The Arizona Republic is running a story about Robert “R.B.” Trombley, head of the International Volcano Research Center (INTLVRC). Trombley has appeared in a number of media outlets as an expert on volcanos after the recent Icelandic eruption.
Now it turns out that the media were using a definite non-expert in their rush to generate opinion. Trombley’s “PhD” came from Dallas State College, a degree-mill in Texas that has been defunct since 1975. This didn’t stop Trombley claiming credentials in astronomy, expertise in volcanology, and a record of peer-review:
Trombley said his work has been peer-reviewed and told The Republic he was published in Eos, a publication of the American Geophysical Union. No work bearing Trombley’s name could be found in a search of AGU’s archives.
But my favorite bit has to be this claim by R.B.:
“I don’t have a degree in geophysics or geology, per se, but it’s like I’m so close … I’ve worked in the field so long and been to so many different volcanoes and stuff, that, you know, I haven’t found one thing I’ve said yet that hasn’t been true.”
The INTLVRC is run out of Trombley’s home – a pink trailer in Apache Junction. One look at the INTLVRC website would have indicated that a certain professionalism was missing. It seems that journalists at CNN and the WSJ need to learn how to do basic research.