The International Philosophy Olympiad is Going Pro

In 1993, a small group of European philosophy teachers came up with the idea of organizing an annual competitive event for high school students worldwide in order to test their knowledge and skills in the subject of philosophy. They called this the International Philosophy Olympiad (IPO). The concept is pretty straightforward: students selected as the best in their countries (i.e. winners of national philosophy competitions) get to compete at the IPO, where they are given four hours to write the best philosophical essay they can in one of four topics. Then, a panel of judges performs an evaluation of the essays according to criteria such as originality and consistency, after which the best three are awarded the gold, silver and bronze medals.

Although this event has grown steadily since its creation, thus fulfilling its main goals which are to spark young people’s interest in the subject of philosophy and reward those who excel in it, it has also been growing more and more annoying for professional philosophers in faculties everywhere. “It’s stupid”, said Pierre Cousin, an unknown logician from Belgium, “how can there be an event as important as an Olympiad aimed exclusively at amateurs? The idea should be to get the best people in the world to compete in it, right? Professionals! Like me. That's what people are interested in seeing. Not snot-nosed pimple-popping disgusting sex-crazed kids who don’t even have a degree. Besides, what do kids need an Olympic medal for? They are too young to have a CV. It’s illogical, illogical, I tell you. In fact, I’m working on a formal proof of why it is illogical. Hopefully it will get published somewhere. By the way, I can put this interview in my CV, right?”

Now, it seems that the amount of enraged philosophers has reached a critical mass. A group of such philosophers from all around the world have announced that they have created a committee through Facebook with the intent of organizing the first International Professional Philosophy Olympics (IPPO), in order to recognize the world’s foremost philosophers in a variety of different modalities. Although the committee has not as of yet announced neither the date for the event nor which country will host it, the list of the main modalities (inspired in those of the Summer Olympic Games) has been divulged. They are as follows:

1.       CV Sprinting: Just as in the regular Olympics there are modalities in which the competitors have to run along different distances to test their speed, the same will happen at the IPPO - competitors will have to fill their CV’s with peer-reviewed papers as fast as possible. CV Sprinting is divided into four modalities, according to the properly formatted number of CV pages that are required to win: 3, 5, 7 and 10. In the regular Olympic Games, sprinting demands an enormous amount of stamina. The same will be the case at the IPPO, as the CV sprinter will be required to swallow incredible amounts of pride throughout the competition in order to publish outstandingly unoriginal papers, and to squeeze two or three papers from out of the same basic idea.

2.       Conference Marathon: In this modality, it is not only the stamina of the competitors that will be put to the test, but also their endurance. The challenge is still to fill the CV as much as possible, but this time the competitor has to do so by running over incredible distances around the world giving presentations at philosophy conferences. This will require the competitor to be able to manage his or her limited resources with great skill, by coming up with different names for each presentation so that no one notices it is always the same one.

3.    Triathlon: This event will be divided into three modalities. First, the philosopher has to give a talk at a conference. Then, he needs to run to the coffee-break and eat as much free food as he can before the other competitors get there. And finally, he has to run back to the conference to attend other people’s talks and try his best not to fall asleep.

4.    Far-Fetching: Inspired in the Olympic javelin throw event. The philosopher is required to publish a paper in a peer-reviewed journal with the most idiotic, outrageous idea he can come up with. At the end, the one who managed to publish the more ridiculously far-fetched idea gets the gold.

5.       Dead-Lifting: Similar to weight-lifting. The difference is that instead of lifting weights, the philosopher must raise some philosopher back from the dead by publishing a paper claiming that his ideas are still very useful and pertinent to contemporary research. In weight-lifting, the difficulty increases with the amount of weight. In dead-lifting, the difficulty increases with the amount of time the philosopher has been dead for (the longer ago he croaked, the harder it will be to convince people that your paper is worth publishing). Just as people who were born with a strong bodily constitution have an advantage in weight-lifting, the same will happen in dead-lifting with people who know ancient Greek.

6.    Academic swimming: In this event, the competitor will have to try to score a teaching position at the faculty he already works in as a humble researcher. This event is very similar to swimming in the sense that the idea is to try not to drown, only in this case  in bills, by moving forward in your career and hopefully get more money and stability as a teacher than a simple research grant allows for. It comes in three modalities: breaststroke (if the person doing the hiring for faculty teaching positions can be bribed by sexual favors such as breast stroking); butterfly and backstroke (the same basic idea as the previous modality but in case the person doing the hiring is a homosexual man); and the most common modality, used in case neither of the previous strategies works – crawl.

7.       Armchair wrestling: The academic version of wrestling. The competitors sit in an armchair and wrestle by publishing papers against each other using only thought-experiments. The one who manages to pin down his opponent by publishing the last paper before all the journal editors get bored with the discussion, wins.

  Needless to say, philosophers everywhere are already drooling over the prospect of adding an Olympic medal to their CVs. “It will be incredibly prestigious”, said Pierre Cousin, the same logician as before, “and it also needs to be emphasized that this event will be a lot more democratic than the normal Olympic Games. How so? Well, the big difference is that unlike what happens in the Olympics, the modalities of the IPPO are of such a nature that we can include the Special Philosophy Olympics in it (for philosophers with cerebral palsy, for instance), without changing anything, which is very good because as philosophers we don’t like discriminating against anyone just because they don't think the same way we do. Oh, and by the way, since this is my second intervention in this news article I will include it in my CV as a second publication. Just so you guys know.”

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