X-Message-Number: 15763
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001 02:36:06 -0500
From: <>
Subject: academic rank of professor is not necessary to be professor

I'm trying not to be picky here, but as the subject has been
brought up 3 times recently that i know of (twice here on
cryonet, and once by e-mail), i beg everybody's indulgence
for me to explain why i use `Professor Ettinger' to refer to
our friend.

According to my dictionary (Digital Webster), definition 2b, a
professor is `a teacher at a university, college, or sometimes
secondary school'.  Definition 2a is `a faculty member
of the highest academic rank at an institution of higher education'.

So in the sense of definition 2b, i can properly refer to
Ettinger as professor---after all, i believe he taught at Highland
Park College for a few decades, and then retired.

I believe i can also refer to him as professor in the sense of 2a,
although not perhaps as the author of the definition intended.  I
believe from what Paul W posted earlier (Message 15674), that, in
fact, the highest rank at Ettinger's school was not `professor', but
that nevertheless Ettinger attained that highest rank, whatever it
was.  That would seem to make him a `2a' professor anyway (i.e., he had
attained the `highest rank' at his institution).  I'm also sure that
if his school were here in California, they would call some of their
faculty professor, and he'd be one of them.

I'd like to pay him a little respect, and luckily my dictionary will
allow it.

[And this of course is all based on American usage.  As i understand
it, the British system, at least in the old days, had only one
professor per department---someone with the rank of lecturer at a
British school might be equivalent to a professor at an American

Now, a more substantive point, despite my respect for Ettinger, i
agree (with Ettinger, Jeff G, and probably everybody else here): we
don't want to argue from authority; we want to evaluate important
arguments based on their contents.  As Ettinger is fond of saying, the
experts will vote you into the grave.

One other point: like everybody else here, i also have respect for
our other leaders and exemplary figures such as Paul W (for his
work trying to get Prometheus going, and INC) and Saul Kent, and
lots of others.  I think Saul in particular was very wise in saying
that if no organization or research outfit is good enough, then
go out and start your own.  And he followed his own advice by funding

There are lots of good examples for us to follow or help out.


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