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Opinions of Monday, 4 January 2016

Columnist: Appiah, Papa

The Bickering PhD Farts! (Okoampa and Bokor)

I do not care how a man makes an honest living. And when it comes to matters of intellect, I usually tend to stay well clear. I know my humble place in the scheme of things, my brother. But my wife, she is doing a PhD in some aspect of Healthcare. Quite interesting, this PhD stuff.

She spends precious hours scouring the internet, looking for inspiration from previously published work to enable her research and write a 50,000 word essay. Every now and again she goes to see a flatulent professor, a man so obsessed and engrossed in academic work, he does not even notice, or simply does not care, as he persistently drops "atomic bombs" from his backside.

But who am I to complain? My wife seems to think he is the best thing to happen to humanity since sliced bread, flatulence and all. And that worries me a bit, I must say. You see, to me and you, a man who spends the whole day behind a computer and consistently farts, irrespective of who is around, is probably crazy. But academicians adore their mad people, I tell you. There seems to be an unwritten acknowledgement that a man has to be a bit mad to be a true genius, and the more mad they are, the better. They call it eccentricity, just to be nice. But actually, they all know it's madness.

That is why university campuses all around the world; from KNUST in Ghana to Princeton in the USA, are littered with men, who if truth be told, would be better off in asylums. Rules are bent to accommodate them. Myths are created and disseminated about them. And students adore them.

In the KNUST, there was a Professor Allottey, renowned worldwide for the Allotey formalism based on his work on soft X-ray spectroscopy. Our Physics and Mathematics colleagues were just blown off their feet by the mere mention of his name though they would be lucky to see him once in the lecture room during their three year stay in the university. Once during my stint in the university, he gave a public lecture on some aspect of mathematical innovation which we all trooped to, just so we could boast we were there, only to sleep through the most boring of deliveries one could ever have imagined.

And yet the myth persisted. There were students who would swear to seeing the old Prof driving his car hundreds of times round the roundabout next to the Paa Joe stadium, as he probably grappled with some mathematical equation in his mind. We believed all that. People like that were needed on University campuses. They lent a certain gravitas to the environment, if nothing else. But in all fairness, this is a man who has paid his dues to society. He added to civilization, and we are probably justified in pampering him for the rest of his life.

John Nash was the recipient of the prestigious Carnergie scholarship for Mathematics in 1947. He proceeded to Princeton University in the USA where in spite of being plagued by paranoid schizophrenia, was able to disprove an age-old Adam Smith economic theory, which changed economic and financial negotiations for good, and for which he eventually received the Nobel Prize. As he grappled with schizophrenia he was invited back to the staff of Princeton, where he would often engage in unofficial lectures and discussions with students in libraries, dinning rooms and everywhere else. Princeton just needed a guy like that around. But again, he had added to civilization, paid his dues to society, and deserved every bit of the adulation.

But when a man like Okoampa Ahoofe, who, to be honest, I actually admire, and a couple of whose poetry books I own and cherish, tells the world that he has been in the United States of America for thirty years and is so clever he lectures in some Community College and is an honorary member of the African National Congress and that sort of gives him the right to "kick butts" with truthfully, shameful below-the-belt effusions about a colleague, then that really smells like sheer flatulence to me, without the genius.

But who says Mr, sorry, Dr Bokor was not asking for it. I have never finished reading an article by this gentleman. I really don't know what the reason is because, unlike him, I'm no expert in writing styles. But it could be, just a lack of! That's right, lack of energy! (Dr Bokor"s words actually, in describing Okoampa's writing). But then again, I often have to stop reading Okoampa's articles because I develop headaches. So where do I go from here?

As a matter of principle, however, I distrust vehemently, any man who goes to seek information about anybody's ability or inability at the work place, as Dr Bokor did about Okoampa (read Okoampa knocking on my door.... ) and then comes to boast online about having the wherwithall to bring his adversary down. I believe strongly, that people like that deserve the hanging rope.

In the end, I think of the whole concept of PhDs and I feel sorry for my wife. Basically, these are a group of individuals who have spent countless hours, amidst flatulence, writing 50,000 word essays which nobody, apart from their flatulent professors may read and who, somehow, feel empowered to bestow on themselves, a perceived intelligence that places them above their fellow man. Please, add to civilization my brothers, ....and we won't mind your flatulence any longer.

Papa Appiah