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Barrie Zwicker: Maybe Shermer Really IS an Add-Junk Professor!

After a grand total of 76 comments, the verdict is in: untruther Michael Shermer is NOT an Adjunct Professor of Economics at Claremont Graduate University. He is therefore guilty of falsification of credentials – a serious offense in academia.

Barrie Zwicker writes to offer Shermer an alibi:

“Perhaps all this is just a huge misunderstanding! It may just be that people haven’t heard what Professor Shermer has been saying.

“He may have been saying ‘I am an add-junk perfesser. I perfess to add junk.’”

“So then who’s to fault him?

“Just asking.”

—Barrie Zwicker, author, Towers of Deception: The Media Coverup of 9/11

* * *

Barrie just gave me permission to post his email to Tony Hall. Here it is:

Hi Tony ~

I am choosing not to “reply to all” for reasons that will become obvious.

According to my Collins English Dictionary, Third Edition, the first meaning of adjunct (without a capital letter, of course) is “something incidental or not essential that is added to something else.” The second meaning is “a person who is subordinate to another.”

It appears that Shermer could claim to be technically correct concerning his relationship to Prof. Zak and/or Zak’s course.

But by using the capital letters A and P, Shermer is not implying, but stating, that he enjoys a particular status at Claremont, that of Adjunct Professor. Most people would take that as involving more than President Hough has confirmed is Shermer’s role (he does not specify for how long).*

Be that as it may, I would think that further clarification should be sought from President Hough as to, for instance:

[a] whether Claremont has a hierarchy of professorships, adjunct professorships, assistant professorships, etc., and
[b] whether these must be applied for, or earned, or conferred, and if so,
[c] by what process such appellations are arrived at. Is there an academic council that makes these decisions? A guidebook? Traditional procedures?
[d] How long has Shermer been filling this capacity?

Hough perhaps should be asked if he thinks Shermer has been misrepresenting himself. Of course, there are risks to asking this, as Interim President Hough may not relish a minor scandal which could reflect badly on himself and the U as well as Shermer, and hurt Hough’s chances of being named permanent President, for instance.

In any event, Shermer will probably first attempt to dodge criticism by failing to reply to you and/or others regarding this matter. This would be the first “line of defense.” It also buys him time. If you persist, which I hope you do, he may attempt to dodge this bullet by claiming it’s just a technicality, that Prof. Zak** asked him to come in once in a while and that Shermer became an adjunct professor de facto, and that for him to add capital letters to the words either is justified or is a very small oversight, or that he didn’t use caps, but people who advertise his talks have, and he didn’t want to embarrass them by raising such an insignificant point as to make himself look extremely pedantic, that it’s nothing worth getting worked up about, that the whole thing is just a misunderstanding, not even a tempest in a teapot, or something like that. There was never the slightest attempt to mislead, etc.
And – this would fit the “best defense is offense”  rule — that anyone trying to make something out of it is just on some kind of witch hunt, etc.

Don’t know if you will find any of this helpful. It’s meant to be.

Looking forward to your pursuing this, and keeping abreast, and helping if/as I can, and seeing you on November 2nd.

Best wishes always,


*Email from Joseph C. Hough, Jr., Interim President, Claremont Graduate University:

Dear Professor Hall,

I did not know anything about Professor Shermer until I received your email and did some quick research.  Michael Shermer assists Professor Paul Zak of the Economics department in an occasional single course in the transdisciplinary studies program of the University.  He does not hold any term or permanent appointment in the University.  The transdisciplinary program operates in cooperation with all our the various schools here, but is a separate program.  That is why Dean Jean Shroedel would not necessarity know about Professor Shermer’s presence on the campus.  Professor Shermer, is, I have learned, a regular contributor to Scientific American and the founding publisher of The Skeptic. 

I have no idea what he said in criticism of David Griffin that upset you, but at Claremont Graduate University, we strongly support the principle of free speech for visiting colleagues who are invited to speak at the University.  We support this very critical principle even when some of the members of our community may strongly disagree with what they say.

For the record, David Griffin is an alumnus of Claremont Graduate University, and I know him to be a highly respected and widely published philosopher of religion and a fine teacher.  He was, in fact, a student of mine some years ago.  I have read some of his writings on 9/11, and though I do not agree with many of his conclusions in the most recent book, I have read nothing in the 9/11 writings that would indicate that he has ever varied his approach to his work–namely: persistent and exhaustive research on subjects that really matter to him.

Sincerely yours,

Joseph C. Hough, Jr.
Interim President
Claremont Graduate University

* * Paul J.  Zak, the actual professor who apparently brought Shermer to Claremont and has Shermer occasionally assist him in his teaching duties, turns out to be the inventor of an alleged academic discipline called “Neuroeconomics” and a peddler of  Dr. Zak’s Patent Morality Medicine – a dubious concoction made up of equal parts Oxytocin and snake oil. Dr. Zak claims that “oxytocin is responsible for virtuous behaviors, working as the brain’s ‘moral molecule.'” (You can’t make this stuff up!!!) Apparently Shermer – falsifier of academic credentials and propagandist for war crimes – could use a double-strength injection of Oxytocin.

Paul J. Zak is a scientist, prolific author, entrepreneur, TV personality, and public speaker.  He is the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies and Professor of Economics, Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University.  Dr. Zak also serves as Professor of Neurology at Loma Linda University Medical Center, and is a Senior Researcher at UCLA. He has degrees in mathematics and economics from San Diego State University, a Ph.D. in economics from University of Pennsylvania, and post-doctoral training in neuroimaging from Harvard. He is credited with the first published use of the term “neuroeconomics” and has been a vanguard in this new discipline. He organized and administers the first doctoral program in neuroeconomics in the world at Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Zak is a recognized expert in oxytocin. His lab discovered in 2004 that oxytocin allows us to determine who to trust. His current research is showing that oxytocin is responsible for virtuous behaviors, working as the brain’s “moral molecule.” This knowledge is being used to understand the basis for civilization and modern economies, improve negotiations, and treat patients with neurologic and psychiatric disorders.

4 Thoughts to “Barrie Zwicker: Maybe Shermer Really IS an Add-Junk Professor!”

  1. Anonymous

    Physician, heal thyself!

  2. Anonymous

    Wow. This story just keeps getting better. The drug angle just makes it all the more hilarious. In the long history of the poppy plant and the various derivatives it provides, how many intellects has it snagged? How many praises have been sung of it? It's been called The Destroyer of Grief, the Hand of God, and the Milk of Paradise … and now, in its latest form, The Moral Molecule…

    It makes me wonder how medicated all these people are.

    But… to the point…

    What Mr. Zwicker has said regarding Shermer's likely response is very insightful. He's going to attempt to ignore you now; however these are the actions we know he has taken since you have broken the story:

    -First he made fun of the allegation on his public twitter feed – multiple times – including links so that his followers would come and comment.

    -Second he edited his own website and removed "of Economics" … This is easy to see by comparing his current website with the archives of it at From 2007 up until a few days ago it said he as an "Adjunct Professor of Economics" (caps verbatim) while it now says "Adjunct Professor" (again, caps verbatim). On the same night, someone with a California IP address made nearly the same change on Shermer's Wikipedia entry ("on/in economics").

    So he definitely didn't start off by ignoring you. However, once he read this: "He does not hold any term or permanent appointment in the University." from the President of the University.. he's only left with two choices… 'fess up, or ignore…

    Gee, I wonder which it will be? Lots of money and prestige on the line… Academic fraud is a big deal, and not just within the academic community. In some states, if Shermer presented a resume/CV making a false claim of this magnitude, he would be charged with a misdemeanor (TN,FL).

    (And Mr. Zwicker, if you are reading this – your controlled demolition of Noam Chomsky in Towers of Deception was simply brilliant. Thank you for writing it.)

  3. Anonymous

    Oops – I just realized the word is "Oxytocin" not "Ocycontin" – the former is a hormone while the latter is an opiate derivative.

    Still drugs though.

  4. Anonymous

    Ok… speaking of this story getting better… how about weirder?

    If you go to the website of Zak's institute, the first thing you might notice is the graphic with various positive words ("love") and then the word "oxytocin" pops up…and it repeats over and over…quite hilarious.

    But if you click on "View Source" in your browser menu… and scroll down to the bottom, you'll see a link to a Russian bot-control portal, and a series of 'black hat' SEO links pointing people to a site offering free flash games (flash is a notorious way of attacking computer vulnerabilities).

    Seems like the server they are running their website on has been compromised … … …or?

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