I keep getting a message from Academia.edu asking me if I am the Brian Quass who wrote “Longitudinal grooves for bluff body drag reduction.”
How flattering is that!
It’s so tempting to take credit for writing what sounds like a ground-breaking paper in the field — whatever field that might be. At any rate, I’m certainly in favor of it: who among us wouldn’t wish to reduce the drag on their bluff body to the maximum extent possible? One does want to give the ladies something to look at during the upcoming social season. The lake down the hill will be open for swimming in just one month.
Still, I probably didn’t write it. I say “probably” because I write so much these days, and it is just possible that this one title has entirely slipped my mind. Besides, if someone says, “Is this your $500,” you should never say, “No,” but rather, “Probably not,” at least until you’ve determined all the facts of the case.
So I probably didn’t write it, though I would like to take this opportunity to point out that Longitudinal Grooves would make a great name for a band!
That said, the probable real author (i.e., the joker who is apparently masquerading under my own name and who probably lives in California, based on some initial half-hearted research on my part on Google search) is not the only one who can write an enormously precise thesis title, assuming that the brainstorm in question can be justifiably attributed to said impostor. (I was going by the name “Brian Quass” before that guy was even born, at least if my preliminary background investigation on the presumptuous copycat has anything to say about it.)
Consider the following three thesis titles that I have composed on the fly and am now ready to auction off to the highest collegiate bidder:
On the pseudo-perceptual Influence of unacknowledged generational bias in the Bayesian analysis of stochastic data. (Translation: “Why young people can’t understand probability theory.”)
Explicit stereotypes in the inferential analysis of modern gender tropes. (Translation: “An academic discussion of Trump’s misogyny.”)
Cognitive biases implicit in the purposive sampling of data types. (Translation: “Why my wife always chooses ugly shoes.”)
I was first exposed to such imposing strings of 50-cent words when I attended my sister’s graduation from the University of Michigan in 1982. As the gowned master’s candidates jerkily strutted forth to the dais under the slow but relentless pressure of Edgar Elgar’s pompous masterpiece, I found leisure to peruse the brochure that I had been handed upon entering the stadium. It contained not only the names of the brainiacs who were now advancing before me with stately step, but also the titles of the scientific theses that they had composed in fulfilment of their academic requirements.
De Novo Genomes and the plethoric totality of divergent phenotypes.
Model-Variant Reduction and the Empirical interpolation of canonical data.
I was thinking to myself, this is a joke, right? No, seriously, what are the REAL titles of these papers?
Since then, of course, I’ve come to realize that such hifalutin language makes sense in certain fields of human endeavour such as electronics, for instance. I mean, if your academic focus is on the conversion of AC voltage to DC voltage, you’ve simply got to use terms like “bridge rectifier“ and “full wave rectification,” even at the risk of sounding hoity-toity to the Great Unwashed. But I’ve always found it a trifle odd that folks in the humanities would attempt to mimic such nerdy specifics in their thesis titles as well, as if a human being was just another widget to be subject to the disinterested analysis of a white-coated and bespectacled academician.
In fact, do you know what? I think I’m going to write an academic paper on the overuse of 50-cent words in the titles of academic papers. Let’s see. I think I’ll call it: Gratuitous loquacity in the titles of modern Master’s Theses: a stochastic analysis.
No, wait a minute: let’s make that a Bayesian analysis instead. Sounds at least marginally more impressive to me.
But then I can never outdo the paper title par excellence:
“Longitudinal grooves for bluff body drag reduction.”
Speaking of which, I’d better contact Academia.edu and give them wiring instructions for my bank account — just in case they turn this paper into a movie.
“The Longitudinal Groove!” inspired by yours truly — or else by my nerdy namesake out west.