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On of my favorite fallacies is the Argumentum ad Verecundiam or appeal to authority and this is becoming increasingly common as people cherry-pick quotes to suit their own twisted logic.

So here are a couple of ideas for articles for CFP/MoI sites.

1) There are many types of doctorates - but most people are referred to as just "doctor" or "Dr." and there's really no hope of shifting that. The trouble is that a doctor of theology commands precisely the same respect among the ingnorantii as a doctor of physics or biology.

It makes me queasy to think that a tard like Ian Paisley (former leader of the DUP, IIRC) was often alluded to as doctor; and that commanded respect as if he'd done something special to advance our knowledge. Hell, they are even held in the same regard as doctors of medicine.

(I'm sure there's a good historic reason behind this, but it has no place in modern science.)

And then there's the awful poo woman "Dr." Gillian McKeith and what Dr. Ben Goldacre (M.D.) has to say about her in this extract from the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/feb/12/advertising.food):

One of those angry nerds took her down this week. A regular from my website badscience.net - I can barely contain my pride - took McKeith to the Advertising Standards Authority, complaining about her using the title "doctor" on the basis of a qualification gained by correspondence course from a non-accredited American college. He won. She may have sidestepped the publication of a damning ASA draft adjudication at the last minute by accepting - "voluntarily" - not to call herself "doctor" in her advertising any more. But would you know it, a copy of that draft adjudication has fallen into our laps, and it concludes that "the claim 'Dr' was likely to mislead". The advert allegedly breached two clauses of the Committee of Advertising Practice code: "substantiation" and "truthfulness".

Umm... She used to operate the website drgillianmckeith.com which has now been... well, see for yourself.

So she was a bogus 'doctor' - how many others there are we simply don't know.

Loverly.

So, for List 1 - can anyone provide suggestions for the types of doctorate out there, the abbreviations and how realistic they are. I would normally run a list of people who claim "real" degrees like McKeith but that's walking on thin ice unless we can get cast-iron documentation that they are lying from a reliable source. See there's my journo's hat.

Which brings me to the other point.

List number 2.

Real Ph.D.s. who've lost the plot or otherwise become mentally ill (figuratively speaking).

Fred Hoyle is one name that springs to mind. A fantastic mind when it came to astronomy - but biology... dear o dear. It's said he thought that bacteria came from outer space and that's why our noses pointed down.

There have to be loads of these guys - and they're easy to spot because they talk crap all the time in fields that they have no qualifications in; or worse, talk crap about fields that they actually do hold a title in (think Michael Behe or Rupert Sheldrake).

Have at it! I'm expecting great things.

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Replies to This Discussion

List #2 -

The Bogdanoff twins, Igor & Grishka, who barely got PhDs in mathematics and physics to prove their greatness to the scientific community. 99% of their 'colleagues' think the twins are crackpots, the rest admit they don't understand their ideas and charitably suggest they might be revolutionary. The only sure thing about Igor is his ego is only matched by Grishka's, and vice-versa. They're very active on usenet forums, where they've been exposed as pathological liars multiple times - sock puppets giving them the nod, imaginary universities, multiple accounts of forgery, etc. They don't care, either they ignore the issue, or they find a good reason for it ("What's wrong with sock puppets? Everyone uses them."). Pathetic.

Trofim Lyssenko, father of Lysenkoism.
Sweeet.... Keep 'em coming! ;-)

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