9 comments on “Oh dear Polly

  1. Why do people complain about the NHS so much and then when the government try to reform it they start complaining more?

  2. William

    The Greek primary surplus one wasn’t an easy one to fact check, actually. Megan Greene queried it with Flanders – don’t know if she received a reply. Yiannis Mouzakis did his own analysis of figures from the Green fin min and concluded that Greece did indeed run a tiny primary surplus from July to October last year before falling back into deficit again. Link to his analysis (twitpic) is here https://twitter.com/#!/YiannisMouzakis/status/163902471788433408/photo/1/large

  3. Interesting that she refers to him as Dr Clarke.

    Nothing technically wrong with that; he’s got his PhD (Irish Republican Women 1969-83).

    But it’s very unusual, outside academic circles, to refer to a PhD as Dr X. Normally Dr X is only used for medical professionals.

    Since this is an article on the NHS, is Polly trying to spin him as a medical insider?

  4. Richard – almost agree. I’d prefer to reference a qualification provided it’s pertinent to the subject being discussed. So if we are talking about Irish Republican women 1969-1983 then he should be referred to as Dr Clarke. Discuss anything else then he should be simply (simple?) Eoin Clarke.

    The danger with this of course is that, even with this distinction, there are PhDs and PhDs. How does the laymen know that the doctorate came from Scumbag College or Toffsville Uni?

  5. GlenDorran is more right. Even in non-academic circles, if the holder of a PhD is speaking in a subject area where they may reasonably be expected to hold some expertise, it is appropriate and polite to signal the PhD: either by the style Dr, or the post-nominals PhD. (For example, news articles interviewing an uninvolved scientist about a new discovery in their field; or businessmen with PhDs in their business’ area of technical operation.)

    If the individual is outside their area of specialism, it kind of depends rather more. A wedding invitation, for instance, usually comes to Dr X even if the holder of the doctorate is academic and not clinical. People holding doctoral degrees will sometimes suppress the style of their own accord, of course.

    Should Polly have suppressed Eoin’s doctorate? In an article on the politics of the NHS, it might have been more honest to have written “leaks to the website of the historian and political activist, Dr Eoin Clarke”. There’s no need to be terribly rude by undoctoring him against his will: one can simply set his doctorate in context.

    At this point, it may be appropriate to note that I am writing as Dr Philip Walker (academic, mathematics).

  6. But Scumbag College are the internationally recognised centre of excellence for Feminist Analysis of the Irish Republic Movements. And Toffsville Uni just have solitary demented researcher (without tenure, if you assume they are Yanks) tacked on the windy end of an unimportant corridor in what used to be the Sociology Department before the latter was merged with “Janitoral and Gardening”.

  7. SE – fair point, I’m approaching it from my own field (maths, like Phillip Walker) where the distinction is usually more obvious, at least in the UK.

    Full disclosure – I have no PhD and attended a Russell Group Uni, so have a chip on both shoulders.

  8. Glendorran (#5) – agreed. Yes, if the PhD is pertinent to the discussion then it should be referenced.

    And Philip Walker (#6), yes, formal social address also uses the doctorate.

    But Polly’s use here is not just outside those areas; since she’s writing about the NHS it also (by accident or design) suggests to the reader that he is a medical practitioner.

    That is of course largely due to public ignorance of PhDs, but that doesn’t make it less true.

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