October 27, 2015

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There once was an American billionaire, one so powerful and paranoid that he insisted upon being left off all those Forbes lists. He never showed up to Bilderberg or Bohemian Grove, so after a while, he stopped being invited. His name dropped off those lists, too, then eventually out of even the memories of the few men who could possibly be called his peers.

The billionaire died an unhappy man. Unhappy because, despite his wealth, he”€™d never achieved his dearest dream: He”€™d wanted to be a writer.

Not a novelist, mind you: Having come of age during the golden era of the American magazine, the billionaire fantasied about writing unforgettable, elegant, yet seemingly effortless nonfiction in the vein of Gore Vidal or Tom Wolfe. (Although he”€™d have happily settled for John McPhee…)

Except…he could never think of anything to write about.

He loved the idea of writing, but when he settled into the secret office he”€™d set up in each of his homes (with their matching IBM Selectrics, and those patient piles of white 20-pound bond poised just so to his left, and a steaming cup of oolong at his right), the billionaire’s brain”€”the one that had never failed him before and had, in fact, gotten him to this precise, perfect-for-writing place (the old boathouse in Martha’s Vineyard, perhaps, or the screened-in porch at the Bahamas house)”€”that formidable brain clicked off.

“€œJust as women pretend to value “€˜a sense of humor”€™ in potential male mates, men have been trained to claim they”€™re besotted with female brains.”€

So when he died, the billionaire’s sole bequest was the establishment of a secret trust to support similarly struggling writers. The money from this trust wouldn”€™t go directly to writers in the form of grants and awards, though. Instead, the billionaire set up the Polonius Foundation. Through a complex system of money laundering that no single sworn-to-secrecy man involved in the operation thoroughly understood, this foundation funded…studies.

“€œStudies”€ in…what? That didn”€™t matter. Researchers who submitted grant applications through legitimate academic channels (applications that sometimes, somehow caught the attention of Polonius apparatchiks) quickly figured out that the more banal their thesis, the more absurd their methodology, the more likely they were to receive the funds they”€™d requested.

Because what these researchers didn”€™t know was that the true purpose of all these “€œstudies”€ wasn”€™t to study (let alone solve) any real-world problems, save one.

These “€œstudies,”€ once published, would”€”the billionaire had fondly, and correctly, hoped”€”give desperate writers the one thing he knew from harsh experience they all needed much more than, say, a Louis Quinze desk of impeccable provenance:

These “€œstudies”€ would give writers something to write about.

And that, as you”€™ve all been impotently wondering for some time now, is where all these “€œstudies”€ come from, and (the real) “€œwhy.”€

Which brings me (yes, just hours before my deadline) to the latest one to capture my attention, via where else but the Daily Mail:

Men ARE threatened by intelligence: Study reveals males claim to be attracted to women who are cleverer than them…until they actually meet one.

Why bother reading more? You already know that the sample size was comically miniscule and rarefied (105 male college students); the methodology, Heath Robinsonian; the “€œscience,”€ well, not (in this case, psychology.)

And more important, unless you are reading this, that, and everything else on an iPad attached to the mechanical arm extending from your iron lung (and even then…), you didn”€™t need a “€œstudy”€ to “€œprove”€ that, did you?


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