Study Finds People Who Fall For Nonsense Inspirational Quotes Are Less Intelligent

Have you ever found yourself scrolling through a social media feed and all of a sudden stumbling upon a quote like: “By evolving, we exist.”

And at first you’re like Oh, that’s nice and a second later, you find yourself confused?

That is because the above quote is complete bullshit. In fact, it was generated by a website called “New Age Bullshit Generator,” a site that randomly creates phony, spiritual, Tumblr-esque aphorisms for geeky amusement.

When Ph.D. candidate Gordon Pennycook stumbled on the site, he found it profoundly entertaining — at first. But then he got a little disturbed:

“I thought, ‘I wonder if people would actually rate such blatant bullshit as profound,'” he told The Huffington Post. “The study sort of went from there.”

His study, “On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit,” was published in the journal Judgment and Decision Making in November. Pennycook, along with a team of researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, tested close to 800 participants on whether they could determine if a statement was bullshit.

The study, by the way, mentions the word “bullshit” in it 200 times — and that’s not a bullshit claim.

New paper on the psychology of bullshit Open access! we only used the term “bullshit” ~200 times…

— Gordon Pennycook (@GordPennycook) November 30, 2015

The researchers used randomly generated sayings from New Age Bullshit Generator and another site called “Wisdom of Chopra” — the last a sarcastic nod to the new age teachings of best-selling alternative medicine author Deepak Chopra — for the study.

They found that people who are receptive to this kind of “pseudo-intellectual bullshit” are less intelligent than those who aren’t. The study also found that they tend to have strong religious —> Read More