The Corner

Doctor in the House

Jonah, I’m with you on “Dr. Jill Biden,” which is part of the absurd over-credentialization of modern life.

When everyone’s running around with titles, what’s the coolest title of all? I rather like the custom in British Commonwealth countries whereby surgeons are addressed as “Mister” (or “Miss,” “Mrs.,” and no doubt “Ms.”) not “Doctor.” See, to pluck at random, this Melbourne spine surgeon, a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. He does what most of us would think of as doctor-type stuff: He puts on scrubs, opens you up, and fixes what’s wrong in there. And yet, unlike Dr. Jill Biden, he’s content to be a mere “Mister.”

This particular tradition provided one of the rare moments when Conan Doyle let someone get the better of Sherlock Holmes. From The Hound of the Baskervilles:

“Come, come, we are not so far wrong after all,” said Holmes. “And now, Dr. James Mortimer–”

“Dr.” Mortimer replies:

“Mister, sir, Mister–a humble MRCS.”

That’s Member of the Royal College of Surgeons.

As for “Dr. Shannen Coffin,” he’s currently representing NR in our legal battle against Nobel Laureate Michael Mann. How the hell did we wind up hiring an ambulance-chaser who moonlights as a sawbones?

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.