What a PhD means

The general public–and especially the media–appears to be conflicted over what it means when a person has a PhD. There are three main schools of thought:

1) A PhD means you are an awesome genius and know everything.

2) A PhD means you are an ivory tower elitist and know nothing.

3) A PhD means you belong to a nefarious conspiracy dedicated to lending credibility to lies in order to get money or fame.

Sometimes several of these are combined. Believe both #1 and #3, and you’ve got one of the main arguments of climate change deniers (“Climate scientists are lying and spreading false fear in order to keep their jobs secure, and we know this because we found one climate scientist who says climate change isn’t real!”).

The ivory tower elitist PhDs are in a conspiracy of lies to make the public continue to give them research money, and I believe this because the guy who told me has a PhD, so you know he’s right!

None of these three are true.

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