According to a recent study, those who are moved by inspirational quotes on social media are in fact not that bright.
Under the patchwork blanket of social media, inspiration is easy to find. A wealth of aesthetically handsome pearls of wisdom that inspire you and, as you share, inspire others. But, according to a new scientific study, if you do this, you are an idiot.
The study entitled “On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit” by Canadian Ph.D. Candidate Gordon Pennycook and four others who roped a test audience under the auspices of “course credit,” feeding them one inspirational quote after another, attempting to place them on the Bullshit Receptivity Scale, or BSR.
The study places the subjects in front of “ten statements that have syntactic structure but that consist of a series of randomly selected vague buzzwords. Participants were asked to indicate the relative profundity of each statement on a scale from 1 (not at all profound) to 5 (very profound).”
Therefore, those who scaled high on the BSR have low intelligence, primarily due to their inspiration gleaned from a chain of meaningless words. Which is all well and good, but reading the study makes me suspect there is something else afoot.
The study exists, but we are the subjects of it. The freewheeling coarse language, combined with the intellectual buzzphrasery of the study—information collated from a vague source—is exactly what the study sets out to prove.
While there is undoubtedly a link between those moved by inspirational quotes and low intelligence, there might also be a link between those who believe scientific studies proving the same conditions they claim to refute.
So, while we should rightfully point and chortle at those who litter our news feeds and walls with words of inspiration, know too that there may come a day when the joke is on us. Or, I could be completely wrong. If so, Gordon Pennycook and his mob deserve their due for uncovering this scientific gem.
What you believe is up to you.
As Voltaire put it, “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”