Does anyone have a "layman's" version of their diss/research, for non-philosophers who ask about it? Since I've got a postdoc fellowship starting in the fall, I've had occasion to tell people outside of philosophy that I'm starting a new job, relocatiing, etc. Many ask what I'll be doing, and what it's about, and I realize I need a really short and non-jargony, soundbitey explanation. Likewise when people ask me what my diss was about. Or do you just talk until their eyes glaze over and they start to back away slowly...The strategy I take when the vulgar ask about what I do or what my dissertation is about is to first sigh loudly and with resignation (not exasperation), then adopt a decidedly non-excited tone and talk very haltingly (and with fingers running through hair) to indicate just how fucking hard it is to formulate my very complicated project so that they can understand. Now, if that doesn't completely put them off from asking any other questions, I'll drop a few names that they probably heard of, but know nothing about. This gives the other person an opening to pretend to know what's going on, nod interestedly, and go back to talking about the weather or my fantasy baseball team.
But, I somehow doubt that is the the advice Zombie is looking for, and it's certainly not the proper way to interact socially with someone else. So, let's help Zombie out, what strategies do you adopt when you talk with the lay about your work?