The art of failure with David Duchovny (Transcript)

The art of failure with David Duchovny
May 7, 2024

[00:00:00] David Duchovny:
We gotta, as a culture and as a country, accept our Ls and grow. Grow from our Ls and call me a loser and I'll say thank you.

[00:00:13] Adam Grant:
Hey everyone, it's Adam Grant. Welcome back to ReThinking my podcast on the science of what makes us tick with the TED Audio Collective. I'm an organizational psychologist and I'm taking you inside the minds of fascinating people to explore new thoughts and new ways of thinking.

My guest today is David Duchovny. You probably know him best as an actor. He won Golden Globes for his starring roles in The X-Files and in Californication, and had iconic appearances in Zoolander and The Chair. But he's also a bestselling author of four novels and a screenwriter, director and singer songwriter, and he's been the subject of a song, an unusually catchy one by Bree Sharp.

[00:00:53] Music by Bree Sharp:
I’ll hold it in as best I can. I know I’m just another fan. But I can’t help feeling I could love this secret agent man.
I can’t…
Wait anymore for him to discover me. I got it bad for David Duchovny. David Duchovny why won’t you love me? Why won’t you love me?

[00:01:25] Adam Grant:
David's new film is Bucky F*cking Dent, and he's the host of a new podcast, Fail Better. So we're gonna talk about failure. David, let me start by asking you, did you wake up one morning and think. I know what the world needs. Another podcast.

[00:01:42] David Duchovny:
Well, actually I thought, hey, I'm the only person in the world without a podcast, so I, I guess I should have one.

I was a big Samuel Beckett fan. I was a big fan of failure in a weird way. Not in a, in a schadenfreude way. Not in a way of like, ah, you fucker, you failed, but more just like. The bittersweetness of it, the humanity of it, because we all go through it, brother and sisterhood of it. And I, I said, if I'm gonna have a podcast and talk to people, can I talk to 'em about failure?

Can we release some shame around failure? Can we talk about resilience? And we looked around and we saw there were these podcasts, which I found objectionable. They were all about business failure and ha ha or how I started one business and then I learned from my failure. And now I'm a. crypto billionaire.

And I was like, well, that's not what I'm interested in at all. I'm not, I'm not interested in making money, um, or talking about people making money. So, yeah, I guess we figured, we fell into a place that hadn't quite been trot over so many times. In, in the world of podcasts,

[00:02:49] Adam Grant:
There will definitely be people wondering what is a successful actor, filmmaker, novelist, Princeton Summa grad, possibly know about failure.

[00:02:58] David Duchovny:
We kind of go through the world thinking that words correspond to reality, when in fact it's just an illusion we've all decided to believe and therefore, anything I feel think. Move inside has to be translated into words and has already failed. There's already been a failure on the way, and for me, that's the heart of it.

You know, it's not just like, oh, that book did well, or that book got reviewed well, or that performance got reviewed well, or that movie bombed. It's just this sense of human expression for me, whether it's acting, directing, writing, playing music, whatever, that the inspiration has to be translated into the human expression.

And there's a failure that happens immediately, and it's how you navigate that that makes you, uh, a better or a, a less vital artist I think.

[00:03:51] Adam Grant:
That's fascinating. When you first started describing that, I thought you were gonna talk about the game of telephone that we end up playing, where what you've expressed is not what I hear, but you're talking about a, a much earlier failure of what's in your head or in your experience not being translated accurately into language.

[00:04:07] David Duchovny:
Can't be. I mean, language is an approximation.

[00:04:11] Adam Grant:
As an organizational psychologist, I've spent most of my career studying professional success and failure. I'd love to hear about what you think is your biggest professional failure and how you dealt with it.

[00:04:20] David Duchovny:
Failure has so many different aspects to it. You could call it a box office failure.

You could call it a artistic failure. You could call it an editing failure, a scoring failure, an audience failure. A timing failure. I did a movie called House of D that I wrote and directed and acted in in like 2000 and, I don't know, three or four, and it was not well received. It was a very different thing for me to do because I was coming off of this global hit of The X-Files, like a generational television show, that there really is no comparison to the, the breadth of the audience that it found globally and the movie I made was very small, very personal, and just a coming of age movie, and I just think it was confusing when House of D didn't do well.

The failure was very personal to me because I was being authentic with it. You know, in retrospect I can see that I was dooming myself, but I had no other expressive or artistic choice at the time because I was coming out of being associated with this huge show and I was like, well, here's what I wanna do. This is my vision. This is the kind of stuff that I want to do. And, uh, people didn't want it.

[00:05:47] Adam Grant:
It seems that at least from a commercial perspective, you come outta The X-Files and nothing you possibly do could ever be that successful again.

[00:05:57] David Duchovny:
Right. It hurt a lot and it, it hurt a lot for a while and it still hurts to this day. Not like it did, but it lives on, in, in that way in many ways.

[00:06:10] Adam Grant:
So how have you dealt with that over the last two decades?

[00:06:15] David Duchovny:
Well, I just kept working for one, I didn't give up, I just kept moving forward. I tried to. To look at whatever lessons, critical lessons I might learn from it.

As a craftsman, as a maker of things hard to do in the moment when you're smarting and bleeding. I, I tried to look at, you know, my willfulness in, in making a, a small movie. After coming off such a big show, I tried to look at my contrariness. Other than that, it's just like, okay, well that was, I know what I was trying to do and I know as a first time filmmaker that I was gonna make some missteps and I could see those and learned so much just in the doing of it.

That I had more confidence no matter what happened afterwards. And, and if I do things for the right reasons, which I don't always do, and I'm aware when I'm doing things for the wrong reasons, but if I do certain things for the right reasons, then whatever happens, it's okay.

[00:07:18] Adam Grant:
I'm reminded of some recent work in psychology suggesting that one of the reasons it's so hard for many of us to take failure and criticism is we immediately focus on feeling better as opposed to asking, how can I do better?

Um, and when you wanna feel better, what I think most of us instinctively do is we say, okay, I'm gonna distract myself. I'm gonna avoid the pain altogether. Um, and then we fail to learn the lessons.

[00:07:42] David Duchovny:

[00:07:42] Adam Grant:
It sounds like you didn't do that.

[00:07:44] David Duchovny:
I felt like, you know, I'd been punched in the stomach, but I also had young kids, you know, and they didn't give a fuck.

Nobody that loved me really cared. So there, there were, there were people around me. I'm, I'm not talking about like an illusory bubble of people telling me I'm fantastic, but it was just like people telling me there are other things in life. I, I, I don't know what the lesson is ever except that failure just, just opens up other doors, you know, if, if only because it makes you think in different ways. Success is a terrible thing to happen to anybody.

[00:08:18] Adam Grant:
Easy to say as a successful person, isn't it?

[00:08:21] David Duchovny:
It is, yeah. Uh, and it's somewhat glib of course, but in terms of like. What you learn as a person about life or about your soul, or about anything.

Success is not a teacher. Success is something else.

[00:08:37] Adam Grant:
I, I think it's, it's fair to say that the winner's curse is real, that oftentimes success makes people complacent. It sounds like one of your lessons from failure is not to put all your eggs in one identity basket.

[00:08:49] David Duchovny:
That's certainly my nature. One of the the blessings of being an an a performer is you, you get to do different jobs all the time. And then if you add to that other expressive aspects like fiction writing or music or whatever, then I have all these ways in which to fail. But also all these places where I'm learning, I'm 50, whatever, and I'm learning something and my brain feels like it's 19 or 20, I know it's not, and I know I can't ever be as good a guitar player.

As if I had started when I was young, but to get to do something new, Zen mind, beginner's mind, that phrase, I'm reminded of that all the time. It's like a fountain of youth on the inside. It's just like, oh my God, I'm so excited to do this really simple thing. It's new to me.

[00:09:43] Adam Grant:
I think this is for a lot of people, part of the, the appeal of a portfolio career.

[00:09:47] David Duchovny:

[00:09:48] Adam Grant:
That if you have a range of different projects going, you don't end up over invested in any one of them.

[00:09:55] David Duchovny:
That's the first time I've ever heard that phrase portfolio career. And I, I kind of want to hate it to be honest with you.

[00:10:02] Adam Grant:
What do you hate about it?

[00:10:04] David Duchovny:
I hate that it's a strategy, you know, when it's something like, um, I feel like I just.

Just kind of intuited my way through it. I mean, I don't know how you can actually strategize a portfolio career. You either wanna do multiple things or you don't, you know?

[00:10:20] Adam Grant:
Okay. This, this goes to something else I wanted to ask you about, which is I wanted to get a sense of how you decide a role or a project is worth doing.

I think one of my favorite moments in your career arc, as I know it was when you landed in Zoolander as a hand model.

[00:10:33] David Duchovny:

[00:10:34] Adam Grant:
Which might be my favorite David Duchovny role of all time, just because it was so unexpected.

[00:10:39] David Duchovny:

[00:10:39] Adam Grant:
And so hilariously deadpan, why did you wanna be in it? What did you see in Zoolander?

Because I don't think it was expected to be a big hit. It was relatively low budget. It was not heralded. What did you notice there?

[00:10:51] David Duchovny:
Well, it was never a hit. It came out a week or two after 9/11. So it didn't do great business at first. It didn't do, uh, much business at all. It was just in the afterlife of movies that it became a cult thing and then the hit that it is in people's minds.

What did I see? I mean, I just really liked what Ben was doing and for me it was very important, again, reacting to coming off The X-Files or ending The X-Files. I, I wanted to do comedy, you know, I wanted to exist in the comedy world, so I was like, here's that world.

It wasn't the kind of comedy that I would ever write or ever conceive of, but I thought I can play in that sandbox. There was even like a love of language in my character that I really responded to, you know, uh, Zoolander says, but you're a model. And I say something like, uh, I'm a finger jockey. A finger jockey.

We don't think the same way the face and body boys do, but like finger jockey to me, like I go anywhere with that writer. You know, somebody who came up. Who called a hand model a finger jockey. That's, that's a comedic mind, you know, that's working in language. And I was like, yeah,

[00:12:09] Adam Grant:
It must've been after watching The Chair, uh, and, and seeing you play that hysterical caricature of yourself, that I wondered how much of that is real.

And I, I looked up your backstory. Had no idea that you'd been a PhD student in English literature at Yale.

[00:12:18] David Duchovny:

[00:12:25] Adam Grant:
Why, why, why were you there? And why did you walk away without finishing your dissertation?

[00:12:30] David Duchovny:
That's a question my mom asked me until she died. I thought, not being a gambler by nature, I thought, well, if I get a PhD, you know, I'll have a job.

If I can get tenure, I'll really have a job, and then I'll have three or four months off a year. So that's why I was in graduate school. I, I couldn't be a pro basketball player. That would've been my first choice. I couldn't be a doctor. I didn't wanna be a lawyer. You know, you talk about strategy. That was my strategy was find a way to make a living that that affords me the freedom and time to pursue, uh, uh, a life of creative writing.

[00:13:12] Adam Grant:
And why did you then abandon it?

[00:13:15] David Duchovny:
I always knew that my heart wasn't in it. In a way. I always knew that I could do it, and I think I was a decent teacher, but I knew I wasn't going to be a great literary critic. There were just people around me who were better, and I knew it wasn't authentic to me.

Something told me that that would be like a death in life in a way. And that's no criticism of criticism. That's no knock on academia at all. It's more of a knock on me.

[00:13:44] Adam Grant:
Why did your mom want you to finish?

[00:13:46] David Duchovny:
Because my mom grew up in a small town in Scotland where nobody went to college in a, in a class system.

Great Britain, early 20th century, and the only way for a person to advance out of those circumstances was education. And that's the vision that she had for her kids. Even though the world had changed and America was a little different than the circumstances in which she grew up. For her, that's what a poor person could do with hard work, was be a be a knowledgeable person.

And it was also just, you know, finish what you started. That's a parental thing. You started that thing, finish it, you know. I think it would take me years. It would take me years and unless the idea really excited me, I don't think, uh, it would be a good use of my time.

[00:14:35] Adam Grant:
No, I think the opportunity cost goes up quite a bit over time.

[00:14:39] David Duchovny:

[00:14:40] Adam Grant:
You, you found an alternate path to get the creative freedom you wanted, so why invest in something that six people might read?

[00:14:49] David Duchovny:
Well, what's interesting about the dissertation that never was, it was called, the thing that doesn't exist is called Magic and Technology and Contemporary American Fiction and Poetry.

And when I think about my subsequent years as an actor, whatever you think about, even The X-Files, magic and technology kind of fits. Into that area, and I think now that everybody's concerned with AI and all that, what I thought I was going to be writing about in the dissertation was how magic was a primitive technology.

Magic was how people did things that technology now does for us. Fly through the air, turn water into wine, do all these things that magicians and prophets used to do with their magic and their, but there was always a sense of good magic and bad magic. And there was a moral to magic. Doctor Faustus, you know, he made a deal with the devil for that power.

But with technology, there was never, there was never a weapon. There's never been a weapon that the human race has created that hasn't been employed. Right. So there's never been a sense in which somebody says, the technology, you know, toasts are bad. And I was saying that these creative writers, these novel poets that I was gonna be writing about, were actually looking at technology and trying to discuss it in ways that were prophetically morally judged like we're trying to do with AI now.

[00:16:15] Adam Grant:
So your non dissertation of the eighties was anticipating the moral technological dilemmas of the 2020s.

[00:16:23] David Duchovny:
You could say that, but since it was never written, you really can't say that.

[00:16:31] Adam Grant:
David, let's move to a lightning round. You ready?

[00:16:34] David Duchovny:
I think so.

[00:16:35] Adam Grant:
Okay. First question, what is the worst career advice you've ever gotten?

[00:16:39] David Duchovny:
Take an auditioning class.

[00:16:43] Adam Grant:
That was bad advice?

[00:16:42] David Duchovny:

[00:16:43] Adam Grant:

[00:16:44] David Duchovny:
Auditioning isn’t acting.

[00:16:46] Adam Grant:
What is it? Is it selling?

[00:16:48] David Duchovny:
It is.

[00:16:49] Adam Grant:
What is your favorite X-Files character? Who is your favorite X-Files?

[00:16:55] David Duchovny:
Yeah. Or what?

[00:16:56] Adam Grant:
Well, it could go either way.

[00:16:58] David Duchovny:
The Fluke Man, our wonderful writer Darren Morgan, played a six foot intestinal worm.

[00:17:05] Adam Grant:
I did not anticipate that answer. Okay. Uh, what is something that you've been rethinking lately

[00:17:12] David Duchovny:
That magic and technology and contemporary American fiction and poetry.

[00:17:17] Adam Grant:
Touche. What's a question you have for me as a psychologist?

[00:17:23] David Duchovny:
Can we really find solutions through talking when most of our emotional life and chemical life is sub verbal?

[00:17:33] Adam Grant:
That’s great question. Yes.

[00:17:36] David Duchovny:
That's a great answer. It's a hopeful answer.

[00:17:39] Adam Grant:
It's an easy one. Look, I can, can we get it perfectly based on what I know about how you think, are you ever gonna be satisfied with the, the amount of slippage that exists between our subconscious experience and our conscious expression?

Probably not. Can we get closer? I think yes.

[00:17:59] David Duchovny:
Because I have this fundamental intuitive sense of failure between the expression and the execution. I'm not a perfectionist and I'm quite happy with the stabs that I make in the dark.

[00:18:14] Adam Grant:
I think that's a healthy attitude. There's a body of research on what's called referential processing, which is how fluidly you translate images into words and vice versa.

So I think a master would be an art critic, for example. Um, and I have none of that ability. I can go to a museum, stare at a painting, and I can't even come up with a word, but. We, I think we both know people who are gifted at that. And I would say if we study how those people do it, it's probably more of a teachable skill than, than we've realized.

And, you know, may, maybe that is in some sense the, the forgotten and soon to be rediscovered value of the humanities. They're gonna help people build that skill, um, and say, look, if, you know, increasingly artificial intelligence is gonna, is gonna handle a lot of the, the processing of information that we used to have to do ourselves.

Um, what's left for humans to do uniquely? One thing that's left is for us to be able to access experiences that AI can't have lived and figure out how to articulate them.

[00:19:14] David Duchovny:
That's very sad.

[00:19:15] Adam Grant:
You think? I don't know. I think, I think it's kind of encouraging.

[00:19:18] David Duchovny:
I agree with you, but it's sad to think we're pushing ourselves out of existence or, or utility.

But I totally agree with you. As a creative person, I'm not very much afraid of AI. I don't think AI will ever make a masterpiece.

[00:19:35] Adam Grant:
And even if it did, I just wouldn't care that much.

[00:19:39] David Duchovny:
And the evidence of it not being a masterpiece would be the fact that you didn't care that much. Then again, masterpiece is a slippery word.

[00:19:47] Adam Grant:
It certainly is. I'm thinking about the Watson created horror movie trailers. Have you seen those?

[00:19:52] David Duchovny:

[00:19:52] Adam Grant:
I first caught one, maybe 2018 or 2019. So before the generative AI wave that's picked up in the last year, and they were chilling. I cannot believe that they were created by an algorithm effectively.

[00:20:07] David Duchovny:
Right, right.

[00:20:08] Adam Grant:
But as soon as I found out, I was like, eh. I don't really wanna watch this. I wanna be scared by a person and their vision.

[00:20:14] David Duchovny:
I don't want to denigrate the horror or anything like that, but I guess something that makes it it's bread and butter by scaring the shit outta you probably is more easily attainable by an algorithm than something that has a more complicated mission.

[00:20:31] Adam Grant:
Let's talk about Bucky Fucking Dent.

[00:20:34] David Duchovny:

[00:20:34] Adam Grant:
I, I love the vision for this film. You have a, a character Ted, who's trying to reconnect with his father, who's a huge Red Sox fan in the 1970s, basically in order to salvage their relationship and his father's failing health. Uh, Ted sort of creates an illusion that the Red Sox are winning.

[00:20:56] David Duchovny:
Well, the reason that he does this is because his father is dying of cancer, but he's convinced that he can't die until the Red Sox win it all, and the Soxs are doing very well that year. So he thinks he's going to die at the end of that year, but he's going to live until that happens. And his health seems to start to suffer as the socks begin to choke back their lead, and so his son, in order to try to keep his health.

Starts faking the outcomes in the hopes that the Soxs do come back eventually and he can bring his father back into the real world. But for me, the movie is about failure. The Soxs, at least until the two thousands, were the epitome of a failed franchise, and there was even a backstory that they had traded away the greatest player to ever play Babe Ruth to the Yankees, and they were cursed and they were losers.

The movement of the film is really about loving losers because we're all losers. Ultimately, we all die. That's the final loss. But we all go through heartache. We all go through loss. And that's what joins us all. Very similar to the podcast idea. I don't have many ideas, but I can spread them out over different formats and make it look like I got a few.

The other aspect of the film that was interesting to me as a, as a writer was this idea of, of changing narrative focus. The father, he's trying to write the story of his life. He's trying to change the story of his life. He's been the victim. He's been the villain, he's been the scapegoat and he wants to die a hero.

You know? And it's the same story, but it's a different way of telling it. And I think that's something that I've come to later in life is that, you know, we can all share the same facts about ourselves. Real mental health and spiritual health, and even physical health comes from the way in which we tell the stories of our lives to ourselves and to those around us.

And I'm not talking about lying. I'm talking about telling a story in a way that benefits the most people.

[00:23:14] Adam Grant:
It seems to me that there is such a thing as objective failure. Uh, your team loses the game.

[00:23:19] David Duchovny:

[00:23:20] Adam Grant:
Um, a surgeon fails to save a patient on the operating table. Um, but most failures in life are subjective.

You created a goal, which is a fiction.

[00:23:29] David Duchovny:

[00:23:30] Adam Grant:
It's an expectation of how things are gonna go, which has your hopes and dreams built into it. And then you fall short of that expectation, which was just in your imagination, and you count that experience of failure. And then to your point, people end up telling themselves all kinds of lies to convince themselves that they didn't fail when, to me, so many of those failures were actually in the expectations that were set to begin with.

[00:23:54] David Duchovny:

[00:23:55] Adam Grant:
I'll give you a a a quick personal example on this one. During Covid, I wrote the, the most read New York Times article of the year. And I didn't set out to do it. I was trying to name this experience of languishing that people were going through of, of feeling empty and sort of stuck. And when the article went viral, I immediately knew I will never write an article that's successful ever again.

I'm a psychologist. I don't write op-eds for a living. And if I set myself the goal of having the most successful article of the year, I'm gonna feel like a failure with every subsequent article I write. So I sat down and said, I have to redefine my goals. If I get an idea out there that helps somebody that matters much more than the number of people it reaches.

And in doing that, I feel like I'm protecting myself from the, the arbitrary feeling of failure every time I release an article that falls short. Hmm. So that's, I guess, my reflection on the fiction of failure. Uh, how do you react to that and do you play the same game?

[00:24:52] David Duchovny:
There's a saying that those expectations are future resentments, you know, and I think that that's, it's a good rule to live by, hard not to have expectations, but they're tricky and they can be dangerous.

You wrote an article that was authentic. It came from a need. I. You set out to communicate something authentically, and that must have been in its DNA and I would say that helped it get so widely disseminated. 'cause you didn't have an angle on it. You didn't, you didn't set out to be popular. It just, it just reminds me a lot of what I was talking about earlier.

You know, there is no way to ever have a success like The X-Files. It, it. It doesn't happen. It can't happen. It's certainly not gonna happen to me, but I don't think it's gonna happen to anybody else either. I mean, it's just we're in a different world now in terms of consensus and culture in that way. So to play that game is just a losing game, and you gotta figure out.

My friend Garry Shandling said, I think he made it up, but it's a really good phrase, which is he said, people that say, nice guys, finish last, don't know where the finish line is, but it's kind of like, you gotta know where the finish line is, you know? And it's not. The day after you had the most popular article and it's not the day after you had the least popular.

It's a continuum. You have to keep your eye on the past and the horizon while living in the present, which is difficult, but you gotta do it.

[00:26:16] Adam Grant:
People who say, nice guys, finish last, don't know where the finish line is.

[00:26:20] David Duchovny:
Yeah. You like that?

[00:26:21] Adam Grant:
That's profound.

[00:26:24] David Duchovny:
That was Garry Shandling, man. He was a genius.

[00:26:27] Adam Grant:
Tell, tell me what that means to you.

‘Cause my first reaction to it is. You're, you know, you're focusing too much on a short-term outcome and too little on long-term character.

[00:26:37] David Duchovny:
I've never really tried to unpack it. I just heard it and I was like, true. And like to think about where is the finish line in one's life? It's not death, you know, that's not what he means.

It's something else.

[00:26:51] Adam Grant:
To me, it, it signals, let's think about what really counts.

[00:26:54] David Duchovny:

[00:26:54] Adam Grant:
As opposed to what's easy to count.

[00:26:56] David Duchovny:

[00:26:57] Adam Grant:
Well as, as I reflect on a couple of the arcs of this conversation, it seems to me that a mix of success and failure, however you define it, is more of a life well lived than a life of just accumulating and accelerating successes because as much as success gratifies, it seems that failure is a better motivator and a better teacher.

[00:27:21] David Duchovny:
Well, also success alienates, you know, sets you apart. You know, failure gives you many brothers and sisters, and failure creates empathy. Failure should engender empathy, I think in, in our country now, failure engenders mockery.

And that's one of the things that I wanted to kind of address with the podcast and the movie and the novel of Bucky Fucking Dent. You know, it's really our inability to accept our own failures that makes us such a schadenfreude kind of a culture. And you look at somebody like a, a Donald Trump who cannot accept an L. His whole presidential run is like not accepting his L and there's nearly half the country that's gonna get behind this.

[00:28:14] Adam Grant:
So it, it, it seems like then your, your hypothesis is that, uh, people's desire to take others down is because they're, they're so ashamed by their own losses.

[00:28:26] David Duchovny:
It's a lot of what we do, we project onto the other the fears that we have about ourselves.

[00:28:30] Adam Grant:
Interesting. And this, this notion that success can make you lonely, that it alienates, what advice do you have for coping with that? For all the poor, struggling, successful people out there.

[00:28:44] David Duchovny:
Fuck them. They're fine. They'll come back, they'll have a failure. They'll come back to earth.

They'll get there.

[00:28:52] Adam Grant:
Love it. Well, da David, this has been really fun and fascinating. I think your mind is, is a really unusual and interesting place.

[00:28:59] David Duchovny:
Ah, well thank you.

[00:29:06] Adam Grant:
Such a powerful sentiment that people who believe nice guy's finish last don't know where the finish line is. Personally, I like the idea that there is no finish line, but if I had to draw one for me, it's not about what you achieve, it's about what you contribute it, how you treat others along the way.

ReThinking is hosted by me, Adam Grant. This show is part of the Ted Audio Collective, and this episode was produced and mixed by Cosmic Standard. Our producers are Hannah Kingsley-Ma and Aja Simpson. Our editor is Alejandra Salazar. Our fact-checker is Paul Durbin. Original music by Hansdale Hsu and Allison Leyton-Brown.

Our team includes Eliza Smith, Jacob Winik, Samiah Adams, Michelle Quint, Banban Cheng, Julia Dickerson, and Whitney Pennington Rodgers.

So it sounds like she was worried that ABD didn't have the same cachet as PhD.

[00:30:02] David Duchovny:
Yeah, I don't, I don't know that ABD really exists, you know? 'cause everything else is in Latin and ABD just means all the dissertation. That's how bad that that moniker is.

[00:30:13] Music by Bree Sharp:
David Duchovny I want you to love me. To kiss and to hug me, debrief and debug me.
David Duchovny I know you could love me. I’m sweet and I’m cuddly-I’m gonna kill Schully!
David Duchovny, why won’t you love me?