Hilarious new research claims that those who engage in, ahem, “persuasive bullsh*tting,” are themselves more likely to be duped by other bullsh*tters.
The rather unique piece of research by Canada’s University of Waterloo found that people who regularly engage in braggadocio, spoofery, or sophistry, all of which come under the umbrella term ‘bullsh*t’, can often themselves be more susceptible to it, and often struggle to discern fact from fiction, if the delivery or packaging is convincing enough.
“It probably seems intuitive to believe that you can’t bullsh*t a bullsh*tter, but our research suggests that this isn’t actually the case,” says Shane Littrell, lead author of the paper. “In fact, it appears that the biggest purveyors of persuasive bullsh*t are ironically some of the ones most likely to fall for it.”
For the purposes of science, the researchers define “bullsh*t” as information deliberately crafted to persuade or ‘sell’ people on an idea with little or no concern for the truth of the matter. They also divide bullsh*t into two subtypes: persuasive and evasive. Persuasive bullsh*t is designed to impress an audience and win them over, whereas evasive bullsh*t, as the name suggests, is designed to bamboozle them with irrelevant nonsense so as to avoid inconvenient or uncomfortable truths in a given situation or context.
The University of Waterloo researchers took 800 participants from the US and Canada and tested their bullsh*tting prowess. They compared the participants’ self-reported engagement in both types of bullsh*tting with their take on a series of pseudoscience, fake news, and the other assorted forms of bullsh*t everyone is subjected to online on a daily basis.
The participants also underwent cognitive screenings and personality tests to determine their levels of introspection and self-confidence, and their ability to reflect on their own behavior. And, as the research proved, it turns out that, contrary to popular wisdom, one can indeed bullsh*t a bullsh*tter.
“Persuasive BSers seem to mistake superficial profoundness for actual profoundness. So, if something simply sounds profound, truthful, or accurate to them, that means it really is,” Littrell said, adding that the evasive bullsh*tters are the ones to look out for.
“[E]vasive bullshitters were much better at making this distinction.”
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