Why aren't Spock, Data, LaForge, Dax, etc PhDs?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Sisko_is_my_captain, Apr 27, 2021.

  1. Sisko_is_my_captain

    Sisko_is_my_captain Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    They're all research scientists or research engineers / warp field specialists / what have you. They publish original research. I don't understand why these folks don't have the equivalent of a PhD and aren't referred to as 'Doctor.' We know the PhD and non-medical 'Doctor' title still exist in the future.
     
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  2. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's probably as simple as not needing to spend the time or the academic rigor in order to achieve their personal and career goals. Although there have been many doctorates who have flown space shuttle missions, most of those who came through the military have no more than a masters in engineering. I know at least one person who graduated from West Point and earned a doctorate on his way to becoming a general. Researching and writing his dissertation was a brake on his military career in the short term. In a society in which there would be more choices and opportunities, Spock et al probably ruled out graduate studies very early on, choosing Starfleet Academy over more academic options. The only one that I think could have earned a doctorate from what we see on the television is Dax, having six years to study the wormhole in detail.
     
  3. rocketscientist

    rocketscientist Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    No dissertations I guess.

    But you make a good point. It's hard to believe that Spock never got a PhD. If anyone could do it, devote the time to finishing a dissertation and be a Starfleet officer, it's Spock.

    Same with Data. He doesn't even need to sleep.

    Probably Dax as well.

    Or Scotty. My gosh, he even figured out how to transport someone to a starship in warp!

    Now, having said that, I have a PhD in AE and I've worked in the space sector for years, primarily in mission design although I've done some propulsion modeling as well. From my experience, there are so many incredibly smart guys and girls with Masters degrees. I've worked at an FFRC which wanted most of its employees to have graduate degrees and most people did have Masters degrees. They are extremely capable, creative, and smart folks who are great at their jobs. Honestly, imo, you don't need a PhD to be a great engineer, at least. If you're determined to work in academia, or at a kind of halfway house of an FFRC or research lab, then fine, get a PhD. However, it's been shown in studies that you won't make as much money over your career if you spent your time in grad school as a TA/RA/Postdoc. I think that might be all there is to it. All these characters didn't want to put in the time to do a dissertation, which can amount to indentured servitude. It's a hard, slow grind, and you might get nothing and have to start over if you advisor didn't give you a good suggestion for a research topic. I know at least 4 people that that happened to and like 3 of them dropped out of the PhD program. You have to pass an oral and written, cumulative exam and a final defense as well. And you're living on a stipend that, where I went to school, barely kept me afloat.

    So, again, there are probably good reasons why some of these characters at least didn't get PhDs. Geordi Laforge said something to Dr. Brahms in one TNG episode that he's not really one for research or writing papers. See, that's the kind of guy I'm talking about, someone who has a Masters degree and is obviously a great engineer. Same with Mr. Scott!
     
  4. Kor

    Kor Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In the course of Starfleet duties, an officer is referred to by Starfleet rank or position, not by academic credentials they may have (and I've stated elsewhere that I think it's doubtful that graduates of the regular four-year Starfleet academy program come out of it with doctorate degrees).

    As an aside, I definitely would have gone for a master's degree if it was common practice for people to refer to somebody with a master's degree as "Master." :evil:

    Kor
     
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  5. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I have no doubt that they could if they pursued it academically. But, they are serving in Starfleet and addressed by rank.
     
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  6. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Probably because someone high up thinks referring to so many characters as "doctor" would be confusing or something.

    Stargate had multiple doctors of different types and were just fine.
     
  7. rocketscientist

    rocketscientist Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Awesome!!! I love it!!
     
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  8. Sisko_is_my_captain

    Sisko_is_my_captain Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I seem to recall several non-medical Starfleet personnel who were called Doctor.
     
  9. at Quark's

    at Quark's Commodore Commodore

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    Presumably so you can easily bring in experts-of-the-week that supposedly have even higher academic qualifications only to be proven wrong by Our Lowly Heroes without needing explicit dialog to establish that ('even though Geordi has a Ph. D. in warp dynamics, this guy has won the Daystrom prize in the field....' ) without that getting stale really quickly.
     
  10. BillJ

    BillJ Canon Warrior Premium Member

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    Some of them probably do have doctorates, but titles aren't as important in the future...
     
  11. Sisko_is_my_captain

    Sisko_is_my_captain Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Data evidently does not or it would have been read out when his freedom to choose was on trial.

    Jadzia Dax had received academic degrees in exobiology, zoology, astrophysics and exo-archaeology at Starfleet Academy, but the specific degrees were not specified.
     
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  12. NCC-73515

    NCC-73515 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Kelvin Pike wrote a dissertation... I also think they have degrees like that, but it's not important in daily life and that's why no one mentions them.
     
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  13. BillJ

    BillJ Canon Warrior Premium Member

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    Abrams Pike is a Doctor of Kicking Ass!
     
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  14. drt

    drt Commodore Commodore

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    That would be my assumption. During the series development I imagine they were largely thinking of naval ships where only medical personnel were doctors. Having a scientific crew where most of the specialists probably should have also been PhDs likely didn't occur to them until later, and even then it was pretty sparse. Dr. Ann Mulhall is the only PhD I can recall from the TOS crew. I suppose Spock wasn't a PhD to try and minimize confusion with the real life Dr. Benjamin Spock.

    Some schools require an undergraduate dissertation, it isn't necessarily related to an advanced degree.
     
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  15. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I always figured they has degrees.
     
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  16. 1001001

    1001001 Pull Up a Groove and Get Fabulous! Moderator

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    Data would have the knowledge equivalent of hundreds of doctorates. Given his unique make-up, I’m not sure the actual degrees would matter? Like sitting in class, taking midterms, etc.
     
  17. dupersuper

    dupersuper Commodore Commodore

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    In an alternate future he does take Newtons old position...
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    We might almost argue that the concept of PhD has ceased to exist in the future, for obvious reasons (everybody has access to the knowledge, and the skill set is better defined in terms of profession), and "Doctor" refers exclusively to the practitioners of medicine.

    Almost. But we have to include those dealing in cybernetics, such as Dr. Soong and Dr. Daystrom. Although possibly this is considered one of the healing arts in the future? Other types of Doctor mentioned in dialogue are so vaguely defined that they might be healers or robohealers all.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Admiral Premium Member

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    Picard's archaeology teacher (TNG: "The Chase") was called Professor Galen. Interestingly, not Doctor, as most college professors would be credentialed, although it could be assumed that he has earned such a title (to be allowed to teach at the Academy level) and simply prefers being addressed as Professor. There are still titles running around out there - just left to the preference of the title holder how they wish to be called.
     
  20. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Doctors don't have knowledge. They produce knowledge.
     
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