Say someone is a well-known, highly-praised academic figure who came out with an idea that was complete and utter nonsense, yet instead of dismissing it as BS, some folks insist the idea is brilliant and visionary precisely because it's incomprehensible.

In context, I have a character spouting off some vaguely pretentious-sounding amphigories in order to trick others into believing it is a valid piece of awe-inspiring genius.

Is there a word or even simply a shorter phrase to describe such a concept?

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    I'm not making this an answer because it's not a single word, but if I were to express the notion of bombastic or pretentious speech masking nonsensical or fallacious reasoning more pithily, I might use the oxymoronic phrase "superficial profundity". The word "obfuscation" is also a good choice that means wilfully making something unclear through the use of language. "Grandiloquence" is another excellent word you might want to look up.
    – Deepak
    Jul 9, 2015 at 4:25
  • Antiwittgensteinein? Jul 9, 2015 at 4:27
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    It is called genius effect in a scientific research.
    – ermanen
    Jul 9, 2015 at 4:38
  • @ermanen - it's a great concept & link, however this OP asks for a term not only for “folks [who] insist [an] idea is so brilliant and visionary precisely because it's incomprehensible” but also for “a character sprouting [sic] off some vaguely pretentious sounding amphigories in order to trick others into believing it is a valid piece of awe-inspiring genius.” Unfortunately, The Genius Effect focuses only on the credulous aspect of those first folks.
    – user98990
    Jul 9, 2015 at 4:54

2 Answers 2


The OP asks for a single-word or concept which can account for the two different aspects of the situation described.

1) a term for “folks [who] insist [an] idea is so brilliant and visionary precisely because it's incomprehensible”

2) What to call vaguely pretentious-sounding amphigories, spouted in order to trick others into believing it is a valid piece of awe-inspiring genius?

User ermanen, has suggested The Genius Effect, a concept which astutely addresses the first aspect of this OP (see the link in comment below OP).

I offer a term for the second.

sophistry noun:

• the use of reasoning or arguments that sound correct but are actually false.

• a reason or argument that sounds correct but is actually false.

(Merriam-Webster online)

sophistry sophistry (n.) "specious but fallacious reasoning," mid-14c., from Old French sophistrie (Modern French sophisterie), from Medieval Latin sophistria, from Latin sophista, sophistes (see sophist). "Sophistry applies to reasoning as sophism to a single argument" [Century Dictionary].


sophist (n.) "one who makes use of fallacious arguments," mid-15c., earlier sophister (late 14c.), from Latin sophista, sophistes, from Greek sophistes "a master of one's craft; a wise or prudent man, one clever in matters of daily life," from sophizesthai "to become wise or learned," from sophos "skilled in a handicraft, cunning in one's craft; clever in matters of everyday life, shrewd; skilled in the sciences, learned; clever; too clever," of unknown origin. Greek sophistes came to mean "one who gives intellectual instruction for pay," and at Athens, contrasted with "philosopher," it became a term of contempt.

Sophists taught before the development of logic and grammar, when skill in reasoning and in disputation could not be accurately distinguished, and thus they came to attach great value to quibbles, which soon brought them into contempt. [Century Dictionary]


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    I don't believe "sophistry" carries the connotation of wanting to be thought a genius.
    – Deepak
    Jul 9, 2015 at 3:41
  • @Deepak - I've read some of your answers, you're pretty good. Ball's in your court, Doc. ;-)
    – user98990
    Jul 9, 2015 at 3:46
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    Thanks for saying so, you're a very good contributor too (your rep alone attests to that). I can't think of a single word that conveys all the asker wants to convey. Perhaps blowhard may describe such a person, but that is far too generic.
    – Deepak
    Jul 9, 2015 at 4:16
  • I can't either @Deepak. I don't know whether it will satisfy the OP, but 'blowhard' is certainly apt.
    – user98990
    Jul 9, 2015 at 4:32
  • Considering the ancient Greek origins of the term, I would slightly disagree with the use of sophist, and prefer rhetorician. In today's speech I think sophistry is fine.
    – Caleb
    Jul 9, 2015 at 5:17

Since you have already given name to what the jargon-speaker is spouting-- "BS"-- you must be looking for a term for those gullible people who lap it up. Is that not:


tendency to believe readily

The adjective for a person exhibiting credulity is credulous, and it's a near cousin to gullible.

I know you're looking for a term that more specifically indicate these credulous people are specifically susceptible to becoming advocates of incomprehensible pseudoscience or jargon; that could simply be unskeptical, but that again stops short of someone who becomes a willful BS advocate. Maybe "enthusiastically credulous."

Unfortunately, the common idiom is:

drinking the Kool-Aid -

a figure of speech commonly used in North America that refers to a person or group holding an unquestioned belief, argument, or philosophy without critical examination.

... unfortunately because it refers to mass suicide.

  • I agree that 'drinking the Kool-Aid' is insensitive. Maybe something about lemmings would express the same thing in a less troubling way.
    – Caleb
    Jul 9, 2015 at 5:20
  • @CalebBernard Or like moths to a flame... but the whole point here would seem to be pejorative.
    – stevesliva
    Jul 9, 2015 at 6:29

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