Are Liberals More Intelligent Than Conservatives?

30 Jan

Who Is Smarter?

Thank you to my friend Brad for inspiring me to write this article.  Brad is one of the kindest people I know.  We have been friends now for a quarter of a century.  Brad is also exceedingly brilliant and equally liberal, but this is not an empirical study of liberalism v. conservatism.  This is an article about genetics, science, and a link between intelligence and identifying as a liberal.

With that being said, I am going to inject my definition of “liberal.”  Liberal: one that believes in the greater good; one who shows solidarity for women to have reproductive rights; solidarity to fight racism, homophobia, ageism, misogyny, and all of the intersections of oppression.  One that subscribes to the belief: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

In an article from Psychology Today, Satoshi Kanazawa examines the correlation between intelligence and being a conservative or being a liberal.  Kanazawa develops the hypothesis that:

…more intelligent individuals are more likely to espouse the value of liberalism than less intelligent individuals, possibly because liberalism is evolutionarily novel and conservatism is evolutionarily familiar.

While I agree with Kanazawa’s hypothesis, I do disagree with his conclusion that:

 Liberals do control the media, or the show business, or the academia, among other institutions, because, apart from a few areas in life (such as business) where countervailing circumstances may prevail, liberals control all institutions.  They control the institutions because liberals are on average more intelligent than conservatives and thus they are more likely to attain the highest status in any area of (evolutionarily novel) modern life.

Sadly, as the United States seems to continue to “Dumb Down” (I suspect a conservative conspiracy, for conservatives benefit from a stupid population that can be ruled by fear and superstition, thus vote against their best interests) Liberals do not control the media.

I strongly encourage you to read Kanazawa’s article.  The part regarding IQ and the graph are very interesting.  Of course, I would also ask that as one reads this post and Kanazawa’s article, please keep in mind distribution of power and access to resources as they pertain to marginalized and oppressed populations.

6 Responses to “Are Liberals More Intelligent Than Conservatives?”

  1. nevercontrary January 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    Further proof that I am a genius.

  2. Christian January 31, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    The bar-graph and box-and-whisker-graph combo was very interesting.

  3. Jay January 31, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

    IQ is but one of many ways to measure intelligence, and comparing average IQ’s among large populations has also been used to justify thinly veiled racism (remember the brouhaha over “The Bell Curve” from a few years ago?), so I think the wise liberal is a little leery about giving undue weight to anything regarding IQ.

    My own experiences and observations also suggest that intelligence is necessary but insufficient for any type of practical success in the world. Drive, focus, social skills, timing and luck, self-confidence and leadership abilities can all be viewed as just as important as raw brainpower–and for many careers are even more important. Even an intellectual achievement as rarefied as winning a Nobel Prize appears to be achievable with an IQ of around 120–above average, to be sure, but not ridiculously so. Most Nobel winners combine their above average but non-spectacular IQ with some strong combination of the other qualities I listed.

    When comparing liberals to conservatives, I’ve found the differences in moral and ethical values and standards to be quite interesting and illuminating. I think I’ve shared this link with you before, but in case I have not:

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt February 1, 2012 at 7:34 am #

      You make some very valid points here. In fact, I share your concerns around the cultural bias around IQ scores, but I did think the article was good just to stimulate thought.

      Thanks for think link. I don’t remember seeing this, but that could be because of my short-term memory, as of late.

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