Feature

Too many doctors in the house

If you go around calling yourself “doctor,” you should have a medical degree.

Charles C.W. CookeNationalReview.com

If you go around calling yourself “doctor,” said Charles C.W. Cooke, you should have a medical degree. Unfortunately, the country is now lousy with people who insist on being called “Dr.” because they once wrote an arcane thesis. Vice President Joe Biden’s wife relentlessly calls herself “Dr. Biden,” even though her doctorate is in “‘educational leadership,’ whatever the hell that is.” Why use this title? It confers a certain better-than-thou status, proving that Dr. Biden is “smart.” Other faux doctors who exploit the title include the impressive sounding Princeton philosopher Dr. Cornel West and the author Dr. Maya Angelou, who has 30 honorary doctorates from various colleges. A Ph.D. literally means you’re a “doctor of philosophy,” and in practice, it simply means you’ve spent a lot of time in academia, and are now qualified to teach in a university. In a professional context, a doctor of English literature is justified in using the title—but of what relevance is it in everyday life? When people cling to “trophy credentials” to prove they’re smarter than everyone else, it suggests that maybe they’re not.

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