In 2002 I (Matt) publicly debated Dr Bill Cooke from the New Zealand Association of Rationalist Humanists (NZARH). I enjoyed the debate immensely and am confident that I won it. No one whom I know who has watched the debate disagrees with me on this. I was surprised at the time how weakly the arguments he attempted to provide were.
A few years latter Paul Litterick become Spokesperson for NZARH. This I thought was a step down. Cooke was at least a scholar and attempted debate. Litterick appeared to spend his time slagging Christian groups of and launching often dubious and dishonest character assassinations. NZARH after all were supposed to be Rationalists. However, more recently I have read some of Litterick’s criticism of Dr Bill Cookes scholarship I find myself in agreement with much of it.
Litterick and Cooke do not see eye to eye. A few weeks ago Litterick spelt out why here. Dr Cooke it seems has deceived people about his scholarly credentials. Cooke claimed to have a professorship in Philosophy when he did not. In fact Cooke’s Ph.D is not even in Philosophy. NZARH apparently propagated this falsehood and continue to do so even though Paul has repeatedly pointed out its inaccuracy to them. For this and various other reasons NZARH have subsequently expelled Litterick and issued him with a trespass order. Dr Cooke is currently the Editor of NZARH’s magazine the Open Society.
What’s interesting about this is that a few years ago NZARH were all through the News attacking the Maxim institute. NZARH claimed that one of their researchers had passed off other scholars writings as his own ( see their website here). NZARH’s spokesperson appeared on numerous Radio and TV stations condemning this. Maxim’s reputation was damaged by this incident. Now an obvious question can be asked if Maxim lacks credibility because one of its researchers has faked his work. Then it follows that NZARH, by their own logic lack credibility. However, if faking ones credentials is not a serious matter. Why did they attack Maxim for an analogous action?
To add irony to this whole thing Paul has broached the topic of starting a new Secularist society. On his blog he discusses the prospect of doing this with Gaynz researcher Craig Young. (Someone Paul often cites). Craig Young has repeatedly claimed to have a PhD see for example here and here and . The problem is that there is apparently no record of Young’s PhD at Massey library and Massey is where Craig studied as a doctoral student. When an associate of mine enquired at Massey about this he was informed that Craig in fact had never submitted his thesis and hence no degree was ever conferred.
What we have then is an organization, condemning Maxim for faking scholarship which itself fakes the scholarly credentials of its own Editor. This deception (amongst other things) provokes a former member to team up with another academic fake to set up a secularist organization of his own. Welcome to New Zealand Rationalism. I would have thought that it was reasonable to expect a Rationalist society to not contradict itself. Let’s hope this joke of a movement is exposed for what is as soon as possible.