Psychology humor

All items are either attributed to their source or not. In the latter case, at least for the long ones, I have traced the source until someone told me, "I don't know where I got it."

This site is a member of the Science Humor Webring, despite the fact that psychology isn't really a science. More information at the bottom of the page.

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Cute things that journal reviewers say
Hidden brain damage scale
The etiology and treatment of childhood
A day in the life of a decision scientist

2:00 P.M. Need to be at Dulles airport by 5:30 for flight to Kansas City (via Chicago) for Judgment and Decision Making (JDM) conference. Need to decide whether to take 3:15 or 3:45 bus to Dulles. Gut says 3:45 since the benefit of an additional half hour at home is greater than the slightly increased risk of a missed flight. Head says it's Friday afternoon, might be big crowds on highway and at airport, better safe than sorry. Decide to take 3:15 shuttle but don't leave house in time. Take the 3:45 instead. Get to Dulles in plenty of time.

4:00 P.M. Get in long line of United Premier members. After 10 minutes, realize there are two lines - human vs. non-human check-in machines. I'm in the twice-as-long human line, even though I have an e-ticket. If I switch now though, I'll be behind people who arrived 10 minutes after me. In order to avoid feeling like a loser, I stay in human line. Check bag (even though this was not my original intention) to justify the extra wait.

6:00 P.M. United terminal in O'Hare airport. Go to Berghoff Café for dinner. Order cheese pizza and small beer. Price of pizza ($3.50) is written on menu. Price of beer is not. Reach cashier and learn that price of beer=price of pizza=ridiculous price for 14 oz. of beer. Feel flash of anger at sleazy marketing ploy. Forgive Berghoff's because pizza is really good.

8:00 P.M. United flight to Kansas City. Wish I had a magazine. Sit down and see Newsweek in seatback. Feel excitement and small surge of irrational pride. Remove magazine. It is Polish Newsweek. Experience disappointment. Feel worse than I did when I first sat down. Derive satisfaction from observing the endowment effect and loss aversion in action. Combine satisfaction with disappointment and arrive at slightly less than neutral.

10:00 P.M. Arrive at Hyatt hotel. Am told the type of room I'd reserved (non-smoking king) was sold out. Do I want a king suite instead? I am tired and experience change aversion. I want the room I reserved. I ask if the suite will cost more. Am told the only difference is that the suite is larger and has a Murphy bed instead of a regular bed. Interrogate desk clerk to determine whether quality of Murphy mattress is greater than or equal to quality of regular mattress. He assures me there is no difference. Get to room, turn on light and inspect bed visually and dorsally. Try to retrieve memories of other hotel beds. Due to recency and frequency, all I can think of is my own bed. Too tired to continue research. Go to sleep.

Deborah Frisch (Penn Ph.D.)

Rap song inspired by "Thinking and deciding"

I woke up and had a revelation
Correlation does not imply causation.
The situation is quite terrible
When you've got a confounding variable.
Another reason to think carefully:
Does B cause A or does A cause B?

Popper said "I wonder why?
Einstein's theory lived but Freud's has died.
It seems to me the difference is
That Einstein's could be falsified."

Suppose one day I say to you,
"Hey listen up: 'If p, then q!'"
And then I tell you: "p is true."
Could you be sure that q's true too?
And what if I'd said: "q is true."
Could you conclude that p's true too?"

[Not you again!]
That's right! It's me!
Is it "not q" if it's "not p?"
[Please go away!]
One more to do!
Is it "not p" if it's "not q?"

Peter Wason is the name
Of a man who liked card games.
But unlike me and unlike you
He played with four, not fifty-two.

Letters on the front
Numbers on the back.
"A" and "B" and "2" and "3"
Are all that you can see.

A rule has been proposed.
You don't know if it's true.
"A card that has a vowel
Has an even number too."

Which cards must you inspect
To verify the rule?
[Why not check them all?]
No, that would not be cool!

You've got to check the A
(Don't bother with the B)
The 2 can't give you trouble
But watch out for the 3!

Doc Wason's back
He's got more tricks
Here's a game
Called 2-4-6.

Your job is to name sets of three
To test different hypotheses.
Well that works too.
[I'm smart as you!]

Way to go, my friend!
No! Please try again.

That's peachy keen!
Oy, how many more?

Yes! We're near the end!
Right! You're doing great!

I'm ready, now. I can guess your rule.
I'm the one that you cannot fool.
The rule you use for sets of three:
Increasing numerosity!

Deborah Frisch (Penn PhD)

In the hospital, where their family member lay gravely ill, the relatives gathered in the waiting room.

Finally, the doctor came in looking tired and somber.

I'm afraid I am the bearer of bad news," he said as he surveyed the worried faces. "The only hope left for your loved one at this time is a brain transplant. It's an experimental procedure, risky, and you will have to pay for the brain yourselves."

The family members sat silent as they absorbed the news.

At length, someone asked, "Well, how much does a brain cost?"

The doctor quickly responded, "$2000 for a female brain, and $5000 for a male brain."

The moment turned awkward. Men in the room tried not to smile, avoiding eye contact with the women, but some actually smirked.

A girl, unable to control her curiosity, blurted out the question everyone wanted to ask, "Why is the male brain so much more?"

The doctor smiled at her childish innocence and then to the entire group said, "It's a standard pricing procedure. We have to mark the female brains down, because they've been used."

(From Sergiu Hart, although he probably got it somwhere else.)

Some kids were in the habit of teasing one of their group by repeatedly offering him a choice between a nickel and a dime. He always chose the nickel, "because it's bigger."

One day, a friend took him aside and asked, "Don't you know that a dime's worth more than a nickel?"

The kid answered, "Yeah, but if I picked the dime they'd stop doing it!"

Contributed by Barry F. Anderson

An old Jew got a parrot from his sons after his wife died, to keep him company. He discovered that the parrot had heard him pray so often, that it had learned to pray. The old man was so thrilled, that he decided to take his parrot to the synagogue on Rosh Ha'shana (the Jewish new year). When he entered with the bird, the rabbi tried to protest, but when he told them the parrot could pray ("daven", in Yiddish), they got interested - though skeptical. People started betting on whether the parrot would pray, and the old man happily took all the bets. The prayer starts -- the bird is silent. The prayer continues - not a word from the bird. The prayer ends, and the old man, crestfallen, pays out the bets. On the way home he asks his parrot: "What did you do to me? I know you can pray, you know you can pray, I bet you can pray - and you let me down!". Says the parrot: "Look ahead, man, can you imagine what the odds will be like on Yom Kippur?".

Contributed by Maya Bar-Hillel

"Sir, What is the secret of your success?"

"Two words"

"And, Sir, what are they?"

"Right decisions."

"And how do you make right decisions?"

"One word."

"And, What is that?"


"And how do you get Experience?"

"Two words"

"And, Sir, what are they?"

"Wrong decisions."

Version due to Jacques Barber

(From Olek's wisdom)

Thinking - The Silent Disease*

It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then -- just to loosen up. Inevitably, though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker. I began to think alone -- "to relax," I told myself -- but I knew it wasn't true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.

That was when things began to sour at home. One evening, I turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother's.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don't mix, but I couldn't help myself.

I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau, Muir, Confucius, and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, "What is it exactly we are doing here?"

One day, the boss called me in. He said, "Listen, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don't stop thinking on the job, you'll have to find another job."

This gave me a lot to think about.

I came home early after my conversation with the boss. "Honey," I confessed, "I've been thinking..."

"I know you've been thinking," she said, "and I want a divorce!"

"But Honey, surely it's not that serious."

"It is serious," she said, lower lip aquiver. "You think as much as a college professor and college professors don't make any money, so if you keep on thinking, we won't have any money!"

"That's a faulty syllogism," I said impatiently.

She exploded in tears of rage and frustration, but I was in no mood to deal with the emotional drama.

"I'm going to the library," I snarled as I stomped out the door. I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche. I roared into the parking lot with a social reportage on the radio and ran up to the big glass doors. They didn't open. The library was closed.

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night. Leaning on the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye: "Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?" it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinkers Anonymous poster. This is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was /Porky's/. Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting.

I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed...easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking. The road to recovery is now nearly complete for me.

Today I took the final step. I joined the Republican Party.

Textbook bloopers (more wanted)

"[Overinclusive thinking] is estimated to occur in 50% of all schizophrenics (Payne & Friedlander 1962). This figure, however, was based on a concept of overinclusion which was wider than the usual one."

J. Cutting, The Psychology of Schizophrenia (1985), p. 331. (Submitted by Michael A. Covington.)

"Varey and Kahneman (1992) told subjects that A must carry a 30-pound suitcase for 200 years, B must carry it for 550 years, and C must carry it for 900 years. When subjects were asked whether B's ``overall physical discomfort for the task as a whole'' is closer to A's or C's, most subjects thought it was closer to A's."

From Thinking and Deciding, 2nd ed., by Jonathan Baron. (Corrected in the 3d edition.)

"Participants" wanted

A Stanford Medical research group advertised for participants in a study of obsessive-compulsive disorder. They were looking for therapy clients who had been diagnosed with this disorder. The response was gratifying; they got 3,000 responses about three days after the ad came out. All from the same person.

The Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome and the Potential Downfall Of American Society
Seasons greetings

On the 12th day of Eurocentrically imposed midwinter festival my significant other in a consenting, adult, monogamous, relationship gave to me:

Twelve males reclaiming their inner warrior through ritual drumming.

Eleven pipers piping (plus an 18 member pit orchestra made up of members in good standing of the Musicians Equity Union as called for in their union contract, even though they will not be asked to play a note.)

Ten melanin deprived testosterone poisoned scions of the patriarchal ruling class system leaping.

Nine persons engaged in rhythmic self-expression.

Eight economically disadvantaged female persons stealing milk products from enslaved bovine Americans.

Seven endangered swans swimming on federally protected wetlands.

Six enslaved fowl-Americans producing stolen non-human animal products.

Five golden symbols of culturally sanctioned enforced domestic incarceration.(After members ofl the Animal Liberation Front threatened to tthrow red paint at my computer, the calling birds, hens and partridge have been reintroduced to their native habitat. To avoid further Animal-American enslaavement, the remaining gift package has been revised.)

Four hours of recorded whale songs.

Three deconstructionist poets.

Two Sierra Club calendars printed on recycled processed tree carcasses, and

One Spotted owl activist chained to an old-growth pear tree.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Good Kwanzaa,, Blessed Yule, and Happy Holidays*

*unless you are suffering from seasonally affected disorder(SAD). If this is the case, please substitute this gratuitous call for celebration with the suggestion that you have a thoroughly adequate day.

Florida election recount
[Original title: "Pavlov's birds" - obviously not from a psycholgist]

An MIT student spent an entire summer going to the Harvard football field every day wearing a black and white striped shirt, walking up and down the field for ten or fifteen minutes throwing birdseed all over the field, blowing a whistle and then walking off the field. At the end of the summer, it came time for the first Harvard home football game, the referee walked onto the field and blew the whistle, and the game had to be delayed for a half hour to wait for the birds to get off of the field. The guy wrote his thesis on this, and graduated.

We at the CHEERS project invite you to visit our website and take the Wil-Burn Humour Type Test. It's like Myers-Briggs, without the calories.
The Maggie Thatcher Illusion (adapted for the U.S.)
Evolutionary web camera
Psychology cartoons from CurvYourDog


On the psychologist's couch (Cartoons by Gunborg Palme)
A developmental stage theory of computer users
Why did I become a social psychologist?
(Compiled from various sources -- graduate students, post-docs, Dialogue, etc.)

"I was forced into it" -- Kurt Lewin

"It's such a pain, it must be great" -- Leon Festinger

"I just like it, I don't know why" -- Robert Zajonc

"We are better than those cognitive people" -- Henri Tajfel

"The experimenter made me do it" -- Stanley Milgram

"I was sipping a double espresso while someone next to me was reading about social psychology" -- Stan Schacter

"Everyone else did" -- Solomon Asch

"I watched myself doing it for hours" -- Daryl Bem.

"My mom wanted me to be President and I said no. So then she asked..." -- Bob Cialdini

"Beats women's work And I like the power" -- Susan Fiske

"I'm just the kind of guy who does things like this" -- Lee Ross

"Lee does it because he likes it; I do it because of my circumstances" -- Dick Nisbett

"They threatened to lock me in my office and rip out my tongue with a pliers" -- Phil Zimbardo

"Didn't someone else get a real job?" -- John Darley & Bibb Latane

"I just wanted to finish something" -- Arie Kruglanski

"A very attractive women made many very persuasive arguments" -- Rich Petty

"Damn, I really wish I had" -- Tom Gilovich

"There wasn't a better alternative" -- John Thibaut

"It was the right thing to do" -- Dan Batson.

"My best friend is very bad at it. And everyone in my family likes it!" -- Abe Tesser

"It just sort of occurred to me" --Danny Kahneman

"It struck me as an interesting possibility" -- Hazel Markus

"I was trying to become anything BUT a social psychologist and then I got distracted" -- Dan Wegner

"Reasons? Yes, yes. I can think of reasons." -- Tim Wilson

"At first I wasn't sure. But then I discussed it with a couple of people and boom -- I loved it! " -- Gene Burnstein

"I didn't become a social psychologist. No, really. I didn't. I swear. It was someone else who LOOKS like me. Honest" - -Bella DePaulo

"I saw it as an ideal I ought to live up to" -- Tory Higgins

"I was at a social psychology conference and it seemed like the best way for me to fit in" -- Mark Snyder

"No reason. I really just wanted to and the award was an unexpected surprise!" -- Mark Lepper

"Because I needed to make some copies" -- Ellen Langer

"Someone called on a sunny day and asked what we thought of social psychology" -- Norbert Schwarz & Jerry Clore

"I liked it immediately!" -- John Bargh

"It seemed like a really good idea and not at all like a bad idea" -- John Cacioppo

"I was talking to a social psychologist one day and realized we had a lot in common" -- Donn Byrne

"I thought it would look good on my resume" -- Jim Tedeschi

"I knew I could succeed at it" - Al Bandura

"I always wanted to join a collective" - Shinobu Kitayama

"I stared and stared at it and it just would not go away" -- Phoebe Ellsworth

"Chicks dig it" -- David Buss

"I must have been drunk" -- Mark Zanna.

"Ask Leon" -- Eliot Aronson

"I looked in the mirror and saw the face of a social psychologist staring back at me" -- Bob Wicklund

"I have a theory about how that happened" -- Michael Ross

"The first social psychologist I ever met was a real looker" -- Elaine Hatfield

"Some Yankee said I could not do it" -- Dov Cohen

"Most of the variance associated with this decision is attributable to my perception of the field, but some is due to the field's perception of me and my perception of that perception" -- Dave Kenny

"It made us happy, so how could there be anything wrong with it?" -- Shelley Taylor and Jonathon D. Brown.

"It provided meaning and value to my existence and only this was able to prevent me from quivering like a blob of protoplasm at the grim specter of my death" -- Greenberg, Pyszczynski & Solomon.

"I had heard a lot of good things about it" -- Postman

"Everyone strongly advised me to do otherwise" -- Jack Brehm

"I guess there were fewer differences between me and social psychologists than between me and other people in general" -- John Turner

"I thought social psychology would complicate my life" -- Patricia Linville

"Shit happens" - Paul Rozin

"It was a lie I was comfortable living at that particular socio-historic-temporal locality" -- Kenneth Gergen

"First, let's define 'social psychologist' " -- Rom Harre

Comments about social psychology from famous individuals:

"Not a bad role to play" -- Herbert Mead

"In what other field can one succeed and yet wallow in the grossest ignorance of Greek?" -- William James

"They always have food at their meetings" -- Ivan Pavlov

"No pigeon poop in their labs" -- B.F. Skinner

"They all have we-ness envy" -- Sigmund Freud

"It's just a stage people go through" -- E Erickson.

"I cannot imagine a higher pursuit than that of the social psychologist" -- Kohlberg

"They got a great network" -- Rumelhart and McClelland
Top 10 new IRB-required additions to consent forms
  1. You might die at any moment.
  2. The experimenter could be mentally undressing you.
  3. By not being home to answer your phone, you could be missing a chance to win a million dollars.
  4. If there is a God, s/he knows that you participated in this study.
  5. Participating in this research is onerous, harmful, and repugnant.
  6. Because there is no free will, you cannot really consent to this study.
  7. If at any time in the future you decide to withdraw from the study, the experimenter will retract all publications based on your data.
  8. Being paid to do this study is not a benefit to you, because money is the root of all evil.
  9. Everything the experimenter tells you is probably a lie, including this.
  10. You may not participate in this study.
Michael Bailey

"Out of my mind. Back in five minutes."
"Laugh alone and the world thinks you're an idiot."
"Sometimes I wake up grumpy; other times I let him sleep"
"It's as BAD as you think, and they ARE out to get you."
"I took an IQ test and the results were negative."
"Warning: Dates in calendar are closer than they appear."
"Give me ambiguity or give me something else."
"He who laughs last, thinks slowest"
"Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else."
"Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies."
"Consciousness: that annoying time between naps."
"Be nice to your kids. They'll choose your nursing home."
"3 kinds of people: those who can count & those who can't."
"Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?"
"Have you drugged your kids today?"

The following From: "Bryan White" (
"You're just jealous because the voices talk to me."
"I do what the voices in my head tell me to do."
And one that I made up--at least I think...
"Just because everyone's out to get me doesn't mean I'm paranoid."
"I'm not paranoid, it's just that the world's out to get me."

or (from Kurt Cobain by way of Jamie Napier):
Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not after you.

A person walked into a New York bookstore and asked the salesperson for a book that was made into a musical, which is still running. "Do you have Less Miserable?" The salesperson replied, "Look in the psychology section."


Statistical limerics
by David Hildebrand

The packages come out en masse,
Like Minitab, Systat, and SAS.
The ultimate mess
Which everyone uses, alas.

Two manic depressives named Mastick
Had marital problems, quite drastic.
Her mood swings were mild,
But his were quite wild.
The two were not homoscedastic.

Three patients at a psychiatric clinic are up for release. The shrink informs them that they will have to pass a simple test. Asking the first patient:

Q. How much is two plus two?
A: Blue.

At which the kind doctor calls in the orderly to escort the patient back to his room.

Turning to the second patient, he asks what is six minus three? To which the patient replies: Square. Once again the orderly is called in to remove the patient. Turning to the third and last patient, he asks, "How much is five plus five?" The patient answers very confidentally: Ten. The doctor, amazed then inquires how did you figure it out? The patient: "Easy.Blue multiplied by square equals ten."

(Contributed by Alex Koun)

Hello, Welcome to the Psychiatric Hotline.
If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.
If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2.
If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, 5 and 6.
If you are paranoid-delusional, we know who you are and what you want. Just stay on the line so we can trace the call.
If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.
If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be transferred to the mother ship.
If you have a nervous disorder, please fidget with the # key until a representative comes on the line.
If you are dyslexic, press 696969696969.
If you have amnesia, press 8 and state your name, address, phone, date of birth, social security number and your mother's maiden name.
If you have post-traumatic stress disorder, slowly and carefully press 000.
If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.
If you are menopausal, hang up, turn on the fan, lie down & cry. You won't be crazy forever.
If you have a masochistic complex, please press "0" for the operator. There are 200 calls ahead of you.
If you are depressed, it doesn't matter which number you press. No one will answer.
Daily Affirmations for the Unstable

I no longer need to punish, deceive or compromise myself. Unless, of
course, I want to stay employed.

A good scapegoat is nearly as welcome as a solution to the problem.

As I let go of my feelings of guilt, I can get in touch with my Inner

I have the power to channel my imagination into ever-soaring levels of
suspicion and paranoia.

Today, I will gladly share my experience and advice, for there are no
sweeter words than "I told you so."

I need not suffer in silence while I can still moan, whimper and complain.

As I learn the innermost secrets of the people around me, they reward me in
many ways to keep me quiet.

I assume full responsibility for my actions, except the ones that are
someone else's fault.

I honor my personality flaws, for without them I would have no personality
at all.

Joan of Arc heard voices too.

When someone hurts me, forgiveness is cheaper than a lawsuit, but not nearly
as gratifying.

The first step is to say nice things about myself. The second, to do nice
things for myself. The third, to find someone to buy me nice things.

As I learn to trust the universe, I no longer need to carry a gun.

Just for today, I will not sit in my living room all day watching TV.
Instead I will move my TV into the bedroom.

Who can I blame for my own problems? Give me just a minute... I'll find

Why should I waste my time reliving the past when I can spend it worrying
about the future?

I will find humor in my everyday life by looking for people I can laugh at.

I am willing to make the mistakes if someone else is willing to learn from

Christmas Carols for the Psychiatrically Challenged

SCHIZOPHRENIA - Do You Hear What I Hear?

MULTIPLE PERSONALITY - We Three Queens Disoriented Are.

DEMENTIA - I Think I'll Be Home For Christmas.

NARCISSISTIC - Hark The Herald Angels Sing (About Me)

MANIA - Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town ...or Deck the Halls and Spare No Expense!

PARANOIA - Santa Claus is Coming To Get Me.

PERSONALITY DISORDER - You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, then MAYBE I'll tell you why.

OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE - Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell...

PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE - On the First Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me (and then took it all away).

Comedy Collective - Dora by Kim Morrissey

Although it's very funny, this play is also a suggested text for the Open University in England. In this scene, Freud can find many, many words for a man's member, and no word at all for 'toilet.'

Freud on Seuss
The following list of phrases and their definitions might help you understand the mysterious language of science (including psychology) and medicine. These special phrases are also applicable to anyone reading a PhD dissertation or academic paper.

"IT HAS LONG BEEN KNOWN"... I didn't look up the original reference.

"A DEFINITE TREND IS EVIDENT"... These data are practically meaningless.

"WHILE IT HAS NOT BEEN POSSIBLE TO PROVIDE DEFINITE ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS"... An unsuccessful experiment, but I still hope to get it published.

"THREE OF THE SAMPLES WERE CHOSEN FOR DETAILED STUDY"... The other results didn't make any sense.

"TYPICAL RESULTS ARE SHOWN"... This is the prettiest graph.

"THESE RESULTS WILL BE IN A SUBSEQUENT REPORT"... I might get around to this sometime, if pushed/funded.





"IT IS GENERALLY BELIEVED THAT"... A couple of others think so, too.

"IT MIGHT BE ARGUED THAT" ... I have such a good answer for this objection that I now raise it. [Thanks to Brendan Keefe.]




"A CAREFUL ANALYSIS OF OBTAINABLE DATA"... Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a glass of beer.


"AFTER ADDITIONAL STUDY BY MY COLLEAGUES"... They don't understand it either.


"A HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT AREA FOR EXPLORATORY STUDY"... A totally useless topic selected by my committee.

"IN AN IMPORTANT PAPER BY SMITH AND JONES, ..." This obscure paper by Smith and Jones agrees supports my theory.

"IT IS HOPED THAT THIS WILL STIMULATE FURTHER WORK IN THIS FIELD" ... This paper isn't very good, but neither are any others on this miserable subject. [Thanks to Brendan Keefe.]


(From Seymour Hoffman)

Letters From the Editor

   Rejection letters sent by editors of psychology journals.
   1. "Mobility in the Treatment Room: Use of Mobile Chairs" -- "The article
      is more appropriate for a furniture magazine".
   2. "Tennis Anyone? Musings of an Eclectic Psychotherapist" -- "Should be
      sent to "Sports Illustrated".
   3. Brief Interventions Using a Modified Storytelling Technique" -- "The
      only positive quality of the article is its brevity".

   The above articles were subsequently published in peer reviewed
   psychology journals. "One man's meat is another man's poison".

The following unsolicited letter was received this week:

Dear Seymour Hoffman

Your research paper "Procrustean Psychotherapy or Differential Therapeutics: Teaching Treatment Selection to Trainees" published in the "Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy", is very impressive and profound. In order to make more people aware of your research achievements, we sincerely invite you to submit a new article to the Journal of Cancer Therapy.

I humbly suggest that editors adopt the rejection letter attributed to a certain Chinese journal:

"We have read your manuscript with boundless delight. If we were to publish your paper it would be impossible for us to publish any work of a lower standard. As it is unthinkable that, in the next thousand years, we shall see its equal, we are to our regret, compelled to return your divine composition, and to beg you a thousand times to overlook our short sight and timidity". (My thanks to Rabbi E. Feldman, former editor of "Tradition" for bringing the above to my attention).

To receive such a letter is almost as good as being published.

Sample cover letter for journal resubmissions (by Roy F. Baumeister)
Dear Dr.

Thank you for your thoughtful response to my decision letter concerning the above-referenced piece of excrement.

I have asked several experts who specialize in the area of research you dabble in to have a look at your pathetic little submission, and their reviews are enclosed. I shall not waste my LaserJet ink reiterating the details of their reviews, but please allow me to highlight some of the more urgent points of contention they raise:

1. Reviewer A suggests that you cite his work EXCLUSIVELY in the introduction. He has asked me to remind you that he spells his name with a final "e" (i.e., Scumbage), not as you have referenced him in the last version.

2. Reviewer C indicates that the discussion can be shortened by at least 5 pages. Given the fact that the present Discussion is only three pages long, I am not certain how to advise you. Perhaps you might consider eliminating all speculation and original ideas.

3. Reviewer D has asked that you consider adding her as a co-author. Although she has not directly contributed to the manuscript, she has made numerous comments that have, in her view, significantly improved the paper. Specifically, she believes that her suggestions concerning the reorganization of the acknowledgments paragraph were especially important. Please note that she spells her name with an em-dash, and not with the customary hyphen.

4. Reviewer B has asked that I inform you that, even though his suggestions were not mentioned in my decision letter, this doesn't mean that he is an imbecile.

5. My own reading of the manuscript indicates that the following problems remain:

a. By "running head," we do not mean a picture of your son's face with legs attached. Please provide a four- or five-word title for the paper that summarizes the report's most important point. May I suggest, "Much Ado About Nothing"?

b. Please make certain that you have adhered to APA stylebook guidelines for publication format. Please direct your attention to the section entitled, "Proper Format for an Insignificant Paper" (1995, p.46).

c. Please submit any revision of the paper on plain, blank stationery. Submitting the article on Yale University letterhead will not increase your chances of having the article accepted for publication.

d. Please doublecheck the manuscript for spelling and grammatical errors. Our experience at the Archives is that "cycle-logical" slips through most spell-check programs undetected.

e. Although I am not a quantitative scientist, it is my understanding that the "F" in F-test does not stand for "f___ing". Please correct the manuscript accordingly.

Yours sincerely,

Prof. Art Kives

If your original submission had been as articulate as your most recent letter, we might have avoided this interchange. It is too bad that tenure and promotion committees at your university do not have access to authors' correspondence with editors, for it is clear that you would be promoted on the basis of your wit alone. Unfortunately, it's the publication that counts, and I'm sorry to say that the Archives is not prepared to accept this revision. We would be perfectly ambivalent about receiving a ninth revision from you.

I Libretto for "Il Destino di Grant Applicationio," by Giuseppe Linguini

Cast (in order of vocal appearance)
Alfredo, a professor ........................... Baritone
Wu Li, a post-doc ............................. Tenor
Kathy, another post-doc ........................ Alto
Nicolette, Alfredo's secretary ................. Soprano
Adriana, Alfredo's wife ........................ Soprano
Bubba, Alfredo's son ........................... Tenor
Julieta, Alfredo's daughter .................... Soprano
Stephano, Scientific Review Administrator ...... Bass
Erminio, another professor...................... Bass

Act I, Alfredo's Office: The curtain rises showing Alfredo sitting in his office with two post-docs, working on a manuscript which has been rejected by Nature. In a dramatic opening aria, they lament the fact that the reviewers found the manuscript unexciting ("I reviewers sono malto stupidi"). Nicolette, the secretary arrives with a box of NIH grant applications for Alfredo to review. Alfredo opens it, and finding only 12 grant applications, rejoices. He is joined by the two post-docs and the secretary in a quartet in which they sing of the virtues of having to review only 12 applications ("Il lighto loado"). Their happiness soon turns to sorrow when Alfredo discovers a note indicating that he is primary reviewer on an additional 18 applications which will arrive at a later date ("Il grande boxo di granti"). The four lament the twist of fate, Murphy's law, and the Peter Principle. Alfredo, realizing that he will have no time to spend with his lab group or family for the next 6 weeks, sadly departs for home carrying the box of applications.

Act II - Scene 1, Alfredo's office: One month later, Alfredo is still hard at work on the applications, having completed only 4, and these were the short R15 applications. He sings a sad aria, reflecting on the fact that the Scientific Review Administrator wants the triage list the next day ("Il listo crappo"). Nicolette enters with an envelope from NIH. Alfredo, thinking it contains yet another supplement, tosses it onto a pile, and tries to find his place in the application he was reading. Just then, Wu Li enters with some important data that needs to be published immediately, before the competitors beat them to it. They sing a duet ("La publicazione o il scoopo") in which Alfredo laments that he has no time to help write the manuscript as he really must get through 26 more applications before the meeting next week. Wu Li leaves, and Alfredo returns to the grant application, only to be interrupted by Kathy. She is distraught that she hasn't gotten a raise in the two years since she has been with Alfredo. He promises her a large raise if his own application is funded, explaining that he is waiting for the summary statement ("Il sheeto pinko"). After their duet, Kathy leaves and Alfredo returns once again to the application. Within a minute, he jumps out of his seat and grabs the envelope he hastily tossed onto his desk, realizing that it is the long-awaited summary statement ("La posta junko il sheeto pinko"). Trembling, Alfredo tears open the envelope and lets out a cry upon seeing the score, which is clearly not in the fundable range. He sings a moving aria lamenting the lack of sufficient funding for basic science ("Mio granto finito"). Unable to concentrate anymore, Alfredo goes home.

Scene 2, Alfredo's home: Later that night, Alfredo arrives home. His wife and children are ecstatic that Alfredo has come home before they have gone to sleep. However, their happiness is short-lived as they learn the reason for his surprise homecoming. His family is not sympathetic to the fact that only a small number of people actually get their grant applications funded, and are upset that Alfredo's application was only considered 'excellent' ("Papa un nincompoopo"). Disheartened, Alfredo sits down at his desk and begins to read an application. However, just as at work, he can't read for more than a minute until his children or wife interrupt him for something. This continues for a couple of hours, at which point Alfredo has nearly finished reading an entire page of the application, but unfortunately falls asleep before getting to the next page.

Act III, A Holiday Inn in Valhalla, home of the Gods and Goddesses of NIH: The scene opens to reveal a large table surrounded by serious looking men and women. Alfredo is among the mortals, who have been invited to Valhalla to decide the fate of 137 grant applications. At the side of the room are the Gods and Goddesses of NIH, the program officers of the various agencies, dressed in white tunics. They are feeding from a large tray of grapes, and drinking decaf coffee. Stephano, the Scientific Review Administrator begins the meeting with an hour-long aria about the grant review process and the need for confidentiality ("Non asko, non tello"). The first grant application to be reviewed is one with Alfredo as the primary reviewer. Alfredo likes this grant application since it describes an imaginative series of experiments that concern an important but not well studied biological question ("Se succeede, il Nobel Prizo"). Furthermore, this application described all of the key points in a single page, the limit of Alfredo's attention span with all of the interruptions he gets. His enthusiasm is countered by the other reviewer in what is probably the most famous aria of the opera ("Non hypothesiso, non preliminary dato"). Other reviewers join in with other comments regarding the lack of independence of the applicant, the lack of feasibility studies, and the general observation that the area must not be very important or else others would be working on it. Finally, the Grants Technical Assistant rises and joins in the singing ("Givmi il floppi disko"). Everybody in the room finally joins in except for the Gods and Goddesses, who have moved from the tray of grapes to a large table filled with melon balls, which they eat with toothpicks, and a man in a Holiday Inn uniform who is restocking the toothpicks. As it is clear that no new comments have been made for at least 45 minutes, a vote is finally called for, and in a dramatic moment, Alfredo sings out "1.0", while the other reviewers vote for a worse score ("Il granto non-competitivo"), finally arriving at a consensus of 2.0. During the aria discussing the score, the man in a Holiday Inn uniform becomes noticeably distressed and begins consuming vast quantities of coffee, until he collapses just as the aria ends. One of the NIH Goddesses identifies the man as Erminio, the applicant of the grant that just went down the tubes. Even though Erminio is fatally poisoned, he is still able to sing a moving aria reflecting on the weaknesses of the current grant review system ("Il reviewers screwed-upo"). The opera ends with the reviewers placing Erminio's lifeless body in the boxes that hold the discarded grant applications, and covering him with glossy photos of his data. As the curtain is being slowly lowered, one of the reviewers comments that it's a good thing the application wasn't given a really bad score, or who knows what the applicant would have done.

Psycholinguistics to the resku

Having chosen English as the preferred language in the EEC, the European Parliament has commissioned a feasibility study in ways of improving efficiency in communications between Government departments.

"European officials have often pointed out that English spelling is unnecessarily difficult, for example: cough, plough, rough, through and thorough. What is clearly needed is a phased programme of changes to iron out these anomalies. The programme would, of course, be administered by a committee staff at top level by participating nations.

In the first year, for example, the committee would suggest using 's' instead of the soft 'c'. Sertainly sivil servants in all sities would resieve this news with job. Then the hard 'c' could be replaced by 'k' sinse both letters are pronounsed alike. Not only would this klear up konfusion in the minds of klerikal workers, but typewriters kould be made with one less letter.

There would be growing enthusiasm when in the sekond year, it was announsed that the troublesome 'ph' would henseforth be writtne 'f'. This would make words like fotograf' twenty persent shorter in print.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reash the stage where more komplikated shanges are possible. Governments would enkourage the removal of double leters whish have always been a deterent to akurate speling.

We would al agre that the horible mes of silent 'e's in the languag is disgrasful. Therefor we kould drop them and kontinu to read and writ as though nothing had hapend. By this tim it would be four years sins the skem began and peopl would be reseptive to steps sutsh as replasing 'th' by 'z'. Perhaps zen ze funktion of 'w' kould be taken on by 'v', vitsh is, after al, half a 'w'. Shortly after zis, ze unesesary 'o' kould be dropd from vords kontaining 'ou'. Similar arguments vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

Kontinuing zis proses yer after yer, ve vud eventuli hav a reli sensibl riten styl. After tventi yers zer vud be no mor trubls, difikultis and evrivun vud find it ezi tu understand ech ozer. Ze drems of the Guvermnt vud finali hav kum tru."

Why God never received a PhD:
1. He had only one major publication.
2. It wasn't published in a refereed journal.
3. Some even doubt he wrote it by himself.
4. It may be true that he created the world, but what has he done since then?
5. His cooperative efforts have been quite limited.
6. The scientific community has had a hard time replicating his results.
7. He never applied to the ethics board for permission to use human subjects.
8. When one experiment went awry he tried to cover it by drowning his subjects.
9. When subjects didn't behave as predicted, he deleted them from the sample.
10. He rarely came to class, just told students to read the book.
11. Some say he had his son teach the class.
12. He expelled his first two students for learning.
13. Although there were only 10 requirements, most of his students failed his tests.
14. His office hours were infrequent and usually held on a mountain top, without a hotel or heated pool.

Revised from anonymous original with help from George Quattrone

Date: Fri, 29 Aug 1997 01:38:40 GMT
From: Jim Chinnis (
Subject: Opportunity...

Dear Fellow Scientist:

This letter has been around the world at least seven times. It has been to many major conferences. Now it has come to you. It will bring you good fortune. This is true even if you don't believe it. But you must follow these instructions:

Within one year, you will be cited up to 10,000 times! This will amaze your fellow faculty, assure your promotion and improve your sex life. In addition, you will bring joy to many colleagues. Do not break the reference loop, but send this letter on today.

Dr. H. received this letter and within a year after passing it on she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Prof. M. threw this letter away and was denied tenure. In Japan, Dr. I. received this letter and put it aside. His article for Trans. on Nephrology was rejected. He found the letter and passed it on, and his article was published that year in the New England Journal of Medicine. In the Midwest, Prof. K. failed to pass on the letter, and in a budget cutback his entire department was eliminated. This could happen to you if you break the chain of citations.

1. Miller, J. (1992). Post-modern neo-cubism and the wave theory of light. Journal of Cognitive Artifacts, 8, 113-117.

2. Johnson, S. (1991). Micturition in the canid family: the irresistable pull of the hydrant. Physics Quarterly, 33, 203-220.

3. Anderson, R. (1990). Your place or mine?: an empirical comparison of two models of human mating behavior. Psychology Yesterday 12, 63-77.

4. David, E. (1994). Modern Approaches to Chaotic Heuristic Optimization: Means of Analyzing Non-Linear Intelligent Networks with Emergent Symbolic Structure. (doctoral dissertation, University of California at Santa Royale El Camino del Rey Mar Vista by-the-sea.)

Jim Chinnis

From: (Scott Dorsey)

How to identify scientists:

Chem Prof:  Wears a white lab coat.  This may actually be clean
 but does not have to be.  P-chem profs have a brand new coat that
 has never been in the lab; polymer chem profs have strange glop
 on their coat, and intro chem profs have acid holes.

Physics Prof: Wears blue jeans and a flannel shirt.  May sometimes
 forget to wear shirt altogether.  If a professor is wearing blue
 jeans and suspenders, ten to one he is a physicist.  Physics profs
 often have German accents, but this is not a distingushing
 characteristic.  Be wary of psychologists with fake Viennese accents
 which can sound similar to the unwary.

Bio Prof: Sometimes wears a lab coat, though usually this is the
 sign of a biochemist.  Marine biologists walk around in hip boots
 for no explainable reason, even in the middle of winter.  They
 are apt to wear grey slacks and smell like fish, as opposed to
 most biologists, who smell strongly of formalin.  Microbiology
 instructors go around in spotless white coats, refuse to drink
 beer on tap, and wipe all their silverware before using it.
 Never loan money to a bio prof, no matter how much he asks.

CS Prof: Most CS profs are from India or Pakistan.  You can tell
 by the gestures and accents.  This is not a bad thing, though many
 of the American CS professors tend to pick up Indian accents which
 confounds more specific identification.  Like mushrooms, CS students
 only come out at night, and, if not Indian, tend to take on a
 pasty appearance.  CS professors do not use computers and therefore
 can be easily identified by their comparative good health with
 respect to their students.  Many CS professors do not even know how
 to use computers, and are actually mathematicians or psychologists
 in disguise.  Avoid these people.

Math Prof:  Math profs are like physics professors except without
 any practical bent.  A math professor will have only books and
 pencils in his office, as opposed to the piles of broken equipment
 that physicists keep.  Mathematicians scorn the use of computers
 and calculators and often have difficulty splitting bills in
 restaurants.  The easy way to identify a mathematician is by the
 common use of the phrases "It can be shown that..." and "Is left
 as an exercise to the student..."

Psych Prof: Psychologists are not real scientists, and can be
 easily identified by their screams of protest whenever anyone
 questions whether psychology is a science.  Psych people have
 beady little eyes and don't laugh at jokes about psychology.
 If you are not sure whether a person is a scientist or a
 comparative religion instructor, he is probably a psychologist.

The Professor's Wish

A grad student, a post-doc, and a professor are walking through a city park and they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out in a puff of smoke. The Genie says, "I usually only grant three wishes, so I'll give each of you just one." "Me first! Me first!" says the grad student. "I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat with a gorgeous woman who sunbathes topless." Poof! He's gone. "Me next! Me next!" says the post-doc. "I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with a professional hula dancer on one side and a Mai Tai on the other." Poof! He's gone. "You're next," the Genie says to the professor.

The professor says, "I want those guys back in the lab after lunch."

Theories to Explain Life Around the World

A contest was held for people to submit their theories on ANY subject. Below are the winners:

4th RUNNER-UP (Subject: Probability Theory)
If an infinite number of rednecks riding in an infinite number of pickup trucks fire an infinite number of shotgun rounds at an infinite number of highway signs, they will eventually produce all the world's great literary works in Braille.

3rd RUNNER-UP (Subject: Bio-Mechanics)
Why Yawning Is Contagious: You yawn to equalize the pressure on your eardrums. This pressure change outside your eardrums unbalances other people's ear pressures, so they then yawn to even it out.

2nd RUNNER-UP (Subject: Symbolic Logic)
Communist China is technologically underdeveloped because they have no alphabet and therefore cannot use acronyms to communicate technical ideas a= t a faster rate.

1st RUNNER-UP (Subject: Newtonian Mechanics)
The earth may spin faster on its axis due to deforestation. Just as a figure skater's rate of spin increases when the arms are brought in close to the body, the cutting of tall trees may cause our planet to spin dangerously fast.

HONORABLE MENTION (Subject: Linguistics)
The quantity of consonants in the English language is constant. If omitted in one place, they turn up in another. When a Bostonian "pahks his cah," the lost R's migrate southwest, causing a Texan to "warsh" his car and invest in "erl" wells.

GRAND PRIZE WINNER (Subject: Perpetual Motion)
When a cat is dropped, it always lands on its feet, and when toast is dropped, it always lands buttered side down. It was proposed to strap giant slabs of hot buttered toast to the back of a hundred tethered cats; the two opposing forces will cause the cats to hover, spinning inches above the ground. Using the giant buttered toast/cat array, a high-speed monorail could easily link New York with Chicago.


10. You wake up at 3a.m. to go to the bathroom, and check your
email on the way back to bed.

9. Your firstborn is named dotcom.

8. You turn off your modem and are suddenly filled with a feeling of 
emptiness, as if you just pulled the plug on a loved one.

7. You spend half of a plane trip with your laptop in your lap...and your
child in the overhead compartment.

6. You decide to stay in college for an additional year or two,
just for the free Internet access.

5. You find yourself typing "com" after every

4. You refer to going to the bathroom as downloading.

3. You move into a new home and decide to netscape before you landscape.

2. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. :)



1. Immediately after reading this list, you email it to someone.

Are YOU a problem thinker?

It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.

I began to think alone - "to relax," I told myself. But I knew it wasn't true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don't mix, but I couldn't stop myself.

I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, "What is it exactly we are doing here?"

Things weren't going so great at home either. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother's. I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day the boss called me in. He said, "Skippy, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don't stop thinking on the job, you'll have to find another job." This gave me a lot to think about.

I came home early after my conversation with the boss. "Honey," I confessed, "I've been thinking..."

"I know you've been thinking," she said, "and I want a divorce!"

"But Honey, surely it's not that serious."

"It is serious," she said, lower lip aquiver. "You think as much as college professors, and college professors don't make any money, so if you keep on thinking we won't have any money!"

"That's a faulty syllogism," I said impatiently, and she began to cry. I'd had enough. "I'm going to the library," I snarled as I stomped out the door.

I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche, with NPR on the radio. I roared into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass doors... they didn't open. The library was closed.

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night.

As I sank to the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye. "Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?" it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker's Anonymous poster.

Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was "Porky's." Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting.

I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed... easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.

What's the difference between a neurotic and a psychotic? (Note: This has become a history of psychology item. DSM 3.0.2 [beta] has abolished these terms.)

A psychotic says, "Two plus two is five."

A neurotic says, "Two plus two is four, and I can't stand it."

How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one, but the bulb has to be willing to change.
How many Freudians does it take to change a lightbulb?
Two. One to change the bulb and one to hold the penis... I mean ladder!
Neurotics build castles in the sky.

Psychotics live in them.

Psychiatrists collect the rent.

Psychoanalysis means saying one thing and meaning your mother.
Q:  How many psychologist internet mail list subscribers does it take to
change a light bulb?

A:  1,332
         1 to change the light bulb and to post to the mail
           list that the light bulb has been changed
        14 to share similar experiences of changing light
           bulbs and how the light bulb could have been
           changed differently.
         7 to caution about the dangers of changing light bulbs.
        28 to point out spelling/grammar errors in posts about
           changing light bulbs.
        53 to flame the spell checkers
       156 to write to the list administrator complaining about
           the light bulb discussion and its inappropriateness
           to this mail list.
        41 to correct spelling in the spelling/grammar flames.
       109 to post that this list is not about light bulbs and
           to please take this email exchange to alt.lite.bulb
       203 to demand that cross posting to alt.grammar,
           alt.spelling and alt.punctuation about changing
           light bulbs be stopped.
       111 to defend the posting to this list saying that we
           all use light bulbs and therefore the posts
           **are** relevant to this mail list.
       306 to debate which method of changing light
           bulbs is superior, where to buy the best light bulbs,
           what brand of light bulbs work best for this
           technique, and what brands are faulty.
        27 to post URLs where one can see examples of
           different light bulbs
        14 to post that the URLs were posted incorrectly, and
           to post corrected URLs.
         3 to post about links they found from the URLs that
           are relevant to this list which makes light bulbs
           relevant to this list.
        33 to concatenate all posts to date, then quote
           them including all headers and footers, and then
           add "Me Too."
        12 to post to the list that they are unsubscribing
          because they cannot handle the light bulb
        19 to quote the "Me Too's" to say, "Me Three."
         4 to suggest that posters request the light bulb FAQ.
         1 to propose new alt.change.lite.bulb newsgroup.
        47 to say this is just what alt.physic.cold_fusion
           was meant for, leave it here.
       143 votes for alt.lite.bulb.

How many personality disorders does it take to change a lightbulb?

How many Narcissistic P.D. does to take to change a lightbulb?
    Just one. To hold the lightbulb but he has to wait for the whole world to 
revolve around him.

How many Borderline P.D. does to take to change a lightbulb?
    Just one. To threaten suicide if you don't change it for him/her.

How many Obsessive-Compulsive P.D. does to take to change a lightbulb?
    Just one. But he has to check it 100 times, one for each watt.

How many Passive Aggressive P.D. does to take to change a lightbulb?
    Oops.I can't believe I broke the last one. I guess you'll have to sit in 
the dark.

How many Dependent P.D. does to take to change a lightbulb?
    None, he's still clinging to the old lightbulb.

How many Histrionic P.D. does to take to change a lightbulb?
    "You want me to change the lightbulb? I could burn my hand! I could be  
electrocuted! I could fall off the ladder and be paralyzed for life! You 
don't love  me anymore!"

Patient to Rogerian therapist: I'm really depressed.
Therapist: I see. Yes. You are depressed.
Patient: Nothing is going well.
Therapist: Nothing well.
Patient: I feel like killing myself.
T: You're thinking of killing yourself.
P: Yes, I'm going to do it NOW.
T: You want to do it now.
P: [Jumps out window.]
T: Woosh. Splat.
The remaining were sent by Jennifer Selke

Where to Publish Your Paper

1) If you understand it and can prove it, then send it to a journal of mathematics.
2) If you understand it, but can't prove it, then send it to a physics journal.
3) If you can't understand it, but can prove it, then send it to an economics journal.
4) If you can neither understand it nor prove it, then send it to a psychology journal.
5) If it attempts to make something important out of something trivial, then send it to a journal of education.
6) If it attempts to make something trivial out of some-thing important, send it to a journal of metaphysics.

The Top Ten Signs That You Are Having Problems With Your Assessment*

10. Technical advisors recommend "Eenie-meenie-minie-moe" as a cognitively possible standard-setting task.
9. Assessment booklets show up as placemats in local Burger Kings.
8. Survey shows that the public prefers "Clueless" over the "Novice" label by a two-to-one margin.
7. Helpful legislator tells the public that the assessment is "just like the publishers' tests, only more expensive."
6. Reports of students' results to their parents are addressed "To Whom It May Concern...."
5. ETS and FairTest agree on the merits of your assessment.
4. All of the students' results are accidentally uploaded to a website in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.
3. Press release states that your assessment is linked to "wurld clas standerds."
2. The Superintendent thinks having a blue-ribbon panel scrutinize the technical quality of the assessment is a "way-cool idea."
1. The scoring guide for the publicly released task reads: "Ru-bric, screw-bric - just score the damned thing."

Young, M. J. (1997, June). The top ten signs that you are having problems with your assessment. A top ten list presented at the CCSSO Conference on Large-Scale Assessment. Colorado Springs, CO.

Eine Zigarre ins Mund gab ihm Freude.
(A cigar in his mouth gave him joy.)

Could it be that the father of psychoanalysis was seduced by his very name?

Philip Champagne (

Top 10 Signs a Therapist is Approaching Burn-out

by Storm A. King, 08/28/96

10) You think of the peaceful park you like as "your private therapeutic milieu."
9) You realize that your floridly psychotic patient, who is picking invisible flowers out of mid air, is probably having more fun in life than you are.
8) A grateful client, who thinks you walk on water, brings you a small gift and you end up having to debrief your feelings of unworthiness with a colleague.
7) You are watching a re-run of the Wizard of Oz and you start to categorize the types of delusions that Dorothy had.
6) Your best friend comes to you with severe relationship troubles, and you start trying to remember which cognitive behavioral technique has the most empirical validly for treating this problem.
5) You realize you actually have no friends, they have all become just one big case load.
4) A co-worker asks how you are doing and you reply that you are a bit "internally preoccupied" and "not able to interact with peers" today.
3) Your spouse asks you to set the table and you tell them that it would be "countertherapeutic to your current goals" to do that.
2) You tell your teenage daughter she is not going to start dating boys because she is "in denial," "lacks insight." and her "emotions are not congruent with her chronological age."
And, the number one reason a therapist may be burning out....
1) You are packing for a trip to a large family holiday reunion and you take the DSM-IV with you just in case.

PTSD -- Psychotherapist Trainee Stress Disorder

Symptoms include, but are not limited to...

1. Overwhelming urge to strangle any person who glibly says, "You're having personal problems? YOU should know how to fix them, you're the psychologist, heh heh."
2. When someone accuses you of being "antisocial" because you have to study instead of socialize, you scream, "No, I'm being obsessive-compulsive! If I we're antisocial, I'd beat the crap out of you right now..."
3. Compulsion to diagnose and design treatment plans for TV characters
4. Getting excited about relaxing adventures such as grocery shopping.
5. Playing on the Internet all night to avoid any "productive" (as defined by your professors) activity.

This disorder is caused by...
1. Having to try to reason with people who are totally out of contact with reality -- e.g., professors
2. An average of 3 hours sleep per week
3. Working 2 part time jobs, in addition to classes and training, to pay for your tuition
4. A steady diet of bagels (munched while running from class to job to class) and chocolate covered espresso beans
5. Stat-ware packages that mutilate your project beyond recognition
6. Family, friends, and acquaintances who assume you'll always be their 24-hr free shrink, and never have any emotional needs of your own.

This message was originally created by me, a PTSD sufferer, Carolyn D. Sullins of the University of Illinois. I originally sent it to a psychotherapist-in-training newsgroup, and found it sent again (without my name) on the same list a year later.
Anyway, I'm happy that what started out as my personal venting has been circulated so much and appreciated by other PTSD sufferers. I guess I'm not alone. If only I were as successful in publicizing my research, then I might even get cured of my PTSD!


To identify emotionally disturbed individuals accurately, Algozzine, Foster, & Kaufman (1979) developed the CAT TEST. This simple, yet novel test is easily administered by professionals, parents, and aides. It involves three simple steps: 1) place testee in empty room facing far wall; 2) place cat in center of room, close and latch door; 3) after 10 minutes, open the door. Algozzine et al., note that the CAT TEST allows fine discriminations between subclassifications of emotional disturbance . They offer the following guidelines for interpretation of results:

1. OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE--- four neat, meticulous piles of fur to be found in the corners of room - cat alive, but cold.

2. SOCIALIZED DELINQUENT--- fur scattered randomly about room and on testee - cat alive, still cold.

3a. MANIC/DEPRESSIVE (MANIC STAGE)--- pieces of cat scattered randomly about room - cat terminated.

3b. MANIC/DEPRESSIVE (DEPRESSIVE STAGE)--- pieces of testee scattered randomly about the room - emotionally stability of cat suspect.

4. SEVERE PATHOLOGY--- only evidence of cat is skin, wrapped loosely about testee's head - cat assumed terminated.

5. PARANIOD REACTION--- testee cowering in far corner of room - cat alive and sleeping in center of room.

6. SCHIZOPHRENIC REACTION--- testee in center of room carrying on long existential discussion with cat - cat alive, but confused.

7. NEUROTIC REACTION--- testee asking for advise about migraine headache - cat alive and still confused.

8. CATATONIC REACTION--- testee in corner of room with back arched, hair on end, hissing, and refusing to acknowledge presence of cat - cat alive and confused.

Katie Nunno

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