Ever find yourself scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed hoping to find useful information only to be bombarded with nonsensical life quotes?
A new Canadian study from the University of Waterloo suggests that people guilty of posting “bullshit” quotes are probably dumb. The research, titled “On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit,” asserts that there is a correlation between low intelligence and being easily impressed by what looks like a profound statement.
Lead researcher Gordon Pennycook and his four colleagues utilized a website called Sebpearce.com to generate random statements that are seemingly deep and insightful. They basically took a bunch of common buzzwords to create statements with no actual meanings. Some examples of these include:
“This life is nothing short of an ennobling oasis of self-aware faith.
“Today, science tells us that the essence of nature is guidance.”
What they found was that certain people are more receptive to these nonsensical statements. Pennycook explained to Vice his motivation behind the research:
“I came across the website, I just kind of thought about if there was any research on this. I wanted to know if people thought those statements were profound. I often see quotes [on my newsfeed] that are maybe not quite as egregious, but you see a lot of motivational ones… there’s quotes and a picture of somebody who obviously did not say the quote — you come across that quite often.”
Approximately 300 subjects were presented the various statements that included the “bullshit” ones and asked to rate their profoundness on a scale of one to five. The participants were asked to classify each quote as “profound,” “bullshit” or “mundane.” Cognitive ability and personality tests were also administered to the subjects.
The researchers found that individuals who were unable to discern a “bullshit” statement and rated them as profound were less intelligent and unlikely to engage in reflective thinking. They were also more vulnerable to ontological confusions and conspiracy theories and more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs.
The next time you post a quote on Facebook, check to make sure it’s not bullshit.