How to Discuss Something You Didn’t Read

Arguably, the most invaluable real world skill that you will learn during your time at Penn is how to have in depth discussions with world renowned experts on topics you know nothing about without fully disclosing your ignorance and lack of culture and/or motivation. When the professor who literally wrote the book is asking you what you thought of chapter 3, and you can only recall episode three of your latest Netflix binge, you need to think fast. The trick to seeming like you read that poorly photocopied PDF for class or are up to date on news articles that you only skimmed the titles of is simple: just remember the acronym BULLSHIT.

B: Build an argument you are willing to defend to the death. It’s hard to argue with misplaced conviction.

U: Utilize the information you were able to gather from the convoluted title which is probably like three lines or maybe even from the abstract and/or wikipedia synopsis if you have time.

L: Lie about how much you enjoyed reading the piece. Set the scene. Make them picture you doing the reading.

L: Lean in on the one detail you memorized by picking out a completely random passage somewhere in the middle of the text literally 5 minutes before class.

S: See if the one student who always does the reading seems to be agreeing with, or at least sort of following, your fabricated argument.

H: Hide. This is harder in smaller seminars, but after you have said at least one thing for participation points, try to avoid any eye contact with professor that may imply you have any more to offer.

I: Interrogate the professor by asking them what they thought of the text. It counts as participation and professors love to talk (even if they say they don’t).

T: Talk. Literally just say anything and it makes it seem like you read the text because you are brave enough to say something. It can be super vague or wrong, but it’s still participation.

 

Or, you could read the text. Maybe. Sometimes. Actually… let’s face it, you probably didn’t even read this article. You should really get your shit together… there’s always tomorrow for that…

 

Good luck!

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