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There are all types of statistics that could lead one to believe that liberals are smarter than conservatives. These include the fact that “Blue States” have higher graduation rates than “Red States” and the fact that most people who seek higher education have liberal ideologies.
But in reality, these numbers provide circumstantial proof at best. We need something more. Something that fully delves into the minds of conservatives and liberals to see just what’s going on. Though the right-wingers out there might not want you to know it, studies that do just that already exist.
CONSERVATISM, RACISM AND LOW IQ
“Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes” is a study performed by researchers at Brock University, and it caused quite the commotion when its results were released. The researchers found that having lower general intelligence in childhood could predict conservative and racist ideas as an adult. That’s right: having a low IQ score makes you more likely to vote conservative… and be a racist.
Now this isn’t to say that all Republicans are stupid. On the contrary: I fully believe that rich Republicans are some of the smartest people in the world. They literally trick poor Republicans into thinking it’s the big bad government’s fault that they’re poor, and in doing so, they make these people vote against their own best interests.
Even though being conservative doesn’t make you stupid, there’s no doubt that being stupid makes you more likely to be conservative.
FOX NEWS MAKES YOU LESS INFORMED
It’s not like we really needed a study to tell us this, but the survey “What You Know Depends on What You Watch,” undertaken by Fairleigh Dickinson University, found that watching Fox News results in knowing less about the world. Researchers asked 1,185 respondents which news shows they consumed and then asked general questions about newsworthy events.
Five questions were asked, and those who watch Fox News exclusively got 1.04 correct, on average. Individuals watching MSNBC, on the other hand, got 1.26. NPR listeners? They got an impressive 1.51. The Daily Show? Surely a “fake news” program couldn’t make you more informed than “the most watched cable news channel in America.”
Yep, as it turns out, The Daily Show viewers scored 1.42 on average. The best thing about this study, though? It asked questions to people who watch no news at all, and those individuals scored 1.22 on average. That’s right: Fox News makes you less informed than watching no news at all.
Let that sink in.
LOW EFFORT THOUGHT LEADS TO CONSERVATISM
We live in a complex world, and understanding this world requires complex thought. It would be easy to look at conservatives who think that all Muslims are terrorists or all Mexicans should “go home” and say that they’re engaged in simplistic thought. Instead of making that assumption ourselves, though, let’s look towards science.
Researchers over at the University of Arkansas released their study [link opens PDF] “Low-Effort Thought Promotes Political Conservatism,” and things started to make sense. They performed four different studies, all of which reduced subjects’ ability to use “effortful, deliberate thought,” and they found that situations causing low-effort thought resulted in more conservative beliefs.
Heck, one of the studies found that, as an individual becomes more intoxicated on alcohol, their conservative beliefs increase. Which makes perfect sense, because if you ever saw me vote for Sarah Palin, you can rest assured that I’m drunk.
Scratch that. It’s a catch-22. The amount of alcohol it would require for me to vote for Palin would literally kill me.
HOMOPHOBIA LINKED TO LOW ABSTRACT REASONING SKILLS
Let’s get this out of the way first: Yes, there are “liberals” out there who are homophobic. That being said, homophobia is a largely conservative disease. It’s conservatives who usually hold homophobic attitudes and fight against marriage equality. With that being said, let’s look at abstract reasoning skills.
A researcher out of Kent State University undertook a study he would eventually title “Abstract Reasoning as a Predictor of Attitudes Toward Gay Men.” What he found was no big surprise. Those who have lower abstract reasoning skills experience higher levels of anti-gay prejudice.
When they looked at other predictors of anti-gay prejudice, they found that right-wing authoritarian ideas were most strongly related to this prejudice. So lacking abstract reasoning and being a right-wing nut job increases your prejudice against gays. Like we couldn’t have figured that out on our own.
IT’S ALL IN THE BRAIN, BABY
Some of the aforementioned studies show us that being dumb makes you more likely to be conservative, and unfortunately, watching conservative channels like Fox News can make you even more dumb. Of course, conservatives will likely attack these studies and say that they’re biased.
Unfortunately for them, the study “Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults” was released. The researchers in this study performed MRI scans on participants. Just so you know, there’s no way to insert liberal bias into an MRI scan.
What they found was that “conservative students had a larger amygdala than liberals.” Conversely, the anterior cingulate cortex of liberal students had more gray matter than their conservative counterparts. Here’s why that’s important:
“The amygdala is… active during states of fear and anxiety. […] The anterior cingulate cortex [is] a region of the brain that helps people cope with complexity.”
And the best part? This is biological. There’s no arguing the point. Liberals’ brains are biologically more able to handle complex thought, and conservatives base their beliefs on fear. This study isn’t hard to believe when one considers the fear conservatives showcase for immigrants, Muslims, minorities and any of the other million things they’re bigoted towards. Hence the success of the 24-7 fear cycle of Fox News.
These are peer-reviewed studies, by scientists who cumulatively have more degrees than I’ve got houses in my neighborhood. Conservatives can try to say they’re biased all they want, but as we know from their beliefs on climate change, they don’t subscribe much to the area of science.
Conservatives are dumb… it’s a scientific fact.