We’re not even joking when we say this Warwick Psychology student wrote his whole dissertation on ‘Bullshit’

‘It was essentially 6,000 words of bullshit on bullshit’

When you think of a dissertation, you might expect it to be on one of the usual mundane topics: Freud, World War II or Medieval Drama if you’re branching out. But if you heard someone had written their entire dissertation on bullshit, you might, well, call bullshit.

However, third year Psychology student Josh Nicolini did just that. His official title is “What is bullshit, and how do awareness and source influence receptivity to it”, but Josh comments that “it was essentially 6,000 words of bullshit on bullshit.”

Josh told us that the aim for his dissertation was “to first define what is meant by the word bullshit, and how it varies from lying, and then to test to see if awareness of presence of bullshit influences receptivity to it, as well as to see if people are more receptive to bullshit from credible sources.”

He researched for his dissertation in two experiments. In the first, “people rated the profundity of five pseudo-profound bullshit statements, and five conventionally profound quotes, having either been told that some of the statements are bullshit, or having received no warning.”

In the second, “participants rated the profundity of 10 pseudo-profound bullshit statements that were randomly accredited to either sources with high credibility or low credibility.”

Josh says the most interesting part was that although the first study showed no significant results, the second study showed “that people are actually more receptive to bullshit that they believe is from credible sources.”

Josh has no regrets in picking his unconventional dissertation title. He told us that if he could change anything it would be “making a few methodological tweaks to improve the validity and reliability of measures used.” But, overall he would definitely do it again.