Your Ability to 'BS' Your Way Through Life Is a Sign of Intelligence, Study Says

According to the study, it seems that you can actually fake it till you make it.
by Anri Ichimura for   |  Jul 12, 2021
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Looks like the art of BS 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.

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

“If someone is a good bullsh*tter, 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 BS are less intelligent.


So what exactly is BS-ing in the context of the study? Like its name suggests, it refers to well, verbal crap. Even nonsense.

Researchers describe those who can BS 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?

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The researchers measured respondents’ intelligence through a cognitive ability test, and tested their ability to BS 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 that those who are skilled in BS satisfyingly and persuasively tried to explain completely made up theories and concepts.

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


Maybe BS-ing 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 being able to BS can make you smarter—or at least make you look smart.

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.


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