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.