“Are you a real doctor?”

Last week, when a Twitter post was censored, my account suspended and I refused to back down, I experienced a feeling of relief. Social media can be hard work for anyone with a shred of integrity. I was still trying to organise volunteers for a calendar to raise funds and publicise three charities that support adult sexual choice, female safe space and children’s bodily integrity. Since then I got involved in the national and international opposition to the ever-encroaching police state in my native Scotland.

Yesterday I realised that a massive amount of academic work that I’d been expecting to do later was going to start sooner. In recognition that, without my twirling it, the world can spin, I posted this:

With pressure of work mounting (online teaching & proofreading & writing challenging with RSI) I need to use my little free time from fulltime unpaid caring duties responsibly so taking a Twitter break till Sept. ❤️ to #GC, #freedom folk & #vegans 👀 [with a link to this blog]

I felt a bit bad about possibly leaving people in the lurch, although everything is still going ahead via email or phone, but Eliza Doolittle (musical not musician) was right: they can do without me.

What I can do without on social media is my special bugbear: anti-intellectualism. A rash of it erupted yesterday and they’re no doubt still scratching their behinds on the same tree. (Sorry, a mixed metaphor annoys me as well.) A symptom of an outbreak is often the seemingly naive question:

Are you a real doctor?

I try not to automatically assume that the questioner is stupid. Not everyone is an academic and the Venn diagram of intelligentsia isn’t coterminal with that of academia. In other words, just because you’re at uni, doesn’t mean you’re not daft. Many extremely intelligent people have very little formal education – and the history of the academic title “Doctor”, which only became associated with some sections of the medical profession by coincidence, fascinating as it is to those of us who hold the title, is perhaps a little obscure.

As I frequently explain, I use my title to distinguish myself from my Glaswegian namesake (with the exact same English spelling of first name and Irish surname) who is a justly-celebrated sportsman and who does not deserve to be blamed for my extremely forthright views.

As a “real doctor” who is male, I get less hassle online about my title than my female academic colleagues (medical or not). However, despite the social media campaign last year of women defending their titles, I feel that misogyny is not at the root of this mental illness: it’s the town vs gown resentment of those outside academia against those they see as squandering their taxes by retreating up ivory towers.

Much of this mentality is outdated. It tends to be typical of middle-aged White men of all classes (like ageism, lack of respect for education is rife in our community) scorning the students of their youth with their full grants. No-one’s on a full grant nowadays but I do agree that a lot of wasters went to uni in those days because Mummy and Daddy couldn’t manage to get them out of bed regularly enough to hold down a job and anyway they had to keep up with the neighbours.

But it’s not political in origin, this common hatred of the clever (an often insulting word in English). It’s deeper than that. Dr Robert M. Pirsig – whose work I read for my Ph.D. on Quality in Education and Industry – identifies the visceral rejection of the intellect in the late 1960s as a later phase of the despairing turn from reason post-WW1.

Nowadays, when everyone has a medical opinion, that question is especially insidious. As a vegan for the last few years, and as a vegetarian for decades, I was often subjected to the unsolicited nutritional expertise of people who frequently dined at chain burger joints and couldn’t tell a macro from a Mars Bar.

Those who unquestioningly swallow the pharmaceutical narrative of Bill Gates (not a doctor and without a degree) and mentally genuflect at the noonday hour of the Angelus, when Our Leader comes on the radio to preach fear and compliance from the pulpit, feel no alarm that the First Minister takes her public health advice from a woman in Scotland with no more medical qualification than a Ph.D. in Sociology and two men in England who are major shareholders in the pharmaceutical companies whose profits their policy advice benefits.

Meanwhile, expert epidemiologists, medical doctors and theoretical researchers are being banned from social media and their warnings about medical malpractice unreported by mainstream media.

Anti-intellectualism kills. When people refuse to think, because it’s now not cool, the global elite are happy. Stupidly naive uninformed people are far easier to control. To keep them compliant, the various I’m-just-like-you demographic-specific bots and shills quote pseudo science and the naive amplify their voices and feel informed. “Bill, Brexit, Brum, barman” reminds us about “the R-number” and never mentions the meaninglessness of the number or “Shirl, single mum, Scarborough” wants to know “when can my two get their vaxx?!!” and ignores the growing VAERS statistics.

I don’t have time for fools. Real doctors are those of us who take our academic skills seriously and try to use them for the benefit of the community. That’s what I did when reporting the censored debate on AIDS and discussing the controversial topic of abortion, interrogating religious assumptions about the nature of homosexuality, disentangling the discourses over transsexual/ transvestite identity and also in a much more light-hearted way when I wrote about fat, feminism and nutrition.

As for real physicians, they are the ones who do not prostitute themselves to the pharmaceutical industry but instead strive, even at the risk of censorship, to uphold their Hippocratic Oath.


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