Today I’d like you all to go to inspirobot.me and click on mindfulness mode. It is a beautiful website with random texts placed on inspiring landscapes, the background music is zen-like and once in a while you will hear a gong. It mimics the look and feel of every generic mindfulness app I have seen. Here are some of the creations that made me laugh:
Most of what the bots says seems deep and wise, untill you start to think about what it actually means. This is a well known psychological phenomenon: ‘pseudo profound bullshit’. Now bullshitting (BS) is not lying.
Pseudo profound bullshit
Lying is when you know what the truth is, but you intentionally provide information that isn’t true.
Bullshitting is when you don’t know what the truth is, but you provide information about it anyways. For example:
“Quantum mechanics describes consciousness as a superposition of possibilities”
Lying requires a deliberate twisting of the truth, whereas bullshitters have no concern for the truth; they simply want to express insight to impress others.
Donald Trump and Deepak Chopra have been accused of being a bullshitter.
Are some people more susceptible to BS? According to the study yes: Bullshit receptivity correlated very strongly with religious beliefs, as well as beliefs in the paranormal, conspiracy theories, and complementary and alternative medicines. It was negatively correlated with measures of intelligence, skepticism, and rationality, but not numeracy.
The less people tend to reflect on or analyze information (compared to simply going with what “feels right”), the more likely they are to endorse BS statements as truly insightful.
I think we should be careful with these ‘profound’ sounding quotes, you don’t have to throw away everything you don’t understand, and I think it is fine if some quote serves as a reminder to be more present, care about others or any other good advise.
Or inoculate yourself against wise sounding quotes by visiting inspirobot to train your BS-detector:
And I’ll leave you with the following words of wisdom:
I want to know more!
helpful post for an overview of pseudo profound bullshit: https://everydaypsych.com/pseudo-profound-bs/ I have copied several sentences verbatim because they are really well written.
and this academic article describing pseudo profound bullshit: Pennycook, G., Cheyne, J. A., Barr, N., Koehler, D. J., & Fugelsang, J. A. (2015). On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit. Judgment and Decision Making, 10(6), 549.
and this  article on big think about the study above https://bigthink.com/neurobonkers/why-do-people-fall-for-pseudo-profound-bullshit
and very interestingly this medium article critiquing a study of pseudo profound descriptions of abstract art. The study was set up badly!: On Bullshit in Art and Data Science
I’m publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload. You can join in yourself by visiting https://100daystooffload.com, post - 15/100
Find other posts tagged #100DaysToOffload here