Science began as a logical and reasoned inquiry into how Nature works. Isaac Newton and gravity always comes to mind first with me. You’ll note it’s tied together with mathematics, and how many times have we seen in news or film how fast an object was going when it fell from a tall building and hit the ground. Such information, and the math used to calculate it, was always admissible in court, and often did not require an expert witness be flown in from Stanford to certify it.
Thus is was that Science became the new destination for bright young rich kids who really didn’t need the money but did require a “Dr” or “Professor” in front of their names to grant them the social status that befit their heritage. This practice came (largely) from very English, French, German bloodlines in the 18th-19th centuries.
As you well know, America had no such bloodlines, its founders all coming from middle-class blood, most with strong strains of religion (Protestant, mind you) running through their veins. So, after Nature’s required amounts of time to build up a wealthy leisure class from among the large farms of the original colonies, and the trading families of our ports, those sorts of European academic titles carried less weight in Colonial America. Still, because of primogeniture (the old feudal law that all the land of an estate would be inherited by the firstborn son, and not outlawed in America until 1777), wealthy families had to have some way to keep their other children in the pink…the girls actually did better here, since they could be married off…so, instead of going to college to become professors and deep thinkers, they went to divinity schools to become parsons, for generations, since being a man of the cloth was the best-paying profession (job) in America. It was to this end that both Harvard and Yale, and subsequently other colleges, were founded in the mid-1600s.
So, the chase for the prestige behind the “Dr.” and “Professor” tag came later in American history, largely post-Civil War. And that came on the back of the wealth-boom in the Industrial Revolution, called the Gilded Age, around 1870-1900, but preceded by some incredibly interesting tales of wealth-(and status)-gain in the 1850s and 1860s, in mining, where the lowest of the low could get rich legally, where “terbakker-chewin'” hayseeds could go to the gold fields of California, strike it rich, then marry that fine saloon prostitute named Nell, and move to build the biggest, finest houses in Nob Hill in San Francisco, where the term “reformed whore” took on totally new meaning long before “lawyers’ wives and other reformed whores” took hold in the 1950s.
Beginning in the Gilded Age many wealthy parents sent their children to Europe, Oxford and Cambridge schools most sought after, and many of those graduates returned home to take up positions in some of America’s finest institutions where, carrying the status of “European-educated” they could plant cells in places like Harvard, University of Chicago, and Berkeley and Stanford, dedicated to social justice as envisioned by the likes of Karl Marx, which at the same time, 1870s-1900, also had a great impact on the science and history of Man (which I talk about next).
What I have just told you was once common knowledge among college students as recently as the 1960s and 1970s. But it has been absent from not only the teaching of science and history in the classroom, but in the popular culture; film, fiction literature, for closer to 40 years. Modern kids even around 50 are clueless about our cultural history.
So today, nothing that Man has done for at least 15,000 BC, once discovered in a dig in Syria, the Sahara, the Indus Valley of India, or an old graveyard in rural Tennessee, can be reported without at least three separate and competing interpretations, only—and here’s the kicker—the student only receives one of those interpretations—without any mention of the others for contrast, or any training in the use of tools like Logic, Reason, Common Sense (How Things Work, Natural Law), Cause and Effect, by which the student might make a more intelligent estimate of the evidence presented by the perfesser.
And of course, the hook is that grade score, and an “A” meaning a student is grade-A professor material. So it is of great importance to the student wishing to take education to the next level, especially the one who will really never have to work hard for money.
(My final test at university, summer, 1968, was a 600-level Political Science course about Charles Beard’s theory that the purpose of the Constitution was “to redistribute wealth from the poorer segments of society to the upper class, to which the Framers belonged”. Beard, a progressive they were called then, was one of Woodrow Wilson’s favorites. And the prof taught Beard as gospel. Discredited today, Beard’s theory shaped American teaching of history for many years, into the 1980s I’m told. I made a long essay-answer defending the original understanding of the Constitution and got a “B” from the prof plus a note saying my essay was the best, only alas, also wrong (as a way to say, “don’t bother to apply to grad school”, which I wasn’t about to do, anyway.)
That was my first dog-eared page on “How Things Work” in the Academy.
Knowing this you can have a better understanding of the iffy science behind the Science that can pave the way for a 15-year old, beer-swilling pool party-going layabout to go to a very good eastern University (my sister was accepted at UNC in 1960 but it was well beyond my mining-engineer dad’s pocketbook to send her), then onto California for a Masters in Psychology, then a PhD in Psychology and finally another Masters in Science, where she now teaches, at Stanford, believe it (or not), designing “statistical models for research projects in order to make sure they come to accurate conclusions” in Biostatistics. If you didn’t know, statistics is probably the most prostitutable area found in Science.