From PhD doctor to “love doctor”

Earning a PhD gives one the title of “Doctor.” When using this title, one occasionally has to differentiate between academic doctor and medical doctor. But one sociologist is both an academic doctor and a “love doctor”:

Terri Orbuch, a University of Michigan research scientist, studies romance, marriage, divorce and relationship patterns. She gets her “doctor” title because of her sociology Ph.D. and her work at U of M’s Institute for Social Research and Oakland University.

Which title would an academic prefer more: doctor or “love doctor”? It looks like the “love doctor” title doesn’t hurt as Orbuch was quoted in a New York Times story about love a few days before Valentine’s Day.

Digging a little further into this nickname, one can find that Orbuch maintains a blog for Psychology Today. According to the brief profile at the top of the blog, “Dr. Orbuch also is known as “The Love Doctor®” on radio, TV and in magazines/newspapers across the country.” And a profile from her own website says, “One of Michigan’s most trusted relationship experts, Dr. Terri Orbuch has published over 40 articles; been quoted in such national publications as USA Today, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Reader’s Digest; and authored five books.” I would be curious to know how one goes from studying relationships for years to hosting a local show in Detroit and advising people about relationships.

Are there other areas where someone can become a “doctor”? How about those Dr. Pepper commercials where all sorts of celebrities claim to be doctors? I also vaguely remember Frasier Crane claiming to a be a love doctor…

What to do with a sociology PhD: become the father of the hedge fund

A common question arises regarding sociology degrees: what can you do with that? The man behind the hedge fund, Alfred Winslow Jones, held a sociology PhD from Columbia University before going on to becoming a financial writer and inventor:

In fact, by the time the article hit the newsstands, Jones was already well in the process of setting up his own investment firm, A. W. Jones & Co. While reporting on the latest investment strategies, Jones had begun to contemplate a new approach, one that would include selling short some stocks in a portfolio as a way to protect against the market’s uncertainties.

Such a portfolio, Jones would explain to his investors, was a “hedged” fund..

In 1941, Jones received a sociology doctorate from Columbia University. For his research, he interviewed 1,705 residents of Akron, Ohio about their attitudes toward corporations and property. He found that, despite local labor unrest and political tensions, Akron was not divided rigidly along class lines. His dissertation was published as a book titled Life, Liberty, and Property, which became a much-used text in sociology circles…

Landau highlighted Jones as the man who had started this trend, noting however that the sociology Ph.D. “actually seems to be more interested in things other than finance,” including finding self-improvement alternatives to welfare and organizing a Reverse Peace Corps to bring foreigners to work with poor Americans. Jones was quoted complaining that “too many men don’t want to do something after they make money.” Many of Jones’s early investors, Landau wrote, were scholars, social workers and others whom Jones had met over the years and was trying to free from financial concerns.

Sounds like an interesting life. It would be fascinating to hear Jones talk about how his PhD in sociology helped push him toward his financial inventions and actions. Was it something about the way sociology views the world that helped him develop the idea of the “hedged fund”? Perhaps sociology gave him some unique insights into the operation of economic markets. Additionally, it sounds like Jones had some sociological thoughts about what one should do with an accumulated fortune: it should be put toward new social ideas and goals.