A fox was tripping through the forest one day when he chanced upon a clearing, where he saw a rabbit busily laboring at a computer terminal. Naturally, he was intrigued, as he had never seen a rabbit typing before. Instead of eating the rabbit immediately he approached her and asked what she was doing.

"I'm typing my thesis," said the rabbit, "It is entitled `Why Rabbits Eat Foxes'."

"That is absurd," said the fox, "Everyone knows that foxes eat rabbits, not the other way around!"

"Why don't we step into my den and discuss this," offered the rabbit, and the fox agreed.

Time passed. By and by the rabbit emerged from the den, but not the fox.

The following day a wolf happened into the same clearing. The same story developed, except that the thesis title became "Why Rabbits Eat Wolves". The outcome was also the same -- the rabbit came out from the den, the wolf did not.

A day later the same sequence of events occured, with a weasel replacing the fox and wolf.

Meanwhile, a wise old owl had been watching all of this, and she finally said to herself "I'm going to find out what's going on here!" She crept quietly up to the entrance to the rabbit's den and peered in. When her eyes became accustomed to the darkness she saw in one corner a neat pile of fox bones; nearby another pile -- of wolf bones. In the middle of the den was a large, mean-looking lioness, just finishing a weasel dinner.

MORAL: The thesis topic is not so important -- everything depends on the choice of the right advisor.

(Appeared in: Mathematics at the U of A, Department of Mathematics, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85716, U.S.A.; date unknown; attributed to Lynn Nadel; posted in Stanford Statistics Dept.)

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