Saturday, August 1, 2015

“I think I’m dead, therefore I exist”

Some blogs get a lot of praise and even make a lot of money by simply linking to -- and, despite copyright laws, sometimes actually reprinting -- the writing of other blogs and websites.  The Legal Watchdog, on the other hand, consists nearly entirely of original work.  But every once in a while I come across a flurry of other articles, blog posts, and podcasts that I simply must share with The Dog’s readers.  Let’s begin out west, and the state of their state bars.  As the Irreverent Lawyer tells us, there is evidence that Cal Bar is a “bloated, arrogant, oblivious and unresponsive” bureaucracy.  (I’ve previously written about the Golden State here and here.)  So when the AZ Bar wanted to remake itself, where did it look for guidance?  You guessed it: Goin’ back to Cali.  Read the Irreverent One’s sharp, biting, entertaining, and comically illustrated post, “State auditor slams the Cal Bar . . .

Moving from out-of-touch bureaucrats to out-of-touch academics, the law profs are at it again.  While law grads are struggling with six-figure debt and high levels of unemployment, some law profs are still living it up at their annual conferences -- one of which is at the beautiful Waldorf Astoria Boca Raton Resort and Club.  But don’t worry; the profs will no doubt emerge from this conference better able to train tomorrow’s lawyers.  In addition to a session titled “Baseball and Law, Law and Baseball,” vacationers conference attendees will also study things such as “international comparative inequality.”  Read about it for yourself in OTLSS’s post titled “SEALS 2015.”

While on the topic of law schools, it is well known that due to plummeting applications, some schools have moved to near open enrollment policies in order to keep up tuition revenue.  But the problem is that three years later, some of the students-turned-graduates are ill equipped to pass the bar exam.  And because schools’ bar passage rates are published, this, in turn, is bad for future applications.  So what should law school deans do about this?  Some might suggest admitting fewer, but better qualified, students.  But one dean has a novel approach: simply tell your newly minted JDs to skip the bar exam!  For more details and links, read Paul Campos’s post titled “Law dean calls grads on night before bar exam . . .

But enough about bureaucrats, profs, and deans.  Let’s conclude this post with an unsavory foray into the real world -- sort of.  As a criminal defense lawyer, every once in a while I’ll get to cross-examine a state’s witness who testifies to something so bizarre, irrational, and contrary to all other evidence and testimony, that their story simply cannot be true.  However, I am convinced that these witnesses truly believe what they are saying.  I suspect there is some psychological defect that allows (or causes) these people to create memories that conflict with reality.  But whatever is going on there, it’s nothing compared to the reality-disconnect of those suffering from Cotard’s Syndrome: they actually believe they are dead. 

You read that right.  And you can read more about it, and listen to the podcast, at Fresh Air’s “A sense of self: what happens when your brain says you don’t exist.”  But even when The Dog’s post merely links to other posts, I always try to make at least a quasi-original contribution.  So I will wrap up this post with a tip, exclusive to The Dog’s readers: If you ever find yourself believing you are dead, just put a slight twist on the work of a (truly) dead philosopher.  Just tell yourself: “I think I’m dead, therefore I exist.”


  1. Michael
    Clever riff on Descartes! "I think I''m dead, therefore I exist." Reminded me of what a beleaguered co-worker once malevolently told an under performing colleague, "The problem with you, Kevin," she said, "is that you died but no one's told you."

    1. This is hilarious! I'm laughing out loud over here. Poor Kevin had reverse Cotard's Syndrome: he was dead but thought he was alive! It's too much.