By Rick Alan Ross

Cult expert turned political pundit Steven Hassan has a penchant for conflating his CV and at times just plain lying about his past status. And he seems to have an obsession about Harvard.

Again, and again Hassan claims to have taught at “Harvard Medical School.”

Steven Hassan[/caption]This misleading claim was repeated recently by Michael Shermer at his “Skeptic” website by way of introducing Hassan on the “Michael Shermer Show.” It seems that there wasn’t any meaningful examination and ultimately skepticism, concerning Hassan’s career claims.

Michael Shermer

According to the iconic “Ivy League” university Steven Hassan has never been employed there.

Hassan offers a letter posted at his website, seemingly in response to a past report at CultNews, which supposedly supports his misleading professional claims.

The letter is from John R. Peteet, M.D. Dr. Peteet is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. In the letter sent to Hassan in 2019 Dr. Peteet states that Hassan “has served as a valued presenter in the course I co-teach, Spirituality, Religion and Psychiatry.” Dr. Peteet teaches this class at Harvard Longwood, which is a hospital associated with Harvard.

Steven Hassan’s CV repeatedly lists the title of “presenter” under the subheading “Professional Activities,” but does not make the distinction explicitly, that this was volunteer work.

CultNews sees this as potentially misleading the reader to conclude that Hassan worked for Harvard as a paid professional.

CultNews reached out to Dr. Peteet to better clarify and specifically understand the exact status of Steven Hassan at Harvard Longwood.

Steven Hassan

In response to an email (January 25, 2023) concerning Hassan Dr. Peteet explained, “Yes, he was a guest presenter for a few years, once a semester, in a course for Harvard Longwood Psychiatry residents, Spirituality, Religion and Psychiatry. I believe he also offered and taught an ongoing elective ‘Helping people influenced by Undue Influence: Hypnosis, Destructive Cults, and Traffickers’, which was taken by interested residents, but I was not directly involved in that course. Presenters in the course were unpaid, except for the first few years of the course when a grant was in effect.”

Again, Hassan does not make the distinction that he was only a “guest” and “unpaid.”

But Dr. Peteet later clarified specifically in a subsequent email (January 25, 2023), “Since I was not part of setting up his elective course, I’m afraid I don’t know what the payment arrangements were, if any. He did volunteer his time for us once per year during the semester the course ran. We did not pay him for this.”

So consistent with previous reports Hassan has apparently only been a volunteer speaker at a hospital associated with Harvard for a particular class invited as a guest by the class teacher. He has never been employed as an instructor by Harvard Medical School.

It is nice that Hassan does volunteer work, but within his CV and for the purpose of self-promotion, he does not make the necessary distinction that has he has never been employed directly by Harvard and has never held any professional teaching status at “Harvard Medical School.” In fact, it appears that Hassan has never been invited to lecture at Harvard as a paid professional.

It seems that Hassan has deliberately conflated his CV specifically to infer that he has somehow been part of the teaching staff at Harvard, which would be a false claim.

Some may say that these are “petty” distinctions, but given the cachet that claiming teaching status at Harvard Medical School confers upon someone, any effort to mislead or conflate cannot be ignored. And Hassan’s repeated efforts to make such conflated claims based upon past unpaid volunteer work as a classroom teacher’s guest does not equal the rather ridiculous claim that he “has taught at Harvard Medical School,” or for that matter at “Brigham and Women’s Hospital.”

George Santos

We are living at a time that no less than a Unites States Congressman, George Santos, has been exposed for lying about his past employment. It seems like Steven Hassan is following in the footsteps of George Santos. He may not be a spectacular liar like Santos, but he has chosen to conflate his CV in a way that is misleading and dishonest.

Truth, honesty and professional integrity matter. Certainly there are people that have abandoned these principles. But proven and established historical facts must be the basis for defining objective reality, not misinformation and/or lies. This report may be upsetting to Steven Hassan’s fans, but given a choice between confirmation bias and the virtues of honesty and genuine transparency, the later remains a meaningful focus for measuring professional conduct.

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