A voodoo doctor in the House?

On last Thursday’s TALK my guest was a local consultant who in his bios describes himself as “a Saint Lucian economist.” I presume his intention is to inform the world he is a native holder of a Doctorate in Economics—not that he specializes in Saint Lucian economics!

In any event the two major branches of economics are microeconomics and macroeconomics. The first mentioned deals largely with the decision-making behavior of individual consumers and firms in markets, while the other focuses largely on the aggregated behavior of all consumers and firms in an economy. Both branches focus on the laws of supply and demand.

Dr. Claudius Preville was Rick Wayne’s first guest on his recently returned DBS show TALK!

Dr. Claudius Preville was Rick Wayne’s first guest on his recently returned DBS show TALK!

In addition to these two major branches, numerous other subfields exist in the economics discipline. Many cannot be neatly categorized under microeconomics or macroeconomics because they utilize some tools and analytical frameworks from both branches.

Some of the better-known subfields include behavioral economics, energy economics, game theory, health economics, welfare economics, labor economics, economic geography, development economics, international economics and information economics.

Bearing in mind Dr. Claudius Preville’s current main mission in life is to convince fellow Saint Lucians he is the candidate best equipped to successfully wrestle into submission the economic monster that has taken most businesses down to their knees, if not swallowed them altogether—and consequently sent too many individuals to early graves, literally and metaphorically, I was surprised to discover how sparse are Mr. Preville’s bios in relation to his Doctorate.

Then again, why over advertise when among the bewitched, battered and bewildered are many who truly believe local economists brought us where we are?

Although I introduced him to TALK viewers last week as Dr. Preville, I had half-jokingly also warned him on-air that I would be referring to him during our televised discourse by name. I meant no disrespect and indeed it did not seem to me that my guest was the least bit affronted. Why should he have been? We’ve been long enough acquainted to address each other by our first names during televised conversations— which, to my mind, is what TALK is all about. (It occurs to me that I’ve never heard a TV interviewer address Darren Sammy as Captain Sammy. Neither a beauty queen as Miss Independence . . .)

In any event imagine my surprise upon learning someone obviously more generous than I had called the host of a local radio show to complain about how I had in effect insulted my guest by refusing to address him as Dr. Which of course was a typical exaggeration. For even though I was uncertain about the details of his Doctorate, I had in fact introduced him to my audience as “my guest Dr. Claudius Preville.”

I should add that my initial surprise evaporated the minute I was informed of the complainant’s identity: a notorious hagfish and blinkered life-long supporter of the Saint Lucia Labour Party whose leader, incidentally, had encouraged his red-frocked flock not to refer to the knighted former prime minister and leader of the United Workers Party John Compton as “Sir.”

Once Dr. Preville had accepted my invitation to appear on TALK, I had spent some time with a book entitled The Protocol School of Washington’s Honor & Respect: the official guide to names, titles, and forms of address. An interesting volume it is, by Robert Hickey, as funny in places as it is serious.

This is what the author advises on the question how to address a person with a PhD. “Holders of Doctorates who work in academia or research institutions use Dr. (name) professionally and socially. Thus a PhD in biology doing research at the local university or lab probably uses Dr. and everybody thinks it’s right.

“Holders of academic Doctorates who work outside academia or research typically don’t insist on Dr. Neither a PhD in finance at a Bank & Trust Company nor a PhD in American history working for Xerox is likely to insist on being addressed as Dr.” Obviously, Hickey never heard of the House doctors on this Rock of Sages!

As for honorary-degree recipients: “They may be addressed as Dr. (name) in correspondence from, or conversation by, the granting university. But not at other universities, and not in their professional life off campus. They may use the pertinent post-nominal abbreviation for the honorary degree with the words honoris causa, to underscore the degree is honorary—not earned.”

“Honorary doctorates are listed as an honor or award on your resumé, rather than part of education with earned academic degrees,” writes Hickey. “In a complete introduction it would be stated that ‘Marc Coffey received an honorary Doctorate in (field) from so and so . . .’ It may be a great honor but it is not an earned degree.”

Speaking of which, remember the Labour candidate for Soufriere in the 1997 and 2001 elections? Even his campaign posters bragged about his Doctorate from a Canadian university. The earlier cited complaining engineer who last week conveniently sought to build a mountain out of bull dung, perchance it might tumble and bury me, was among the lead red-flag wavers who insisted back in the day that every Tom, every Dick and impressionable party hack, the governor general and school children too, show due respect for the ultimately disgraced Soufriere politician
by always addressing him as “Dr. Walter Francois”—whose widely advertised false Doctorate was neither earned nor honoris causa.

Methinks I need say no more!

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