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Friday, August 16, 2013

Fox News most embarrassing interview

I finally watched the interview that was supposedly Fox News's most embarrassing interview. To my surprise, the subject should be embarrassed, not Fox News. (The interview is on the web, but I am not sure it was ever broadcast on Fox News TV.)

The interview is about a best-selling book about Jesus by Moslem scholar Reza Aslan. The interviewer calmly asked him about his credentials and motivations for writing the book, and asked him to respond to some scholarly criticism of the book.

Aslan repeatedly made outrageous and false statements about his credentials and experience. He gave the impression that he was a professor of Christian studies, whereas in fact his PhD is in sociology, and he is currently an associate professor of creative writing. The interviewer was not argumentative, and simply asked predictable and pointed questions, and let him tell his story.

You do not have to take my word for Aslan's dishonesty. The Wash. Post reports:
The boy who posed as something that he was not has become the man who boasts of academic laurels he does not have. Aslan, 41, has variously claimed to hold a doctorate in “the history of religions” or a doctorate in “the sociology of religions,” though no such degrees exist at the university he attended. His doctorate is in sociology, according to the registrar’s office at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Aslan, who has an undergraduate degree in religious studies and a master’s in theological studies, is not currently a professor of religion or history. He is an associate professor in the creative writing department of the University of California at Riverside. He has asserted a present-day toehold in the field of religion by saying he is “a cooperative faculty member” in Riverside’s Department of Religious Studies.

Yet this is not so, according to Vivian-Lee Nyitray, the just-retired chair of the department. Nyitray says she discussed the possibility last year with Aslan but that he has not been invited to become a cooperative faculty member, a status that would allow him to chair dissertations in her former department.
In his book, Aslan has his own peculiar re-interpretation of the Gospels. It is certainly fair to ask how he came to his conclusions, and it appears that he cannot give good answers for that.

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