February 27th, 2010

Have fun with this one

Not having read the research, I can’t say. But my strong hunch is that it’s garbage in, garbage out. It is notoriously difficult to design unbiased research on such a subject.

28 Responses to “Have fun with this one”

  1. Tatyana Says:

    Hmm. I feel that my IQ had dropped significantly since my youth, but I remain a libertarian atheist. I must be a deadend, evolutionary-speaking.

  2. Steve Says:

    The IQ differences, while statistically significant, are not stunning — on the order of 6 to 11 points — and the data should not be used to stereotype or make assumptions about people, experts say. But they show how certain patterns of identifying with particular ideologies develop, and how some people’s behaviors come to be.

    Meaning, “Right-wingers are as stupid as we think they are, but we will keep it our little secret.”

    And,”Sexual Exclusivity” runs counter to Liberalism and Atheism.

    Draw your own conclusions.

  3. Gorgasal Says:

    Kanazawa is notorious for publishing flashy research based on bad statistics. See, e.g., http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~cook/movabletype/archives/2009/06/of_beauty_sex_a.html

  4. geran Says:

    yeah right–are these the same scientists that brought us manmade global warming?

    Sooooo, we can be tooooo “smart” to know God is out there….

    And we thought comedy was all used up.

  5. Mr. Frank Says:

    Smart people want to appear special. Right now liberalism and atheism are ways to be cool. During the middle ages the brightest, best read people were in monasteries. They had all the answers.

  6. csimon Says:

    So, this is telling us that (and I think this was what Tatyana was inferring), if those of us who have moved more toward conservatism as we mature, and/or increase our commitment to faith, religion, our I.Q. necessarily decreases?

    I agree: garbage in, garbage out.
    That, or I’ve become too dumb to have legitimate opinions!

    (Oh……this is why liberals think Obama is so extraordinarily intelligent! But then what of those 20 years committed to Rev. Wright’s Trinity Church?)

  7. JohnK Says:

    PLEASE familiarize yourself with Jon Ray; he is an expert in this area. His comments on this particular study are in recent entries at http://dissectleft.blogspot.com/:

    I see that Time magazine has picked up on the study that I critiqued yesterday: “Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent”. The “Time” article is surprisingly good and even points to evidence contradicting the headline claim. A small point, though: The author says that Leftists are more open to experience but the reference he gives for that shows nothing of the sort. The claim is however an old favourite of Leftist psychologists. My last look at the academic literature on the question is here. I conclude that, as psychologists usually define it, there is no political polarization on openness to experience. Leftists are however sensation-seekers. That might seem like a fine distinction but it is not if you look at how psychologists use the various terms concerned. The “openness to experience” claim is a way of saying that conservatives are rigid and narrow-minded whereas the sensation-seeking finding implies that Leftists like novelty for the sake of novelty.

    The study excerpted below is amusing. It is coming out in a sociology journal but concentrates on psychology to the exclusion of sociology! Amazing what can happen when you have an axe to grind!

    The article is mostly speculation and theorizing but it does have some actual findings about IQ on which to build its house of cards. But the writer totally overlooks the social context in which the findings were gathered. They are not IQ findings from adults but rather findings about adolescents. The fact that data about adults were not presented is of course the giveaway.

    The study found that the more intelligent adolescents were more liberal. So what does that prove? As someone who has taught both psychology and sociology at university level, I have little doubt what it means: It means that more intelligent kids are better at picking up and absorbing the lessons drummed into them by our Left-dominated educational system. It means no more than that. The sociological context overlooked is, in other words, the fact that the individuals concerned were still at school. I think that can reasonably be called: “Overlooking the obvious”.

    For the findings among random samples of adults, see here. Much more pesky!

  8. Tatyana Says:

    *csimon: that’s not what I meant, but there might be multiple consequential interpretations of that theory, both our conclusions are valid.

    I really think if I were to take IQ test, I’d fail spectacularly. I must be dumb as a rock. And yet, I AM a principled libertarian and atheist – and have been for 2/3 of my life. Far, far out on that tail!

    I find the funniest part in that theory is the definition of “liberal” given by scientists.
    That shows their self-characterization as “conservative” and “libertarian” rather suspect.

  9. SteveH Says:

    Sounds like a defensive study to me. Trying to counter the overwhelming evidence of late that liberals are really just articulate idiots.

  10. Oblio Says:

    By all accounts, Amy Bishop is very smart indeed.

  11. betsybounds Says:

    I’m constantly amazed at the “just-so story” nature of the tales told by psychological evolutionists (or is it evolutionary psychologists?). They assume that which they wish to prove, and then construct very creative explanations for why they might be right.

    In my own case, and by anecdote (admittedly) in the cases of large numbers of other conservative/libertarian types, the situation is rather different. I’m a fairly intelligent person (not to toot my own horn excessively, though–everyone who posts here is a fairly intelligent person). To the extent that my political leanings may be a function of native intelligence, they are necessarily also a consequence of my ability to learn from experience (isn’t that part of intelligence?)–I was pretty liberal in my youth. So which leaning is a consequence of my intelligence? And to what extent is intelligence a measure of the ability to learn from experience?

    I think these guys are toying with things about which they know nothing, and they are trying to turn ignorance into knowledge by statistical tricks. The truth is, political leanings have nothing to do with native intelligence, that’s what I say.

    It has been, and continues to be, the case that a conservative is often a liberal who has been mugged by reality. How is such a change not a measure of intelligence?

  12. betsybounds Says:

    I would further suggest that, given that leftist ideology has been put into force in many locations over the last century and has failed in each and every case to produce the utopia it promised, it is the Leftist side of the spectrum that lacks the native intelligence required to enable people to learn from experience. A better illustration of insanity cannot be imagined.

    But–These People Never Give Up!

  13. effess Says:

    I vaguely recall reading about a study involving conservatives who became liberals. Finding: it raised the average IQ of both groups.

  14. Mr. Frank Says:

    I thought liberal academics didn’t believe in IQ tests.

  15. Bob From Virginia Says:

    Thanks for the info JohnK. Two observations: 1) IQ tests are culturally dependent, which I believe is a partial paraphrase of JohnK comments. 2) I do not believe there is a single type or measure of intelligence. So any claim of intelligence must be answered with the question “what type of intelligence?”

  16. betsybounds Says:

    Bob From Virginia,

    I don’t know precisely what you’re referring to when you talk about “types” of intelligence. My own sense is that there is intelligence, period. Liberal academics (or should we say academic liberals?) like to talk about different types of intelligence. I’m with them to some limited extent–i.e some people learn best by reading, some by hearing, etc.–but the basic fact is that intelligence should be held to refer only to the ability to learn. The glop they like to trot out about musical intelligence, rhythmic intelligence, sensory intelligence, and all the rest, is just a bunch of glop. There are talents, areas of ease, and these are very real, but none are specific “intelligences.” In truth, I think these are simply designations of group membership, which the Left is committed to assigning as part of their program. It helps them to separate us into useful political groups–entities, if you will. But in true life it’s B.S.

    Intelligence refers to, or for all practical purposes should refer to, the ability to learn. Keep it simple, stupid–KISS.

  17. Perfected democrat Says:

    103, 106, ha ha ha ha……

  18. Gringo Says:

    There was a study of preschools in Berkeley which claimed that personalities in nursery school could predict political affiliation when one was 23.

    Do whiny, deviant, insecure nursery school kids grow up to be conservatives? And do fluent, resourceful, self-reliant pre-schoolers grow up to be liberals? The answer to both questions would appear to be “Yes” according to a new study to appear in the Journal of Research in Personality. Its authors are the eminent psychologist Jack Block, an emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and his deceased wife and colleague, Jeanne Block.

    Given the extreme leftist orientation of Berkeley, this sample can hardly be considered representative . Which means that whatever conclusions made about nursery schools in Berserkeley apply to Berserkeley only, not to the rest of the country.. This shows the idiocy of liberal “social scientists” making generalizations about liberals and conservatives.

  19. Gringo Says:

    Mr. Frank:
    I thought liberal academics didn’t believe in IQ tests.
    Only when they can be used to demonstrate the inferiority of those they despise.

    One problem with the study is that it deals with adolescents. My political viewpoints as an adolescent are rather different from what they are today.

  20. Sergey Says:

    Pure garbage. There is no way objectively measure “liberalism”, as Tatyana correctly observed, so to claim the difference by 1/3 of standard deviation be statistically significant on the basis of so poorly defined criteria is ridiculous.
    Remember Orwell: “Only intellectual can be so stupid”

  21. Bob From Virginia Says:

    betsybounds Says: “Intelligence refers to, or for all practical purposes should refer to, the ability to learn.”

    Learn what? I can learn one subject easily, another with great difficulty. Jimmy Carter was a nuclear engineer, look how brillant a leader he was.

    Notice I am not using Obmessiah as an example; his not a question of IQ but of character and neurosis.

  22. Giles Says:

    The majority of liberal atheists I’ve met have been extraordinarily stupid, closeminded and distasteful people. Now, I’ve met liberal atheists who are stupid but not closeminded, distasteful but not stupid, closeminded but not distasteful, but as a whole the atheists and liberals I’ve met fulfill one or all of those criteria.

    Even though I’ve stopped identifying myself as a Christian – mainly because of the clueless nature of today’s Episcopalian clergy – I will never identify myself as an atheist, because to do so I would have to possess a victim complex usually reserved for furries and Scientologists.


  23. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    JohnK – tour de force. Saved me the trouble and said it better.

    Despite the claim that 6 IQ points over a large population is small, it is in fact enormous. If a difference at that level were real, it would be easy to demonstrate an intellectual superiority of liberal atheists even with slipshod studies. There may be something to the theory, for the reasons that Mr. Frank (and the article) suggests: people like to socially signal what they believe are their best traits. Having a non-conforming opinion signals I have thought about this. I am signaling that I am thoughtful. (The truth or falsity of the opinion is a separate matter.) But 6 to 11 points is not going to hold up. Just aint.

    I don’t think the evidence that IQ tests are culturally biased holds up very well, though many people would be gratified to think so. It measures what it says it does, but that is much narrower than what people interpret it to mean. I was in an ultra-high years ago, Prometheus (164+)* and at the time I likened IQ in life to height in basketball: everyone would like a little more, it’s an advantage, but the greatest players are not always the tallest. Other factors, such as speed, coordination, determination, etc, come into play. Lots of high-IQ people don’t fully apprehend that beyond a certain threshold most people’s jobs and lives don’t require those extra points. For 99% of us, anything more than 10 or 20 extra points beyond the minimum necessary to do our job is superfluous.

    In the Prometheus Society, BTW, there were more atheists than in the general population, but not so enormously as to suggest there’s much meaning. There were plenty of fairly conventional Christians and Jews in the mix. As for liberalism, it was fine conservative writers in the newsletter who were highly instrumental in putting me on the road out of self-congratulatory leftism.

    *I think that’s an overestimate in my case.

  24. jvermeer51 Says:

    A non-rigorously researched observation: liberals seem to treat intelligence as justifying conclusions. E.g. Obama or Clinton or Gore are so intelligent so what they say automatically has credibility and can be challenged only by someone else demonstrably as intelligent. Conservatives seem to treat intelligence merely as a tool. You may be intelligent but exactly what is it that you can do or solve. While a volunteer at a community college, I listened while a department head and another instructor spent five minutes talking about the wonder IQ’s of liberal politicians with whom they agreed and the horrible IQ’s of those with whom they disagreed. Having spent 20 years in business, I never witnessed any conversation even remotely similar. In business, one might talk about whether an employee has the intelligence to do a particular task.
    Such attitudes toward intelligence may also explain why liberalism may attract more intelligent people; they will worship you merely for your brain.

  25. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    jvermeer51 – excellent observation. I’m keeping that last idea.

  26. Steve G Says:

    Only a liberal could conclude that those who question are less intelligent than those who docilely accept.

    Most of us arrived at our conservative views by beginning to question the liberal mindset that was drummed into us by our teachers, families and friends. Asking perplexing questions and having the fortitude and will to seek personal answers must be the reason why we are more stupid for the trip than if we had never started. We wasted all that brainpower in the exercise. In other words, if you want to be thought of as smart, you must unchange your mind and go back to blissful liberalism.

  27. JuliB Says:

    These studies irk the heck out of me. I’m in Mensa, and HATE the self-satisfaction the liberal annointed ones who think that because they have an edge in intelligence, that they know best for everyone. I am blessed to know some really bright cookies who are ultra conservative as well as those who are liberals.

    Just because you can use statistics in an argument doesn’t mean you should be ‘allowed’ to…

  28. Yackums Says:

    jvermeer –

    So, in other words, Liberals don’t get what even Forrest Gump understands –

    “Intelligent is as intelligent does.”

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