Well there's a huge surprise

Ok, I need you to brace yourself.  Take a seat, maybe take a few very deep breaths.

A new study has been released that makes a very shocking assertion.

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.

I know, right?  Bigots tend to be dumb people.  Who knew?

Here’s the other part.

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.

Wait a minute.  You’re saying the people who almost all believe a Canaanite Jew rose from the dead 2,000 years ago, who deny global warming, who deny evolution, the people who think losing in court is a better use of money than education, who think letting people love who they wish is destroying America, who think not educating children about sex prevents pregnancy or disease…the study concludes that those people tend to be dumb?

Next you’ll tell me that homophobes tend to be religious.


About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Aquaria

    I’m shocked, I tell you–shocked at this finding!

  • http://mamamara.wordpress.com Mara

    While this study obviously confirms my biases, I hesitate to celebrate until I can get a look at their data. Unfortunately, I don’t subscribe to that journal and I can’t afford the $35 for access. (Ugh.)

    Is anybody reading this post who has read the original study and can provide some background if this is legit?

    • eigenperson


      I read the study but I don’t have the expertise to evaluate it. The data sources they used are the National Child Development Study of 1958 and the British Cohort Study of 1970. As for the statistical methods, I’ll just leave this here:

      We used AMOS software (Arbuckle, 2006) to test the hypothesized mediation model separately for men and women in each data set, using correlation matrices reported by Deary et al. (2008) and Schoon et al. (2010). (Note that the means and standard deviations for each study are provided in these reports.) We modeled the measures of cognitive ability as indicators of a latent g factor (see Deary et al., 2008; Schoon et al., 2010) and the measures of conservatism as indicators of a latent conservative-ideology factor. Directional paths were estimated between the latent g factor and the latent conservative-ideology factor (Path a in Fig. 1), between the latent conservative-ideology factor and the measure of racism (Path b), and between the latent g factor and the measure of racism (Paths c and c′). To statistically identify the latent factors, we fixed the variance on the latent g factor and the residual variance on the latent conservative-ideology factor at 1; loadings on each latent factor were freely estimated. To account for the potentially confounding effects of socioeconomic status, we specified all three covariates both as correlates of the latent g factor and as predictors of latent ideology and racism. Parameter estimates and significance tests were based on bias-corrected estimates derived from 1,000 bootstrap samples (see Shrout & Bolger, 2002).

      My gut feeling is that these methods employ far too many layers of statistical inference to draw a meaningful conclusion, but that’s not an educated opinion, just a gut feeling. A statistician would be better equipped to comment on this.

      • http://mamamara.wordpress.com Mara

        Sadly, I’m not a statistician either, but my gut feeling says the same as your gut feeling. Thanks for the info!

  • The Lorax

    My monocle damn near fell into my tea!

  • http://www.freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed Natalie Reed

    Hear that? It’s the sound of gasps, monocles falling into glasses of champagne, and women fainting into the arms of men!

  • Mark

    “You’re saying the people who almost all believe a Canaanite Jew rose from the dead 2,000 years ago, who deny global warming, who deny evolution, the people who think losing in court is a better use of money than education, who think letting people love who they wish is destroying America, who think not educating children about sex prevents pregnancy or disease…the study concludes that those people tend to be dumb?”

    I don’t think it’s saying that; from the article: “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.”

    Your post, itself, seems to contain a certain level of prejudice.

  • janicot

    One of my favorite quotes (and I realize that in his situation ‘Conservative’ was a political party like our ‘Republican’):

    ‘I never meant to say that Conservatives are generally stupid. I
    meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative.’
    — John Stuart Mill

  • http://johnnykaje.wordpress.com/store Johnnykaje

    I’m getting sick of these studies. “Liberal genes”, enlarged amygdalas in conservatives, and now IQ scores (because they are totes reliable) reassure us that yes, we’re so much better than conservatives naturally.

    Not saying we shouldn’t do studies like this, but taking one and running with it just because it says what we want to hear isn’t very skeptical.

    • http://onefuriousllama.com onefuriousllama

      It’s not the only one… not too long a go a nice young Scotsman did a study that links intelligence to a lack of religiosity.

      There are two points really:
      1. Just because you are religious doesn’t make you stupid and just because you’re not religious doesn’t make you intelligent.

      2. On AVERAGE, less intelligent people gravitate towards religion and on AVERAGE more intelligent people gravitate away form religion.

      There is nothing wrong with stating that. It’s true.

  • Sarahface

    *clutches pearls*

    I… I simply cannot believe this! Bring me the fainting couch and my smelling salts!

  • http://www.facebook.com/miguel.picanco miguelpicanco

    I’d be interested to see if it’s less about which positions, but ideologies and xenophobia in general which, because of various reasons, have been pooled together into what we now identify as conservative in the US.

  • Joshua Perry

    Seeing as how religion was an invention of the middle ages to teach the tenets of Christianity to those who could not read, I am simply shocked at the results of this study. I wonder if they’ll do another study and show us that colleges are an invention of modern times used to trick average kids into giving away tens of thousands of dollars for a piece of paper that says they learned just enough to come work for those of us with true God-given talent and intelligence…funny how most of those who need to go to college to be successful tend to be atheists. Does correlation != causality? ;^)

  • themover

    “You’re saying the people who almost all believe a Canaanite Jew rose from the dead 2,000 years ago, who deny global warming, who deny evolution, the people who think losing in court is a better use of money than education, who think letting people love who they wish is destroying America, who think not educating children about sex prevents pregnancy or disease…the study concludes that those people tend to be dumb?”

    You have learned well. This a fine list of pejorative misconceptions mouthed by progressives about conservatives. Since progressives cannot debate any subject, theory, or motive using facts, they resort to rhetoric designed to undermine or marginalize opposing views.

    I find your list particularly amusing in the following ways.

    Many secularists adore zombie apocalypse movies and indeed, a recently opened zombie survival supply store exists in Las Vegas, NV. But by the physical laws we know; zombies could not exist. The only way to alter our physical universe to allow zombies would require a power higher than is currently explainable. So, we are only left with a God or Gods to explain them. That applies equally to time travel, ghosts, paranormal activity, and the existence of hobbits, elves, pixies, fairies, vampires and Hellboy.

    On global warming I don’t know of any conservative who truly “denies” that the climate changes or that it is not changing now. The difference is doubting whether human activity is causing it and not buying into the crushing expense required to marginally slow it down (if at all).

    On evolution: again, there is little doubt among conservatives that animals and plants change over time and that the change is influenced by nature, with or without a designed purpose. The difference is science’s inability to explain, demonstrate, or recreate the event that caused the spark of life from which we all came to be. Sure some of the hardcore religious believe the universe was created about 6000 years ago in only 6 days, but they are not representative of the vast majority of conservatives. I am conservative and I believe the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, formed from gravity that clumped material together, and naturally found its orbit around our sun. The evolution denier remark is to shutdown opposing views and intelligent discussion by people who rely on their feelings and self-serving experts.

    The, what I can only describe as ‘goofy’, assertion that mainstream conservatives believe in interfering with personal relationships between any consenting adults is ludicrous. You have to admit that most Americans, regardless of conservatism or liberalism, have only recently (3 or 4 decades) come to grips with their upbringing and the acceptance of same sex activity. I don’t know many (actually a truly marginalized few) who call themselves conservative and believe that the gay life style is evil. The rest don’t care. I don’t care. I’m a ‘live and let live’ kind of guy. Again the label, especially the recently coined new age term, “homophobia”, is used to shut down debate rather than have a reasoned adult discussion about it.

    As for ‘educating children about sex’, again; conservatives are not against sex education. The problem comes in when mush-brained union teachers indoctrinate children into a lifestyle consistent with a lack of concern over personal discipline & responsibility and are in effect, given permission to engage in sexual activity at earlier and earlier ages. This, of course, increases the number of pregnancies followed by abortions, and for some; out of wedlock births. It is a statistical fact that having a baby out of wedlock, especially when young, leads to a life of poverty and dependence while severely reduces options. Teaching the mechanics of sex to youth is a very good idea, but it must be accompanied with emphasis on reasoned, illuminated lessons in personal responsibility and the consequences, immediate and long term, of their actions.

    The remark, “losing in court is a better use of money than education”, needs explaining.

  • http://www.madjacks.biz sparky_ca

    actually, there are good, sound reasons to research a Zombie Apocalypse. If you read scientific magazines like the Smithsonian you might notice that there is a lot of mathematical modeling using ‘zombie’ outbreaks to study the spread of epidimics.

    Plus, there really are zombie parasites in nature. See this Cracked article. I included it for you because the article uses small words and has lots of pictures yet presents real facts.

    The rest of your comments are stupid and have been thoroughly shot down repeatedly all over FTB by others so I won’t even bother to reply any of the rest of it. I have a feeling you will do the internet equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and singing ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’ off key and very loudly to drown out any facts you are presented with.

    • themover

      I don’t object to a zombie apocalypse modeling for research. But, just to be clear, if using the true definition of a zombie (a dead person reanimated), there is no such thing. If you mean a zombie is a person who appears dead and is reanimated, well, that’s something else.

      The reference to Cracked was excellent though. It was an enjoyable read with pictures and small words, just as you describe. I especially like all the references they made to movies. That is where I go to get real scientific enlightenment. Thanks :)

      I don’t have a remembrance of posting similar content on FTB. So the rest of my comments here probably have not been shot down. Although I’m sure there have been similar assertions by others and emotional responses to them.

      I am always very happy to hear, or read, facts. Post some and I will gladly have a look.

  • John Phillips, FCD

    themover, ignoring the fact that jt was basically having a bit of laugh at the result by expressing mock surprise, there is so much wrong in your post that I don’t quite know where to begin. But for now, I’ll respond to two of your points.

    Firstly, the more comprehensive the sex education given by a state or a country is, as study after study, both national and international repeatedly show, the lower its rates of teen pregnancies, STIs etc when compared to those that rely on abstinence only and/or purity pledges. BTW, comprehensive sex education includes abstinence as an element while recognising that there will still be sexual activity amongst some, hence the inclusion of education about contraception and safe sexual practises. Yet with all the evidence in, the abstinence only crowd sticks their fingers in their years going lalalalala, can’t hear you.

    Secondly, as to the

    “losing in court is a better use of money than education”

    remark. That concerns the Cranston school trial where the school board has already lost the case on constitutional church/state separation grounds. So far it has cost them about $175,000 for the other sides costs alone, which they have to pay as the losing side That $175,000 ignores whatever amount their own lawyers’ costs are. Yet many of the locals want to appeal when they know with near certainty that they will lose again, thus adding to their financial loss. All of these costs will come out of the districts education budget, i.e. less to spend on their kids education. Clear enough for you.

    • themover

      “more comprehensive the sex education… the lower its rates of teen pregnancies, STIs etc when compared to those that rely on abstinence only and/or purity pledges.”

      I have no problem with sex education in general terms, but what has been taught in the schools goes over the line. What bothers me is an NEA union rep (government employee school teacher) indoctrinating the youth into their point of view (no discipline, no emphasis on consequences, no personal responsibility), handing out condoms to children, teaching them that their personal lives are none of their parent’s business and abortions are perfectly OK. Back in 1995 I was stunned to have a doctor announce that she wasn’t going to answer medical questions I might have about my teenage daughter. My kid was sick and I have to know why. It is a parent’s responsibility.

      BTW: They’ve had the public school’s version of sex ed in place for decades. And the results are in. It cannot be characterized as “successful” when you consider this.

      According to the CDC, the USA unmarried birth rate has been raising steadily, peaking at 40.1% of all births in 2009. Of the births by teenagers, 87% were unmarried, with the number dropping to 20% for those over 30 years. There were about 800,000 abortions in America in 2007. Abortions among “Adolescents aged 15–19 years accounted for 16.5% of all abortions in 2007″ (CDC) and the next group, “Women aged 20–29 years accounted for 56.9% of all abortions in 2007″. STD rates have been on the rise, up 62% between 1996 and 2007.

      So many trapped in poverty and killing their babies. Is that what you call success?

      On Cranston, one story notes “U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lagueux ruled that the prayer banner at Cranston High School West must be removed immediately because it promotes religion.”

      Here is why that judgment is just plain wrong and it’s time a few got wind of the truth.

      There is no Constitutional prohibition against government employees promoting religion. The founders based the US Constitution’s protected rights as having been “endowed by our creator”. To believe they wanted to exclude religion from government is plainly ludicrous. The First Amendment limits government from establishing a religion. As long as everyone can practice their own religion without government interference, then all religion is treated the same (as it should be).

      The main thing that needs to be understood: There is no provision excluding religion from government. None. No prohibition against allowing churches to make use of government property and no prohibition against any person who works as a government employee from expressing their religious beliefs. None. The only reason there is any question at all is because a bunch of worthless judges wanted to set some goofy precedent and be adored by the mush brain class.

      Just listen to that ninny and former ACLU top knot, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She believes our constitution is unacceptable and counseled the Egyptian people last January that “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” Duh. She’s lucky she got out of Egypt before they started “detaining” foreigners. (http://tinyurl.com/6s4f5a8) Of course she has uttered nonsense along these lines before.