A friend of mine recently started doing business with one of the “Top 3 dermatologists in New York City.” There is a select breed of person in this world who loves to assert that their doctor/lawyer/psychologist/tanner/lion tamer is one of the top three in their respective craft in their respective city.
I hear this expression all of the time.
“You must call this dermatologist. She’s one of the top three in her field.”
“He’s the top plastic surgeon in the state.”
“She’s the number one dental practitioner in the city.”
“He’s the best lion tamer on the North American continent. I promise that the lion won’t eat you.”
But what makes a doctor or a dentist (or a lion tamer) the tops in his or her field?
Most patients? Most profit? Happiest patients? Healthiest patients? Fewest dead patients? Highest rating by Zagat?
It seems that depending on the criteria, there could be a dozen or more “Top 3” professionals in any field in any city.
Furthermore, it seems as if the patients and customers of these Top 3 professionals derive more satisfaction from these arbitrary and impossible-to-prove distinctions than the professionals themselves. It's as if associating oneself with a Top 3 professional means that you are a Top 3 patient, and by mentioning your Top 3 patient status, you become a Top 3 referrer, thus conferring upon yourself some bizarre illusion of status.
It’s a ridiculous, relatively meaningless distinction that should be refuted as such whenever declared.