"not rocket science/not brain surgery"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sun Dec 10 20:21:10 UTC 2006

A friend of mine was referring ironically to campus fraternity and sorority members as "young rocket scientists" in 1987.

  [1983 Arthur Pincus _How to Talk Football_ 14 (N.Y.: Dembner Books): One player...who will never be confused with a rocket scientist.]

  1986 _Miami Vice_ (NBC-TV): Oh, we got a real rocket scientist here.

  1992 _Mystery Science Theatre 3000_ (Comedy Central TV): This isn't rocket science !

  The Pincus book appeared in January, 1984.

  I believe "rocket surgery" has already been discussed.


Tom Dalzell <slangman at PACBELL.NET> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Tom Dalzell
Subject: Re: "not rocket science/not brain surgery"

"I think this so-called intelligence factor is being a bit overrated,"
said Healy. "let's face it, this isn't brain surgery."
Washington Post, 27 July 1980, page E1

Tom Dalzell

Sam Clements wrote:

>Nothing helpful in the archives about the origins of these similar phrases, which refer to how simple something is.
>Usenet only comes up with the phrase(s) from about 1990.
>Proquest offers a 1981 NYTimes review of books by Thomas Philbin, and an interview with him. He says, in the interview, "I have more than the usual complement of thumbs. I think of myself as a writer-editor of this stuff more than an expert craftsman. But I can fix a screen. I can fix a light. This stuff is not brain surgery."
>Can anyone find an earlier example of "not brain surgery/not rocket science" to mean what it did in that interview?
>Was there an earlier phrase which defined the same sentiment?
>Sam Clements
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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