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  • For those of you who don’t know me very well. My previous job was actually as a point

  • guard for the Los Angeles Sparx. Julian: I call shenanigans on that! You're way more

  • of a power forward.

  • L:Hello peddlers of ideas, Lissette

  • J:and Julian

  • L: here for DNews. BS is nearly everywhere, and now researchers are making sure it’s

  • got a place in science journals too. Scientists from the University of Waterloo even put together

  • a Bullshit Receptivity Scale, designed to gauge how likely people are to fall for it.

  • According to Princeton Philosopher Harry Frankfurt, though BS can take many forms, there is one

  • particular type of bull-patty statement that we seem to fall for the most; pseudoprofound-bullshit.

  • This is made up of statements that lack true meaning - empty statements that are designed

  • to impress, but don’t really get at anything.

  • J: Manure peddlers of the pseudotype variety may or may not be aware of the truth - they

  • may believe what theyre saying even though they are totally clueless. This is different

  • from liars in that liars are aware of the truth and intentionally manipulate it to deceive

  • someone. Pseudo profound statements are also different from nonsense, because nonsense

  • statements, on their surface, are obviously not communicating anything - they may lack

  • proper syntax and structure.

  • L: Whereas male bovine excrement seems - on the surface - to make sense. In their article

  • published in the journal Judgment And Decision Making, researchers give some examples of

  • pseudoprofound-bullshit. I’m including one of them for you to test if you can sniff it

  • out. Reaaaady….

  • J: Yep, bring it on.

  • L: Which one of these 3 statements is pseudo-profound: 1: Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled

  • abstract beauty. 2: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • 3: Unparalleled transforms beholder meaning beauty

  • J; Ok I think I know but why don’t you go first. Y’know, so I can make sure youre

  • right.

  • L: Ok, so you may have immediately noticed that there is definitely something wrong with

  • statement 3 - it’s easy to see that it’s plain nonsense. It doesn’t even have a proper

  • sentence structure. Statement 2 is a cliche, but it conveys a fully formed idea. That leaves

  • statement one. “Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled abstract beauty.” It sounds

  • nice, but it’s going in circles - it means nothing.

  • But, if you didn’t catch that Statement One is the culprit right awayyoure

  • not alone. Julian, did you get that?

  • J: Yeah, that’s exactly what I got.

  • L: Poppycock.

  • J: Ok, you got me. But, detecting rubbish can be tricky - especially when youre not

  • being prompted to look for it - like we just did right now. In the real world, people fall

  • for drivel all the time - some of us more than others.

  • Surprisingly, one of the things that seems to be linked to our bull patty detector 5000

  • is our political views. I know all of you instantly thought you’d be better at detecting

  • flim flam, but half of you aren’t going to be happy.

  • L: In a study of 196 people published in the journal PLOS One, researchers used the Bullshit

  • Receptivity Scale to see how supporting democratic versus republican candidates relates to BS.

  • They found that participants who supported this election cycle’s republican candidates

  • Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump were more likely to fall for baloney than those

  • who supported the democratic candidates: Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Bernie Sanders.

  • J: What’s more, they also found that the participants who held more politically conservative

  • views had a greater tendency to see meaning in moonshine compared to those who were more

  • politically liberal. And to clarify these are conclusions that have been found in just

  • one study.

  • L: Another factor that makes people more susceptible to falling for flimflam is their default when

  • receiving new information - according to researchers like Gilbert and Spinoza some people have

  • a bias towards rating new information as true as opposed to false. It’s their fallback.

  • When we are mentally exhausted, we are more likely to resort to this default. So people

  • who lean towards believing new information is true are more likely to fall for BS.

  • J: In a 2015 study titled On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit,

  • researchers found that claptrap receptivity was positively correlated with believing in

  • conspiracies, in paranormal activity, and the efficacy of alternative medicine.

  • But all is not lost, researchers at The University of Waterloo and Sheridan College, note that

  • there are certain things that can help you spot flapdoodle.

  • L: One handy tool is looking for vagueness. If a statement is vague - unclear or ambiguous

  • in it’s meaning - you should probably probe deeper. They also note that certain mediums

  • might be more prone to BS than others Twitter, for example, which limits statements to 140

  • characters might be more likely to foster hogwash than something like a textbook. And,

  • of course, it doesn’t hurt to pay attention to the source.

  • But why does it make you so angry when your relatives support candidates your hate? Check

  • out my other episode here for more on Why Politics Make Us So Angry

  • What tools do you use to spot BS? What tools do you use to spot BS? Share your

  • thoughts in the comments and remember to subscribe so you never miss an episode of DNews. Thanks

  • for watching.

For those of you who don’t know me very well. My previous job was actually as a point

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