Saturday, July 10, 2010

the ph.d.

Having been rejected from all sorts of Ph.D. programs, I am more than adequately qualified to instruct you in the finer points of Ph.D.s.

As a nerd approaches the end of his or her days of college, a looming tyrannical monster lies in wait at the end of the tunnel: the real world. As most nerds consider the real world to be just a slight variation of getting lockered in middle school,1 entering the real world produces no small amount of anxiety.

Have no fear, nerds! There is one grand and glorious crusade upon which you can embark that will guarantee eternal youth:2 the Ph.D.

The concept of the Ph.D. is simple: university professors around the world have to deal with college students on a day-to-day basis, which is unfortunate and undesired. To release their pent-up anger and frustration, they need lackeys to whip.

Enter the Ph.D. candidate.

For the fair wage of six peanuts a year, the brightest individuals in the world can be gathered and fed to angry professors like Brutus and Cassius to the great Satan in Dante's Inferno. In return, the students are given the chance to sell themselves to various professors/industries/funding bodies in order to survive and attempt to create "research" ex nihilo.

If they are successful, the students get three letters at the end of their name, and the chance to spend the rest of their lives at dinner parties telling people that no, they are not that kind of doctor.

If they fail, they're "washed out" by given the degree I killed myself to get: the Master's, which is latin for "possibly has the mental capacity to outsmart a fly on a good day".

If they manage to escape the maelstrom of the munching professors, the Ph.D. candidates are given a series of exams called quals, which is latin for "being waterboarded while strapped to the rack". In at least one segment of these exams, the Ph.D. candidate is brought before a group of professors, buried in an anthill, and required to write the kinematics on the blackboard by holding the chalk in their teeth.

Once recovered from this experience, the Ph.D. candidate spends approximately sixteen (16) years trying to find something that has not been researched before. At this point, most Ph.D. candidates either quit or take up some form of LSD, mainly to dull the pain and monotony the perpetual "when are you going to graduate and get a real job you bum" question.

The lucky Ph.D. candidates are those in the field of Economics. They typically soar through this period with flying colors, as there is one research project, equation, and graph in the whole of Economics, which is redone for every Ph.D. If the answer is the same, the result is named after the Ph.D. candidate (it's best if your name is Ito or Fisher or Scholes). If the answer is different, it's explained away by "stickiness", or "irrationality", or "you're a dirty socialist, just give me my degree already and let me make my bazillions".

Upon graduation, the Ph.D. candidate basks in the warmth of knowing she or he has accomplished something difficult, and then, failing to find a job in academia due to budget cuts, takes a job working for a college dropout.

Ph.D.s are wonderful shells of wonderful people. Treat them with respect and honor, and ignore the occasional quiet sobbing.3

1. For my friends unfamiliar with this phrase, please imagine a locker designed by bullies around the world to be exactly the height of a middle school boy. Then place a lock on said locker. Stuff a nerdy boy into said locker, close said door, and laugh your way down said hallway. We shall not be discussing the subject further.
2. And by eternal youth, I mean perpetual schooling and lackeyhood.
3. If it's not already apparent, I'm deeply jealous of Ph.D.s. I wish I could force people to call me doctor.


Martin Filson said...

One good thing about being a doctor is that no one needs to know your first name. No one calls a dude with a master's degree, "Master". Too bad. PhDs, in general, undergo a painful extraction of their sense of humor whereas MD's are completely desensitized to any sense of propriety. They can talk about the most personal or disgusting things and feel nothing. Some doctors make a ton of money that their spouse either spends or recoups in alimony. Then spends it. So, be grateful you do not have the academic "stuff" Piled higher and Deeper.

Jerkolas said...

Don't make fun of grad students. They've just made a terrible life choice.

I am almost one of those fake doctors. Unfortunately there is no youth-perpetuation path following the PhD. Stupid real world.