A lot of fuss was made over a study published in Canadian journal Psychological Science about the relationship between intelligence and ideology. The study is titled “Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact” and was published in 2012.
First I’ll provide a link to a response by a real statistician: Low IQ & Liberal Beliefs Linked To Poor Research? That response is by a professional statistician, W. M. Briggs, who does quite a good job of pointing out the massive flaws in the study.
Low IQ & Liberal Beliefs Linked To Poor Research?
Who Is W.M.B.?
Tim Worstall, Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute of London, focused on more social aspects in his criticism of the study, titled “Scientific paper: Conservatives are stoopid so there!”.
This Psychology Today article discusses several studies with conflicting results, some showing a correlation between conservative values and high intelligence, some showing a correlation between what Americans and Australians would call liberal values and high intelligence.
Now I feel it is appropriate to mention that a great deal of psychological research is simply not actual science.
Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science
We found only one-third of published psychology research is reliable – now what?
Over half of psychology studies fail reproducibility test
Scientists Replicated 100 Psychology Studies, and Fewer Than Half Got the Same Results
Study delivers bleak verdict on validity of psychology experiment results
Now I shall move on to my own comments regarding this matter.
First, the reason for all such studies and discussions is simple: Most ideological differences tend to be polarising, and people like to feel better about their own beliefs, to feel right, by calling the other side stupid. That’s really all there is to it. Whatever the ideological difference, each side will accuse those who disagree with them of being stupid, ignorant, fearful, uneducated, et cetera. There is simply no truth or logic to the accusation, but truth isnt’t the goal; the goal is to feel reassured about one’s own beliefs.
As for studies, unfortunately if it’s not a hard science (involving physical properties), then the studies will be biased to show whatever the researchers want to show. This has been proven many times. We all know it.
As for my own experience, I can say in my opinion that some of the stupidest people I’ve ever met were at university, and I attended one of Australia’s best universities. They were quite well educated, most from reasonably affluent families (there is a correlation between tertiary education and coming from a wealthier family), and unfortunately at that impressionable age when people are most ready to believe what they feel are important revelations without having the cognitive ability and experience to really question what they’re told.
Even people of assuredly high intelligence can have crazy beliefs. Look at Stephen Hawking. The guy’s obviously as intelligent as any other university level mathematics lecturer, but believes in string theory (Hawking stated “When we understand string theory, we will know how the universe began. It won’t have much effect on how we live, but it is important to understand where we come from and what we can expect to find as we explore.”), which is a field of study which has never had the slightest shred of evidence to support it.
So, there you have it. When it comes to ideological differences, the only logical basis for the assertion that “Anyone who disagrees with me is fearful, ignorant, uneducated, and of low intelligence” is the fundamental human need to feel right.