Field of Science

That's PROFESSOR to you, fella!

This really rubs my rhubarb! This issue is nothing new, and it ranges from our local news rag to the ever dwindling giants of news publishing. The issue has surfaced because, unlike all previous vice presidential spouses, Mrs. Biden has a doctorate in education and teaches college courses. So here is my annoyance. Newspapers, including The Times, generally do not use the honorific "Dr." unless the person in question has a medical degree.

I used to ask all of our PhD students what PhD stands for in the rather perverse perspective that you don’t deserve any degree if you don’t know what its honorific stands for. If you are a reasonably well educated person, you are undoubtedly aware that PhD stands for philosophiæ doctor, written in italics because it is Latin. Philosophy means lover of knowledge, and here’s the critical part, doctor means TEACHER!

MDs are physicians, a worthy and noble profession, but they are not teachers, and yet they are the only ones to merit the honorific doctor? Wow! Refusing to grant academics the honorific doctor because they don’t have a medical degree exposes the ignorance and attitudes of journalists whose 6.5 years of undergraduate study in communication or journalism at some state college clearly were not equal to their task. They probably still don’t know what the
B in their own degree stands for even though the Phytophactor has tried to help.

The real reason for not calling people with PhDs doctors is the fundamental anti-intellectualism that permeates our society. You certainly don’t want to acknowledge that some egghead intellectual actually might know and understand some things better than a journalist or other member of the general public. The American public much prefers good old boy street smarts and common sense that gets itself mislead and hosed on such a regular basis that what we really, really need in this country is a remedial course in critical thinking for everybody.


Anonymous said...

Right on Dr. A. I'd blog with you
but I must get back to my WOOD work.
Dr. W.

Larissa said...

maybe I'll start calling my gastro guy physician brelvi. Real doctors get called professors, so it only seems fair.