Liberals and atheists are smarter than conservatives, study finds
Or at least have higher IQs — so draw your own conclusions. Here’s CNN:
Political, religious and sexual behaviors may be reflections of intelligence, a new study finds.
Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs. This applied also to sexual exclusivity in men, but not in women. The findings will be published in the March 2010 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.
Taboo as it may be to suggest one group of ideologues is smarter — on average, but not without exception — than another, the cold, hard evidence supporting this is significant. Just to clear up any doubt as to what “liberal” and “conservative” refer to, CNN adds:
The study takes the American view of liberal vs. conservative. It defines “liberal” in terms of concern for genetically nonrelated people and support for private resources that help those people. It does not look at other factors that play into American political beliefs, such as abortion, gun control and gay rights.
I usually don’t buy into this stuff, but there seems to be a good reason why smart people today are less likely to identify themselves as conservative. Conservatism at its core (Goldwater/Bill Buckley-type conservatism) is a perfectly legitimate and intellectually sound ideology, but modern conservatism (today defined by the likes of Reagan/Bush/Palin) has evolved into a predominantly anti-intellectual movement.
And to the extent that the liberal/conservative paradigm extends to the Democratic/Republican paradigm, this theory holds.
For starters, just look at the 2004 election. Even though John Kerry lost it, he won all 16 of the top 16 highest-IQ states. Bush, by comparison, won all 25 of the bottom 25. What is one to discern from that?
2008 exit polls show Obama resoundingly won Americans with college degrees, and crushed McCain among those with post-graduate degrees. He won economists, scientists, doctors, lawyers, professors… the list goes on. (OK, 2008 was an unusually Democratic year, but still.)
It’s no surprise that Sarah Palin’s ‘08 platform was mostly based on railing against intellectualism, and casting those people in coastal states who like to read as “elitists” and implying they weren’t “real Americans.”
Pew found this past summer that only 6 percent of scientists identify themselves as Republicans. Six percent. And only 9 percent identify themselves as “conservative.” Imagine that.
In colleges and universities across America, students overwhelmingly identify themselves as liberal over conservative. Why might that be?
The obvious caveat here is that there are many highly intelligent conservatives who just can’t identify with today’s Republican Party, which has been systematically alienating them and growing into an anti-intellectual movement. That’s what it comes down to. The Tea Party, which is in more ways than not a Republican Party appendage, is the perfect embodiment of this phenomenon.
As for religion, this is a more complex (and taboo) topic but on the most basic level it’s not beyond the pale that atheists have higher IQs.
Contrary to the amoral or nihilistic beings they’re often portrayed as, atheists are usually just self-conscious free thinkers who tend not to embrace what’s unprovable; lest they be be told what to believe. Religious people are, by definition, more willing to accept nebulous or intangible ideas about life and its meaning if it gives them comfort. What does that have to do with intelligence? Draw your own conclusions.