Pretty Picture Monday (and an argument)

I have a super busy schedule today, so how about you cruise over to Scienceray and look at their pretty photos of…insects eating each other.  This lovely robber fly is a great example.

You can also just surf around in stboed’s photostream–lots of neat photos like this one there.

Also, since there are lots of academics here–how do you feel about Ms. Biden wanting her title to be used?

As someone who is always called Miss Bug Girl by students, while my male colleagues get to be called Dr. Whosit, I understand where she’s coming from.  (And I bet none of the male faculty I work with have ever been mistaken for a secretary.)

Would anyone have bothered to write about this if Dr. Biden was a dude?  (Aside from the wonderful happenstance of a gay couple as VPs during Freedom to Marry Week.)
You might also be interested in Orac’s take on this, as an MD.

Talk amongst yourselves. Back Tuesday!

4 thoughts on “Pretty Picture Monday (and an argument)

  1. As I recall from my university days, on campus, Professors with PhDs are always referred to as Dr., (unless otherwise stated) and profs without PhDs can use the title ‘Professor’ if they want, although most of them just had us call them by their first name. They usually don’t complain if they’re called something else, although I’ve witnessed situations where they would have been within their rights to.

    Off campus, if you happen to know a person has a PhD, whether they’re an MD or not, they certainly don’t complain being referred to by the title. They friggin’ well earned it, as I’m sure you can attest to. But if you don’t know their credentials, or if they’ve told you they prefer another salutation, then Mr. or Ms. is a safe default.

    I remember seeing a writeup of one of my profs in the local newspaper once, and was surprised to see him addressed as “Mister”, knowing that he was a PhD. I don’t know if that’s a convention of the newspaper, or if he’d asked or permitted them to address him that way in the article. At the time, I just assumed that it was a convention to avoid confusion. If you’re in a crowded arena or something, and someone shouts out “Is there a doctor in the house?” A PhD would be able to respond truthfully, even though such situations typically require an MD.

    Honorary doctorates might be a different story. One of our local politicians was given an honorary doctorate, and I recall a bit of controversy a few years back when she requested that her nameplace at a dinner convention include the title. There was a question as to whether an honorary doctorate had the same privileges to title in such a setting, or whether she was just showing off. Hell, Kermit the Frog has an honorary PhD. You don’t see him flaunting it about.

    But again, she was female, and my former prof was male. So it could be a double standard too. But even if it was, this particular politician was rather …colourful. So it’s entirely possible she really was showing off. My family’s on a first name basis with hers, so it’s really never come up one-on-one.

    Personally, I don’t think there’s a convention necessarily, and I don’t think there needs to be one. If there is one, maybe it ought to be thrown out. If a person earns a title, it’s no slight to acknowledge that accomplishment. Go with what you know about the person you’re addressing, or their preference if known. Failing that, Mr. or Ms. will do. So Dr. Bidon is Dr. Bidon until she asks to be addressed otherwise.

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