“It’s [wildcard] Jim, but not as we know it” — The Firm’s lyrics in academic paper titles

Which pop act has inspired the most titles for scholarly academic papers? The Beatles? The Velvet Underground? A Flock of Seagulls? A likely candidate is the 80’s UK band The Firm. Although it’s fair to say that they were never quite as famous as the pop ensembles mentioned above, nonetheless more than a dozen academic authors have, Improbable believes, used one of their key lyrical phrases as a basis for papers’ titles.

Here a just a few examples :

• It’s barcoding Jim, but not as we know it
• It’s marriage Jim but not as we know it. Is the ban on same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom justified?
• It’s FPL, Jim—But Not as We Know It! Opportunities for the New Commercial Architectures
• It Is Democracy, Jim, But Not As We Know It.- On the Impact of Knowledge Systems on Democracy

But if the authors thought that they were quoting Spock from the original TV series of Star Trek – they were very probably mistaken. It seems that Spock never actually said “It’s life Jim, but not as we know it.” Prompting Improbable to put forward the theory that the phrase was instead borrowed from the ‘hook’ line of The Firm’s novelty hit Star Trekkin’. And there’s further evidence in support of our hypothesis – we can find no academic papers with the title “It’s [wildcard] Jim, but not as we know it.”  before 1987, when the record was released.

3 Responses to ““It’s [wildcard] Jim, but not as we know it” — The Firm’s lyrics in academic paper titles”

  1. Gary L. Dryfoos Says:

    It’s a meme Jim, but not as we know it
    not as we know it
    not as we know it

  2. JimBob Says:

    “Fascinating. Pure energy. Pure thought. Totally incorporeal. Not
    life as we know it at all.” -Spock re: Organians.

  3. Mason Porter Says:

    And that brings us back to music: “pure energy” is sampled in the song “What’s on Your Mind” by Information Society. I didn’t realize that came from the same line as the modified version in “Star Trekkin'”.

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