Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

Mitch Daniels, the 38 percent of all people are a**holes theory and its corolary.

   A theory I have developed is that 38% of all people are assholes. A corollary to this theory is that all people have the tendency to be assholes. (Since Justice Alito announced two years ago that broadcast TV is dead and implied the rule against the "seven words" no longer holds, I shall continue on this topic.) By "asshole," I mean someone who is self-centered to the point that she or he would ruin someone else simply out of spite, at the very least verbally abusive to most people whom that person encounters, and does not care what others think about her or his behavior. This theory has not been subjected to any study based on statistical methodology. I have not written it as a journal for peer-review. It is based on personal observation, gut-level reaction, and responses from others who, when they hear it, say, "That's about right." 

   From 1980 to 1982 I was on staff as a clerical assistant at Purdue University's Life Sciences Library. Some of the patrons---as library users were, perhaps still are, called---were professors from the constituent departments of the library. The largest of the departments was Biology. As is true of people everywhere, some of the professors were cool, more were of average temperament, and a few whom I encountered were assholes.

   One of the professors came into the library in search of half-a-dozen specific journal articles. (Usually he sent grad students to perform such mundane tasks, but on that particular day they may have been absent. I had thrown a party the night before and they might have been a little under the weather.) As I recall, two of the copies were not on the shelves. This was in the pre-internet age. As loose journals reached a certain point, they would be grouped together and sent to be bound in a hard-cover volume. The process took a couple of weeks.

   The professor was indignant. He did not understand why those journals were not there NOW, when he needed them.

   Looking back, I wish that I had taken down the titles of the articles and gone to another one of the libraries on campus---Purdue had 15 different libraries and collections overlapped; those journals were in at least two other libraries and staffs tried to coordinate when items were sent out to be bound to address this problem---and photocopied (I did not use a variation of the word "Xerox"(r) as a verb) the articles for the professor. Instead a different clerical assistant became upset with the professor, and the professor complained to the University.

   The story usually ends here. A professor gets mad in a library and complains. In this instance, however, the professor was a Nobel-track researcher and was responsible for several million dollars in grant money being channeled to Purdue. A few years later I read an article in the paper about his break-through in an area of research. He did not get that Nobel, but made headway in some area of disease. His research benefited people, created jobs at Purdue, and furthered the position of this State and the United States in the field of "life sciences."

   So it was with surprise that I read Mitch Daniels, in that sinecure he created for himself at Purdue University, decided not to side with other University leaders to protest cuts in research grants. First, I doubt he would be as adamant about such things at his alma mater Princeton. Second, I am surprised the faculty at Purdue has not tarred and feather him in effigy. Third, he has not looked at the benefits of University research. The professor whom I encountered, from what I knew, did not waste any of the grant money he received. He was a geek---he spent it on his research. A lot of research is funded by government: here by our own government, and overseas by the governments of other countries THAT ARE PULLING AHEAD OF US BY A WIDER MARGIN IN RESEARCH in such fields as life sciences.

   Mitch is a field-study validation---or would that be an "anecdotal verification"?---of my 38 percent theory. I believe I shall write the theory as a journal article, submit it to a scholarly journal, and see if I can get a Nobel. If Mitch helps cut research grant money, I don't think Nobels will flood to Purdue any time soon.

   have not tested and again 1985-86, I was 

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