Your Ability to Bullshit Your Way Through Life Is a Sign of Intelligence


Looks like the art of bullshitting might actually be a science. Ever used your ability to spout crap to get you through a recitation? Maybe you defended your thesis in purposefully convoluted jargon. Or maybe you survived a tense work meeting with a ton of flowery drivel and gibberish. Almost everyone has already witnessed politicians bullshitting on national television in the way they speak for hours without really saying anything at all.

These real life occurrences are just further confirmation that the ability to bullshit may be a sign of intelligence, according to a study recently published in Evolutionary Psychology.

“If someone is a good bullshitter, they are likely quite smart,” said one of the co-leads on the study, Martin Turpin from the University of Waterloo.

The ability to explain your way out of complicated concepts, even when those explanations aren’t based on any truths, has proven to help people score better on intelligence tests.

However, in the same way that humor is linked to intelligence but not all smart people are funny, the study doesn’t suggest that those who aren’t good at bullshit are less intelligent.

So what exactly is bullshitting in the context of the study? Like its name suggests, bullshit refers to well, verbal crap. Even nonsense.

Researchers describe bullshitters as people who are “neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.” Sound like anyone you know?


The researchers measured respondents’ intelligence through a cognitive ability test, and tested their ability to bullshit through a verbal exercise that required them to explain 10 concepts (like general relativity), only the catch was that some concepts didn’t even exist. The researchers found the skilled bullshitters who satisfyingly and persuasively tried to explain completely made up theories and concepts.

Unsurprisingly, those who tested high on the bullshit scale also tested well on the cognitive ability test, thereby proving that sometimes, you can actually fake it till you make it.

Maybe bullshitting is just another way of finding connections, or maybe it’s a sign of a charismatic persona. Either way, we now have further proof that bullshitting can make you smarter—or at least make you look smart.

Seriously. Just look at some government officials.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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