A lot of adjectives are used to describe Paris Hilton: shallow, vapid, stupid—the list is almost invariably negative. But in an interesting way—a profound way—she captures perfectly the spirit of an entire generation, in both the desire for fame and the creativity to see it realized, in the constant pursuit of the public eye combined with actions devoid of shame, in the way her name strangely resonates in homes both of means and without. She is who some of us are, who some of us admire. Who some of us hate. She is deep in her own way.
That was all B.S. Of course Paris Hilton is shallow and vapid (and I’m not her doctor, so I can’t tell you for sure if she has herpes, but I hear she has been developing suspiciously quickly as a rock-climber). Everybody has to B.S. in their time; whether it’s that high school English paper on Beowulf that you mainly cobbled together from Sparknotes and a little bit of a movie you saw, a college humor writer turning in a 3-year-old poem as a comedy article, or even Stephen King rearranging the names and places in an old book and republishing it under a different title, we all have to fudge a little bit. Hopefully, by the time you’re done reading this, you’ll have an idea of how to B.S. as well as yours truly.
The more skeptical amongst you might doubt my expertise in the area. The cynical minds amongst you might even suspect B.S. in our midst at this very moment. Rest assured that I am more than qualified to write about this subject: freshman year I did not one, but two long (and well-received) papers about flirtation, for which my research consisted mainly of trying out awful pickup lines (My favorite: You’re ugly, but you intrigue me). I’ve managed to convince a girl that I was a Zen Buddhist, using nothing more than the powers of persuasion and Rophynol. And once I took a philosophy class, which means if anything, I’m overqualified. So without further interruption, we can get to the ado—take notes kids.
1. Use the Semicolon
This one is dedicated to my friend Wormface, who actually had part of his colon removed sometime in high school, prompting this nickname. The semicolon is the necktie of the sentence world; if used moderately correctly, it can give a boring sentence a little touch of class. If used; incorrectly; you look kind of stupid; and a little homeless.
2. Incorporate the Term “Thoroughly Modern”
This phrase is particularly great, because with it, it’s not you doing the B.S.ing, it’s society. You can’t help it if society has changed the very way it sees things. It’s especially nice to you use when you have to connect a description between two things either completely unrelated or even directly contradictory. Examples: Christopher Reeve is a thoroughly modern kind of athlete; the Cincinnati Bengals are a thoroughly modern group of ice skaters; Tucker Max is a thoroughly modern kind of writer.
3. Write Poetry
I like poetry. And there is a lot of good poetry out there. But it also happens to be one of the easiest mediums in which to B.S. The whole art of B.S.ing in poetry has nothing at all to do with what you write down, but rather how your frame it and discuss it. If most readers feel like you know what you’re doing, they’ll do the hard work of supplying the depth themselves. So you can write a few random words, add in a couple of line breaks, and be heralded as a minimalist poet.
the frog man
and his delicious devil juice
they are so sweet
That took me all of four seconds to write. But you can bet your sweet keister that it would take me “far too long” to explain it “properly.” If you want to get extra points, you can pull a Nick Gaudio and make the poetry BADASS. Here’s how! You take a normal poem, like above, and then just add some random profanity. Extra gold star if you incorporate two or more bodily fluids. Example:
the frog man
and his delicious devil juice
mixed, in equal parts
of human semen and
they are so sweet
also I have a big penis.
4. “Muddy the Waters”
This one can be a little tricky to pull off. They key here is to take something that you don’t know but has a definite correct response, and transform it into an argument where there isn’t possibly a correct response. Yelling and getting flustered work extra well, especially if you can use some sort of minority status to fall back on: THE REAL ISSUE HERE ISN’T WHAT THE HYPOTENUSE IS. IT’S WHETHER WE AS A NATION CAN AFFORD TO FORGET ABOUT THE TRIANGLE OF SOCIETY’S LEGACY OF SLAVERY AND OPPRESSION.
5. Attack the Argument
All this basically means is that rather than going after the case of the person you’re arguing with, you attack the way they present it. A basic knowledge of common logical fallacies (found in your local philosophy department), can help immeasurably here. I can’t imagine a better example than this: For a very long time, people who were smoking a lot of cigarettes were getting a lot of lung cancer. Some very sharp and observant people wrote some letters, to the effect of “Dear cigarette companies – we would like it if you would somehow acknowledge the cancer-causing business.” Now, rather than trying to disprove that cigarettes caused cancer, the lovely company decided to pull an ‘ol numero cinco, arguing that the people who were all cancered up were committing the logical fallacy of “post hoc ergo propter hoc” (after this therefore because of this), and that the argument that the cigarettes were causing the cancer was unfounded. B.S. at it’s finest.
Try this at your next dinner party! The next time somebody tries to argue something you don’t really know anything about, try undermining their method and sitting back smugly. If you really want to be smug, try slipping in the phrase “not statistically significant.”
You: All I’m saying is, getting hit by a car isn’t that bad.
Annoying Asshole in Wheelchair: Blah blah blah, me me me, blah blah blah.
You: First off, saying that getting hit by the car caused you to become paralyzed is a logical fallacy. Furthermore, you’re only one person. That’s not statistically significant! Try again next time, Hot Wheels.
Then sit back and let the envious stares wash over you.
There are many, many, many more tools you can to B.S. Some of them even have foreign names. But if I told you everything I knew, I would have to kill you.