May 04, 2006

The Bunk Files, Entry #3: The Social Sciences


Dramatis Personae

Noesus - A Social Sciences Professor
Publius - A wealthy lobbyist-turned-politician.


Noesus: The income gap in this country has risen by 17% in the past thirty years! Youth literacy is in steady decline! The incidence of violent crime in cities whose names begin with the letter "R" has quadrupled since the last outbreak of Avian Flu! Crack-smoking is on the rise amongst single Asian mothers of triplets! Dental hygiene is deteriorating amongst two thirds of Americans who can no longer afford to buy penicillin for their children!

Clearly, there is only one way out of the crisis: we must put the wealth of this great nation to work! We must reform our system of taxation in such a way as to redistribute essential goods and services so that they benefit the least advantaged!

Publius: Fuck off.

Noesus: Sorry! So very sorry...

The Bunk Files, Entry #2: Theoretical Physics

(sound of phone ringing)

A: Hello. May I speak to Professor Aloysius Sparkplume, of the Physics department?

B: This is he.

A: Professor Sparkplume! I.M. Butcher here, of BOOM! Corporation. I wonder if I might have a moment of your time.

B: Well, Mr. Butcher, I was actually right in the middle of an experiment. If you'd just...

A: This will only take a moment. We're very impressed by your work here at BOOM!, Dr. Sparkplume.

B: I...Well, why thank you.

A: In fact, I'm personally curious about the current direction of your researches.

B: It's very interesting - I'm presently exploring the behavior of a hitherto unnoticed subatomic particle, the Smoove Boson. It's emitted during reactions that take place...

A: I see. Fascinating. So tell me - does this particle of which you speak ever go BOOM?

B: Uh..."boom?"

A: You heard correctly. BOOM!

B: You mean, like a bomb?

A: We at BOOM! prefer not to use that word, Professor. We call them "matter-dispersing incendiaries." But you have correctly surmised the purport of my question.

B: You want to know if my research will help you blow things up?

A: You are a physicist, no? We at BOOM! want to place ourselves at the cutting edge - the exploding edge, if you will, heh heh - of your discipline. Our aim is to hire the brightest minds in contemporary theoretical physics to forge a spectacular bridge to tomorrow.

B: By...making things explode?

A: Well, Professor, as I'm sure you recognize, if you want to make an omelet...

B: I'm not interested in making omelets! I'm interested in uncovering the most deeply concealed secrets of the natural world! I want to seek out hidden truths! To discern the fine structure underlying all that we know! How dare you suggest that I abandon the quest for ineffable knowledge in order to help you spread rubble across the bosom of the earth!

A: We'll pay you $400,000 a year.

B: Sold.

The Bunk Files, Entry #1: History

Q: What happened?
A: Well, first of all, A. Then, B.

Q: Did A cause B?
A: Sorta depends on how you look at it.

Q: Why did A cause B?
A: Because people suck.


Memorize these three Q/A templates and you'll have mastered all of the intellectual skills necessary for a dazzling career in historical scholarship. Everything else is just a matter of sifting through people's dumpsters, underwear drawers, semi-literate newspapers and private correspondence, looking for factoids that were too unspeakably dull or terrifying for anyone to take any notice of during the times at which the relevant events were actually taking place. Or, alternatively, reading books written by other people who've done this dreary legwork for you, and mastering the art of trivial paraphrase.