The Art and Science of Bullshit
By contributing writer Michael Sarko
You’re up ridiculously late every single night choking on the musty tomes of your school’s main library. You’re missing every party because your weekends are spent cramming for next week’s tests. Your muscles have twisted into stress-induced knots and you’re starting to piss yourself just a little bit more with each passing day.
You’re a freshman. Q-tip the shit out of your ears and realize that if there’s ever been a time to take notes (and I’m sure you have stacks of them by now), this is that time.
There are a few select academic tracks that actually warrant earnest study and material understanding. These are majors which precede careers in medicine and robotics engineering. For everyone else, college is a four-year game of survival where the course work means absolutely dick. What’s worse, the so-called educators who have made it their bread and butter to waste your time with menial tasks and spine-fluid-draining lectures that could give two tap-dancing rat’s asses about you or the enrichment of your precious mind. So why should you have to bend over and take it like Martha Stewart should have gotten it in a world with a truly just legal system when you’ll never use this crap again? The answer is that you shouldn’t, and if you know what you’re doing, you’ll never have to pray for a metaphorical palm full of Crisco again. The answer, you sorry sods of studious stupor, is the ancient Art of Bullshit. Hence, the guide you see before you.
Step #1: Assess The Value of Bullshitting
The premier stage in the process that is Bullshit comes with the identification of a BS Opportunity. Ask yourself, “What is required of me by this professor? Is it discussion? Is it a paper? Is it a test?” Once you identify the problem (aka the assignment), it is important to weigh the worth of the work or lack thereof. That’s why your syllabus is such a handy tool. Most professors will break down, point by point, how much each major assignment is worth. If you’ve got a quiz coming up that’s worth 10 points out of 1100, that’s a clear indication of a time when you should look into the mirror and give that smiling face of yours a healthy recitation of “Fuck It.” However, if you’re facing a paper that constitutes roughly 40% of your overall grade, it’s time to proceed to the next step.
|GOLDEN RULE OF STEP #1: The purpose of bullshit is to save time and energy. If bullshitting takes more time than actually studying, don't even bother.|
Step #2: Gather Information Resources
So you’ve got this massive paper on, say, I dunno, comparative studies on ancient literature featuring both goats and exotic fruit. You can either read thousands of pages of poorly-translated fart jokes also known as classical high theater... or you could let somebody else filter out the nonsense for you. This is when you sneak into the dark corners of your corporate bookstore or Internet search engine and shake hands with a generous fellow named Cliff.
Yes, I know it’s juvenile and stereotypical, but Cliff’s Notes are your bestest friend in the whole wide world for the next four or five years. Good ol’ Cliff can take one hundred pages of thee’s, thou’s, and hark’s, and break them down into about two paragraphs of synopsis and analysis. If you know where to look, not only can you get the plot, but you can also get someone else to think for you. You know all that pretentious sewage that comes spouting out of that front-row Keener’s maw every single day? He probably picked it up from a study guide website. Now you can, too. Once again, if it takes longer to study synopsis notes, just read the goddamn book.
|GOLDEN RULE OF STEP #2: Don't waste your time and money on books you don't really want to read. 5 pages is better than 50, therefore Cliff's Notes are better than real books.|
Step #3: Know Your Grading Machine
Before you even attempt to construct a paper full of things you don’t really believe, on a subject you don’t really care about, you should know who’s going to be reading and grading it. The first important factor is class size. If you’re in a huge class (100 people or more), your professor will never read every single paper. Instead, he or she will employ (conscribe) Teaching Assistants, of whom we will speak later. If you’re in a small class, it’s important to get to know what your professor expects, i.e. what kind of mediocre mental prowess he or she will tolerate. Bullshit comes in many varieties, so be careful. You don’t want to bust out your dictionary for a big-word-filled extravaganza when you’ve got a leftover hippie for a teacher who wants to see... hmph... personal growth.
As for the possibility of being graded by a TA, just remember one thing: They know precisely nothing. A TA is just a regular student who pretends to be somehow wiser and more capable than they really are. In the case that a TA grades your paper, they’ll be too busy trying to look like they know what they’re doing to actually cover your content. In the case that your professor actually grades your work, just try not to be too impressive or imbecilic. Tread the middle ground. Spout back to them all those bullet points they went over in class (and yes, to bullshit properly you will have to occasionally attend class, but not recitation), sounding like you learned something when really you just don’t care. If you do it right, you hit that sweet spot in the center of the vandiagram where your professor’s lowered expectations and your TA’s lack of knowledge overlap. Combine that with proper spelling and mechanics and you’re on your way to bullshit proper.
|GOLDEN RULE OF STEP #3: There is no universally applicable bullshit. Know what you can get away with before you attempt to manufacture a paper.|
Step #4: Falsify Obscure Sources
Anyone who has ever had to write a college-level paper will tell you that the real bitch is quoting and citation. There’s no need to scour dozens of books for useable quotes, or even to scan the primary text of the class for relevant passages. Should you need to quote the text of the main book, just consult your Cliff’s Notes again. Most good study guides have relevant quotes built in. Try not to use the overly obvious ones, as they generally lower the credibility of your paper.
When it comes to secondary sources, like those written by Dr. Somebody from Nowhere University on the subject of No One Fucking Cares, you should really use this opportunity to flex your bold-faced lying muscle. All you have to do is go on a book-buying website, search by subject, then find a somewhat obscure text on your paper’s themes. Do not, I repeat DO NOT use well-known books if you’re going to start lying outright. Find some piss-poor paperback published for about two weeks back in the 60's by some guy nobody’s ever heard of and attach his good-for-nothing book to your bibliography. When you need to use a quote (and I know this sounds too simple but hear me out) just make something up that sounds reasonably intelligent. Unless you make the mistake of falsely quoting a respected scholar, you should be in the clear.
|GOLDEN RULE OF STEP #4: Under no circumstances should you make up a fake quote from a well-known scholar or text. Falsify something obscure and bask in the calm created by your professor's lazy unwillingness to check your sources.|
Conclusion: Well, that about does it. With this simple guide, you too can rescue your weekends and late nights from pointless studying without sacrificing your grades. If you do it right, you’ll be staring down a sold 3.50 GPA and your professors will just forget you because you were neither remarkable nor remarkably stupid. And one final word of advice: Don’t brag about your achievements in bullshit. Just remember that dishonest deeds can and will come back to bite you in the ass if you don’t show them the proper respect and distance. Now put down that epic poem and go grab a copy of Tek War with a microwavable burrito. It’s your brain, fill it with your own shit on your own time.