Archive for 'Boys Will Be Boys'

“Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit”

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Bullshit and academia continue their delighted dance. Behold a new study:

On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit,” Gordon Pennycook [pictured here], James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek J. Koehler, and Jonathan A. Fugelsang, Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 10, No. 6, November 2015, pp. 549–563. The authors, at the University of Waterloo, explain:


‘Although bullshit is common in everyday life and has attracted attention from gordon_pennycook_1philosophers, 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.’

BONUS: Social Media and Bullshit

BONUS: Extending Bullshit Studies – more from Academia

The Butcher’s Tongue Illusion (update)

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Could we inform those who wish to experiment in a hands-on practical way with the Butcher’s Tongue Illusion (which we highlighted [highlit?] back in Oct 2014, see:The Butcher’s Tongue Illusion (from the chip-crunch manipulator’), that the paper provides a link to DiscountMagic where fake tongues (like the one used in the experiments) can be purchased for £6.50 (+ “Only another £18.50 for free UK shipping”)

Question and answer: Lisa’s eight years of hiccups

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

ITV’s This Morning program presented, on November 12, 2015, a medical mystery: a woman named Lisa who says she has suffered hiccups for all of the past eight years. Ig Nobel Prize winner Dr. Francis Fesmire discovered, years ago, an answer which may be unknown to the This Morning response team: digital rectal massage.


ITV says:

today Dr Dawn Harper and Dr Ranj Singh are here… with our live case study Lisa Graves, who hasn’t been able to stop hiccupping for eight years after they began following the birth of daughter Emily in 2008. Can Dr Dawn and Dr Ranj help the woman who has had the hiccups for over eight years?

Dr. Fesmire was awarded the 2006 Ig Nobel Prize for medicine, for his medical case report “Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage” [Annals of Emergency Medicine, vol. 17, no. 8, August 1988 p. 872].

Sad to say, Dr. Fesmire died in 2014, and so is not available to appear on the This Morning program and save the day. We hope some kind soul will alert the This Morning doctors so that they can supply appropriate advice, and perhaps corresponding medical services, to Lisa Graves.

Fluid dynamics and statics: Creating a Urine Black Hole

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Fluid dynamics and statics are a personal matter for many men. This will be the unstated theme of a physics  research presentation, in which the US Navy has a special interest:

Creating a Urine Black Hole“, Abstract: M32.00010.

truscottAuthors: Randy Hurd (Utah State University), Zhao Pan (Brigham Young University), Andrew Meritt (Utah State University), Jesse Belden (Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Newport), and Tadd Truscott [pictured here] (Utah State University), to be presented at the 68th Annual Meeting of the APS [American Physical Society] Division of Fluid Dynamics, Boston, Massachusetts. Session M32: Drops: Impact on Surfaces, 8:00 AM–10:10 AM, Tuesday, November 24, 2015. Chair: Shmuel Rubinstein, Harvard University. The authors summarize what they will discuss:

khaki“Since the mid-nineteenth century, both enlisted and fashion-conscious owners of khaki trousers have been plagued by undesired speckle patterns resulting from splash-back while urinating. In recent years, industrial designers and hygiene-driven entrepreneurs have sought to limit this splashing by creating urinal inserts, with the effectiveness of their inventions varying drastically. From this large assortment of inserts, designs consisting of macroscopic pillar arrays seem to be the most effective splash suppressers. Interestingly this design partially mimics the geometry of the water capturing moss \emph{Syntrichia caninervis}, which exhibits a notable ability to suppress splash and quickly absorb water from impacting rain droplets. With this natural splash suppressor in mind, we search for the ideal urine black hole by performing experiments of simulated urine streams (water droplet streams) impacting macroscopic pillar arrays with varying parameters including pillar height and spacing, draining and material properties. We propose improved urinal insert designs based on our experimental data in hopes of reducing potential embarrassment inherent in wearing khakis.”

Rob Lowe’s Research on Men’s Ratings of Sexual Attractiveness of Adolescent Girls in Bulgaria

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

Rob Lowe and two colleagues write about their research on men’s ratings of the sexual attractiveness of adolescent girls in Bulgaria. Their study is:

Heterosexual Men’s Ratings of Sexual Attractiveness of Adolescent Girls: A Cross-Cultural Analysis,” Paul Bennett , Rob Lowe, and Hristina Petrova, Archives of Sexual Behavior, November 2015, Volume 44, Issue 8, pp. 2201-2206. The authors, at the University of Swansea, UK, report:

“we examined ratings of sexual attraction to photographs of (the same) adolescent girls (Tanner stages 3–4) labelled as either 14–15 years or 16–17 years old, women, and men. Ratings were made by Bulgarian heterosexual men by pressing buttons on a response box which recorded the ratings made and the time in milliseconds taken to respond. Despite the age of sexual consent in Bulgaria being 14 years, the pattern of findings did not differ from those found in the UK, where the age of consent is 16 years. That is, mean ratings of the sexual attractiveness of the girls labelled as younger were lower than those of the (same) girls labelled as older, and those of the women.”

Here’s a wordy graphic from the journal’s publisher: