Bookmarked Bullshit Ability as an Honest Signal of Intelligence: (SAGE Journals)

Navigating social systems efficiently is critical to our species. Humans appear endowed with a cognitive system that has formed to meet the unique challenges that emerge for highly social species. Bullshitting, communication characterised by an intent to be convincing or impressive without concern for truth, is ubiquitous within human societies. Across two studies (N = 1,017), we assess participants’ ability to produce satisfying and seemingly accurate bullshit as an honest signal of their intelligence. We find that bullshit ability is associated with an individual’s intelligence and individuals capable of producing more satisfying bullshit are judged by second-hand observers to be more intelligent. We interpret these results as adding evidence for intelligence being geared towards the navigation of social systems. The ability to produce satisfying bullshit may serve to assist individuals in negotiating their social world, both as an energetically efficient strategy for impressing others and as an honest signal of intelligence.

A team of Canadian researchers have presented some preliminary findings associated with ability to bullshit and its association with intelligence. Through their study, they found that the ability to bullshit was an honest signal of a persons ability to ‘successfully navigate social systems’:

Overall, we interpret these results as initial evidence that the ability to bullshit well provides an honest signal of a person’s ability to successfully navigate social systems, fitting the current work into existing frameworks whereby human intelligence is geared towards efficiently navigating such systems

The researchers were mindful to point out that the inability to bullshit was not a sign of a person being unintelligent.

By analogy to humor, a person who is funny is likely to be rather intelligent, however one can identify many brilliant people who are profoundly unfunny.

Interestingly, they found that you can indeed “bullshit a bullshitter.”

we find that those more willing to bullshit were also more likely to be receptive to pseudo-profound bullshit (i.e., rate pseudo-profound bullshit items higher on profoundness) … Thus, contrary to the common expression, it may indeed be possible to “bullshit a bullshitter.”

It is an intriguing idea, especially when you consider the fine balance of buying into the lie.

” wiobyrne” in Honest Signals of Intelligence – Digitally Literate ()

Donald Clark talks about the problems with intelligences. He unpacks the tendency of the IQ test to prioritise logical and mathematical skills, the false hope of single measure associated with Multiple Intelligences and the confusion between personality and Emotional Intelligences. Clark suggests that we need to move on from the discussion of intelligence being centred on the brain and instead focus on networks. This harks back to David Weinberger’s claim that the ‘smartest person in the room is the room’. In the end, maybe the word ‘intelligence’ may need to be abandoned.

We would do well to abandon the word ‘intelligence’, as it carries with it so much bad theory and practice. Indeed AI has, in my view, already transcended the term, as it had success across a much wider sets of competences (previously intelligences), such as perception, translation, search, natural language processing, speech, sentiment analysis, memory, retrieval and other many other domains. All of this was achieved without consciousness. It is all competence without comprehension.

This reminds me of Doug Belshaw’s discussion of dead metaphors.

via Stephen Downes