Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Holy Scheisse!

That was my immediate response after reading this post at The Spine:
I thought that a Ph.D. in the sciences having been bestowed on scholars from distinguished American universities would permit these men and women to call themselves doctor. Not so, at least in Germany.

Now seven scientists at the Max Planck Society's Institutes for Chemical Ecology (Jena) and for Gravitational Physics (Potsdam) with American Ph.D.s from Stanford, Caltech, University of Texas (Austin) and Cornell are facing charges under German federal law that might land them in jail for one year and sock them with a large fine. You see, under German law, the only Ph.D. that can certify a person as "doctor" is one that comes from an academic institution in the European Union. If your degree comes from a Maltese university (if there is one) you are a doctor with all the pretense and privileges that come with it. But if your doctorate comes from Caltech you are stuck.
This is, if I may say it, batshit crazy. Effectively the German government has decided that it can simply yank scholarly credentials from people who have earned their PhD. I do not even understand the rationale for this law. And I certainly do not understand imposing it against American scientists.


Steve Dunkley said...

This is a sympton of a universal problem and a kind of national educational arrogance (perhaps the most extreme I've seen). I believe it's very difficult to get into Valetta University! (http://www.um.edu.mt/) Many countries distrust "foreign education", including the UK's Open University, who were very dismissive of my wife's previous college hours in Texas.

Wood yoo beleev that UTPB maid me tacke the GED becuase I dident understande multypool choise?

More seriously, a Phd in any country with academic traditions should be respected.

dcat said...

Steve --
It's probably a sign of a lot of things, arrogance being just one. Hubris is another -- the idea that my PhD is somehow not recognized or at least is diminished in Germany (even if I do not prefer the title "Dr.") is really rather vexing.