Mind if I don't call you Doctor?
October 22, 2013 9:58 AM   Subscribe

When is it correct to address a doctor as Dr?

I work for a medium to large financial services company. There is a treasury expert here who insists on being introduced and referred to as Dr. TreasuryExpert. His doctorate is in chemistry. Is his insistence odd?

I don't even know the guy but hearing his assistant introduce him grandly as Dr. TreasuryExpert elicits eye-rolls from myself and others.

I know I am being petty, but am I wrong?
posted by Cosine to Society & Culture (59 answers total)
Call him whatever he wants to be called, eye roll because: yeah, it displays things about his personality that he'd probably be better served by hiding.
posted by straw at 9:59 AM on October 22, 2013 [9 favorites]

It's a douche-bag move, but yeah, if he insists, just do it. He did earn the title.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:02 AM on October 22, 2013 [9 favorites]

In my experience, chemistry is one of those fields where people who have a PhD tend to be called "Doctor," although this is in academia. I think the squickiness might come from the fact that calling him "Dr" in situations that aren't related to his PhD seem like he is trying to appeal to a false authority, and whether or not you get that feeling is going to depend on circumstance.
posted by muddgirl at 10:04 AM on October 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

Call him "Doctor," but feel free to roll your eyes all you want.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:05 AM on October 22, 2013

Could be a cultural thing. In Germany and Austria, Drs of all disciplines use their title in professional contexts (not just MDs).
posted by The Toad at 10:05 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Just to clarify, I will call him whatever he wants to be called, that is not the issue. I actually don't even know the guy so likely will never call him anything, but yeah. The issue is hearing him introduced as Dr. TreasuryExpert when he is giving a talk on his expertise to the public outside of this office.
posted by Cosine at 10:06 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Urgh, forgot that this is pretty location-specific. Are you still located in Vancouver? Is your company multi-national? Is this guy from a country other than Canada?
posted by muddgirl at 10:07 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, Van. I think he may be UK born.
posted by Cosine at 10:09 AM on October 22, 2013

Two of my parents have doctorates (U.S., Mom for Education, Step-Dad for Chemical Nuclear Engineering) and when they are in professional settings they are addressed as Doctor [Last Name]. I don't really get the contempt here--it takes a lot of work to get one, conveys expertise, and is worthy of respect.

That said, they don't go around and insisting that people call them Doctor when they don't, but as someone who watched what they had to go through to get their degrees, I wouldn't begrudge the tendency.
posted by Kimberly at 10:12 AM on October 22, 2013 [21 favorites]

Using an academic title is sort of up to the person who holds it. Lots of Doctors get introduced as Dr. in personal situations (wedding invites come to mind). They aren't administering medicine/knowledge at my wedding, but the title stands.

It's pompous, but there's no rule that says he can't use his title whenever and wherever he wants. If you are really concerned that he is deceiving people, then maybe take it up with your supervisor. Sounds more like he's just an ass and you want an excuse to take him down a peg.
posted by mrfuga0 at 10:14 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure where you are. In the parts of the US where I have lived, this would be considered odd. In an academic setting, I expect to be introduced as "Dr. Ogilvie" (or "Professor Ogilvie") if the person introducing me doesn't know me well (otherwise "Brian" is fine). Outside of an academic setting, I'm "Mr. Ogilvie." My dad (whose Ph.D. was in biochemistry) took the same approach.

In Germany, "Dr." is used in social settings, regardless of fields.

I have little experience outside of academic circles in the UK, but many academics I know over there are more insistent on titles, partly because until recently, many university faculty did not have doctorates.

What I find weird and potentially misleading about this case, though, is that the doctorate in chemistry presumably has little or nothing to do with your colleague's expertise. If that's the case, it seems somewhat misleading to insist on being introduced as "Dr. TreasuryExpert," because that implies the doctorate has something to do with his professional qualifications for his current position. If his doctorate were in economics, finance, business (yes, there are Ph.D.s in business these days!), or another related field, it would make more sense.
posted by brianogilvie at 10:15 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

In industry it is unusual to address a PhD holder as "Dr.", doubly so when their degree isn't related to the industry. My experience is that the people in my office (large tech company) who have PhDs are addressed by their first name, just like everyone else.
posted by telegraph at 10:15 AM on October 22, 2013

In the US, I think the general consensus for non-medical doctors academics is to use the title when they are appearing in their professional capacity. This one would be stretching it for me. And I had a co-worker who did something similar (Ph.D. in a field completely unrelated to his current job or anything the company did), and I just used the "Dr." in public and eyerolled in private, because I agree it's pretentious.
posted by jaguar at 10:16 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't really get the contempt here--it takes a lot of work to get one, conveys expertise, and is worthy of respect.

The contempt here is that in this situation it conveys expertise in a subject that the doctorbro does not (on paper) hold expertise in. You see this a lot in papers debunking evolution. Scientific Screed Against Evolution written by Dr. John Doe holds a certain air of respectability. Dr. John Doe has his PhD in comparative religion, but Dr. John Doe is not especially forthcoming about that.

OP, I get your stickiness on this. Refer to him as Dr. Whatever and then see if there's a way to tactfully work in a bit of bio on the guy, like: "Dr. Whatever received his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Blerhg. He has spent the past 15 years writing on economic theory."
posted by phunniemee at 10:18 AM on October 22, 2013 [17 favorites]

With regards to speaking gigs/public appearances, I think it is pretty common to tromp out all one's credentials and titles that you possibly can to add to your credibility, especially with Joe Public. I mean, look at Dr. Phil, and that's completely made up.

If someone has the credentials for it and wants to be introduced at a speaking gig as "The Ice Cream King" then, well... whatever.

I have, however, had the misfortune to interact with people who insisted on being called Dr. in really silly instances (when confirming reservations at restaurants, for example) and they do come across as pompous asswipes. But with regards to a speaking engagement, I can see why the title would be touted.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:19 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Wikipedia article about the title may be useful. It discusses the practice in different countries, and includes some references and citations to etiquette debates.

Just to clarify, I will call him whatever he wants to be called, that is not the issue. I actually don't even know the guy so likely will never call him anything, but yeah. The issue is hearing him introduced as Dr. TreasuryExpert when he is giving a talk on his expertise to the public outside of this office.

I think it's perfectly acceptable, normal, maybe even expected that he would use the title of Doctor when giving a presentation in his professional capacity.
posted by payoto at 10:19 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

UK here: I've come across several PhDs who call themselves "Dr", although I consider it odd sometimes. I've only really seen it where they operate in a scientific or quasi scientific field and they want to present themselves as a fellow scientist or, more rarely, so they can try and speak at peer level with physicians.

Also: surgeons call themselves "Mr" rather than "Dr". So that's not confusing at all.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:22 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

My practice is to call people Dr. when introducing them to others, or in formal context's such as meetings with people outside my Agency (or if the person is substantially senior to me), but not otherwise. Unless you work in a context where colleagues are referred to as Ms. SoandSo, then it's inappropriate to the context and should not be condoned.
posted by OmieWise at 10:30 AM on October 22, 2013

UK here: If the inroduction is in a context where other people are using their titles (Mr/Mrs/Ms/Dr), then it seems correct and normal for someone to use "Dr" if they have a doctorate, since "Mr" is wrong.

If everyone else is going by "Bob Flibbetigibbet" then yep, weird.
posted by emilyw at 10:30 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Doctor should be used interchangeably with Mister. If you would use any title*, Doctor is correct.

My father is a pediatrician, and was always Dr. C, NEVER EVER Mr. C. Mail came to our house addressed to Dr. Sara C's Dad. Even bills.
posted by Sara C. at 10:31 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

UK - my friends and I are mostly Drs in our personal lives, though I would never make anyone call me Dr A (except my bank if they are being arsey). I don't use the title professionally purely because I work in a hospital and I feel it would be confusing for the patients, since my doctorate is in psycholinguistics (highly related to being a speech therapist, but not medical).
posted by kadia_a at 10:35 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Personal experience, sample size of one and all that:

The folks I know that have M.D. or Ph.D. after their name are sorted, referenced, and judged as in the following logical flow.

Is the person operating, acting, or working within, or close to, the realm of their field of study/expertise OR does the field involve statistics or researching *things* or academia in general?

If yes, stop here and call them Dr. XXX or YYYY Ph.D. No questions or qualms.

If no, has the person directly asked me, personally, to be called Doctor because *reasons*?

If yes, stop and call them Dr. Insecure Issues McGee. Roll eyes and move on.

If no, is the person a childhood friend or someone you feel akin to for reasons of your/their own ?

If yes, call them whatever you normally call them, which probably isn't 'doctor'

If no, is this a formal or semi-formal written communique such as an invitation, a request to donate for charity, or a homeowners association notice?

If yes, preface their name with Dr. as befits their hard work.

If no, call them by their first name as this isn't really a time/place where their title matters one whit.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:38 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just to comment on your eye-roll tendency: I've definitely found myself in that place too.
It helps to realize that the ego-issues such a person likely has to deal with are much more of a chore for that person, than to suppress an occasional eye-roll-reflex would be for you. It's good to summon a little sympathy.
posted by Namlit at 10:38 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think calling him Doctor in a field/discipline/workplace that he did not earn a related doctorate in is deceiving, but it's also true he put in the time & effort to gain that title.

I'd say "..and here is our esteemed Doctor of Chemistry, Treasury Expert" to anybody he's being introduced to. (I don't know if it's kosher to introduce him like this, but it's what I'd like to hear if I was meeting this guy)
posted by Seboshin at 10:40 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

does he specialize in evaluating the comparative values of chemical companies for the firm? If so, then yes. If his role has nothing to do with chemistry then he is being somewhat duplicitous.
posted by any major dude at 10:43 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had a chemistry teacher in UK secondary school called Dr, and I know of another school chemistry teacher who asks to be referred to as Dr. My view is if you've worked your arse off to get the qualification that allows you to call yourself Dr, you're free to ask people to call you that.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:47 AM on October 22, 2013

Insisting on being called "Doctor" is a little bit pompous but not super weird or deceptive. After all, he is one.

There's no way of knowing just from the fact that his PhD is in chemistry and he's working on treasuries that his PhD isn't relevant. It's at least possible that he was hired for the job because of quantitative analytical skills picked up during his PhD, or even that he was hired because his model of $SOME_CHEMISTRY_THING turned out to have applications to treasuries. It's also possible that it's entirely unrelated and that he's just a bit pompous.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:51 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

As someone who works in an academic institution with lots of PhD something or others, I can say that exactly none of them go by "Doctor."

Many go by "Professor," but most go by first name.
posted by zizzle at 10:54 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

His status as a TreasuryExpert possibly came from being hired due to his quantitative skills as a chemist. As a consequence, he is still in his "professional capacity", and use of his professional title would not be out of bounds.

I work in an environment where many people have PhDs outside of the specific field we work in, and our business cards say, "Firstname Lastname, Ph.D." We don't go by "Dr." because we generally don't even go by "Mr/Ms" in the first place.

If the work environment is one where people go by title, then it is acceptable to ask to be addressed by Dr. if they have a PhD or MD.
posted by deanc at 10:56 AM on October 22, 2013

Response by poster: Again, to clarify, I don't think the guy is duplicitous at all, he actually seems like an alright guy. I was only wondering if my eye-roll was just petty or petty AND incorrect.
posted by Cosine at 10:56 AM on October 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

As someone who works in an academic institution with lots of PhD something or others, I can say that exactly none of them go by "Doctor."

To contrast, I also work at an academic institution with lots of PhDs, and I'd say I get called Dr. Penguin and Professor Penguin about 50/50, at least by students. Colleagues and other adults just call me by my first name, unless I'm being introduced in a formal setting.

The only other people who call me Professor or Doctor are textbook company representatives and other people with something to sell.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 10:58 AM on October 22, 2013

My answer is a little more generous because you have clarified that by professional setting you mean public talks. In North America, generally PhD holders do not use Dr. in personal or in casual professional settings. That is because it's too easily confused with medical doctors. Also, formal titles like Mr. And M(r)s. are waning as well. Most north American adults work in first name environments anyway. But for public talks the formality is not only acceptable it's a part of his credentials, so it's completely appropriate to go by Dr. It might be grating on you because it seems to mismatch his expertise, or because he's pompous anyway, but it is still perfectly appropriate.
IAADr., IANAMedicalDr., I did not stay at a holiday inn last night, I usually go by first name but would use Dr. For public talks and titles, except when I register for plane or cruise tickets because that might be awkward.
posted by dness2 at 11:02 AM on October 22, 2013

I heard of a professor who said, "You can call me Bob. But don't call me Mr. Smith. If you are going to do that, call me Dr. Smith. I earned that Ph.D." So in a professional environment where someone would otherwise be addressed as Mr/Ms, those with the PhD or MD get addressed as "Dr." But if everyone goes by first name, and the guy with the PhD insists on being addressed as "Dr. Smith", then that is eye-rolling behavior right there.
posted by deanc at 11:02 AM on October 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

Some of this can be an age thing, too. My dad had a PhD in a field not very relevant to his later career, and would never have insisted on being called "Dr" anything. But the older secretarial staff and other, more formal, folks all called him that and it stuck at work.
posted by ldthomps at 11:07 AM on October 22, 2013

Oh, and I also work in a first name university, so students can call me whatever they want. Many choose professor. I only make the disrespectful ones call me Dr. A lot of professors have the same attitude as I do (on preview like deanc's story) but it also has to match the culture of the uni. Some are more formal, some aren't. Also we call all new Dr.s Dr. until they stop blushing. That's our hazing ritual.
posted by dness2 at 11:09 AM on October 22, 2013

The issue is hearing him introduced as Dr. TreasuryExpert when he is giving a talk

That is the exact situation where someone would be expected to be addressed by title. (it's one of the few situations where I get addressed as Dr. deanc)
posted by deanc at 11:19 AM on October 22, 2013

Best answer: An attempt to answer your clarified question as to whether your eye-roll is correct:

1. Yes, it is correct, because there is absolutely no generally accepted practice (as the vast diversity of answers above show) so you are free to think whatever you like.

2. No, it is not correct, because there is absolutely no generally accepted practice and you don't know his background, so for all you know he's gone through life thinking that this is the norm and never realizing that some people will consider it dickish.
posted by pont at 11:21 AM on October 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

I have a doctorate, as does my wife and I (and my wife) come from a phamily of phuds and MDs, going back three generations. I don't know anyone who insists on being doctored socially, or even stands on ceremony at work. Many are "professor", but most are just Mrs./Mr. Generally, the only time the title comes out in my familiy is in a formal professional context where it's important information to use. This would not include staff meetings, generally, but would be limited to things like interacting with clients, VIP visits or public speaking.

It's a legit request, but kind of starchy. An eyeroll (in private) is appropriate.
posted by bonehead at 11:22 AM on October 22, 2013

I was only wondering if my eye-roll was just petty or petty AND incorrect.

Not incorrect, but call it 40\% petty and 60\% insight into his character.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:22 AM on October 22, 2013

Call him Dr. if that's what he's requesting...he earned the degree, he has a right to use it, no matter what the setting is. You call a priest "Father" at the grocery store....there are a lot of examples of this.

Ironically, my clients often call me Dr. Bob, and I DON'T have a PhD, they just assume I do... I used to correct it but found it got too complicated and just confused them... ah well...
posted by HuronBob at 11:32 AM on October 22, 2013

I heard of a professor who said, "You can call me Bob. But don't call me Mr. Smith. If you are going to do that, call me Dr. Smith. I earned that Ph.D."

I've heard (in non-academic and academic settings) "I go by Bob, or Dr. Smith," very pleasantly. Actually, I more often hear "I go by Jane, or Dr. Smith,".

Seems reasonable.
posted by arnicae at 11:39 AM on October 22, 2013

DeBaser, Dr. Phil has a doctorate in clinical psychology, therefore he can be called doctor legitimately.

As for the poster's question, my answer is: Call him Dr. Kissinger.
posted by DMelanogaster at 11:46 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

PhD's have a better claim to the title "doctor" than do MDs. MD''s like JDs's have not contributed anything to the body of scientific knowledge which is the usual standard for a PhD.
posted by three blind mice at 12:05 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

As I said above in my rushed and somewhat RTFQuestion answer, it depends on context, but not the context most people here seem to be assuming.

If this guy wants you to call him Dr. Lastname in casual settings where the vast majority of people in your country/city/industry/office/whatever are on a first name basis, yeah, that's worthy of as many eye-rolls as you want. What a pompous weirdo!

If this guy wants to be listed as Dr. Treasury Expert rather than Treasury Expert on official work-related stuff (interoffice memos, the sign on his door, meeting agendas, whatever) where other colleagues typically just go by Firstname Lastname, that's kind of weird, but really has nothing to do with what his doctorate is in or how that relates to his position. The eye-rolly aspect is that he demands that a title be used when nobody else is, or where it's not appropriate to the situation.

If this guy wants to be listed as Dr. Treasury Expert in contexts where everyone else is also using a title, there is no pomposity involved. Doctor is his title. It doesn't matter how he got the title or whether it pertains to the specific business at hand. Why would you use something else?

The only time Dr. So And So is sketchy based on subject area is when the intention is to mislead, usually by using a title in a situation where no title is warranted. For instance TV's "Dr. Drew" and "Dr. Phil". Nobody else on TV uses a title like that. Their co-hosts go by Oprah or whatever, not Ms. Oprah Winfrey. Likewise when people like this publish books. It's always "Dr. Drew Pinsky" or whatever, when all other authors pretty much as a rule are never Ms. Phoebe North on the cover of their books. Anytime you see someone insisting on a title where otherwise no title is appropriate, that is when you might want to google up how relevant the title is.

People using Doctor as a title in formal contexts where others are using Mister or Senator or Colonel are perfectly within their rights, and it seems unfair to begrudge someone their title because they work in a different field from what their degree is in. And super messed up to assume that they did not come by their title legitimately.
posted by Sara C. at 12:26 PM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have a PhD and in all banking/legal/bills stuff I use the Dr. In my professional job, I don't use any title, because it's totally irrelevant to what I do every day.

But everyone deals with things like this on a personal level, and don't give the guy too hard of a time. I'm Canadian and live in the UK, where I am constantly asked (to my amazement when I moved here) "Is that Ms or Mrs...?". Many people have watched me spit back: "It's Dr...". I may sound like an asshole, but I think being asked that question is totally outrageous.

I know the person you are referring to is male so this specific situation doesn't apply, but his mileage may vary.
posted by meerkatty at 12:31 PM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Sara C. has explained it perfectly.
posted by mimo at 12:33 PM on October 22, 2013

Also, no matter how many times I tell him it's not necessary, my father addresses all my birthday cards to mimo, PhD because he knows how long and hard I worked for that.
posted by mimo at 12:36 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I work in financial services: I am a quant. I have a PhD (in physics), and a large number of my colleagues have PhDs, typically in sciences and unrelated to finance. I'm not sure I can ever remember anyone at work being addressed as "Dr" in person. For quants in particular, it's more or less assumed that everyone either has a PhD or could have got one had they not gone into finance instead, so it would feel a bit like boasting about your bachelor's degree or swimming certificate or something. (Plus, I think for the other denizens of the trading floor it would feed into the stereotype of quant "experts" coming along with their impractical ivory tower book-learning and not being able to actually help anybody make money). My payslips are addressed to "Dr doop", but only because I filled in "Dr" in the title field of an application form somewhere and I tend to use it in formal documentation - I would be mortified if someone felt they should address me like that in person.

So, I would go along with it (in the name of smooth workplace relationships), but certainly with a big eyeroll.
posted by doop at 1:15 PM on October 22, 2013

I think the eyeroll is misplaced. You haven't given us any indication that the guy swans around the office expecting everyone to call him "Dr. Jones", just that he uses it when he's being introduced at public speaking engagements in his field. That is pretty much the exact time that you would expect to hear it. It is a little odd that he has a chemistry degree and he's a treasury expert, but like doop above, his research background may be relevant in ways that aren't immediately clear.

I personally prefer my colleagues to call me by my first name and simply avoid putting any honorifics into address fields, and if I were giving a seminar to my peers I would certainly not use it, because we're all doctors or future doctors there and the credentials are basically understood. But if I were giving a talk to the general public on some area of my expertise I would certainly expect to be introduced as "Dr."
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 1:52 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's miss manners' take on this sort of thing, which I basically agree with (and to a limited extent supports the eyeroll).

In my experience she's wrong about what in practice happens in academia, though (she claims people use "Mr" etc. all the time in contexts where everyone has a doctorate). In terms of what actually gets written in emails etc it is extraordinarily rare for someone to professionally address me as "Mr lastname". When they don't know and need to be formal they tend to use something like "Dear firstname lastname" or default to "Dr.", otherwise it is just my first name (which is my preference).
posted by advil at 3:04 PM on October 22, 2013

The title Doctor usually indicates that someone is trying to acknowledge or establish a power/authority asymmetry. For example, academics don't usually call each other Doctor (not even in relatively formal conference settings) but students often do.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:28 PM on October 22, 2013

IANAAcademic, but I work in university development and am married to an academic. In my line of work, we ALWAYS use Dr. or Professor unless there's an indication we shouldn't, because there isn't a norm and we can't really afford to alienate anyone. Academics don't seem to care much, non-academics will sometimes use their title in correspondence, but it definitely varies.

My professor husband never uses Dr. and neither does almost anyone in his field (in the U.S.). Undergraduate students generally address him as Professor, but grad students and colleagues use his first name more often than not. He never informs strangers of his degree status, but admins from other institutions basically always use either Professor or Dr.

In your particular case, I might eyeroll a little, but not too much, particularly if his job is contingent on his degree status. The fact that his degree is in chemistry and not finance really shouldn't be an issue. Basically all of the ex-academics I know work in finance, and they were all recruited and hired because of their academic background. Science degrees, regardless of specific subject, frequently carry weight in certain industries.
posted by Diagonalize at 4:42 PM on October 22, 2013

FWIW I'm American and was taught to use Dr. as opposed to Professor as a title for academics in a teacher-student context. My guess is that this varies regionally.

That said, I think it would be HIGHLY unusual for a work colleague who happens to hold a doctorate to want to be referred to as Professor TreasuryExpert in a non-academic workplace context. What, is he some kind of X-Men character?
posted by Sara C. at 5:01 PM on October 22, 2013

Sara C.: Your father is a medical doctor. The social rules in the U.S. are different for that than for a Ph.D. There was a New Yorker cartoon on this some years ago, that went something like this: a maitre d' at a restaurant is on the phone. He says something like: "Yes, 7 pm, party of 6, Dr. Smith. Is that a Ph.D., or are you a real doctor?" The joke is funny because in social settings, the only Americans who routinely use the title "Dr." are medical doctors.

It would be highly weird to use the title "Professor" outside of an academic context, because it's an academic title. "Dr." is a qualification, not a job title, like putting "B.A." or "M.A." after your name, or "Esq." "Professor TreasuryExpert" makes no sense unless TreasuryExpert holds a job whose title is Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor (in a North American Anglophone context). "Dr. TreasuryExpert" is different, because it refers to a qualification, not a job title. It's like the difference between "Dr. Frist," a title that Bill Frist could claim because of his medical qualification, and "Senator Frist," which he could claim because he held the position of U.S. Senator.

I still hold that for someone whose Ph.D. is in chemistry, it's misleading to be introduced as "Dr. Soandso" when providing advice on finance.

-Prof. Dr. Brian W. Ogilvie, FLS (a hybrid German-English qualification which is totally ridiculous on AskMeFi--and besides, many Germans would dispute my claim to the title of Dr., since my doctorate is not from a German university!)
posted by brianogilvie at 6:51 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

But the problem there is not whether he has a PhD in chemistry vs. economics, the problem would be, why are we introducing this guy as Doctor Treasury Expert, but the next speaker is just Judiciary Expert? Either you're using titles for everyone or no one.

If the next speaker is Colonel DefenseContractor Expert, Doctor Treasury Expert is fine. If the next speaker is DefenseConstractor Expert, sans title, Treasury Expert should also be sans title.

If Dr. Treasury Expert is the only one with the title, suddenly that invites questions about what that doctorate is in, and whether he is a "real" doctor, and whether he is claiming some level of qualification that isn't legitimate. Because why is he so into using a title when nobody else is?
posted by Sara C. at 7:06 PM on October 22, 2013

I think technically in a work-related context, people can and will generally get away with being "Doctored." I would roll my eyes too though.

I had a dude show up AT MY KNITTING GROUP the other day who wouldn't even introduce himself with his name--he is DOCTOR B. And he has four doctorates and was bragging up the wazoo about going to Harvard and his involvement with the Nobel committee. At that point I was all, "Really, dude? At knitting group? You think we care?" So that wins for eye-roll from me on this topic.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:15 PM on October 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

This is strange because most science doctors don't give a hoot about being called 'doctor', but if that is what he wants to be called, then it is polite to call him that. Think of it in the same way as when that coworker changes gender identity and suddenly wants to be called Michelle instead of Mitch. Do you really want to be the one who still calls her Mitch?

Let's face it...getting a PhD (especially in the really deep-dive stuff like chemistry and physics) is a major life achievement for some people on par with having kids or getting married. You kind of want a constant reminder that all those Friday nights in the lab watching clear liquids bubble for slave wages while your friends are all out getting drunk, laid or listening to live music after their slightly-better paying 40 hours per week jobs resulted in something more than just a cool piece of paper.
posted by BearClaw6 at 8:05 AM on October 23, 2013

I give a big hoot in very particular circumstances, especially because as a woman I often have to fight for professional respect anyway. You can feel smug about your life choices all you want, and almost none of you will ever have occasion to call me Dr. mimo, but, if you are ever introducing me in a professional context, please use my professional title. It is more than a piece of paper, no matter what a chump you think I am for getting it. If we meet in a social context, it is likely I will be reticent to even bring up my training or job because somehow that means that I am wasting my life doing things I love.

Call him what he wishes to be called. Judge him if you must.

Please, let us all put our projectors away now.
posted by mimo at 9:09 AM on October 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

My view is if you've worked your arse off to get the qualification that allows you to call yourself Dr, you're free to ask people to call you that.

And people are free to roll their eyes and think, "Gee, Dr. Smartypants, I know a lot of people who work their ass off who get no special recognition for it." Eyeroll away, OP.
posted by Rykey at 4:12 PM on October 23, 2013

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