The editorial board of the TBS Magazine:
James A. Barham—General Editor of TBS
James A. Barham is the General Editor and President of TheBestSchools.org, and has been with this organization since its inception. Barham’s philosophy of education is twofold. The first aim of education should be to help maximize each individual’s development in moral and intellectual virtue (i.e., to be as good as one can be). The second aim of education should be to safeguard the precious legacy of Civilization bequeathed to each generation by the past in trust for the future.
Born in Dallas, Texas, in 1952, Barham received his B.A. in Classics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1972 and his M.A. in History of Science from Harvard University in 1976. After a long period of time spent outside of academia, including six years living abroad (in France, Greece, and ex-Yugoslavia), he received his Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Notre Dame in 2011.
Barham’s early interest in classical philology and history of science (especially Byzantine astronomy) gradually gave way to a consuming interest in the conceptual underpinnings of the modern scientific worldview, especially in relation to life and mind. Working as an independent scholar, he began in 1990 to publish a series of papers calling into question the adequacy of neo-Darwinism as an explanatory framework for reducing the manifest teleological and normative features of livings systems to purely mechanistic interactions. This work culminated in his Ph.D. dissertation, Teleological Realism in Biology (University of Notre Dame, 2011).
He is currently working on a monograph entitled The Emergence of Freedom: The Sciences and the Human Spirit After Darwin. Much of Barham’s academic work may be accessed on his personal website.
David A. Tomar—Chief Magazine Editor
David A. Tomar is an author and journalist who has written extensively on music and education. Tomar catapulted to notoriety with his controversial and eye-opening 2010 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education titled “The Shadow Scholar.” Writing under the pseudonym Ed Dante (a name now committed to perpetuity by its own Wikipedia entry), Tomar highlighted his decade-long career as an academic ghostwriter while simultaneously announcing his retirement from the business.
“The Shadow Scholar” became the most read article in the history of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Although student cheating is nothing new, this article underscored the extent to which student cheating had become a business, in which students paid others to do their work, sometimes for an entire course. Tomar’s revelations led to appearances on ABC World News Tonight, Nightline, and the Today Show. There he shared the ghostwriting business’s trade secrets and attempted to bring greater awareness to this hidden epidemic of student cheating.
Since then, Tomar has focused not just on exposing the broader failures in American education but also on reforming it. Through his full-length 2012 memoir, The Shadow Scholar: How I Made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat (Bloomsbury USA), his consulting work for the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI), and his editorial seat at TheBestSchools.org, Tomar is seeking to narrow the gap between the promise of education and its (often dismal) reality.
Tomar has written for The New York Times and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post as well as editor-in-chief of music blog The Liner Note.
Rich Tatum—Senior Editor and Media Producer
Rich describes himself as an “accidental technologist” and a curious generalist. He loves great stories, long conversations, and luminous photos—and he still wonders what he’ll be when he grows up!
In 1991, Rich graduated from small, private university in Texas (SAGU) with a B.A. in cross cultural communication. While intending to complete studies toward an M.A. in theological studies, Rich inadvertently founded and presided over an Internet users’ group in Springfield, Missouri—when gopher was still a thing and Netscape was not. This led to subsequent technological adventures including training and supporting 1,000 corporate computer users, to serving as webmaster to a rare, two-letter domain holder (ag.org). While not a technician, Rich’s training in communication helped him put technology to good use.
As a curious generalist, Rich’s work has involved technology, photography, writing, marketing, and public speaking. He led Internet operations and managed an online training initiative for the nation’s largest Evangelical magazine publisher, Christianity Today. At HarperCollins, he served as an editorial manager, marketing operations director, word-of-mouth marketing strategist, and also led a groundbreaking data-visualization project. Rich has spoken at conferences, given interviews to national TV and local radio, has published articles as a freelance writer, has edited bestselling authors, and is a friend to coders, journalists, and geeks of all stripes.
When not keeping busy, Rich prefers to watch old sci-fi shows with his wife and three kids in Muskegon, Michigan, while purposefully neglecting his lawn.
Hillary Morgan—Editor at Large
Hillary Morgan comes to TBS with a variety of expertise. Her education and experience are equally split between her 3 passions: science, education, and photography. She brings to TBS 4 years of photography and design school from Brooks Institute of Photography and Art Center College of Design, 5 years as a professional photographer, 5 years as a college-prep Biology and Chemistry teacher, and a Masters in Biology from Clemson University. She has worked in both public and private schools and wears more hats than we can list here in addition to her editing and design responsibilities.
Ray Deck III—Editor at Large
A serial intrapreneur, Ray Deck III has a decade of experience inciting change from within complex organizations. Today he leads Skookum Kids, a not-for-profit that cares for children in their first 72 hours of foster care. When he’s not wrestling with bureaucracy, you can find him running, surfing, or backpacking through the Cascades. But you should go look for him. He has a terrible sense of direction, and is probably lost.
Dan Edelen—Writer and Director of Marketing Services
Dan writes from the rolling countryside of southwestern Ohio, sandwiched between Amish communities and the sprawling Cincinnati metropolis. A summa cum laude Christian Education graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, he brings a breadth of experience in technical marketing (Apple Computer), network administration (at NASA Ames Research Center and Proctor & Gamble), knowledge management (Synchrony Communications), instructional design (Luxottica), and business and academic writing/editing. Interests include board games, birding, geocaching, and blogging on issues facing the Church in America. Dan resides on a small, organic fruit farm with his wife and teenage son, locked in mortal combat with legions of sap-sucking bugs and myriad fungal pestilences. But then, aren’t we all?
Stephen DeRose—Editor of Economics and Philosophy
Stephen DeRose stumbled into his current position as Editor of Economics and Philosophy at TheBestSchools.org through an unlikely avenue. His background includes research in more abstract areas such as natural philosophy, comparative theology, ethics, and related disciplines.
Stephen began his higher education at The College of New Jersey. There he studied philosophy and cognitive science. After graduating in 2009 he worked first for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions and later for the Huntington Learning Center. He used a full tuition science scholarship as well as teaching and tutoring to work his way through Westminster Seminary’s Master of Divinity Program. During this time he presented papers at numerous academic conferences and developed a strong interest in eclectic ontology, sphere sovereignty based social theory, and other topics related to philosophy, science, and religion.
This array of interests eventually led him to serve as an Associate Pastor with the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) denomination. It was during his time as a pastor that Stephen published his first book, Who is God. While spending time doing ministry in an urban context Stephen became increasingly interested in economic issues. Eventually his writing became less geared towards abstract matters and increasingly focused on direct, everyday problems facing the average person. His curiosity led him to research financial inequality, social welfare paradigms, models of education, and child development.
Not surprisingly, Stephen is passionate about equipping people to deal with our ever-changing economic landscape. The information age has rewritten all the old rules about what works and what fails in the market place. In a world where student loan debt has reached new heights and standard college tuition keeps outpacing inflation students need to think creatively about scholarships, distance learning options, and entrepreneurship in order to advance themselves in an environment replete with new challenges. Stephen hopes his writings on such topics will prove both enlightening to researchers and helpful to everyday people.
Erik J. Larson—Science & Technology Editor
Erik J. Larson comes to TBS Magazine as a top-flight research scholar on mind, brain, artificial intelligence (AI), and technology. Larson has over a decade of experience as a professional software developer and a scientist in natural language processing (NLP), a field central to artificial intelligence.
Larson worked on the famous “Cyc” project at Cycorp, a decades-long effort to encode common sense into machines. He has also been a research scientist at the IC2 Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, where he led a team researching information extraction techniques for free text, a project funded in part by Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Laboratories. In 2007, he founded and led a successful DARPA-funded start-up specializing in classifying and ranking opinion content on the Web.
Larson is currently working on a book that examines the overselling of AI, especially in light of the field’s actual accomplishments and realistic prospects. He has written extensively on AI and the philosophy of technology. In May 2015, he published “Questioning the Hype about Artificial Intelligence” in The Atlantic.
Larson received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2009. His dissertation crossed several disciplines and included faculty from the Philosophy, Computer Science, and Linguistics departments at UT. Larson also holds an M.A. in Philosophy from UT and received a B.A. from Whitworth College, where he majored in Mathematics as well as Philosophy.
Forrest Mims III—Writer
Forrest M. Mims III has been a freelance writer and photographer since 1970. His many books about science and electronics have sold more than 7.5 million copies.
While a high school student in 1962, Mims designed and built an analog/digital computer that translated 20 words of Russian into English. The Smithsonian Institute collected it as an early example of hobby computing. While attending Texas A&M University, Mims designed and tested an infrared travel aid for the blind and a new kind of rocket guidance system.
Following graduation, Mims served as an Air Force intelligence officer in Vietnam and a development engineer at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory, where he worked with high-power lasers. In 1969, Mims co-founded Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), Inc., the company that in 1975 introduced the Altair 8800 and consequently sparked the personal computer era when Paul Allen and Bill Gates moved to MITS to write software for the Altair.
Mims has designed hand-held instruments that measure haze, water vapor and the ozone layer. His daily atmospheric measurements since 1988 have led to numerous publications in scientific journals, which began with his first publication in Nature when he found an error in NASA’s ozone satellite. His research has led to assignments from the EPA, NOAA, Colorado State University and two NASA-sponsored research campaigns to measure biomass smoke and the ozone layer in Brazil during satellite overpasses.
Mims was named one of the “50 Best Brains in Science” by Discover Magazine in 2008, and his hand-held instrument that measures the ozone layer earned him a 1993 Rolex Award. His science is featured at ForrestMims.org.