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Logical, Analytical People Are Less Prone to Bullshit

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#1 LFC

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Posted 03 July 2018 - 01:03 PM

I guess that's no shock. The article is a nice, light read though no earth-shattering new information.


Across four studies and with more than 800 participants, we found that people consistently rate blatant bullshit such as this as at least somewhat profound. More importantly, this tendency – which we referred to as bullshit receptivity – was more common among people who performed worse on a variety of cognitive ability- and thinking-style tests, and who held religious and paranormal beliefs. Put differently, more logical, analytical and skeptical people were less likely to rate bullshit as profound, just as you might expect.

Importantly, we also included motivational quotations that were written in plain language and that had clear meaning (eg, ‘A river cuts through a rock, not because of its power but its persistence’). Surprisingly, more than 20 per cent of our participants rated the sentences that consist of random buzzwords as more profound than the sentences with clear meaning. These people had particularly faulty bullshit detectors. They also scored lower on our thinking-style test, indicating that they tend to be particularly intuitive and non-reflective decision-makers.

So what about Chopra? One of the websites we used (wisdomofchopra.com) actually takes words directly from his Twitter feed. It was a natural progression, then, for us to take Chopra’s actual tweets and present them to people along with the buzzwords, absent of any identification of Chopra. Of course, not everything that Chopra has ever said is bullshit, but these tweets certainly are. You can decide whether or not they’re representative.

Although people typically rated Chopra’s tweets as modestly more profound than the random sentences, profundity ratings for the two types of items were very strongly correlated. On a scale from 0-1, with 0 indicating no correlation and 1 indicating a perfect correlation, they were correlated .88. Moreover, both types of items correlated with the same psychological factors. In other words, Chopra’s tweets were psychologically indistinguishable from bullshit.

This represents the first empirical investigation of bullshit, as far as I know. However, this is only the tip of a very big iceberg. We come across scores of bullshit every day. Advertising, politics, tabloids, television – bullshit seems to pop up everywhere once you start looking for it. Our findings are amusing, but bullshit is no laughing matter. Chopra waxing poetic on Twitter might not be overly problematic, but the lack of regard for truth that characterises bullshit has serious consequences.

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#2 DCoronata

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 06:49 AM

I'm totally shocked by this.
I thought everything Chopra said was bullshit! If even a tiny fraction of what he says is true, this is a major jolt to my worldview.
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