Degrees of Bullshit
by: John Tyrrell
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Right after I'd written the previous article, and had decided to put this update and myself to bed, Paul Neubauer sent me an article from iflscience.com; Acceptance Of Profound-Sounding "Bullsh*t" Linked To Lower Intelligence which discusses a study which "shows that those who are more receptive to what the authors term as “bullshit” tend to be both less reflective and less intelligent than their peers."
It seems to me that is a rather obvious conclusion which should be applicable to all bullshit, not just the profound-sounding bullshit* the study considered.
It also occurred to me that bullshit is what I've been discussing in the previous two meditations. But different degrees of thought are required to assess the bullshit in those two articles, and so-called profound-sounding bullshit.
First look at "The Virgin Mary is the most powerful woman in the world." It's a simple declarative statement published in a previously reputable popular scientific magazine. But, it takes very little thought to assess that statement as bullshit, not worth reading further. Even from a theological viewpoint, it is still bullshit, because theologically Mary is not a woman in the world - she's a saint in heaven.
Secondly, take "Since November 2007, the illuminati have been trying to kill me." Again, it is a simple declarative statement, and it takes little thought to assess it as false. It takes a little more thought and follow up to determine if the person making the statement is serious, or joking. but it did not take much follow up to firmly place it in the bullshit category.
And now we look at the type of statement examined by the study discussed by iflscience. Let's use "Information is inherent in existential belonging"** It is, like the others, a simple declarative statement. Yet unlike the other two, the intended meaning does not jump out. The statement has to be puzzled over if you want to attempt to find a meaning. Perhaps that is why such statements are considered profound by some. Finding the meaning (if there is one) takes work.
Of course once you manage to see through several of these pseudo-scientific pseudo-spiritual nonsensical assertions, you can probably manage to reject them as easily as Mary being Superwoman.
* The study also found that made-up profound bullshit and Deepak Chopra twitter quotations were indistinguishable.
** Random Deepak Chopra Quote Generator - Wisdom of Chopra
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