Re: TITLES & independent Ph.D.'s

John Cole. (jrc@TEI.UMASS.EDU)
Mon, 4 Mar 1996 07:09:24 -0500

As Petto noted (I think), this has turned into a mildly interesting cultural/
ethnographic data project--altho earning a doctorate on terminology for
doctorates may be a bit inbred! *I* have never been sure when to "play
doctor." I know that it can be a way to get a ticket reservation or such, but
on the other hand I find that a bit offensive--ie, that an MD *or* Ph.D.
should get such preference. It can also be a way to get attention to a
complaint about a malfunctioning toaster--again an unfair advantage! In some
nonacademic settings, it seems more ubiquitous. Friends who are market
researchers, for example, seem to be expected to be "doctors" to be credible,
and when I'm introduced for a talk before a nonacademic group such as an
Audubon Society I'm always introduced by others as "Dr.", where I do not
recall ever having such an intro before a professional meeting, where a
variation MAY be something like, "a professor at X Univ., John Cole."
Therapists I know seem always to refer to themselves as "dr.," whether or not
they have one, and I have tangled with anti-evolutionist ministers who always
seem to be "dr.," whether or not they went to high school (I confronted one or
more about this and the reaction was to blanch and say it was "just a show of
minimal respect to call someone doctor." On a podium with such a "dr.," I
accept the term, too, just to be an equal before the audience.) In most
business situations I have found the term to be derogatory and best literally
covered up! My university placement office once advised me to be careful not
to let it appear on a resume for any non-research job, at least. One
employer--or potential one, I should say--flatly told me I would have been
hired were it not for the doctorate--he did not want to make other people feel
embarrassed around me (I would have tripled my academic salary, at minimum, if
I had kept the title off my resume!)