May 11, 2009

The real American Dream

I don't know why people speak so highly of dreams all the time: e.g., the American Dream, "I have a dream," Dreams from My Father, etc.

If my dreams are representative, then the real American Dream is that you're in the classroom for your final exam but you haven't attended a class or opened the book all semester, and for some reason you're wearing your pajamas, and you really have to go to the bathroom.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

39 comments:

boondocks said...

Speaking of exams.....did you see this article in the NYTimes, Steve?

"Pilot in Buffalo Crash Had Failed Five Tests"

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/12/nyregion/12pilot.html?hp

An example of "disparate impact" indeed......

Got me thinking about the Ricci firefighter testing and some of the inane commentary I've been hearing about it on TV. Some pundits and "experts" have seriously been arguing that not only are the firefighter tests biased, but unnecessary, because the really important things are stuff like "command presence" and this stuff just HAS TO trump minimum, basic competence and intelligence.

Eddy Elfenbein said...

Glad MLK made that speech instead of you.

Garland said...

Dream = imagination.

james said...

Well I suppose MLK could hardly have said in public "I have a dream ... which, it so happens, I plagiarized."

Polistra said...

Ah, but wouldn't it be wonderful?

"My fellow Americans, I have a dream. I have a dream that I'm shaving and my whiskers turn into leaves of grass and then I'm driving down the street except I'm actually pedaling a bike up the stairs into my grandmother's apartment. My grandmother turns into the Virgin Mary, and she tells me I shouldn't be a politician. And I realize she was right! I hereby resign my office, because, my friends, I have a dream!

Axe Head said...

Mr. Sailer, I've heard that people who quit on a degree don't have such dreams. My recurring nightmare is that, the day before I am to defend my dissertation, I realize I haven't started it.

Thursday said...

Dream = vision

Lucius Vorenus said...

God, I hope that Roissy doesn't see this thread.

robert61 said...

I have a vision that Thursday's dog wants me to kill Jody Foster.

Seriously, though, my dreams are like Steve's, except I often seem to have forgotten my pants.

Anonymous said...

Steve,
I have that dream all the time, and my friends tell me they have the same one too!

clem said...

I've heard that people who quit on a degree don't have such dreams.I've quit on several degrees, but still can't find the engineering classroom I'm supposed to be in, and often find that I haven't studied for tests ... back in high school.

John Seiler said...

I wrote education editorials for 19 years at The Orange County Register, 1987-2006, and there were only 3 real reforms -- or, rather, repeals of reforms -- all taking place in the late 1990s: 1. Ending (mostly) Look Say reading and going back to phonics. 2. Ending (mostly) the New New Math and going back to regular math. 3. Ending (mostly) bilingual ed, thanks to Ron Unz's English for the Children initiative.

Everything else was a scam to get more money from taxpayers or take more power from parents.

Anonymous said...

It is just further debasement of language because it is the current dogma that all people have equally important things to say, and equally valid ways of expressing them.

- Soul Searcher

Lucius Vorenus said...

John Seiler: I wrote education editorials for 19 years at The Orange County Register, 1987-2006, and there were only 3 real reforms...

Did you ever cross paths with Jaime Escalante?

Boy I would like to see a retrospective analysis of what was really going on with his students at Garfield, and of what became of them later in life.

Anonymous said...

I have this recurring dream that I'm handing out final exams to my students on the last day of class, and when I come to the last desk of the last row there's this student sitting there in his pajamas who I've never seen before asking me if he can go to the bathroom.

Anonymous said...

I'll chime in too, Steve. Same recurrent dream for years. Then, the theme shifted a bit to where my dream self realized I had passed the bar exam, so fretting over a high school math test was kind of silly. Then I'd wake up. I don't recall having this dream since around age 40.

Now, at age 45 and one lost marriage and one lost business later, I only have recurrent dreams of almost drowning.

--Senor Doug

Anonymous said...

it's reassuring to know that i'll never be old enough to stop having that dream.

(no offense intended)

J said...

Yours is a classic "Caprex" dream. Generations of students have had it and keep having them along their lives. As a rule, it happens only to very good students and they generally succeed the next morning.

A variation of the dream is that you are called to stage or podium and forgot your part, or you are paralyzed and cannot talk.

"Caprex", by the way, means Cagazo Pre-Examen, pre-exam diarrhea.

It is a good dream.

Stan B said...

"If my dreams are representative, then the real American Dream is that you're in the classroom for your final exam but you haven't attended a class or opened the book all semester"

Man, I still have this one around once every two months. Worse, it's a high school class that, owing to some dreamworld technicality, I never actually passed ten years ago. Thus, I'm forced to return to high school as a 29 year old so that my (real life) M.S. degree isn't invalidated.

The dream gets worse when I have to actually take the test in the dream. The test questions change every time I reread them, which makes taking the test understandably difficult. Occasionally, however, I can use that as a hint that I'm dreaming and either wake up or make the dream take a lucid turn.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

I used to have the same dream quite frequently in graduate school; however, I drink so much caffiene now, I hardly ever make it into REM sleep. Problem, uh, solved!

anony-mouse said...

Is it wrong to cheat on an exam you're having in your dream?

Matt said...

Steve, what I often wonder (after I had those same dreams) is what my great great grandfather dreamed about. Did he dream of going out to harvest the crops, only to discover he had never planted any seeds, and his scythe blade was made of wood? Does anyone know?

Figgy said...

Ha! Leave out the part about having to go to the bathroom and I've had this one countless times. Matter of fact, I may have blocked out the bathroom part.

Jim O said...

...or, for some reason, I've decided to go back to college again, even though I have a degree...or, 30 years after my discharge, I've reinlisted in the Army...or I'm lost on the NYC Subway system and just can't make that last connection... or the court is about to call my case for oral argument, and I realize I've never read the briefs...

beowulf said...

boondocks,

The pilot with 5 fails was a white male, not sure what your "disparate impact" angle is.

Paul said...

That's awesome, Steve. I can't tell you how many times I've had that dream. I thought it would get better after I graduated from law school, but it doesn't.

josh said...

Today is my day off. I fell asleep listening to rush limbaugh! I dreamed he and Obama were in my house! What a nite mare!

David said...

Everyone might have that type of dream. Often the dream consists of one's searching frantically for the classroom on the day of a final exam in college. Naturally one is ignorant of the location of this classroom - since one failed to attend any class in that course, this horrifying oversight being discovered immediately the dream begins. Often one isn't wearing pants.

The dream has no terminus. It's only a slow-motion search for the correct classroom, in a molasses of dread that Kafka and Munch would approve. (Dread because one would flunk the course anyway, even if one arrived in time to take the exam.)

It was my mother's only recurring dream for 40 years, by her report. Mine for about 10. College, or school generally, is probably fairly psychologically traumatic.

But I wonder if everyone really has this kind of dream. Do Asians? Blacks? Indians? Jews? Women? Men? Native-borns? Foreigners? What is the level of undergraduate, or greater, test anxiety by ethnicity, sex, and culture? Given a large enough university setting, the controls for a study on this are relatively easy to set up. The results might not tell us anything at all, but the study would certainly be fun and interesting to do!

The Wobbly Guy said...

I'm asian, and I have this dream/nightmare too!

I hardly ever have it anymore, it was more common before I started working. Even now that I'm taking my masters, I'm pleasantly surprised I haven't had it.

Yet. :P

jody said...

i'm a 32 year old euro american man and i have this dream. nobody told me to have it, or even told me that they were having it. i just started having it after i graduated from college and it comes again every few months.

i consider it extremely freaky that so many people have the exact same dream, and that it is so persistent.

like david, i wonder if other races have this same dream.

do people who never went to college have this dream? what about high school dropouts who did not even bother finishing that level of education? maybe they have some other universal, recurring dream where they can't find their work uniform and then step outside and their truck/beat up honda is missing?

Anonymous said...

But I wonder if everyone really has this kind of dream. Do Asians? Blacks? Indians? Jews? Women? Men? Native-borns? Foreigners?

I'm a woman. My recurring dream is a slight variation. First I don't know where I am. Then I realize I'm back in college. I don't know what courses I signed up for/ where or when they are/ and can't find my schedule.

Or, alternatively, I'm supposed to be about to graduate/take the final exam and realize I forgot to attend any classes.

boondocks said...

beowulf,

there never was meant to literally be a "disparate impact" angle.

it was just a comment referring to the actual impact of the crash.

silver said...

Seriously, though, my dreams are like Steve's, except I often seem to have forgotten my pants.Hehe, same here. Seems a lot of smart people have this dream. But forgetting your pants must surely mean a genius among geniuses.

(I haven't had it for years, now I think about it. I'm worlds more confident now than in those days; I'd love to see how I handle it now. Eg, as a pretty cool guy I've always had pretty cool guy friends and in my dreams it was often some buddy that would get the dream girl. Not anymore! Now she's a piece of cake.)

Anonymous said...

Had this dream many times in many variants (e.g. frantically running through an empty campus or opening identical doors in an infinite hallway). This was accompanied by severe teeth grinding while in a very competitive elite sci/eng school.

Now released into the general population, I fear I'm suffering from the opposite root pathologies: overconfidence combined with indolence. My dreams now are expansive whereby I am conquering the world by some measure.

kraut said...

The other night I was a captured German soldier and Stalin personally was one of the interrogators / torturers. I said that I needed to give up only one principal in order to escape torture. I was kinda scared of the guy, but in retrospect consider his offer to be very lenient.

Jerry said...

I never had this dream, but now, as a professor, I have a variation of it: I walk in to teach my class and realize that I forgot to put on my pants!

Ronduck said...

Jody wrote...

do people who never went to college have this dream?...maybe they have some other universal, recurring dream where they can't find their work uniform and then step outside and their truck/beat up honda is missing?I don't know about others, but I very rarely remember my dreams. The last time I had recurring dreams that I remembered was back in early elementary school.

Cossack in a Kilt said...

If you have a dream where you show up without pants, the only option is the "The Man Who Would Be King" option.

"Brass it out, Danny, brass it out."

Anonymous said...

I have that dream, too. I also sometimes dream that I'm back in the military and forced to perform endless senseless menial tasks that I can't get out of.