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People Believing Nonsense Quotes Are Less Intelligent, Says New Study

Are you one to be annoyed by fake, gibberish quotes that are all over the Internet? Well, here’s something to balm your heart: a new study entitled “On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bulls***” suggests that people sharing these apparently intelligent but completely nonsense ‘quotes’ are actually characterised by low intelligence.

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Believing in ‘bulls***’ quotes & lower intelligence

A team of scientists from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, led by PhD candidate Gordon Pennycook, have found a correlation between low intelligence and people awed by quotes that sound profound but which are actually meaningless. The study shows that people who easily believe intellectual-sounding ‘bulls***’ are less intelligent, and have a less reflective personality. They will also more likely be gullible concerning conspiracy theories, the supernatural and alternative medicine.

Pseudo-profound statements are but ‘bulls***’

‘Bulls*** quotes’ were defined as statements that only sound intelligent, but, are, in reality, a random arrangement of words that basically mean nothing. An example given is: “Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled abstract beauty”.

The authors write:-

“Although this statement may seem to convey some sort of potentially profound meaning, it is merely a collection of buzzwords put together randomly in a sentence that retains syntactic structure.

“Bulls***, in contrast to mere nonsense, is something that implies but does not contain adequate meaning or truth.”

The participants were asked to give scores (from one to five) to rate the degree of insight and knowledge of the ‘bulls***’ statements. They also had to distinguish among philosophical quotes, mundane statements, and ‘bull***’.

The results: Participants confused bulls*** with profound

While the majority were able to identify “mundane”, they confused the nonsense quotes with profound ones – they rated the fake ‘profound quotes’ as they would rate statements published on Twitter by writer Deepak Chopra.

These people were also less reflective and had lower cognitive ability.

The researchers also found a link between receptiveness to “bulls***” quotes and greater susceptibility to metaphysical confusions and conspiracy theories.

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