Friday, January 8, 2016

Why are they all lying sacks of crap?

Dear Professor Indicated by RMP as Easy,

     I [have some long and boring story about an ambiguous "hold" that "they" finally removed] so now I can register, but all of the classes are filled, so can you add me to your class?  It is the only class I need to graduate.  I know this is an unusual request, but [I looked at RMP and all of the reliable data therein led me to believe the other professors would be mean to me if I asked them instead so I asked you].

   Lenny the Liar


Dear Lenny, 

    According to the degree audit I just ran without your permission, you also need field work and a practicum in your major, an English elective, and, strangely, Freshman Seminar.  That is assuming you don't fail the remedial math you're taking over intersession.  The math class is interesting, by the way, because how did "they" let you register for that when "they" put a "hold" on your account? Weird, right?  Oh, and now that I've made you read a long boring story too, I'll answer your question:  No.  You can't be added to a lab - it's literally against the law.


PS It's not that unusual of a request - you are much more ordinary than you think.

PPS I can also see the same exact class schedule that you can see, so go register for Professor RMP Says is Mean before it's too late.

PPPS Professor RMP Says is Mean really is mean - ha ha.


  1. Anytime I meet a Justice of the Peace (socially, not in court), I ask how they cope emotionally with a job in which EVERYONE is LYING. I've never gotten an answer: every time so far, the conversation immediately veers into an exchange of war stories about how astonishingly TRANSPARENT their lies are, like the time some child told me he hadn't come to class because he had "car trouble" (uh-huh!), IMMEDIATELY after having me sign a form that listed his address as JUST ACROSS THE STREET.

    1. Once, when I have a sarcastic reply similar to WotC's, one real toughie immediately blurted, "ARE YOU CALLING ME A LIAR?" I grinned, and said, "Well, anyone can make a mistake." Between lies and honest mistakes due to a complete inability to work with factual information, I don't trust-but-verify: I just verify.

    2. The address of record is not necessarily the address of the place where the student is actually located at any given moment. For instance, it is perfectly possible that the student had to come to class from work, from his girlfriend's place or from some other place that was not across the street.

    3. Ever hear of Occam's razor? It's the principle that, all else being equal, the idea that makes the fewest assumptions is more likely to be the one that's correct.

      When a student who has transparently lied to me in every previous interaction, and is in the process of handing me homework that was quite obvious copied from someone else (since the chances of writing every mathematical symbol is exactly the same format is about eleventy trillion to one), by Occan's razor, if this smeghead appears to live right across the street, it's because he does.

    4. So why are you making the assumption that he is home before class? All you know is that he lives there. You don't know how and where he is spending his time. Coming to class from work, for example, would be a perfectly plausible situation.

    5. Monica, you ruin this place for me.

    6. My bad: I should have known better than to try to explain Occam's razor, which is about making fewer assumptions, to Monica of all people.

    7. In real life, the situation that is true is not necessarily the one that is simpler or based on fewer hypotheses. Besides, not coming directly from home is not a rare or complicated situation. Moreover, an individual who lied and cheated in the past is not necessarily doing it all the time. The student could be the biggest liar in the college or university and still tell the truth about this particular issue.

    8. Please go away. I have enough contrarians in my life.

    9. Oh, but we haven't considered another possibility: that a meteorite fell out of the sky, and hit this student who had previously given me nothing but lies and was in the process of handing me more lies, and damaged his car. It happened in Peekskill, New York, in 1992: the owner of the car, an old rustbucket, sold the meteorite and the car to a museum, and subsequently bought a Porsche. Don't we all like a happy ending?

      By the way, to address the original question here: Why are they all lying sacks of crap? This is a compound question, but it's pretty easy. Not all of them are lying sacks of crap: a handful of them are not. Far too many of them are, however: these are sacks of crap because they lie.

      So, why do they lie? Obviously, because they think they think they can attain some advantage from it. That said, one thing guaranteed to horn me off is whenever I find students lying when they didn't even have to.

      It's also because they have no moral qualms about lying. Above all, they think they can get away with lying, since they think we will fall for it.

    10. Nothing against Frod, as perhaps I've had too much rum, but I can see Monica's point.

    11. This is Monica's schtick. If this was the first time she played idiot/savant/contrarian it'd be fine. It's tiresome.

    12. After 10+ years of dealing with this crap, and taking a Bayesian approach to probability, I'm willing to bet real money that the data point lies well to the far right of the probability distribution curve that the student is lying, notwithstanding Monica's suggestions.

  2. Nice work, WotC! What impresses me is how conscientious you were about trying to corroborate the lie before committing to "the Liar" label despite how easy it is to act jaded. You are a model of toughness-under-attack like your namesake

  3. This rings true/familiar to me, too. Among other things, I've learned that the appropriate response to "only your class will fit my complicated schedule!" (at least if I don't want to take the effort to go look at all the schedules involved, and keeping in mind that the school one won't involve the work/family commitments the student is also citing) is "I'm concerned that you haven't left enough free time in your schedule for the homework my class involves."

    And yes, they're not nearly as unique as they think they are, which may be a result of millenial self-absorption, but also seems to be a reflection of the larger American tendency to believe that everyone else has figured out how to cope in what really is a ridiculous, and very skewed, economic system, and that they could, too, if they could only tweak one or two of the things that are, at least apparently, under the control of people to whom they can appeal directly.

    Seriously, if you're working three jobs, none of them with a regular/predictable schedule, and taking care of a kid/grandparent on top of that, and the public transportation system doesn't go where you need to go via any quasi-direct route, and the car you're sharing with three other family members is out of commission more often than not, no particular class schedule, even the one you see as perfect, is going to make all the pieces fall neatly into place. I'm sympathetic, but I'm stuck in the middle of the same shitstorm (albeit with considerably better foul-weather gear), as are most of your classmates (whose own gear is in varying states of existence/repair), and, while I'll do what I can to not make things worse for any of us (including me), I can't turn it off.


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