(ORDO NEWS) — A new study has shown that most people are susceptible to the so-called “Einstein effect”, when even complete nonsense is taken as fact if it is voiced by scientists.
Even religious people are more likely to believe gibberish from a scientist than from a spiritual authority
In a study published in the journal Nature Human Behavior , scientists used the New Age Bullshit Generator , an algorithm that generates “vague, nonsensical statements” by combining trendy “new age” terms and “smart language.”
The researchers then asked more than 10,000 volunteers from 24 different countries to rate the credibility of the nonsensical claims they received.
Even though all of the claims were completely stupid and nonsensical, 76% of the participants rated them at average or above on the reliability scale when the words were attributed to a fictitious particle physicist named Edward K. Leal.
In contrast, only 55% considered nonsensical claims to be true when told that they were voiced by “spiritual authority” Saul J. Adrian.
“We created claims that are almost impossible to disprove and that are not related to controversial or politicized scientific topics that people may have strong prejudices about (vaccination effectiveness, climate change, and so on),” the scientists write.
Here is one example of a fictitious scientist’s generated “quotes”: “Through eternity, we beings will grow like never before as we are recreated by quantum soup”
The researchers explain that the “Einstein effect” reflects the willingness of most people to accept the statements of experts, even if they do not understand them at all.
“People simply accept that E = mc 2 and that antibiotics help cure pneumonia because credible authorities like Einstein and their doctor say so, without really understanding what these claims entail, ” the researchers write.
Interestingly, participants who reported high levels of religiosity on the questionnaire still trusted the scientist’s claims more than the spiritual guru’s.
In conclusion, the researchers note that “in all 24 countries and at all levels of religiosity, gibberish from a scientist was considered more reliable than the same gibberish from a spiritual guru”
“These results show that regardless of a person’s religious outlook across cultures, science is a powerful and universal heuristic that signals the validity of information,” the team writes.
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