Over a year and a half ago, I wrote an article about a then-recent study popularized by the American Enterprise Institute. It showed negative correlations between participants' socially right wing beliefs and their overall IQ scores. Many thought such a finding was preposterous and quintessentially bigoted in nature. I viewed it as none too surprising.
Just last month, scientists at Ontario's Brock University published another study on the subject. It resoundingly substantiated the former one, but delved much deeper into the cause and effect relationship between intelligence deficits and rightist surpluses. In a nutshell, children burdened with low intelligence are likely to develop prejudicial outlooks lasting into adulthood. As adults, they will find socially right-wing ideologies attractive because such ideologies encompass hierarchical relationship structures, absolutist moral certainties, and severe impediments to altering the status quo. When confronted with individuals or groups who are different, social rightists tend to become strikingly reactionary because they fear change of any kind. The reason for this almost definitely can be attributed to their low levels of intelligence; rationally considering what change might bring is simply too complicated for them.
While my own personal experiences and extensive research on this subject lead me to agree with Brock's study, I simply cannot believe that being a leftist is an indicator of personal genius. Undoubtably, critical and lateral thinkers lean, generally speaking, forward in their opinions. However, I can hardly say that the garden variety socialist hippie in Haight-Ashbury is any smarter in the practical sense than a Bible thumping theocrat in the backwoods of Mississippi. It seems that political radicalism of any stripe is indicative of cognitive, and possibly psychological, problems.
In any case, and this is coming from a registered Republican, the men and women at Brock have given new insight to an age-old stereotype. Perhaps it is a lower measure of intelligence on the part of hardcore righties which leads to their popular branding as dolts. I mean, really, when you pit a left-winger against a right-winger, despite both being nonsensical dogmatists, the lefty is more likely to at least sound more intelligent. When one hears them being interviewed at political rallies and other similar events, rightists often have a difficult time articulating their stances. Many of them typically resort to cheap talking points gleaned from partisan websites, televised shock jocks or radio entertainers. This does not sound like the discourse of especially acute individuals to me.
Oh, well. Sage or not, every American citizen has the right to participate legally and ethically in our country's political process. Such awesome freedom does allow rabble from both ends of the spectrum to weigh in, but this gives realists such as myself the opportunity to document a truly unique kind of carnival. Honestly, I would not have it any other way.
Originally published in Blogcritics Magazine:http://blogcritics.org/politics/article/are-you-smarter-than-a-social/#ixzz1qwJsjzsB
Joseph F. Cotto is a scholar and columnist from central Florida. Most often writing about political affairs, he is a member of the all-but-extinct Rockefeller wing of the Republican Party, taking conservative stances on fiscal and national security issues while being a staunch centrist on social matters. For several years, he was an accredited reporter for Wikinews, Wikipedia's news subsidiary. There, he covered major stories such as the 2008 presidential election and interviewed personalities ranging from former U.S. senators to filmmakers. He is currently at work on a book about American politics.