Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Care to share your thoughts about the claim in the following article (in link) that says liberals are more intelligent than conservatives?

Asked by Dutchess_III (27634 points ) June 10th, 2014

Here is the article.

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64 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

Running for the hills!

ucme's avatar

I’m way too intelligent to assign myself to mere labels.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Stop using such big words!

ragingloli's avatar

doth not load for me.
Anyway, all I need to know about conservatives I learned from the existence and content of Conservapedia and Sodahead.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Too bad you can’t open it, Raggie. It’s pretty interesting. In a nutshell, it’s a strictly human evolution thing that liberals are willing to help out strangers and people they’ll never meet. Other animals are willing to help out kin and herd and clan members, but not strangers. The author said, ”(Liberalism is) evolutionarily novel and conservatism is evolutionarily familiar.”

ragingloli's avatar

I disagree.
I think it is just that liberals tend to see so called “strangers” as kin (which they are, as they are all part of the same species, and extended to animals, all part of the global family tree of life).
Empathy informed by reason

Dutchess_III's avatar

Good answer, Raggie. But it’s still a step up from our basic animal instincts, wouldn’t you say?

kritiper's avatar

Maybe not more intelligent, just may have more common sense in a “what reality really is” way.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Does not play well with others.

dxs's avatar

I don’t care to associate myself with a political scale because if I do I feel like I will be biased. I think I generally tend to agree more with liberal ideologies, though. As a matter of fact, I feel like it’s the “conservatives” who tend to label people the most, which I hate. I guess they’ll just say this is yet again another libruhl-biased media exaggeration.

jerv's avatar

I think it’s a coincidence. Look at the electoral map, and you’ll see that the Conservative base is in places with higher poverty and unemployment. Given the link between education and intelligence, and the link between education levels and economic status, I feel that the study confuses correlation with causation.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why would poverty and unemployment jive with conservative bases? Does one cause the other?

jerv's avatar

@Dutchess_III Poor people are less informed/educated on average. That leads to them being “dumber”.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ah. Good observation. But how do we explain the crazy attitudes of otherwise educated, reasonably intelligent conservatives? Or are they just educated and not really very smart?

jerv's avatar

Smart people can be insane. Look at John Nash.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ted Bundy. And educated people can be dumb. Bush.

jerv's avatar

But when you look at the averages, Nash, Bush, and Bundy are the exception rather than the rule.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Wasn’t there a recent thread about atheists being smarter than theists? Does this mean that atheism/liberalism/intelligence are related some how?

Hard for this theist/conservative/dummy to figure these thangs.

jerv's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies More intelligent people tend to question things more. That leads to rejection of organized religion, and a drive to change things; Liberalism.

Almost by definition, Conservatives tend to blindly adhere to accepted wisdom, and are less willing to even accept new information, let alone allow that new information to alter their opinions/views. They’re cautious, often to the point of Xenophobia.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

In reality it’s really only a few positions on political hot buttons that get people to self identify as liberal or conservative. Even more often they’ll self identify with those around them. Cognitive style in my experience is not really playing that big a role. The biggest difference I have seen is that Conservatives tend to plan for the worst and hope for the best and that Liberals seem to be more prone to throw caution into the wind when it comes to themselves. This is sometimes reversed when it comes to others. Liberals tend to make decisions based on feelings or perceptions and conservatives tend to be more reactionary and often fear guides their decisions. Liberals tend to ego stroke more vocally (I.E. writing scientific publications about their awesomeness) while conservatives are more resigned and smug with their mental masturbation. I don’t know which is more annoying. Pretty much anyone I have known well who are strongly in one camp or the other are not that intelligent at all but they think they are.

CWMcCall's avatar

Not only did conveniently ignore the more intelligent voting block which are the Independents, she bases her premise on the basis that Liberals are more intelligent because they control the media and thusly control the narrative over who this writer feels will get more clicks and attention to her poorly written article opinion piece.

DWW25921's avatar

Ridiculous.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We need 2 sides to add a healthy equilibrium and balance to our country. What we don’t need is polarization that divides us in such a way that thinking a certain way or being in a political party is more important that being an American.

Articles like this promote division.

I could find one on why Conservatives are more intelligent.

I’ve read several articles about this and agree with the ones that hail Independent voters as being more intelligent. (Clearly… it makes the most sense…)

It all depends on the bubble of information you choose to surround yourself with.

dxs's avatar

@DWW25921 We need no political parties at all.

DWW25921's avatar

@dxs That would solve a lot of problems… Heaven forbid we create a system that allows we the people to vote for what we want. I think it would be more to the point to do away with “representatives” as all they represent is the companies that own them…

SABOTEUR's avatar

I’m inclined to question the intelligence of anyone so focused on a particular agenda that they’ll maintain that position despite evidence it might be beneficial to make a different choice.

gondwanalon's avatar

Which liberals compared to which conservatives? There are many brilliant people on both sides.
A better question is which animal is more intelligent an elephant or an ass.

Coloma's avatar

I’ve heard this hypothesis before and would agree.
“Intelligence” is not about knowledge, it is about HOW one thinks. Open mindedness is a trait of intelligence, the willingness and desire to explore novel concepts and ideas. Yep, I believe it.

Liberal means open minded, willingness to entertain less than popular ideals, courage to reach into uncharted territory, visionary idealism, all traits if evolutionary progress/advantage.
Conservative means unquestioning adherence to tradition, fear mongering and rote programming.
No significant progress has ever been made from stagnant and unenlightened thought.
If t weren’t for liberals conservatives would still be living in caves afraid of eating tomatos. lol

johnpowell's avatar

@Dutchess_III :: ”Ah. Good observation. But how do we explain the crazy attitudes of otherwise educated, reasonably intelligent conservatives? Or are they just educated and not really very smart?”

Well, there is the team that votes Republican for their Hate-fags-abortions-people that aren’t white beliefs. The bible belt.

The smart Republics don’t give a shit about that stuff and vote Republican to pay less taxes.

jerv's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me You’re calling me Conservative? Ironic…

jerv's avatar

@johnpowell That shows that Conservative doesn’t always mean Republican and vice versa.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I think it’s interesting that proponents of both parties think that the other party would be helpless without them. People tend to glorify their political ideology and assign attributes that are either not really there or are not deserved. People seem to always want to highlight the differences between the two as if they are an adversary and not an ally. Usually to the point of making shit up like this article does.

Paradox25's avatar

Define liberal, define conservative. Personally I don’t think intelligence always comes down to raw superiority, but may be more connected to motivation. Just like the article stated, more intelligent people tend to oppose the status quo way of thinking within their groups where their peers evolved to be a certain way.

In order to be intelligent for the most part one has to be motivated to learn. Intelligent people generally are interested in learning, while supposedly less intelligent people simply are more into what’s immediately in front of them. Having an agenda can also hinder one’s motivation to learn, and placing great importance on the acceptance of one’s peers can also hinder one from seeking knowledge, especially in cases where this can make them seem different from others they find important.

Dr. Robert Altemeyer wrote an entire book on this topic called “The Authoritarians”. The material in this book is devoted to explaining how authoritarian minded individuals, both left and right leaning, have drastically different thinking patterns over their less authoritarian peers. Never confuse stupidity with willful ignorance, because at least the ‘stupid’ person would be willing to learn if given the chance to.

I think authoritarians, not necessary conservatives, are more likely to give the impression of being dumber simply due to the fact they hold what others think of them in higher regards than actually attaining knowledge. Not all progressives and leftists are liberals either, so the authoritarian mindset can extend to this group as well.

josie's avatar

This guy is a liberal.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNZczIgVXjg

This guy was a conservative and won the Nobel prize
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWsx1X8PV_A

elbanditoroso's avatar

There have been similar studies over the years – there was one that Fox News viewers had lower IQs than CNN viewers a year ago.

None of these mean anything. These are all people playing with statistics to prove some point. All of them are suspect.

DWW25921's avatar

@elbanditoroso No one watches CNN… No one that I know anyway. It’s so obnoxiously slanted that I know folks that claim to be flaming liberals that don’t watch that tabloid garbage.

jerv's avatar

I think @Paradox25 nailed it; the real difference is psychological, not intellectual. However, as the Republican party gets more authoritarian, their attachment to dogma over knowledge comes across as “Conservatives are dumb”. There are intelligent Conservatives, but the public perception of Conservatives is based on those in the spotlight; the ones that refute science, deny evidence, and generally act dumb.

PhiNotPi's avatar

I don’t think studies like these are useful. Even though there might be evidence that an average liberal has a higher IQ than an average conservative, you simply can’t use that information to predict the IQ of any particular person. Statistical significance does not imply importance

Let’s say that person 1 is conservative, while person 2 is liberal. The question is “Who has the higher IQ?” Without any prior information, the answer is 50–50, or a coin flip. There is a 50% chance that the liberal has the higher IQ.

Using the information in the article, we can now say that the liberal is more likely to have the higher IQ. Instead of a 50% chance, it might now be a 51% chance. This is statistically significant because there is a difference, but the information is still not useful because it is still a coin flip.

In statistical terms, the goodness-of-fit (R^2) is going to be very small.

There’s also other questions which can be raised:
– How well does a person’s self-description match who they really are? For instance, I might consider myself “liberal” and consider someone else “very conservative.” That other person, however, could consider themselves “middle of the road” and consider me “very liberal.”
– How meaningful is IQ to begin with? IQ tests don’t take into account knowledge or experience, which are just as important in the real world.
– How many unreported studies have been carried out which didn’t give positive results? Studies which resulted in “no meaningful difference” aren’t readily published in the media. Sadly, even accredited journals don’t like to publish papers that give negative results.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It seems to me that those who are most inclined to believe, ridiculous conspiracy theories, those that hoard guns for the upcoming fight against the government (like their 22’s are going to make the slightest big of difference in the face of RPG and tanks,) those that promote that FEMA is getting ready to take American citizens as POW’s, those opposed to gay rights, those that believe Sandy Hook was a government cover up, all that trash and all the breathtaking stupidity, comes from those who identify as conservatives. Why is that if they aren’t stupid?

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Dutchess_III Shh. You’re not supposed to mention that elephant in the room!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, he stepped on my damn foot! I couldn’t help it!

jerv's avatar

@Dutchess_III That’s what I’m talking about. You don’t see much about Conservatives like my old buddy @Cruiser; it’s the wingnuts that get noticed.

I would stipulate that you’re confusing stupidity with insanity.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, why don’t the liberals carry on the same way? There must be some insane ones in the bunch.

jerv's avatar

@Dutchess_III Carrying on like radical Conservatives do requires focus. One who is capable of having their mind changed will “waste” time and energy on things like gathering facts and analyzing information, and may change direction as new information dictates whereas a less curious person will buy the official party line and devote all their energy into running with it with laser-like focus, not allowing themselves to be distracted by things like rational thought.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Damn rational thought screws everything up, every time! Someone on FB posted a list of companies that support Monsanto with the admonishment to boycott them. Trouble was, the list included virtually every single thing we buy, either food or supply wise! From green beans to toilet paper! Procter and Gambol was on the the list and they don’t even MAKE food stuffs! And people were just jumping on the band wagon.

jerv's avatar

@Dutchess_III Well, corporate ownership is a web anyways, so without investigating, I have to say that P&G may be linked to Monsanto in the same way that GM used to be linked to Subaru, thus making Subis a partially American car.

Paradox25's avatar

@jerv It looks like you were the only one to catch what I was saying. People who are ‘intelligent’ have a genuine interest in learning rather than fitting in. Authoritarians on the other hand are more interested in fitting in with their peers. The only time authoritarians want to learn anything is if it’s attributed to complimenting their agenda. Conservatives aren’t the only people who can do this though.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The basic problem for conservatives, and the great dilemma for the Republican party is as @Dutchess_III has pointed out, virtually the entirety of what used to be regarded as the “lunatic fringe” is confined to their side of the spectrum because, frankly, where else have they to go? There is another aspect of history in general that grants liberals and progressives the advantage with regards to the appearance of superior intelligence. In the history of this country, overall “progress” can be marked by the uncanny persistence of liberal positions in beating out conservative opposition. Virtually all of the major issues defining the country find the conservative position consistently on the wrong side of history. Pick one. Women’s suffrage, civil rights, gay rights, abortion, even capital punishment and gun control. Now there are setbacks for liberals. The revival of capital punishment and the current strength of the gun lobby set us glaringly apart from the rest of the “civilized” world. My view is of course biased, but I believe that it is more than coincidence that the spectacular rise of conservatism parallels the accelerating failure of public education in the country, or that the great conservative bastions in the country never coincide with places renowned for their intellectual strength.

jerv's avatar

@stanleybmanly Kind of funny that the Republicans and Democrats have swapped sides on a few issues though. Looking at Social Security in the middle of last century, then Romneycare Obamacare, I really have to wonder if they consider contrariness a virtue; it sometimes seems like the only way to change their mind is to agree with them.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@stanleybmanly “Virtually all of the major issues defining the country find the conservative position consistently on the wrong side of history. Pick one. Women’s suffrage, civil rights, gay rights, abortion, even capital punishment and gun control. ” Interesting. Hadn’t thought of it that way.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Dutchess & @jerv And which side is ALWAYS ready to defy science, consistently suspicious of “pointy headed intellectuals”, and openly hostile to basic logic? Who can always be depended on to deny global warming, as tornadoes the size of Delaware remove the topsoil from our beloved red states? Which side claims the melting of the ice caps to be a “liberal hoax”? Which side would prefer the myth of Noah’s Ark as a cornerstone in biology textbooks? and on and on and on. I mean is there any point in disputing the argument that the conservative movement is a refuge for dummies?

jerv's avatar

There was a time when Liberals and Democrats had legitimate opposition to keep them in check and steer our nation down a rational, moderate path. What happened? Did the Conservatives get eradicated by the Batshit Brigade, leaving us with Liberals and Lunatics?

I miss real Conservatives.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Conservatives cringe whenever it is suggested that they have somehow veered to the right. Whenever those of us old enough to remember ask “whatever happened to the liberal and moderate republicans?”, the answer invariably is that like dragons or banshees, such creatures are mythical. Mere fantasies concocted by the left to draw attention from the relentless and ongoing liberal destruction of America. The very word “moderation” is now a euphemism for “liberal” and can therefore not be tolerated. Conservatives have been incredibly successful in dragging the entire political battlefield and the country itself to the right. Many liberals, in an effort to sound reasonable make the mistake of buying into the argument that “both sides are responsible for the intransigence that defines Washington gridlock”. Conservatives, on the other hand, are not troubled by any silly requirement of reasonableness, or for that matter, reason itself. The “both sides are guilty” argument is a pile of shit, and liberals should say so LOUDLY>

Paradox25's avatar

@stanleybmanly Political parties are just that, an entity that adjusts itself as necessary, and is only as good as the people who make them up. This is why political party names and their mottos can easily become misnomers.

Leftism and rightism are terms derived from the middle ages pertaining to royal hierarchy. Rightism simply means centralized power, and at its extreme would be a monarchy or dictatorship. Leftism means more evenly spread out power, so leftism in its extreme forms would be anarchy and socialism. Right pertains to the king and queen while left pertains to the commoner.

Conservative simply means preserving the status quo, while progressivism means opposing the status quo. Authoritarianism means the needs of the state and others supersede individual liberty and rights, while liberalism means individual liberty supersedes the needs of the state or others. The opposite of Conservative is progressivism, while the opposite of authoritarianism is liberalism. There are other political ideologies I’ve left out here as well, including economics, but I wanted to cover the basics. There are conservative leftists and authoritarian progressives too.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Thanks for the precision of the definitions.

Paradox25's avatar

I didn’t post that because I did not believe you and others on this thread were not aware of these definitions, for I’m reasonably certain most already knew what I had written. I wanted to make a point for my previous posts here. I see too many people associating conservative with authoritarian, or stupidity with willful ignorance.

stanleybmanly's avatar

You don’t think willful ignorance is stupid?

Paradox25's avatar

There are different types of ‘stupidity’ it seems to me:

1) Lack of knowledge simply because one is not aware of something.

2) Lack of ability to process knowledge in a meaningful way.

3) Refusal to learn or process knowledge due to cognitive dissonance.

Willful ignorance is stupid, but the posts on this thread are making straw man assumptions here concerning the minds of conservatives and liberals. Willful ignorance does not necessarily equate to low IQ, especially when one has ulterior motives.

Also, like I stated above, define liberal, and define conservative. I’ve been told myself by a few others on this site and elsewhere that I lean right, though I don’t. Why? Because I disagree with progressives on several issues. Disagreement doesn’t always mean willful ignorance or other versions of ‘stupidity’ are at play in every situation, though it can.

Coloma's avatar

I’m liberally liberal, conservatively conservative and appallingly apolitical, all rolled into one. lol

jerv's avatar

@Paradox25 So…. refuting findings that >97% of the scientific community agrees on without any repeatable observations or other scientifically valid rebuttal is a sign of intelligence? Saying that <2% is >90%, or that $700m>$1.3b isn’t ignorant?

You’re correct that stupidity and willful ignorance aren’t always present, but when they appear 9 out of 10 times, it’s hard not to do the whole pattern recognition thing and make assumptions.

Paradox25's avatar

@jerv I think we’re talking past each other here. I never stated that not wanting to learn because it hurts your feelings isn’t a sign of stupidity. However, the issue here is lower IQ and processing ability, so your greater than 97% numbers become irrelevant here.

People simply think differently, but if straight A Johnny wants to deny evolution and believe in young earth creationism does this really mean he has a lower IQ over straight C Sally who accepts evolution as a fact and denies young earth creationism?

Just like I’ve repeatedly stated that confidence can never be a factor without motivation, I’m also saying that lack of motivation does not necessarily make one stupider per se, nor does this mean they have a lower IQ. There are quite a few subjects that don’t interest me, but does this make me less intelligent than those who are interested enough to want to learn about those same subjects?

I have other questions here too that were never answered, like define liberal, and define conservative. I also want to add something else here too. Most hotbed issues require at least some college education or expert knowledge just to grasp the basics, which means most people who veer in one direction on a topic really don’t understand what they’re supporting.

Most people, even supposedly intelligent ‘liberals’, really rely on what’s termed as information cascades to arrive at their conclusions. We can’t be experts at everything, and even if we’re an expert at something we make up for this by taking away from something else. I’m not saying I’m a creationist per se, but something tells me people like Behe, an old world creationist, probably knows a lot more about evolution than the average evolutionist.

Coloma's avatar

According to Psychology today cat lovers are more intelligent and less neurotic than dog lovers, sooo, clearly, liberal cat lovers are the brightest. lol

Paradox25's avatar

I’ve found extreme left-leaning and the overly politically correct progressive types to be just as aggravating as their far-right counterparts. Libertarian, liberal and mild progressives seem to be the most reasonable to be around, and the most open-minded.

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