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Devil’s Academy

Robert Singer | Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Maybe you’re tempted to seek academic counseling at the Dean’s Office. Or, considering the magnitude of the decision, maybe you do so at the Grotto. But reconsider: As the economy tumbles and the planet warms, perhaps it’s time to ask the wicked one who’s steering the wheel toward our doom. No, not Charlie – Lucifer.

Psychology: The pointless acquisition of vocabulary to describe your prior knowledge of the workings of the human mind and its development. In short, this discipline dresses up your intuition in intellectual jargon. After flawlessly shot-gunning a Keystone, you will learn that the feeling of pride as you high-five your friends is a “conditional emotional response” and not “chillness.”

Business: Upper-level home economics. Instead of being subjected to the humdrums of dinner table etiquette, you will learn the boardroom customs of looking good in a suit while making PowerPoint presentations on mundane topics. Instead of following unimaginative recipes to bake pies, you will master the artlessness of plugging data into formulas and pie charts.

Economics: A religion espousing the mathematical laws of an imaginary world in order to gain the esteem of those who are gullible enough to believe those laws apply in our world. Like Aztec priests and American creationists, your models will rarely come close to predicting the outcomes of real human society, yet you will be a respected purveyor of the spirits guiding “the economy.” As a result, your job prospects will be improved, as you will be elevated in the eyes of business firms and political think tanks alike.

Program of Liberal Studies (PLS): To study obsolete methods like Euclidean geometry and Aristotelian philosophy in addition to ancient narratives containing human experiences that cannot be related to affluent white suburbanites. In essence, you will study form, not content, in the vain hope of acquiring the intellectual graces of Galileo and enlarging your “Grey’s Anatomy” -saturated mind to the same dimensions as the other great thinkers studied in the PLS curriculum.

Peace Studies: A remedial education program for affluent white suburbanites who lack a basic understanding of qualitative ideas such as “human suffering” and more specifically, “genocide” and “famine,” as well as knowledge of their historical corollaries. After mastering these rudimentary notions, the focus shifts to a group therapy session in which participants are assured that they bear no responsibility for the realities they have just discovered, that the best way to end war in the Middle East is by continuing a suburban lifestyle heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

Academic: Like opera singers who spend all of their lives refining their voices but never have the opportunity to perform in front of an audience, someone who devotes his or her life to acquiring knowledge and understanding, but who nonetheless has little chance of expressing an original or interesting idea.