Sociologist Ron Roizen has discovered that E.M. Jellinek manufactured his education and degrees! Although Jellinek was born in America (in Brooklyn), he claimed that his university degrees were acquired overseas. In the prestigious journal Addiction, head Rutgers Alcohol Center librarian Penny Page reported that Jellinek “studied in Germany and France, receiving a master’s degree in education and later an honorary Sc.D. (Doctor of Science) from the University of Leipzig.” Meanwhile, Jellinek’s own CV listed attendance at the University of Leipzig from 1911-1914, accompanied by the notations “M.Ed., 1913″ and “Sc.D., 1936.”
Roizen noted that Jellinek, who was Jewish by birth, claimed to have received a Ph.D. from a German University after the Nazis had solidified power (which seems highly unlikely). In addition, Jellinek claimed in his CV to have been director of the Biometric Laboratory at the Memorial Foundation for Neuro-endocrine Research at Worcester, Massachusetts from 1931-1939.
Roizen wrote to Leipzig and obtained Jellinek’s transcript, which showed that Elvin Morton Jellinek had studied philosophy at Leipzig from November 1911 to July 1913 and from November 1913 to December 1914. Jellinek, however, received no degrees at Leipzig. Moreover, “Jellinek appears to have been dropped from the University’s rolls in both 1913 and 1914, for failure to attend lectures or take classes.” E.M. Jellinek, the man revered for proposing a scientific basis for the idea that alcoholism is a disease, and after whom the most prestigious international award for alcoholism research is named, is a liar and a fraud!
This discovery is doubly amusing given that anthropologist William Madsen devoted a good deal of space to attacking philosopher Herbert Fingarette (a critic of the disease theory of alcoholism) for not being able to get Jellinek’s academic credentials straight:
Fingarette, as I have said, has a terrible time with facts. I was asked to reply to [an article Fingarette authored]. . . . Among other errors, I pointed out that E.M. Jellinek was not a “distinguished sociologist.” In his new book [Heavy Drinking], therefore, Fingarette changed this and identifies Jellinek as a “distinguished biostatistician.” He was not a biostatistician. I DO NOT INTEND TO IDENTIFY JELLINEK’S ACADEMIC AND SCIENTIFIC CREDENTIALS FOR FINGARETTE. I am sure that with his vast experience in library research [this is a put-down of Fingarette's lack of experience with actual alcoholics] he may in time discover the reality for himself.
Perhaps Madsen can now offer his version of Jellinek’s scientific training, background, and credentials. In general, Madsen’s point is that a long line of distinguished scientists have found the biological/genetic basis for alcoholism, beginning with Jellinek, who is thus important for establishing the scientific pedigree for this idea: “Although others had postulated a biological basis for alcoholism long before Jellinek, he gave this hypothesis strong support by those who interpreted his ‘X’ factor as being physiological.”
Page, P. (1997). E.M. Jellinek and the evolution of alcohol studies: A critical essay. Addiction, 92:1619-1637.