The Rabbit, the Fox, and the Wolf

What does this shaggy old tale have to do with graduate education? Everything, my friends, everything.

One sunny day, a rabbit came out of her hole in the ground to enjoy the weather. The day was so nice that the rabbit became careless, so a fox sneaked up on her and caught her.

“I am going to eat you for lunch!”, said the fox.

“Wait!” replied the rabbit, “You should at least wait a few days.”

“Oh yeah? Why should I wait?”

“Well, I am just finishing writing my Ph.D. thesis.”

“Hah! That’s a stupid excuse. What’s the title of your thesis, anyway?”

“I am writing my thesis on ‘The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves’.”

“Are you crazy? I should eat you up right now! Everybody knows that a fox will always win over a rabbit!”

“Not really, not according to my research. If you like, you can come to my hole and read it for yourself. If you are not convinced, you can go ahead and have me for lunch.”

“You really are crazy!” But, since the fox was curious and had nothing to lose, it went with the rabbit into its hole. The fox never came back out.

A few days later, the rabbit was again taking a break from writing and, sure enough, a wolf came out of the bushes and was ready to eat her.

“Wait!”, yelled the rabbit, “You cannot eat me right now.”

“And why might that be, you fuzzy appetizer?” asked the wolf.

“I am almost finished writing my Ph.D. thesis on ‘The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves’.”

The wolf laughed so hard that it almost lost its hold on the rabbit.

“Maybe I shouldn’t eat you; you really are sick in your head, and you might have something contagious,” the wolf opined.

“Come read for yourself. You can eat me after that if you disagree with my conclusions.” So the wolf went to the rabbit’s hole, and never came out again.

The rabbit finished writing her thesis and was out celebrating in the lettuce fields. Another rabbit came by and asked, “What’s up? You seem very happy.”

“Yup, I just finished writing my dissertation.”

“Congratulations! What is it about?”

“It is titled ‘The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves’.”

“Are you sure? That doesn’t sound right.”

“Oh yes, you should come over and read it for yourself.”

So they went together to the rabbit’s hole. As they went in, the friend saw the typical graduate-student abode, albeit a rather messy one after writing a thesis. The computer with the controversial dissertation was in one corner. On the right there was a pile of fox bones, on the left there was a pile of wolf bones, and in the middle was a gigantic lion.

The moral of the story is: the title of your dissertation doesn’t matter; the quality of the research doesn’t matter; all that really matters is who your thesis advisor is.

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