Social conservatives have a lower I.Q.? (probably)

By Razib Khan | January 28, 2012 1:29 pm

In light of my previous posts on GRE scores and educational interests (by the way, Education Realist points out that the low GRE verbal scores are only marginally affected by international students) I was amused to see this write-up at LiveScience, Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice. Naturally over at Jezebel there is a respectful treatment of this research. This is rather like the fact that people who would otherwise be skeptical of the predictive power of I.Q. tests become convinced of their precision of measurement when it comes to assessing whether a criminal facing the death penalty is mentally retarded or not! (also see this thread over at DailyKos). You can see some of the conservative response too.

The paper itself is Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact:

Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology. A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status. Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models.

I emphasized sections that I assume will answer some immediate questions, as not everyone has access to Psychological Science. Yes, they used different types of intelligence tests; verbal and spatial. Yes, they corrected for socioeconomic background. Their replication was in the UK and USA. Importantly, they focused on a few characteristics, attitudes toward homosexuals and race. It doesn’t seem like they explored an enormous range of opinions. And as noted in the paper they were looking at the social dimension of political ideology.

There is plenty of work on cognitive styles and political orientation. Recently it is moral foundations from Jon Haidt. Earlier you had George Lakoff’s models. Neither of these focused on general intelligence, the raw CPU power of the mind. Rather they surveyed moral intuition and personality profiles (for example, there is some evidence that those with a greater bias toward “openness” are more socially liberal).

Looking at the General Social Survey I too have found at a correlation between higher intelligence and social liberalism. On the other hand a good objection to this is that my estimator of intelligence, WORDSUM, was verbal, and liberals and conservatives may exhibit different cognitive profiles. This study takes that into account, adding spatial I.Q. tests to the mix.

It is important to emphasize that the authors do not posit an independent direct causal connection between low I.Q. and more reactionary attitudes towards race and homosexuality. Rather, they start out with a model where low cognitive ability people are drawn (or remain in) to conservative orientation, and this is further correlated with these specific racial and sexual attitudes. Like almost all psychology you can’t get the causation airtight (if you are a hardcore Humean you could probably say this for everything), but the correlation is suggestive in light of political and psychological models. The problem is the second. As Jonathan Haidth has articulated most recently most academic political scientists and psychologists have strongly social liberal views, and so they consciously or unconsciously tend to caricature and misrepresent the views of half their study population (notice that the authors assume that these socially conservative positions are ‘Dark Attitudes’; most people today would agree, but shouldn’t intellectuals avoid this sort of thing?). So though I have some confidence in the correlations, I’m a lot more skeptical of the explanatory models (though I don’t reject them out of had). There are so many models sitting around that how you chose models can be shaped by bias rather easily.

First, let’s hit the results.

The table above represents the results for the British cohorts and race, and the diagram to the left illustrates the outcome for the American sample and homosexuality. The primary point is that as per their hypothesis the effect of lower cognitive ability on prejudice toward other races and homosexuality is mediated more or less through ideology. Coarsely, stupid people aren’t racist, stupid people are more likely to be socially conservative, and more socially conservative people are more likely to be racist. How these join together though is something one can subject to more critical examination. The authors allude to this when they note that there is a finding that those who know people of other races tend to be less prejudiced, with the inference being that contact makes one less racist. But this is not an established causality. Rather, it could be that people with less prejudiced tendencies put themselves into situations where they are likely to meet other races. This tendency could be correlated with higher I.Q. through a mediation of a “cosmopolitanism index.” Who knows? There are many stories one could tell.

I do want to emphasize though that this is a coarse measure of ‘conservatism.’ In the early to mid aughts Paul Wolfowitz was a hated figure on the American political Left because of his critical role in buttressing the intellectual armamentarium favoring the invasion of Iraq. But it is well known that Wolfowitz was and is a social liberal, like a subset of neoconservatives who focus on foreign policy. On the above measure Wolfowitz, who has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and chemistry from Cornell and a graduate degree in political science from University of Chicago, would come out as a high I.Q. social liberal. Is that right? As far as it goes it is right, but on some level the results would be misleading in the more complex terrain of coalitional politics. A substantial number of Americans shake out as social conservatives and fiscal moderates/liberals. And yet this faction is totally unrepresented in modern politics. In contrast, their inverse, libertarians, do have some representation, albeit a marginalized one. Why? Because the latter position has modest high I.Q./elite support, while the former position has far less. If you changed the question to attitudes toward global free trade there would be a correlation between lower I.Q. and the ‘more liberal’ (at last in American politics) position.

This qualification also dovetails with the broader point about styles of cognitive thinking, and reliance on traditional norms as opposed to think a priori. Ironically it makes intuitive sense that higher I.Q. people would be less reliant on intuition, impulse, and collective wisdom. But there are limits to this. For example, see the reaction to the proposition of sex between consenting adults who happen to be siblings on an atheism forum (assume they use birth control). But some moral philosophers posit that this is not harmful or immoral, and should be socially accepted. It’s an interesting illustration of the boundary condition of the power of disgust and emotion, as only the hyper-rational feel comfortable even entertaining the moral legitimacy of this proposition. More relevantly, educated liberals also make use of ‘stereotypes’ constantly. It’s just that those stereotypes are of conservatives. I know this because almost all my friends are educated liberals, and they often forget that I’m a conservative. So I hear a lot about conservatives are this and that without qualification, to great merriment and laughter (also, conservatives are genuinely evil and malevolent apparently!). The tendency toward generalization doesn’t bother me in an of itself, rather, I’m focused on whether the proposition is true. But the hypocrisy gets tiresome sometimes, as people will fluidly switch from a cognitive style which accepts generalization to one which rejects it. A stereotype is often a generalization whose robustness you don’t want to accept. Negative generalities need context when they’re unpalatable, but no qualification is necessary when their truth is congenial. Sometimes this veers into moderately politically incorrect territory. I was once an observer on a conversation between liberal white academics who were mulling over the unfortunate reality that their Asian American students were far more likely to cheat to obtain better grades. I suspect that this is actually true for various reasons. But I also suspect that these academics forgot that I was privy to the conversation, and wouldn’t have aired this truth in a more racially diverse social context.

More broadly what is the takeaway from this sort of research? Should we conclude that because the more intelligent tend to be socially liberal that socially liberal propositions are true? I think one should be skeptical of this position. There are two immediate rejoinders. First, politics is a matter of values. The reliance of reason vs. emotion, individual ratiocination vs. historical or social wisdom, may vary. But that does not speak to the truth of any given value judgement, as those judgments are embedded in a system of norms, as well as individual self-interest (e.g., the higher I.Q. tendency to favorable attitudes toward free trade may have less to do with an understanding of comparative advantage, than an implicit understanding that globalization favors them as opposed to less intelligent lower classes). Second, the moral arc of history is not always unidirectional. The ‘progressive’ position is sometimes reversed. In Better for All the World there is a broad history of the rise of a consensus among economic and intellectual elites about the wisdom of coercive eugenics as an instrument of progressive social engineering in the late 19th century. Religious conservatives, whether evangelical Protestant or Roman Catholic, were two of the greatest bulwarks against this force for progress. Arguably these two elements were more efficacious in resisting the spread of eugenics legislation than the Left critics, judging by the outcomes Southern Europe and the American South, as opposed to the more ‘forward thinking’ nation-states of Northern Europe and the American North. This fact is unknown to most of my friends and acquaintances, judging by repeated assumptions that any utilization of personal genomics for eugenic purposes will occur first in politically conservative jurisdictions.

With all these qualifications, I believe this sort of research is essential and insightful. We need to understand the patterns of cognitive variation, whether it be intelligence or personality, which may result in differences of opinion. At the end of the day no opinions may change, but one may be able to construct a crisper argument when taking into account the genuine roots of one’s political opponents viewpoints, rather than your own ill-informed caricature.

Addendum: I did not address the issue of revealed vs. avowed preferences and attitudes. But I think that this difference will not change the sign of correlation. For example, for various reasons I assume that the gap between white liberals and white conservatives when it comes to race is smaller in terms of the preference revealed in their choices, rather than the survey responses they give, but I don’t think it reverses the rank order of the correlation.

Citation: Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact, Psychol Sci. 2012 Jan 5.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Politics
  • dirk

    I’ve seen studies that suggest a large percentage of African Americans have “social conservative” views towards homosexuality. While they wouldn’t have the same view towards race, was that population group considered a part of the “social conservatives”?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #1, how many british african americans do you think there are to be included in this study? :-) the american sample was smaller and secondary, and i gather they controlled for confounding variables. i tried to emphasize the british aspect to head off that question fwiw. but i tried and use the GSS and it seems african american attitudes toward homosexuality are similar to whites once you control for iq & education, though still somewhat more anti-homosexual.

  • http://lablemming.blogspot.com/ Lab Lemming

    Was the British study focused on white Britons? Also, are there any places where social conservatives are less racist than social liberals? Perhaps some of the Muslim immigrant communities in continental Europe? Such as setting would be handy for testing their hypothesis of bigotry through conservative brainwashing.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #3 Perhaps some of the Muslim immigrant communities in continental Europe?

    wow, fascinating point! my own personal experience that racism among muslims is not monotic in terms of religious conservatism. the most religious are not very racist, the less religious are racist, while the totally secular are not racist. but the big twist here is that a lot of people argue that extreme ‘religious conservatism’ is actually a radically modernist innovation within islam.

  • Jim Ancona

    I rather liked Scott Sumner’s alternate headline: “Study show smart people are more skilled at hiding their prejudice.”

  • dirk

    Good point. After reading it the first time, I didn’t pick up on the fact that the study was largely performed over a British population.

    But then again, I identify myself as a social conservative (though my definition is VERY different than those who conducted this study) – so that could explain my reading comprehension failure. :)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #5, there’s something too this. but from poking around i do think that there is also something to the idea that the smart are less prejudiced. in terms of they DO think for themselves more often. the key is that they don’t think for themselves nearly as often as they think they think for themselves….

  • Miley Cyrax

    It is indeed pretty funny that liberals are smugly trumpeting this research as proof that conservatives are dumb–apparently IQ means nothing when demonstrating differences between races or the hereditariness of intelligence, but is incontrovertible proof in showing that conservatives are stupid bigots.

    I believe it has been discussed on Robin Hanson’s blog before that smart people tend not to use their smartness to logic their way to the truth, but to rather figure out what they’re “supposed” to believe as smart people. In western societies nowadays, we’re supposed to believe in blank slatism and racial/sexual egalitarianism, and believe that gays are shining beacons of life in our otherwise drab heterosexual existences–very much liberal tenets.

    Ironically, Jezebel is pretty good at making misogynists look like they’re onto something.

  • http://ockhamsbeard.wordpress.com/ Tim Dean

    Fascinating study. I happen to be addressing this very phenomenon in my PhD thesis, where I argue that the evolution has selected for a polymorphism of cognitive styles in response to the highly dynamic selection pressures that arose from social living. But I also stress that moral/political attitudes are mediated by ‘worldview’, with certain cognitive style tilting individuals towards particular worldviews, and certain worldviews tilting individuals towards particular ideologies. Then there’s a feedback between ideology and worldview that reinforces the connection.

    For example, those who have a stronger fear response are more likely to be conservative because they’re more likely to see the world as a dangerous place, and conservatism offers a more appropriate response than liberalism to a dangerous world. Then conservative ideology reinforces the notion that the world is a dangerous place, thus galvanising the attitudes.

    You can read more here: http://ockhamsbeard.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/from-genes-to-politics-how-biology-influcences-the-way-you-vote/ and http://ockhamsbeard.wordpress.com/evolution-and-moral-ecology/

  • miko

    I love when one smugly trumpets that someone else is smugly trumpeting.

  • B.B.

    In Political Orientations, Intelligence and Education by Heiner Rindermann, et al., they conducted a study in Brazil using the Raven’s Progressive Matrices which found those with center-right political tendencies were slightly more intelligent. So its worth keeping in mind that it is likely that particular social factors mediate the order of these political cognitive hierarchies.

  • Tom Bri

    It would not surprise me to find that conservatives tend to be less intelligent than liberals, however defined. But I would reverse that. It makes sense for less intelligent people to be conservative. Rapid change, overturning of social norms and the like are hard to deal with, even for the more intelligent. For stupid people change is generally bad, or at least confusing even when good. They don’t have the guns to adapt to it. So, anyone with just enough brains to know he isn’t very smart would tend to be conservative. It’s the intelligent choice :-) .

    This says nothing about the opposite end of the scale. Intelligent people would be free to choose liberalism or conservatism as they see the merits or advantages to them personally.

    As for the specifics of this study, I find it rather dumb. Of course conservatives are going to be more racist, and prejudiced against homosexuals. These are the traditional positions, and we are talking about conservatives here. By definition conservatives hold onto the traditional beliefs longer than liberals! Neatly circular. I suspect the authors of bad faith, or of not being very bright. It would be easy enough to devise a similar study showing conservatives in a good light and liberals a bad.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #12, which social issues would you use to reverse the valence?

  • http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/ Maju

    The issue is: are conservatives such thing because they are relatively thick or are they slow because they are conservatives? In other words: is it the genetics of dumbness what causes conservatism or is it the environmental influence of conservatism what causes (mild?) retardation?

    I would like to think the latter (so the problem is solvable without eugenics, just by creating a more progressive society and environment that, as result enhances intelligence). Otherwise, we have a serious problem in which a genetic limitation is also causing a social handicap (I’m not for eugenics but if it’d be the case I might change my mind – ???).

    “Should we conclude that because the more intelligent tend to be socially liberal that socially liberal propositions are true?”

    Obviously.

    “The ‘progressive’ position is sometimes reversed”.

    In conditions of Capitalism only delayed: the reactionary reaction (redundant I know, it’s for emphasis) is only a wasted attempt to restore, modified and transformed, a mystified idea of a past that has already vanished, like trying to retain the wind with your hands. It’s doomed from the beginning: under Capitalism decodification always succeeds in the mid run (decades at most). Cf. ‘Anti-Oedipus’.

    I do have the feeling that the “brilliant progressives” (generalization, I know) are burdened with the ungrateful task of leading Humankind in spite of itself and its “dumb inertia”. However it is again these “brilliant progressives” who are the only ones able to acknowledge that the “dumb inertia” may have some reason to exist in spite of its dumbness, the same that they are able to acknowledge other differences, be it cultural, racial or even across the species barrier: the ability to acknowledge that it somehow makes sense even when it does not make sense at all.

    Still I am less worried about the “dumb conservative”, essentially a dead weight, than about the “smart selfish amoral” ones who lead them. Those are really dangerous: they are smart enough to realize that playing the “silent majority” card pays, pays to them, not to society. They are perfectly able to destroy whole civilizations and maybe Humankind itself for their own ambition (power, money, luxuries). The Nazi leaders are a good example (although you could think of many others as well): when the III Reich was collapsing they were commenting in the line: “well, we had our 10 years of fun and good life”. That’s the major problem and generalized one: these “dumb conservative” aren’t but the cannon fodder for the “smart amoral”.

  • Grey

    ” It makes sense for less intelligent people to be conservative. Rapid change, overturning of social norms and the like are hard to deal with, even for the more intelligent.”

    Agree.

    You could even make a case for liberalism being a war waged by the clever on the stupid with the clever using the combination of constant change and their faster turning circle to gain increased competitive advantage.

  • ackbark

    14.’ . . .the cannon fodder for the “smart amoral”. ‘

    a. How do you convince people that eliminating industrial pollution regulations and food quality standards are in their best interest, and,

    b. who would do that?

  • Violet

    Education Realist’s data can also be interpreted such that high GRE math scores are *considerably* effected by the international students.

    Take away from it what you will.

  • Matt H.

    I’ve known for a long time that people who don’t agree with me are less intelligent. And it is amazing how their IQ gets a bump when they start being agreeable.

  • Paul Rain

    Or quite plausably, everyone could have similar levels of interaction with persons of other races- but the higher-intelligence people live in nicer neighborhoods where they hob-knob with Kofi Annan and have a ciggy with Professor Obama, and the lower-intelligence people live in backwards-sliding neighborhoods where their interaction with persons of other races consists of fighting or running away.

  • Kevin K.

    I’d kind of hope that an article impugning other peoples’ IQ wouldn’t confuse “effected” with “affected”, but there we have it.

    I guess “undergarduate” just makes the article look hastily-written.

    Outside nitpicks, I agree with the author!

  • Paul Rain

    A lot of the nations from where Black Britons come are not known for their tolerant attitudes towards homosexuals.

  • Tom Bri

    #12, Those questions were basically popularity contest questions. We smart people hate racial and sexual prejudice, so it is easy to make the prejudiced look bad. It just depends on the target audience for the study, which is intelligent liberals.

    Suppose we wanted to make liberals look bad amongst some other group, say, evangelical Christians. Pick a group of liberals and ask them about their attitudes towards extramarital/homosexual sex, while pointing out the dangers of STDs. Conservative values of chastity, monogamy and the like reduce the disease load on the population, if actually adhered to. I think there are no arguments about that. It would be pretty easy to design questions that make liberals class-1 disease vectors, even if the actual differences in behavior between liberals and conservatives were fairly small. The questions in the study above were about attitudes, not behavior.

    Or, how about marriage? Conservatives profess allegiance to monogamy, lifelong marriage, children raised in two-parent homes. Questions about this could easily be slanted to make liberals look like they don’t much care, just because they take a more nuanced view, or admit a wider selection of couples or family styles as acceptable.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #22, don’t you read the inductivist? :-) in any case, i was more wondering about questions which show conservatives to have higher IQs. if you want to make ‘conservatives look good’ (or religious people), you can read robert putnam’s stuff. he doesn’t have a major ax to grind. arthur brooks at AEI publishes similar stuff, but he’s more obviously ideological.

  • Tom Bri

    #23, How about economic ideas? Better educated people tend to believe in free trade, probably because of some vague recollection of the principle of comparative advantage dimly remembered from Econ 101. At least in the US, this is seen as a conservative position, even if plenty of liberals have championed it. So, we allow that conservatives believe in free trade and liberals don’t (even if this isn’t particularly well-correlated), ask a bunch of people whether they think it’s good or bad, count noses, proclaim that conservatives answered yes and liberals no, measure IQ. Voila, conservatives are smarter than liberals. This fits the framework of the above study.

    …We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism)…

  • http://theunsilencedscience.blogspot.com/ nooffensebut

    As I have previously blogged, this finding is not new, but it lacks the Darwinian context of Kanazawa’s study. Liberalism, atheism, and male monogamy are associated with high IQ partly because overcoming instincts for self-preservation takes mental work.

    “It’s an interesting illustration of the boundary condition of the power of disgust and emotion, as only the hyper-rational feel comfortable even entertaining the moral legitimacy of this proposition.”

    Just as partial epilepsy makes a mockery of the spiritual impulse, Williams syndrome’s embodiment of the ultimate anti-racist liberal with added mental retardation cheapens the politically correct posture. Tolerance need not require a dead amygdala, as another study found that mental work in the prefrontal cortex can override a racist amygdala. However, the mental work to do so results in poorer cognitive performance among white people after interacting with black people. Consequently, some bad people might gain mental advantage by coming to terms with their inner racist.

  • Karl Zimmerman

    Wow, there’s a lot to unpack here Razib. If I were you, I think I’d try to put this over two or three posts. A few thoughts now. Perhaps more in the morning.

    1. Social conservativism is closely associated with right-wing authoritarianism, and in the U.S., right-wing politics. However, this is not universal. I think Bob Altemeyer made the point in his book The Authoritarians that those with high RWA in the Soviet Union were loyal communists. It seems to be more a psychological mindset which promotes overly high faith in established power and hierarchy, no matter what the hierarchy is.

    2. Although he’s been a bit extreme in his anti-Obama left handwringing, I suggest you look at Drew Westen’s book The Political Brain if you have not already. His central thesis is Democrats so frequently snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in large part because they do not understand that politics is a matter of the “heart,” not the mind. In contrast, the Republicans have become effective at crafting simple emotional narratives to get people on their side even when their policies, upon closer investigation, are not in the self-interest of many of the voters. Boiled down simply, one could say that the Democrats have become averse to presenting policy in ways that stupid people can comprehend, while the Republicans have no such issues.

    3. As you tiptoe around in your discussion of eugenics, smart people in aggregate don’t have track records much better at noting their own cognitive biases. This isn’t really surprising when you think of what intelligence was likely selected for, as in many scenarios where your survival or reproductive fitness is on the line, second-guessing yourself too long could get you into a heap of trouble. For the most part, I’d say the beliefs (as opposed to knowledge) smart people have which separate them from dumb people in modern western society are held mainly because smart people are made aware that is what they are expected to believe. Since you mentioned Wolfowitz, the Iraq War is a pretty good example, as within the limited social network of the Beltway (where IQs must be higher than the U.S. average) nearly everyone came to agree on the rightness of it initially – even most elected Democrats and plenty on the institutional left. Despite how shoddy all of the reasoning looked to many more removed from DC, it seems that the simple social pressure of so many of your peers believing led most to at least give it two cheers initially.

  • Tom Bri

    #25 Karl, I found your point #2 very funny. If you spent any time reading right-wing websites you would find those same arguments used to explain why the left always seems to be outflanking the right. That the left appeals to raw emotion and disconnects their arguments from reason. They, in essence, trick Blacks and other minorities into voting for them by offering poisoned apples, programs that look nice on the outside, but are deadly for those affected. An example might be college admission standards lowered for minorities, tricking them into entering schools where they cannot succeed without taking dumbed-down majors.

    My own opinion is that both the left and right are full of people who try to justify their power-lust or base greed with sweet words. Both sides appeal to emotion more than reason, because the base voter on both sides isn’t all that smart nor interested in politics. The left’s faith in the positive power of government strikes me as childish.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #27, right. the left is winning on gay rights not by expositing on rawlsian ethics, but humanizing gays and allowing for non-gays to identify with them as fellow citizens. i think the big diff between dems and repubs is that the latter’s coalition is more ideologically coherent (or at least less diverse). dems have a lot of different interest groups (e.g., labor vs. environment) who don’t necessarily disagree on most issues, but have very different weights to particular sets of issues.

  • RafeK

    Did they controll for Race? Social liberal attitudes seem to more common in the white community in both the UK and US in the data I have seen

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #29, We used two large-scale U.K. data sets to test our hypothesized mediation model: the 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS) and the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS). In the NCDS, all participants (4,267 men and 4,537 women) were born in the same week in March 1958; in the BCS, all participants (3,412 men and 3,658 women) were born in the same week in April 1970. i assume you are aware that there were not too many colored ppl born in the UK in 1970, and even fewer in 1958.

  • raulwaldon

    The effectiveness of online education such as High Speed Universities depends on the learner. If you want to learn, you learn. If you don’t, you can cram or cheat

  • kate s

    The problem here is that it is extremely difficult to get an accurate representation of IQ for such large and diverse groups as political affiliation and even religious adherence. There are far to many variables and frequently the studies out there end up refuting each other. For example, there was a recent study conducted by Arthur C. Brooks from Syracuse University strongly suggested that conservatives give more to charity on all levels than liberals. Another, seperate study, done by Satoshi Kanazawa from the London School of Economics and Political Science, claimed that liberals and atheists and male sexual exlusivity had higher IQ’s than others. However, upon closer evalution of the study we find that “liberal” referred not to actual political affiliation but to “liberal givers” as in those who donate more money and time to charity and are more concerned with social welfare. That case, as we find to some degree with this study as well, showcases the tendancy for scientist bias to creep into the study in ther realm of political caricature. In other words, scientists tend to characterize qualities of a certain group that they believe to be true as fact, when in reality it may not be that way. Many social liberals strongly believe that conservatives are far less generous and care far less for the poor than they themselves do, when in reality the exact opposite may be true. That bias led that particular psychologist to equate liberal giving to liberal poltiical affiliation which, likely isn’t the case. Political and religious conservatives also tend to have higher rates of both male and female sexual exclusivity. Both points would, in that case, suggest that conservatives have higher IQ’s than liberals. Which would contradict this study. Other studies regarding political affiliation and IQ complicate matters even more because they suggest that liberatarians are more intelligent than both social liberals and social conservatives and libertarians tend to vote conservative, and go middle of the road or slightly right of center in terms of social views. When you look at demographics, lower IQ tends to be found in more impoverished communities. Higher IQ tends to be found in the middle classes and upper classes. Despite the findings of this study, most impoverished communities in the US tend to go strongly liberal democrat whereas middle class communities tend to go more strongly conservative and moderately conservative. The upper classes tend to divide between a moderate/ soft left leaning social views and strongly right economic views. These studies suggest that liberal idealogy appeals strongest to the communities with the lowest IQ levels. Another problem with this study is in regards to it’s view of determining “prejudice”. Unfortunately, the way the idea of prejudice was approached in this study was to limited to be of any real value. They dealt only with prejudice against homosexuals and people of different races, I’m not sure if a wide spectrum of different ethnic backgrounds were represented in the participants of the study but the previous comment by Razib Khan suggests that the ethnic representation was limited. This means that, as other studies have found, the more anti-white sentiments found in the African American communities and the anti-hispanic attitudes found in the African American communities would largely be unrepresented as well as the race based prejudices found amongst Latino groups, and various religious affiliations. It’s become fairly evident to any fairly unbiased observer that the liberal end of the spectrum tends to hold significant prejudices towards certain religious groups (Jewish and Evangelical Christian) and there is some suggestive evidence that there tends to be serious issues with covert racism amongst the more liberally minded, which this study openly admitted to being unable to measure. The basic point here is, if you take into account the larger body of related data, there appears to be no real correlation, or at the very least the correlation is too difficult to measure accurately, between IQ and political affiliation. And in terms of prejudice and political affiliation, if you were to try and measure it in an unbiased way, you would likely find that each group holds strongly intolerant views towards different groups for different reasons and the sheer number of variables would make it difficult to conduct such a study in the first place. The thing that is unfortunate about studies such as this one, is that the really don’t add much in terms of substance to the conversation and, much like the controversial studies of race and IQ, tend to do little more than push for division and prejudice in their own right. It seems as though political affiliation is attached simply for the sake of drawing controversy, and therefore attention, to the study. It’s sad that we’ve gotten to this state of political pandering in every level of our society including those that SHOULD be unbiased such as the scientific and academic realms.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #32, you’re comment is frankly an unreadable hodgepodge. paragraphs are good for you. if you do that again i’m going to ban you, as it is basically spamming. and you should actually cite some of the research, instead of alluding to it.

    finally, hope everyone remembers that correlation is not necessarily transitive. i.e., if a is positively correlated with b, and b is positively correlated with c, a is not necessarily positively correlated with c.

  • Konkvistador

    I’m pretty sure that if IQ tests where around in 1700′s in say Europe people with higher IQ’s would be more familiar with the Bible and would on average have fewer heretical opinions deviant from their denomination. Even when controlled for formal education or wealth I don’t think the effect would go away.

  • Paul Rain

    #30: Ah- that makes sense. Should’ve read the article.

    On the other hand, plenty of people born in Britain in 1970 live near or intermixed with immigrant communities. Of course.. the negative views in question aren’t necessarily against the ‘usual suspects’- I imagine your usual target for a driveway resurfacing or a sale of massively cut-price top-quality tools out of the back of a truck either has a two digit IQ or is a very naive savant.

    One would also think that stereotypes as rules of thumb are more useful to less intelligent people who may be less able to make sensible decisions fast. Maybe a man walking out of an alley in front of you late at night in a hoodie is Prince Charles, messing around Camilla’s back- you could blackmail him and make a mint. It’s a lot more likely it’s a mugger, and more likely still that it’s just some random bloke. If you can scan his face in an instant, and eye him up to see if he looks to have any weapons or is exhibiting aggressive body language, great. Otherwise, ‘hoodie=cross road’ works well. Nothing wrong with employing other indicators, although it’s certainly best they be based on a fairly good idea of how the world works.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    I’m pretty sure that if IQ tests where around in 1700′s in say Europe people with higher IQ’s would be more familiar with the Bible and would on average have fewer heretical opinions deviant from their denomination. Even when controlled for formal education or wealth I don’t think the effect would go away.

    this sounds plausible, but i’m curious if you’d outline your thinking. e.g., how are you accounting for the difference in protestant vs. catholic europe in regards to biblical literacy at the elite levels, and the fact that notable members of the french church in the mid 1700s were atheists because the church included everyone in the nation by default? as for ‘heretical,’ that main problem i would see is that it takes a high level of christian comprehension to really be a heretic (e.g.., michael servetus). lots of de facto pagan christian peasants weren’t really heretics because they didn’t even deviate consciously from xtianity at all. in any case, familiarity with the bible doesn’t mean anything in regards to liberal vs. conservative. in 4th and 5th century rome the pagans were the conservatives, and the christians the progressives (e.g., ambrose’s anti-traditional rejoinder to symmachus).

  • Konkvistador

    “how are you accounting for the difference in protestant vs. catholic europe in regards to biblical literacy at the elite levels”

    Denomination. While protestants would systematically be more familiar with the bible, smarter Catholics would still remember more material and stories from the bible than dimmer ones. You don’t actually need to read the bible to be familiar with much of the material. To invoke more obscure biblical material or metaphor was a mark of education and intelligence well into the 19th century. BTW I’m pretty sure that on average higher IQ people are familiar with more popculture than low IQ people – but that’s just my prior, I’d better go do some research on-line about that.

    “the fact that notable members of the french church in the mid 1700s were atheists because the church included everyone in the nation by default?”

    You are right, I implicitly assumed a level of religious freedom that just wasn’t there in most places. I’m updating on that, the effect would be weaker than I thought. Yet if you quizzed those atheists I’m willing to say they would when it came to practical questions of philosophy and morality conform to Catholicism pretty well (with certain grumpy contrarian exceptions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Meslier though even he denounces the Christian Gods and all gods by fundamentally Christian standards)

    “that main problem i would see is that it takes a high level of christian comprehension to really be a heretic (e.g.., michael servetus). lots of de facto pagan christian peasants weren’t really heretics because they didn’t even deviate consciously from xtianity at all.”

    I didn’t mean heretical in any sort of real theological sense (I should have been more precise). I meant “heretical” as in plain wrong when asked a question about their religion. In the sense of not knowing the right thing according to X kind of Christianity to say when quizzed about a moral or legal question.

  • Konkvistador

    @14: The Nazi leadership was definitely right wing but they where not conservative. They wanted to radically change German society in ways that had never been tried before. Also I dispute the claim that they where acting out of pure amoral selfishness, they where acting in amoral fanaticism to a value set we may not approve of. But that value set wasn’t pure individualistic selfishness.

    In any case “progressives” have been on average winning for the past 200 years, and consistently for the past 70. One needs to look really hard for anomalous things like public opinion on gun control in the 2000′s in the US or the abandonment of the eugenic position in the 1940′s to find something the intellectual elites where defeated at when they decided to change social norms. The proof of this is that young hip conservatives have for the entire time period generally consistently defend the outdated Liberalism of 20 years ago :)

    In other words conservatives are dumb enough to believe in social progress (to see why I think this silly, read this http://lesswrong.com/lw/7ms/interview_with_singularity_institute_research/4u1n ), up to a point! They will generally accept the narrative of moral progress which means “dumb conservatives” won’t ever revise their old positions “in the wrong way” from what their parents and teacher told them. Religious conversion seems the only partial exception to this. Relatively reactionary subcultures (basically conservative subcultures that no one bothered to update for a very long time) with high fertility or reactionary thought becoming a mark of high intelligence are the only real threat, but the latter seems so unlikely to be almost imaginary while the former seems easy to attack via legislation and the coercive power of the state.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    To invoke more obscure biblical material or metaphor was a mark of education and intelligence well into the 19th century.

    was this true of catholics? from what i recall sola scriptura really put the scare in the catholic clerical class.

    . In the sense of not knowing the right thing according to X kind of Christianity to say when quizzed about a moral or legal question.

    a lot of this persists to this day. even in the USA. a subset of xtians are very textual, but most are not, and are easily confused.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2007-03-07-teaching-religion-cover_N.htm

  • http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/ Maju

    “a. How do you convince people that eliminating industrial pollution regulations and food quality standards are in their best interest, and,”

    Whoever says otherwise are socialists, communists, hipsters, gays and/or have evil chinky eyes like Fu Man Chu (everything “xeno” to feed the ample specter “xenophobia”). I’m sure you’ve heard that before a zillion times: corporations are the good guys, free market is great specially for the big corporations, regulations are evil, socialist and unconstitutional… blah, blah.

    The Left should learn all these tricks but it’s hard to use them when you are so ahead of your time that you are unavoidably “xeno”.

    “b. who would do that?”

    Anyone ethically depleted enough to sell their soul to Monsanto. They pay well, they only want your soul in exchange.

  • http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/ Maju

    “… the higher-intelligence people live in nicer neighborhoods”…

    Not true in all cases certainly. Most intelligent people I know of live in poor neighborhoods and all dumb fascists I know of are more or less well off. I’m always puzzled by the notion that intelligence alone produces wealth: in Europe at least you need in addition a good dose of boot-licking ability, what is not always compatible with high IQs.

  • Tony

    “repeated assumptions that any utilization of personal genomics for eugenic purposes will occur first in politically conservative jurisdictions”

    If eugenics is aimed at raising the overall IQ of a population then it makes sense that conservatives would oppose it, no? ;)

  • Tom Bri

    # 40 Maju, I am not quite following your meaning when you said… ‘I’m sure you’ve heard that before a zillion times: corporations are the good guys, free market is great specially for the big corporations,

    If you are making a parody of conservative thought, then you don’t know much about it. Conservatives don’t tend to be pro corporation. Rather the opposite, actually. We also believe that corporations gain their excess power through collusion with government, not through free market forces. We like the free market mainly because it allows individuals freedom from both government AND big business.

    One caveat to the above, conservative AND liberal politicians love corporations. That’s where the jobs are after they leave office, and the campaign money while still in.

  • Tiel

    Hi Razib

    First sorry for my poor english.

    Secondly the present study seems pretty lame to me…..

    Covariates. Parental socioeconomic status for participants during childhood, as well as participants’ personal socioeconomic status and education level in adulthood, were obtained
    in both the NCDS and the BCS. Parental and personal socioeconomic status were rated on 4-point (BCS) and 6-point (NCDS) scales based on social prestige of occupation. If a participant’s
    father was unemployed, the mother’s occupation was utilized; unemployed participants reported their most recent employment status. In both studies, participants’ level of education was rated on a 6-point scale ranging from 0, no education, to 5, postgraduate.

    From a cultural Anthropology point of view this methodology is simply not rigorous enough to rule out possible social and/or cultural causes that explain both average IQ variations and political ideologies. We can’t be sure that the relatively low or high IQ in childhood of one group explains itself the futur political ideology of the same groupe. Correlation is not causation.

  • jb

    Being intelligent isn’t the same thing as being wise! For example, lot of smart people were fooled by Communism. They were smart enough to read and understand the elaborate arguments made in favor of Communism, but they weren’t smart enough to see all the way through to the real life failures of actual Communist societies.

    In fact I think very few people are actually smart enough to see things all the way through, but many people believe they can. So I can see how it might make sense that people on the right hand side of the bell curve, having more intellectual self-confidence than those on the left, might be more willing to sign on to untested social experimentation. And isn’t that really what a liberal is: someone who is willing to drastically restructure society today, based on inspiring arguments from people who are genuinely smart, and yet may not in fact be smart enough to truly understand the problems they are trying to solve, and the consequences their solutions will have tomorrow?

  • http://lablemminglounge.blogspot.com Lab Lemming

    Re 4:
    (OK, the thread seems to have run away while I was off in the real world)
    I was using ‘muslim’ as a catch-all for turks, arabs, and north Africans. So it wasn’t really a comment on that religion per se.

    You could probably to the same with Asian immigrants in Australia- conservative cultural values, but generally broad life experience (they got here, didn’t they) and moderate pragmatic politics otherwise.

  • Jacob Roberson

    Definition time: American “Conservatism” is portrayed as “meanness,” the “criminals should all be shot” kind. Either you’re paying attention to the portrayal or you’re incurious. Neither meanness nor lack of curiosity is a close neighbor to g.

    As our host, and other commenters, have already pointed out “Conservatism” has had some pretty bleeding-heart definitions in other times/places.

  • Jacob Roberson

    Erm let’s differentiate one more level: If “you’re paying attention to the portrayal” then you’re usually painting yourself with it; with an iconoclastic “Conservatism isn’t mean” remainder.

  • http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/ Maju

    #43: Someone asked me a question and I tried to impersonate a Neonazi-Con Tea Party speaker the best I can. As I don’t frequent those forums I’m not privy to the details (all I know is that Obama is for them both “socialist” and “muslim” because I have stumbled on some ads, what is the kind of discourse for an IQ<50) but you are maybe correct that the typical "libertarian" (not the same as conservative) discourse rants against corporations, just like Fascists did against "capitalism"… it's an aesthetic discourse and not any real effective position: when those guys hold the power, and that is very often, they favor corporations and give them "civil rights", not the opposite. Their personal and political stories (and that's ultra obvious in the Bushes' case) it's tightly linked to both corporations and discursive conservatism with extremist tendencies.

    And looking for whomever asked me that question (who was #16), I realized that someone else (#38) told me:

    "The Nazi leadership was definitely right wing but they where not conservative".

    Obviously they were opportunist rats (with a fashionable discourse) in most cases (and that is coincident with the 'amoral selfish' whom I identified as main problem and leadership of the conservative 'silent majority'). But what you really want to claim is that there is some sort of clear cut difference between conservatism and fascism, right? Well, the sociological fact is that they have almost identical social bases, which will switch between the two variants depending on circumstances. Even the leaders are often interchangeable, and if in the past the leaders of the German conservatives (and the British and US-American ones too) supported Hitler's ascension to power and the Spanish conservative party (then CEDA, now PP) recycled itself into the fascist movement Falange almost overnight upon command of Gral. Franco (up to the point that genuine falangistas felt usurped, displaced and degradated), only to recycle themselves as conservatives again in the 70s and 80s.

    Sociologically they are the same bunch and display the same low IQ generic xenophobic tendencies (where 'xeno' is not just foreign but anything alien or "abnormal", including other races, or any "eccentricities" like homosexuality or mere free thought).

  • Miguel Madeira

    “34. I’m pretty sure that if IQ tests where around in 1700′s in say Europe people with higher IQ’s would be more familiar with the Bible and would on average have fewer heretical opinions deviant from their denomination. ”

    I suspect that, at least in Britain (probably the only country with some religious pluralism at these times), it will be the high IQ and familiar to the bible people that were constantly creating new sects, and the low IQ/unfamiliar to the bible people that were loyal followers of the Curch of England.

  • Karl Zimmerman

    Tom Bri -

    Your point is well taken, and I considered addressing it myself in my first response, but didn’t want my comment to drag on.

    There is a difference, however, between the emotional appeals of the right in U.S. politics, and those of the left. On the left, it is almost entirely non-political actors who make the appeals. I don’t think one can argue that some left groups use similar narrative structure and emotional resonance as the right. However, these tend to be marginally affiliated groups, like black churches or labor unions, not Democratic politicians themselves.

    Hell, using Razib’s example of the acceptance of homosexuality, which as been the biggest win for the social left over the last two decades, up until the past few years elected Democrats nearly universally shied away from active engagement with the general public on the issue. It was outside pressure groups, the media, and the courts which brought it grinding into normality, to the point where some blue states could begin considering passing marriage equality legislation without a court order.

  • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

    My general presumption is that smarter people are more likely to have correct beliefs than dumb people. So this is some bayesian evidence that liberal beliefs are more likely to be correct. I could point out that politics is unusual and even smart people have often had dumb beliefs there, but that doesn’t mean that dumb people don’t have even worse beliefs.

    Many of you already know this, but to pre-empt some responses, I am a righty.

  • LJC

    @44- As an archaeologist I completely agree and mean to say the same thing.

    The study largely ignores that in western culture the teenage and post teenage years (13-25) are arguably the most formative years in a person’s life. Even though there is “control” for socio-economic status, how does an IQ test taken by a 10 year old have bearing on a 33 year old person that has been largely enculturated for 20 years. There are too many variables to make this argument. as 44 said, Correlation is not causation. The entire argument is a little bit too deterministic for me.

  • http://darwincatholic.blogspot.com DarwinCatholic

    Circling back to the post a bit:

    It seems to me that a lot of what the research is measuring here is the willingness by IQ to depart from a familiar set of social assumptions and stereotypes based on a combination of experience, empathy and reasoning. Racism and anti-homosexuality are two examples of social attitudes which used to be widely accepted throughout much of society but are increasingly less so for these reasons. Razib points out an important (though little discussed) counter examples in eugenics, where a widely held elite consensus built up based (at least, according to proponents) on empathy and reasoning and which is now seen as having been wrong (and the social conservatives, thus, right.) The temperance movement (which was originally a progressive cause) might also be an example along these lines. What would be interesting would be if one could identify a culture in which the “flow of history” seems to be running conservatively either culturally or politically and see how IQ related to ideological/social alignment in that atmosphere. On the political questions, at least, it seems like there should be some opportunities for study in Eastern Europe.

  • A Erickson

    “…by the way, Education Realist points out that the low GRE verbal scores are only marginally affected by international students.” This is the beautiful thing about weblogs such as this one: I have a hypothesis, but am too lazy to look up data related to the hypothesis. Somebody else (in this case Education Realist) does the work for me, and I get the benefit of looking at the data without having to try t0o hard to dig it up :) . Anyway, it appears I was wrong about international students and GRE verbal scores (I guess my small set of Chinese friends did not influence the distribution that much, at least for V).

    Also, Jezebel’s coverage of the paper is simply too funny. They had better be careful about their new-found belief in the predictive powers of psychometrics: it could, after all, turn them into racists!

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    What would be interesting would be if one could identify a culture in which the “flow of history” seems to be running conservatively either culturally or politically and see how IQ related to ideological/social alignment in that atmosphere.

    many ppl would suggest that the second half of the 18th century was more liberal and secular than the first half of the 19th century (revolution/enlightenment vs. reaction/romanticism). my main immediate objection is that the emergence of phenomenon such as ‘muscular christianity’ in the 19th century, and the decline of deism, might have more to do with a broadening of the culture and a widening of the scope of the ‘culture producing’ classes. by analogy, most of america’s first presidents were not orthodox christians. most of the recent ones have been. i think that’s a function of democratic populism and universal suffrage. americans were always by and large trinitarian christians. it’s just that the ruling class was more insulated from this preference in earlier eras.

  • pconroy

    #7, @Tom Bri said…
    My own opinion is that both the left and right are full of people who try to justify their power-lust or base greed with sweet words. Both sides appeal to emotion more than reason, because the base voter on both sides isn’t all that smart nor interested in politics.

    Tom,

    I totally agree with this assessment.

    I find it funny that people bicker over whether Republican or Democrat have the higher IQ, when IMO, those who adhere strictly to any partisan ideology are inherently lower IQ. Most Republicans and Democrats just have a will to power and control. The opposite of Control is freedom. I think Ron Paul represents freedom.

    Here’s an interesting article on him, by an Israeli:
    http://tunewall.com/2012/01/from-israel-vote-ron-paul-and-let-my-people-go/

    Enjoy!

  • Miguel Madeira

    «It seems to me that a lot of what the research is measuring here is the willingness by IQ to depart from a familiar set of social assumptions and stereotypes based on a combination of experience, empathy and reasoning. (…) What would be interesting would be if one could identify a culture in which the “flow of history” seems to be running conservatively either culturally or politically and see how IQ related to ideological/social alignment in that atmosphere. On the political questions, at least, it seems like there should be some opportunities for study in Eastern Europe.»

    A problem with this is that if the “conservative position” is not, by definition, the “familiar set of social assumptions and stereotypes”; in other words, the concept of the “flow of history” running conservative could be intrinsically contradictory (if the position X was against the traditional ideas in a given society but in the recent times is gaining popularity, the position X can be called “conservative”?).

    However, with these objections

  • http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/ Maju

    To #58:

    The conservative tends to support the “the familiar set of social assumptions and stereotypes” of their parents or even grandparents: they dream of a world that never changes but not in relation to the present but to the ideas that their already conservative parents and grandparents taught them when they were kids. So a conservative of my age (43) today is typically dreaming with the conservative ideas of 1910, when my grandparents were born, or the 1920s, when they became quasi-adults.

    Not exactly but quite.

  • Karl Zimmerman

    #57 -

    I’m fairly certain Razib himself has had posts showing strong evidence that “independents” are in fact less intelligent than Republicans or Democrats. In a sense, this isn’t surprising, as the majority of “undecided” voters are undecided because they do not have strong political views. They lack strong political views in part because they don’t find politics interesting enough to become informed on the issues, relying on vague perceptions of the issues they passively encounter to make voting decisions.

    Of course, a subset of independents are different, but in my experience, more independents fall into that stereotype.

  • http://darwincatholic.blogspot.com DarwinCatholic

    A problem with this is that if the “conservative position” is not, by definition, the “familiar set of social assumptions and stereotypes”; in other words, the concept of the “flow of history” running conservative could be intrinsically contradictory (if the position X was against the traditional ideas in a given society but in the recent times is gaining popularity, the position X can be called “conservative”?).

    Very good point. I was being seriously sloppy in usage of terms here — essentially taking the package of views many would think of as “conservative” in some economic or social sense now and applying it to other periods or places out of context. Clearly, in the context of, say 1965 Soviet politics, a “conservative” was Stalinist. Or in the English Civil War you had fairly socially libertine “conservative” royalists versus socially puritan roundheads.

    many ppl would suggest that the second half of the 18th century was more liberal and secular than the first half of the 19th century (revolution/enlightenment vs. reaction/romanticism). my main immediate objection is that the emergence of phenomenon such as ‘muscular christianity’ in the 19th century, and the decline of deism, might have more to do with a broadening of the culture and a widening of the scope of the ‘culture producing’ classes.

    Fair point. Working from written accounts that are obviously only available from the literate portion of society obviously brings a lot of frame of reference issues one doesn’t normally think about. You’ve also got leadership effects — Victoria was simply a more uptight personality in regards to moral issues than her predecessors and successors, and she managed to have a fairly strong cultural influence in the English-speaking world.

    Plus, it’s not possible to go back to some period in history when it seems like trends are changing and administer opinion polls and IQ tests. Though it would be wonderful fun if we could…

  • John Atwood

    Most of the participants and contributors on this subject appear to be from the world of academia or from self proclaimed “think tanks”. I am a Southern social conseervative, financial progressive and am well educated in the field of science. My IQ is 145 and my life is greatly influenced by Judeo-Christian beliefs.

    My thoughts are dictated strongly by “common sense”, which by liberal philosophers does not exist.
    What I have read by most of you elititst is opinion only and in Southrn-ease is known as BS.

  • Yumus Tagri

    Interesting discussion. I reject the naivete of quantifying politics. It’s junk science. Ham-handed. I’m attacking the premise, not the methodology. The post which said “Nazis were not conservatives” is accurate. The rejoinder “Nazis were based in conservative beliefs” is also true. Doesn’t this vicious circle reveal the flawed subjectivity of the project itself? The soapbox poster who argued from an a priori “Communism is dumb but it fooled smart people” assumption personifies the almost metaphysical endless loop here. Self-interest, starvation, anger, and ideals fuel all kinds of politics. And these are emotional. I am more comfortable with brain structures and psychological profiles than with this particular investigation. IQ tests measure intelligence, high scorers skew liberal, ergo liberals are smart? Sounds dumb to me. Regardless of politics.

  • pconroy

    #60, @Karl,

    The position I’m outlining is not “Independent”, it could be Libertarian – and yes Libertarians tend to be more Rational and less emotional than average.

    Just look at Ron Paul’s demeanor in any of the debates – he’s coolly thinking, and his answers cut to shreds the weak arguments of his opponents, without too much emotional content.

    Now, of course, I do realize that most of the electorate want the drama and burst of emotion, and feel good BS, but there are some of us who are more on the rational side, who are happy to do without that, people who are actually interested in policy and budgets and all that “boring” stuff…

  • Annherd

    Tom Bri, I have just come upon this article and comments, and I’d like to second yours at #12. Well put.

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Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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