A trope like this oft comes up in movies, usually horror/suspense films. A person finds their self needing an answer to a question, but it is arcane and requires a specialist. They wind up Skyping with the local professor and, problem solved (or usually it isn’t).
However, the one time I had such a question*, I emailed probably 50 professors whose websites led me to believe they’d be knowledgeable about the topic I was interested in. Exactly one responded, and his answer, FWIW, was basically “fuck if I know.”
So has this ever been a thing? Would Dr. Important Professor really speak to Random Joe Blow, assuming she had the time?
*I’d decided to research an article about arranged (not forced - there’s a difference) marriage among Christians in the United States, and was curious what, if any, Christian groups practiced this. I’d asked specifically about itinerant traveling groups who practice Christianity, like the Pavee, and if it went on in LDS communities (among adults and more or less consensually). He admitted ignorance on the Pavee and accused me of being a bigot for asking about the LDS, and reminded me that not all LDS marry off their preteen daughters. I’d neither said nor implied any such thing, but that’s neither here nor there.