“By maturing, we self-actualize.”
“We dream, we vibrate, we are reborn.”
“Choice is the driver of purpose.”
If you found yourself rolling your eyes at the above quotes, congratulations: Your cynicism may be a sign of intelligence, according to a study published in November in the journal Judgment and Decision Making.
Researchers led by Gordon Pennycook from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, claim to have proven that people who buy into pseudo-profound quotes are less intelligent. As they write in their paper, On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit:
Those more receptive to bullshit are less reflective, lower in cognitive ability (i.e., verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy), are more prone to ontological confusions and conspiratorial ideation, are more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine.
The paper, which uses the word “bullshit” 200 times, defines bullshit as a meaningless string of buzzwords in correct syntactic structure. “Thus, bullshit, in contrast to mere nonsense, is something that implies but does not contain adequate meaning or truth,” write the authors.
Examples of pseudo-profound bullshit were generated by two websites, a “New Age Bullshit Generator” which compiles profound-sounding words, and a website that combines words from spiritual writer Deepak Chopra’s tweets to make meaningless sentences.
– Olivia Goldhill