My Ph.D.

March 22, 2017

How I Obtained It

Revised 3 July 2017

Thanks to my habit of perpetual self-examination, surveys and quizzes can attract me when they might show something about me that I did not recognize or have doubted in the past. Some of these curiosity provokers have come on Facebook. Although my current time on Fb is now infrequent and irregular, I recently went back to it to post an experience stumbled on from Bing listings.

“Can we guess your highest education level” it begged, “in 10 questions?” Well 10 turned into something in the high seventies. My first try wound up aborted after a slow connection with my responses whether correct or incorrect and a subsequent explanation why. But the invitation showed up again on 9 March 2017, that morning. This time we managed to reach all the way through. I had failed on one question, which I do not remember, and with a score of 98% equivalent to a Ph.D.

Thanks a lot: you have boosted my ego. However, I do not really have that degree. Consequently, I went to explain on Facebook.

No, I do not have a Ph.D., but an M.A. in Library Science and some further graduate courses in history, humanities, and library services. Instead, I have read continuously since third grade and pursued several research projects while attempting to keep up to date with matters that are not trivial. I am a member of the Minnesota Independent Scholars Forum. Two questions were not precisely correct, but I chose the closest acceptable answer.

Though some questions may have been tricky, very few of them took a lot of thought or levels of expertise beyond general knowledge. Questions came mostly from the fields of culture, history, literature, or science. Probably, I could have answered a majority when in high school or at least prior to graduate school.

Here are the first ten questions and why I got them right. An x marks the correct answer.

  1. In what Shakespeare tragedy does Ophelia appear? Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, xHamlet. I did not read Hamlet or see a stage performance of it until into my sixties, but did see the film (1996). When I read and saw Hamlet, I was surprised how familiar the play became. I had read a Classic Comic Book of it in my early teens, but the rest came from many past years of dialogue and character reiterations.
  2. The first World War ended in … x1918, 1945, 1944, 1888 I fell in love with history at 15, subsequent to enjoying historical novels. In college, I majored in history. Dates to me are rudimentary markers – 4 B.C.E., 476, 800, 1066, 1453, 1485, 1492, 1603, 1620, 1776, etc.
  3. What does H stand for in H2O? Helium, Hydration, Halogen, xHydrogen. People frequently use H20 as a synonym for water. How much more basic can you get than that?
  4. What is the capitol of Kenya? Accra, Addis Ababa. Lagos, xNairobi. In college, my cluster of friends played a lot of general knowledge games, one of which asked for the capitals of foreign countries. Besides that, almost every movie that features Kenya in some respect relates to Nairobi.
  5. Frogs belong to which of these animal groups? xAmphibians, Reptiles, Invertebrates, Mammals When I was pre-school, we had a small swamp at the back of a neighboring lot, full of tadpoles that became frogs. I think I knew what an amphibian was since then, thanks to my Dad who seemed to know everything. Of course, I also had 10th grade biology, where Mr. Espeland had us memorize each phylum in its sequence so we could recite them.
  6. True or false: the Soviet Union was a U.S. enemy in WWII? xFalse. Born in 1940, I had four uncles in the war and we had Life magazine at our house. I remember the pictures of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin sitting down together at Yalta.
  7. What language has the most native speakers? Hindi, English, xMandarin Chinese, Spanish. While English may be the most widely spoken, not all are native speakers, and Hindi is only one of hundreds of languages in India; it’s China that has the largest population.
  8. How many chambers are there in the human heart? Three, xFour, Two, One 10th grade biology once more to the rescue. Besides, I have minor reverse blood flow into the left ventricle from the vascular system.
  9. “Call Me Ishmael” is the opening line of which American novel? xMoby Dick, by Herman Melville; Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck; Catch-22, by Joseph Heller; Beloved, by Toni Morrison. Though I’ve owned a copy of Moby Dick since Junior High, I have yet to read all the chapters, but I have read the beginning, seen the film (1956), and know the symbolic meaning of Ishmael.
  10. How many events are there in a decathlon? 12, 6, 3, x10. While I know next to nothing about sports, I had two years of Latin in high school and a semester of Cicero in college. Ten is English for deca in Latin taken from deka in Greek (transliterated), which appears in decade, Decalogue, decahedron, decapod, etc.

Besides seeming easy to anyone who is paying attention, multiple choice questions aid answering correctly when one knows when the wrong choices do not fit the question asked but are true for something else. Perhaps the trickiest question was asking which element is most plentiful in the atmosphere. The proclivity may to answer oxygen which we need but it’s nitrogen. Too much oxygen would burn us up.

Also, it helps to be older with more opportunity for the accumulation and refreshing of knowledge.

The online company that forwards these “fun” questionnaires is Topix, founded in 2002, which at the start aggregated news into various categories or topics. They subsequently created content and other amusements. Offbeat is the subsidiary for this particular quiz and others. See also A general article appears on Wikipedia as Topix (website).

A Classification

April 10, 2014

Generalities that Cross Subject Specialties:

Updated 4 October 2019.  33 volumes

The A classification contains the follow subsets:

AC     General Collections            AE     Encyclopedias   AG     Miscellanies         AP    Periodicals of Various Content AY     Yearbooks and Almanacs AZ     Knowledge and Information in General.  

AC1.G72 v.1 1988   Great books of the Western World. Robert Maynard Hutchins, Editor in Chief. Mortimer Adler, Associate Editor. Encyclopadia Britannica, Inc., 1988 c1952. v.1, The great conversation: the substance of a liberal education. xxx [xxxvi], 131p. #16190 1.00

AC5.A56 1960   The American Scholar reader.  Edited by Hiram Haydn and Betsey Saunders.  Atheneum Publishers, c1960; articles first published c1933-1960.  xx, 522p.   #13351 8.55

AC5.A74 1977   Atlantic (Periodical).  Highlights from 125 years of the Atlantic.  Edited by Louise Desaulniers.  Atlantic Subscriber Edition, 1977.  xii, 1982.  #9221  .50

AC5.C3 1970   Cambridge Review (Periodical).  Cambridge minde: ninety years of the Cambridge Review, 1879-1969.  Edited by Eric Hombeerger et. al. with illustrations.  Little, Brown, 1970.  315p., photos.  #5225  .55

AC5.S3   The Saturday book.  v.1-   1941-       Anchor Press, Ltd. and Little, Brown and Company.   v., illus. (part color).  Editors, 1941-1951, Leonard Russell.  1952-             John Hadfield.  have: v.25, 1965   #13116  .30

AC5.S67 1990   Speculations (Periodical).  The Reality Club.  John Brockman, Editor.  Prentice-Hall, 1990.  268p.  Contributors p.267-268.  #466  11.49 AC5.T74 1992   Treasury of the Encyclopaedia BritannicaMore than two centuries of facts, curiosities, and discoveries…  General Editor, Clifton Fadiman. Viking, 1992.  704p., index.  #1626  8.01

AC8.G762  Goodman, Ellen.  Close to home.  Fawcett Crest, 1980 c1979.  253p.  #1048  .16

AC8.G7623 1990   Goodman, Ellen.  Making sense.  Penguin Books, 1990 c1989.  396p.  #7306  .50

AC35.E526 1982   Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955.  Ideas and opinions.  Based on Mein Weltbild; edited by Carl Seeling.  New translation & rev. by Sonja Bargman.  Crown Trade Paperback, 1982.  377p.  #1474  9.68

AE5.E53 1974   Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonnédes sciences, des arts et des metiers.  Encyclopédie extraits avec une notice biographique, une notice historique et ltteraire.  Ed. remise à jour.  Librarie Larousse, 1974.  109p.  #1036  2.69

AE5.E53 1985   Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnarie raisonne des science, des arts et des metiers.  Extraits avec une chronologie de l’Encyclopédie, une étude générale de l’oeuvre, une analyse méthodique des articles choisis, des notes, des questions, des thèmes de réflexion et un index général, par J. & M. Chapertier.  Berdos, 1985.  191p.  Bibliographical Notes.  Index.  #5191  2.10

AE25.E524 1967   Denis Diderot’s The encyclopedia: selections.  Edited and translated by Stephen J. Gendzier.  Harper & Row/Harper Torchbooks: The Academy Library, c1967.  xxxv, 246p., engravings.  Brief Chronology of the Encyclopedic Movement p.xxiii-xxvii.  Principal Collaborators on the Encyclopedia p.xxviii-xxix.  Friends Often Considered to be Encyclopedists  Selected Bibliography p.xxxi-xxxv.  #9675  2.65

AE25.E538 1983 Alembert, Jean le Rond d’, 1717-1783.  Preliminary discourse to the Encyclopédie of Diderot.  Translated by R. N. Schwab with W. E. Rex.  With introduction & notes.  Bobbs-Merrill: Library of Liberal Arts, 1983 c1963; 1st published 1751.  170p.  Selected Bibliography.  #1280  3.18

AG5.B6 1993   Bothamley, Jennifer.  Dictionary of theories.  Gale Research, 1993.  637p.  Bibliography p.565-571.  Index.  #5192  3.70

AG5.C737 1994   The concise Columbia encyclopedia.  3d ed.  Columbia University press; distributed by Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994; 1st published 1983.  xiv, 973p., black & white photos, drawings, diagrams, maps, tables.  #10614  3.20

AG5.N76 1999   The Norton dictionary of modern thought.  2nd rev. ed.  Edited by Alan Bullock and Stephen Trombley.  Assistant Editor: Alf Lowrie.  W.W. Norton & Co., c1999; rev. ed. of The new Fontana dictionary of modern thought, c1998.  xxiv, 933p.  Includes Bibliographical Citations.  #9448  32.50

AG6.P37 1987   Panati, Charles, 1943-               Extraordinary origins of everyday things.  Harper & Row: Perennial Library, c1987.  xi, 463p., black & white drawings.  References p.422-442.  Index.  #11942  1.10

AG105.B82 1960   Bryson, Lynn, ed.  An outline of man’s knowledge of the modern world.  With an introduction and notes.  McGraw-Hill, 1960.  692p.  Author’s Suggestions for Further Reading, p.686-692.  #5177  .20

AG106.P45 1975   People’s almanac.  By David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace.  Doubleday, 1975.  1478p.  #451  7.95

AG195.S87 1985   Suttin, Caroline.  How did they do it?  Wonders of the far and recent past explained.  Quill: A Hilltown Book, 1985 c1984.  332p., photos, drawings.  Bibliography p.301-323.  Index.  #12756  .15

AG243.F3 1988   Facts and Falicies.  Edited and designed by Dorling Kindersley Ltd.  The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., c1988.  448p., illus (part color): photos, engravings, drawings, facsimilis.  Picture Credits and Acknowledgements p.448.  Index.  At head of title: Reader’s Digest.  #13335  .55

AG250.C63 1986   Corbeil, Jean-Claude, 1932-                 The Facts on File visual dictionary.  Facts on File Press, c1986.  797p., drawings, diagrams.  General Index p.711-743.  Thematic Indexes p.745-780.  Specialized Indexes p.781-794.  Selective Bibliography p.795.  Contents p.797.   #13241  .25

AP2.R3   Rag mag. v.2 no2-          Fall 1983        Continues Underground rag mag.   v., photos, cartoons.  have: v.13 no. 1, 2 (Winter/Spring 1996); v.14 n.1 (Fall 1996); v.15 no.1 (Winter 1998); v.16 n.1 (Summer 1999) v.17 n.2 (Summer 2001).  #1641, 1642, 12592, 12681, 5058  19.30

AP2.S4   The slate.  v.1 no.1-            have: v.2 no.2 (Fall 1996).  #5092  Review

AY59.G7   The great ideas today.  1961-          Edited by Robert M. Hutchins & Mortimer J. Adler.  William Benton Publisher: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1961-         Index, 1961-70 in 1970.

1964: I. The New Europe.  II. The Year’s Developments in the Arts and Sciences.  III. H. James, Daisy Miller; Tocqueville, Democracy in America [selections]; J.S. Mill, “A Review of Tocqueville” [excerpt]; W. James, Pragmatism.  #11287 1.40

1991: I. Current Developments in the Arts and Sciences.  II. Reconsiderations of Great Books and Ideas.  III. Special Features.  IV. Additions to the Great Books Library—The Making of the Bill of Rights, 1791 (Anastaplo); W. Whitewell, Concerning Liberal Education; A. Chekhov, Ward Number Six.   #12473  1.10

AY64.I55   Information please almanac, atlas and yearbook.  Planned and supervised by Dan Golenpaul Associates.  1st-      ed.; 1947-        v.  have: 1967, 1972, 1990, 1992, 1996, 1997.  #1314, 1034, 1178, 1247, 5473, 9308.  17.95

AY64.W27 1999   Wallechinsky, David.  The people’s almanac presents the twentieth century: history with the boring parts left out.  Rev. & upd.  xxi, 921p., black & white photos, drawings, tables.  Perpetual Calendar p.918-921.  The Overlook Press, 1999.  #10233  12.65

AY67.N5N49   The New York Times almanac.  1st–         ed.; Penguin Reference.  have 1999 #9314  1.00

AZ101.F68 1972   Foucault, Michel, 1926-1984.  Archaeology of knowledge and the discourse on language.  Translated from the French by A. M. Sheridan Smith.  Pantheon Books, 1972.  245p.  #1989  .90

AZ221.B3 1961   Barzun, Jacques, 1907-        .  The house of intellect.  Harper & Row: Harper Tarchbooks/The Academy Library, 1961 c1959.  viii, 274p.  Reference Notes p.271-274.  #7678  2.10

AZ221.V36 1992   Van Doren, Charles.   History of knowledge: past, present, and future.  Ballantine Books, 1992 c1991.  422p., index.  #1023r  11.50

AZ999.E52 1981   Encyclopedia of delusions: a critical scrutiny of current beliefs and conventions.  Compiled by Ronald Duncan and Miranda Weston-Smith.  Simon & Schuster: A Wallaby Book, 1979.  242p., references.  #487  3.69