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Carter Page: I Can Haz Dissertation, Plz?


If Carter Page’s career weren’t devoted to self-enrichment via deals with oligarchs and kleptocrats, I might feel some sympathy for him. After all, it seems like his every appearance in the media comes in the context of evidence for his lack of mental acuity.

And, lo and behold, The Guardian reports that Page failed his dissertation defense not once, but twice.

Page first submitted his thesis on central Asia’s transition from communism to capitalism in 2008. Two respected academics, Professor Gregory Andrusz, and Dr Peter Duncan, were asked to read his thesis and to examine him in a face-to-face interview known as a viva.

Andrusz said he had expected it would be “easy” to pass Page, a student at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas). He said it actually took “days and days” to wade through Page’s work. Page “knew next to nothing” about social science and seemed “unfamiliar with basic concepts like Marxism or state capitalism,” the professor said.

The viva, held at University College, London, went badly. “Page seemed to think that if he talked enough, people would think he was well-informed. In fact it was the reverse,” Andrusz said. He added that Page was “dumbfounded” when the examiners told him he had failed.

Their subsequent report was withering. It said Page’s thesis was “characterised by considerable repetition, verbosity and vagueness of expression”, failed to meet the criteria required for a PhD, and needed “substantial revision”. He was given 18 months to produce another draft.

Page resubmitted in November 2010. Although this essay was a “substantial improvement” it still didn’t merit a PhD and wasn’t publishable in a “learned journal of international repute”, Andrusz noted. When after a four-hour interview, the examiners informed him he had failed again, Page grew “extremely agitated”.

Naturally, SOAS “refuses to identify the academics who eventually passed Page’s PhD thesis, citing data protection rules.”

My non-scientific survey of British academics finds this refusal perplexing on its merits, but consistent with an attempt by administrators to hide from controversy.

I’ve queried Nicholas James, who looked at the dissertation back in November. Perhaps the information was on it?

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