Nov 162009

On Brad Friedman’s piece about how Fox News is faux news:

I am so sick and tired of hearing the Publicans moan about the “liberal media”. They keep using this as an excuse for the existence of FOX ‘news’. Here’s the deal: The reason that the media tends to have a somewhat progressive slant is that educated and intelligent people tend to be Dems.

We have never seen an actual breakdown, by IQ, of political ideologies in the US, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of supposing to figure this out. People who are incapable of comprehending situational outcomes, such as the Iraq Occupation, are the type of people who cheer the loudest for such reckless and immoral behavior. So far, this is all just common sense. Honestly, look into the crowd of a daytime talk show or monster truck rally, you’re not going to find a whole lot of professors out there.

So everyone should have an equal voice, right? Well, how about this? We should let everyone in the US, regardless of IQ or education, be anything they want to be. That means newscasters, doctors, chemical engineers, nuclear engineers, etc. That’s freedom, right? So lets make a law that there has to be an equal cut for both sides of the isle, oh wait a minute, that would be communism. You see, I get so confused when I try to grasp these Publican concepts with only a third of my actual IQ.

A possibly faulty syllogism: educated people may tend to be Democrats, but do Democrats tend to be educated people? In other words, most intellectuals may be Democrats, but are most Democrats intellectuals?

I wonder what we would find if we could actually discover the average IQ of Republicans vs. the average IQ of Democrats (of course, IQ is not the same thing as level of education). Which party, on average, is more intelligent?

And here we run into the problem with equating one’s own beliefs with intelligence and one’s opponents’ beliefs with stupidity. It’s an argument not worth having, because one way or another, if you espouse it, you will encounter significant cognitive dissonance when someone whom you know to be intelligent still disagrees with you.

I’ve unintentionally provoked this reaction from people on more than one occasion, when they ask me, puzzled, ‘How can you be so smart and still hold these stupid political beliefs?’ The question leads to much speculation: has she imbibed her father’s ideology wholesale? has she simply chosen not to think critically about this one aspect of life? is she just being contrarian for the sake of it?

Oddly enough, it never leads to speculation that thinking people who disagree with you politically are automatically idiots is a fallacy.

I do not think my political opponents, as a group, are stupid. Some of them may well be stupid as individuals, but I don’t assume that stupidity is at the root of their disagreement with me. It would be nice if they granted me the same courtesy.

P.S. This isn’t intelligence-related, but ‘both sides of the isle‘? Seriously?

P.P.S. I suspect that political ideologies with fewer adherents (e.g. libertarians, actual communists, etc.) would top the average-IQ chart of political ideologies – just to get that in there before someone accuses me of secretly thinking it – for a couple of statistical reasons. First, the samples are smaller, so the distribution of IQs is likely to be spread more narrowly. Second, these smaller groupings tend to be ‘extremists’ of one sort or another, and most self-labelled ‘extremists’ appear to be men. And men, as we are told, dominate the right-hand end of the IQ curve.

  13 Responses to “Fascinating comment at CiF”

  1. Further to your P.P.S. perhaps there is also an element of those with a lower I.Q. not thinking too much or too deeply about their own politics, and therefore just picking one of the big parties and going with it. As opposed to really thinking analytically and critically about their own viewpoints and trying to find a ‘best match’ amongst all the parties.

  2. You make a simple (logical?) error. It’s not that men dominate the RH of the curve (or anything, in the modern world, for that matter). It’s purely that the variability in males is greater, leading to more of them at the extremes – more real thickoes (dummoes – whatever) than women.

  3. It follows (from the symmetry of the bell curve) that there are more male geniuses (genii? – whatever) or chess champions or mathematical &c. You get the drift. It’s statistical, idiot. Nothing to do with women being more intelligent than men (or v.v.). Men vary (thanks to testosterone in the womb – maybe?) more. Hence ……

    • GFM,

      Yes, that’s exactly what I said: there will be more men at the right-hand end of the curve. (Just as there will be more men at the left-hand end, too.) I don’t know whom you’re calling an idiot, but I don’t see much idiocy in asserting that because there are more men than women at the extreme, men dominate that extreme statistically. The word ‘dominate’ was not meant to connote anything about the general intelligence of men vs. women.

  4. Mencius Moldbug posits that progressivism is the natural ideology of the (democratic) State. Thus if you’re smart, in order to have any hope of having influence — in the media, or universities, or even in government itself, you must be (or pretend to be) a progressive.

    He has some absolutely batshit crazy ideas (like reintroducing chattel slavery) but he’s a very clever man, and it’s difficult to find faults in his arguments (invariably I just disagree on the axioms).

    His description of the self-organising power-tropic structure of the mainstream universities and the media in the US is quite compelling. I strongly recommend “An Open Letter to Open-Minded Progressives”:

    You won’t agree with everything, or even much of what he says, but you will think; and that’s a delicious feeling.

  5. Oh, technically, variability is best expressed by variance. If you knew all this, shame on you. If you were male your comment would be blatantly phallocratic.

    • GFM, you appear to be conducting an argument with somebody whose comments I can’t see. Either that, or you’re conducting an argument with me that I don’t understand. Could you please clarify?

  6. I should add that the description of clever people who ought to know otherwise, self-identifying as “progressive” in order to get on meshes neatly with my experiences reading about (and debating) global-warming stuff.

    A lot of the papers that I read presenting data which fundamentally trashed the AGW hypothesis, have abstracts and conclusions utterly detached from the actual contents of the paper.

    They have to, otherwise this happens. Lomborg doesn’t even deny AGW, he just says that there are more important issues to worry about!

  7. Bella, I have great respect for your cogitations, expressions thereof &c. However, honestly, tell me if the following is not somewhat, well …..

    “Second, these smaller groupings tend to be ‘extremists’ of one sort or another, and most self-labelled ‘extremists’ appear to be men. And men, as we are told, dominate the right-hand end of the IQ curve.”

    Pick your own adjective/adverb (depends on how you construct the sentence, I suppose – you’re the classicist).

    That’s all that I’m arguing about (not with, for heaven’s sake!). You make no acknowledgement of the LH side of the curve, using only the RHS in a purely perjorative (‘extremists’, men) sense. Come on, be grown-up and admit the phrasing was unfortunate.

    • GFM: Ah, thanks. I think there’s been a misunderstanding. First of all, I didn’t mean ‘extremists’ in a pejorative sense; I simply meant people outside of the central consensus. If you choose to interpret ‘extreme’ as pejorative, I can’t stop you; but as you say, I’m the classicist, where ‘extreme’ means ‘at the furthest points’ from the centre. Second, when I mentioned the right-hand side of the curve, I was referring to the ‘genius’ end of the curve. I’m well aware that male IQ is more variable, and that this will result in more men on the ‘genius’ end as well as more men on the ‘impaired’ end. I was not including the intellectually impaired in my estimation of average ‘extremist’ IQ because, in my experience, people with impaired intellects do not tend to subscribe to any political ideologies at all.

      I was not in any way trying to suggest that extremists = bad = men, or that men are any smarter (or stupider) than women.

      I’m still not entirely certain I understand your objections (telling me to pick my own adj/adv, for example, is not useful when I have no idea what you’re getting at), and I’m not at all convinced I deserve to be called an idiot because I chose to label my own political position as extreme and populated largely by men, some of whom might be geniuses (which anecdote demonstrates: I was the only woman at the LPUK general meeting last year, and other libertarian functions I attend are usually somewhere in the proportion of 4:1 in favour of men). Nevertheless, I hope this comment clears up some of the confusion.

  8. Sorry, I should have used a lower-case ‘p’ preceded by ellipses in ‘Pick’ following on from ‘well ….’ to clarify my invitation to PYO. I hope that helps add clarity. Read it again – with my correction.

    ‘Extremist’ is generally accepted as a pejorative. A technical meaning (I speak as a statistician), I suggest, would require a noun to be qualified by the adjective ‘extreme’ (your word), if not, ideally, qualified by the adjectival phrase ‘extreme value of’. You (and the Devil, I understand) would regard its unqualified use, in relation to your political beliefs, as a compliment. Your position (extreme Libertarian, I believe) is one I do not share (although I sympathise, as my bookmarks/favorites would testify).

    You force me into pedantry. I weary of this correspondence, and shall retire therefrom. Think, however, thereon.

  9. […] I’ve discovered Mencius Moldbug, thanks to a comment left here by sconzey.* […]

  10. Regarding your point on cognitive disonance found the perfect example: James Woods.

    IQ: ~180+
    MIT educated in political science and all round awesome actor.

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