What is Gary Null’s PhD in?

Gary Null is a controversial figure in the world of alternative medicine and health. He has authored numerous books, produced documentaries, and hosted a syndicated radio show promoting alternative health practices and critical of mainstream medicine. Null claims to hold a PhD, but the source of his doctoral degree has been called into question over the years. This article will examine what Null’s purported PhD is in and the debate surrounding his credentials.

Gary Null’s Background

Gary Null was born in 1945 in New York City. In his early adulthood, Null was involved in progressive activism around civil rights, environmental issues, and animal welfare. He became interested in alternative health practices like yoga and vegetarianism during this time.

In the 1970s, Null began publicly criticizing mainstream medicine and promoting alternative practices. He hosted an alternative medicine radio show and published self-help books focused on holistic health, nutrition, and lifestyle changes. Null branded himself as a “natural hygienist.”

Null does not have a conventional medical degree. However, he began referring to himself as “Dr. Null” and claiming he had a PhD during the 1970s. On his website, publications, and products, Null has referred to himself as a “PhD in human nutrition and public health sciences.”

The Controversy Around Null’s PhD

Critics have questioned what academic institution granted Null his PhD and whether it was from an accredited program. There is no evidence that Null has ever provided clear information about the source of his doctoral degree.

In the 1980s, Null was sued by the New York State attorney general’s office for referring to himself as a “PhD nutritionist” without having a proper degree. Null reached a settlement requiring him to limit his credential description to “PhD” without specifying a field.

Year Action related to Null’s PhD claims
1970s Null begins calling himself “Dr. Null” and claiming a PhD
1980s NY attorney general sues Null for using “PhD nutritionist” credential
2010 Blogger challenges Null to reveal his academic credentials
2016 Journalist investigation finds no evidence of Null PhD

In 2010, science writer and blogger Steven Novella challenged Null to reveal details about his doctoral degree after Null made disparaging statements about his Yale medical degree. Null never responded with any specifics about where and when he obtained a PhD.

In 2016, journalists conducted an extensive investigation trying to verify Null’s academic credentials. They contacted every college and university in New York and were unable to find any record of Null receiving a PhD. One registrar claimed their office had previously asked Null for more information about his degree, but he never responded.

Null’s Explanations and justifications

When confronted about his credentials over the years, Gary Null has offered vague explanations for why details about his PhD are unavailable. These include:

  • Claiming he earned his doctorate overseas in Belgium, the West Indies, or Europe.
  • Stating his degree records were destroyed in an unspecified fire.
  • Saying his degree is from an unspecified church or religious institution.
  • Claiming his work and clinical experience make him the equivalent of a PhD.

However, Null has never provided proof to substantiate any of these claims. There are still no records of him receiving a legitimate PhD that can be found.

Criticisms of Null’s Dubious Credentials

Many medical professionals and skeptics have spoken out to criticize Gary Null for his misleading use of the “Dr.” title and PhD credential. Some key criticisms include:

  • It is dishonest and unethical for Null to continue referring to himself as a doctor and PhD.
  • Null uses his dubious credentials to sell products, books, and himself as a health expert.
  • His lack of formal training means he is spreading misinformation and pseudoscience.
  • Referring to himself as Dr. Null misleads the public about his qualifications.

Stephen Barrett of QuackWatch has said: “Null deceptively promotes himself as a Ph.D. in ‘human nutrition and public health science.’ I found no evidence that he ever enrolled in a graduate program in these disciplines.”

Threats of Legal Action

Gary Null has reacted strongly when reporters investigate his credentials and question his use of the PhD title. He threatens journalists and media outlets with legal action if they state he does not have a doctoral degree:

  • In 2003, Null sued PBS, WNET-TV, and journalist Bill Moyers over a broadcast questioning his qualifications and credentials.
  • In 2016, Null’s lawyers sent threatening letters to journalists at Time Magazine and the Washington Post for articles exposing his lack of a verified PhD.
  • Critics say these threats are attempts to intimidate the media and suppress questioning of his dubious PhD claims.

Potential Explanations

In the absence of solid evidence about Gary Null’s educational background, some potential explanations for his PhD claims include:

  • Honorary doctorate: Null may have received an honorary PhD degree from an alternative medicine organization but does not state it is honorary.
  • Degree mill: Null could have purchased a fake PhD diploma from an unaccredited degree mill.
  • Misrepresentation: He might completely misrepresent honorary awards or other achievements as an actual PhD.
  • Fabrication: Some critics believe Null fabricated having a PhD to sell himself as an expert.

Without verification, however, any explanation is merely speculative. The only certainty is Null has failed to provide proof of earning a legitimate PhD.

The Bottom Line

For decades, Gary Null has evaded questions and refused to reveal details about the source of his purported PhD. There remains no evidence he earned an accredited doctoral degree. Critics argue his ongoing use of the “Dr.” prefix and “PhD” credential is misleading and unethical.

Null is an outlier even within the alternative health world for his extreme claims and tactics. His lack of transparency around his credentials raises further doubts about his reliability.

When evaluating any health information, it is always important to look into the qualifications of the source. In the case of Gary Null, scrutiny of his educational background raises many red flags.

Consumers should be wary of relying on health advice from Null given the unanswered questions and controversy surrounding his credentials.

Anyone can claim to be an expert or have qualifications they do not possess. The lesson from Null’s dubious PhD is to always verify the credentials of people presenting themselves as authorities before trusting the information they provide.

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