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Between 2016 and 2019 a writer named John Anthony Glynn, whose biography includes a Ph.D. in psychology and professorships of psychology at several universities, had four articles published in Skeptic and eSkeptic (the online edition of print Skeptic). While we edited and fact-checked his articles, we did not verify his biographical claims and we were duped. A number of red flags that emerged over the past few months led to an investigation that revealed Mr. Glynn faked his Ph.D. As the Publisher and Editor of Skeptic I should have been more alert to these red flags and I take full responsibility for the publication of these articles under the pretense of his unearned expertise. I apologize to our readers and promise that from now on we will be more vigilant in our fact-checking. A Ph.D. is not required to publish in Skeptic, but fabricating one is disqualifying. Further research revealed that Mr. Glynn represented himself as a Ph.D. psychologist to several academic institutions (academic fraud), and under those credentials he published over 40 articles in 15 different publication outlets in 2019 alone (journalistic fraud). The extent of this calculated, systematic, and repeated deception warrants publishing our findings, the details of which follow.

The Fabulist and the Publisher
A Journalistic and Academic Fraud Exposed

In 2016 Skeptic magazine published an article on “Guns and Games: The Relationship Between Violent Video Games and Gun Crimes in America” (Vol. 21, No. 1) by John Anthony Glynn, who identified himself as a Ph.D. psychologist and as a professor of psychology. After that initial publication he began emailing me regularly (120 times this past year), pitching stories on a variety of topics, including the evolutionary origins of humor, online gaming, cybercrime, masculinity, political correctness, social credits and privacy, dopamine, and suicide. In one email he clarified that he earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Hertfordshire in England. In another email he claimed “I am head of behavioral science at a medical school, XUSOM” (Xavier University School of Medicine in Aruba, an island off the coast of Venezuela), on the pretense of inviting me to speak there. More recently, he told me that he was applying for a professorship of psychology at the American University of Bahrain, Manama, for which he asked me to be a reference. On April 13, 2019 he told me that he got the job. On April 25, however, I received an email that should have set off my skeptical alarms more than it did, in which he asked to borrow money after, he said, Xavier Medical School “is a fraud, pure and simple; it lacks knowledgeable faculty, basic facilities” and he was never paid, but that he would pay me back upon his new professorship at the American University of Bahrain. (Note: this article (archived version) from August 2018 says Xavier Medical School received its full accreditation, and this article (archive) from June 2019 says its new campus is under construction).

I declined to lend him money, but felt a twinge of empathy for him, so I kept the communication channels open. Perhaps I should have taken a cue from an August 20, 2019 email where he inquired if I had… “Any interest in another piece discussing the proliferation of experts who actually lack expertise?” In all, we published four articles by Mr. Glynn, two in print, two online:

  • “Guns and Games: The Relationship Between Violent Video Games and Gun Crimes in America” (print Skeptic, Vol. 21, No. 1)
  • “1984 in 2019: The New Privacy Threat from China’s Social Credit Surveillance System” (print Skeptic, Vol. 24, No. 2)
  • “Concept Creep and the Policing of Words” (online only, removed)
  • “Why People Die by Suicide” (online only, removed)

When he pitched the last article we published by him on suicide, Glynn assured me “As a psychologist, I would of course handle such a piece with care.”

Two of my former graduate students, and now professors, who also conduct research for Skeptic, became curious about Mr. Glynn’s credentials. They began by simply checking to see if Glynn was a professor of psychology at the American University of Bahrain (archive). Since the university wasn’t even open (it is supposed to open this Fall), that didn’t look promising, and his prior claimed professorship as the head of behavioral science at the Xavier University School of Medicine in Aruba was, by his own admission, a bust. […]

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