Conservatism "thrives on low intelligence and poor information", writes George Monbiot who reports the results of, a recent study showing that "prejudice tends not to arise directly from low intelligence, but from the conservative ideologies to which people of low intelligence are drawn."
Earlier the Daily Mail enraged readers by reporting the study’s findings. The Guardian’s Charlie Brooker called it a deliberate act of trolling. In the US, Live Science ran the story provoking scorn and ridicule in conservative forums like Free Republic.
It started with a paper by Gordon Hodson and Michael A. Busseri in Psychological Science: ‘Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact’ (pdf). The researchers conclude:
Our synthesis demonstrates that cognitive ability plays a substantial role not only in predicting prejudice, but also in predicting its potential precursors: right-wing ideologies and authoritarian value systems, which can perpetuate social inequality by emphasizing the maintenance of the status quo, and a lack of contact and experience with out-groups.
Here’s a few of the online responses to the paper and the debate that followed.
Low IQ & conservative beliefs linked to prejudice: "There’s no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy." Stephanie Pappas, Live Science.
Conservatism is linked to low intelligence; but the real idiots are the progressives letting it win: "There is plenty of research showing that low general intelligence in childhood predicts greater prejudice towards people of different ethnicity or sexuality in adulthood. Open-mindedness, flexibility, trust in other people: all these require certain cognitive abilities. Understanding and accepting others – particularly ‘different’ others – requires an enhanced capacity for abstract thinking." George Monbiot.
George Monbiot’s worst-ever Guardian column – and that’s saying something! "The first thing to be said about this supposedly definitive piece of research – Moonbat calls it ’embarrassingly robust’– is that the authors, Gordon Hodson and Michael A Busseri, rely to a great extent on a measure of intelligence that has been discredited." Toby Young, The Telegraph.
Monbiot is aping old Right-wing elitists: "It was traditionally the authoritarian wing of the Right which wrote off its opponents effectively as retards, claiming that their ‘base motives’ would infect and destroy proper politics." Brendan O’Neill, The Telegraph.
Leftists don’t know what conservatism is: "What is going on of course is that Leftist psychologists swallow hook line and sinker of Leftist propaganda about conservatives. They believe that conservatives really are as Leftist propaganda describes them. It would appear that they never bother to talk to any actual conservatives to find out what they really think." John J Ray, A Western Heart.
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." Razib Khan, Gene Expression.
Truly, statistics can ‘prove’ anything: "What makes the study ludicrous, even ignoring the biases, manipulations, and qualifications just outlined, by the authors’ own admission the direct effect size for ‘g’ on ‘racism’ is only -0.01 for men and 0.02 for women. Utterly trivial; close enough to no effect to be no effect, their results statistically “significant” only because of the massive sample size." William M Briggs.