The elastic truth
Following on to my previous post about truth in 45’s regime, as well as a previous one mentioning toward the bottom the role of policy advisor, here is an interesting one about Seb Gorka, current US counter-terrorism advisor.
A US academic delved into some detail into the credentials of this gent, whose nationalist parents emigrated to the UK in 1956 after the Hungarian uprising, and who moved to the US in 2004 to work for the DOD. He then acquired a Ph.D. from Corvinus University in Budapest on terrorism and Al Quaeda, but in 2007 he was nowhere near Hungary. I’ll let you read the details and the 40 word long (!) title of his thesis — talk about “an abstract in a title” — and while it makes for entertaining weekend reading (it’s a Bank Holiday long weekend here in the UK), it also shows the painstaking efforts needed to get to the bottom of the truth. In brief, Gorka has an online degree peer-reviewed by a family friend and two non-Ph.D.s:
In sum, Gorka’s Ph.D is about as legitimate as if he had been awarded it by Trump University
And while this is serious for a policy advisor whose credibility is at stake, this is by no means unique. I myself have an M.Sc., have published academically and online, and always helped continuing education in my profession. I have encountered a number of consultants, in their prime or retirees extending their career, who have real and not-so-real degrees listed among their credentials. A generation ago it was difficult to access academic or even publication records, so one relied on lists of references printed at the bottom of papers, some peer-reviewed and some not. But today the internet helps scrutinise and uncover most of these, as was done above.
In addition I have worked in many cultures, European, American and Asian with varying takes on ethics and truth. As a professional trainer & then in professional services, my career basically consisted of going between managers and technicians, or between operators and service providers in the complex arena of petroleum exploration & production — just as an example illustrated above, a 2 semester 30 class continuing education schedule will give you an appreciation of it — and I had to deal with the operational day-to-day realities across the world. I gave 2 day to 2 week classes from Bangkok through Baku to Bakersfield (quipped at the time as the ‘3 BK’s). I most recently spent six months in Milan then over a year in Kuwait.
What I learned is that reality is a fickle thing, and truth depends on your point of view.
As I said at the bottom of my earlier post on the current Administration, Gorka “only made manifest pre-existing mores and behaviours”. This of course justifies nothing, but it echoes Andrew Reynolds call above to get sharpish about what we read or hear nowadays. Let me add to that we must open our minds and broaden our perspectives, to really put ourselves “in their shoes” and understand the motivation of others, in order to pursue constructive dialogue in all walks of life. I’m a French national in Britain, and in the English version at the bottom of my latest post on the Mouvement Democrate blog, staying sharp if ever more critical in today’s climate of populism:
We are not trying to predict the future, but we are certainly trying to thwart rumors based on the past… To conclude with Sun-Tsu, all battle is won before the fight…