If the shoe fits

Study correlates low IQ with racism, conservatism

Reprinted from Pied Type, February 4, 2012


The Huffington Post headline reads: “Intelligence Study Links Low I.Q. To Prejudice, Racism, Conservatism” and the story says, “The study, published in Psychological Science, showed that people who score low on I.Q. tests in childhood are more likely to develop prejudiced beliefs and socially conservative politics in adulthood.”

The study’s lead author Gordon Hodson said:

Why might less intelligent people be drawn to conservative ideologies? Because such ideologies feature “structure and order” that make it easier to comprehend a complicated world. Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice.

The study, “Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact,” was published a few days ago by Psychological Science.

Talk about a political hot potato. And in an election year. Do we really want to say conservatives are dumb and racist? Even if that’s what the study indicates? Are stereotypes bad if they are supported by science? Are they stereotypes at all if science identifies them? Can scientists be politically incorrect? We are, after all, a nation sometimes paralyzed by political correctness.

In the interests of being politically correct, perhaps I’d better just keep my thoughts to myself and suggest you read more about the study (preferably the study itself) before reaching any conclusions. You’re smart enough to do that, aren’t you?

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Postscript: I know perfectly well that correlation does not equal causation, and I’m sure most of my readers are equally aware. Yet in recent years I’ve increasingly asked myself Why? Why was Trump elected and who voted for him and why? Why does anyone still support him after all he’s done? What do those people have in common? What explains what’s happened to the Republican Party? What explains Trump?

20 thoughts on “If the shoe fits

  1. Since political correctness is something I’ve loathed since forever, I feel perfectly entitled to state that I BELIEVE THIS. There now.

    1. It may be confirmation bias on my part, but this certainly seems to explain a lot of what I’ve observed. People too lazy (or stupid) to do their own critical thinking just let someone else do it for them. In the case of our ex-president, however, I think there is a double dose of ruthlessness along with the low IQ that enabled him to become the leader of the pack.

      1. How nice it would be to read some respectable pundit saying, in surprise, “but tRump hasn’t an honest bone in his body – didn’t you know ?”

        1. That would be refreshing, wouldn’t it. But nobody wants to get sued for libel, slander, defamation of character, etc. And I suspect pundits and reporters are still trying to show proper respect for the office of the president, even if the former occupant has clearly forfeited that respect. I’m extremely concerned that despite all he’s done, he’s somehow going to avoid being charged and convicted of any crime, if for no other reason than having once been president.

          1. I argue that he wasn’t President at all, as he started out lying in taking the oath. He knew exactly what he wanted to do and intended to do. He was a token president only.

          2. The scary thing was that he still had all the powers of a president — up to and including stacking the Supreme Court with a bunch of religious zealots. We’re going to be stuck with them for a very long time.

  2. I know some very intelligent people who are enthralled with Trump. It defies reason. It’s a conundrum. I suspect it may be linked to mental traits like paranoia.

    1. Jim? I think this is you.
      I certainly can’t explain it. The man does encourage and enable those with violent and/or racist tendencies. Yet somehow extremely religious people have also been drawn in. It is indeed a conundrum.

    1. I’d not heard of Derek Muller before now, but I found this very interesting. I particularly like his point about the internet, and Facebook in particular, using algorithms that tend to elevate fake news. Also good points about how the internet makes it possible for scattered groups and individuals to coalesce, when they would not have in pre-internet days. Watching this was 19 minutes well spent. Thanks, Jim

      (Fascinating to realize this was made in 2016!)

      1. So glad you liked this Veritasium, Susan. I hope others will view it to the end like you. Many of the audience comments are interesting as well. Derek does other subjects as well, many of them on STEM topics.

        1. There were several audience comments that I couldn’t hear, but the general discussion was really interesting. If Google has developed an algorithm that elevates the legitimate, then it certainly seems incumbent upon Facebook to do the same. But being socially responsible seems to be outside Zuckerberg’s wheelhouse.

  3. Okay. I feel comfortable talking about this here because I know I won’t be attacked like I would on social media. I’m a member of Mensa Society. My IQ was tested to be 160 – although I’m confident age has chipped away at it. Now my next comment you may not believe and I have no facts to back this up, but it’s something I’ve noticed over the decades (I took the Mensa test in 1994). Those people with high IQs have a tendency to recognize brilliance or genius in others. We have often discussed this in Mensa meetings. More often than not, when any one of us has asked a friend or acquaintance to take the test and join because we believe they have a high enough IQ to pass, most of the time they do.

    Another trait well known among Mensans is an enormous amount of common sense, plus the ability to think forward. Like playing chess – which I think is why so many geniuses enjoy chess (oddly enough, I am not one of them). What will be the possible reaction(s) to my next action? Similarly, how will my actions affect other people? Additionally, this behavior includes thinking outside the box as well as trying to see things from other points of view.

    These are all traits I do not commonly see in Republicans and very very rarely in MAGAs.

    And, sadly, another trait I rarely witness among current Republicans is compassion. I say “current” because the Republican Party didn’t use to be this way. But the lack of compassion has been building, I think, due to social media. It’s a place where similar-minded people can gather together and listen to one another. Where they can create organizations and meet physically as well as digitally.

    I’m kinda wandering off on a tangent here so to get back to the topic on hand here, there is a correlation between a lower IQ, lower education and being a part of MAGA. Those with a higher IQ among them are their leaders. They fuel the hatred and ignorance by forcing straight-lined thinking on their followers. Rebuke anyone that poses legitimate questions to their one-tracked way of thinking. Threatening and alienating anyone who dares think differently. Basically, it is a cult.

    The Republican Party, in the matter of 6 years, has evolved into a cult.

    Personally, I wish there were a way to mandate some sort of cult-de-programming therapy on MAGA members of Congress as well as at the state level because that is what they need.

    1. I should have reviewed my comment before posting. Full of errors, and we cannot edit our comments. Would you fix them? I’m sure you are more than capable of finding them. I’m on my phone, which is rare for me as I hate how slow it is to tap a latter at a time, and even harder to review in a tiny box. Ugh.

      1. Mensan or not, I agree with your observations. Much of it is education and learning to think both critically and more broadly. And it helps if you can afford to travel a bit and see the world beyond your front door. But you have to grow up in an environment that values and fosters such things, as well as have the intelligence to appreciate and pursue them.

        I am extremely worried about what’s happening to the GOP and don’t know how it’s all going to shake out. I’m hoping there are enough Republicans with enough good sense, or whatever it takes, to vote their current leadership out of power and return the party to something like normal conservative positions. Either that or they can just fall off the far right edge of their flat earth and never be missed. Unfortunately their Supreme Court will still exist.

        There is some hope in the form of Liz Cheney (even though I hate her dad) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger. In fact, after Kinzinger made his closing speech for the Jan. 6 Committee, I briefly thought to myself “Now there’s a guy I’d like to see as president” — until I remembered he’s a Republican. But yes, if the GOP has to win the presidency again, I hope it’s with someone like Cheney or Kinzinger. The pro-choice vote in Kansas gave me some hope that voters, regardless of their party, have reached their limits with the GOP.

        Somewhere I read a great article explaining, hypothetically, how all this chaos was fomented on and enabled by social media. Maybe I actually wrote about it. I don’t recall for sure. But if the FPOTUS and company hadn’t had Twitter, if Facebook hadn’t encouraged interest groups and circulated fake news, if …, if …., if …, ad nauseum.

      2. I didn’t notice anything on my first read, but I’ll go through it again. I use voice-to-text on my phone. I have to do lots of correcting but it’s still faster than typing.

... and that's my two cents