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Conservatism and intelligence

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Scarfman, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. Scarfman Knitter of the Scarf

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    Found this article today. It supports my assertion (in a couple of other threads) that there is a statistically significant negative link between intelligence and conservatism.

    Gordon Hodson and Michael A. Busseri, "Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes : Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideologies" in Psychological Science. 23.2 (Feb 2012): 187-195.

    I never believe headline claims, so I read the article in full, and it checks out. What it's saying is that whilst there is a clear correlation between low intelligence and prejudice, the strongest correlation is between low intelligence and social conservatism. If you take out that association, the direct correlation is much weaker. So, low-int people are more drawn to conservatism than prejudice, per se.

    I'd be happy to share the material, except that it's under copyright. PM if you are unable to acquire this material any other way.

    For those of us involved in the discussion in the other threads, I'd say it challenges the idea (cyclopath's for example) that social conservatives are "undereducated" and supports my view that there are some very basic and core inabilities to reason and think in a complex way.
  2. Scarfman Knitter of the Scarf

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    Shit. Look like I broke the internet with that one.
  3. vidiot John Solomon (38)

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    A study described as "worst use of statistics in an original paper ever" by Dr William M Briggs, a statistician at Cornell.
  4. Scarfman Knitter of the Scarf

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    Nah, Briggs is wrong - he's trying to force errors into a very sound bit of meta-analysis because of his own bias. I worked as a professional statistician for 10 years. If you can understand the comment here (Eli B. on 28 January 2012 at 7:33 pm) you'll see how Briggs has completely misunderstood the causation path of the author's assertions. Briggs' backdown in the following comment is weasely.

    I've worked at Cornell, too. Not everyone is a genius!* The biggest potential bias in the study flies over Briggs' head: that the authors have chosen two long-term studies for their meta-analysis. Why these are not others? Do some or all other studies show similar trends or not? I guess the auhors could claim that that's someone else's problem.

    * Briggs is only a casual at Cornell, and he doesn't even teach stats. He seems to be self-employed as a betting analyst.
  5. Cutter Nicholas Shehadie (39)

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    This will definitely bring you closer to a lot of posters on the politics thread Scarfy. Not closer from an ideological point, of course, but closer in an "I love you man" sense.
  6. Scarfman Knitter of the Scarf

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    I love you, too, man!
  7. Cutter Nicholas Shehadie (39)

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    I was thinking the conservative voters Scarfy.
  8. Scarfman Knitter of the Scarf

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  9. Scarfman Knitter of the Scarf

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    I have been surprised by the lack of interest or engagement in this thread. As far as statistically-driven peer-reviewed articles go, I thought this one had some legs for discussion. But I see that I haven't clearly stated my interest in it. No-one may care, of course, but I'd like to give it a go anyway.

    First, I don't think that low intelligence is correlated with social conservatism throughout time and culture. I think both sides of politics would have had long periods in the dunce's corner. But I do think that it's currently the conservatives' turn to have their numbers swelled by people who are unable to think with subtlety or complexity. I would go as far as saying that it is these peope, more than anyone else, who switched sides from Labor to Liberal as a result of John Howard's culture wars and wedge politics. This kind of research supports the view I have been asserting, and might help the political left comes to grips with the problem: how to sell policies in an emotional, mass-appeal way to "ordinary" Australians.

    My other interest in this topic is that I'm currently researching and writing about democracy. From Plato to Napoleon, the word democracy was either an outright insult or said with very mixed feelings. It's only with the founding fathers, and then especially Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, that democracy comes to be seen as a universal good, a self-evident truth, a god-given right, the only political model that can bring about freedom and the pursuit of happiness. My thesis is that, after 200 years of pro-democratic politics, we have actually forgotton as a culture some of the limitations and negative consequences that full democracy entails. Ordinary citizens hold more power than ever before in the formation of policy, but with fewer institutional restraints than ever before. I believe it's contributing to a politcal system that is simply unable produce intelligent debate and informed decision-making.

    So, in conclusion, my interest isn't biologically-determinist or eugenic, I'm just trying to figure out if there is any way to reintroduce sensible, informed debate into a debased political system.
    wilful likes this.
  10. Rob42 Ron Walden (29)

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    The analysis you posted from Google Page 1 was a good one, Scarfman. Whilst I agree in a broad sense that "social conservatism" of the type focussed on by the article - ie, homophobia, xenophobia, etc - is easier to sell to people of less general intelligence, all such arguments suffer from the struggle of trying to encapsulate a person's whole worldview in one word - conservative, or liberal (American-type liberal, obviously). As the "Gene Expression" blog analysis points out, you might well look upon someone like Paul Wolfowitz as the archetype of conservative, neo-conservative indeed, and yet his social views might be considered liberal.

    Whenever you try to place those labels on people, it inevitably shrinks the discussion rather than expands it.
  11. Lindommer Andrew Slack (58)

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    Well, no one wanted to hear me rabbit on about tannins in red wine either. What did you expect, Scarfy?
    Athilnaur likes this.
  12. cyclopath Phil Waugh (73)

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    Just wait until I start a sub-specialty thread.
    Truth be told, I missed this as it appeared due to other pre-occupations. I will try to read and digest it.
  13. Bruwheresmycar Nicholas Shehadie (39)

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    There seems to be less of a thought process involved when it comes to conservative values, relative to progressive ones. Simply rejecting any change takes no effort, but making changes does. The refugee issue is a good example, people don't want to go to the trouble of thinking of a way we can makes the lives of these people better, they'd just rather tell them to fark off back where they came from (because it's easier).

    This is not to say social conservatives are wrong, in a lot of cases not making a change is the right choice. But in the current political climate saying "no" to any change seems to be the majority view, and it's dressed up as some kind of intelligent position on TV and the radio.
    Scarfman likes this.
  14. Scarfman Knitter of the Scarf

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    This was the part of Briggs's complaint that I found least interesting. I don't really care what we call it - "social conservative" seemed as good a label as any. If you want to know what the studies really measure, just drill down to the questions (which, I admit, not everyone had access to):

    I haven't mentioned one of the main points of the article. There has already been established a relationship between low-intelligence and racism, e.g.,

    But what these authors were trying to show is that the main relationship is between low-intelligence and social conservatism (when you adjust for social conservatism, there is a negligible correlation between low intelligence and racism. I think the causation paths are still very much up in the air (which comes first?, does either cause the other?, etc), but it's still a worthwhile contribution to thinking about these things.

    Lindommer and cyclopath - I know, I'm pushing the envelope of a sports chat site, aren't I? Sorry, it's just that the conversation on here is usually more rational than on actual political sites.
  15. Schadenfreude John Solomon (38)

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    Follows my long held belief that Republicans want School Prayer, Intelligent Design, Teaching the Test, and worse schools so that people will be dumber - and therefore vote republican.
  16. Scotty David Codey (61)

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    I would comment but I'm afraid I'm not intelligent enough to keep up with those beings that are on a higher plane to myself.
  17. Scotty David Codey (61)

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    Anyway, does the study actually mention a correlation to conservative politics or just social conservatism? I don't necessarily believe these are one in the same, like you are trying to make out they are, Dr Scarfman.

    There are plenty of socially conservative people on both sides of the political divide in his country.
  18. Schadenfreude John Solomon (38)

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    Some of my best friends are conservatives - there's nothing wrong with it.
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  19. Scotty David Codey (61)

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    You are almost a charity organisation. Keep up the good work.
    the sabanator and Godfrey like this.
  20. Cutter Nicholas Shehadie (39)

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    That is the funniest post you've ever posted Scotty. Dare I say it, perhaps hanging out with all of the liberals is making you smarter.

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