Angels & Demons on authority

Today’s Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting little item on how author Dan Brown of Angels & Demons came to find a Professor Langdon who is who his Professor Langdon’s character is based upon:

   typography professor at Drexel University is the real-life
   inspiration for the code-breaking academic played by Tom Hanks
   in the new film “Angels & Demons.”

I’ve seen the movie Angels & Demons and just read the book on a flight (it’s a perfect airplane book — lots of short chapters and an easy read).  The book contains lots and lots of detail left out from the movie, including a paragraph about how the director of CERN (Conseil Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire) found Professor Langdon.  It’s a paragraph I’m going to use in our Advanced Legal Research class.

The book concerns activities by a group called the Illuminati and the CERN director did an internet seach on the word.  Below is the paragraph (p. 38 in the paperback edition), along with some other text to place it in context, it occurs during a dialog between the CERN director Kohler and Professor Langdon:

. . . [Langdon asked,] “How much do you already know?”

“Only what I had time to read on your website.  The word Illuminiti means ‘the enlightened ones.’  It is the name of some sort of ancient brotherhood.”

Langdon nodded, “Had you head the name before?”

“Not until I saw it . . . “

“So you ran a web search for it?”


“And the word returned hundreds of references, no doubt.”

“Thousands,” Kohler said.  Yours, however, contained references to Harvard, Oxford, a reputable publisher, as well as a list of related publications.  As a scientist I have come to learn that information is only as valuable as its source.  Your credentials seemed authentic.”

(Emphasis added)