Hodson and Busseri (2012): first thoughts


1)  Nice of them to insist that social conservatism and racism are theoretically distinct phenomena.

2) Sure, there’s a correlation between our beliefs and stupidity, but how lopsided are the smart and dumb populations?  From the paper:

When the effects are expressed as a binomial effect size
display, the implications are compelling: In the BCS, 62% of
boys and 65% of girls whose level of intelligence was below the
median at age 10 expressed above-median levels of racism during
adulthood. Conversely, only 35% to 38% of the children
with above-median levels of intelligence exhibited racist attitudes
as adults. Keiller’s (2010) cross-sectional data revealed a
similarly impressive binomial effect: Sixty-eight percent of
individuals whose abstract-reasoning scores were below the
median scored above the median on measures of antihomosexual

So, if you know someone is smart, there’s a better than 50-50 chance he’s a liberal, but it’s not such a big chance that you could take it for granted.  If 35% of smart people are conservative, that would be enough to debunk the liberal prejudice about us.

(Of course, it would be nice to get more information here.  It could be, for example, that super-smart people are monolithically liberal, or that my beliefs–the extreme Right-end–are entirely limited to the brick-stupid.  Liberals would no doubt be gratified to learn such things, but let’s wait and see if we can track down the data.)

3) They double down on the “seeing things from other peoples’ perspectives is cognitively hard” line:

In a report of a recent American study, Keiller (2010) argued
that the capacity for abstract (as opposed to concrete) thinking
should facilitate comprehension of other people and the
complex mental processing required for the interpretation of
relatively novel information (i.e., the type of information
encountered during intergroup contact). For instance, adopting
another person’s perspective requires advanced cognitive
processing, abstraction, and interpretation, particularly when
the target is an out-group member (and thus “different”).
Given that perspective taking reduces prejudice (Hodson,
Choma, & Costello, 2009), stronger mental capabilities may
facilitate smoother intergroup interactions.

As I said before, this is just silly.  It takes no brains at all to think about things from another person’s perspective, so long as that perspective consists of nothing more complicated than interests and feelings.  Let’s give it a shot.  “Hey, if I wanted to have sex with men, wouldn’t it be great if everybody approved and I could indulge myself?”  Wow, that was really hard, right?

Being utilitarians, though, liberals think that seeing things from other peoples’ perspectives so that you can impartially weigh happiness and harm, is simply all there is to morality.  They can’t imagine that anyone does practical reasoning any other way.  So if I have beliefs about the language of the body and the telos of sex I should count that as a perspective among many–a subjective preference, really–that, if I’m smart enough, I’ll overcome and defer to others’ preferences.  But of course this is not how nonliberals think.  The perspective of natural law isn’t the perspective of any particular subject; it’s objective (a “view from nowhere”) or it’s nothing.  If I believe I have an objective view, than the raw cognitive ability to appropriate more varied subjective views isn’t going to change my conclusions.  I’ll just end up thinking “isn’t it a shame that justice and the truth prevent me from assuaging some peoples’ feelings?”

It must be a wonder to liberals that the intelligence-prejudice anticorrelation isn’t actually much stronger.  After all, for all of their talk about “complexity”, they must know that moral reasoning as they recognize it is not very complicated or subtle.  And as they see it, if someone doesn’t accept their moral reasoning, it can only be because we weren’t smart enough to understand it.  Which means we really must be spectacularly stupid.  Given how things must seem to them, they really are remarkably polite and respectful to us.

15 Responses

  1. Lying consistently and well is cognitively burdensome. I keep on toying with the idea that PC is epiphenomenal and that what is really going on is just an ever more efficient and ruthless income and status transfer from the lower to the higher IQ types.

    Though this is not quite right. To be elite, you have to be either smart enough to lie consistently and well (and evil enough to do it) or you have to be stupid enough and correctly socialized enough actually to believe PC is true. So, the benefits flow to the very-high-IQ evil elite and those of their children they manage to successfully socialize into PC. Maybe.

    Of course, this leaves, on the one hand, people smart enough to see the truth but insufficiently evil to play the game, and, on the other hand, people not socialized into PC. It would seem that everyone is socialized into PC, but as JMSmith alludes to in another thread, the harsh reality of getting raped, stomped, widowed, or mugged by one of the left’s mascot groups tends to un-socialize people.

  2. I’d say Bill’s last paragraph goes a good way toward explaining the disparity in racist attitudes. Low intelligence whites will, by the time they are adults, have far more experience of minorities, as classmates, neighbors, and coworkers, than anyone in the cognitive elite. And the minorities with whom they have experience will be low intelligence. Sometimes this experience is good, to be sure, but often it is not.

    There’s another point to be added here. A prejudice may be false with respect to an entire population, but true with respect to the next representative of that population I’m likely to meet. When I say Asians are good at math, it could well be false for Asians taken as a whole, but it is very probably true for the next Asian I’m likely to meet here at the university. When a woman says “men are bums” she’s not making a sociological generalization, she’s making a prediction about the next man she’s likely to meet. And if she lives in a bum-rich environment, or is a bum-magnet, she’s absolutely right.

    Bonald is correct to say that it requires very little imagination to enter into another man’s morality if we assume utilitarianism. I just have to imagine that I want what he wants and then imagine how I would get it without stepping on too many toes. The abstract principle of utility helps here. If a new tattoo on his chest has for a man the same utility as a new book on the shelf has for me, I can fully comprehend the tattoo as “one book’s worth” of utility. Big deal! I still don’t love tattoos the way he loves tattoos.

    Which brings me to my final remark. There is a difference between imagination and fantasy (as Roger Scruton argued), and the man who believes himself capable of imaginatively entering into every other form of human subjectivity must not be able to tell the difference. To say “I cannot imagine . . .” is not always a sign of a defective imagination. It’s often a sign of an imagination that recognizes its limits and knows that, beyond this point, it would just be pretending to understand. Or its a sign of a disciplined imagination that knows all imaginings are not permitted.

  3. Bonald that was devastating as usual. Martin Cothran similarly astonished by NYT liberal ‘stochastic’ 🙂 moral reasoning. I would have been less charitable.

    What can you feel toward a class of people who, in their polytheism of ‘values’, include ‘diversity’ but then ruthlessly self-select to this degree? http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/science/08tier.html?

    I’m with Bill, radical transfer of power from poor to rich is going. Absent Jesus Power must seem the realest of things to these people.

    Has the HHS issue mark I & II widely exposed them as spectacularly stupid?

  4. I really hate this simplistic liberal/conservative binary. I don’t think the races possess equal capabilities, but I still think puritanical views on sexuality are stupid and antiquated. I think “human rights” are a fiction, but I fully approve of abortion and birth control. I think democratic government and universal education are disasters, but I don’t mind homosexuals.

    A better question is why so many seemingly unrelated beliefs are often bundled together. Groupthink? I’ve noticed that many people on both sides of the aisle have difficulty maintaining their independence and often end up adopting most of the beliefs of their peers. You’ve managed to hold your own on the Climate Change issue, for example, but I wonder if that would be the case if your work in the hard sciences hadn’t rendered you immune towards the outlandish conspiracy theories that get bandied about by the skeptics.

    This leads to cognitive dissonance on some issues. I’ve noticed that many racialists, even non-Christian ones, are anti-abortion, which leads me to point out that blacks get 5x as many abortions as whites do, non-white hispanics around 3x as many, so if you’re a racialist, you should support abortion to keep the demographics relatively sane. Yet something in their head does not compute. They believe that only “liberals” could possibly support abortion or something. There’s a tendency to see everything in such stark Manichean terms.

  5. I still think puritanical views on sexuality are stupid and antiquated

    Sexuality in the modern West is now a war of all against all. I would suggest a visit to the Chateau. Hell, even reading Charles Murray’s Coming Apart will tell you pretty much the same story.

  6. A better question is why so many seemingly unrelated beliefs are often bundled together.

    Disagree. Drieu a civilization cannot be sustained on secular biological, materialist reductionism alone for there is the body (natural), the soul (social) and the spirit (transcendent). Truth is multi-faceted and possesses many distinct aspects that form a whole. Your views are not any better than the cultural conservative who ignores racial realism and thinks that the spiritual realm is the only aspect that matters (how is that working for them?). If you believe that brushing aside sexual liberation and feminism is worthwhile, you have another thing coming. Your worldview is in reality unsustainable and prone to failure, since liberals are more coherent, and sexual liberalism is one of the defining features of modernity.

  7. But you’re countering one extreme (“do as thou wilt!” libertarianism) with another extreme (“sex outside of marriage and for reproduction is wrong!” puritanism) that also carries lots of negative consequences.

    Also note that I’m not terribly sympathetic to losers who want to enforce chastity on others simply because they can’t get laid (which is the case 99% of the time). Society’s justification is not in its losers. The losers only exist to serve the Great Men.

  8. “Drieu a civilization cannot be sustained on secular biological, materialist reductionism alone for there is the body (natural), the soul (social) and the spirit (transcendent). ”

    And none of that necessarily entails adopting Christianity or Christian attitudes towards abortion, homosexuals, or sexuality, which is what I specifically mentioned. I agree that some sort of religion is likely needed to keep the drooling class in line. But again, that doesn’t entail Christianity. I happen to think the ancient Greeks/Romans had far better attitudes towards those issues I named. I even think infanticide, which was practiced by pagans, should be revived. Christianity, with its belief that all life is sacred (even the unborn!), has given us nonsense like “individual rights” and turned people into milksops. In the ancient world, children were not viewed as anything special in themselves, simply incomplete adults, and we were better off with such a mindset than the ridiculous 19th century sentimentality dominant among Christian conservatives. The sooner one becomes hardened, the better.

    “Your views are not any better than the cultural conservative who ignores racial realism.”

    This would include the Pope and the Church hierarchy, for your information, and has for some time.

  9. You are assuming that there is some sort of middle ground here from a public policy perspective. There isn’t. Bright lines must be drawn or you get widespread libertinage. You’d have to be completely insane to suggest that some in-between rule like “you must have spent 100 hours together before you have sex” would have any force in discouraging that sort of thing.

    Perhaps I should ask you. How exactly do you propose to discourage libertinage?

  10. I agree with Drieu that Christianity should not be adopted as a means to the end of preservation of civilization. Nor should it be adopted as the means to the end of stable families, good health, or minimized body odor. The question is, is it true or not true, not is is useful or not useful. I think Christianity is, on the whole, conducive to civilized life, but that is not the reason I’m a Christian.

    I disagree with Drieu that Christianity has any special utility or attraction for the “drooling classes.” The drooling classes are, left to themselves, content to drool. And what they naturally drool over are worldly prizes of the flesh. No doubt the churches have done their best to push this behind the curtain, but the battle of Flesh and Spirit is unquestionably at the hear of Christianity, and taking the side of Spirit in this battle is hardly a strategy to win over the “drooling classes.”

    Christianity did not give us post-Christian notions like human rights, and Christians do not oppose abortion because abortion violated the “rights” of the fetus. To love a man, as Christ enjoined, is nothing like respecting his rights (and honoring God is not respecting his rights, either). Our core virtue is charity, not justice.

  11. Hi Drieu,

    There is certainly some of this groupthink phenomenon going on. I notice it even in myself. Hanging around parts of the internet that are ideologically sympathetic means that I get exposed more to one side of an issue than another, even on issues that I don’t particularly care about or that I didn’t choose those websites for their stands on. I don’t just mindlessly adopt the views of those around me (I hope!), but it does lead to a subtle drift in their direction.

    I’d really like to hear more about your brand of Rightism. You’ve told us quite plainly what you’re against: democracy and egalitarianism. What things are you in favour of? What sorts of actions might a Drieu-approved leader take?

  12. Christianity, with its belief that all life is sacred (even the unborn!), has given us nonsense like “individual rights” and turned people into milksops.

    This is non-sense Drieu. Those on the forefront of individual rights and human rights are the biggest defenders of infanticide, abortion and contraception. Liberalism can be interpreted as Christianity without God but here’s the crux: Christianity without God (and the spiritual realm) is not biblical Christianity because a religion like Christianity must by definition and practice advocate the supernatural realm. Liberalism instead can be properly considered a Christian heresy, like others from the ancient world and some in the modern world, but it is not an offshoot of Christianity compared to, for example, Christianity being an offshoot of Judaism (which is more accurate).

  13. I’d really like to hear more about your brand of Rightism.

    Drieu is an interesting character. His brand of rightism reminds me of American secular right-wingers and the pagan European right. I’ve read a couple of atheist and agnostic websites that tried to incorporate a conservative ideology without a monotheistic religion (in particular Christianity) and most of these authors prefered the ancient polytheistic pagan religions of Rome and Greece since Christianity was interpreted as the cause of modern ills and as a weakness.

  14. The denial of the transcendent is fundamental to liberalism, left or right. Religion is a private hobby or, at best, a form of therapy.

  15. […] while back, I spent some time talking about the study purporting to show that conservatives are stupid.  Now my Throne […]

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