Why would one of the most prominent polygraph operators in America falsely pass himself off as a Ph.D.? Edward I. Gelb of Los Angeles isn't saying.
Since 1969, after completing training at the Backster School of Lie Detection in San Diego, Gelb claims to have conducted in excess of 30,000 polygraph examinations. Along with attorney F. Lee Bailey, Gelb appeared on a nationally syndicated television program called "Lie Detector." Gelb has been interviewed about polygraph matters on such national television programs as "Entertainment Tonight," "Geraldo Rivera Live," "CNN Newstand," and CNN's "Larry King Live" show. His high profile clients include O.J. Simpson and John and Patsy Ramsey (parents of JonBenet Ramsey, whose murder remains unsolved). Gelb is a past president, executive director, and chairman of the board of the American Polygraph Association and in 1998 earned the association's Leonarde Keeler Award "for long and distinguished service to the polygraph profession."
Gelb has publicly claimed to hold a Ph.D. degree in psychology since at least 1996. In 1997, he represented himself as a Ph.D. to the highest court in the land -- the United States Supreme Court -- as a co-signer of the Committee of Concerned Social Scientists' amicus brief in U.S. v. Scheffer, where he is listed as "Ed Gelb, Ph.D."
But compelling evidence pieced together by discussants on the AntiPolygraph.org message board indicates that Gelb never earned a doctoral degree from any accredited university. The comprehensive Dissertation Abstracts database (the definitive worldwide collection of doctoral dissertations including over 1.6 million records dating back to 1861) includes no doctoral dissertation by an Edward Gelb.
Gelb did not return phone phone calls and e-mail seeking clarification regarding his educational background. However, AntiPolygraph.org has obtained a copy of Gelb's resume (80 kb PDF) that was included in court documents filed in a civil suit in 2002. Writing about himself in the third person, here is what Gelb says about his educational background: "Dr. Gelb was educated at the University of Southern California, LaSalle University and U.C.L.A.. He has been awarded a bachelor's degree in political science, a master's degree in psychology and a doctorate in psychology."
Gelb doesn't state where or when he earned which degree. Perhaps Gelb would like us to infer that he listed the universities in the same order that he listed his degrees and that he earned a bachelor's degree at USC, a master's degree at LaSalle, and a doctorate at UCLA. But this is certainly not the case. If Gelb had earned his Ph.D. at UCLA (or USC), his dissertation would surely be included in the Dissertation Abstracts database. That leaves LaSalle University. There is a legitimate institution of higher learning called LaSalle University in Philadelphia, but it awarded its first Ph.D. degree of any kind in 2002, years after Gelb began putting the letters "Ph.D." after his name. Ed Gelb didn't earn a doctoral degree there.
No, the "LaSalle University" that awarded Gelb his "doctorate" turns out to be a defunct, unaccredited diploma mill in Mandeville, Louisiana that was owned and operated by one Thomas James Kirk, A.K.A. Thomas McPherson. In 1996, LaSalle was raided by the FBI, and in 1997 Kirk pled guilty to federal fraud charges. (For more on the bogus LaSalle University, see "The swim 'doctor': Credentials of nutrition adviser to U.S. women's team questioned," by Danny Robbins and Margaret Jamison, Houston Chronicle, 7 September 2000 and "Chiropractors with False credentials and diplomas" on ChiroWatch.com.)
Mr. Edward I. Gelb is no Ph.D., and he should stop masquerading as such.