general is beyond the scope of this blog. (The other reason, quite frankly, is that traditional religionists --not just Christians, of course -- have a tendency to react more violently when criticized than do New-Age types.)

Anyway, thanks again for your comments.

Friday, May 08, 2009 5:25:00 PM  
Blogger TRex said...

Well ...thats a lot of information and certainly indicates how devoted we Metaphysical types are to the study. I am also a student with the U.O.M and U.O.S...and must say that the truth has been spoken here as the proof is in the cosmic pudding...they were REMOVED from the Texas watch list which speaks volumes. While it is certainly a list worth having as there are many scams withing the educational system "Kennedy Western" appears to have been one and there are many others. But please note the U.O.M has been around for 50 years so take that as a clue. Personally did research into U.O.M before signing up. Frankly I think they are the leading edge of a new wave...so grab your surf boards and ride.

To all of my fellow Metaphysicians.
Live Long and Prosper !!

TRex
www.worldwide-evolution.com

Friday, February 05, 2010 5:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Rev. Dr. Steve said...

Cosmic Connie, Recently I have been awarded a PhD in Comparative Religion through the University of Sedona after completing the Bachelors and Masters programs through the University of Metaphysics. I encourage you to move forward with your original plan to secure a doctorate through either of these institutions...you'll find that you have earned your degree, rather than purchased one. Are you up to the challenge, or are you satisfied to offer your opinion without the benefit of actual experience?

Many blessings,

Rev. Dr. Steve

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 1:52:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks for your comments, TRex. As you know, I did make note here on this very post that UOS/UOM has been removed from the Texas fraudulent-degree list b/c it defines itself as non-secular, and the State Board agrees. To me that's more of a nod to separation of church and state than a comment on the institution's merits, but it is important nonetheless. And even though my posts about faux-degrees are mostly facetious, I think it's crucial for me to make corrections and updates when they are brought to my attention. In a subsequent post, "Good News on the Faux-Degree Front," I also noted that I contacted the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB)to verify that UOS/UOM was indeed removed from the "watch list" because it is non-secular.

This still doesn't mean that a doctorate in metaphysical "science" is necessarily going to get you where you want to go in a real career, and it may be a liability. Or at least it may cause some thinly-disguised snickers in some circles (as appeared to be the case with "Dr." Joe Vitale on a recent post-show interview on FOX and Friends). But I assume that is not a concern for many people. And having a questionable degree or two hasn't stopped some people from raking in millions, though I doubt it actually helped.

I'm pretty well aware that there are issues with our entire education system, including the credentialing system. I realize that conventions fall away, and new conventions arise, as times change. Perhaps it is time for an overhaul, not only in the way education is delivered but in the way various forms of education are regarded in the "real" world. Institutions such as Kaplan University and University of Phoenix are playing on these themes, with some success, apparently.

On the other hand, I've seen more than my share of hucksters, metaphysical and otherwise, who are parading their PhD's, questionable and otherwise, while spewing B.S. And frankly, TRex, I don't see that problem getting any better by expanding the playing field. Perhaps you'll be a force for good in this area, as you blog from Zimbabwe about the evils of Obama.
http://timrex.blogspot.com/
(The worldwide-evolution.com URL you provided appeared to be offline when I tried it.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you for the blessings, Rev Doc Steve. It's always good to receive blessings from someone in the metaphysical field. They sound so sincere.

I suppose congratulations are in order to you for earning your degrees, and I thank you for encouraging me to pursue my own plans. In the interests of full disclosure, however, and because at this time Blogger does not support the much-Twittered about sarcasm font, I must make note that all of my statements about my own ambitions to acquire a degree from any metaphysically-inclined institution have been ironic.

Here's the honest truth: I have no degrees. I have never attempted to acquire a degree, legitimately or otherwise. (I blame my own laziness.) I am not particularly bothered by this, although in retrospect a law degree might be nice. If getting a degree had been a priority for me I would have taken steps to do so long ago. Accordingly, I don't begrudge others their degrees, but will on occasion snark about some folks' lame attempts to use their degrees (phony or otherwise) to bolster their credibility.

So when you ask whether I am up to the "challenge" of acquiring a degree or two through your alma mater, it's really a moot question. I should note, however, and I say this with all sincerity, that I do have a lot of experience in the metaphysical community. I have often found it a challenge to listen to conversations among 'like-minded' people, or to make my way through the copy on a metaphysical web site, without rolling my eyes at the ceaseless cliches about a new era of consciousness and so forth. All too often, those lofty sentiments about new paradigms are piggybacked on some very old scams. I am not saying you're one of the scammers, RevDoc Steve -- not at all, and I wish you well in your endeavors -- but let's just say I come by my cynicism honestly.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger TRex said...

I guess degrees are like lotto tickets..you have to pay for them and you cant really win without one. So at the end of the day I suppose any degree is better than none in a world of perception. Just depends on how much you want to pay for the ticket and how far you want to ride.

Trex

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger TRex said...

Cosmic Connie...forgot to mention that you did indeed point out the correction which speaks volumes toward your credibility and desire in keeping things factual...thank you for your honesty. As a side note to one of your comments..
I already have degrees in aerospace engineering through the brick and mortar "accredited" famous institutions..and have had a very fine career in defense contracting for awhile...but now I am looking to expand on another part of my being that seems to be on a mission...so follow the yellow brick road it is.

TRex

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks for your additional comments, TRex. Your comparison of earning (or buying) degrees with buying lotto tickets isn't all that far off, although I imagine the odds are a bit better with degrees. Anyway, I wish you the best of luck and hope you'll keep in touch.

Thursday, February 25, 2010 1:36:00 PM  
Anonymous dissertation said...

I have been visiting various blogs for my dissertation research. I have found your blog to be quite useful. Keep updating your blog with valuable information... Regards

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hi, Dissertation. Wow, I followed the link to your English-challenged "dissertation writing help" web site.

I found such gems as this:

"What if I secretly tell you the way to get your UK dissertation approved and guarantee your degree in less than 2 weeks without even flipping a single book page!"

But at least your work is guaranteed to be...

"100% Plagiarism Free

"Your customized dissertation will be scanned through Anti-Plagiarism software VIPER 1.2.03 and web service MyDropBox.com and you will be provided with the FREE Anti-Plagiarism Report along with your custom dissertation as proof."

And then there's this...

"Finally Revealed… The 7 Intelligent Questions Wise Students Ask a Dissertation Writing Service Before Buying Dissertation Online That Can Literally Guarantee They Will Never Be a Victim of Any Scam In Any Way!"

And this, on the "Price" page...

"How Much Are You Willing To Invest To Get a Massive Salary Through Your Graduate Degree By Your Approved 1st Class Dissertation So That You May Lead a Luxurious Life?

"The guaranteed 2:1 Standard or 1st Class Dissertation you receive will never be a purchase on your part … It is because a “Purchase” loses you money but in contrary this is an Investment on your part which will earn you money through your Qualified Degree."

I could go on and on. But I won't. Your site speaks for itself quite well. It's only too bad you're in the UK. There are probably scads of US hustledorks who would love to take advantage of your scam...I mean, your services.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hey, Dissertation spambot: I am not going to publish any more of your messages promoting your scammy UK McDissertation site. I know you guys are English-challenged, but maybe you can get someone who knows the language to read and explain my posts about phony Ph.D.'s to you. This blog is no place to be promoting your scams unless you want me to make fun of you.

Students who pay someone else to write a dissertation for them, in hopes of earning a degree from an accredited institution, are just as snarkworthy, IMO, as those who purchase their "degrees" outright from a phony online university.

The clue bus just pulled up to your door, pal. I suggest you board it and get out of my Whirled as quickly as possible.

Thursday, July 29, 2010 11:28:00 AM  
Anonymous TREX said...

I agree..As with the University of Metaphysics you are required to submit your Thesis and Dissertation under strict formatting, content and data reference guidelines which are spelled out to you well in advance.
To then go and pay a third party to do your work for you is nothing less than paying a fellow student who has proven their capabilities to do the same..kind of like cheating.
At the end of the day your personal confidence level suffers as you may fool someone else but never yourself..no pain no gain.
From Metaphysics perspective that act would be like pouring piss in the punch bowl..end of party..get the picture?

Thursday, July 29, 2010 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

LOL about the punch bowl, T-Rex. Good analogy. Sadly, it seems many people don't care about proving their own capabilities; they just want the credentials that they think will help them fool the world.

But I really have to wonder about the quality of the writing in the "dissertations" offered by this UK company, in view of the fractured English on their web site.

Thursday, July 29, 2010 12:36:00 PM  
Anonymous TREX said...

I for one am glad that you are ...maintain your passion for truth "de la resistencia" without folks like yourself the predators run amuck...in this case with the obvious "dissqualifications" presented on their website it is "Poetic Justice"...
A slacker Sucker Site..srves em right...tryin to slide out widout payin da price..dissin da "dissertations" now de on thin ice...got yo Franklins fool..now watcha gunna du..don even know a diss from datt...yo you know who we talkin too...betta git yo dum ass back to scool !!

Thursday, July 29, 2010 2:00:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Even with the Hip-Hop slang, you're still using better English than what I saw on the McDissertation site. :-)

Thursday, July 29, 2010 3:43:00 PM  

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