College is basically a bunch of rooms where you sit for roughly two
thousand hours and try to memorize things. The two thousand hours are
spread out over four years; you spend the rest of the time sleeping and
trying to get dates.
Basically, you learn two kinds of things in college:
- Things you will need to know in later life (two hours).
- Things you will not need to know in later life (1,998 hours). These
are the things you learn in classes whose names end in -ology, -osophy,
-istry, -ics, and so on. The idea is, you memorize these things, then
write them down in little exam books, then forget them. If you fail to
forget them, you become a professor and have to stay in college for the
rest of your life.
It's very difficult to forget everything. For example, when I was in
college, I had to memorize -- don't ask me why -- the names of three
metaphysical poets other than John Donne. I have managed to forget one
of them, but I still remember that the other two were named Vaughan and
Crashaw. Sometimes, when I'm trying to remember something important
like whether my wife told me to get tuna packed in oil or tuna packed in
water, Vaughan and Crashaw just pop up in my mind, right there in the
supermarket. It's a terrible waste of brain cells.
After you've been in college for a year or so, you're supposed to
choose a major, which is the subject you intend to memorize and forget
things about. Here is a very important piece of advice: be sure to
a major that does not involve Known Facts and Right Answers. This
you must not major in mathematics, physics, biology, or chemistry,
these subjects involve actual facts. If, for example, you major in
mathematics, you're going to wander into class one day and the professor
will say: "Define the cosine integer of the quadrant of a rhomboid
axis, and extrapolate your result to five significant vertices." If you
don't come up with exactly the answer the professor has in mind, you
fail. The same is true of chemistry: if you write in your exam book that
carbon and hydrogen combine to form oak, your professor will flunk you.
wants you to come up with the same answer he and all the other chemists
Scientists are extremely snotty about this.
So you should major in subjects like English, philosophy, psychology,
sociology -- subjects in which nobody really understands what anybody
is talking about, and which involve virtually no actual facts. I
attended classes in all these subjects, so I'll give you a quick
- This involves writing papers about long books you have read
little snippets of just before class. Here is a tip on how to get good
grades on your English papers: Never say anything about a book that
anybody with any common sense would say. For example, suppose you are
studying Moby-Dick. Anybody with any common sense would say that
Moby-Dick is a big white whale, since the characters in the book refer
to it as a big white whale roughly eleven thousand times. So in your
paper, you say Moby-Dick is actually the Republic of Ireland.
Your professor, who is sick to death of reading papers and never liked
Moby-Dick anyway, will think you are enormously creative. If you can
regularly come up with lunatic interpretations of simple stories, you
should major in English.
- Basically, this involves sitting in a room and deciding
is no such thing as reality and then going to lunch. You should major
philosophy if you plan to take a lot of drugs.
- This involves talking about rats and dreams. Psychologists
obsessed with rats and dreams. I once spent an entire semester
rat to punch little buttons in a certain sequence, then training my
roommate to do the same thing. The rat learned much faster. My
is now a doctor. If you like rats or dreams, and above all if you dream
about rats, you should major in psychology.
- For sheer lack of intelligibility, sociology is far and away
the number one subject. I sat through hundreds of hours of sociology
courses, and read gobs of sociology writing, and I never once heard or
read a coherent statement. This is because sociologists want to be
considered scientists, so they spend most of their time translating
simple, obvious observations into scientific-sounding code. If you plan
to major in sociology, you'll have to learn to do the same thing. For
example, suppose you have observed that children cry when they fall
You should write: "Methodological observation of the sociometrical
behavior tendencies of prematurated isolates indicates that a casual
relationship exists between groundward tropism and lachrimatory, or
'crying,' behavior forms." If you can keep this up for fifty or sixty
pages, you will get a large government grant.