Robert Marks: Four Years and Still No Answer — and More Baylor Hijinks

Once upon a time, the illustrious Baylor professor Robert Marks II made the following claim: “we all agree that a picture of Mount Rushmore with the busts of four US Presidents contains more information than a picture of Mount Fuji”.

I don’t agree, so I asked the illustrious Marks for a calculation or other rationale supporting this claim.

After three months, no reply. So I asked again.

After six months, no reply. So I asked again.

After one year, no reply. So I asked again.

After two years, no reply. So I asked again.

After three years, no reply. So I asked again.

Now it’s been four years. Still no reply.

The illustrious Marks also recently supervised a Ph. D. thesis of Eric Michael Holloway. In it, the author apparently makes some dubious claims. He claims that “meaningful information…cannot be made by anything deterministic or stochastic”. But if you want to actually read this Ph. D. thesis and learn how this startling claim is proven, you’re out of luck. And why is that? It’s because Eric Holloway has imposed a 5-year embargo on his thesis, meaning that no one can read it for five years, unless Eric Holloway approves. And when I asked to see a copy, I was refused.

Now, if there were some shenanigans going on — for example, if a Ph. D. thesis were of such low quality that you wouldn’t want anyone else to know about it — what better way to hide that fact than to impose a ridiculously lengthy embargo? Perhaps an embargo so long that the supervisor would be safely retired by then and not subject to any investigation or sanction?

Then again, perhaps Eric Holloway is just following the example of his illustrious supervisor, who is adept at ducking questions for years.


  1. says

    I don’t understand, how can you embargo a thesis? I thought the entire point was that you made your research available to everyone. Don’t Baylor do public defenses either?

    • shallit says

      At my university, a thesis is deposited in the library for all to access, except in extremely unusual cases (such as when the student believes there is some significant intellectual property that can be sold) for short periods.

      A thesis could be published with a book publisher, but in my field that is rather rare.

  2. avalus says

    As said Shallit, a thesis is to be publicly available. Only technical details that are of interest in interelcual property concernng papents can be temporaly left unpublished.
    Strange Holloways university indeed is!

  3. pwdm says

    FYI, I asked the university, who asked Holloway, for a copy of the thesis. I received a copy within 24 hours.

    I asked the university about the 5 year embargo. The resposne was that all thesis creators at the university are given the choice to release their thesis to the public immediately, or after 2 years, or after 5 years. Why would the thesis creator not release it immediately? Because, once released, many publishers will not consider it suitable as a book, even if significantly modified. So Holloway, if he wants to write a book based on his thesis, is giving himself time to get it done and published. Not unreasonable.

    • shallit says

      The claim about publishers, as far as I know, is nonsense. Publishers who publish theses as books do not care one whit if the thesis is released. And five years is a ridiculous length of time.

      So now we have evidence that Holloway is explicitly denying potential critics (like me) the right to see his thesis, while he gives it to others. Contemptible.

    • another Stewart says

      Or because the thesis writer wants to publish parts of thesis as papers in peer-reviewed journals.

  4. Reginald Selkirk says

    I think it’s only fair that someone placing an embargo on their thesis be forbidden to list their degree on their CV or call themselves “Doctor” until the embargo expires.

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