Why do we care what they think?
Opinions resemble armpits; everyone's got a couple and they usually stink. The stinkiest examples have as much right to be heard as the deepest thinkers in our society, but the manner by which we choose our spokespeople befuddles. We propose that public spokespeople should demonstrate some level of academic achievement and/or research credentials.
Formal research is performed through a wide variety of organizations; unless an individual chooses to make public their achievements, we cannot with all certainty assume that they have not met our criterion. In other words, we can't prove a negative. However, we can make a few assumptions in our search to locate academic or research achievement by specific individuals. Our research methodology follows these guidelines:
- Attempt to locate the personal web site for the individual and search for a CV or resume that details publications or research projects.
- Search the Internet for instances of the individual's name appearing in "pdf" formatted files. This format is the common denominator for the vast majority of academic research publications.
- Search the internet for instances of the individual's name appearing on an education-oriented web site; a domain with the ".edu" suffix. Hopefully this search will provide a glimpse into any courses taught or research performed in conjunction with an academic institution.
Note that this research is not fool-proof. We welcome contributions from the public at large to improve our fact-finding efforts.
Completely Arbitrary Test Case
Consider that bastion of free speech, The View. For over 10 years this syndicated show has featured a decidedly sexist cast of social commentators who somehow manage to garner an audience despite (we assert) a glaring lack of credentials.
Ms. O'Donnell boasts a high school education and brief stints in two colleges. She achieved fame and fortune through stand-up comedy, movie acting, and daytime talk show hosting. She has no letters behind her name, although she is a published author. She has given us such titles as Rosie O'Donnell's Crafty U: 100 Easy Projects the Whole Family Can Enjoy All Year Long, and her memoir/detective story titled Find Me. Her pet projects include children's charities such as her Rosie's For All Kids Foundation. Without question, Rosie has leveraged her fame and her lifestyle to raise millions of dollars for non-profit organizations.
We visited Ms. O'Donnell's web site, http://www.rosie.com/, to investigate her credentials. The site is a strong advocate for social causes such as children's rights. Nowhere on the site did we find any indication of published research or scholarship in the formal sense. We also searched the research database at The National Center for Children in Poverty; no publications referenced Ms. O'Donnell nor was she credited as an author.
We performed this Google Search: Rosie O'Donnell filetype:pdf.
The results were overwhelming. We observed that 13,500 results were
returned. Google only reveals the first 1000 results. In that sample
set we found no evidence of research or demonstration of scholarship on
the part of Ms. O'Donnell. The documents we reviewed consisted primarily
of press releases, student reports, and commercial publications. To Ms. O'Donnell's benefit, we located a reading list published by the NYU Cancer Institute endorsing her book Bosom Buddies. Ms. O'Donnell is listed as a co-author with Deborah Axelrod, M.D., F.A.C.S. Many other documents chronicled Ms. O'Donnell's activities in the civil rights community, which is certainly to her credit but still no evidence of scholarship or research on her part .
We also performed this Google Search: Rosie O'Donnell site:.edu filetype:pdf. Google returned 1980 results. Google only reveals the first 1000 results. In that sample set we found no evidence of research or demonstration of scholarship on the part of Ms. O'Donnell . The documents we reviewed consisted primarily of reports and other publications that referenced Ms. O'Donnell.
Ms. Goldberg did not attend college. She did deliver the 2002 commencement address 2002 at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Her writing credits include the Sugar Plum Ballerinas series on which she is listed as a co-author with Deborah Underwood and Maryn Roos. She also collaborated with illustrator 'Olo' to create Whoopi's Big Book of Manners.
Ms. Goldberg boasts an extensive list of credits for acting in numerous movies and television shows. She has undoubtedly become an icon of popular entertainment. She moves easily between stand-up comedy, major motion pictures, and the small screen. She is one of only a handful of people to win a Grammy, a Tony, an Oscar, and an Emmy.
Ms. Goldberg takes an active role in civil rights issues. She performs at fundraisers and effectively uses her high visibility to raise money for social causes.
We were unable to find a personal web site for Ms. Goldberg. The obvious choice, http://whoopigoldberg.com/, appears to be occupied by Internet squatters. http://whoopigoldberg.net is a 'fan site' that has yet to be developed.
We performed this Google Search: whoopi goldberg filetype:pdf. The results were overwhelming. We observed that 13,500 results were returned. Google only reveals the first 1000 results. In that sample set we found no evidence of research or demonstration of scholarship on the part of Ms. Goldberg. The documents we reviewed consisted primarily of press releases, student reports, and commercial publications.
We also performed this Google Search: whoopi goldberg site:.edu filetype:pdf.Google returned 1130 results. Google only reveals the first 1000 results. In that sample set we found
no evidence of research or demonstration of scholarship on the part of
Ms. Goldberg. The documents we reviewed consisted primarily of reports and other publications that referenced Ms. Goldberg.
Conclusion and Future Work
While our subjects have achieved undeniable popular fame, they have demonstrated no formal academic achievement nor have they produced any original research that can be located through basic Internet searches. The subjects manage to build and maintain large audiences of viewers who evidently have some level of interest in their opinions on a wide variety of subjects.
Future work might include expanded research on the academic and research achievements of our subjects. Additional subjects could also be considered and possible qualified (according to our framework) candidates to replace them might be suggested.