Quote of the Day

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


George Wythe has closed its "The Jefferson Degree™ doctoral program" to new applicants (ht: Bipolar Attorney).

Recipients of this degree hold themselves up as having a doctorate in constitutional law. However, the latest person to get this "Doctorate in Constitutional Law" wrote (I assume it was written) a dissertation on 19th-century literature, with a focus on The Scarlet Letter.

I don't quite see the connection between Hawthorne and constitutional law. But then again, we're talking about George Wythe College here.

From the GW newsletter:

The Statesman: What was the purpose and focus of your dissertation?

Dr. Elizabeth Smailes:
My dissertation focuses on symbolism as an independent literary theory. While reading classics I came to realize that each author has an intention for their book and there are certain books (many of them written in the 19th century), in which the author’s intention is communicated through symbol. Without this knowledge the reader is missing 90% of what some authors are trying to say. Once I recognized this, it was my role as a statesman to help readers bridge this gap in understanding. My dissertation focuses on teaching the art of reading symbolically and gives the reader a symbolic study of The Scarlet Letter, which I propose is the mother of all symbolic novels. After completing this guided exercise you will read differently.

Dr. Elizabeth Smailes received her Doctorate of Philosophy, Constitutional Law, also known as the “Thomas Jefferson Degree,” at the Commencement Ceremonies in October. She is currently the mentor of a lucky group of GW Freshmen, whom she is guiding through great books such as Tolstoy’s Resurrection, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay’s The Federalist, and Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Dr. Smailes’ students love her energy and her ability to help them see their individual strengths and weaknesses. They especially enjoy the debates and intense discussions that the class engages in as she challenges preconceived perceptions and paradigms. She resides in Cedar City, Utah with her husband Joe.

Found the dissertation!

Seriously, knowledge of Scarlet Letter symbolism should be a litmus test for any future SCOTUS nominee. We certainly can't have anyone sitting on the bench without a thorough knowledge of this vital niche of constitutional law. I'm sure both sides of the aisle will agree. :)


Nathan said...

Wow. I remember reading The Scarlet Letter in my public high school. Our teacher said this exact same thing. The book is so replete with symbolism it is a great starter book to understand literary analysis.

So how did this persons new PhD contribute additional understanding to the field when my conveyer-belt education was teaching this concept 25 years ago?

(sarcasm intended)

The Real George Wythe said...

Good point Nathan. A Google search of "scarlet letter" symbolism returns 708,000 results.

It would be interesting to see how such a dissertation contributes to the literature, unless the goal here is to build a set of literature independent of what's already been done. A type of reinventing the wheel.

Regardless, I'm at a loss as to what symbolism in 19th Century literature has to do with Constitutional Law. These are two different disciplines.

It's a little like getting your doctorate in Chemistry by writing a dissertation on Bach's use of counterpoint.

It appears the George Wythe doctoral program lacks any kind of topical cohesion. No wonder it is being shut down.


Bipolar Attorney said...

I too do not mean to be found sarcastic, but these insights on symbolism would be expected of a bright undergraduate in a lower division course at BYU.

One of the good parts of being on the "education treadmill" is that one gains appreciation of the accumulated scholarship of the past. That appreciation is impossible in a group that rejects all knowledge from any school that presents its graduates with recognized degrees. But then it has been shown beyond dispute that two graduate degrees from PAC-10 universities have destroyed my ability to know when and how to think.

Bob said...

First of all, is there anyone here making snide remarks who is claiming to actually know more about the US constitution than Dr. Smailes? Or more importantly about the science of international political forms? I seriously doubt it. Reading your comments is like watching football fans discuss the social/economic impacts of the Chinese stock market on the Superbowl. You most likely don't have a clue what you are talking about.

Secondly, the Jefferson Degree is broad in scope and as stated on the website...

"The Jefferson Degree is designed to introduce current and future leaders—CEOs, attorneys, professionals, government officials, senior executives, graduate students, scholars and others—to the greatest ideas in history concerning forms of government, economics, law, culture, and society."

Perhaps one should read a dissertation before bashing it. And perhaps one should discuss the constitution with someone before questioning their knowledge of it.

Oh wait, I forgot where I was for a second. This is TRGW's blog, where due diligence or facts are apparently not necessary. Just rumor, theory and conjecture. Why do I read this blog? Oh yeah, cause I'm afraid someone will actually believe you people know what you are talking about. After all, some people actually believed Obama's campaign speeches.

By the way, how's that 5000 Yr Leap reading coming? Good to hear you actually plan to read something before you rip into it. Way to shake things up around here for a change. Looking forward to reading the brilliance that is your critical review.

(no sarcasm intended)

The Real George Wythe said...

Bob, I may be sounding like a broken record here, but I've never ripped on 5000 Year Leap. It's a slog fest, but the reading is coming along.

In the mean time, perhaps you could enlighten us on the connection between Hawthorne and "the science of international political forms."

The Real George Wythe said...

Bob, on second thought it sounds like you may have access to this dissertation. Please post a link to it so we can read the original source.

Bob said...

If you are truly interested, might I suggest the obvious... read the dissertation. You might learn something.

Bob said...

Oh and thanks for being honest and admitting that you didn't read it before you ripped into it. That really is something you should do less often. Your credibility is fragile enough as it is.

Bob said...

Inability to see interdisciplinary connections is one of the great tragedies of conveyor belt education.

The Real George Wythe said...

Bob, couple things. First, I have never ripped into anything I haven't read. You question my integrity, but I challenge you to point out even one blatant, bad-faith error on this blog.

Second, my question is about the topic and content of this "dissertation" as summarized by the school itself.

Please, help us all understand the connection between symbolism in literature and constitutional law. Seriously.

The way you defend this school under seemingly any circumstance is quite astonishing. Do you work for George Wythe University?

The Real George Wythe said...

Okay Bob, help us--the unwashed masses--understand the interdisciplinary connection here. We can't help our conveyor belt background and must defer to you.

Seriously Bob, dumb it down for us if you have to.

What's the connection?

Bob said...

No need for apology. Overcoming the limitations of our public school education is something we all have to face sooner or later. I don't actually expect you to see the connections. Just admitting that such might actually exist would be a good first step for you.

The Real George Wythe said...

Bob, explain the connection.

Or do you not see it either?

Bob said...

Coming up with one of your own, now that would be a great leap.

And no, I have no affiliation with the school outside of friends who have attended. I would attend myself if my situation allowed.

The Real George Wythe said...

Explain the connection.

Bob said...

Every "Wyther" I know wouldn't even be hard pressed to come up with 100 connections.

The Real George Wythe said...

Okay, come up with just one.

Bob said...

You honestly mean to tell me you can't think of a single connection between a book about public and private virtue and the formation of the world's longest standing democratic republic?

Next you're going to admit you've never read de Tocqueville.

Bob said...

Then you're going to try to tell me there is no connection between agriculture and freedom.

The Real George Wythe said...

Explain the connection.

Bob said...

Finally you're going to argue that lawyers make the best politicians.

You're not the first.

The Real George Wythe said...

Explain the connection.

Bipolar Attorney said...


My constitutional law teacher (Mentor?) was a Rhodes scholar, practiced law, three terms as Attorney General, Dean of the Law School and President of a PAC-10 University. He personally argued every case the state had before the Supreme Court.

I think I know what constitutional law is. I think I know what it isn't. This is not Constitutional Law.

I also had a double major at BYU. I left with six hours remaining on the second degree in English literature. I am competent to know that a sophomore should understand the existence of symbolism in Hawthorne. I know English PhD's at BYU. This is not what a legitimate PhD would put before the world.

I think your challenges should go both directions. Why don't you find out the reading lists in graduate history programs like the University of Utah? Why don't you read the dissertations?It actually takes time, work and experience to understand shoddy education.

I think it mostly harmless that this particular PhD was granted. I don't think she will be in a position to deceive. (Ann Tracy) It is somewhat in the order of Mark Twain's King and Duke.

Bob said...

Are you the only person who hasn't recognized that I've already listed no less than 4 connections? But I'll humor you and list another...

The Northwest Ordinance

Bob said...

Hi Bipolar. Welcome to the conversation. Just a heads up though, before you make yourself look bad, are you claiming to have read the dissertation in question?

Bob said...

If I were to use a sentence like, "This is not what a legitimate PhD would put before the world." I would hope that I had read it first. Otherwise I might look... well... not good.

Bob said...

Especially right after I listed like a bazillion reasons why I am credible.

The Real George Wythe said...

Bob, I see you dropping vague references, but you have made no arguments, and no connections. If you would like to post a link to the dissertation, be my guest. I would like nothing more than to read it.

Bob said...

It's getting late in my neck of the woods. Good night gentlemen.

Bob said...

I think you've embarrassed yourselves enough for one evening.

(wait Bob... you can't go... you have to list more obvious connections)


The Real George Wythe said...

This thread has been Exhibit A of a TJEd adherent's inability to directly address an issue. First a personal attack, then a "you just don't get it", and finally an "I'm better than you." But never a response to the actual issue.

By their fruits.

Durango said...

I would like to see a link to this dissertation.

I actually met Ms. Smailes. She is a nice lady, but as far as her depth in symbolism, she could only scratch the surface. What she told my sibling about her dissertation made us wonder how in the world she could get a doctoral degree for that type of work.

BTW- My sibling is finishing up his/her doctoral dissertation in the literature field and was more impressed with Schulties than he/she was with Groft and Smailes. Go figure!

Bipolar Attorney said...

Maybe DeMille, TJeD and GWU can fill us in on Hawthorne's views on the extent of the Commerce Clause. Hawthorne had experience with the collection of customs. Surely there must be an opinion.

That would be a valuable addition to jurisprudence.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous poster here. At times I sense that Bob is really attempting to defend GW. Other times I think he is one of TRGW’s minions (assuming he has at least one) hired to keep fueling fire.

Bob expressed that he felt compelled to defend GW on this blog out of fear that someone will read this and believe. If the first of my two speculations were true and Bob really cares for the likes of GW, his interests would be better served to just stop commenting. This blog would have less of an impact on GW if GW advocates would ignore it.

Anonymous said...

I have been speculating for some time in my mind, and in the spirit of a good old fashioned witch hunt I'm going to speculate that Bob is Andrew Groft’s pseudonym. Go back through all the comments Bob has made in the past few months and let me know your thoughts.
1. Bob has a strange affinity for and knows too much about Groft.
2. He is not consistent in the way he describes his connection with GW.
3. He did say he is not affiliated with GW except through his friends who attend.
4. His circumstance does not allow him to currently affiliate.
5. Bob reveals more about GW than most students would ever care to know.

Whoever Bob is, communicates that he/she lacks class and tact. Bob does not represent GW well and actually perpetuates the university's patheticity (yes that is a real word). His comments add to the embarrassment the school is already facing.

Bob, please do GW a favor and stop proving TRGW’s points for him.

Anonymous said...

Below are a few quotes directly taken from things Bob (suspecting: Andrew Groft) has said. Besides the embarrassing arguments, here are 3 categories: The CAPITALIZED categories and comments are mine (anonymous blogger) to distinguish from Bob’s quotes.


1. I have no affiliation with the school outside of friends who have attended. I would attend myself if my situation allowed.
2. Years ago I had Andy as a mentor.
3. … And if at this point, you are wondering as to my identity, please know that I am merely one of the thousands of satisfied and eternally grateful students.
3. How can anyone who never sat through a politics class in the Duck Creek Skousen Center or discussed philosophy with Groft in Africa or participated in an early steering committee in the basement of the dentist’s office have any worthwhile insights into such things?
4. This whole thing is ridiculous. The idea that mentors are supposed to be perfect is a misconception not taught at GW.
5. It is apparent that no one with any firsthand knowledge or experience agrees with you.

1. It is my understanding that even if Andy never repents of this… if he lives the rest of his life as a vile sinner… that it is still my obligation to forgive him lest a sin be upon my head.
2. As for a cult following, Andy never asked for one. For the good Andy has done in his life, he has given the glory to God. (WHO WOULD SAY THAT?!)
3. Teach thousands of immensely satisfied students and mentees, and then have someone you’ve never even taught or mentored write an inflammatory blog about your credibility as a teacher.
4. I’m not saying it’s [sic] right, but isn’t prostitution legal in several Nevada counties within a 3 hour drive of Cedar City?

1. You call yourself an active Mormon, but frankly I’m not sure you could even be considered a half decent Christian.
2. Frankly Brother, there’s no doubt your Christianity IS in question.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the Northwest Ordinance enacted like 100 years after the setting of the Scarlet Letter?

That's OK though, I am sure Bob really does have a connection. So, Bob...what IS the connection?

(Don't listen to those naysayers that say your comments are hurting GW! They are just part of some conspiracy!)

Bob said...

Is there no limit to the exaggerated speculation of this blog? I mean really, it’s hilarious.

How can people incapable of seeing any connections between The Scarlet Letter and American Political Science simultaneously go to such great lengths to stretch even the most off base theory into long lists of incriminating evidence against the school and its adherents?

A couple of months ago you people thought I was Rachel. Now I’m Andy? For a bunch of people who live shrouded in darkness you have very little tolerance for any kind of anonymity in others.

There is no inconsistency in my identity. My first given name is Robert (but only my wife calls me that). I have friends who are currently attending GW, but I am not affiliated in any way to the school. Years ago I was mentored by Andy and still consider him a close friend. I’m the first to admit my lack of diplomacy, but I choose to echo the tone of the blogs where I comment. What more is required to comment here? I’ll give my last name, home town, occupation and SS# just as soon as the rest of you do.

I’m once again flattered that my comments are being so closely scrutinized, but like everyone else that contributes to this blog, my comments are in no way an accurate reflection of the school or its students.

By the way, I can tell you everything there is to know about Jean Luc Picard, but that doesn’t make me Gene Roddenberry. Then again, you people probably couldn’t see any connections between Star Trek and American Political Science either.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Bob just mentioned Star Trek. Rachel is an open Star Trek fan. It’s official… Bob is Rachel.

I love the sound logical progression of this blog.

The Real George Wythe said...

Bob, the question wasn't on the connection between The Scarlet Letter and American Political Science. It was on the connection between Hawthorne and constitutional law.

Or, if you'd like, symbolism in 19th Century literature and constitutional law.

The doctorate is in constitutional law, after all.

Care to take a stab at explaining the connection?

Anonymous said...

Bob, I just reread The Scarlet Letter this evening and I couldn’t find anything of political significance anywhere in there.

I’m not sure why any political liberal arts curriculum would include Hawthorne, Melville, Emerson, Thoreau, or their like. Disregard that Hawthorne was an active Democrat campaign writer, worked for the government and was close personal friends with a U.S. President; none of that came through in any conceivable way in his writings, symbolically or otherwise.

Then again, I didn’t believe Harriet Beecher Stowe had any political significance until I read Dred Scott v. Sandford. Perhaps I’m just not as learned as I like to think I am.

Tomorrow I’m going to read Gibbons v. Ogden with an open mind and see what happens.

I wonder if Hester Prynne is an attempt to show the importance of the essential protections guarded in the Bill of Rights? Bah… such questions are foolishness.

Anonymous said...

Anon said, "none of that came through in any conceivable way in his writings, symbolically or otherwise."

That's because you did not go to GW. But don't fret. Bob did. He'll clear it up for ya.

Anonymous said...

TRGW, for accuracy sake, the degree is a doctor of Philosophy, Constitutional Law – not a degree in Constitutional Law.

Gentlemen, we cannot expect him to take a stab at making the connection. And, even if he does make the attempt, his message will be intentionally inaccurate.
Here is my logic:
1.) Bob thinks TRGW and other posters are liars and pathetic.
2.) Bob chooses to echo the tone of the blogs where he posts.
3.) Ergo Bob will knowingly post lies and pathetic comments.

I really do not care about Bob/Robert’s identity, but allow Bob to prove my point.
On Feb. 8 Bob said, “I have no affiliation with the school outside of friends who have attended.”
On Feb 10 Bob said, “There is no inconsistency in my identity... I have friends who are currently attending GW…”

Anonymous said...

I still think I am right with regard to Bob’s identity. What normal person posts comments like this, providing such an awkward demonstration of commitment? “I have been privy to much of Andy’s good. His decades of selfless service among the deaf are not made meaningless by this evidence of wickedness,” But, OK Bob (Andy’s close friend) I hope your friend is proud of the selfless service you provide here.

Anonymous said...

And so the value of this blog is what?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, are you classifying yourself in the category of "normal person" ?

Who do you feel is in this category with you? Bipolar? Trgw?

Anonymous said...

Like I said, I really do not care about Bob/Robert’s identity, but I'll get to the bottom of it if it's the last normal thing I do.

Anonymous said...

TRGW quotes of the day:

“We certainly can't have anyone sitting on the bench without a thorough knowledge of this vital niche of constitutional law.”

“I have never ripped into anything I haven't read.”

And the winner of the Pinocchio Award goes to…

Anonymous said...

Doctor of Philosophy - - Degree in Constitutional Law - - what's the difference?

kennethlougee said...

Folks, let me make this clear. This woman's "PhD" is only relevant in that it shows what passes for scholarship at GWU. Yes Bob, if you Google "The Scarlet Letter Literary Analysis" you can find many, many articles talking about the symbolism of the book. You can also find ghost written papers on the subject by graduate students at Harvard and Stanford. It is not original.

Further, I don't care who Bob is. I don't care that people are foolish enough to pay DeMille and Brooks $1200 a pop for inspirational talks. If GWU students are fully informed that their degrees are worthless in the everyday world, I don't care that their minds are filled with Skousen's conspiracy theories.

What I do care about is the problem that comes into my living room through Ann Tracy. Here's the problem folks. Dr. Schlthies is a scientist. More importantly, he oversaw human research at BYU. He has actual knowledge of Tracy's unsupportable theories. He has actual knowledge of the dangers of subjecting the mentally ill to her theories. He knows the danger of untreated bipolar disorder. I think a 25% suicide rate in untreated bipolar significant. He knows the dangers of untreated schizophrenia. (Arizona shooter?).

In both "PhD's" we see shoddy scholarship. But folks, this is the institution that tells us they teach people how to think. It tells us they develop leadership and statesmen. It tells us they have the intent of teaching ethics.

It is great that they will no longer be passing out "PhD degrees." That is a start. But they must clean up the swamp.

It's great that Bob finds Andy inspirational. One should find meaning in one's life. If Andy taught Bob to see the complexity of the world, more power to him. However, honesty and true leadership on issues that are important to the safety of individuals and society have to trump stubborn defense of the indefensible.

The question is does Dr. Schulthies have the power of conviction to overcome the Kool-Aid drinkers?

Kevin said...

This from another genius who hasn’t read the dissertation.

Bob said...

So I just got done reading the dissertation in question and I have to admit that you guys were 100% right. It was horrible. An absolute insult to academia. My 11 year old could have written something more insightful and relevant. Frankly I think this is a reflection of the current administration.

Ok Ok you got me. Maybe I haven’t read it. I just wanted to jump on the bandwagon and critique something I really know nothing about from the perspective of my clearly superior education on the unknown subject matter. That’s alright here isn’t it?

CrouchingOwl said...

Ok, at the bottom of your post you say "Update, dissertation found" but you didn't link to it. Are you jokingly referring to the youtube video or did you actually find it?

The Real George Wythe said...

Crouching, I was jokingly referring to the video. But I would like to read it if someone has it available.

publius-1787 said...

It can't be said that we know nothing of this dissertation. Ms. Smailes in her interview with the Statesman clearly delineated the emphasis of it. Bob with his close friends at GW could easily post that dissertation to dispel any negativity caused by Ms. Smailes own words - unless the Statesman misquoted her. With people on this blog so close to the administration, I would think that someone would have the wherewithal to post it - unless they choose not to because it proves TRGW's point.

Bob said...

Publius – The fact that TRGW’s point requires proving exposes its weakness.

I mean that is like Bipolar claiming that no one with an accredited medical degree shares Ann Tracy's views.

Also, I don't live anywhere near Utah and I don't think anyone that posts on this blog is "close to the administration." Honestly though, if I had access to it, and permission to do so, I'd gladly post it just to aid in the reduction of the hypocrisy around here.

I do understand that all GW dissertations are available on campus though, so if any of you live in that area, perhaps you'd do us all a favor and drop in. Who knows, you might learn something.

CrouchingOwl said...

Remembering some of my experiences with Liz Smailes, I think I figured out the thrust of the dissertation and why it was considered to be in this particular degree. When I was doing distance studies with GWU following their starting to use the elluminate software they didn't have enough time or teachers to do online class periods to match each class. So if you were doing a class by distance studies that wasn't with the track the other distance studies students you were just thrown in the random pile and they would do lecture material based on what they thought a majority of the students in the random pile would benefit from. I attended the lectures so I could be certain to be marked as attending class even though I wasn't doing anything related to most of the discussions.

While I was attending these lectures, Liz did a session on symbolism in literature. We discussed the Scarlet Letter, the Arnolfini Portrait, and one other painting whose name I can't remember that featured an angel of death come to call a grave digger to the grave. I won't say it was anything special or anything horrible. My wife, who was an english major at a mainstream university, was watching the lecture along with me and felt that the material presented would be about appropriate to high school. But then, if you are trying to sum up what someone might need to know symbols in one lecture period, you might not get much farther than high school type material, especially if your lecture environment assumes many in the audience have not come prepared by having read or studied the book in question because the students aren't in the same class they are simply in the "random pile."

So I don't think that her thesis was intended to grant light on Scarlet Letter or on the subject of literary criticism. I think what her thesis was probably about was how a pedagogy of literary criticism could be integrated into statesmanship education. Note the statement in the announcement that "After completing this guided exercise you will read differently."

So a guided exercise made up a large part of her thesis it would seem. I experienced a guided exercise from her using the Scarlet Letter. In my earlier experiences at GWC, nobody really talked that much about symbolic meanings in literature, unless you count DeMille talking about cabbalah, which came up regularly.

Symbols, again outside seiferot and cabbalah, came up only occasionally. I think the main time I recall it coming up was one of the students or perhaps even several of them who tried to see if they could fit "The Lord of the Flies" into a symbolic system that represented LDS worship ceremonies all the way from baptism to the temple ceremonies. Don't ask the details, it was a pretty lame excuse at interpretation.

But in essence, it wasn't something we were trained to see based on accompanying lecture nor was it something a lot of us had any background in, so our experiences with symbolism were pretty light weight. So it makes sense that what Liz was probably doing was making a dissertation out of her attempts to draw this important aspect of literature into the education the students receive at GWU. So, if you believe that reading and understanding great literature is part of producing great statesman and that producing statesman is necessary to good constitutional government, then it is more natural to have a dissertation on how to teach literature to make better statesman in a constitutional law degree. I admit its a pretty strained association from teaching methods in literature to constitutional law. But I'd be fairly certain this is the perspective taken by the faculty at the school. Would have made an ok education degree thesis if it were any good, which I can't say it was or wasn't.

Bob feel free to contradict me on my speculation if your access to the thesis tells you something that I didn't manage to guess.

Bob said...

As I said earlier, like everyone else commenting here, I have neither read nor have any access to the dissertation in question.

Speculation and guesswork is really all this blog is based on and for that reason most people with any actual first hand experience are blatantly ignoring this blog.

It’s been mentioned by others before, but I agree that this blog has much the same flavor as an anti-mormon blog written by someone who has never read the Book of Mormon and never attended a Sunday meeting. To my knowledge, TRGW’s only defense to that comparison is something about “GWU is not a church and Oliver is not a prophet” or something or other.

Which reminds me TRGW, how’s your reading of our 28 “Articles of Faith” coming along? Have you found one you can rip apart yet? Might I suggest Principle 26. That one is way off the deep end. Or #19 perhaps? I can’t believe Skousen would be so bold as to make such outlandish claims. Or how about #2? As one comment on this blog points out, that’s quite a “shoddy foundation” and there is definitely “something wrong” there. What could the university possibly be thinking recommending that its students memorize this stuff?

Bob said...

cont. from above...

Please, what ever you do, don’t read Majesty of God’s Law. That’s like our Mormon Doctrine and we’ve been told not to use that in official meetings anymore. It’s not that it isn’t true, it’s just that it’s a little too heavy for new “converts” and it might inhibit our “missionary” efforts.

We were kicked out of our first school and our second school burned. It wasn’t until we moved many miles (30) westward that we’ve been able to establish a permanent headquarters. But we won’t stop until we dot the earth with schools. There have been talks that Cardston, Alberta will be home to our first international school.

Someday in the future we’ll fulfill our vision of having a huge magnificent school on land in the east that has already been dedicated for that purpose. The surrounding land is currently under control of a tiny reorganized offshoot school.

All that said, the 5000 Year Leap is a true and living book, and a man can get nearer to statesmanship by abiding by its principles than by any other book.

Kevin said...

Bob, that is funny. James F (may he rest in cyber-peace) would be proud.

Bob said...

Thanks Kevin.

I thought I’d give TRGW a little something for his OoCQotD (Out of Context Quote of the Day). I was going to go into details (like the 3 fold mission of the school; including Perfecting the Students, Proclaiming TJED and the 3rd mission which we don’t normally talk about because it has to do with symbolism and not a lot of mainstream people would understand), but I didn’t want to get carried away.

Also, there might be one little reader out there that actually thinks I’m serious and in some way connected to the school (at least that’s how TRGW is going to paint it a year from now in his OoCQotD).

Hey, what ever happened to James F? That guy was so much better at this than me. James F if you are out there somewhere reading this, I salute you man.

Good Times.

I’ll tell you what though, I am really breaking my New Years Resolution.

Bob said...

I need to get a more productive hobby.

You know who else does?


Kevin said...

I hear you. My favorite quote of the day is the one where Rachel apparently endorses his blog. That’s not out of context at all. I too am curious, RGW, which of the 28 principles do you disagree with? Maybe you can once again teach Glen Beck a thing or two.

publius-1787 said...

I for one do not find Kevin nor Bob amusing. They are sacrilegious in their mocking tone towards the LDS church. Please leave the church out of this discussion on education. My religion is sacred to me and I find Bob's tone in horrible bad taste.

Kevin said...

So it’s OK to mock other people’s beliefs just as long as they aren’t your beliefs? Is that right?

publius-1787 said...

What kind of a response is that, Kevin. I have not mocked anyone's beliefs. It is also rather childish for a grown man to lower himself to mocking others just because others are doing it too. Can't you think for yourself. Sheesh!

Bob said...

Publius, GWU is not a church. Everything I listed above is a fairly good representation of the history of the school. They suffered much hardship and persecution in those early years and even though they’ve gone more and more mainstream, they still suffer a little persecution here and there for their beliefs. Anything that comes along which challenges the status quo or is just plain different can expect closed minded people to rally against it.

Actually, they didn’t come up with a new way to educate, they restored the old way. Originally they looked for schools that taught the old way, but they discovered that although most schools drew near to classical education with their mouths, their textbooks were far from it.

Like it or not, that’s the history of the school. Any comparison to something else is purely coincidental.

Bob said...

Publius, in my opinion this blog is really nothing more than contemporary tar and feathers. That was usually carried out by anonymous people who hid behind masks as well.

Personally, I try to remain in the “Seek First to Understand” camp. For instance, I would never question the value of something written until I had first read it. I would never question the quality of a teacher until I had first sat in on one of their classes. And I would never make someone wear an A.

Bob said...

Anyway Publius, what do you have against Dr. Smailes? I take it from your comments that you haven't read her dissertation either.

Has she offended you in some other way?

What would inspire you to come on this blog and join the ranks of those who are ignorantly prejudiced against her? (and I don't mean ignorant in the rude way, simply in the way that they lack sufficient subject knowledge not having read her work or sat through her classes).

Bob said...

And if you don't believe this blog is transparently prejudiced then you either don't know the meaning of the word or you haven't read the blog.

No Wyther is safe from TRGW's preconceived generalizations.

publius-1787 said...

GW is not a church, so why compare it to one - coincidentally or not?

Most of us in the US know nothing about true persecution. Someone disagrees with us, and we rail on how we're being persecuted. Poor us! You might want to have a talk with Protestant Christian missionaries in Muslim countries or in China about true persecution. It's all about life and death, not childish squabble.

publius-1787 said...

I have nothing against Ms. Smailes. I believe she is a wonderful person. I actually got to know her on a European trip. She did discuss her dissertation at that time and based on her answer to questions, a few of us found it more deserving of an undergraduate degree than a doctoral degree. Just my opinion.

As for this blog, I believe both sides should be seen to garner a true understanding of GW. GW will whitewash for business sake and this blog will show the negative side. Somewhere in the middle is the truth.

Bob said...

Wait, maybe I misunderstood you. You say you heard a little about the dissertation, got some questions answered about it and then without having actually read it, “a few” of you came to the conclusion that it was, in your opinion, better than high school quality, but not quite doctorate material. Now I’m assuming of course that you are qualified to make that academic distinction. More qualified at least then say, the individuals who served on her graduation committee including the fully accredited Dr. Schulthies himself (a man by the way who after earning an accredited Doctorate degree then sought out and requested Dr. DeMille as a mentor to further his education).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying that you can’t have an opinion. I mean everyone who hasn’t read it is entitled to their own opinions. But what in that judgment call made you draw the line that rates it better than high school quality and less than graduate level.

Also, you think she is a wonderful person and you have nothing against her, but you anonymously go behind her back and proclaim to all the world that you’ve concluded, in your apparent expert opinion, that she is unworthy of her hard earned title of Dr., and in doing so you question her professional and academic integrity.

Bob said...

Now seriously Publius, I just have one real question I want you to consider. And this is all sarcasm aside, we’re just straight up being honest with each other here. I really want you to think hard about this for a minute. Obviously, this is hypothetical, but just humor me this one time, despite your disbelief that this could ever be possible… If an accredited graduation committee from a respectable accredited institution had reviewed that same dissertation and after serious deliberation found it worthy of a Doctorate degree, would you still deny “Ms.” Smailes the due respect of the title Dr?

If the answer is no, you might want to consider the reasons for your apparent GW prejudice.

My follow up question to that one would be, do you think it is possible that somewhere in this big world of ours, someone has been awarded an accredited doctorate degree who did less academic work than and whose dissertation was lower quality than Dr. Smailes? Would you grant that person the respect of the Dr. title?

Bob said...

As for your theory that “both sides should be seen to garner a true understanding” I would have to say it is a bit lopsided. When one side is good honest educated respectable known community leaders who have actually read the dissertation in question and the other side is a couple of unknown anonymous mysterious people with little more than opinions who haven’t even read it, then I would say there’s a bit of an imbalance there. Personally, if I hadn’t read it, but I had to pick sides, I’d go with the first group every time.

Kevin said...

That last comment is my new favorite Bob.

Thank you for that, it puts a lot in perspective.

By the way, have you ever noticed that people who agree with something are labeled “Kool-Aid drinkers” while the people who disagree with something are supposedly “enlightened.” What’s up with that?

R.C. said...


Even though Shane Schulthies has an accredited PhD, and he certainly would belong on a dissertation committee, he is probably not qualified to make serious judgments regarding the quality of Smails' arguments. You see, in the real world, a dissertation committee is made up of about 5 people - most of whom have some level of expertise in the subject of the dissertation. For example, my committee had 6 members, all of whom had expertise in the subject I studied. Let me break this down further so you can see what I am talking about.

My primary advisor has had over $30 million in research funding over the last 40 years from public and private sources. This individual frequently reviews grants for various federal agencies, sits on the boards of multiple journals, has hundreds of publications. In addition, this individual has done research on the subjects contained in my dissertation.

Two of the committee members were students of the top expert in an area that my dissertation covered.

Two members personally have had over $10 million dollars in funding for research closely related to my dissertation subject.

The least experienced member of my committee is a professor in the #1 ranked (by US News) graduate program in her field, and she understood the legal and ethical side of my dissertation better than anyone on the committee.

I don't doubt that Shane Schulthies was a great scientist at BYU. That does not mean he has the level of knowledge that an individual with a PhD in English literature would have. I walk around the campus where I work of the large accredited private school in the Utah region :-) and see the level of faculty in the humanities - many of whom hold degrees from Ivy League institutions.

What GW should do for those who are doing PhDs is get several faculty members from another university to sit on their committees. That would help.

Bob said...

Thanks RC, but to my knowledge that is exactly what GW does. I can’t vouch for how they are doing it this year, but a few years ago when a buddy of mine graduated at GW, he had 2 SUU professors and 1 professor from BYU that came and sat on his graduation committee, scrutinized his thesis and participated in his multiple grueling oral examinations. Unless they’ve changed their system, I think they’re still doing that.

Is there someone that wants to verify that? I’m sure if someone wanted more details about that, a quick phone call to the school would confirm their current grad committee policies. They are not a walk in the park, I can tell you that much. The GW students that I know, want to be held to a higher standard. Everyone I know that attended GW after earning an undergrad degree elsewhere (including Dr. Schulthies himself) have all agreed that academics at GW are comparatively more challenging. That has been my experience also.

This fallacious presumption that GW just loosely hands out degrees is in no way an accurate picture of things as they really are. It makes a good story, no doubt, but it just isn’t true.

publius-1787 said...

I stand by my opinion.

I see nothing wrong in stating what I know. If Ms. Smailes was inarticulate enough not to show her depth of knowledge of symbolism to a true doctoral candidate and scholar in that field, then I wonder what exactly Schulties was thinking, if indeed he was responsible for her degree. GW can't have it both ways. If they want to be outside the norm and follow their own rules, that's fine by me. If they want to award doctoral degrees and say they're equivalent to those awarded at an accredited university, then they need to use the same standards, which I can definitely say they don't. A professor of symbolism would have many times more knowledge about symbolism than Ms. Smailes does. That I know for a fact. Her knowledge of the topic is based on a limited amount of resources, and she was adamantly against going beyond those resources into literature that she found questionable, but is necessary reading for those working on a true doctoral degree. Ask her yourself, since you know her so intimately. She will not deny any of this.

Whether I choose to be anonymous or not is my decision. Either way, I see no reason why I can't comment on the topic at hand.

R.C. said...


That is interesting that they have used committee members from other universities. You said that you don't like it when we assume that GW gives out degrees for nothing. If they hadn't given Ann Blake Tracy her PhD then I probably wouldn't have a beef. She said to the Deseret News that her insane book counted as her dissertation.

I really don't care about the Smailes' dissertation. It is telling to me that she is one of the few still around - DeMille, Brooks, and Groft are gone now, but she has been around for awhile.

I have heard some good things about Shane Schulthies from individuals who know him and I think if anyone can save that school from closure he can. I wish they would completely cancel all of their graduate programs since they will not be accredited for a long time.

IF GW can hold on to get accreditation, then I will be interested to see what Schulthies can do with it.

There is a big elephant in the room: what about the weirdos who received degrees in the past? They are a huge liability to the current school. The other related elephant is some past dealings with donors. I recall Kristine who had put up $100,000 or some huge amount, only to receive a bunch of IOUs. This story may have some inaccuracies or things I don't really know, but these are problems. Loot at GW as a political canidate. What are the liabilities? There is a checkered past, but there may be something valuable there.

Bob said...

R.C. - There may be something valuable there indeed.

At least that is what their thousands of satisfied students and contributors believe. And it’s completely OK if some people “just don’t get it.” No one ever said GW was for everyone. But those who it is for, definitely see the value there.

The Real George Wythe said...

It looks like the school's phone number -- (435) 586-6570 -- is disconnected. I have also been unable to find contact information for Ms. Smailes.

If anyone knows Smailes or has access to the dissertation, please let me know how I can get a copy.

Frankly, I would be very interested in reading any of the dissertations approved by the school. It is unusual for these to be so hard to come by.

I know people have said they are available at the school for viewing. That's great if you are physically in Cedar City. But for those of us in different parts of the world, this is no help.

At a minimum, the school should have titles and abstracts available on its website. Better yet, have them added to ProQuest or something.

It's surprising that the school doesn't make this body of scholarship available to its far-flung discipleship in the continuing effort to build statesmen.

As it stands, Ms. Smailes' and The Stateman's description of the dissertation is all we have to go on.

publius-1787 said...

I just tried the phone number for GW, and it's working fine now.

The Real George Wythe said...

publius, that's great. Can you call them back and ask for a pdf copy of Smailes' dissertation? Or for her email address?

publius-1787 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
R.C. said...

Publius - remove last post - just use "esmailes at gw dot edu"

otherwise she will get spammed bad because there are programs that automatically search websites.

publius-1787 said...

Sorry about that. I definitely don't want her spammed. That was supposed to be for TRGW's use.

R.C. said...

Thanks for finding that thought.

Chuck D Alberto said...

Thanks for keeping an eye on things. You might find this video on Dr. Skousen interesting: http://j.mp/gysSpv