The wife of a left-wing politician who is believed by many to replace Donald Trump within five weeks (after what looks like a demonstrably fraudulent election) – let me call her Mrs Still Bidet because my point is far more general – is using the title "Dr" at many places. What is the justification for the degree? When she was 55 (that's much higher than the age when almost all talented people get their basic degrees), she received an EdD (doctor of education) degree in educational leadership from the University of Delaware.
The university is ranked as the 97th best university in the U.S. which indicates that it is not very good. More importantly, EdD is clearly not a PhD. It's important to understand the difference.
Pedagogy hasn't been a field that the oldest universities offered. For example, my undergraduate Alma Mater, Charles University in Prague, was founded in 1348 (in the middle of the Black Death that killed 30-70% of Europeans but our beloved king Charles IV was wise enough not to scale down the projects in our kingdom; this construction of the Charles Bridge started in 1357, 9th of 7, 5:31, a palindrome), the oldest European university in the North from the Alps, and the 4 faculties were "liberal arts, medicine, law, and theology". No pedagogy here (now the university has 17 faculties including the outrageous Faculty of Humanities which is really a euphemism for grievance studies).
Bernard Shaw's famous quote says ‘Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach’. (And those who can't teach, teach gyms, teachers often add here.) Every other person can teach (although the quality greatly differs); a more nontrivial question is whether a given person knows something that he or she can teach. It's the beef, not the desire or efforts to transfer the beef, which really matters and divides the people. In his famous Cargo Cult Science commencement speech, Feynman rightfully included the "experts in education" among the pseudoscientists.
Fine, Yale granted the first U.S. PhD degree in 1861. The first American PhD in education was granted by the Teachers College at Columbia in 1893. Harvard University awarded the first EdD degree in 1921. Why are these two different degrees in the U.S.? Just click at the previous sentence and you will understand that PhD is a vastly more intelligent and scientific degree; on the other hand, an EdD is a practical one. It's still a degree preparing teachers for some generally intellectually unspectacular work.
Both PhD in education and EdD require a dissertation. But the PhD theses in education resemble PhD theses in actual sciences (although it is very clear that both the rigor and the intellectual requirements are far lower in the field of education; check e.g. that physics majors have some 21 points above the average education majors); on the other hand, the EdD "dissertations" tend to be surveys, something that approximately every other person can create.
Sheldon Cooper, a Nobel Prize winner, has discussed the topic intelligently in a conversation with Penny who lied about having a community college (which she would consider the opposite of being a loser). By the way, Penny is starring in The Flight Attendant which is getting great reviews, you may try to watch it.
The comparison between the full-blown PhD degrees, especially in the prestigious fields, with the EdD degree is similar to the comparison between the colleges and community colleges. The conversation between Sheldon and Penny is greatly relevant. In fact, the community colleges are extremely relevant for Mrs Still Bidet as well. Why? Her EdD dissertation (under the semi-maiden name Still Jacobs-Bidet) was titled
Student Retention at the Community College: Meeting Students' Needs.It's clearly some PC stuff about making things easy for students of colleges that aren't even real colleges. Let me repeat it: some people aren't smart enough for colleges so they go to community colleges. They find out that it's still hard for them so a lady writes a "dissertation" proposing to make it even easier for them. Every decent person who has a minimal respect for scholarship knows that this kind of lady's "work" simply isn't on par with a PhD thesis in a respectable field. It really shouldn't produce any degrees. It shouldn't be enough for a high school term paper, either.
Fine, so can (and should) Mrs Still Bidet use "Dr" in front of her name? There is nothing that "rigorously" prevents you from doing so. Again, it's usually the decency of an individual that stops her from using degrees too often, especially the degrees that overstate the person's skills, education, and intellectual achievements. People who deal with "needs of students at community colleges" simply don't try to pretend that they're on par with biology or physics PhDs. Even biologists or physicists tend to omit their "Dr". It's the results and the impression that should speak for themselves, not some artificially added decorative degrees and empty bragging.
Whether it's appropriate to call yourself "Dr XY" depends on the context and other things. In the scholarly environment and especially in sciences, "Dr XY" is equivalent to "XY PhD" (and, in some more general university context, to either PhD or MD). It's important that it's PhD because the EdD degree was introduced exactly because it's not as deep, theoretical, and intellectual as a PhD, not even as a PhD in education. So the EdD degree is some lesser degree which isn't quite a doctorate (just like a community college isn't quite a college although it has a college in the name) and every decent holder of that degree knows that it's wrong to simplify it as a Dr because that is a transparent effort to be confused with a holder of a PhD, to look like a real brainiac.
(After I posted this text, I saw (UCLA Distinguished Professor) Eugene Volokh's Reason.com essay making identical points: Dr is used in two different ways and either means medical doctor degrees only which may include MD as well as special degrees for dentists, opticians, and veterinarians; or medical doctors and/or PhDs, but not other degrees that sound like "doctors with adjectives". In particular, JD lawyers are clearly not "Dr" because the degree, while being a "doctor with adjectives" by the name, is a law school counterpart of a bachelor degree while EdD, another "doctor with adjectives", is closer to a master degree. Volokh analyzes the time needed to earn each degree in some detail.)
Among the laymen in the U.S., "Dr XY" means something else. It is simply a physician, a holder of the medical degree MD ("XY MD"). Note that in Czechia and other countries, we call physicians-with-a-degree "MUDr. XY" before the name.
Joseph Epstein (quite a surname), an emeritus instructor at Northwestern University, Illinois, emphasized this fact – "Dr XY" should be a physician – in his essay Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D. in the Wall Street Journal. Perhaps unsurprisingly for many, he was called a sexist by tons of activists, the official team of Bidet's husband, and the fake news media (and other would-be pejorative things) and his name was erased from the website of Northwestern. What is happening is on par with the "vanishing commissars" in Stalin's Soviet Union. Be sure that even your humble correspondent who is too young to remember Stalin still knows quite something about the restrictions of criticisms directed against the most powerful and their family members. Something is really, really rotten in a country where people can't criticize someone just because he or she is a powerful person or his or her relative.
The normal Americans would interpret "Dr Still Bidet" as the information that Bidet is a physician and that is why the title "Dr" is deceitful when used among the regular people. This statement may be supported by a hilarious story: in March, Whoopi Goldberg, a talking head, was so impressed by the "Dr" degree that she recommended Still Bidet as the Surgeon General. Clearly, Bidet has no abilities to become the boss of physicians. Goldberg was even able to figure out that Mrs Jill Biden was an "amazing doctor" (video). Leftists are making straight lies approximately 24 hours a day, sometimes 23 and sometimes 25.
Incredibly enough, Paul Gigot who is responsible for the opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal has doubled down and insisted that the daily would keep on printing similar texts whether someone is triggered or not: The Biden Team Strikes Back. Kudos to Mr Gigot. I didn't really expect the Wall Street Journal to be the locus of a next hint of courage; I was imagining WSJ to be in the Fox News category and probably worse than that.
If you search Twitter and other venues, you will find an incredible amount of hostile junk, lies, and blackmail that the dishonest far left brown shirts have directed against Mr Epstein, Mr Gigot, and the Wall Street Journal in general. Tons of these nasty lying scumbags are poisoning the American society at every conceivable level. They want to make it "de facto illegal" (and maybe "de iure illegal" as well!) to criticize people from the privileged groups, to state the truth, even when it is as obvious as the statement that Mrs Still Bidet shouldn't be using the title "Dr" because it is equivalent to pretending that she is something that she is clearly not (either a physician or a PhD-level thinker).
We have seen grade inflation and the education bubble and the inflation of degrees and the rise of the garbage fields at universities, especially the grievance studies, the most pathological fringe of the humanities, for decades. But 2021 may be the first year in the U.S. where these dishonest far left brown shirts (which have already accumulated the power over almost all universities and many other important places) may get the "official political power". The team of Mrs Still Bidet's husband has fully joined the attacks against the people who dared to say the truth – truth that is inconvenient both for the privileged groups in general; and for the apparently most powerful U.S. politician since 2021 (before the far left media remove him and replace him with a far left beep; they're already working on it, as Dinesh Souza pointed out, and that's why they suddenly report Hunter Biden's scandals!). This is straight totalitarianism. Every American with conscience must spend quite some energy to fight against this pure evil. You just cannot allow assorted bidets to silence the nation and turn themselves into doctors or anything else that they are actually not.
Needless to say, lots of people are afraid of being attacked by the nasty SJW scum so the SJW scum is distorting thousands of similar discussions, including those in natural sciences. Even on the fringe of natural sciences, you find lots of people who pretend to be something that they are not (e.g. peers of the best physicists) – and because of the bullies, people are afraid of criticizing these deceitful practises. This is a road to hell and the distance from hell has already dropped by an order of magnitude. You simply need to reverse it. It's far more important to reverse the trend than to avert a civil war in the U.S.
And that's the memo.