Friday, November 5, 2010

No, really, what do you do? (wink, wink)

One of the joys of being a pseudologist is that I actually get to pursue scholarly research of a sort that most people have never heard of, or that they never considered seriously could be someone's job.  This leads to zillions of strange conversations during which people attempt to wrap their brains around the idea that I pseudologize for a living.  The idea itself is staggering to most people that "I coalesce the vapor of human existence into a viable and logical comprehension" as a day job.

I was a little unsettled, though, to hear about what someone was saying about me out of earshot the other day.  I had met some other Americans in RC at a party, and they — not being, shall we say, the very smartest people I have encountered in my travels — had some trouble understanding what I did at all, much less why.  A week later, a mutual acquaintance told me that he had heard them elsewhere guessing that, since my actual work sounds so implausible to them, I must be CIA.

Eeek.  (Holy misidentifications, Batman!)  It's a lucky thing for me that those people and I don't really move in the same circles, because that is not at all the kind of thing I want anyone saying about me in Research Country.  I'm also hopeful that most of their other acquaintances have also noted that these people are kind of idiots.  Fortunately, no RC citizen has ever accused me of this, which would be way worse.  They marvel that I could possibly give a damn about my research, of course, but at least, after I explain my reasoning, they usually see how that could be worth knowing.  The incident is a reminder, I suppose, that some of my fellow Americans over here can be unwittingly dangerous, especially dumb ones who live inside their little expat bubble and don't recognize that things they say idly can land someone else in prison....or worse.  Remind me not to hang out with idiots.


  1. Love that video clip!
    Hate the CIA suggestion! Yes, steer clear of those idiots. Such rumors could be quite damaging.

  2. When I was in the Peace Corps, every so often someone would suggest that I was in the CIA. I think it would be harder to respond now that I'm middle aged, and really do look like I could be some nameless middle manager type in any sort of agency. :(

  3. @Mom: Thanks, er...Mom! (Addressing you by your nom de blog is somehow uncanny.) I've been referring to that film clip for ages as shorthand to explain to non-academics what Pseudology is.

    @Bardiac: Yeah, the accusation tends to be leveled at pseudologists as well as at Peace Corpsniks. It often has less to do with how someone looks than a general ignorance of the multifarious nature of US engagement with other countries. That said, I wonder if the way I look increases or decreases this suspicion? Tell me how to create those wonderful cartoons you feature, and I might experiment with that to work out the idea!

  4. It's all in the basic paint program. Check your email :)

  5. I get this all the time actually--although usually it's some variation on oh you'd be such a good spy because you look so innocent. And your command of RC-ish is not to your advantage in this case!