JT Taylor
3 min readJun 14, 2021


Shrodinger’s Doctorate

Ok, so I’m going to tell you something academia trained me to do that is actually maddening and terrible and limiting.

I’m gonna call it “Shroedinger’s Doctorate” but I’m gonna mess with the idea. I’m using the thought experiment loosely.

Here we go:

If someone gives me information or asks me to follow their “serious” content or their podcast, etc, and I’m enthusiastically interested and it sounds cool…..I need credentials.

Yeah. I need credentials. Never-mind that I constantly say things like “everyone had something to teach me” (I mean that) or that one can independently learn or learn in an alternative way than structured university learning.

I immediately react because this is an area for expertise and they must have doctoral or some other credentials, but preferably the doctorate. This starts out as a completely unconscious pursuit. I begin looking the person up almost robotically ti find out whether or not I should “trust them.”

And now we’re playing Shroedinger’s Doctorate. This is the kind of elitism that is a lesion on my brain: I can’t really cut it out, it needs treatment.

To explain:

There is a podcast I am genuinely interested in, but it’s mythology. That is not my field. This particular person has an aesthetic I adore, talks about topics in a way that I like on a social app….but I don’t take it too seriously and I like the ideas, though still not gonna believe it without looking it up. However, I generally don’t because it’s just ideas at this point.

This is a healthy thing, right? At first, it seems that way. Because we should be skeptical and we should check things before we just accept information. And definitely don’t use what I learned in this piece to inform others or you’re now playing academic “telephone.”

But then I decide I’m ready to go to her *podcast*…leaving this app to go listen to the podcast after seeing a ton of her videos and I’m searching for information on her doctorate.

Yes, where is her doctorate?

Is the information in her head legitimate if she doesn’t signal that legitimacy with not only what degrees she has but where she got them?



JT Taylor

JT Taylor has a doctorate in early modern English and early American literature, focusing on historiography and critical theory. But wants to talk about more.

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