Most of us know someone whose social media profiles are packed with profound-sounding but essentially meaningless quotes or statements.

A study finally brings vindication for those of us who fail to see the wisdom within these New Age buzzwords.

The findings reveal people who are more receptive to these so-called inspirational quotes tend to also have lower levels of intelligence.

They are also more prone to believe in the paranormal, conspiracy theories and to hold religious beliefs.


Titled On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bulls***t, psychologists examined whether some people are more receptive to these statements than others.

In four experiments with 845 volunteers, the researchers asked participants to evaluate a range of statements to indicate how profound they thought they were or if they agreed with them.

They used phrases such as "attention and intention are the mechanics of manifestation" and "imagination is inside exponential space time events".

Author and New Age guru Deepak Chopra's quotes were reworked for many of the tests.

Chopra is well known for quotes such as "nature is a self-regulating ecosystem of awareness" and "in the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you".

These were mixed with statements that deliberately blended buzzwords into meaningless sentences and mundane statements that could also be considered profound such as "most people enjoy some sort of music".

Chopra's work has previously been criticised as "woo-woo nonsense" and websites have been established to generate random quotes in his style based on words from his Twitter feed.


These are just some of the statements used in the study by the researchers:

Hidden meaning transforms unparalleled abstract beauty
Imagination is inside exponential space time events
A river cuts through a rock, not because of its power but its persistence
An anxious person is a prisoner to their anxiety
A wet person does not fear the rain

A follow-up test was also conducted where researchers asked participants to perform a series of cognitive tests.

One of the tests asked participants to agree or disagree with a series of statements about religion, the paranormal and conspiracy theories.

In the journal, Judgment and Decision Making, Gordon Pennycook, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, who led the research, told MailOnline:

"Although bulls**t 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.

"We focus on pseudo-profound bulls**t, which consists of seemingly impressive assertions that are presented as true and meaningful but are actually vacuous."

Pennycook said the results support the notion that "some people are more receptive to this type of bulls**t and that detecting it is not merely a matter of indiscriminate skepticism but rather a discernment of deceptive vagueness in otherwise impressive-sounding claims".

He noted those more receptive to "bulls**t" are "less reflective, lower in cognitive ability - numeracy, verbal and fluid intelligence - are more prone to ontological confusions and conspiratorial ideation, are more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine".

In the paper, the word 'bulls**t' appears 200 times. Despite its unusual presence in an academic paper the researchers are assuring that it's a serious study - one which has sparked an angry response from Deepak Chopra.

After the paper was published, British physicist Professor Brian Cox posted a link to it on Mr Chopra's Twitter feed.

Mr Chopra responded: "Brian good for you. No resistance, no anticipation, no regrets - just this moment as it is is also my motto."

He later added: "S**t of any kind is profound. It is stardust and recycles as life. Of all people you should know."