Smash Bros Theory: 6 Absurd Classes Taught at Actual Colleges
Universities everywhere base their entire business model on forcing you to take half a dozen completely useless classes for each one that will actually help you get smarter and find a job.
As a result, post-secondary education can be a mine field of dubious courses peddling the equivalent of academic snake oil, and some of them get downright ridiculous:
Super Smash Brothers Melee Theory and Practice
We admit we've never heard of this college, but at first glance it seemed like a legit school of higher learning. We found out that it's actually a 175 year-old private and selective school, and one that is fairly well-regarded even though their mascot is a Yeoman. What would the 19th Century founders say if they could see their own classrooms used to teach a course on Super Smash Brothers Melee?
Well they'd probably say something about how the magical box appears to be possessed by warring devils, at which point they would declare the whole operation to be the work of witchcraft and flee the room. But after we calmed them down they'd probably say something about how getting course credit for playing Smash Brothers is a bunch of bullshit.
Pictured: Final Exam.
Most pseudo-classes like this come with a course description that tries to play up the supposed academic value. Here they've tried to tell us the course covers "controversial issues concerning video games." However the extra $3 course fee for wear and tear on the controller pretty much gives away the real purpose. The only controversy being discussed in that class is whether to tell your parents that this is how you are blowing your college fund that they put off kidney surgery for.
Amazingly this course has 2.5 hours of class time a week, which is probably about 40 hours less than most of the students would normally play video games. Half of the course time is dedicated to time outside regular class time to practice and refine skills, time that may otherwise be wasted learning things that might actually lead to employment or sex.
Psychology of Exceptional Human Experiences
This school is located in Coventry, England and the course shows that Queen or no Queen, England can do stupid just as well as America can.
At first the course sounds pretty good. You've got a very normal-sounding title, and the description says students are required to have a Bachelor's degree and will be drawing from the fields of psychology and religion and doing quantitative analysis. But, much like a bad strip joint, once your eyes adjust to the light you realize that not everything is as it seems. This is in fact a class on psychic and paranormal experiences.
If there was any doubt as to what you would have to look forward to, this interview makes it clear that this course is not the resume builder you thought it was. It turns out the instructor will be teaching students in the course to "chase poltergeists, talk to the dead and understand telepathy."
It does not make it clear whether he will also teach them how to catch Leprechauns or battle dragons, but we think he should because those would be way more useful skills. Instead of learning anything legit you're going to spend your time hanging out in haunted houses with tape recorders and cameras, trying to find your last shred of self respect.
The course will be like this, except without anything you see in the picture.
We have a suspicion that this course was started by somebody who saw the opening scenes in Ghostbusters and immediately told their guidance counselor they wanted to go to whichever college had the best ghost-hunting department, like in the movie. When the counselor told them that in fact no real college had a ghost-hunting department because that would be ridiculous, they decided to spend the next 20 years trying to right that wrong.
Offered At:Occidental College.
Occidental College is a liberal arts college in LA. The Princeton Review has it on its list of The Best 361 Colleges, otherwise known as The List of All the Colleges in the U.S.
The course is supposedly an examination of stupidity "... ranging from the presidency to Beevis (sic) and Butthead (sic)." They don't name the president but we're going to guess it's not Lincoln. Also, right away we're doubting the quality of a course that wants to teach you about stupidity but manages to spell Beavis and Butt-Head wrong. These guys may know stupidity, but apparently they don't know Google.
The description slaps together a bunch of absurd academic jargon to try to legitimize the whole operation, with phrases like "Stupidity is neither ignorance nor organicity, but rather, a corollary of knowing..." or our other favorite, "Stupidity is always the name of the Other, and it is the sign of the feminine." Is there some kind of college course random word generator they use for these things?
Also, what's the supposed benefit here? We don't think analyzing stupidity is going to make you feel any better about it, any more than telling us exactly what's in dog poop will let us better cope with stepping in it. Even worse, you'd be paying someone thousands of dollars to point out things that are stupid, when you could have just came to this site and let us do it for the price of free.
This course is part of Alfred University's honors program and is supposed to prove that money can't buy happiness, though what it really proves is that you shouldn't base entire college courses on fortune cookie sayings.
In the course you are going to learn how living on the cheap will benefit the environment and improve your relationships. It also offers both instruction in theory and practice, which is awesome because there is no way you could understand how to save money without actually doing things like hitting thrift shops and yard sales. It also promises you'll learn how to avoid falling for rip offs, which ironically is a skill you clearly don't have if you paid for this course.
This brings us to the larger point, which is that unless your parents are rich enough to have a vacation home in Aspen, then the very act paying tens of thousands of dollars to attend a University has already taught you how to live with no money. Just two months of being a college student, regardless of which classes you take, will teach you that you can get two meals out of a single family-sized box of macaroni and cheese, and what exact combination of liquor will get you drunkest on a budget of twelve dollars. We don't need a professor to show us a Powerpoint presentation on the subject.
The Science of Superheroes
This course asks the question, "Have you ever wondered if Superman could really bend steel bars?" To which the answer would be, "Not since I was 5."
This UC Irvine course seems to be an attempt to address the concerns of a certain segment of the population that likes to debate important issues like whether sucking up gamma rays would turn you into the Hulk or a pile of boiling flesh.
Professor Mike Dennin has been profiled on several news programs and was in a documentary related to his "innovative" course. He is of the opinion that by giving the students something to relate to they won't fear science so much. We suspect it also gives him a chance to wear his Batman costume.
We don't have the credentials to teach physics but we think that a better way to teach science might be to examine scientific principles that were not completely made up by comic book writers. Teaching a science course by spending time looking at shit that isn't science seems about as useful as teaching English by pointing to gibberish and saying "This ain't English, and neither is this. See this? Not English!". Thanks, that's fucking useful.
If your grasp on science is so tenuous that you sign up for this class to validate your belief that, under the right circumstances x-ray vision is attainable, then you're in for a huge disappointment. Seeing how real life measures up to comics, we're thinking the comparison will serve only to turn the entire class off of real science forever.
We didn't expect a course like this to be offered even at a hippie school like SFSU. Then again, with a school motto like "Experience Teaches" this class probably fits right in.
The course is supposed to examine cybersex and its place in the world today. It examines difficult questions like "What is cybersex?" and "Why do we want cybersex?" and "Do we need air to live?"
The instructor is a lady named Mary Madden who has a Master's degree and lists "Online adult entertainment" as her area of expertise on her faculty page, which means she shares the same area of expertise as every fucking guy in America.
As for course work, you're required you to chat online, check out porn links and then design your own unique cybersexual experience to present to the class, finally giving you a chance to share your perverted fantasies with strangers without fear of arrest. Though if you're using one of the school's PCs, we'd strongly suggest that you begin every session by disinfecting your keyboard.
What's disappointing here is that this could be a useful course, if they bothered to teach practical skills such as "How to safely surf porn at work," "How to hide your porn from your girlfriend/spouse" and "How to hide your plainly visible erection from a classroom full of other students."
We don't think we'll find any of that in the syllabus.
Get an education here on Cracked with 9 Words That Don't Mean What You Think or for a new definition of the phrase "higher learning" check out The 5 Greatest Things Ever Accomplished While High.