Further Observations On The Jill Biden “Dr.” Kerfuffle

Biden Dr

It’s been five days since I wrote about it here, and a week since Joseph Epstein made the point in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, thus getting him “cancelled” at the institution where he had been a lecturer for two decades. Nevertheless, the arguments over the appropriateness of the First Lady insisting that she be called “Dr.” are still roiling, with several essays hitting the web yesterday. Adding to the noise is Jill Biden’s—she won’t call me “doctor,” and I’ll be damned if I’ll call her that on my own site. Now, if we meet, that’s different. I call people what they want to be called, because it’s a Golden Rule thing—-dissertation, which is now widely linked so anyone can see how truly Dr.-worthy it is.

Ethics Alarms has been going through another one of those periods where readers irritate me by carping, “Why did you write about that? Why don’t you write about what I want you to write about?” (This is even covered in the comment guide, which I can summarize on this point in two words: “Bite me.”) Thus I will (again, as I did in the initial post) explain what interest this trivial matter has to an ethicist. THAT can be summed up in eleven words “So this is the way it’s going to be, is it?”

After never giving the Trumps any credit, praise, sympathy, gratitude, generosity, respect or a break for four years, the mainstream media is now going to defend every bit of criticism of the Bidens like Travis, Bowie and Crockett battled the Alamo. Wow. They aren’t even pretending to be objective and fair any more, and why should they? They pulled it off; they abused their role sufficiently to warp public perception and manipulate the election.

But we all know, even if the students being educated in our current excuses for public schools don’t and won’t, what happened to Travis,Bowie and Davy. This extreme partisanship and dedication to propaganda will not end well. The public trust of the media is already near rock bottom, with more than 50% of the population permanently alienated. We need a strong and trustworthy journalistic presence to survive as a democracy, and foolish choices of when to spin will only doom it and us.

Further observations:

1. As I said in the original post, I don’t really care about Jill’s sad insistence on “Dr.” and I have consistently written here that going back and using old theses, dissertations and other writings for academic credit to attack public figures is a cheap shot. Nonetheless, I couldn’t resist trying to read the paper that is the justification for her “Dr.” title, and stopped after the second sentence, because there is a typo or a mistakenly chosen word in that sentence, which is astounding.

Anyone who reads here often knows my unfortunate penchant for typos, a byproduct of having to fit in posts with income-producing work, poor proof-reading skills and my inability to type. However, I can say with certainty that there wasn’t a single typo in my Government honors thesis (Title: “Applying the Great Man Theory To The Presidents of the United States”), because we had been assured that such carelessness and lack of requisite seriousness would cost us dearly. (“And if there’s a typo on the first page,” my thesis advisor cautioned me,”some professors may refuse to read your thesis at all.”)

Yet here is Jill’s second sentence in “Student Retention in the Community College: Meeting Students’ Needs”:

The needs of the student population are often undeserved, resulting in a student drop-out rate of almost one third.”

Undeserved? Who “deserves” needs? Obviously the writer meant underserved, which Miriam Webster (for now!) defines as “provided with inadequate service.” The failure of community colleges to serve the needs of its students is the topic of the document, and yet this crucial typo (or unforgivable error) remained in the dissertation for its supposedly critical review by seven scholars, and it’s still there.

No wonder Mrs. Biden never noticed that her husband’s mind is failing.

2. The Jill Biden story taught me a term I had never heard before: “ring-knockers,” used to describe military officers who leave class rings or challenge coins on their desks. The civilian equivalents are people over the age of 25 who wear class rings from prestige schools and always manage to drop into conversation the names of their alma mater.

3. Joe Biden has said, “She said, ‘I was so sick of the mail coming to Sen. and Mrs. Biden. I wanted to get mail addressed to Dr. and Sen. Biden.’ That’s the real reason she got her doctorate.” If true, that justifies kicking Jill’s “Dr.” title into the can all by itself. One of the most destructive maladies in U.S. education is the development of a culture that regards education as something you acquire as a credential rather than as a tool to accomplish something, improve your abilities and be a better human being.

4. Then there is this, from Kyle Smith at the National Review:

[Jill Biden] got it from the University of Delaware, whose ties to her husband, its most illustrious alumnus if you don’t count Joe Flacco, run so deep that it has a school of public policy named after him. That the University of Delaware would have rejected her 2006 dissertation as sloppy, poorly written, non-academic, and barely fit for a middle-school Social Studies classroom (all of which it is) when her husband had been representing its state in the U.S. Senate for more than three decades was about as likely as Tom Hagen telling Vito Corleone that his wife is a fat sow on payday. The only risk to the University of Delaware was that it might strain its collective wrist in its rush to rubber-stamp her doctoral paper.

5. As the previous note shows, the story has become an abject lesson in the Streisand Effect, which Biden defenders better learn quickly. Ignoring Epstein’s op-ed was the prudent move; calling attention to it just called attention to his point, which is valid, and what Mrs. Biden has done with her degree, which isn’t much. Without the escalation, it is unlikely, for example, that anyone would have hunted down, at a website that rates professors, what some of her community college students said about her as an instructor:

“Please do NOT take her. She simply doesn’t care about teaching. we spent one class each week in the lab doing NOTHING. A very tough grader.”

Worst English teacher at Nova. I should have read the comments before choosing her for my first semester. She grades things by her way, there is no rubric. I came to her personally to change my grade and showed her all the work I’ve done and she gave me a B then later on she didn’t recall giving me that grade so she gave me a D.”

Others are more complimentary, but a 60% positive rating seems a bit thin for the author of “Student Retention in the Community College: Meeting Students’ Needs”…unless her students’ need for effective teaching was undeserved.

19 thoughts on “Further Observations On The Jill Biden “Dr.” Kerfuffle

  1. I had the same thought as was described in Bullitt point 4. The idea that the university would reject her dissertation was about as likely as me being elected president.

  2. And now we enter the second level of discussion of this problem. You think it is only Jill Biden who got a garbage doctorate? Probably 3/4 of the schools giving doctorates right now (and I will defend the term giving) only give garbage doctorates. It aggravates me to no end. (Rant Begins) For the last 10 years or so, I have had to deal with these sub-par graduates. Typically, they have a doctorate in a sub-field different from mine, but want me to train them in THEIR field. I can do it because I learned this field as an undergraduate (in other words, they learned less about their field in 4 years of undergraduate and 5 years of specialized graduate work than I learned in 3 years as an undergraduate). We had all these regional colleges that wanted the prestige and money of being a research school, and the states didn’t have the backbone to say ‘no’. So, our education dollars get stretched thinner and these schools have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for students. To attract students, I have even seen Ed.D. programs that advertise B.A. to Ed.D. in just 1 summer! I spent 5 years of 70+ hour weeks doing research and graduate level courses to get my doctorate. I then spent 2 more years in postdoctoral research to know what I know and be able to do what I can do. How dare these people take a summer of online classes and then claim their degree is the equal to mine. (Rant Ends) It has gotten so bad that several years ago, one of my students (a junior) did an internship at an analytical chemistry testing lab. On his first day, he was told to run a test. He ended up having to explain how the test worked to the lab director because she explained it to him wrong. She had a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from one of our state universities.

    Don’t think this incompetence hasn’t rolled over into the medical field. Around 8 years ago, the med students at our state med school demanded the faculty lectures be placed online because the students didn’t want to go to class. Today, I am told the lectures are attended by less than 10 of the 200 students in the class. One year, none of the students passed their classes because they were all partying. Rather than fail them all, the faculty chickened our and lowered the standards. Today, after 6+ months, our medical establishment doesn’t know if the multiple spots they see in the lungs of COVID-19 patients with pneumonia are viral infections, bacterial infections, or blood clots. Why don’t they know? Why hasn’t anyone decided to find out in 6 months? I suspect they are blood clots. Pulmonologists are treating this condition with steroids, other physicians with antibiotics. I suspect they should be treating them with the clot-buster drugs intended for stroke victims. The nursing home residents are dying from COVID in such high numbers because they get clots that exacerbated by the lock-down of the nursing homes. If you are at risk for clots, the worst thing you can do is just sit there in your room. The medical advice of our ‘experts’ seems to be causing the vast majority of COVID deaths. So why are these ‘geniuses’ the only ones who get to demand that we call them Dr. outside their professional setting?

    • As a retired teacher, the best place to begin is the Doctorate in Education or one week a month in Florida with the three B’ (Booze, Burrito’s, and Babe’s) and a few “classes.” A few years later you are rewarded. I asked one person I knew who was taking the Tampa Suttle how his thesis defense worked out? I got a “What?”

      Most of my productive life was spent in the Dreaded Private Sector before finishing up with 15 years in education. I have an M.A. from an almost ivy (B.C.) and the rigor was there, but I also have multiple advanced degrees in hard sciences – they are called “hard” for a reason from other schools in the Boston area. As long as an employer was giving me a free ride I’d take it.

      At one point in my teaching career, I had a position where I would have to strategize behavior techniques and do student behavioral intervention options. That required a lot of time in classrooms at the middle school level. Unfortunately, what I negatively observed was not isolated, but quite standard. The lack of subject mastery was fairly consistent in STEM (Science & Technology) across the board. Poorly planned lessons, inaccurate presentation of rudimentary scientific principles, historic information that was head-scratching, and students who had long since checked out.

      A great five-star rant!

  3. Quoth Jack:

    Joe Biden has said, “She said, ‘I was so sick of the mail coming to Sen. and Mrs. Biden. I wanted to get mail addressed to Dr. and Sen. Biden.’

    Isn’t it great that we get to listen to this odious, sycophantic BS for the next four years? I can hardly wait!

    As the previous note shows, the story has become an abject lesson in the Streisand Effect, which Biden defenders better learn quickly.

    Do you really believe they can learn this? After all, when you are on the “right side of history,” you owe it to posterity to smack down the deplorable masses at every available opportunity, and revel in the justice of it.

    Honestly, I could care less about how “Dr. Jill,” refers to herself, and I know that’s not your point. But I do believe that after living through the last four years when the Left and media would go to any lengths, no matter how brazen, unethical or credulous, to impugn Trump and every person within six degrees of him, that the same will spare no effort or potential embarrassment whatsoever to shore up Biden, his family and his administration.

    In fact, that same effort will go into undermining, assaulting, de-platforming, “othering” and punishing anyone who dissents in the least jot or tittle. 150 million scarlet letters? You betcha.

  4. You those outakes the studios sometimes use as cheap giggles to run under the credits of movies? I confess. this line was cut from the post at the very last minute:

    If George Floyd had been named George Hernandez, the Mexican League would now be a “major league.”

  5. I do my work in the middle of Missouri. My first year at this church I had a problem. At the time I was ABD and had traveled to many countries.
    I was off putting to a large portion of my congregation and despite many of them desiring that I come work there in my initial interview, that was quickly shifting and I didn’t know why. After all, to me, it seemed like I hadn’t done anything different. It took some figuring out with the help of some my elders, but it was determined that I came across as too elite. The question came what to do about it.

    After some feedback, it was suggested I make the following changes. First, simplify my sermons. Avoid using terms that are unfamiliar and almost never use Greek or Hebrew unless the English word is insufficient for understanding context (I think this last year I used Greek twice).

    Second, try to be more relatable. In this context of my preaching, this translated to using illustrations that focused on agriculture and examples that focused on my observations in the town. In my personal conversations, it meant almost never talking about myself unless it was about my time in the military (we were close to a military base).

    The third suggestion, I found to be the most helpful. One of the elders gave me a copy of Dale Carnegie’s book “How To Make Friends and Influence People.” It was the practices I learned in that book which helped me to appreciate things I never carried about before such as fishing, hunting, camping, tractors, bulls, and a dog named Old Drum.

    By the second year, people seemed a lot more acceptable of me. I knew I was in when one of my more vocal adversaries told me a joke at our Christmas get together involving rocky mountain oysters. Everyone laughed but me having no clue what they were therefore missing the punchline. She looked at me, smiled, and said “get it?” Confirming that I didn’t everyone laughed again, she blushed and explained it to me saying “I forgot you didn’t go up here.”

    The flip side to this? No one here really knows me at all. At times it is frustrating because that isn’t really how friendship works. However, I wasn’t hired to be their friend, but someone they could rely on and look up to and learn from. In a way, I’m kind of seen as a boss or a manager of sorts and that’s ok.

    I find it interesting that the party of the “working people” is willing to die on this hill. Epstein seemed to be doing Jill Biden a favor. People remember the smallest slights against them and being “corrected” over this would not only affect the person who was told it, but the people who heard it as a reminder that “I’m better than you.” I imagine this would have done terrible on the campaign trail (If Biden had spent any real time on the trail).

    I guess “deplorables” teach them anything.

  6. It’s… annoying to watch the discussions surrounding this.

    I’m seeing a lot of lefties are doing a rendition of “hurr de durr, those dum conservatives don’t know that people other than medical doctors can have doctorate degrees”. And it’s like…. No, we get that, most of us, at least… But it’s not how we use the term. Every practicing lawyer has a juris doctorate degree, we don’t call lawyers doctors. A significant amount of CEOs have DBAs, we don’t call them doctors, and teachers, particularly at high levels, can be PhD in education, we do not call them doctors. This isn’t controversial or confusing, or wasn’t before a week or two ago; When you say “I’m going to see the doctor” It’s likely to the point of certainty that people assume that you have a health issue than that you’re going to parent teacher conferences.

    But we’ve made it political. A pretentious asshole wants to be called “doctor” because she felt inadequate against the backdrop of her infinitely more successful husband, and because they’re Democrats, there’s this headfirst rush towards lunatic absurdity because the alternative, admitting that a high ranking Democrat is being a pretentious ass, is so anathemic to their identity, that they’re going to pretend that yes, all people that hold doctorates should be called doctors. This, even though they’re going to fail to do so damn near every day of their lives going forward, because there’s a whole lot of people out there with doctorate degrees that they don’t even know have doctorate degrees, because the people they know aren’t pretentious enough to attempt to insist on the title.

    What’s worse is that there’s the possibility that this catches on. If, in the attempt to carry water fir Jill “kiddo” Biden all of a sudden a bunch of Democrat doctorate holders start insisting on the title, there is a chance that a couple of years from now it’s going to be normalized. And if you thought the pronoun game was Tedious, you just wait until people start saying variations of “Um, akshually, my name is “Doctor Lord Humble Talent III, Esquire R-My House and if you don’t use my preferred titles, you’re a racist, sexist, homophobe with halitosis.”

    I can’t wait.

  7. My wife goes out of her way to avoid politics and anything political, and the only fool she suffers is me. (Thankfully!) She responded succinctly – “She has a Doctorate in Education? If she’s talking about education, she should be called Doctor, just like most professors. If she starts talking about Covid and vaccines and shutdowns and still wants to be called Doctor, she can suck it up, because she isn’t one of those.”

    Seems fair to me.

    • I had to write a paper along those lines in HIGH SCHOOL!

      I think my analysis was more thorough and sophisticated. And my project was far from the best in that class (it helped that my teacher for that was in my martial arts class and I could beat him if he gave me a bad grade).

  8. I have an M. S. (technically… it’s in Project Management so closer to an M. A. but it was from the School of Engineering, so ), so from now on I request you all call me ‘Master Scientist Alex’.

    That’s all.

  9. I really really don’t care. I shall continue to use my qualifications where relevant, and ‘you’ can do as you like. You may of course decide whether you want to interact with me or not and I will do likewise. There are (wonderfully) masses of interesting books, papers, journals, conferences, blogs and people, and my filtering system is primitive; and life is short. I shall continue to discriminate as to who and to what I pay attention, using available information and my accumulated biases.

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