Pick your field carefully. Do not go into mathematics.
Do not choose a science, such as physics. These fields have objective standards by which your lack of contribution can be measured.
Do not choose a liberal art, such as literary criticism. Here the standards are wholly and unashamedly subjective, which means that you will have to read a lot in order to find out what other people think, and then write a lot to show that what you think is exactly like what they think, only different. In the absence of objectivity, all that really matters is what your advisor thinks; so why bother with all the reading and writing?
Avoid arithmetic, too, while you’re at it. It’s boring to count stuff, let alone do statistics on it afterward. Eschew psychology.
Instead, pick a field with “physics envy”. (This phrase is
often bandied about to demonstrate sophisticated
Even in physics-
On the other hand, sociolinguistics and discourse
pragmatics occupy the ivory sewer. These disciplines (to
use the word as loosely as they use all terminology)
constitute what has been called “the soft underbelly of
You will by now be wearying of the effort required to read
this, and wondering when it gets to the part about getting a
date. Let us stipulate, therefore, that
Choose an ambitious topic. The key here is that academics
in the humanities are drawn to what they will never
understand: literary critics don’t understand how writers
write, psychologists don’t understand how people think, and
philosophers don’t understand anything at all. By the same
token, your committee members will be irresistibly baffled
by human interactions. Tell them you’re going to study how
the telemarketer last night convinced your advisor to switch
Spend the next decade or so attending the occasional
Do not rush this phase. Savor the freedom from
responsibility, the freedom from effort, the freedom from
annoyances of any kind. You have nothing to lose but your
hair. When nubile first-
You are ready to be decanted when the dean’s office starts expressing official concerns about your department’s graduation rates, and when the formidably intelligent member of your thesis committee has gotten tenure at a more prestigious university and been replaced by someone younger than yourself. Your advisor, meanwhile, would really like to switch back to Sprint, but doesn’t know quite how to bring the subject up.
After making a few phone calls and surfing the net for an hour or so, announce promptly at the beginning of the next semester that telemarketing conversations are kept confidential in order to protect the gullible. Your advisor will be secretly relieved.
Since you have done everything you reasonably could to collect real data, with only three months to go before the dean’s official deadline and department credibility hanging in the balance, your committee will now be glad to let you generate your own data.
Recruit eight or ten nubile first-
After your subjects have participated in the experiment, conduct exit interviews in which you ask them to complete questionnaires on the effectiveness of various pickup lines. Sample questions (some of which will necessarily vary with the gender of your subjects):
Which of the following lines would be most likely to convince you to go out with me this Friday night?
Hi! I’m a cunning linguist. Get it?
What’s a nice interlocutor like you doing in a speech community like this?
Is that a maximal projection or are you just happy to see me?
If you were a verb, and I were a noun, would you incorporate me?
Are you into Government and Binding? Your c-
wish is my c- command.
If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?
Be sure to keep the use-
Pull a few all-