Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice

Makes one wonder about the supposedly "smart" people who intentionally pander to idiots like this.

By Stephanie Pappas

There's no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.

The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.

"Prejudice is extremely complex and multifaceted, making it critical that any factors contributing to bias are uncovered and understood," he said.

Controversy ahead

The findings combine three hot-button topics.

"They've pulled off the trifecta of controversial topics," said Brian Nosek, a social and cognitive psychologist at the University of Virginia who was not involved in the study. "When one selects intelligence, political ideology and racism and looks at any of the relationships between those three variables, it's bound to upset somebody."

Polling data and social and political science research do show that prejudice is more common in those who hold right-wing ideals that those of other political persuasions, Nosek told LiveScience. [7 Thoughts That Are Bad For You]

"The unique contribution here is trying to make some progress on the most challenging aspect of this," Nosek said, referring to the new study. "It's not that a relationship like that exists, but why it exists."

Brains and bias

Earlier studies have found links between low levels of education and higher levels of prejudice, Hodson said, so studying intelligence seemed a logical next step. The researchers turned to two studies of citizens in the United Kingdom, one that has followed babies since their births in March 1958, and another that did the same for babies born in April 1970. The children in the studies had their intelligence assessed at age 10 or 11; as adults ages 30 or 33, their levels of social conservatism and racism were measured. [Life's Extremes: Democrat vs. Republican]

In the first study, verbal and nonverbal intelligence was measured using tests that asked people to find similarities and differences between words, shapes and symbols. The second study measured cognitive abilities in four ways, including number recall, shape-drawing tasks, defining words and identifying patterns and similarities among words. Average IQ is set at 100.

Social conservatives were defined as people who agreed with a laundry list of statements such as "Family life suffers if mum is working full-time," and "Schools should teach children to obey authority." Attitudes toward other races were captured by measuring agreement with statements such as "I wouldn't mind working with people from other races." (These questions measured overt prejudiced attitudes, but most people, no matter how egalitarian, do hold unconscious racial biases; Hodson's work can't speak to this "underground" racism.)

As suspected, low intelligence in childhood corresponded with racism in adulthood. But the factor that explained the relationship between these two variables was political: When researchers included social conservatism in the analysis, those ideologies accounted for much of the link between brains and bias.

People with lower cognitive abilities also had less contact with people of other races.

"This finding is consistent with recent research demonstrating that intergroup contact is mentally challenging and cognitively draining, and consistent with findings that contact reduces prejudice," said Hodson, who along with his colleagues published these results online Jan. 5 in the journal Psychological Science.

A study of averages

Hodson was quick to note that the despite the link found between low intelligence and social conservatism, the researchers aren't implying that all liberals are brilliant and all conservatives stupid. The research is a study of averages over large groups, he said.

"There are multiple examples of very bright conservatives and not-so-bright liberals, and many examples of very principled conservatives and very intolerant liberals," Hodson said.

Nosek gave another example to illustrate the dangers of taking the findings too literally.

"We can say definitively men are taller than women on average," he said. "But you can't say if you take a random man and you take a random woman that the man is going to be taller. There's plenty of overlap."

Nonetheless, there is reason to believe that strict right-wing ideology might appeal to those who have trouble grasping the complexity of the world.

"Socially conservative ideologies tend to offer structure and order," Hodson said, explaining why these beliefs might draw those with low intelligence. "Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice."

In another study, this one in the United States, Hodson and Busseri compared 254 people with the same amount of education but different levels of ability in abstract reasoning. They found that what applies to racism may also apply to homophobia. People who were poorer at abstract reasoning were more likely to exhibit prejudice against gays. As in the U.K. citizens, a lack of contact with gays and more acceptance of right-wing authoritarianism explained the link. [5 Myths About Gay People Debunked]

Simple viewpoints

Hodson and Busseri's explanation of their findings is reasonable, Nosek said, but it is correlational. That means the researchers didn't conclusively prove that the low intelligence caused the later prejudice. To do that, you'd have to somehow randomly assign otherwise identical people to be smart or dumb, liberal or conservative. Those sorts of studies obviously aren't possible.

The researchers controlled for factors such as education and socioeconomic status, making their case stronger, Nosek said. But there are other possible explanations that fit the data. For example, Nosek said, a study of left-wing liberals with stereotypically naïve views like "every kid is a genius in his or her own way," might find that people who hold these attitudes are also less bright. In other words, it might not be a particular ideology that is linked to stupidity, but extremist views in general.

"My speculation is that it's not as simple as their model presents it," Nosek said. "I think that lower cognitive capacity can lead to multiple simple ways to represent the world, and one of those can be embodied in a right-wing ideology where 'People I don't know are threats' and 'The world is a dangerous place'. ... Another simple way would be to just assume everybody is wonderful."

Prejudice is of particular interest because understanding the roots of racism and bias could help eliminate them, Hodson said. For example, he said, many anti-prejudice programs encourage participants to see things from another group's point of view. That mental exercise may be too taxing for people of low IQ.

"There may be cognitive limits in the ability to take the perspective of others, particularly foreigners," Hodson said. "Much of the present research literature suggests that our prejudices are primarily emotional in origin rather than cognitive. These two pieces of information suggest that it might be particularly fruitful for researchers to consider strategies to change feelings toward outgroups," rather than thoughts.

You can follow LiveScience senior writer Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas
http://LiveScience.com
Copyright © 2012 Yahoo! Inc

The Right's Stupidity Spreads, Enabled by a Too-polite Left

by George Monbiot

Self-deprecating, too liberal for their own good, today's progressives stand back and watch, hands over their mouths, as the social vivisectionists of the right slice up a living society to see if its component parts can survive in isolation. Tied up in knots of reticence and self-doubt, they will not shout stop. Doing so requires an act of interruption, of presumption, for which they no longer possess a vocabulary.

Perhaps it is in the same spirit of liberal constipation that, with the exception of Charlie Brooker, we have been too polite to mention the Canadian study published last month in the journal Psychological Science, which revealed that people with conservative beliefs are likely to be of low intelligence. Paradoxically it was the Daily Mail that brought it to the attention of British readers last week. It feels crude, illiberal to point out that the other side is, on average, more stupid than our own. But this, the study suggests, is not unfounded generalisation but empirical fact.

It is by no means the first such paper. There is plenty of research showing that low general intelligence in childhood predicts greater prejudice towards people of different ethnicity or sexuality in adulthood. Open-mindedness, flexibility, trust in other people: all these require certain cognitive abilities. Understanding and accepting others – particularly "different" others – requires an enhanced capacity for abstract thinking.

But, drawing on a sample size of several thousand, correcting for both education and socioeconomic status, the new study looks embarrassingly robust. Importantly, it shows that prejudice tends not to arise directly from low intelligence but from the conservative ideologies to which people of low intelligence are drawn. Conservative ideology is the "critical pathway" from low intelligence to racism. Those with low cognitive abilities are attracted to "rightwing ideologies that promote coherence and order" and "emphasise the maintenance of the status quo". Even for someone not yet renowned for liberal reticence, this feels hard to write.

This is not to suggest that all conservatives are stupid. There are some very clever people in government, advising politicians, running thinktanks and writing for newspapers, who have acquired power and influence by promoting rightwing ideologies.

But what we now see among their parties – however intelligent their guiding spirits may be – is the abandonment of any pretence of high-minded conservatism. On both sides of the Atlantic, conservative strategists have discovered that there is no pool so shallow that several million people won't drown in it. Whether they are promoting the idea that Barack Obama was not born in the US, that man-made climate change is an eco-fascist-communist-anarchist conspiracy, or that the deficit results from the greed of the poor, they now appeal to the basest, stupidest impulses, and find that it does them no harm in the polls.

Don't take my word for it. Listen to what two former Republican ideologues, David Frum and Mike Lofgren, have been saying. Frum warns that "conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics". The result is a "shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology" which has "ominous real-world consequences for American society".

Lofgren complains that "the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital centre today". The Republican party, with its "prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science" is appealing to what he calls the "low-information voter", or the "misinformation voter". While most office holders probably don't believe the "reactionary and paranoid claptrap" they peddle, "they cynically feed the worst instincts of their fearful and angry low-information political base".

The madness hasn't gone as far in the UK, but the effects of the Conservative appeal to stupidity are making themselves felt. This week the Guardian reported that recipients of disability benefits, scapegoated by the government as scroungers, blamed for the deficit, now find themselves subject to a new level of hostility and threats from other people.

These are the perfect conditions for a billionaires' feeding frenzy. Any party elected by misinformed, suggestible voters becomes a vehicle for undisclosed interests. A tax break for the 1% is dressed up as freedom for the 99%. The regulation that prevents big banks and corporations exploiting us becomes an assault on the working man and woman. Those of us who discuss man-made climate change are cast as elitists by people who happily embrace the claims of Lord Monckton, Lord Lawson or thinktanks funded by ExxonMobil or the Koch brothers: now the authentic voices of the working class.

But when I survey this wreckage I wonder who the real idiots are. Confronted with mass discontent, the once-progressive major parties, as Thomas Frank laments in his latest book Pity the Billionaire, triangulate and accommodate, hesitate and prevaricate, muzzled by what he calls "terminal niceness". They fail to produce a coherent analysis of what has gone wrong and why, or to make an uncluttered case for social justice, redistribution and regulation. The conceptual stupidities of conservatism are matched by the strategic stupidities of liberalism.

Yes, conservatism thrives on low intelligence and poor information. But the liberals in politics on both sides of the Atlantic continue to back off, yielding to the supremacy of the stupid. It's turkeys all the way down.

© 2012 The Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/06/right-stupidity-spre...

George Monbiot is the author of the best selling books The Age of Consent: a manifesto for a new world order and Captive State: the corporate takeover of Britain. He writes a weekly column for the Guardian newspaper. Visit his website at www.monbiot.com

Emails Show Racist Motivation Behind Arizona Immigration Law

by Common Dreams staff
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/07/21-1

The American Civil Liberties Union has released thousands of emails from a former Arizona legislator which they say prove that the controversial Arizona immigration law SB1070 was racially motivated. The slew of emails sent or forwarded from former Senator Russell Pearce (R), architect of the law, promoted discrimination (http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/07/20/554471/aclu-emails-from-auth...) and racial prejudice and lied about immigration issues, ACLU contends.

The e-mails were acquired through a public records request to the state legislature. The ACLU included many of the emails in a legal filing on Thursday, asking (http://news.yahoo.com/aclu-emails-show-racial-bias-immigration-law-21234...) U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton to prevent the 'show me your papers' section of the law, slated to go into effect.

The e-mails uncovered from Pearce included racial bias and offensive language. Some quotes released to the Arizona Republic (http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2012/07/19/201207...) include:

"Can we maintain our social fabric as a nation with Spanish fighting English for dominance ... It's like importing leper colonies and hope we don't catch leprosy. It's like importing thousands of Islamic jihadists and hope they adapt to the American Dream."

"Last week, Denver's illegal aliens sang our national anthem in Spanish and bastardized the words of OUR country's most sacred song."

"Corruption is the mechanism by which Mexico operates. Its people spawn more corruption wherever they go because it is their only known way of life."

"I'm racist because I don't want to be taxed to pay for a prison population comprised of mainly Hispanics, Latinos, Mexicans or whatever else you wish to call them."

On Friday, Pearce denied that he was racist or that the emails show discriminatory intent.

The section of the new Arizona law in question, the "show me your papers" provision, requires police to check the immigration status of people they have stopped if the person appears to be an immigrant. The section was upheld in the Supreme Court last month.

ACLU argues that the law should be blocked because Latinos in Arizona will face legalized racial profiling and discrimination.

"Climate Skeptics" More Likely to Embrace "Free Market" Ideology

Survey: "Climate Skeptics" More Likely to Embrace "Free Market" Ideology, Conspiracy Theories

New study shows correlation between so-called "skeptics" and tendency towards "conspiracist ideation"
by Common Dreams staff
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/07/27

A new survey of so-called "climate skeptics" -- who reject the global scientific community's broad consensus that global warming and climate change are being driven by modern society's emission of greenhouse gasses -- concludes that individuals who hold such views are also much more likely to believe in outlandish conspiracy theories and hold favorable views of the "free market" theory of the economy.

The new research (http://websites.psychology.uwa.edu.au/labs/cogscience/documents/Lskyetal...), which The Guardian reports will be published in the forthcoming issue of Psychological Science, surveyed more than 1,000 readers of websites related to climate change and found that people who agreed with free market economic principles and endorsed conspiracy theories were more likely to dispute that human-caused climate change was a reality.

In addition to rejecting the findings of climate science, the survey found that "endorsement of the free market [...] predicted the rejection of other established scientific findings, such as the facts that HIV causes AIDS and that smoking causes lung cancer."

The findings also showed that endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that 9/11 was an "inside job" or that NASA faked the moon landing) predicts rejection of climate science as well as the rejection of other scientific findings, above and beyond endorsement of laissez-faire free markets. According to the researchers, "this provides empirical confirmation of previous suggestions that conspiracist ideation contributes to the rejection of science."

According to the methodology of the survey, the researchers focused on "climate skeptic" blogs, both because of the inherent target group found there and to highlight the enormous power that the culture of "climate change denial" has been able to wield in the internet age. Researchers surveyed over 1,000 users of these blogs on (a) their views on climate science and a range of other scientific propositions; (b) two constructs that the researchers hypothesized to be associated with rejection of science (free-market ideology and a range of conspiracy theories); (c) a construct targeting people’s sensitivity to environmental problems (e.g., whether previous concerns about acid rain have been addressed); (d) and the perceived consensus among scientists, which has been repeatedly linked to acceptance of science.

The researchers found that those with a "libertarian streak" are more likely to dabble in conspiracies and to deny widely accepted scientific findings.

"The link between endorsing conspiracy theories and rejecting climate science facts suggests that it is the libertarian instinct to stick two fingers up at the mainstream – whatever the issue – that is important," writes The Guardian's James Corner (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/jul/27/climate-sceptics-...). "Because a radical libertarian streak is the hallmark of free-market economics, and because free market views are popular on the political right, this is where climate change skepticism is most likely to be found."

And Corner concludes: "All of this suggests that the battle to overcome climate scepticism – if that is even a useful way of thinking about it – will not be won by simply restating the scientific facts (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/30/belief-climate-change-...). The problem is that "the facts" are not "the facts" for a small proportion of people – and the noise made by this minority group dilutes the otherwise clear signal about climate change received by the wider population."

The researchers offered no simple solution on how to counter the trend of climate change denial. "Conspiracist ideation is, by definition," they write, "difficult to correct because any evidence contrary to the conspiracy is itself considered evidence of its existence."

Romney Photo Spurs Domestic Abuse Incident

Suspect mistook GOP pol for girlfriend's sidepiece

JULY 31--Suspicious that his live-in girlfriend was planning an affair, a Tennessee man confronted the woman after spotting a photo of an unknown guy on her Facebook page, according to a police report.

Lowell Turpin, 40, “angrily demanded to know who the male was,” reported Anderson County Sheriff’s Department investigators.

Crystal Gray, 38, “replied that it was a picture of Mitt Romney.”

Despite being informed that the man on Gray’s wall was the presumptive Republican presidential candidate (and not some hunky, severely conservative sidepiece), Turpin apparently was not placated. Gray said that he “became upset because she was attempting to communicate with friends through her Facebook account.”

In a subsequent tussle over the laptop, Gray’s hand was injured as she unsuccessfully tried to stop Turpin form smashing the computer against the wall. Gray told deputies that Turpin, pictured in the above mug shot, also punched her in the face during the encounter.

While denying that he assaulted Gray, the 310-pound Turpin gave probers “multiple contradictory accounts of the struggle over the laptop.” Turpin was charged with domestic assault in connection with the July 22 incident at the couple’s Clinton residence.

Turpin remains locked up in the Anderson County jail in lieu of $1000 bond.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/mitt-romney-facebook-friend-587612

The Confederacy of Moochers

The Confederacy of Takers
by Dana Milbank

President Obama’s opponents have unwittingly come up with a brilliant plan to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” They want to secede from the union.

If Obama were serious about being a good steward of the nation’s finances, he’d let them.

The White House, in one of those astro-turf efforts that make people feel warm about small-d democracy, launched a “We the People” program on its Web site last year, allowing Americans to petition their government for a redress of grievances. Any petition that receives 25,000 or more signatures within 30 days is promised a response (though not necessarily a favorable one) from the Obama administration.

And so a large number of patriotic Americans, mostly from states won by Mitt Romney last week, have petitioned the White House to let them secede. They should be careful about what they wish for. It would be excellent financial news for those of us left behind if Obama were to grant a number of the rebel states their wish “to withdraw from the United States and create [their] own NEW government” (the petitions emphasize “new” by capitalizing it).

Red states receive, on average, far more from the federal government in expenditures than they pay in taxes. The balance is the opposite in blue states. The secession petitions, therefore, give the opportunity to create what would be, in a fiscal sense, a far more perfect union.

Among those states with large numbers of petitioners asking out: Louisiana (more than 28,000 signatures at midday Tuesday), which gets about $1.45 in federal largess for every $1 it pays in taxes; Alabama (more than 20,000 signatures), which takes $1.71 for every $1 it puts in; South Carolina (26,000), which takes $1.38 for its dollar; and Missouri (22,000), which takes $1.29 for its dollar.

Since the effort gained attention this week, copycats in all but a few states have joined the petition drive. To be fair, White House officials could refuse the secession petitions of states Obama won, such as New York (which gets only 79 cents on its tax dollar), Michigan (85 cents) and Colorado (79 cents).

What would be left is a Confederacy of Takers, including relatively poor states such as Alaska, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. One of the few would-be Confederacy members that pays more than it receives is Texas, which because of oil money is roughly break-even at 94 cents of benefits for its tax dollar. (The statistics, from an analysis of tax and revenue data by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, were published in 2006, but the broad pattern doesn’t vary much over time.)

Depending on how aggressive a fiscal hawk he wishes to be, Obama could also try to offload onto the Confederacy of the Takers North and South Dakota and Montana ($1.73, $1.49 and $1.58 in benefits, respectively), but this would probably only work if Canada agreed to allow overflight rights for American aircraft to reach the West Coast states of Washington, Oregon and California (88 cents, 97 cents and 79 cents on their tax dollars, respectively).

Possibly, the new United States would need to negotiate certain protectorates in the Confederacy — Austin, New Orleans, South Florida and the like — the way the British did in Hong Kong. Then there is the awkward matter of what the breakaway nation would do to its poor.

But once the handout states left the union (and took with them a proportionate share of the federal debt), the rest of the country could enjoy lower taxes and the high level of government service typical of the Northeast, the Great Lakes and the West Coast.

There would also be non-financial benefits. Tampa’s Central Command, now caught up in the David Petraeus sex scandal, would be the new nation’s problem. And the exit of several Southern representatives from Congress would give Democrats a solid governing majority.

Of course, secession isn’t as easy or as painless as an electronic petition, and Obama couldn’t offer a redress of these petitioners’ grievances even if he wanted to. Nor should he want to: The Union of the Makers would be fiscally healthy but spiritually poor without the Confederacy of the Takers.

Yet would-be rebels from the red states should keep in mind during the coming budget battle that those who are most ardent about cutting government spending tend to come from parts of the country that most rely on it.

© 1996-2012 The Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-the-confederacy-of-t...?

Lincoln, Liberty and Two Americas

by Charles M. Blow

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

Those are the opening words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and they seem eerily prescient today because once again this country finds itself increasingly divided and pondering the future of this great union and the very ideas of liberty and equality for all.

The gap is growing between liberals and conservatives, the rich and the not rich, intergenerational privilege and new-immigrant power, patriarchy and gender equality, the expanders of liberty and the withholders of it. And that gap, which has geographic contours — the densely populated coastal states versus the less densely populated states of the Rocky Mountains, Mississippi Delta and Great Plains — threatens the very concept of a United States and is pushing conservatives, left quaking after this month’s election, to extremes.

Some have even moved to make our divisions absolute. The Daily Caller reported last week “more than 675,000 digital signatures appeared on 69 separate secession petitions covering all 50 states,” according to its analysis of requests made through the White House’s “We the People” online petition system.

According to The Daily Caller, “Petitions from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas residents have accrued at least 25,000 signatures, the number the Obama administration says it will reward with a staff review of online proposals.” President Obama lost all those states, except Florida, in November.

The former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul took to his Congressional Web site to laud the petitions of those bent on leaving the union, writing that “secession is a deeply American principle.” He continued: “If the possibility of secession is completely off the table there is nothing to stop the federal government from continuing to encroach on our liberties and no recourse for those who are sick and tired of it.”

The Internet has been lit up with the incongruity of Lincoln’s party becoming the party of secessionists.

But even putting secession aside, it is ever more clear that red states are becoming more ideologically strident and creating a regional quasi country within the greater one. They are rushing to enact restrictive laws on everything from voting to women’s health issues.

As Monica Davey reported in The New York Times on Friday, starting in January, “one party will hold the governor’s office and majorities in both legislative chambers in at least 37 states, the largest number in 60 years and a significant jump from even two years ago.”

As the National Conference of State Legislatures put it, “thanks to an apparent historic victory in Arkansas, Republicans gained control of the old South, turning the once solidly Democratic 11 states of the Confederacy upside down.” Arkansas will be the only one of these states with a Democratic governor.

As Davey’s article pointed out, single-party control raises “the prospect that bold partisan agendas — on both ends of the political spectrum — will flourish over the next couple of years.” But it seems that “both ends of the political spectrum” should not be misconstrued as being equal. Democrats may want to expand personal liberties, but Republicans have spent the last few years working feverishly to restrict them.

According to a January report from the Guttmacher Institute: “By almost any measure, issues related to reproductive health and rights at the state level received unprecedented attention in 2011. In the 50 states combined, legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions, a sharp increase from the 950 introduced in 2010. By year’s end, 135 of these provisions had been enacted in 36 states, an increase from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009.” Almost all the 2011 provisions were enacted in states with Republican-controlled legislatures.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, at least 180 restrictive voting bills were introduced since the beginning of 2011 in 41 states. Most of the states that passed restrictive voting laws have Republican-controlled legislatures.

An N.C.S.L. report last year found “the 50 states and Puerto Rico have introduced a record 1,538 bills and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees in the first quarter of 2011. This number surpasses the first quarter of 2010 by 358.” That trend slowed in 2012 in large part because of legal challenges. Many of the states that had enacted anti-immigrant laws or adopted similar resolutions by March of last year, again, had Republican-controlled legislatures.

We are moving toward two Americas with two contrasting — and increasingly codified — concepts of liberty. Can such a nation long endure?


Copyright 2012 The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/24/opinion/blow-lincoln-liberty-and-two-a...

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