Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

Bluff The Listener

Our panelists tell three stories about odd classes offered at Ivy League schools.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

CARL KASELL, HOST:

From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Roxanne Roberts, Luke Burbank and Mo Rocca. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Carl.

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SAGAL: Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

CLIFF BLACK: Hello there.

SAGAL: Hi, who's this?

BLACK: This is Cliff from St. Joseph, Missouri.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in St. Joseph?

BLACK: They're just great.

SAGAL: Now, St. Joseph is - I've hear of St. Joseph. Isn't St. Joseph famous for some reasons?

BLACK: As the Chamber of Commerce likes to say, it's the birthplace of the Pony Express and the end of Jesse James.

SAGAL: Oh really?

BLACK: Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Do you have reenactments of, like, those things?

BLACK: We certainly do.

SAGAL: Do you really? Like, some actor gets shot in the back by the coward Robert Ford?

BLACK: Well, more so the Pony Express runs.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Really?

BLACK: Yes.

SAGAL: Well, welcome to our show. you're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Cliff's topic?

KASELL: Ace this course and you'll be ready for that job on Wall Street.

SAGAL: The Ivy League is seen as the fast track to the one percent and for good reason. The rigorous education offered at Harvard, Yale and all the rest prepare our youth to rule us all. Each of our panelists of going to describe a real course at a real Ivy League school that you could take, if you were smart enough to get in. Guess the real story, you will win Carl's voice on your voicemail. Ready to play?

BLACK: I'm ready.

SAGAL: First, let's hear from Roxanne Roberts.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: Pity the poor rich kids, or give them a class on how to shop without guilt. This semester, Harvard University offered "Psychological Implications of Luxury Consumerism Among 18 to 21-year-olds," otherwise known as Shop Op 101.

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ROBERTS: The class requirements are pretty simple. Students keep a diary of all their purchases or gifts valued at $100 or more, and record their emotions at the time of purchase and 24 hours later. Quote, "privileged students often suffer from anxiety and guilt about their lifestyle," Professor Andrew Hitchcock told the Boston Globe. "This class is designed to make them more comfortable with their economic status."

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ROBERTS: But students seem pretty comfortable already. Quote, "basically, we spend our parent's money and get credit for it."

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ROBERTS: Freshman Stephanie Coolis told the paper. "I got an A on my midterm in one after at Neiman's and I'm already done with my Christmas shopping."

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SAGAL: High end shopping taught at Harvard. Your next story of the Ivy League shaping tomorrow's leaders comes from Mo Rocca.

MO ROCCA TELEVISION PERSONALITY: You have no idea how clubby the Ivy League can get. As if Yale University kids weren't cool enough already, now juniors are being offered course entitled, "Dance Music and Nightlife Culture in New York City."

That's right, Yalees are studying clubbing. Topics include: "The Birth of the Mega Club" and "Getting Past the Velvet Rope." There are even field trips down to New York to go clubbing at the Boom Boom Room.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

PERSONALITY: Instructor Madison Moore says the class is, quote, "not just about getting drunk, it's also about getting a high, your understanding of why humans like to say out late."

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PERSONALITY: No word if graduate degrees will be offered: a master under thesis advisor Master P, a PhD in GHB, maybe even a law degree in spinning records, you know, a JD in DJing.

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PERSONALITY: By the way, if you factor in Yale's tuition, the cover for this class is about $3,250.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: A course in clubbing, New York-style, at Yale university. And your last story of higher learning at the elite institution comes from Luke Burbank.

LUKE BURBANK: Cornell students looking to get into Psych 134: Family, Fame, Failure, taught by Professor Dave Ross, had better be ready to wait. Triple F, as it's known, has already a waiting list for next fall's offering. Using the latest breakthroughs in family psychology and TiVo, the class investigates why, when the national divorce rate approaches 50 percent, the divorce rate among Kardashians appears to hover near 96 percent.

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BURBANK: "Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe face what might seem like unique challenges in terms of interpersonal and family dynamics," Ross says, "but with new reality shows being created every day, it's really only a matter of time before every American marriage is being televised nationally, or at least on the Oxygen network."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: The class is so popular that Andrew Walsh, a professor in the business school is considering teaching an economics course next year called "New Economics: Turning an Ample Backside and No Discernible Talent into Millions of Dollars."

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SAGAL: All righty, then.

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SAGAL: Cliff, if you were lucky enough to get into one of these elite, exclusive institutions, you could either take a course in luxury shopping at Harvard - that was from Roxanne - a course in clubbing in New York at Yale, from Mo Rocca, or a course in the Kardashian marriage dynamics at Cornell University. Which of these is a real course at a real institution of higher learning?

BLACK: Oh.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BLACK: I'm going to go with the Kardashians.

SAGAL: You're going to go with the Kardashian studies?

BLACK: Yes.

SAGAL: Psychologists trying to determine why the Kardashians have so many marriage troubles, at Cornell. That's your choice?

BLACK: Yes.

SAGAL: All right, well we spoke to someone who studies this course and reported on it for the school paper.

DAN STEIN: It's being called Yale's class on clubbing, but it's actually called "Dance Music and Nightlife Culture in New York City."

SAGAL: That was Dan Stein. He's a Yale student, a real one, who wrote about the very real clubbing class for the very real Yale Daily News. So, I'm afraid, in this particular case, Mo had the real story. And all the people who did not go to Yale are regretting that choice right now.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

PERSONALITY: This is the only way they can get into those clubs.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Apparently.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: However, you did earn a point for Luke for his excellent course in the Kardashian studies, which I recommend to all students out there. So thank you so much for playing, Cliff.

BLACK: Thank you.

SAGAL: All right, bye-bye.

BLACK: Bye.

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