Ever wonder why 'profound' quotes on social media impress you so much?

06 December 2015 - 02:00 By The Daily Telegraph
Siblings on social media.
Siblings on social media.
Image: Thinkstock

Ever get annoyed by people on social media who share "profound" quotes, or use meaningless, intelligent-sounding soundbites in arguments?

A new study has shown that there is a link between these people and low intelligence.

It found that those who are receptive to pseudo-profound, intellectual-sounding "bull****" are less intelligent, less reflective, and more likely to believe in alternative medicine.


PhD candidate Gordon Pennycook and a team of researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, published a study entitled "On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bull****".

Examples of "bull****" were given, as it is a hard term to define. Essentially, it means grand-sounding statements that mean nothing. An example was "Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled abstract beauty".

The paper says: "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."

Pennycook used a website that would randomly generate pseudo-profound sentences from a string of words.

Almost 300 test subjects were asked to rate the profundity of these. Researchers also examined how the participants think about themselves and the world around them.

The paper said that those who were more receptive to the bull**** statements were "less reflective, lower in cognitive ability and more prone to ontological confusions and conspiratorial ideation".

It also said they were more likely to "hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine".