Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


There seems to be a cornucopia of studies lately finding that conservative political beliefs and attitudes are associated with a paucity of brainpower. The latest of this bounteous harvest is from some folks in the universities of Arkansas, Kansas and Wisconsin, whose home states will not feel flattered. Scott Eidelman and colleagues find that it's not necessarily low IQ, but also essentially cognitive laziness, that generate conservative ideological orientation. They define "conservative" as including presumptive attribution of personal responsibility for individual outcomes; endorsement of hierarchy and status differences; and default preference for the status quo. (Note that logically, the first two tend to conflict with each other. Just a passing observation.)

They find that controlling for education, self-identification as liberal or conservative, and gender, people hanging out in a bar tended to endorse more conservative statements as their blood alcohol level increased. In other words, even if you start out considering yourself a liberal, beer goggles actually make you more conservative.

In other experiments, they got similar results when people were multi-tasking; and when they were given only a short time to formulate their responses. The basic idea is, it's a lot easier to come up with answers and explanations that are consistent with conservative ideology. If you do a little work and think about issues harder, you start to grasp more liberal ideas.

So yeah, it seems more liberal ideas are generally a little more complicated. That person isn't poor because he's a lazy slob, or belongs to an inferior race, it's because the economic order both perpetuates initial disadvantages and fails to provide adequate opportunity for everybody. Slightly more complicated, and also more likely to be a) true and b) potentially ameliorable, which would also of course mean that things would have to change. And this explains the appeal of the moronic ranting of the vulgar pigboy. He speaks to the intellectually lazy, not just the stupid.


Anonymous said...

The studies explain the phenomena of why anyone . . . anyone at all . . . would listen to and endorse the views of a Rush or a Romney. I can think of no rational explanations otherwise.

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