Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Scientists rate the world’s biggest peddlers of bull

Of course, these are group averages. I know females who are big liars.


Ian Sample Science editor
Sun 31 Mar 2019 19.01 EDT

The American philosopher Harry G Frankfurt opens his bestselling treatise, On Bullshit, with a heartfelt lament on the sheer quantity around. “There is so much bullshit,” the Princeton scholar wrote in 2005, before conceding that we are all to blame.

In new research, scientists claim to have identified the most common practitioners of the ignoble art. Their study of 40,000 teenagers reveals that boys; those from privileged backgrounds; and North Americans in particular, top the charts as the worst offenders.

The Scots and the Northern Irish are the least likely to indulge, with the English ranking mid-table, according to the study of 15-year-olds from Anglophone regions, including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland.


“Boys are bigger bullshitters than girls, children from higher socioeconomic backgrounds tend to bullshit more than those from lower ones, and North Americans bullshit the most,” Jerrim said. Those who ranked highest on the scale tended to see themselves as more self-confident, more persevering, and more popular at school, than those further down the scale.


Along the way, academics have devised a Bullshit Receptivity scale, which showed that believers in the supernatural may be more receptive to bullshit, and proposed an “ease of passing bullshit hypothesis”, which posits that people are more likely to commit the offence when they believe they can get away with it.
Sign up for Lab Notes - the Guardian's weekly science update
Read more

“Some may do it more than others, but we all bullshit,” said John Petrocelli, a psychologist at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, who was not involved in the study. “People are social animals and we desire feelings of connection, belonging, and inclusion, so we try to participate when it is critical to build and maintain these relationships,” he said. “Such situations sometimes require us to talk about things we really know nothing about, and what comes out is bullshit.”


Jerrim said a major question is whether, and when, the art is beneficial. “Everyone gets a question in a job interview that they cannot answer. If you’re an effective bullshitter, it might help you get your foot in the door,” he said. “It might also help with academic grant proposals.”

No comments:

Post a Comment