Sunday, May 31, 2009

Liberal Tribalism

It seems like only yesterday that I re-examined the holes in the shop-worn meme that conservatives are stupid. Well, the May-June issue of Intelligence supplies a sequel by Lazar Stankov entitled "Conservatism and Cognitive Ability," the abstract of which says:
Conservatism and cognitive ability are negatively correlated. The evidence is based on 1254 community college students and 1600 foreign students seeking entry to United States' universities. At the individual level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with SAT, Vocabulary, and Analogy test scores. At the national level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with measures of education (e.g., gross enrollment at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels) and performance on mathematics and reading assessments from the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) project. They also correlate with components of the Failed States Index and several other measures of economic and political development of nations. Conservatism scores have higher correlations with economic and political measures than estimated IQ scores.
I haven't read the article, which Stankov probably think proves I lack the IQ to understand, much less the vocabulary to critique, it. Plus, according to a 2007 paper by the same author, I'm freighted by "amoral social attitudes."

Wrong. I skipped the study because it costs $31.50. Bias backed by junk science just isn't that interesting. Which, per force, should disprove Stankov's superficial thesis. As Stuart Buck says:
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the smartest group of all? Why, what a miracle, it’s the group I identify with!
(via The Corner)


OBloodyHell said...

IQ might actually score higher with liberals, but it's hardly the only measure of intelligence, just a band of it.

What, for example, about those qualities we call "wisdom", which I've noted a marked lack of in pretty much all liberals.

Given a choice between 1000 overeducated "geniuses" and a few dozen Wise men with average IQs, I'd go with the policies suggested by the Wise men when "sight unseen" every time. The geniuses might get things right on occasion, but the wise ones would be right consistently.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I left liberalism because I got tired of losing arguments to people who were clearly less intelligent than I, just because they happended to be right.

If you take my running thought that liberalism has an enormous social component, the idea behind the study could be at least partly true. It takes skill and intelligence to read and adjust to social cues. People who have lots of brain material might indeed devote considerable resources to fitting in, not only to their immediate surroundings, but what they understand to be the culture as a whole and projected trends.

Isn't that how liberalism always sells itself, after all? This is where history is going. This is where coolness is going. This is where fashion and evolution and dominance and status are all going. Get on board, get on board.

Statistically, it is unlikely that even one of the students they tested has higher SAT's or IQ than I do. Yet it has taken me years to unlearn that type of intelligence, trying to learn to see the obvious

Carl said...

I've always taken the same position as OBH, but AVI's idea is appealing. It fits with another long-time observation of mine: that liberals are better at spinning complicated and often beautiful theories (which takes smarts), but typically flunk on knowing facts and accounting for the effect of "bad facts" on their theories.

Carl said...


See posts by AVI and neo-neocon for more on AVI's suggestion.