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People who

post inspirational quotes


are less intelligent?
Proposed Adjusted BSR

Article

O rig in al B S R test:

On 3rd December 2015, the Daily Mail ran a sensational article: that people who posted inspirational quotes on Facebook and Twitter have lower
levels of intelligence! The article notes that there has been an increased proliferation of bullshit on the internet which is disguised as profound
sounding statements. Based on the results of a recent study, "On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit", the article
claims that based on certain experiments ran, those who were more receptive to pseudo-profound quotes, fared worse in cognitive scores.

How valid is this claim?

Articles claim
Posting of
inspirational - Intelligence
quotes

Framing
the
study
Analytical thinking
It is a dual process consisting of 1. Intuitive process and 2.
Conscious, deliberate processes that require working
memory. To be good at reasoning, one needs both the
capacity (cognitive, intelligence levels) and the willingness
(analytic

style,

thinking

disposition)

VS
BSR

Actual Study & findings


A multitude of tests were conducted among 4
experiments to determine the association between
receptivity to bullshit and other traits. These tests
include a Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT), a heuristics and
biases task, a wordsum test and a 3-item numeracy
scale. Theses tests tested the participants cognitive
ability (i.e. verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy),
The study found that those more receptive to bullshit
are less reflective and lower in cognitive ability.

A d ju sted B S R test:
Subjective bullshit statements are determined as
those rated to be profound (>1) but unable to provide
an explanation for after, which indicates a lack of
meaning comprehended after all. Consequently, the
adjusted BSR will then be calculated as the average
profundity rating for the determined bullshit
statements

Cognitive
Ability

Studys findings

Hence, analytical thinking should result in lower


receptivity to bullshit through deliberate processing of the
statements as opposed to intuitive individuals who
respond base on first impression and thus the aim of
study is to explore the relationship between these two
variables.
Thus the main aim of article is focused on measuring
analytical thinking and how this is related to an
individuals receptivity of bullshit. The frame portion of
the QR framework seems to be thoughtfully addressed.

10 pseudo-profound statements formed the BSR and


participants were asked to rank their profoundness
from 1-5. As these statements were classified as
bullshit by default, the expected score should be 1.
Hence a higher average score would indicate that the
participant is more receptive to bullshit.

Study:

Limitations

Bullshit receptivity(BSR) test: In the BSR test, each


statement was presupposed to be inherently bullshit.
However, there remains a possibility of individuals,
despite the quotes being a smorgasbord of words,
finding meaning in them
Significance of correlations: In the analyse portion of
the QR framework, while the results of the study show a
correlation between the cognitive tests and the BSR, the
extent of the correlation was not thoroughly scrutinised the
r
values
all
appear
to
be
<0.5

Conclusion
The articles claim that people who post inspirational quotes on
Facebook and Twitter have lower levels of intelligence is not
justified due to:

Article:

1. Different target populations

Variables specified:The article does not convey the


essence of the study. The variables specified in the study
are receptivity to bullshit and cognitive ability as
opposed to posting of inspirational quotes and
intelligence.

2. Unrepresentative sample population

Sample population: Articles variables implies a


sample population comprising internet users as opposed
to the online recruitment tool used in the study which at

At the very least, the missing association between the posting


of inspirational quotes and receptivity to bullshit needs to be
addressed in the article before its claim (based on this study) is
valid.

3. Questionable significance of correlation


4. BSR used does not account for subjectivity