Ph.D. Octopus

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The Supreme Court is made up of Stoned Sophomores Writing Papers about Huck Finn at 2 AM

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By Wiz

Webster’s Dictionary defines “lazy freshman” as “One who cuts corners in a sloppy and cliched manner, such as beginning a college essay with the dictionary’s definition of a word.”

Seriously, has anyone ever read a student’s paper that was good and began with a dictionary definition? It is almost always a way to fill up space (gotta get to 500 words somehow) and/or sound pretentious.

Which is why the following article about the Supreme Court is so depressing/sadly predictable: “A new study in The Marquette Law Review found that the justices had used dictionaries to define 295 words or phrases in 225 opinions in the 10 years starting in October 2000. That is roughly in line with the previous decade but an explosion by historical standards.”

Though it did produce this pretty awesomely snarky line about the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court: “One of the words he looked up was ‘of.’ He learned that it means pretty much what you think it means.”

Is the cause: 1. declining intellectual standards on the Court, 2. the intellectually-vacant but Tea-Party-pleasing notion that the Supreme Court just calls “balls and strikes,” 3. the unchecked power of Big Dictionary in Washington DC?

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Written by Peter Wirzbicki

June 13, 2011 at 21:14

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