Jennifer Ouellette wrote an article for Ars Technica titled “Abstract art with ‘pseudo-profound’ BS titles seen as more meaningful“.

« Researchers from the University of Waterloo found that providing so-called “pseudo-profound bullshit” titles primes people to perceive a given work of abstract art as being more profound and helps them infer meaning from the art. They described their work in a paper last fall in the Journal of Judgement and Decision Making, with the provocative title “Bullshit makes the art grow profounder.” »

« In the academic literature, “pseudo-profound” BS is not defined by being false but by being fake, with no concern for truth or meaning. “Bullshit may be true, false, or meaningless,” the authors wrote. “What makes a claim bullshit is an implied yet artificial attention to truth and meaning.”  »

« This isn’t the first time a study on “pseudo-profound” BS has been the subject of an academic paper. Back in 2015, psychologist Gordon Pennycook and several colleagues at the University of Waterloo made headlines when they published a paper demonstrating how certain people interpret BS as deeply profound observations.

They presented several randomly generated statements, containing “profound” buzzwords, that were grammatically correct but made no sense logically, along with a 2014 tweet by Deepak Chopra that met the same criteria. They found that the less skeptical participants were less logical and analytical in their thinking and hence much more likely to consider these nonsensical statements (including the Chopra tweet) as being deeply profound.  »

Pennycook noted: « “It is not the understanding of the recipient of bullshit that makes something bullshit, it is the lack of concern (or perhaps even understanding) of the truth or meaning of statements by the one who utters it,” he wrote. »

« from a social perspective, the ability to spout convincing BS confers a strategic advantage in many cases—not just in the realm of abstract art but in any domain where “competence is not objectively judged using strict and specific criteria, success is determined by impressing others, and the fakery characteristics of bullshit are not strictly monitored and punished,” the authors wrote. »


see also On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt

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