At any given moment, a single scroll of your Instagram or Facebook feed will hit you with a barrage of inspirational quotes from well-meaning friends who are having a bad day/newly single/launching their own business/just plain bored. In social media land, these posts from long-dead ancient philosophers, poets, musicians or - a personal favourite - 'unknown' are as ubiquitous as the humble bathroom mirror selfie and something you ether grin and bear or actively 'like'. As innocuous as the words of Deepak Chopra and other New Age pin-ups may seem, their words were enough to get some clever scientists thinking about the way we process "bullshit" (their words, not ours).
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In the hilariously titled study, On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit, researchers attempted to find a direct link between babble like, "Imagination is inside exponential space time events" and a person's intelligence. And as it turns out, your ability to make sense of these supposedly profound, but mostly "bullshit statements" says a lot about your intelligence level. In a series of tests designed to test people's ability to call bullshit, participants were fed a range of inspirational or life advice statements. While some were legit, others were actual nonsense - a series of buzzwords arranged to create a statement. Eg: "Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled abstract beauty."
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So what did they find? In a nutshell, being receptive to inspirational quotes is related to lower cognitive ability. Furthermore, your ability to swallow random life affirmations also makes you less reflective - go figure. Unsurprisingly, people who were unable to see through bullshit statements were also more likely to be religious and believe in conspiracy theories.
But if you're feeling disgruntled by the results, don't be. As the researchers point out in their conclusion, Deepak Chopra "has over 2.5 million followers on Twitter and has written more than twenty New York Times bestsellers. Bullshit is not only common; it is popular." In other words, you may be less intelligent, but at least you'll have more friends.