Using the appeal to authority - [Le site d'Irna]

Using the appeal to authority

Article published on 14 June 2006

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I have shown, here and there, that Mr. Osmanagic’s team was partly constituted of "ghost scientists", either people totally unknown of the academic world, or foreign scientists that were never aware that they had been included in the team. However, along with the "ghost scientists", there are in Mr. Osmanagic’s team as listed on the Foundation website some "real" scientists known by Google. Mr. Stjepan Coric is really a geologist from the Paleontology Institute in Vienna University, Mr. Ramo Kurtanovic is a member of Tuzla University (and seems to be working also in the University of Zenica in 2007), as well as Mr. Elvir Babajic and Ms. Zehra Salkic, Mr. Mehmed Burgic is a member of the Faculty of Metallurgy in the University of Zenica. It appears that, at least for geology, Mr. Osmanagic can rely on a competent team; we have still to learn what are exactly these competences: for instance Mr. Burgic (bs) is Assistant engineer (part-time employee) for the Chair of Non-Metal Materials, and that seems to me quite far from terrain geology and archaeology. And we cannot be totally sure that, unlike their foreign colleagues, these scientists have made more than show a polite interest in Mr. Osmanagic’s project.

Mr. Osmanagic is obviously trying to make his project, and his team, more "academic"; probably conscious of his own lack of references and credibility, he seems, beside the use of fictitious collaborations already mentioned here, to be "embellishing" a bit the competences of some of his experts. Here was mentioned the case of a possible former student in archaeology turned into an archaeologist.

The case of Mr. Aly Abd Barakat is more subtle. The coming of this Egyptian geologist, member of the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority (en), was much expected par Mr. Osmanagic’s supporters. On the Bosnian version of the Foundation website, Mr. Barakat is properly introduced as a geologist; on the English version, he is always called "Egyptian expert"; on this website (en), he is turned to "pyramid expert". If someone tells you that an "Egyptian expert" has come to study the "pyramid", would you ever imagine that he is in fact an expert mineralogist? It is easy to get confused, and, on the forums, in the press-releases and in the newspapers, the Egyptian geologist becomes sometimes an "archaeologist", a "pyramid expert", or even "the leading expert" (en); it is said that he was sent (en) by the famous Zahi Hawass (en), or by the Egyptian government, and nowhere is offered an evidence for these allegations [1]

Another instance of a collaborator made a little bit more important than he really is: a news from June 3rd (bs) on the Foundation website claims that the project "pyramid of the Sun" will receive the help and support of Dario Andretta, Doctor in Geology, candidate for the Nobel Prize, Rector of the University HUMIC - LUMUCI in Rome. The mention of the Nobel Prize is very questionable: there is no published list of the candidates, and, as far as I know, no Nobel Prize for Geology. The reference to the Nobel Prize has swiftly disappeared from the title (but not from the text of the article), the pyramid supporters pleading a mistake by the webmaster (the original text has been preserved here (en)), but too late, the bit of news about the support by "Prof.Dr.Ric.Geol. Dario Andretta from Rome (nominated for Nobel prize)" (en) has spread far and fast!

If one looks closer at who is Mr. Andretta, one will discover that, even if he really is a Doctor in Geology (informations about his thesis (it)), his other titles have far less prestige than it could seem. The University of which he is Rector is in fact a private university (en), not recognized by the Italian State [2], see this presentation (en):


Extracts: "The philosophy of our University is getting back to a classical way of teaching, like that of ancient Greece, in which the teachers are not professors but Masters whose teaching is based on the experience that they have gained through their work and lives. As a consequence the people chosen for the various subjects are professionals who, after congruous practice, want to hand down their know-how enriched with practical experiences. The choice of the University’s professors is based on the analysis of the applicants’ professional résumés and not only of the academic curricula. For these reasons we have decided not to be a university recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research as a training Institution. In this way, in fact, we are not forced to recruit our professors following the “academic” criteria obligatory in Italy". The organigramme (it) of this university is quite strange, et the course program (it) doesn’t show much geology. There is an announcement (en) about the "pyramid of the Sun" on the University website, but it only gives access to an interview (en) of Mr. Osmanagic. Last, a letter said to be written by Mr. Andretta and confirming his involvement in the project has been showed on various forums (see here (en)), but there is no way to ascertain the source of this letter (written in a surprisingly bad english [3]).

Notes :

[1On the contrary, see here (en) for instance a letter from Zahi Hawass on the subject.

[2In the summer of 2008, the website of this university is not available, without any indication of the cause of this problem; one has to mention the fact that Mr. Andretta’s "university" has twice been condemned by the Italian justice (it) for having fraudulously used words like "university", "faculty", "academic titles" and so on on its website, words that, as a private school not recognized by the Italian authorities, it is forbidden to use...

[3...even worse than mine, that is saying a lot!

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