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Is there a doctor in the house?

NIH doctor.JPGscientist-manGETTY.JPGScientists in Germany are facing jail for calling themselves ‘Doctor’, despite having PhDs.

According to Chemical & Engineering News at least seven researchers working for the high-profile Max Planck Society are facing charges of impersonating a doctor, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail. Under Germany law, the magazine says, only those who have received a doctoral degree from a European institution can call themselves doctor without special permission.

“I am not allowed to be publicly listed as ‘Dr. Baldwin’. To obey the law, I must refer to myself as ‘Ian Baldwin, PhD, Cornell University, Ithaca (NY)’,” says Dr Ian Baldwin Ian Baldwin, PhD, Cornell University, Ithaca (NY), a director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology who was charged in January.

Someone should make sure and warn holidaying Italians. It’s not uncommon for the title Dottore to be attached to people with mere undergraduate degrees there.

And someone should definitely update Wikipedia, which currently states: “In German speaking countries, all holders of doctorate degrees are appropriately addressed as ‘Dr X’ in all social situations.”

Spot the difference: left = a medical doctor (NIH) / right = a scientist (Getty)


  1. Report this comment

    Joerg said:

    Yeah, and with a real german Dr. you cannot call yourself PhD if I remember it correctly…such a pompous nonsense…

  2. Report this comment

    Mike said:

    I lived in Germany and it was amazing how racist that country still is.

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