Indeed, we read today, in a BBC Berlin report:
German defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resigned after admitting copying large parts of his doctoral thesis. But why was he so keen to be a doctor in the first place?Why, indeed!.
You would think that Karl-Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg had enough titles.He did. He had a VON, he had a ZU, and he was a BARON.
In Germany, the "von" and "zu" denote aristocracy and he has both. And the word "Freiherr" means "Baron".Don't forget that he won't lose his aristocracy titles. These were given to him at birth. Regardless of whether he deserved them or not. Neither will he lose his money. He's already rich. Too rich.
But if you want real clout in politics, being a doctor is desirable and that was his downfall. The title in front of even such a grand name is desirable, but not if it is the product of the work of others.He will only lose one title, the DR, the only one that he tried to earn with his own work. Unfortunately, he didn't think that stealing a bit left and right was all that bad.
Indeed, he finally admitted that his zeal to add the extra two letters, Dr, in front of his name made him plagiarise his thesis by copying parts of it from the Internet.Too bad, Mr. Baron Von and Zu. If you kept the title, it's not so much that anything bad would happen, but it's unfair for others who do have titles and have them for work they've done. Oh, by the way, many of those people were not fortunate enough to have a zu and a von. Some of them don't even have a single von or a single zu.
Titles should--in principle--represent something. I used to work for a university where it was possible to get promoted from senior lecturer to professor simply for administrative work, e.g. for serving as a chairman. In Academia itself, there are many instances were titles are abused. But it would be nice (wishful thinking) to have a reality check from time to time.
I used to daydream and ask: Would it not be nice, and fair, to give, from time to time, a Maths exam to all Maths professors and see if their performance is up to date? Or a Physics exam to Physics professors? This would be a reality check. And it should be fair.
A title, no matter how big it is, should not be big enough so that it hides inadequacies of its owner.