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Gord Pennycook, a PhD candidate in Psychology at the University of Waterloo in Canada, says belief in the paranormal and in conspiracy theories are some factors in causing some people to accept pseudo-profound bullshit.

“There's something uncanny and compelling about these randomly generated nothing statements. They feel substantive at first glance. I wondered if people actually thought these were profound," Pennycook was quoted in a study titled "On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit." What sparked Pennycook’s interest in the subject was a random visit to the site, which lampoons writer and spiritual guru Deepak Chopra.

For his study, Pennycook asked people to rate randomly generated tweets, such as Chopra’s “attention and intention are the mechanics of manifestation.” The responses varied from “somewhat profound” to “fairly profound,” which he found quite surprising, according to the Vox.

According to Pennycook, pseudo-profound bullshit is not the same thing as nonsense. “It’s not just random words put together. The words we use have a syntactic structure, which implies they should mean something.” In Pennycook’s opinion, bullshit, unlike lying, is constructed without any concern for truth. “It’s designed to impress rather than inform,” he explains.

Pennycook, along with a team of researchers from the University of Waterloo, conducted his study on around 800 participants. The objective of the study was to find out whether they could ascertain if a statement was bullshit. The study, published in November in the journal Judgment and Decision Making, interestingly uses the word “bullshit” 200 times.

“Those who give higher profundity ratings to the bullshit are less analytic, less intelligent, higher in religious belief and higher in what’s called ontological confusion,” The Huffington Post quotes Pennycook as saying.

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