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Author Topic: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers  (Read 4093 times)

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Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« on: February 16, 2012, 01:47:41 AM »
http://news.sympatico.ca/SpecialReports/controversial-brock-university-study

Let the gloating/attempts to disprove the study begin.

Offline OogaBooga

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2012, 03:13:26 AM »
Is there a link to the actual study?
I'm a liberal, but I tend to be skeptical about these sorts of things.

*edit*

If it is true though, the comments on that article would seem to prove the study's point.

But then again, comments posted online are like that.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2012, 03:18:26 AM by OogaBooga »

Offline Jrong

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2012, 10:41:40 AM »
There are different types of intelligence. I'm far left-wing yet not nearly as smart as a number of ppl in my fam who are both certified geniuses and strong right-wingers (Fox News, Limbaugh types). I would also bet that some of the "geniuses" on this board are right-wingers.

Generally, however, I'm sure the study's findings are correct.
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Offline flasyb

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2012, 10:53:21 AM »
There are different types of intelligence. I'm far left-wing yet not nearly as smart as a number of ppl in my fam who are both certified geniuses and strong right-wingers (Fox News, Limbaugh types). I would also bet that some of the "geniuses" on this board are right-wingers.

Generally, however, I'm sure the study's findings are correct.

How does one gain "genius" certification and what is the awarding body?

Of course there are exceptions and intelligent people on both sides but, I saw a similar article recently, and I think this refers to a "meta study." In general, left wingers are more intelligent than right wingers. It's something most left wingers like myself have always known deep down and it's nice to finally have that proved beyond any shadow of a doubt. I'd like a link to the actual published study too but for now I'll just accept as fact what already confirms my prejudices because it's what I want to believe.
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Offline Davox

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2012, 10:55:27 AM »
The only thing the article states is that they administered (probably IQ) tests to a range of students at around 10 or 11 and then went back to those same people 20 years later and asked them about their current political opinions.  What they claim the found is that, after controlling for other variables, the people who scored well on the tests at age 10 tended to have "left-ish" political opinions now and the people who scored poorly at age 10 tended to have "right-ish" political opinions now.  Of course, it's important to remember that correlation does not imply causation.

And it's also important to remember that this is only really significant if you believe that IQ is actually a good measure of intelligence (it isn't).

Offline flasyb

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2012, 11:02:10 AM »
The only thing the article states is that they administered (probably IQ) tests to a range of students at around 10 or 11 and then went back to those same people 20 years later and asked them about their current political opinions.  What they claim the found is that, after controlling for other variables, the people who scored well on the tests at age 10 tended to have "left-ish" political opinions now and the people who scored poorly at age 10 tended to have "right-ish" political opinions now.  Of course, it's important to remember that correlation does not imply causation.

And it's also important to remember that this is only really significant if you believe that IQ is actually a good measure of intelligence (it isn't).

True dat. The most "intelligent" people I know are ones with incredible memories. You've gotta love the myth of MENSA though.
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Offline Jrong

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2012, 11:09:51 AM »
Ha ha, not sure! I guess just taking a properly administered/supervised IQ test putting you in genius range (i.e. something "official" not one of those "IQ" tests you take during your lunch break in between facebooking and miniclip :))

While I think there is merit in the concept of "IQ" and Mensa, I also think Davox is right about IQ not giving a good, all-encompassing picture of your overall intelligence.
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Offline terivinix

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2012, 11:17:37 AM »
This should be obvious to pretty well everybody.

The left is dragged down by legions of airheaded college students, sure, but the right has the religious nuts. Both sides obviously have their intelligent people though, so as long as your IQ is triple-digit, you don't really need to care. 

Offline flasyb

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2012, 11:20:59 AM »
Ha ha, not sure! I guess just taking a properly administered/supervised IQ test putting you in genius range (i.e. something "official" not one of those "IQ" tests you take during your lunch break in between facebooking and miniclip :))

While I think there is merit in the concept of "IQ" and Mensa, I also think Davox is right about IQ not giving a good, all-encompassing picture of your overall intelligence.

Sweet! So the steps are as follows:

1. Take lots and lots of practice IQ tests so that I get used to the kinds of questions they ask and increase the speed at which I can answer questions.
2. Take a few more tests and study IQ test "techniques."
3. Google "official IQ test certification."
4. Take test, nail test.
5. Get certificate proving my genius.
6. Mount certificate on wall in prominent position either at the office or at home.
7. When asked about certificate answer, "Yes, well, it just came out of the blue one day and these guys just awarded it to me. I supposed they'd heard of me from something."
8. Smirk knowingly.
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Offline woman-king

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2012, 02:55:39 PM »
The only thing the article states is that they administered (probably IQ) tests to a range of students at around 10 or 11 and then went back to those same people 20 years later and asked them about their current political opinions.  What they claim the found is that, after controlling for other variables, the people who scored well on the tests at age 10 tended to have "left-ish" political opinions now and the people who scored poorly at age 10 tended to have "right-ish" political opinions now.  Of course, it's important to remember that correlation does not imply causation.

And it's also important to remember that this is only really significant if you believe that IQ is actually a good measure of intelligence (it isn't).

It's very interesting to me how this article seemed to define "right wing" as exclusively defined by homophobia and racism.  It doesn't really touch on people who may identify as "right wing" on economic or national security-type issues or a libertarian belief in smaller government.  It would be more accurate to write that "people with homophobic and racist views have lower intelligence and are drawn to such beliefs because it makes them feel safe," instead of using such a blanket term.  Conservative ideology encompasses more than just the tired old black-and-white "family values" issues, and it would be very interesting to see a study like this done on people who identified their political beliefs about the economy or military intervention or some other set of issues.  Beyond its bad choice of wording, though, its an interesting study and I think their method seems pretty legit, definitely took someone a lot of work to pull this study off.

Offline Frozencat99

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2012, 03:05:05 PM »
I don't think there was ever a doubt that homophobes and racists are generally less intelligent human beings. Aside from within their legions, that is.
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Offline peasgoodnonsuch

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2012, 03:36:26 PM »
I don't trust poorly written articles and this one is poorly written. As for method, the article doesn't describe much of one beyond a large sample size. What factors were controlled and how? How were the samples selected? Did they have a detailed definition for what qualifies as right and left sided political views? How do those definitions compare to ours today? Did they use Canadian politics and children or ones from the US? All of these things matter if we are to understand the import of the study and none of them are provided in the article.

Furthermore, as someone here already pointed out, correlation doesn't prove causation and the IQ test is a questionable meter of intelligence.


Offline Frozencat99

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2012, 05:22:03 PM »
Some of the comments on the article seem as if they were ripped from Youtube  :laugh:.

**NOTE** for people who didn't read the article that was linked inside of this article, the findings analyze to massive studies conducted in the UK.

Some thoughts:
- I do think that, much like some people here, the conclusion isn't overall that drastic. If the average left-winger is more intelligent than the average right-winger, both can be extremely intelligent.
- It intrigued my that level of education acquired was a controlled variable... many people shift around on the political spectrum following their education.
- This seems like one of those studies where only the opponents (right-wingers in this case) would bring up the problems with the intelligence quotient.
- Again, is it really ~that surprising~ that the average homophobe or racist is of less than average intelligence?
- If you're that interested in criticizing the unknown methodology, control variables, populations sampled and politics, perhaps you should buy the article itself/access to Psychological Science
- Correlation may not prove causation but strong correlations are much more valid and hard to challenge. As examples, race is strongly correlated with crime rates and sexuality is strongly correlated with STD infection rates. While the conclusions are equally deplorable, in order to challenge a correlation, you have to prove that a secondary factor also impacts the variable (selective policing and abuse of per capita rates, respectively). The study concludes that this is indeed a correlation but doesn't state whether or not it is strong or weak... it is premature to challenge or to accept the findings.

@peas the secondary news article asking for peoples' feelings has no bearing on the (in)validity of the findings. If you are really that disappointed with it, you could have read the one it directly linked to. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2095549/Right-wingers-intelligent-left-wingers-says-controversial-study--conservative-politics-lead-people-racist.html

The article title could be a bit less blunt. What can you expect from an article that paraphrases a dailymail article, though? It kind of seems obvious to me that  people who score poorly on standardized testing (at least when controlled for race but that's another topic) could gravitate to be more close-minded and racist/sexist/homophobic. That was just an opinion before this study, though I'll be looking forward to getting a copy of the full thing or seeing an actually intelligent rebuttal.
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Offline Jrong

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2012, 10:12:09 AM »
It's very interesting to me how this article seemed to define "right wing" as exclusively defined by homophobia and racism.  It doesn't really touch on people who may identify as "right wing" on economic or national security-type issues or a libertarian belief in smaller government.  It would be more accurate to write that "people with homophobic and racist views have lower intelligence and are drawn to such beliefs because it makes them feel safe," instead of using such a blanket term.  Conservative ideology encompasses more than just the tired old black-and-white "family values" issues, and it would be very interesting to see a study like this done on people who identified their political beliefs about the economy or military intervention or some other set of issues.  Beyond its bad choice of wording, though, its an interesting study and I think their method seems pretty legit, definitely took someone a lot of work to pull this study off.
You know what, after actually reading the article I was going to say the same thing: bad choice of wording. I would, however, like to see study on IQ differences between adherents of conservative/liberal ideology. My guess is conservatives have (generally) a higher IQ b/c humans (even/especially "intelligent" humans) are generally more selfish than not, less empathic than compassionate, lack relationships with people of different socio-economic statuses, in general are ignorant of the link between psychological/social factors and work ethic, don't understand the role that genetics plays in decision making...and then it makes sense that they'd do what's best for themselves and their small circle of relationships (hence, be conservative). My opinion, but doesn't mean much unless we see a study on this.

Anyways, I remember a survey they did (let me see if I can find it) where they found a pattern separating conservative/liberal people. The gist of the study went something like this: "liberals are generally much more able to put themselves in conservative's shoes and draft convincing arguments on why conservatism is awesome (even though they don't believe it) while conservatives are generally only able to argue for conservative viewpoints." Conservative/liberal bias seemed to have little to do with IQ (according to that study) and more to do with empathy and intellectual flexibility (others types of "intelligence"). I'll search for it, or you could...
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Offline flasyb

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2012, 10:33:14 AM »
^^
Nah, I remember reading Simon Baron Cohen's book, Zero Degrees of Empathy, and he reckons that research shows the more intelligent/educated you are, the more empathy you are likely to have. It's empathy that drives a lot of the left's notions of social security or welfare systems and a lack of empathy that drives the more conservative notion of fending for yourself or standing on your own two feet.

From the DM:
Quote
In adulthood, the children were asked whether they agreed with statements such as, 'I wouldn't mind working with people from other races,' and 'I wouldn't mind if a family of a different race moved next door.'
They were also asked whether they agreed with statements about typically right-wing and socially conservative politics such as, 'Give law breakers stiffer sentences,' and 'Schools should teach children to obey authority.'
The researchers also compared their results against a 1986 American study which included tests of cognitive ability and questions assessing prejudice against homosexuals.

So they were asked questions that are typically associated with right wing belief structures and these were compared with their answers to questions about race and suchlike. Simple really.
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Offline peasgoodnonsuch

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2012, 10:53:16 AM »
Jrong and flasyb may be particularly interested in this semi-relevant episode of This American Life. It's pretty fascinating and touches on some theories behind super successful people and any trend of lack of empathy/greater selfishness.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/436/the-psychopath-test


To Frozencat: You're right, I gave it a cursory reading and cursory judgement. Unfortunately, I don't really care that much so it's not really worth paying money for it. Especially as I am certainly no stats expert nor a psych expert. But thanks for all the info!

I would only add that opponents are not the only people that would challenge the IQ as a valid test of intelligence. Actually to be more accurate, I question the IQ test not for it's actual methodology or accuracy but rather for the concept and culture it supports. I am a firm believer that intelligence comes in many different guises and that the standard cultural definition of it is given far too much weight in the way we judge and value others. Quantifying intelligence fosters this idea in our culture that a person's worth is based on one narrow definition of intelligence that can be measured and compared.

Offline Jrong

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2012, 10:59:27 AM »
^^
Nah, I remember reading Simon Baron Cohen's book, Zero Degrees of Empathy, and he reckons that research shows the more intelligent/educated you are, the more empathy you are likely to have. It's empathy that drives a lot of the left's notions of social security or welfare systems and a lack of empathy that drives the more conservative notion of fending for yourself or standing on your own two feet.

From the DM:
Quote
In adulthood, the children were asked whether they agreed with statements such as, 'I wouldn't mind working with people from other races,' and 'I wouldn't mind if a family of a different race moved next door.'
They were also asked whether they agreed with statements about typically right-wing and socially conservative politics such as, 'Give law breakers stiffer sentences,' and 'Schools should teach children to obey authority.'
The researchers also compared their results against a 1986 American study which included tests of cognitive ability and questions assessing prejudice against homosexuals.

So they were asked questions that are typically associated with right wing belief structures and these were compared with their answers to questions about race and suchlike. Simple really.
Well, let's find that study I talked about, then. ;)

Empathy isn't cleanly correlated to IQ. Cohen is tripping. Seriously. In fact, I would guess that once your IQ gets to 140 and above then you'd be considerably less empathic. High-IQ people (140+) tend to be socially-awkward, don't have a huge amount of relationships, things required for developing empathy, amigo.

Why did the "dumber" kids say "give law breakers stiffer sentences"? All I see is "dumber" kids repeating the "status quo" (which happens to be conservative) which they know to be safe. If "liberalism" was the "status quo" I'm sure the dumber kids would also repeat liberal lines. In fact, just take a look at some OWS ppl who clearly don't have an IQ above 105 and listen to the way they repeat things which are considered the "status quo" within their own organic/anarchist communities. I've spent time in liberal/anarchist communities and have seen plenty of folks blindly repeat "liberal status quo" stuff -- and usually they weren't that intelligent.

To say there is a direct correlation between IQ and Empathy is really pushing it. There are plenty of smart people who comment on this forum and just by the nature of their comments, it's clear to me that they are NOT empathic. Cohen's study is bunch of bunk, imho.


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Offline Jrong

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2012, 11:06:08 AM »

 I am a firm believer that intelligence comes in many different guises and that the standard cultural definition of it is given far too much weight in the way we judge and value others. Quantifying intelligence fosters this idea in our culture that a person's worth is based on one narrow definition of intelligence that can be measured and compared.

I think most of us can agree with this ^. There are so many types of intelligence. Although IQ seems to be a form of intelligence, it is given WAY too much prominence. There's social intelligence, emotional intelligence, musical intelligence, kinesthetic intelligence, whatever-intelligence...
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Offline flasyb

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2012, 11:10:34 AM »
^^
Certainly more than a single study. He found that people who are intelligent are less likely to break laws (or at least get found out to be breaking them  ;) ) and less likely to have things like psychopathy (more commonly known as anti-social behaviour disorder these days). This is why many of the people who get arrested for acts of violence are of low intelligence. Prisons aren't populated largely by geniuses.

People who are intelligent are more likely to be able to see things from another person's perspective and "put on their shoes and walk around in them, Jem." This is the very crux of empathy. Interestingly, he found that scientists and people who perform experiments, surgeries on people are, unsurprisingly, likely to have lower empathy. However, the trend was the more intelligent you are, the more empathy you have.

To say that there's a direct correlation between intelligence and empathy isn't pushing it, it's empirical fact given the current evidence (or at least that's what I took from Cohen). It also makes a lot of sense to me. I'd recommend it as a read although Cohen's final narrative might be too liberal for some people (he's in favour of freeing serial murderers if they have been rehabilitated). It's a well referenced book so, if I have the time, I might be able to dig out the studies that he references.
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Offline Jrong

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Re: Right-wingers are less intelligent than left-wingers
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2012, 11:30:26 AM »
Is Cohen talking about IQ or a broader definition of intelligence?

Definitely does not seem to be a direct/linear correlation between empathy/IQ. My guess is people below a certain IQ (let's just say 105) lack empathy and simply conform to the status-quo which surrounds them while people above a certain IQ (140) lack relationships and social intelligence that creates empathy.

There might be a range (let's say between 110-135) where the higher IQ you have the more empathy you're capable of -- but even then you're just "more capable" of empathy than others of lower IQ, not necessarily more empathic. Someone with an IQ of 110 could be way more empathic (because of a multitude of relationships with "the other" in life) than someone with an IQ of 130 (who has been surrounded by people who look and feel just like them).

Anyways, I'll take a look at Cohen's study to see the results. I don't argue with fact (if it is fact) but I'm guessing it's not as simple as he/you portray it.
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