On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit

This 2015 paper ought to provoke provoke an interesting discussion:

On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit

Abstract

Although bullshit is common in everyday life and has attracted attention from philosophers, its reception (critical or ingenuous) has not, to our knowledge, been subject to empirical investigation. Here we focus on pseudo-profound bullshit, which consists of seemingly impressive assertions that are presented as true and meaningful but are actually vacuous. We presented participants with bullshit statements consisting of buzzwords randomly organized into statements with syntactic structure but no discernible meaning (e.g., “Wholeness quiets infinite phenomena”). Across multiple studies, the propensity to judge bullshit statements as profound was associated with a variety of conceptually relevant variables (e.g., intuitive cognitive style, supernatural belief). Parallel associations were less evident among profundity judgments for more conventionally profound (e.g., “A wet person does not fear the rain”) or mundane (e.g., “Newborn babies require constant attention”) statements. These results support the idea that some people are more receptive to this type of bullshit and that detecting it is not merely a matter of indiscriminate skepticism but rather a discernment of deceptive vagueness in otherwise impressive sounding claims. Our results also suggest that a bias toward accepting statements as true may be an important component of pseudo-profound bullshit receptivity.

485 Replies to “On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit”

  1. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    KN,

    You’re still confusing fifth’s claim — that the Christian God is a prerequisite for knowledge — with his presupposition — that the Christian God exists.

    The claim and the presupposition are distinct, and that’s easy to see.

    Imagine if fifth were to present the presupposition with no supporting argument whatsoever:

    The Christian God exists.

    When you asked him how he knew this, he would say “I presuppose it.” When you asked him why he presupposed it, he would say “I just do.”

    That would be idiotic, and everyone would dismiss it as the worst kind of circular reasoning. Fifth knows that, and so he tries to do better.

    He offers a reason — a claim as to why the presupposition is necessary:

    It’s Christianity or absurdity

    As you can see, the presupposition without the claim is hopeless. It isn’t that much better with the claim, but at least it’s an improvement. And if the claim were true, fifth would actually have a point: who would choose absurdity if the alternative were non-absurd?

    The problem is that fifth can’t demonstrate the truth of his claim (and I’m talking about his claim here, not his presupposition). The house of cards collapses.

    Fifth isn’t bright enough to maintain the distinction between claims and presuppositions, but the rest of us needn’t be so sloppy.

  2. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: Nice quote mine. We were talking about Biblical inerrancy, as you know perfectly well:

    I was referring to Biblical inerrancy. Since the Christian God is Omnipotent he can reveal with out error. Since he is righteous we can trust that he will do so.

    newton: So your presupposition is grounded by your presupposition? That kind of sounds like an infinite regress.

    My presupposition is simply that The Christian God exists.
    The Christian God is omnipotent and righteous among other things.

    I’m not grounding my belief that God is omnipotent in my presupposition that he exists.

    I’m simply presupposing that the omnipotent Christian God exists

    peace

  3. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: When a presuppositionalist takes it that there cannot be objective knowledge unless God exists, she is taking that claim as a presupposition

    presuppositionalists as far as I know don’t presuppose that there cannot be objective knowledge unless God exists. I know I don’t do that.

    I’m perfectly willing to entertain the idea that objective knowledge can exist with out God.

    In order for me to do so you have to explain how objective knowledge can exist with out God.

    That is why I ask the “how do you know?” question repeatedly

    peace

  4. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    fifth,

    It was a blatant quote mine.

    Here’s what I wrote:

    That’s because you’ve defined “your side of the fence” as the side where inerrancy is assumed.

    You assume inerrancy, and when Biblical contradictions are presented to you, you claim that they are only apparent, not real. Why? Because you’ve assumed that the Bible is inerrant.

    It’s standard, simple-minded, fundagelical circular reasoning.

    Here’s your quote mine:

    keiths: You assume inerrancy

    yes of course I assume that an omnipotent God can reveal stuff with out error.

    That is part of what it means to be omnipotent

    Notice how you carefully cut off the quote just before the Bible was mentioned, and then changed the subject to God’s inerrancy instead of the Bible’s.

    Like I said, quote mining is a sign of desperation on your part.

  5. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    And the motivation behind the quote mine is obvious.

    The inerrancy of God is part of your presupposition that the Christian God exists. It comes for free, so to speak, and you imagine that it cannot be challenged since it is part of your presupposition.

    The inerrancy of the Bible, by contrast, can be challenged simply by pointing to its inaccuracies and contradictions.

    Evidence makes you queasy. Far better to quote mine me in order to maneuver the discussion back to the safer territory of God’s inerrancy than it is to face the voluminous evidence against the Bible’s inerrancy.

  6. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Today’s pseudo-profound Deepakity:

    Reality is an activity in consciousness.

  7. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: Notice how you carefully cut off the quote just before the Bible was mentioned, and then changed the subject to God’s inerrancy instead of the Bible’s.

    The Bible is inerrant Because the Christian God exists. Because God is omnipotent I know that he could reveal with out error. Because he is righteous I know he would reveal with out error

    keiths: The inerrancy of the Bible, by contrast, can be challenged simply by pointing to its inaccuracies and contradictions.

    Since the Christian God exists what you think are inaccuracies and contradictions are merely apparent inaccuracies and contradictions.

    If you claim the Bible has actual inaccuracies and contradictions you need to support that claim by refuting the scholarship that disagrees with your claim.

    The bar for you is rather high because you have to demonstrate that it is impossible to interpret the Bible is such a way that it is inerrant.

    Simply assuming your uncharitable out of context interpretation is the correct one will not do.

    Good luck

    peace

  8. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: Evidence makes you queasy.

    No God is the only way we can “make sense” of evidence.

    If God did not exist then what you are calling evidence would only be raw data disjointed ones and zeros in an absurd existence. Enough to make anyone queasy.

    Since God does exist raw data can be evidence that leads to knowledge.

    Evidence does not prove God’s existence,
    Rather God is the only reason we can prove anything with evidence.

    peace

  9. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    It is obvious that the Bible is open to interpretation. We can either pick it apart in an attempt to discredit it by finding the inaccuracies and contradictions in the writings, or we can look for the deeper truths held within its pages. The Old Testament documents the development of the ego within the Jewish people. The appearance and subsequent evolution of the self-conscious ego is something which modern biologists must agree has come about at some point during the history of humans.

    The Jewish people by being at the forefront of the development this ego prepared the way for a body that was suitable to allow the great cosmic Ego. the I AM to incarnate. Yahweh, the Father God was the God of the people, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. The coming of Christ allowed for the individual humans regardless of race or tribe to attain full egohood.

    The Bible documents the contraction of egohood through the race or the tribe down to the individual. Ancient Jews felt their ego as belonging to the whole race through the generations, modern humans feel their ego within themselves as individuals.

    Is this profundity or pseudo,profound bullshit. I probably already know which posters will see it in which way 🙂

  10. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: We can either pick it apart in an attempt to discredit it by finding the inaccuracies and contradictions in the writings

    You may not have noticed, Charlie, that there are those here who insist there are no such inaccuracies or contradictions to be found in the writings.

    First things first, you know?

  11. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: You may not have noticed, Charlie, that there are those here who insist there are no such inaccuracies or contradictions to be found in the writings.

    I suppose if we are going to go down this rabbit hole we need to be explicit as to what the “claim” actually is.

    check it out

    http://www.danielakin.com/wp-content/uploads/old/Resource_545/Book%202,%20Sec%2023.pdf

    peace

  12. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    colewd:

    Were you ever exposed to religions indoctrination?Did you ever believe christianity was true?If so what caused your beliefs to change?

    Yes. I was raised in the Congregationalist church. I received a King James bible for some Sunday School thing when I was around 11. What caused my beliefs to change was reading it.

  13. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist:

    You have yet to support your claim that your god is necessary and sufficient.

    I think you’re misunderstanding FMM here. FMM cannot support this claim, because his entire methodology is committed topresupposing it.

    My understanding of FFM’s position is that he presupposes the existence of the Christian god, contradictions and all, because he can’t think of any other grounding for knowledge. Of course, he hasn’t demonstrated that his presupposition provides a grounding for knowledge, but that doesn’t stop him from continuously repeating that claim.

  14. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman:

    That is not in accordance with the actual text. The actual text contradicts itself no matter how you squirm.

    no your uncharitable out of context interpretation of the text contradicts it’s self.

    I have provided full context. You are the one who keeps dishonestly cutting it out. Here it is again:

    Saul committed suicide.

    1 Samuel 31:4-6

    Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.

    And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.

    So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together.

    1 Chronicles 10:4

    Then said Saul to his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. So Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.

    Saul was killed by an Amalekite.

    2 Samuel 1:8-10

    And he said unto me, Who [art] thou? And I answered him, I [am] an Amalekite.

    He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life [is] yet whole in me.

    So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that [was] upon his head, and the bracelet that [was] on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.

    Saul was killed by the Philistines.

    2 Samuel 21:12

    And David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabesh-gilead, which had stolen them from the street of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa:

    God killed him.

    1 Chronicles 10:14

    And enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.

    Look at the actual words in 1 Samuel:

    Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.

    And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.

    Now look at 2 Samuel:

    And he said unto me, Who [art] thou? And I answered him, I [am] an Amalekite.

    He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life [is] yet whole in me.

    So I stood upon him, and slew him . . . .

    Then read the passages about the Philistines and god doing his own dirty work. Those are clearly contradictory. Your story ignores the actual words and inserts additional material that is not in the text. It is a profoundly dishonest way of attempting to ignore the evidence that disproves your claim of biblical inerrancy. Is this really how you think your god wants you to behave?

  15. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman:

    keiths: His claim is that the Christian God is a necessary basis for knowledge.

    That is not a claim that is a hypothesis. It will be falsified if an alternative basis is offered that is sufficient and consistent with itself.

    Before asking others to disprove your claim you have the obligation to support it or retract it. Thus far you’ve done neither. That is not intellectually honest behavior.

  16. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick: Before asking others to disprove your claim you have the obligation to support it or retract it.

    The hypothesis is supported every time some one is unable to give a consistent answer to the “how do you know?” question that is not subject to further regress.

    It is difficult to prove a negative so your continued inability to provide an answer does not prove that no answer is possible but it does support the hypothesis

    I thought I made that clear from the outset.

    peace

  17. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: I suppose if we are going to go down this rabbit hole we need to be explicit as to what the “claim” actually is.

    check it out

    http://www.danielakin.com/wp-content/uploads/old/Resource_545/Book%202,%20Sec%2023.pdf

    peace

    Take it up with Charlie. He’s the one who says there are inaccuracies and contradictions that one ought to look past to get at the “deeper truths.” I take it he “knows stuff” because he’s read it in Steiner. (The latter individual was not, I understand, a Calvinist.)

  18. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: every time some one is unable to give a consistent answer to the “how do you know?” question that is not subject to further regress.

    Haha. A “consistent answer.”

    So sayeth the maven.

  19. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick: I have provided full context.

    no you haven’t the “full” context would include all of scripture and history. You provided snippets of disjointed text

    Patrick: Those are clearly contradictory

    No they are not. I repeat no one on my side of the fence thinks they are contradictory

    Literally millions of people have poured over these texts for thousands of years with out coming to the conclusion that they are contradictory.

    You need to demonstrate why the interpretations all of those people over all that time could not possibly be correct and prove that your uncharitable out of context interpretation is the only one that is possible

    again good luck

    peace

  20. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: I repeat no one on my side of the fence thinks they are contradictory

    I take it Charlie is not “on your side” then.

  21. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: Haha. A “consistent answer.”

    So sayeth the maven.

    By consistent I simply mean one that does not contradict itself.

    For example “The only way to know stuff is by using the scientific method” Is obviously not consistent because the answer itself was not obtained by using the scientific method.

    get it?

    peace

  22. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: I take it Charlie is not “on your side” then.

    I don’t know
    I have no idea what his actual position is on this one. I would need more information.

    peace

  23. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: I don’t know
    I have no idea what his actual position is on this one. I would need more information.

    peace

    FWIW, I think you should start with the Steiner guys and work your way up to the atheists.

  24. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: He’s the one who says there are inaccuracies and contradictions that one ought to look past to get at the “deeper truths.”

    if the “deeper truths” he is talking about are the things that God meant to communicate in scripture then there is no disagreement at all.

    That is what the whole field of textual criticism is about

    peace

  25. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: get it?

    Sure. You insist on a foundationalist answer. Most foundationalists will just say something like “Self-evidence.” You prefer to muddy those waters.

  26. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: if the “deeper truths” he is talking about are the things that God meant to communicate in scripture then there is no disagreement at all.

    I think you should ask him. Again, when you’ve converted him to your version of presuppositionalism (which I take it you believe to be the sole worldview that actually makes sense), you could move up! Baby steps. 🙂

  27. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: Sure. You insist on a foundationalist answer.

    not at all. I insist on a consistent answer that is not subject to further regress.

    My answer is not foundationalist and it meets those criteria. In fact Ive never received a foundationalist answer that did meet those criteria

    peace

  28. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: I think you should ask him.

    ask him what?

    Whether he agrees with the specific wording of the Chicago statement or whether he thinks God can reveal so that we can know?

    It seems to me that you are confusing presupositionalism with Patrick’s rabbit hole.

    It’s possible that someone could agree that God could reveal so that we can know and at the same time deny that he has done so.

    In that case you would be affirming that knowledge is possible but denying that it actually exists.

    peace

  29. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: Most foundationalists will just say something like “Self-evidence.”

    That is an interesting answer. What does it mean exactly?

    Are you saying “I can know stuff if it is self-evident”?

    If so is that self-evident?

    peace

  30. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman:

    My presupposition is simply that The Christian God exists.

    A claim by any other name.

  31. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman:
    I’m perfectly willing to entertain the idea that objective knowledge can exist with out God.

    In order for me to do so you have to explain how objective knowledge can exist with out God.

    You’re still skipping the part where you provide evidence or a reasoned argument supporting your claim. As you’ve been told repeatedly, your childhood indoctrination is not the default no matter how desperately you cling to those beliefs.

  32. Neil Rickert
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: No God is the only way we can “make sense” of evidence.

    You got something right. I can agree with “no god” as the way to make sense of evidence.

    (I’m just having a little fun with quoting).

  33. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman:

    Before asking others to disprove your claim you have the obligation to support it or retract it.

    The hypothesis is supported every time some one is unable to give a consistent answer to the “how do you know?” question that is not subject to further regress.

    That’s simply not the case. You have provided no support for your claim. What others do or don’t do is immaterial. You made the claim, it is incumbent on you to support it or retract it.

  34. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman:

    I have provided full context.

    no you haven’t the “full” context would include all of scripture and history. You provided snippets of disjointed text

    I provided the full verses around those that contradict each other and a reference for anyone to be able to look them up in your bible.

    Those are clearly contradictory

    No they are not. I repeat no one on my side of the fence thinks they are contradictory

    Then the people on your side of the fence are willfully blind. Anyone reading those verses objectively can clearly see the contradiction.

    I note that you don’t actually address the verses themselves. In fact you avoid quoting them. It’s clear you don’t have an answer. The evidence speaks for itself: There are contradictions in your bible.

  35. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick: You’re still skipping the part where you provide evidence or a reasoned argument supporting your claim.

    What “claim”? be specific

    When you call everything a claim I have trouble knowing what you are demanding I support.

    Do you want me to support
    1) the idea that an omnipotent God can reveal so that I can know.

    Or do you want me to support the idea that
    2)I don’t know any other way that knowledge is possible?

    either statement seems to be pretty strait forward to me

    (1) is definitionally obvious
    (2) is a tentative statement of my personal present knowledge

    Peace

  36. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Patrick: Then the people on your side of the fence are willfully blind.

    You need to support that claim or retract it

    you hypocrite

    peace

  37. dazz dazz
    Ignored
    says:

    I happen to be reading on Sellars’ attack on the “myth of the given” (diverted from Rorty) which seems relevant to the talks about foundationalism here.

    …just in case I can derail the thread and learn something in the process LOL

  38. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Neil Rickert: (I’m just having a little fun with quoting).

    keep that up and you might be my new favorite 😉

    peace

  39. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    dazz:
    I happen to be reading on Sellars’ attack on the “myth of the given” (diverted from Rorty) which seems relevant to the talks about foundationalism here.

    …just in case I can derail the thread and learn something in the process LOL

    Now you’re talking my language! I’ve studied Sellars’s argument very closely over the years and wrote a book about it. Presuppositionalism is clearly a kind of foundationalism, so the criticism of foundatoionalism is relevant here.

  40. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: keep that up and you might be my new favorite 😉

    peace

    Poor walto

  41. dazz dazz
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: Now you’re talking my language! I’ve studied Sellars’s argument very closely over the years and wrote a book about it.

    Perhaps I’ll be talking your language when I understand it, LOL. What’s that book of yours if I may ask?

  42. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    dazz: Perhaps I’ll be talking your language when I understand it, LOL. What’s that book of yours if I may ask?

    I’ll send you a private message about it.

  43. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: Presuppositionalism is clearly a kind of foundationalism,

    I couldn’t disagree more. Presuppositionalism is not a type of foundationalism and could in fact be seen as a reaction against foundationalism.

    Instead Presuppositionalism is closer to Foundherentism and incorporates Existential epistemology as well.

    When It comes down to it what is really going on in Presuppositionalism is a external focus instead of an internal one.

    My knowledge depends on God rather than on my own cognitive faculties.

    That focus makes it fundamentally different than any of the competing epistemological theories. If you don’t get this you are missing the point.

    peace

  44. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    fifth,

    You presuppose that the Christian God exists. Even if that were true, it would not follow that the Bible is inerrant.

    This is obvious.

  45. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    KN:

    Now you’re talking my language! I’ve studied Sellars’s argument very closely over the years and wrote a book about it.

    dazz:

    Perhaps I’ll be talking your language when I understand it, LOL. What’s that book of yours if I may ask?

    Neil started a thread on it when it was published:

    KN’s new book — a discussion thread

  46. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: You presuppose that the Christian God exists. Even if that were true, it would not follow that the Bible is inerrant.

    This is obvious.

    Why?

    Do you think God is unable or unwilling to keep errors out of his revelation to us?

    peace

  47. dazz dazz
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths:
    KN:

    dazz:

    Neil started a thread on it when it was published:

    Thanks!

  48. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: What “claim”? be specific

    Claims like this one:

    Yes, if the Christian God of scripture does not exist then absurdity is all that is left.

    And this one:

    you don’t think that God can reveal so that we can truly know?

    You do realize that this position was true any knowledge whatsoever would be impossible don’t you.

    And this one:

    I presuppose the Christian God not to make my life easier but because I know of no other grounding for knowledge that is consistent and sufficient to do the job.

    And also this one:

    No God is the only way we can “make sense” of evidence.

    If God did not exist then what you are calling evidence would only be raw data disjointed ones and zeros in an absurd existence. Enough to make anyone queasy.

    Since God does exist raw data can be evidence that leads to knowledge.

    Evidence does not prove God’s existence,
    Rather God is the only reason we can prove anything with evidence.

    Now, you already knew that because we’ve been discussing it for some time. Why are you pretending not to know? Is that how you think your god wants you to act?

    Let’s see if you have the intellectual integrity to support those claims or retract them.

  49. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman:

    Then the people on your side of the fence are willfully blind.

    You need to support that claim or retract it

    It’s supported by the fact that the verses are objectively contradictory. Anyone who disagrees is doing so not for rational, logically defensible reasons.

    “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
    — Daniel Patrick Moynihan

  50. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    fifth:

    Do you think God is unable or unwilling to keep errors out of his revelation to us?

    I don’t think God exists. But even if I thought he did, I certainly wouldn’t blame the Bible on him.

    I’m not an idiot, and no God worthy of the name would be one, either.

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