Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
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The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC

The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC, is located at 675 Route 72 E, Manahawkin, NJ 08050,
Telephone (609)709-2043 and (609) 494-0009.

Driving directions: Take Mill Creek Road South, just off Route 72 E After about 400 feet, turn right into the office complex of Mill Creek Commons.Then, immedately turn right again and go past the Lyceum II Gym. Continue on to the Prudential Zack Building,which will be the only building on your right. We are the last office at the end.

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Spotting Phony Research and Bogus Degrees

The first thing you want to know about any piece of scentific research is, who paid for it?  I recently read an online news story by a dietician who had eaten meals at McDonald's for thirty days straight, She was also young and highly attractive, and had a figure which had obviously not been "super-sized!" I don't know who paid for her research project, but she was just the kind of person they would want to write such a story for them. Endorsements by non-scientists, such as celebrities, activists, and politicians, are also inherently suspect.

Journal articles should be submited for peer review as a matter of policy before they are accepted for publication, and books or book chapters should similarly be subject to editorial scrutiny.  At the opposite extreme,  
anyone can publish on Amazon without any form of editorial scrutiny unless you are willing to pay extra for it. By the same token, anyone can upload a YouTube presentation; and a high school science fair project on the subject of parallel unverses can be side by side with a presentation by a world famous physicist on the same topic.  As a general rule, authors should always be willing to identify their publications with enough clarity that their credibility can be clearly established. If they become evasive or lash out when they are asked about such documentation, then it is quite likely that they have something to hide. When they are presenting at a meeting, this information should be available on the program listing; and if it is not included, then the organization itself becomes suspect.  

For an exellent and highly readable overview of how science progress and changes over time, I heartily recommend this outline of Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which can be read online for personal scholarly use free of charge. If you are interested in a particular author or area of investigation, Google Scholar is a much better search engine than Google itself.

Many people are surprised to learn that it is not illegal to claim to possess a degree that you did not earn. I can run off a Ph.D. degree today on my computer and give it to you, and you can say that you have a Ph.D. without breaking any law. The only time you can actually be prosecuted is when you offer your services to the public in a license-protected occupation, such as a psychologist, counselor, social worker; but even here, there are exceptions. In New Jersey, for example, a non-profit organization such as a church can hire you as a psychologist or a counselor without having to comply with formal licensing requirements, because you are not actually holding your services out to the public, they are.  But if you want to claim to be an expert in "psychic astrology" or "magnetic healing," let us say, and see private clients and put on workshops which train and certify other people to do the same, you are governed only by the Golden Rule: "He who has the gold makes the rules."

A legitimate earned degree which is recognized by established institutions of higher learning must be offered by the officially recognized accrediting body in your locality, and no other, because diploma mills are very good at forming legitimate-appearing organizations which happily "accredit" each other. 

There aren't any restrictions on forming an "educational institution." It is easy to incorporate "universities" with impressive-sounding titles, offering courses and degrees in all sorts of subjects, who may then group themselves into unsanctioned regional associations to accredit each other -- and they do!  To muddy the waters even further, some States maintain "lists" of educational institutions, which some of these institutions then use as evidence that they are "recognized" by that State, because it is all too easy to confuse being on a State list  with being "accredited by the State in question, which usually involves an official visit by a State accrediting team and a thorough review of the qualifications of every member of the faculty,
What to do.The best way to establish whether or not an accrediting body is legitimate is to call up the Registrar's office of an academic institution which you trust, and inquire as to the legitimacy of the accrediting body of the college or university which you are asking about -- but sometimes even the legitimate institutions themselves get fooled by a person who has begun teaching there with q bogus credenttial. When I was teaching, every few years I would hear about somebody who was booted off the faculty because their diploma was found to be a fake,

If you should happen to find yourself in attendance at a meeting where the credentials and professional qualifications of the presenters are not  properly vetted, demand to know their qualificarions or demand your money back. It's that simple.   

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