Specific subgroups of right- and left-wingers are more receptive to pseudo-profound bullshit, according to new research published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Pseudo-profound bullshit describes statements that can appear to be deep but have no real meaning, such as the sentence “We are in the midst of a high-frequency blossoming of interconnectedness that will give us access to the quantum soup itself.”
The new findings help to untangle some of the complex relationships between bullshit receptivity and political ideology.
“I am interested in how a person’s worldview might get in the way of the pursuit of knowledge. Ultimately, I want to understand how we can better promote scientific thinking among persons with different worldviews,” explained study author Artur Nilsson, an associate professor of psychology at Linköping University.
“I think that the notion of pseudo-profound bullshit specifically caught my attention because I have a background in philosophy and an aversion to unclear statements. Understanding how bullshit operates also struck me as particularly urgent in our current digital age, in which fake news, conspiracy theories, and ‘alternative facts’ may have greater destructive potential than ever — although people have probably engaged in bullshitting for thousands of years.”
In the study of 985 Swedish adults, participants were asked to rate the profoundness of bullshit statements such as “Your movement transforms universal observations” and genuine aphorisms such as “Your teacher can open the door, but you have to step in.”