Blue states smarter than red states?

Link to column

Isn’t part of intelligence the ability to accept and evaluate facts contrary to belief? And don’t authoritarian personalities, who strongly self-identify as Republicans / conservatives, in many studies have much more problems accepting contradictory facts than people who identify as Democrats or Liberals?

Last report I found on this matter:

More importantly, does it matter? Intelligence tests have been plagued with problems from their inception, Yerkes and Eysenck being prominent proponents and racists. Gould, Baron-Cohen and Gardner have all published works that should lead one to question their profusion. For example, Gardner says intelligence is related to the socially useful works that one produces: two of the youngest professors in the world, Nietzsche and Enoch Powell, wouldn’t qualify under that definition (at least in my view).

I’ve often wondered if there is greater correlation between emotional intelligence (or ability to empathise, etc) in whether people vote left or right, I would have thought there’s some likelihood that higher EI = more left, obvioulsly there would be other factors such influencing people voting choices than that, but I wouldn’t think that average IQ wouldn’t differ much between red or blue states, e.g. for every person voting republican against their own interests, you have a greedy smart guy who is only interested in his own needs. Though obviously you could say that a greedy smart person is also dumb for not realising that the overall wellbeing of society is in his own interest.

As a conservative and a very active longtime member of Mensa, my personal observations have been that the liberal and conservative factions are both well-represented among those with high IQ scores. The number of libertarians I’ve met at Mensa events is much greater than I’ve found anywhere else.

They may be physically incapable of making that realisation. Some high functioning Asperger’s syndrome people are capable of making the connection, but psychopaths and autists that can be highly capable in other respects can never grasp the totality of the consequences of their actions (under game theory, say).

James Randi had a great interview that I can no longer find; he said that he aced the Mensa admission exams and was invited to speak at an event, but when he addressed religious claims with the same irreverence he applied to other supernatural ones, he was coldly received. So, he never went back.

Cecil rightfully makes a small aside questioning what IQ tests are even truly testing. To take that further, using standardized tests that measure quality of education (SAT and ACT) is a terrible measure of intelligence. I’ve known plenty of people who scored well on their ACT (the test given in my state, which is, for the record, a red one) that couldn’t reason their way out of a wet paper bag.

More troubling than methodology, though, is motivation. It seems that the only people trying to prove that one group is “dumber” than the other is already safely entrenched on their side of the political spectrum. It’s one thing to conduct research to prove something you think might be true; but it’s another thing to conduct research for which your own self worth is dependent upon a particular outcome. You will inevitably come to the conclusions you assumed to be true to begin with.

I believe the red state/blue state issue is a bit of a contrived phenomena that makes it easy for talking heads to generalize (and to add credence to the value of the electoral college as a means of selecting a president).

If you look at the data at a more granular level (by county for instance) it seems that the split is urban vs rural not Nebraska vs California. Dense populations seem to be blue, suburbs purple and rural areas red. San Fransico and LA show blue but look at the rest of CA and it really looks like a red state.

Causality to the distribution is a different issue. My crackpot theroy is what I call the 911 Effect - If you can call 911 and someone reliably shows to bail you out of your predicament in less than 2 mins ‘Big Government’ works and you vote Blue. If your response time for a 911 call is 20 min to an hour your trust is more on self reliance and Smith & Wesson so you vote ‘Gun Rights’ and Red.

Now a discussion on urban vs rural intelligence might have a different outcome from the 99 to 99.5…

There’s an inherent problem that intelligence and education are not equivalent. The SAT in particular is a strong measure of education, but not necessarily of intelligence. It’s a softer correlation there.

Same thing with looking at culture groups of urban vs rural. For every gun totin’ down home redneck with three teeth and a drawl, there’s a gun totin’ urban hoodlem with gold teeth and ebonics.

And even these statements are gross generalizations. Not nearly every rural midwesterner is a gun-toting, bootlegging, government hater. And not nearly every low-income, inner city youth is a gang-banger. Not trying to call you out, just furthering your point. People are far more varied than any partisian pundits like to think and people vote blue or red for lots of different reasons.

My in-laws pack heat regularly but might as well bleed blue. My family doesn’t want a gun within 100-ft of their home but votes red. And I consider them all reasonable, intelligent and well meaning. Generalization doesn’t do anybody any favors.

I have always wondered if there was a correlation between abuse as a child, and political leanings as an adult. Never seen any statistics on it though.

I’ve had a similar ‘crackpot theory’ for awhile, but with a slight variation. I think that most people to whom it’s natural to phone for a building superintendent, a plumber, an electrician, or a car repairman when something breaks down tend to vote Blue, because they’re used to getting other people to take care of their problems; while those who are used to fixing things themselves tend to vote Red. That’s just a rule of thumb, though, and I’m a counterexample myself: a mechanically inept conservative.

You all are missing the real problem with that article. Cecil thinks Illinois is paradise on earth?? Clearly, the mob has gotten to him.

Ouch! Hey, now. :frowning:

In Chicago, Cecil gets to the mob.

Here are a few other theories as to political allegiances.
Strict Father Framing.

Attribution Error.

Just World Hypothesis.

I don’t pretend impartiality there :p.

If you consider yourself liberal and “open-minded” and seriously consider this hypothesis (viz. liberals are, as a group, smarter than conservatives) a possibility, you need to reconsider your definition of “open-minded.” I don’t think it means “smug and condescending to anyone not holding the accepted opinions.”

Even outside of this particular topic, I’m seriously annoyed at what that word has turned into today. Just examining the word itself, it looks like it should mean willing to listen to other people’s opinions and question your own views. In common usage today, it appears to mean holding a particular set of beliefs, primarily socially liberal ones.

^ Constanze, if you seriously think that liberals are inherently better at reconsidering their own beliefs, I don’t think you know much about human nature. And yes, I will admit that I’m just as prone to irrational defense of my own ideas as anyone, but I don’t think any more so.

^ Merneith, I think Cecil’s assertion a bit weird also. He’s bragging on the politics of Illinois? One of the most notoriously politically corrupt states in the union? Four governors since 1961 have been convicted of major crimes. Everyone together now, When I die, I want to be buried in Chicago, so . . .

First, I find it odd that liberals, who are normally the first and loudest to insist that IQ scores are meaningless and unreliable are so eager to embrace dubious evidence that conservatives have lower IQs than liberals.

So, make up your minds, Lefties: does IQ mean something or not?

Now, what do I (a Republican, Catholic Ivy Leaguer, if anyone cares) think of the intellectual makeup of the two major parties?

Well, before I begin, jot down the name “Fred Dutton” and Google it later, to confirm what I’m about to say.

For many, many years, it was fairly accurate to say “The Republicans are the Party of the rich and the Democrats are the party of the working class.” Hence, in the year 1928, I’d wager any objective intelligence test would have shown that Republicans were, on the whole, a lot “smarter” (certainly better educated) than Democrats.

The Great Depression and the New Deal cemented this situation for another few decades. Even in the early Sixties, the Democrats could count on the allegiance of white working class voters all over America. A Polish steelworker in Pittsburgh, a redneck mechanic in Memphis, an Armenian bus driver in Fresno and a Jewish tailor in Brooklyn (none of whom had more than a high school education) ALL identified with the Democrats, whom they regarded as “the people’s party.”

When did that change? Well, it STARTED to change in FDR’s administration. Even though working class America regarded the New Deal as a godsend, the administration itself was filled with liberal intellectuals and Ivy League technocrats like John Kenneth Galbraith- folks who saw the New Deal NOT as a way to save capitalism but as the first step toward a socialist state that would be run mostly by people like themselves.

In 1952 and 1956, we saw the results. The Democratic nominee was Adlai Stevenson, the darling of the liberal, intellectual wing of the party. What happened? The white working class didn’t warm to him, and voted for Eisenhower!

Over time, liberal leaders of the party started to view the white working class as disloyal and unreliable. Between 1968 and 1972, Fred Dutton, among others, made a conscious decision to abandon the white working class completely and build a new coalition around

  1. Urban liberal intellectuals
  2. Feminists
  3. Impoverished ethnic minorities.

That’s REMAINED the Democratic coalition ever since.
So… given the demographics of the new Democratic coalition, should we expect the Democrats to be smarter or dumber than Republicans? The answer is (drumroll)… BOTH!

Look at it this way- a Sociology professor at UCLA will almost certainly vote a straight Democratic ticket, but so will a welfare Mom in Compton.

The Dems get the very rich AND the very poor. They get the PhD’s AND the illiterates. The GOP gets the middle class, the upper middle class, and the people who ASPIRE to being upper middle class.

While investigating some of the articles behind the column I did come across many folks who felt like the actual discriminator in intelligence was fundamentalist religious beliefs. Namely, that people of any religion who have fundamentalist religious beliefs tend to be much less intelligent than those without, and it happens that more fundamentalists identify as conservatives. In fact I found one paper which found in their terms of intelligence, the smartest to dumbest persons were:

  • weakly-religious or atheist conservatives
  • weakly-religious or atheist liberals
  • strongly religious liberals
  • strongly religious conservatives

But I thought there was no statistically significant difference between the first three categories. I need to see if I can find that citation.

Nonetheless, this might explain somewhat the effect I see in my field. I work in a field where about 95%-99% of the people are Republicans, and pretty much all of them I would call “strongly conservative” Republicans. Yet the average degree level is a Masters, with a good selection of multiple-MS and PhD degrees, and Engineering is one of the absolute most difficult degree programs there is. Even the people with Bachelor’s degrees typically have 2 or more of them and are definitely sharp. So these people aren’t exactly “dumb;” in fact I would wager that half of all my co-workers probably could qualify for Mensa, and I know that maybe a tenth of them are already in it or some equivalent organization. This begs many questions, such as “why did they, in an office poll, vote 55-1-1(abstained) in favor of Bush over Kerry?”

According to Chomsky’s description, it wasn’t necessarily the case that being working class entailed ignorance: it correlated to a lack of state education most likely, true…

^ Astorian, thank you for an excellent, fair brief political history. That’s probably the coolest, fairest assessment of the situation I’ve seen yet. The only thing I need to mention about that is that “intelligent” and “intellectual” are not synonyms (at least to my mind). Intellectuals are the people in universities, publishing, and a lot of the major media. Intelligent people can be found just about anywhere.

Holding an M.A. in English (and trying to read widely in other areas), I think I’m fairly intelligent. I have to say that no matter how smart you are, being a social conservative in academia (at least the humanities), you’re always at least a little uncomfortable. How or why universities became predominantly liberal, I don’t know, but it’s definitely there, and no, the answer is not that conservatives (or religious people) are stupid.