Correlation between racism and intelligence?

Has anyone ever tested whether or not racists are more or less likely to be intelligent than non-racist people? I am of the opinion that, based on the fact that whole societies have been horribly racist for long periods of time, there’s no correlation, but I’d like to see some actual research, if possible.

Asked and answered simultaneously by the OP.

Racist views may affect your intelligence.

With all due respect, Ice_Wolf, what the study you cited shows is that when people who believe in stereotypes are asked to act out the stereotypes, they act out the stereotypes. No more, no less.

True, Desmostylus, I wouldn’t go basing any study on that example. But, it is a form of research, however limited. That was what I understood the OP asked for.

Most research, though, is to do with eugenics, rather than “How stupid/clever you are being a rascist?”

D, I’m not sure the OP did ask and answer the question. The existence of racism in societies doesn’t necessarily mean racist or bigoted attitudes cannot be discerned in its citizens.

To use an obvious example, the United States was for the great majority of its history - and today, still is, to a large extent - extremely racist towards its black population. But you could certainly make a clear distinction between people in 1860 who had no, or mild, racist opinions about blacks, and people in 1860 who thought blacks were little more than animals. The AVERAGE opinion was more racist in 1860 than it is today, but the differences between individuals was just as vast.

Or take Nazi Germany. The society was broadly and viciously racist towards Jews in particular, but there were many Germans who held no ill will towards Jews, and many who hated them, and still more lay in between those two extremes with varying levels of antipathy towards Jews.

So in any society, I believe the opportunity exists to draw conclusions based on the correlation between intelligence and generally bigoted attitudes.

Ice Wolf, RickJay, maybe I misread the OP as a deliberately provocative “Does research prove that this group (blacks/women/WASPS/Republicans/Democrats/the French/racists/anyone I disagree with/etc.) are stupid?” If that wasn’t the OP’s intent, I apologise.

Asking if racists (or Republicans or Democrats) are less smart or smarter (as the OP says, if you reread it) than the average population strikes me as a more legitimate question than asking the same thing about blacks (or French or women), because it involves a belief, a mental state. Don’t you think so?

As an anecdote, about half of those at the Wannsee conference had doctorates from German universities.

I didn’t see the OP as being provocative at all, Desmostylus. After all, wouldn’t it seem odd that an otherwise intelligent mind should take on a fallacy (in this case, rascism) and refuse to discount it even given evidence to the contrary? Yet, this has indeed happened during the course of history. An interesting topic.

Yes. And it isn’t a GQ either way, if only because of the partisan argument that will ensue.

Not really. There exists no human being with complete knowledge of everything, so everyone has large areas of ignorance about something. It doesn’t strike me odd at all that racist attitudes could exist in otherwise highly intelligent individuals, simply because intelligence was not involved in coming to those attitudes. Rather, childhood indoctrination is a more likely culprit.

You may as well ask how highly intelligent people could hold religious and/or superstitious beliefs when they can’t possibly have a logical reason to do so. One of the scientists mentioned in Shermer’s Why People Believe Weird Things described religious belief as consoling, i.e. you believe in God for no logical reason but because postulating a universe without God is less satisfying emotionally. I’d give the name, but I only borrowed the book from a friend and since returned it.

Being told since childhood that people of group X are evil/stupid/whatever, it also lends a certain order to the universe, and such beliefs can persist in intelligent people as long as they don’t take the time to analyze them too closely. It helps when you have limited contact with members of group X.

Heck, someone may analyze his own racism, find it has no logical merit, and persist in it anyway simply because it is consoling. There is an emotional satisfaction in saying your problems are the fault of someone else, and if that someone else would only “go back where they came from” / “learn to keep their place” / “stick to their own kind” / “pull their lives together” / “take a train ride to Auschwitz”, then everything would be just peachy.

Such satisfaction is hard to give up, even if you are intelligent.

While there are a few objections to Gould’s discussion of g in the later chapters of his The Mismeasure of Man, the earlier chapters quite clearly describe the disputes among some of the most brilliant men in Europe arguing whether their nationality was inherently smarter or more virtuous.

While it does seem odd that people would project fairly silly personal biases onto studies of purported science, it seems pretty clear to me that they do.

Shockley was quite smart.
I have never seen evidence that Rushton is stupid.

On the other hand, I doubt that anyone is going to find a real study on the subject, given that intelligence is so illusive–as is a clear delineation of how to identify prejudice and racism. (We know it when we see it, but where do we draw the lines for someone who is holding views instilled in childhood without real consideration vs someone who has formed a later negative opinion based on a striking personal experience vs someone who is simply predisposed to xenophobia?)

I agree with you, Bryan Ekers. But, in terms of the OP, the question was whether anyone had actually produced research to say one way or the other. My point was it would be natural to wonder as to any correlation, whether there is or not.

The answer, aside from examples that are limited in scope at best, is no.

And I agree with Desmostylus. This is developing into a GD rather than GQ.

I suppose one COULD say that all racists are stupid…

To answer the actual OP, it would appear from this site that studies have been done to find out whether racists are more or less intelligent than non-racists. (I would have been astonished if they hadn’t.) Check for yourself to see what they found.

Whether any of this proves anything is, of course, another matter. Quite apart from all the usual caveats about statistical studies, it does strike me that ‘racism’ is almost as difficult to quantify as ‘intelligence’. As the OP itself and others have pointed out, cultural factors are also one obvious complication.

I disagree that this is necessarily a Great Debate. The general question is whether there has ever been a study that attempts to determine the correlation between intelligence and racist beliefs. As APB’s link indicates, the answer appears to be yes. Whether racism (or for that matter intelligence) can be quantified well enough for such studies to be valid may indeed be fodder for GD.

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