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Still fun though Isaac Send a noteboard - 05/02/2012 01:30:26 AM
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. 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.)

This is the comic that used hang on the bookshelf in the gifted class I was in as a kid, pre-home school, as the teacher used to remind us, represented a valuable lesson in humility. I've tended to keep a copy of it around and visible in many an office or setting I worked in, every time someone suggests rule by the smart in any given situation, I think of that.

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.


Oh, I cut them some slack, they routinely hang themselves with it. But that was fairly tongue in cheek anyway. A lot of these kinda studies are legit enough in of themselves they just get warped by the news the way so many science article do. I also like ragging on the soft scientists, because it allows me to remind myself how superior us physical scientists are, really though I just think anyone who produces research of this sort in the name of scientific purity should publish their own political affiliations and opinions to go with it. Of all people, psychologists should know about mental bias and how awareness of it does not automatically remove the effect of it.

Feel obliged to point out though that the Hindenberg was a rigid airship, and thus wouldn't have varied significantly by temperature or pressure. Also I can think of about half a dozen way I could measure the volume of a recently detonated ruler before it hit the ground, including some which would not require computerization and would be able to take into account vaporization. It's pretty much the same concept as a detonating artillery shell.
The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
- Albert Einstein

King of Cairhien 20-7-2
Chancellor of the Landsraad, Archduke of Is'Mod
This message last edited by Isaac on 05/02/2012 at 01:32:18 AM
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