URLs du Jour

2020-12-14

[Amazon Link]

  • I am unusually fascinated by the reaction to Joseph Epstein's op-ed in the Saturday WSJ Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D.. (Maybe paywalled, sorry.)

    Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the “Dr.” before your name? “Dr. Jill Biden” sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic. Your degree is, I believe, an Ed.D., a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware through a dissertation with the unpromising title “Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.” A wise man once said that no one should call himself “Dr.” unless he has delivered a child. Think about it, Dr. Jill, and forthwith drop the doc.

    As a number of people have pointed out (including me in the past): the Ed. D. degree is kind of a joke, academically. Bill Cosby got one, fer Pete's sake.

    But a lot of people responded … well, as you might have expected them to.


  • Dr. Jill (apparently) fired off a passive-agressive tweet:

    Note the name and handle. Dr. Dr. In case you missed one of them, I guess.

    Dr. Jill feels diminished by people failing to use her title. I think she feels that a little too easily. I would hope that "our daughters" are made of less fragile stuff.


  • Of course there are few bonds stronger than those in the fellowhood personhood of the higher education establishment. And, for daring to speak his mind, Mr. Epstein received the ultimate academic death penalty, as reported by Hot Air: WSJ op-ed writer critical of 'Dr.' Jill Biden gets canceled by Northwestern University.

    Joseph Epstein was recognized on Northwestern University’s website as “emeritus lecturer” for more than twenty years. That changed Saturday when it was discovered that his profile is no longer available. Epstein has been canceled.

    I wonder if they yanked his campus parking sticker? Library card? That'll show him!


  • Across town the UChicago Bio Prof Jerry Coyne muses at his blog: Should Ph.D.s call themselves “doctor” in everyday life?. Jerry's pretty left, so he makes the obligatory noises about Epstein's "misogyny" and "sexism". Not to mention his "patronizing" and "condescending" tone. But he's got a good quote from "Miss" Manners, Judith Martin, via the NYT:

    Judith Martin, better known as the columnist Miss Manners, said her father, who had a Ph.D. in economics, insisted on not being called Dr. and implored his fiancée, Ms. Martin’s mother, to print new wedding invitations after the first version included the title.

    “As my father used to say, ‘I’m not the kind of doctor who does anybody any good,’” Ms. Martin said in an interview on Saturday. “He didn’t feel it was dignified. I am well aware that this is a form of reverse snobbery.”

    Still, Ms. Martin said, “I don’t tell people what to call themselves and I’m aware that women often have trouble with people who don’t respect their credentials.”

    Respect my credentials!


  • Ann Althouse (retired law prof) is way more copacetic:

    Epstein is an essayist. He's been writing essays and publishing collections of essays for many years. He's 83. And good for him, suddenly scoring so big with this one essay. It really gave people with a need to write essays and mini-essays — tweets 'n' blogposts — something to write oh so easily about.

    That fiend Epstein! He's a misogynist! Why's he a misogynist for calling bullshit on the use of "Dr." for people who are not medical doctors? I haven't read the essay yet and I've only glanced at the criticism — enough to see the charge of misogyny — and what I'm going to presume is that it's perceived as misogynist because it's women — and not men — who style themselves as "Dr." when they are not medical doctors. Why do women do it? Are they guessing they'll be thought less of because they are female? The "Dr." business might be a defense again real or imagined misogyny, but that doesn't make it misogynistic to argue that it's time to lay off the self-puffery of the non-medical "Dr."

    [Amazon Link]
    In his (apparently) web-unavailable newsletter, Jeff Jacoby makes a point too:

    Political and media circles are filled with people who have non-medical doctorates. Examples include columnist George Will; MSNBC host Rachel Maddow; Senators Ben Sasse, Tammy Duckworth, and Kyrsten Sinema; incoming Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen; former Fed chairmen Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. To my knowledge, none of them has ever insisted on being referred to as “doctor” in daily life.

    Neither do countless scientific luminaries with doctoral degrees. Richard Feynman … was a Nobel laureate who was one of the most renowned theoretical physicists of the 20th century. He was also perfectly content to be addressed as “mister.” Indeed, he titled his 1985 collection of reminiscences Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feyman [sic]!

    Indeed. Good book, by the way. Click the pic to buy.


  • What people should be maybe more put out by is related by Jim Geraghty at Naional Review: Bill Gates: It's 'Appropriate' to Keep Bars and Restaurants Closed Longer. His comment:

    […] if anyone is going to advocate for longer lockdowns and stricter restrictions, and ask Americans to make even greater sacrifices, losing jobs, losing businesses, facing bankruptcy . . . it probably should not be the second-richest man on the planet.

    Hey, Bill? Maybe you should shut down Microsoft for "four to six months". You know, just as an example for us peons.