I Don’t Even Know What That Means

by Ed Lau on March 3, 2007

So I was watching School for Scoundrels last night thinking it would be the second coming of Bad Santa, one of the best Christmas movies ever that is in no way intended for children. I expected Billy Bob Thornton to swear vigorously and excessively and say things like “Are you saying there’s something wrong with my gear?!”. In all seriousness, I laughed so hard the first time I watched Bad Santa and Billy Bob barks “Are you saying there’s something wrong with my gear?!” so incredibly emphatically. Anyways, while there are brief moments of hilarious vulgarity, School for Scoundrels mostly plays it safe and doesn’t push the same kinds of boundaries as Bad Santa. In fact, it’s almost boring and god, is it anti-climatic. While all the girls went “Awww…” at the bullshit love story at the end, I was wondering where the…final confrontation, so to speak, was. The movie prepares you for this epic showdown that never really materializes. It’s such a load of crap since they didn’t go for the R rating, which is what Billy Bob just needs.

Anyways, one of the things Billy Bob’s character teaches Napoleon Dynamite when he’s trying to pick up this girl is that he needs to lie. Lie a lot…and then some more. When he said that, I couldn’t help but think how much lying actually does help in, well, just about everything. Well, perhaps not lying, specifically but definitely bullshitting at least. As a student, bullshit is the hallmark of education. If you seriously think that school teaches you anything but how much and how well you can bullshit, you’re just fooling yourself. Bullshit, especially for those of us in some kind of arts degree (I’m in sociology), is the key to success.

How do I know this? Well, just as an example, I handed in an essay for one of my sociology classes a couple weeks ago that I was almost certain I would receive a failing mark for. I wrote it in less than 6 hours and most of those 6 hours were while I was at work. Seriously, between annoying customers, I would punch in a few lines of text. It was quite possibly the worst thing I had ever written in my life and that is including all the horrible, horrible poems I had to write back in elementary school or any kind of ridiculous short story I may have written about a post-apocalyptic, underwater world I may or may not have written in high school. It was monumentally stupid with little or no support for any of the ideas presented.

And yet, I got an A. Not a high A but still 81% and anyone in university will tell you that any A is cause for celebration.

So how on earth did I actually pull that off? Well, with bullshit. Here are three things that I have learned in my years of post-secondary education that, well, won’t guarantee you a good mark but will at least put you in the path to a passing grade with little or no work involved.

1. Use buzzwords. Lots of them. If you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about when you’re in a conversation about the internet, you say something like Web 2.0. Music? Just pick the most art-house, indie pretentious band you can think of like The Flaming Lips or Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah! The same goes for school. In your faculty there has to be a word or two that will make you sound like a genius. For sociology, one such word is stratification, which is basically a fancy-pants way to say inequality, which can apply to finance or life opportunities or whatever.

Seriously, have you actually ever read any of the journals put out by anyone in a university library? No one actually sounds like a real person so why should we? Just write something that just sounds so absolutely confusing but in a way that makes the reader think “…damn, I’m probably just too stupid to understand this…” and you’re on your way.

2. In the event you don’t know any big words, make some up! The best (and probably only) way to do this is to combine two words to form some kind of super word. One of my favorite words to combine with “stratification” is “socio-economic”. I think I’ve used “socio-economic stratification” in every single essay I’ve written since first year. It sounds so much cooler than saying “social and economic stratification” and for some reason, it always impresses the markers as I always receive checkmarks or “Good!” in red pen every time I do something like this. Others examples are like “geo-political” or “neo-cultural” and the like. “The current geo-political landscape is one of the leading causes of socio-economic stratification in North American culture.” I don’t even know what that means but hey, it sounds like I know what I’m talking about!

3. Believe it and they will too. The best thing you can possibly do is buy into your own bullshit. If you believe it, then you can sell it to everyone else. If you can sell it, then you’ll get the marks you want. Quite often in the NBA Slam Dunk contest, you’ll see some guy jump up and dunk the ball in a particularly unimpressive fashion but he’ll get awesome scores simply because he comes down, pounds his chest, high-fives the judges, yells and pumps up the crowd. The same applies. If you sound like you are the leading authority on the subject, then other people will believe your bullshit. “I don’t need some peasant’s quotes to justify my argument!”

Heck, I don’t even know if these three things can help you but hey, I didn’t do a bad job of sounding like I know what I’m talking about, huh?

in Random

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dylan Duarte March 4, 2007 at 2:58 am

I don’t know why, but I found that transition from School for Scoundrels to lessons in bullshit completely amazing. Maybe seamless transitions are a side effect of your bullshit mastery.


Online Education Consultation July 14, 2012 at 3:27 am

I like your post and this post remembers me about something.


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