The 10 Most Important Things They Didn't Teach You In School
By the time you're 30, you'll be hit with the crushing truth of just how much the grownups didn't teach you when you were in school. And, while liberals and conservatives haggle over whether public schools need more funding or more lessons on the Ten Commandments, we think all can agree there are some very basic, useful things that our children really, really should know.
Therefore when Cracked starts its line of private schools, know that your kids won't graduate without having passed...
Sex Ed (for Girls): How to Spot a Douchebag
Young ladies, you're in your teens now and already you have no doubt run into some guys who are being suspiciously nice to you. Likely you have figured out that in many cases, this has nothing to do with them being nice guys and everything to do with them desperately wanting you to touch their boner.
What you may not realize is that over the next few years, a string of rejections will cause many of these men to start hating you. Some of them hate you already, because they grew up hating their mothers and it kind of carries over. Boys are like that.
Now, some of these men will then become members of the Pick Up Artist Community, also known as the Seduction Community. This is a loose club of guys who see females as a collection of walking masturbation aids. They have websites and seminars and chat rooms where they trade tips on how to manipulate you into having sex with them.
They believe the male/female relationship is adversarial in nature, and that sex is a way of conquering you. Thus many of their techniques work by playing on your insecurities, like "the Neg," where they first engage you in conversation, then drop subtle criticisms that will undermine your self-esteem and subconsciously make you want to gain their approval (by letting them touch your boobs). Believe it or not, it works--if you're not ready for it.
This is just one type of douchebag; this class will cover several varieties. And, while we're not telling you not to sleep with these men, the lesson you will learn from this course is that they will put the same effort into making you happy as they do the semen-encrusted sock under their bed.
I. Types of Douchebag;
II. How to Tell When He's Lying;
III. Why Your Male Friends Almost Certainly Want to Have Sex With You;
IV. Why There is Nothing to be Gained by Showing Your Boobs to a Camera.
Sex Ed (for Boys): Why Porn is Not a Good Way to Learn About Sex
Young men, you're in your teens now and that means already you've seen several thousand hours of Internet porn. Many of you will soon engage in your first sexual encounter, having no practical instruction to guide you beyond those videos.
Unfortunately, what you see on PornTube represents only what certain men wish sex was like. We're not saying that you'll never meet a woman who enjoys, say, having semen squirted into her eyes, or having sex on camera with five strangers in the back of a decorated van. What we're saying is that just about everything you see in those videos--including the ones that claim to be hidden camera or "reality" porn--is there specifically because real women are not like that. These videos fill a gap between fantasy and reality.
So how do you figure out what to do when you're finally alone with a lady? Well, we can give you the basics, but the rest will be up to you.
I. It's a Vagina, Not a Slab of Meat You're Trying to Tenderize;
II. Your Penis Size is Probably Perfectly Fine;
III. Why Your First Time is Going to be a Humiliating Disaster, No Matter What You Do;
IV. Most Women Are Not Sexually Stimulated by Spanking;
V. Every Woman is Different and You Will Only Learn What She Likes Via Practice;
VI. That's OK, Because the Practice is Awesome.
Phys. Ed: Practical Self-Defense
We're calling this course "Practical Self-Defense" but a more accurate title would be, "How To Get Away From Somebody Who is Trying to Mug or Rape You." Yes, "Get Away." Some of you guys who grew up on The Matrix still fantasize about beating the shit out of a street full of thugs in a fight that looks like a choreographed dance. This class will not teach you how to do that. No class will teach you how to do that.
Will not happen.
Oh, there are guys out there capable of kicking ass. They're called criminals. They're good at fighting because they have poor impulse control and anger management, and thus are constantly getting into fights. If you, on the other hand, are going to be civilized and successful parents and homeowners and taxpayers, the odds are overwhelming you will not ever be good at fighting. This fact is thus reflected in our curriculum.
I. Why Your Wallet is Not Worth Dying For;
II. Why Guns and Knives Are Not Awesome (Includes Visual Aids Depicting Wounds of Gnarled Strips of Exposed Fat, Tendons and Skin, Plus Graphic Descriptions of Life in a Wheelchair);
III. How to Break Off an Argument With a Hobo Before He Stabs You;
IV. Why You Can't Reason With a Screaming Drunk;
V. Why Believing Action Movies Are Real Will Get You Killed;
VI. How to Tell When That Guy Walking Toward You is Concealing a Weapon.
With visual aids supplied by the NYPD.
Industrial Arts: Emergency Repairs
This does not require a great deal of elaboration. Quite simply, there are certain things a person who is about to be living on their own needs to know how to do.
Building a goddamned birdhouse is not one of them.
I. How to Patch and Paint a Wall So You Can Get Your Deposit Back From Your Landlord;
II. Identifying Which Wires in Your House Will Kill You if You Touch Them;
III. What to do When You Wake Up to Find Your Toilet/Refrigerator/Hot Water Heater/Air Conditioner/Sink is Puking Water Onto Your Floor;
IV. When to Call the Repair Guy;
V. How to Figure Out if the Repair Guy is Screwing You;
VI. Foreign Objects You're Going to Try to Put in the Microwave at Some Point so Let's Just Get it Out of Your System Now.
Business: Success = Meeting the Right People
All of those successful people you see around town, with their convertibles and huge televisions? Approximately 100 percent of them got where they are because they had three things. All three are absolutely essential, but one of them is almost never mentioned. They are:
* Hard Work
* Randomly Meeting the Right People and Not Pissing Them Off
The autobiographies of famous people will do everything they can to downplay that third part, because it has the element of sheer luck. People get offended when you mention it, because they think it somehow undermines the first two. But remember, we said you need all three.
For instance, let's take maybe the most successful movie actor of all time, Harrison Ford. He farted around Hollywood for nine years, taking bit parts without anything major ever coming his way. Clearly talented, very hard-working. Yet not once did anybody look at him and say, "This guy will sell several billion dollars' worth of tickets and action figures some day!" He was just another ambitious, pretty face, in a city full of them. He got so fed up, he quit acting and became a carpenter.
There's a parallel world without this man as Han Solo, and we don't want to live there.
Then one day he got hired to install cabinets in the home of a guy named George Lucas. They became friends. That got him the role of Han Solo a few years later. Click the link; that's a true story.
Decades earlier another Ford, Henry, was just one of many engineers screwing around with early car engine designs until he became friends with a wealthy businessman named Alexander Malcomson who forked over the money to get Ford Motor Company started. This also works for guys not named Ford; Justin Bieber was one of several hundred thousand teenagers singing on YouTube videos before a former record exec named Scooter Braun clicked on one of his videos by accident and got him a record deal.
But everyone already knew he was an accident.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have guys like Edgar Allan Poe, whose legendary poem "The Raven" earned him... nine dollars. He burned so many bridges he wound up basically begging the public for money before dying at 40.
At some point Poe probably met his George Lucas, but made such a horrible impression on him the guy wouldn't return his calls.
"Oh, shit, honey, he's at the door! Pretend we're not home! Did he see me?"
I. First Impressions are Really Important;
II. Subsequent Impressions Are Also Important;
III. No, You're Not Terrell Owens (aka Why Acting Like a Douchebag is a Bad Investment).
Classes continued on the following page...
Health: How to Stop Throwing Your Money Away on Snake Oil
Go to the drug aisle in your grocery store. In between the pills and the vitamins will be a huge shelf full of herbal supplements that promise to do everything from helping you lose weight to easing joint pain to making your brain work better.
And it's all bullshit. All of it.
Worse, it's bullshit that we spend $34 billion a year on, almost a third as much as we spend on prescription drugs that actually do something.
Just to be clear: Scientists have spent billions in government money carefully testing the effectiveness of this stuff. Their results? No, echinacea can't cure your cold. Gingko doesn't do anything for your brain, glucosamine and chondroitin won't fix your arthritis. Hoodia gordonii won't help you lose weight.
If it were good for you, it probably wouldn't be covered in horrible spikes.
Don't get us wrong; we completely realize that lots of the drugs we have now were once naturally occurring in plants and that it is therefore possible that out there, somewhere, is a leaf yet undiscovered by science that will cure your diabetes. But if so, these jerkoffs in the grocery aisle aren't going to be the ones who find it.
They're scam artists.
They're so sure their supplements don't do anything they don't do any actual quality control to track how much of the supplement is in each pill. They just throw a little bit in there and shrug. Aren't they worried about people accidentally overdosing? No, they're not. They know you can't overdose on a placebo.
All they're doing is "curing" ailments that either naturally go away on their own (colds, joint pain) so you wind up falsely attributing the relief to the supplement, or they're claiming to cure conditions that are hard to quantify (see supplements for "alertness" or "stress relief"). Snake oil salesmen have been getting away with that technique for thousands of generations.
Students, we're counting on you to make sure that ours is the last.
I. Pharmaceutical Companies Are Dicks, But at Least They Use Scientists;
II. Why Hippies Have Never Discovered a Single Disease Cure;
III. "Homeopathic" is Another Word for Voodoo Bullshit;
IV. Just Go See a Doctor You Big Baby.
NOTE: Weight Loss supplements will be explored in-depth in...
Related: Massive Snake Spotted in Frick Park
Health: Why Losing Weight Requires Some Amount of Suffering
First of all, know that some people are naturally thin. They often skip meals just because they forgot to eat, and/or enjoy hobbies that involve burning calories as a byproduct--basketball, cycling, whatever. They'll never be fat and they'll never have to think about it. They're excused from this class.
Take a walk.
This course is for the rest of you, who will spend your life fatter than what our society considers ideal, and who will forever be uncomfortable in your own skin as a result. You'll spend many dollars on bullshit exercise equipment that promises to make working out "easy." You'll jump on diet fads, eating a bunless hamburger with a knife and fork one week, eating nothing but cabbage soup the next.
Each and every one of these will fail (the success rate for dieters over the long term is close to 0 percent) because they're all based on the utterly false premise that you can lose weight without ever feeling sore or hungry or some other negative sensation. It is not possible.
Students, imagine that in front of you is a castle. That's where you want to be. But surrounding that castle is a moat, full of piranha. The only way to get into Sexy Abs Castle is to swim across the moat and let the little fish painfully chew off hunks of fat. The real situation is exactly like that, only the swim will take years.
Sexy Abs Castle is also heavily guarded.
Your body will get really mad at you when you try to lose weight, because it thinks you're starving to death. You have to go into any weight loss plan knowing that you will suffer, and just have to man up in preparation for it. Otherwise, just live with it. Being fat isn't the end of the goddamned world.
I. Hunger is Fat Leaving the Body;
II. Eating Three Square Meals a Day Will Absolutely Make You Fat if You Sit in a Chair All Day;
III. Have You Considered Walking Instead of Driving;
IV. How to Dress in Ways That De-Emphasize Your Fatness.
NOTE: The above class is a prerequisite for...
Home Economics: How to Cook Cheap Food That Won't Kill You
Most of you will gain weight in college. You'll be poor, and cheap food makes you fat, as adding salt and fat is the easiest way to make poor quality food taste good. Ramen noodles, Taco Bell burritos, six-dollar pizzas from Papa John's... all of it is dirt cheap, and all contains way more calories than you're going to burn while sleeping through classes and playing Guitar Hero.
Fortunately, there are ways around this if you're willing to put in a little time. As it turns out, spices are also cheap, as are some meats, and dried pasta, and vegetables. You just have to combine them the right way. But no matter what you come up with, it would be extremely difficult to cook something as unhealthy as a Quarter-Pounder Value Meal.
Don't be fooled by the track suit!
I. Pay Attention to Serving Sizes on the Label, They're Laughably Small;
II. Fat Free Versions of Fat Foods Are Terrible, Don't Bother;
III. Seriously, Fat Free Cheese Doesn't Melt;
IV. It's Hard to Screw Up Spaghetti;
V. Why if You Eat Fruity Pebbles for Dinner, You'll be Hungry Again 30 Minutes Later;
VI. If You Make a Pot of Chili and Freeze Bowls of It You'll Totally Have Like Two Months' Worth of Meals There.
Political Science: Why Talk Radio is a Terrible Source of Information
Politics are boring, and for the 20 percent or so of you who will spend a lot of time following politics, many of you will do so via entertaining political talk shows on radio or cable.
Now, we don't have time to go into the mind-boggling list of idiotic things Glenn Beck has said, and will not laboriously debunk the rantings of the hundreds of other political talk show hosts like him. What you need to understand is that with talk radio and TV, the format itself makes accuracy utterly impossible. It's fairly simple, really. If a political talk show is going to get ratings, it has to have two things in every episode:
A. A clear, simple thesis (ie, Liberals Are Destroying America, Corporations Are Destroying America) that continues through every single segment;
B. Up to the minute commentary on current events.
"Things are happening in the world. But more importantly, look at me."
You see the problem: These two things are going to sometimes conflict.
Even if the thesis of a show is Pie is Awesome, the host is still going to wake up one day and see headlines about a pie recall because some tainted filling killed 173 people. Guess what: he still has to do a show that day about why Pie is Awesome. He will manipulate B to make it fit A, even if he has to lie. He doesn't draw a paycheck otherwise.
Likewise, if the big headline tomorrow is that Barack Obama single-handedly fought and slew Lucifer, Glenn Beck still has to do a show about how Obama is an Anti-Christian Communist out to destroy America. That's what his show is about; that's what the listeners tune in for, that's what his advertisers paid for. If he doesn't follow through, his audience will simply turn the dial until they find someone who's willing to tell them what they want to hear.
So, because a talk show has to, by necessity, sometimes skew or outright lie about current events in order to maintain the entertainment value of their show, trying to learn about current events by listening to a talk show is like learning physics by watching cartoons.
II. Why Politics Cannot be Simplified;
III. If the Host Uses Derisive Nicknames for His Opponents, He Has Nothing to Teach You.
Social Studies: Life is Hard and You Will Die, Get Over It
We're not foolish enough to think one semester of this course can deprogram years of Hollywood bullshit. That's why we make this a daily class, that continues from K through 12.
Many of you will get very depressed in your 20s, and some of you will stay that way the rest of your lives. Over the years your garage band will break up, you career dream will fall through, a girl will break your heart, you'll be unhappy with your body, you'll lose your parents, your favorite pet will die, you will endure at least one very terrible injury that requires hospitalization and breaks new boundaries for what kind of pain you thought was possible.
And your childhood memories will be exploited to buy vast amounts of cocaine. Deal with it.
The reason why this will lead to depression, where it may not have done so for an equivalent person 200 years ago, is because you were raised on illogical stories where things always work out for the main character for utterly arbitrary reasons. Han Solo can shoot straight, but none of the bad guys can--even though they train more. John McClane beats the terrorists because he has toughness and perseverance--something the bad guys lack, even though they should be equally desperate. If a guy and a girl are right for each other, they always wind up together, careers and geography and personal hang-ups be damned.
Here's the problem: these fantasies were created by adults, as a means of escape from the real world. You, however, have been watching them since you were five--for most of us these were our first impressions of how the adult world works, even if on a subconscious level. You had no context to realize they were bullshit. It sounds frivolous, but that doesn't change the fact that some of you reading this will not survive the long process of learning how different the real world is.
If it helps, try to remember that you're still one of the one percent of humanity that was born in a time and place where there is such a thing as anesthesia.
I. You Can Die at Any Moment, Get Over It;
II. Required Reading: The Road, by Cormac McCarthy;
III. Roleplay Exercise: Various Scenes from The Road, by Cormac McCarthy;
IV. Yes, It Takes 10,000 Hours to Get Really Good at Something, But At Least You're Not Scavenging Through a Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland.
This is of course just a sampling of the curriculum at the Cracked Institute for Higher Learning. If you would like to suggest additional courses, please post them in the comments.
David Wong is a NYT bestselling author, and his long-awaited new novel is about cybernetic criminals and other futuristic shit like that. Pre-order it at Amazon, B&N, BAM!, Indiebound, iTunes, or Powell's. You can read the first five chapters for free by clicking below:
For more questionably helpful advice from David, see How the Karate Kid Ruined the Modern World or 7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable.
And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 06.18.10) to see what Internet experts have to say about being successful.