In a Word... Patsy McGarry

One of the conundrums of our times has to be the proliferation of `doctors.` Or, to be accurate, `Drs’ (capital D please!). I am not referring to the men and women of the medical profession who have brought us safely through the pandemic to date, becoming reluctant celebrities (most of them) in the process.

No, the Doctors I refer to garnered their qualifications in ‘lesser’ fields, such as economics for example. Not alone is it the dismal science, it can also be among the most useless.

For example those rare economists who forecast the thunderous crash of the western economy in 2008/2010 also became celebrities but because their colleagues were all forecasting a `soft landing going forward’ (bless my weary soul but that damn phrase still sticks in my craw!).

It’s not just in the area of economics. Get a doctorate on, for instance, feral behaviour of the wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus) in Outer Mongolia and you may well end up a media commentator on everything under the sun.


The thinking being - apparently - that if you know everything about something you just might know everything about anything. And if you think my suggestion concerning the Bactrian camel is over the top, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Every year since 1991 the Ig Nobel Prize awards have been presented at Harvard University in the US to the top 10 `achievements’ in scientific research of the given year.

The Biology Prize for 2021 was won by Sweden for an academic study on “variations in purring, chirping, chattering, trilling, tweedling, murmuring, meowing, moaning, squeaking, hissing, yowling, howling, growling, and other modes of cat-human communication.”

The Medicine Prize went to researchers from Germany, Turkey, and the UK “for demonstrating that sexual orgasms can be as effective as decongestant medicines at improving nasal breathing.”

The Transportation Prize went to academics from Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Brazil, UK and US “for determining by experiment whether it is safer to transport an airborne rhinoceros upside-down.”

But a personal favourite has to be the Economics Prize (of course!) won by French, Swiss, Australian, Austrian, Czech, and UK researchers for establishing “that the obesity of a country’s politicians may be a good indicator of that country’s corruption.”

Expert, from Latin expertus, `having a great deal of knowledge or skill in a particular area.'