#35 in a Series Examining Every Item on the Beloit Mindset List

Eminem and LL Cool J could show up at parents’ weekend. (Class of 2017, #1)

When this item was published, Eminem’s oldest daughter was starting her senior year in high school. If she attends college immediately after high school, she would be in the Class of 2018.

I don’t know the college plans of LL Cool J’s daughter and I suspect that Messrs. McBride and Nief have no idea either.

I haven’t reviewed all of the “celebrity’s kids go to college” items, but the Class of 2016’s  was completely wrong.

If anyone at Beloit College is reading this, please get these guys a student intern who can fact check simple stuff like which celebrity’s kids are entering college this year.

#34 in a Series Examining Every Item on the Beloit Mindset List

Captain Janeway has always taken the USS Voyager where no woman or man has ever gone before. (Class of 2017, #22)

Bill Maher has always been politically incorrect. (Class of 2017, #59)

How hard could it be to figure out what T.V. shows were the most popular for a birth cohort? Nielsen collects this sort of data. Naturally, the Beloit Mindset List instead just names a couple shows that premiered around the year the cohort was born.

Star Trek: Voyager (starring Kate Mulgrew as Kathryn Janeway) was cancelled in 2001, when the Class of 2017 was six years old. Politically Incorrect (hosted by Bill Maher) was cancelled in 2002, when the Class of 2017 was seven. (It premiered in 1993, when the Class of 2015 was born, but maybe Messrs. McBride and Nief were running out of Class of 2017 material and had to dig into their old notes.)

Shows cancelled before your parents let you watch them aren’t part of your “mindset.”

#33 in a Series Examining Every Item on the Beloit Mindset List

Washington, D.C., tour buses have never been able to drive in front of the White House. (Class of 2017, #54)

This item is a clear example of the Mindset List’s 9-11 Problem:

The Beloit Mindset List has never made a direct reference to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Or the subsequent wars in Afghanistan or Iraq. Or the rise in security procedures or any other policy changes that took place after the attacks.

But how could it? These events happened in the past 12 years and the central premise of the Mindset List is that the mindset of a birth cohort—its set of “cultural touchstones”—is concocted from events that took place the year its members were born.…

9-11 and its aftermath must be more significant for understanding the “mindset” of American young people than roughly 99% of the trivia on the Mindset lists, but the Mindset Method dictates that they can’t be directly referenced.

Indirect references are okay as long as they are connected to something that happened roughly 18 years earlier.

The section of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was closed in 1995 after the Oklahoma City bombing. It’s a tiny bit of anti-terrorism security in one city, insignificant compared to all the security theater that followed 9-11 and shaped the lives of the Class of 2017, but it happened 18 years ago and that is what really matters.

#32 in a Series Examining Every Item on the Beloit Mindset List

Kevin Bacon has always maintained six degrees of separation in the cinematic universe. (Class of 2017, #48)

Sometimes Messrs. McBride and Nief use a term in a way that signals that they really don’t know what it means. For example, “six degrees of separation.”

The idea of “six degrees of separation” is that two people can be connected through a chain of mutual acquaintances, with no more than six steps between them.

(Stanley Milgram’s small world experiment is said to be one of the sources of this claim. When I was in grad school, we were told that the “six degrees” were the result of a thought experiment: Every community in the U.S. has a number of community leaders who know many members of the community and their representative in Congress. Everyone is known by one of these leaders. Presuming all members of Congress know one another, then there are five degrees between me and anyone else in the country. Maybe the President fits in there too to make it six; I can’t remember the details.)

The game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” was created by three Albright College students in 1994 (or a year before the Class of 2017 was born), purportedly after watching Footloose and The Air Up There back-to-back. The game involves connecting an actor (or other movie personnel) to Kevin Bacon through links of people working on films together.

The clue that Messrs. McBride and Nief don’t understand this is that they claim that “Kevin Bacon has always maintained six degrees of separation.” In English “maintain separation” means to keep away or be disconnected from something, which is the opposite of the concept of “six degrees,” which is about connection.

It goes without saying that “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” isn’t a part of any generation’s mindset.