Episode 9 – Deep Thoughts

Monday, August 20th. Our best crock yet!

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Are all deep thoughts “Such a Crock”? We hope not… Otherwise we might not have much of a podcast.

BUT! There are many excesses of “mental masturbation” that make philosophical and academic thinking seem distant from common sense. This week we look at some of them with a delightful mix of pragmatism and humor.

Antinatalism is Such a Crock

Michael starts off this week with a hoot he found in The New Yorker.

David Benetar is possibly the world’s most pessimistic philosopher. Benetar advocates for antinatalism, a philosophy imagining that we would all be better off if we had never been born. While Benetar would say death, like life, is problematic; we can collectively avoid a great deal of suffering by simply not having any more children.

Example excerpt:

We’re almost always hungry or thirsty. When we’re not, we must go to the bathroom. We often experience “thermal discomfort” —- we are too hot or too cold -— or are tired and unable to nap. We suffer from itches, allergies, and colds, menstrual pains or hot flashes. Life is a procession of “frustrations and irritations” —- waiting in traffic, standing in line, filling out forms. Forced to work, we often find our jobs exhausting; even those who enjoy their work may have professional aspirations that remain unfulfilled. Many lonely people remain single, while those who marry fight and divorce. People want to be, look, and feel younger, and yet they age relentlessly.

Cheery, huh?

“The Case for Not Being Born” at The New Yorker

“Fake Academia” is Such a Crock!

While Katherine’s own stories from her years as an academic are crock enough, at least her experience was real.

Unfortunately a new trend in academia is FAKE. People can buy their ways into academic journals or speaking positions at conferences for about six hundred bucks. As a test, a professor submitted a paper to a “fake academic” conference using the auto-complete feature of his smartphone.

Why might academics lower themselves to this kind of behavior? “Publish or perish.”

Professors-to-be need to publish their work and raise their profiles. Academic journals and conferences thus help them realize their ambitions… But are meant to be rigorous and lined with experts; not pay-to-play.

Learn more from “A Peek Inside the Strange World of Fake Academia” at The New York Times

“Teaching the Conflicts” is Such a Crock

In a sad turn, Michael talks about an academic model that focuses on the conflicts between different professors, rather than coming to any useful conclusions. The best example might be the student who aces an economics test and a poli sci test… By providing two wholly incompatible answers.

Michael first learned about the philosophy in a book about Pooh Bear; but the concept has since been appropriated by anti-evolution pseudoscientists an their “teaching the controversies” movement. Equal time, right?

Some basics about this from the University of Alberta

… What Makes Your Deep Thoughts so Special Anyway?

Thing is, deep thoughts are not really so precious – even children express them effectively. It could be argued that deep thoughts are best expressed in the most accessible way possible – as simple expressions about everyday stuff.

And even sometimes from the mouths of children…

Katherine points out how deep thoughts happen in our everyday life to bring us laughter even as we ponder their meaning. Then she wraps it up with some gems from the eminent Jack Handy and his SNL genius from the days of yore.

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