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There is a Doctor

2009-11-22

Category: politics

The Europeans have been doing something that we need to import to the United States. In many parts of Europe, it is illegal to use the title "doctor" unless you are a medical practitioner. This means that it excludes persons with Ph.D. and similar degrees. This is needed for two reasons.

Is There a Doctor in the House?

The main reason for this law is that it prevents the average person from being confused by the title. We tend to give great weight to the opinions of our medical professionals and probably should not give as much weight to the opinions of, say, philosophy professors. To the lay person, hearing that guidance is coming from "Dr. So-and-so" is enough to say the advice has merit without getting into whether or not the so called doctor really has any expertise in the matter.

Imagine that someone has fallen and needs medical care. A witness calls out for a doctor. A man in a tweed jacket jumps up and says, "I'm a doctor!" With that, he quickly examines the injured person before standing and starting off, "Ode to a Fallen Fellow."

The witness demands, "What kind of doctor are you?"

"Why, I am a Doctor of English Poetry, of course. Now stand back while I recite a poem in this man's honor."

Naturally, this is an exaggerated example, but it illustrates the fact that the common person expects certain skills from a person called "doctor".

But I Have a Degree

The second reason for having such a law is the other side of the same coin. Back when the college degree structure was established, the ones who go the degrees were some of the best educated people in the world. Many times they were also better fed and in generally better mental condition. It was probably a good idea to get them involved in general problem solving, even if it did not involve their primary area of study.

Today, there are a far greater number of degrees given. In the industrialized world, the persons who get doctoral degrees have the luxury of studying one area extremely well. This does not, however, give them the needed insights to become involved in other issues. There are enough people educated in the other issues that just having a degree does not excuse interfering.

Unfortunately, many who get those Ph.D. and similar degrees don't realize that they have limitations. They get the title of "doctor" and suddenly feel they can understand anything better than persons who don't have a doctorate. You can annoy them by pointing out an ongoing tragedy and saying, "Quick, use your doctoral powers to fix that problem!" It helps if someone else half-heartedly follows up with, "Yay, we're saved."

By removing this title from general use, it emphasizes that in the Twenty-First Century, a person with a Ph.D. or Ed.D. is just a person with specialized training. This is particularly true in cases such as the Education Doctorate (Ed.D.) where they even argue amongst themselves about its true worth.

What to Do

So, start writing to your favorite congress people (state or federal) and demand that this law be adopted in the United States. Contact your favorite medical people and get them to throw their support behind the effort. Make fun of college professors whenever they call themselves doctor. Do what it takes to get this law passed.


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