Eyes Above The Waves

Robert O'Callahan. Christian. Repatriate Kiwi. Hacker.

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Some Advice

Never, ever trust anyone who writes "PhD" after their name. Seriously.

To clarify: I have nothing against PhDs. I know lots of great people with PhDs. None of them write "PhD" after their name. People who write "PhD" after their name are trying to impress you.


In a similar vein, my father says that the only letters he gets that address him as "Dr." are from his alma mater, hitting him up for cash.
Robert O'Callahan
I'm less uppity about the "Dr" honorific because in some cultures (mainland Europe, I think) it's apparently normal to use "Dr" for PhDs.
This applies equally well within academia. People who insist on pointing out titles or letters after their name seem insecure. People who are confident in their work usually go by their first name.
Michael B.
One of my economics professors would always say that PhD stands for "piled higher and deeper."
Hum not if the guy is German - They take the Doctor and Professor title very seriously.
Joshua Cogliati, PhD, MS, BS, HS, JH, ES
I completely agree.
plam, PhD
I agree entirely: post-nominal letters seem like a pile of pretention. The use of "Dr" seems perfectly fine, as long as it appears in a context where M{r,s,rs} otherwise would.
You're a PhDist!
Robert O'Callahan
Ludovic: I know Germans use "Dr", but do they tend to write "PhD" after their name? Not in my experience. If they do, I'll exempt them from my rule.
roc: The German "Dr" is the standard academic title in Germany, independent of the science you wrote your thesis in. (And you can get the "Dr." added to your ID card.)
I've met quite a few Germans in my life who do hold a doctoral degree but I've yet to encounter anybody who adds the PhD after their name as it's redundant and little known outside of academia. Despite some recent scandals here about some politicians obtaining their degree employing questionable methods the Dr. prefix is still held in high regard in German society, thus providing substantial social and often financial benefits.
It seems to have become the cultural norm to speak derisively of someone with more education than one has. This is done partly as a form of self-exaltation, and often as a political statement. It's unfortunate because it reinforces the foible that many people believe they know more than they actually do. In parts of Europe and Asia at least, there is still a recognition that a high degree of education is to be respected. Unfortunately, this is much less true in the U.S. There needs to be some recognition that someone who has spent several years studying something in a rigorous environment really might know something.
The term "Ph.D." is used formally to differentiate different types of doctoral degrees, e.g., Ph.D., M.D., or LL.D. The prefix "Dr." is not used together with the suffix, as it would be superfluous. Informally many academic people are on a first-name basis and do not use either title.
Robert O'Callahan
VanillaMozilla, I have a PhD myself, if that matters to you.
Never, ever trust anyone who writes "I know lots of great people that (variable)". Seriously.
"I know lots of great people that are black."
"I know lots of great people that are muslim."
"I know lots of great people that are women."
"I know lots of great people that are communist."
You known the drill...
If only people had stronger characters and personalities instead of hiding behind such clichés of hypocrisy...
Robert O'Callahan
DoesItReallyMatter: Fair enough, but if I was a black, Muslim, communist woman it would put those statements in a different light, wouldn't it? See above.
Mike Ratcliffe
Yup, it is kinda like saying "look at me, I know more than you!" ... the irony is that they often don't.
Some of my best friends have PhDs.
Another thought: as a women I sometimes wonder if I should state that I have a PhD just to avoid being ignored as he coffee girl... always a hard decision between trying to look competent and dorky ...