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I expected no less. Joel Send a noteboard - 05/02/2012 12:25:14 AM
Too easy though, I appreciate the effort, we haven't had a good scuffle in a while, I'll give it a go anyway.

Short form, these sorts of studies generally fall apart on scrutiny and play up to the core virtue a given group aspires too. In the case of the cult of liberal intelligentsia, that's generally the 'We're smart, and by association you'll be smart, and can sneer at people who are dumb, which is what you really want to do' which is not particularly exclusive to libs. Another common one, used by both libs and cons, is 'join us and by association you'll be moral and can get self-righteous, which is what you really want to do'. I'm immune to both such since my ego is so big I do not require external validation regarding my vastly superior intellect and morality. The big one from a lot of the more apathetic but egotistic moderates is generally "Our neutrality and ability to see both sides of an argument makes us more intelligent and enlightened, and allows us to cover over our apathy-generated ignorance of virtually all important details of a given issue"

Anyway I'm not going to rip this one up like I did the last 3? times one of these has gotten posted, mostly because trying to drag those up on a search distracted with an <a href="">old favorite</a> and I don't think I can duplicate that today.

Bigots of a racial variety probably are lower IQ, if they're open about it to be identified as such, but will tend to fall in with whichever political group most equates to nationalist sentiment. Not including non-white bigots, who are rather plentiful, there are quite a lot of racists hanging out in the unions in my experience. I'd not be surprised if the GOP had more of them, but I'd not bet on it either. Lot's of bigots with liberal sentiment just avoid getting hammered on it. I daresay there's #1, many forms of bigotry which get moderate acceptance on the left probably aren't going to be flagged as bigotry in a study on it by a professor. If prior examples are any example don't be surprised if the researchers in a moment of supreme cleverness decided to try to detect racism by asking "Do you believe the US does enough to prevent illegal immigration?" or "Do you feel that more public funds should be diverted to help underprivileged minorities?"

So, what with asking people "Are you a racist?" probably not producing much reliable data, with many racists not thinking they are and thus not wanting to answer 'yes', and many people harboring just a speck of it and a lot of guilt answering 'Yes', the thing would either be meaningless or would require attempts at 'subtlety', like above. And I'm just gonna toss off that a researcher who thinks he's both very smart and has keen insight into the human psyche, and also thinks bigotry is connected to IQ, is likely to proceed with about all the subtlety of a claw hammer to the head. Based on the limited intellectual prowess and social skills of most social scientists I've met, I anticipate the claw hammer approach may be generous. I also never like to miss a chance at hypocrisy by grossly over-generalizing from biased anecdotal evidence while accusing others of doing it, though I stand by my slander, because I don't like social scientists. Especially when they disagree with me.

Of course, I haven't read this study yet in depth, so I could be utterly wrong, and simply biased by the last five jillion "We're innately better than" articles which get posted with frequency [and terribly inaccuracy to the study itself] at the various right and left red meat hack rags, of which HuffPo is usually the worst offender, so I'm taking a boy who cried wolf attitude on this one. As far as I'm concerned, IQ's a really iffy metric in the first place and has damn near nothing to do with political affiliation. All of these, IQ or other things, are basically attempts at bigotry themselves 'see, here's proof we're innately superior' and are done with all the legitimacy and finesse of some supremacist group that cherry picks and distorts articles to prove their genetic superiority. And we've been here, done this, anyway. It is one thing to believe you are superior to others in some specific respect heavily keyed to your group, like believing you are more knowledgeable about economics because you're a Fiscal Conservative or Communist. It is also reasonable to specifically identify with a group as intelligent "Us brain surgeons, we are smarter than most people", as this is likely true. It is another to attribute superior intelligence to an entirely ideological faction, and it varies not at all from those who do that shit with their religion, their gender, their race, or their nationality.

Even when you do find statistical differences it usually is minor and boils down to factors like someone having asked flawed questions like above or something effectively irrelevant. Take two small local Christian denominations, one of which decides it needs to hit the colleges and try to get young people to avoid excessive sex, drugs and booze in favor of prayer, and the other goes out and says they need to go after prisoners or recently paroled offenders or those living in poor high crime neighborhoods. Anyone want to guess, should someone poll it, which group's congregation a few years later will have higher average IQs? Anyone actually think that, should those two groups argue about who has the right doctrine, one can really claim an edge by showing how their members have a higher IQ?

The world is full of lots of people who aren't too bright, often ditzy and cheerful, and don't have a bigoted bone in their body, possibly because they're too busy being distracted by various bright shiny objects to care. And an awful lot of very intelligent people, even doctors and scientists, who harbored some very nasty sentiments. If there's a linkage at all, it likely only indicates intelligent racists keep their mouths shut because it's the smart thing to do.

I just find this one amusing because it brings up bigotry as a figure and whether it is right or wrong most of the people who will read about how this proves liberals are more intelligent and less bigoted probably won't catch the irony while they're busy gloating.

For the study itself, your last line covers my reaction well, though you made a number of good points prior to that. Ultimately, if it were as simple as "smart people vote x, dumb people vote y," elections would be rather superfluous: Just poll all the Mensa chapters and whoever wins is president. :P Any study like this that draws broad and/or firm conclusions is all but guaranteed to be unavoidably oversimplified (and even the title of the Huff Post article only claims "links," which is far from definitive.)

About the only complaint I have with your response is: Cut social scientists some slack. Physicists get to measure things like the volume of the Hindenberg filled with hydrogen at STP. Social scientists are tasked with measuring its volume with a ruler—after it explodes but before it hits the ground, and they are on their own figuring out temperature and pressure. They say it is an "not an exact science," which is like saying, "the sun is larger than Pluto." They do rather well despite that, IMHO, and as long as we do not expect and they do not claim accuracy to fifteen significant figures, all is well.
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This message last edited by Joel on 05/02/2012 at 12:26:05 AM
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