WATERLOO, Ontario, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- A study by Canadian researchers found receptiveness to "pseudo-profound bull[expletive]" is associated with lower intelligence and belief in the supernatural.
University of Waterloo Ph.D. candidate Gordon Pennycook, who previously co-authored a study that found a link between excessive smartphone use and lowered intelligence, led a team of researchers from the university in a study titled, "On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bull[expletive]."
The study -- which uses the word "bull[expletive]" 200 times -- gave an example of a "pseudo-profound" statement: "Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled abstract beauty."
"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 that retains syntactic structure," the researchers wrote. "Bull[expletive], in contrast to mere nonsense, is something that implies but does not contain adequate meaning or truth."
Pennycook and his team asked nearly 300 subjects to rate the profundity of similar "pseudo-profound" statements as well as tweets from New Age writer Deepak Chopra, mundane factual statements and well-known profound statements such as: "A wet person does not fear the rain."
The authors said additional testing found subjects who gave the "bull[expletive]" statements a high rating of profundity tended to be "less reflective, lower in cognitive ability(i.e verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy,) and are more prone to ontological confusions and conspiratorial ideation."
Those subjects were also more likely to "hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine."
"The development of interventions and strategies that help individuals guard against bull[expletive] is an important additional goal that requires considerable attention from cognitive and social psychologists," the study's conclusion states. "That people vary in their receptivity toward bullshit is perhaps less surprising than the fact that psychological scientists have heretofore neglected this issue. Accordingly, although this manuscript may not be truly profound, it is indeed meaningful."