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Sunday Church for Humans: Look Ma, I’m a Doctor!

I encountered a very strange phenomena when I was about 10 and my parents discovered the wonder scam of having all your sins washed away by the blood of Jesus, commonly referred to as being “born again.”

Chief among the peddlers of this cultish, separation racket (divide and dominate) are the Fundamental Baptists. When the pastors of the mega-churches in this realm aren’t busy having affairs with wives of the congregation—and youth pastors administering to the sex education of the girls—they’re busy rubbing elbows with one-another such that their respective “bible colleges” confer honorary doctorate degrees on one another.

Consequently, every pastor, many assistant pastors and even some prominent deacons are all Dr. [insert name]. Hilariously, they all go around calling each other Dr. this and Dr. that, adorning every name tag, plaque, and written word with their title. When speaking of themselves in conversations with others, yep…and then he said “Dr. Nikoley, I feel so blessed to have your guidance.”

Barf.

Here, and I spent like 10 seconds googling for a list of conference speakers for a fundie event: Trinity Baptist Church, Arlington, TX Conference Page.

Screen Shot 2014 12 21 at 9 22 06 AM

Out of 17 speakers, 12 are “Dr.,” and I’d bet you anything that the vast majority are either honorary, mail order, or some other silly thing, like having a PhD in Mother Goose.

Actually, conferring honorary doctorates is nothing new at all. There are millions of them. Most prominent politicians, entertainers, business magnates and philanthropists have stacks of them—and from places like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc….not Bumfuck Indiana Baptist Bible College. Laf.

One other aspect is so-called professional doctorates, the most common being the juris doctorate: a law degree. But have you ever known an attorney to go around calling himself Dr? Moreover, while most law schools require a bachelor’s degree for admission, not all do. Conceivably, you could go right from high school to law school and in three years get a JD. Then you can call yourself Dr. Smith, even if you never take or pass the bar exam.

And pursuant to getting a certificate to practice pharmacology at a Rite Aid or Walgreens near you, you’d get a professional doctorate called a PharmD, typically a 4-year program (compared to 3 years for a JD, and about 12 for an MD or PhD). Even the program at UCSD, however, does not require a bachelor’s degree as prerequisite, but instead the equivalent of 2 years of core curriculum. So, in all, a PharmD is at best a master’s degree, but could be as little as a bachelor’s.

The more interesting question is why people go around calling themselves Dr., writing themselves as Dr. everywhere, when they are not some form of a Medical Doctor or have spent the 4 years as an undergrad, followed by an average of 8.5 additional years to earn a PhD (and most folks I know with earned PhDs don’t often refer to themselves as doctor).

So why is it people do this? Feel free to speculate, but for me it’s all about being perceived as an authority who:

  1. Doesn’t like being questioned.
  2. Doesn’t like to have to explain.
  3. Wants to have a scammy advantage over others who aren’t “doctors.”
  4. Wants to have an army of sycophants to defend them when questioned or “attacked.”

OK, tune in again, where Dr. Nikoley will tell you more about what he thinks about everything, all of which you will be expected to accept without question.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

31 Comments

  1. Gassman on December 21, 2014 at 11:14

    Seems like physical therapy schools are not conferring masters degrees anymore, but instead have doctoral programs requiring 3 years of study.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 21, 2014 at 11:28

      Great. Yea one link I saw when googling was the pressure for more and more degrees to become professional doctorates.



  2. rob on December 21, 2014 at 11:18

    In Latin American nations it is common to address anyone who has a college degree as “Doctor.”

    Engineer? Doctor
    Architect? Doctor
    Accountant? Doctor
    Bachelor of Arts in Education? Doctor

    So in the U.S. half the population would be a doctor.

    • Russell on December 23, 2014 at 09:36

      None of the ones you mentioned would be considered a doctor in Latin America, only the JD.
      Just for the record.



    • TJ the Grouch on February 1, 2015 at 12:20

      Old Colombian joke:
      “Thank you, Doctor” says the shoe shine boy after getting paid.
      “How did you know I was a doctor?” asked the perplex client.
      “In this business, we call every jerk a doctor!”



  3. AndrewPaleodoc on December 21, 2014 at 11:44

    Personally I never use my title “Dr” (I’m a medical doctor) as to me there is no need and sets up an atmosphere of “I’m the all knowing Dr you are the dumb ass patient” if it’s used. Always tell patients to call me by my first name.

    IMHO people who use titles are pompous, arrogant and very insecure

    • Richard Nikoley on December 21, 2014 at 13:05

      I like plain old ‘doc.’ Hey doc. Informal, but just a smidgen of respect.



    • gabkad on December 21, 2014 at 16:36

      Yeah. Ditto. Still get the ‘hey doc’ stuff happening though in the supermarket or at IKEA. Dr. Gabi, that’s what they call me. They do. I don’t call myself that. There’s this weird thing going on now that women healthcare professionals are being called Dr. plus first name. I don’t think male doctors are being called that but not sure. Patients who are my generation and have been my patients for 30 years just call me Gabi. Except nurses. What’s with the nurses?



    • Richard Nikoley on December 21, 2014 at 16:46

      And Gabs, consider “bones,” from saw bones, but an intervention that saved untold thousands of lives.

      In retrospect, Roddenberry was visionary forward and back.



    • SteveRN on December 22, 2014 at 03:06

      I used to work in a teaching hospital. Many of the young residents liked to be called by their first name. On the surface, I liked the idea that they were just wanting to be seen as part of the team, no better or worse than anyone else, just had a different role to play.Many of the younger nurses would use the first name, not many of the older ones would. But the Marine in me couldn’t do it. It would feel like calling a butter bar Lt. by his first name out in town, in civies, it just wasn’t done. You could have a beer with him, even go over to his house and fuck his sister, but he was still Lt. Dan.



  4. Onlooker on December 21, 2014 at 13:16

    Yes, the dilution of the doctor title has been going on for a while now, eh?

    Of course eventually someone’s going to come up with a whole new title to differentiate those with a true level of extraordinary education and achievement. Maybe it’s already happened. Anybody know?

    And round and round we go.

    • Bret on December 22, 2014 at 06:32

      Onlooker, I think the same will happen to the college degree itself, as more and more degrees are given out through various forms of subsidy. On this track, the “purchasing power” of owning a degree — i.e. being able to get a job — will eventually approach zero, the more people possess them.

      Makes me wonder what will replace it. Maybe unpaid apprenticeships, word of mouth/personal acquaintances, or black market versions thereof, as they’ll certainly be illegal at some point.



  5. Geoff on December 21, 2014 at 13:45

    Fuck “Dr.” I want to be “The Reverend Geoff” preferably in The Church of Rationality but I’ll accept lesser denominations as long as the have good taste in music.

  6. Harriet on December 21, 2014 at 15:57

    With old fashioned doctorates we had to be very self disciplined and we slogged alone at our work for many years, only gathering with other doctoral candidates on occasions when we tested out our developing ideas. These days with universities churning out doctorates the students get nursed along with courses, credits and much working together. Some doctorates are obtained just by attending class and the odd examination.

    After years of lonely academic slog in pre-google, pre-online search function years I did like to have this recognised with a title, especially working in academia. Now it doesn’t bother me at all, except if someone is trying to one-up and for some reason it matters on the day.

  7. gabkad on December 21, 2014 at 16:29

    When I graduated from dental school, I saw my arrogant classmates and thought ‘yeah, you have a degree to do malpractice….. good luck’. I never ever told anyone what I did for a living (casual conversations) because I know everyone hates dentists. Even now, people where I live have no idea what I do for a living. Sure, a couple of neighbours know, but they are my friends after 17 years of living in the same place.

    It’s not my bloody fault that there’s Dr. in front of my professional name. And Eastern Europeans call me ‘Mrs. Dr.’….. giggle….. I’m not a Mrs. But anyway…..

    It’s all a learning and learning and learning experience. I think back on when I was a wet behind the ears ‘kid’ and wonder how it is that people actually trusted me.

    I look at my work from decades ago, and it was actually excellent. You don’t have three generations of families coming to see you if you are a lousy clinician. My colleagues trust and respect me. Nowadays I’m considering retirement. I’ll miss my patients. They taught me a lot.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 21, 2014 at 16:53

      I think what irks me most is these mail order or professional degree doctors using the term patient.

      They’re clients. There is a distinction to make.



    • gabkad on December 21, 2014 at 17:32

      My job is ‘hands on’. I think this is very important. Never touch another human being without good intent or you can hurt them.

      These mail order professionals have no idea of what that person is all about. ‘Know your patient’.

      True though there’s a lot of ‘selling’ going on with the internet. It’s hard enough, but gets easier with experience and practice, to know what a patient is bullshitting you. But if that person is never actually right there breathing the same air as you are, who the hell knows?

      I’ve read some of these ‘ask the specialist’ forums and one thing that stands out is how these doctors make it clear that they are not in a therapeutic relationship with the person asking questions. They know the limitations. Unfortunately there are people who are quasi paraprofessionals dishing out all sorts of ‘advice’ on line who don’t know who they are dealing with. It’s a fine line.



  8. space on December 21, 2014 at 19:03

    Interesting… I noticed that a certain PharmD is deleting any questions relating to their qualifications.
    Why on earth would it be considered threatening to simply ask.
    Strange world we live in. Personally, I don’t particularly care about qualifications, sometimes qualifications simply mean that one is good at fitting into what institutions expect and the status quo. What I do care about is people presenting themselves and their information in a particular light. Needing to resort to some kind of established authority in order to give them legitimacy.
    It’s also interesting to watch how many are still prone to thinking that a particular title, plus quoting innumerable (and in my opinion, confusing) studies, makes that person appear more knowledgeable. They start giving away their power to that.
    The example of Baptists calling themselves Dr.’s is a good one. Someone who truly understands that they are divinity naturally radiates that. They don’t need titles. Same with someone who truly understands health and the body.
    We actually don’t really need ‘experts’. That we regularly call on so many and rely endlessly on ‘tests’ is testimony to how out of touch we are with our own natural intelligence. Do the Hadza need a bunch of stool tests and scientific papers to tell them whether or not they are healthy, do they need chaplains or ministers? Not to simplify and romanticise their lives either, I wouldn’t particularly wish to live like that, and neither would I wish to fall into the trap of constantly holding them up as the new authority.
    It is amazing though how complicated we like things to be. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with that either! Something for everyone I guess.

  9. anarch on December 22, 2014 at 03:54

    I dunno Richard. I think you’ve missed a golden opportunity here. Where I’m from, Dick is the short version of the name Richard. Combine that with Dr and you have Dr Dick. Surely that would get the ladies attention.

    • John Doe on December 22, 2014 at 17:06

      hear hear



  10. rob on December 22, 2014 at 05:21

    I haven’t provided a client with a CV since the late ’90’s. There are things I know how to do, and things I don’t know how to do. Anything I did academic-wise in the 1980’s is totally irrelevant.

  11. Megan Brooks on December 22, 2014 at 08:30

    My parents were “born into” their denominations, so they didn’t learn about being “born again” later in life. Instead they went through a special kind of baptism that was known as World War II (my father was a fighter pilot; my mother was a WAVE that lost her first husband in Germany weeks before that part of the war ended). What was left of their minds and spirit after that was not in great shape. And then they had me, lived a few miserable more decades, and died in their 50’s of degenerative diseases.

    I don’t have much patience with the “born again” crowd myself, though if you wanted to get very technical about it I suppose I am part of it. I gave up on literal belief, though, a long time ago. That seems to be a prerequisite for finding something of value in Christianity, along with putting in the work that is required of anyone pursuing a meaningful spiritual practice, whatever brand name it may go by.

  12. Ulfric Douglas on December 22, 2014 at 12:04

    Hey my Dad got one of them there honorary doctorates from a Wesleyan college over there in murka!
    It mildly disappoints me that he’s proud of it : he acheived a proper degree in nonsense from Durham uni back in the day …
    They send him a doctorate, they get their paintings cheaper … leeches!
    Ended now. Fuckers. I should go over and take them all back … a mission for a later date I guess. Fucking leeches.

  13. Sidney on December 23, 2014 at 03:02

    What about that clown “Dr.” Phil? Got his PhD in Psychology from bumphuck Univ. of North Texas and parades around like an expert on psychology.

  14. Heidi Cull on December 24, 2014 at 23:00

    well i dont know much about it but my feeling is increasingly people will do it themselves using a more holistic approach, with nutrition being one of these approaches and “woo” being another 🙂

    anyway hope you like my music 🙂 Matt didnt say anything haha but he now wants to moderate my comments. i dont blame him, i shouldnt go there, im very annoying 🙂

    gonna start gigging soon, in about 5 years, do it the hard way 🙂 once ive cleaned up the spectacular mess ive made of my life. 🙂 xx

  15. Heidi+Cull on December 24, 2014 at 23:09

    no, i was being paranoid, he’s not moderating them. i just put in the wrong email or something.

    anyway i will try to leave you both alone <3

    you are both unfeasibly awesome though i have to say xx

  16. Boudi on December 25, 2014 at 05:18

    I am currently working on a “mail order” doctorate from a bumfuck organization. I have had to read, research, take tests, and am required to write both a thesis and dissertation. Much of the program is experiential in nature and we are asked to question everything in the curriculum, to read broadly, and to formulate our own view.

    I have graduated from traditional schools that are accredited (B.A., and two M.A.s along with a post-graduate certificate) and have served as a dean of a small community college. I view accreditation as a means of garnering money from the government, and not a means to achieving quality programs.

    When I compare the education I am receiving at Bumfuck it far exceeds anything I ever experienced at state sanctioned, accredited institutions. I chose this path, because I wanted to explore topics the “stand-up” institutions were unwilling to tolerate.

    Will I use the title Dr.? Probably not. I might put Ph.D. on some business cards for marketing purposes. You see, that is what it all about – marketing and employment. Every, and I mean every, job I have ever had I could have done without a single degree, but I would have never been invited in the front door. Why are people getting fluff degrees, because the fucktard public thinks they confer competence.

    When I got out of the navy, after having served as a corpsman in the intensive care unit (cross trained in the cardiac care unit and emergency room) I was not allowed to sit for a nursing license. Why? Because I didn’t have a degree. Frankly, I had seen and done more than most hospital based nurses will ever seen or do. This was a barrier to a living wage, so I worked three jobs while attending a third rate school to get a degree and an entry level job. Fuck America.

    Even recent talk about renewing apprenticeship program in the U.S. end up being about government sanctioning and funding. It will be as messed up as our current state of affairs around higher education have become. Why are physical therapists required, now, to get Ph.D.s? . One more barrier to employment. Do nurses aids really need a certification to take a blood pressure, temperature, and weight? My mom did all those things without a certification. Will any M.D. in his/her right mind hire a medical assistant without a certification? No! This opens them to law suits. Why do private “colleges” get accreditation, so they can take the government money and leave uninformed student with debt and a $9/hr job. And it all leads back to a public hell bent on assigning blame, suing, and looking for leadership from outside authority rather than from within.

    I say hurrah for the Dr.s of Divinity parading about calling each other doctor. Perhaps many of them are doing it with a wink and nod, or perhaps many of them have learned the unstated rules of the game? If you want to make it in America you have to have a degree whether it demonstrates competence, wisdom, and the ability to think or not.

    • Bret on December 26, 2014 at 00:44

      Well said, Boudi. It is understandably fashionable to spurn flawed societal norms. But beyond a certain point, we are just getting worked up over things we can’t control.

      Whether we like it or not, we are stuck in an imperfect world, and we still have goals and desires despite that imperfection. If you can’t beat them, join them.



  17. Michael44 on December 26, 2014 at 22:56

    Heidi.

    Just remember – plenty of people never really examine themselves to see if they are at least partly to blame for any mess in their lives, and so ,hey, you’re already ahead of the game compared to them! 🙂 .

    Also though, remember what Bret just said – “we are stuck in an imperfect world”. Sometimes a mess isn’t our fault. The challenge for us then is to honestly self-examine, work out where we are to blame and where we are not, and then just do our best to make things better where we are to blame. It sounds like you are already well on your way.

  18. John on December 27, 2014 at 08:57

    Mike Ray is referred to both as Dr. and Mr. on that schedule you linked. Apparently even they are confused!

    I think most people that like calling themselves Dr. do so because they’re proud of themselves, or like feeling they are respected by others. The attempted argument advantage probably isn’t as frequently a use.

    I’m a lawyer. I know no lawyers that call themselves “Dr.” unless they are also PhD/MD.

    I don’t like telling people I’m a lawyer, however, because everyone assumes that you’re a great source of on the spot legal advice! I can’t walk outside when my neighbor is out there without him attempting to engage me in a 15 minute conversation about how he should handle the procedural aspects of his pending litigation where he is pro se. Thats not what I want to do at 7:30 am Saturday morning while walking my dog.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 27, 2014 at 09:50

      “I can’t walk outside when my neighbor is out there without him attempting to engage me in a 15 minute conversation about how he should handle the procedural aspects of his pending litigation where he is pro se.”

      People who aren’t lawyers generally have no clue of the enormity of putting on a trial. We’re generally talking hundreds of hours. I once defended myself pro se against a motion in a pending civil litigation seeking to amend the complaint to add me to it.

      I beat it, but it took dozens of hours to research and write the counter motion. Lucky, the judge had read it so there was very little ensuing oral argument.



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