Are Liberals More Educated Than Conservatives? (2012 Election Update)

A year ago, I analyzed the education levels of Democratic and Republican voters for a total of five Presidential and Midterm elections. In that analysis, I had concluded that  people at both the high and low ends of the educational spectrum had tended to favor Democratic candidates, and therefore, that the assertion that liberals were smarter than conservatives was an overly simplistic notion with little basis in the actual data. Below, I have republished the original article in its entirety, and have also included new data from the 2012 Presidential elections. Not surprisingly, last year’s conclusion still holds.

A surprising amount of anti-conservative bigotry on the web asserts that conservatives are inherently less intelligent than liberals. Admittedly, some prominent conservatives make statements that go against the mainstream scientific consensus on topics such as global warming and Darwin’s theory of evolution. That said, these examples do not mean that being a conservative automatically implies a lower IQ or education level than being a liberal does.

I decided to run the numbers to test this assertion, and it turns out it is not true. However, a far more interesting pattern emerges that confirms a theory I have always held, but had never taken the time to test.

In my opinion, certain liberal policies appear to have an underlying paternalistic tone. They hold that the poor and uneducated need the help of wiser government bureaucrats to protect them from themselves. Many liberals believe it is unfair for society to hold people accountable for their own condition. Therefore, the ignorant and benighted conservative voter should just fall in line and let the ivory tower intelligentsia dictate how society ought to run people’s lives. The intellectual is, after all, so much smarter than the average working stiff.

Of course, average working stiffs and/or business owners who have some college or are college graduates have made their own way in the world, have taken risk, and have a strong desire to control their own fates. They resent fiats from a central authority led by a group of over-educated individuals with little or no prior business experience.

To implement this idealistic worldview, mainstream liberalism needs muscle, and that muscle comes from the undereducated masses who stand to benefit from a dogma seeking to redistribute the income earned by others directly to them.

As such, the distribution of liberal and conservative education levels should differ sharply. Liberal education levels should have fatter tails at the low and high ends of the educational spectrum, while conservative education levels should be more concentrated in the middle.

To test my theory, I looked at education levels by voter in the 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections, as well as the 2006 and 2010 midterm elections. In every case, the share of people with no high school education was higher among people voting for Democratic candidates than it was among people voting for Republican candidates. On the opposite end of the spectrum, in every case, the share of people with a postgraduate education was higher among people voting for Democratic candidates than it was among people voting for Republican candidates.

The voting trends by party and education for each of these elections are listed below:

The 2000 Presidential Election

The 2004 Presidential Election

The 2006 Midterm Election

The 2008 Presidential Election

The 2010 Midterm Election

The 2012 Presidential Election

Based on the above data, it seems clear that people at both the high and low ends of the educational spectrum tend to favor Democratic candidates. Therefore, the assertion that liberals are smarter than conservatives is an overly simplistic notion with little basis in the actual data.

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About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Conservative clean energy crusader, national security hawk, financial analyst, engineer, and former military officer.
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47 Responses to Are Liberals More Educated Than Conservatives? (2012 Election Update)

  1. Pingback: Are Liberals More Educated Than Conservatives? | Reflections of a Rational Republican

  2. samuelprime says:

    The differences I think are statistically insignificant – as you already alluded. I think that there are similar disparities between other groups, say between whites and blacks for example in the various education categories. Would those liberals who use the argument you referred to also say that whites are ‘smarter’ than blacks because of these disparities? I’d like to hear them say that out loud (and make it public!).

    • Ah, such supreme cognitive dissonance!

      Liberals would never make such an argument even though it is entirely logically consistent with their argument that liberals are smarter than conservatives.

      • samuelprime says:

        Yes, and as a matter of fact the disparities between black/white and even men/women in the sciences are even MORE significant than the minor and mixed data that you have cited. For instance, it is well known that men vastly outnumber women in engineering and the sciences (especially in physics) — an issue that has been discussed to death in various professional journals — but liberals would not dare conclude from these that men are MUCH smarter than women. There are far more complex social and other issues that come into play that might account for these significant differences — but bigoted or sexist conclusions aren’t one of them.

  3. John LaRosa says:

    Interesting post. I would add that “more educated” does not mean “smarter”. In fact, in the public policy arena, “more educated” often equates to “dumber”, especially when false liberal premises are followed to their logical conclusions. Flawed policies always flow from false premises.

  4. middleagedhousewife says:

    I think it is interesting that in the midterms, high school graduates voting Republican were slightly less than Democrats, while in the Presidential elections they were slightly more. I also think that it would be interesting to break down the post-graduates by their field of studies. My theory is that fields such as Engineering, Medicine and Economics would have a higher percentage of Republicans and fields such as Anthropology, Philosophy and Education would have a higher number of Democrats. I totally agree with John’s comment. Apparently having a higher level of education does not make you less susceptible to campaign rhetoric. I’ll take experience and common sense over an advanced degree every time.

    • It would definitely be an interesting study. I know for sure that lawyers voted disproportionately Democrat. I also think that more folks in math and science fields would vote Republican.

    • Bill says:

      I believe some studies conclude that a decisive majority of people in the “hard” sciences (by “hard” I do not mean degree of difficulty) with the possible exceptions of medicine and engineering identify as either liberal or leaning that way. I think I may have gotten that from a reference to a study by the American Academy of Science.

      • Bill says:

        Actually I just re-checked myself and it was not the National Academy of Scientiss – it was a Pew research effort – in 2009 I believe. According to their published results, only 6% of the sample characterized themselves as conservative. Another 25% were neutral, and the whopping remainder said they were Democrat or liberal in their views. I just googled and found that, for what it’s worth. Interesting topic.

  5. octavian61 says:

    I feel it is more of what drives a person ideologically then education. I’m a Hispanic. I’m also a naturalized citizen. I have voted Republican since I was allowed to vote. And I am a product of NYC publics school, believe it or not. I was disgusted how many of my Hispanic neighbors would vote for Democrats because of what freebies they would get from them. So I decided to vote against that frame of thought and have not made too many friends since then.

  6. Alan Scott says:

    I don’t have statistics, but talking to young Obama voters I am related to, it strikes me at how uninformed they are . They tend to be single issue voters, gay marriage, abortion rights, free health care, etc . Ask them about Benghazi, fast and furious, or the deficit, and they have no clue what you are talking about .

  7. lbwoodgate says:

    Since you are trying to present an argument with a scientific rationale Sean, I think your premise on this subject is seriously flawed based on this comment of yours:

    “A surprising amount of anti-conservative bigotry on the web asserts that conservatives are inherently less intelligent than liberals.”

    If you’re in an Irish bar and here most people bad mouthing protestants do you automatically presume all Irish people hate Protestants or is it because you think all irish people who bash protestants are catholics? Your sample size – A surprising amount of anti-conservative bigotry on the web – is hardly a representative sample of liberals. And how many of these assertions you have heard on the web comparing liberals and conservatives are just simply reflections of angry people of no established ideology but just railing against some conservatives, not all, specifically the new ranks of the GOP we tend to refer to as the Tea Party?

    You and those who seem to support you here appear to be guilty of creating a straw man that you can easily knock down with some data you’ve acquired from a news poll, making it convenient for you to see and hear what you want to.

    You’re playing loose with the scientific method Sean. That’s not very nice.

    • LB,

      I’m doing no such thing. First, my contention that “there is a surprising amount of anti-conservative bigotry” was deliberately framed as an opinion, not a quantitative certainty. It has nothing to do with the scientific method, though the data from my analysis does support a more nuanced conclusion.

      That said, read any Krugman column or New York Times article, and you’d conclude that Republicans are nothing but a group of anti-science racist reactionaries.

      • John LaRosa says:

        I concur, Sean. I not only see the anti-conservative bias every day in “news” articles from the NY Times and “reports” from ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, MSNBC, but I’m also a frequent target of Left Wing vitriol. I’m not sure how many times I’ve been told to “die a slow and painful death” on Twitter (just for supporting or retweeting a conservative candidate) but I estimate that number to be in the hundreds, just in the 2012 election cycle. There is a mountain of anectdotal and empirical evidence to support your contention should you choose to write a follow up blog on the subject.

      • lbwoodgate says:

        “That said, read any Krugman column or New York Times article, and you’d conclude that Republicans are nothing but a group of anti-science racist reactionaries”

        Sorry, I disagree. I still think you are reading too much into this. Klugman’s comments are generally aimed at the extremist element in the GOP, which you must admit seems to be how most come across today.

        Many of us on the liberal side of this argument have concerns that the GOP of old has been hijacked by an irrational faction and in effect makes the whole Party look bad. There appears to be no more true conservatives anymore, especially along the lines of Edmond Burke. Only Ayn Rand radicals. This too is why the Party can’t garner the support it needs from Independents and moderates in either Party, something they were able to do under Nixon and Reagan.

        Take a closer look at this criticism from legitimate sources and I think that is what you’ll see.

        • middleagedhousewife says:

          “Klugman’s comments are generally aimed at the extremist element in the GOP, which you must admit seems to be how most come across today.”

          LB, Yes, it can be argued that these reports are aimed at the extremist element, but then where are the reports on the “normal” Republicans? The reason most Republicans come across as extremist is because that is how they are portrayed by the mainstream media and entertainment industry. The media no longer reports the culture, it shapes the culture. Where I grew up, most people went to church on Sunday, owned guns, and pretty much lived by the motto, “you reap what you sow”. Most of these people were hard working, honest, compassionate, people of integrity and were considered the “norm”. In today’s culture these same people would be looked upon with suspicion and considered radical.

          It was the emphasis on the truly extremist factions of the Republican party, that scared away many moderates. Not that the party has been overrun by them. I think the party lost ground with Independents because they felt the party lacked sincerity in limiting the size and scope of government.

        • John LaRosa says:

          “Klugman” is dead. (RIP, Oscar Madison). Also, your rant is complete hogwash.

  8. Michael says:

    What a bunch of BS

  9. jlhartman says:

    Hi Sean,

    I must be missing something. The sources you cite don’t seem to correspond to your bar graphs? Below are the stats for 2008 for example. Your source has Obama taking every category. There appear to be similar discrepancies in 06 and 2012? Any clarity you can provide is appreciated. -Joe

    Total
    Obama McCain Other/No Answer
    No High School (4%)
    63%
    35%
    2%

    H.S. Graduate (20%)
    52%
    46%
    2%

    Some College (31%)
    51%
    47%
    2%

    College Graduate (28%)
    50%
    48%
    2%

    Postgraduate (17%)
    58%
    40%
    2%

    • Joe,

      That’s right. I normalized the data, because otherwise, Democrats would have more representation at every educational level. So what I did was calculate the number of Republican voters at each education level and divided by the total number of Republicans. I did the same thing for Democrats. That way, I could compare the distributions of voters by education level on an apples to apples basis.

      Does that make sense?

      • jlhartman says:

        Yes, Thanks. Can I ask how you actually calculated the number of Republican voters at each education level? Or do you mean you calculated the number of voters who voted for the Republican candidate at each education level? I’ve attempted the former and found it a challenge greater than I’m willing to undertake this late at night. :^) Cheers, -Joe

        • I did the latter. It helps to use Excel. Otherwise, it gets confusing. ;-)

          • jlhartman says:

            Okay, well then I’m not sure the data backs up your theory as much as it may appear. There isn’t actually any way to calculate the number of Republican voters at each education level, which is what you would need to begin to confirm your theory. What we are given is the percent of voters who voted for the candidates, and from that you can derive the number of individuals, but not the party affiliation.
            For example, in 2008 we know that 713 (4%) respondents had no high school, and of that 713, 63% voted for Obama. This tells us that 449 people voted Obama and had no high school, but it doesn’t tell us that they are Democrats. For all we know, every one of those 449 voters were Republicans. After all, we know that 514 (9%) Republicans voted for Obama in 2008, but we don’t know their education levels. Perhaps they were all doctors, perhaps not.
            What you appear to have done is to assume that voters at every education level only voted for their own party, but this is assuredly inaccurate. After all, what about Independents?
            That said, the trend you identify may be correct, especially given the fact that the raw data itself shows more support for Democrats at both ends of the educational spectrum. However, I disagree with you that the data “confirms” the theory you “have always held”. To confirm that theory would require much more comprehensive evidence in my opinion.

            • I agree 100% with you that I can’t make the argument for Republicans and Democrats. I was sloppy with my terminology in the comments section. In the blog post, I think I was careful to frame it as liberals vs. conservatives (not Democrats vs. Republicans) for the same reasons you mentioned. That said, even that can be problematic, because some conservatives on the margin may have voted for a Democrat and some liberals may have voted for a Republican. However, in today’s hyper partisan environment, I think it is safe to say that the number of these folks is so small as to be statistically insignificant in any given sample.

              • Rob Wack says:

                Actually, the percentages you’ve produced are not at all based upon logical extrapolations. Your techniques may be cute from an ideologically correct point of view, but they fail to produce factually supportable descriptions and add nothing to the conversation.

                • Actually, the comment you’ve produced is a sweeping statement unsupported by any specific points buttressing your argument. I’m happy to engage with you in an argument, but until you provide specific evidence to support what is clearly an opinion presented as a self-evident statement of fact, there’s not much I can do to forward the discussion. Just because you say something is true, does not make it so.

                  • Dummy says:

                    Not worth my time Wack. The research is all over the place online. Please look it up yourself and read the stats. There is no sense in me reciting everything here. It’s nothing to get huffy about. If the research supported the opposite, that is what would be true. Facts are facts, unless like most of the republican party, someone does not believe in science.

                    Don’t forget though that there are many facets of intelligence, so I.Q. does not necessary tell you much about an individuals capacity for anything in particular.

                    Thanks! Jeff|dummy@spforsp.com

  10. Jman says:

    I’m not so much interested in what level of education those who identify as liberals or conservatives have. I’d be more interested in what school within academia they graduated from. I suspect this would illustrate the real disparity in the educational differentiation between the two ideologies. I speculate that those who graduate with degrees in science and humanities would generally tend to be more liberal, whereas those who graduate in business practicum and economics would tend to be conservative. If you have some way of parsing the data to reflect this, we might have something to converse about. Otherwise, IMHO, you’re not really saying anything substantial here.

  11. Pingback: Liberal educators!!!! - Page 2

  12. Keegan says:

    I checked the sources from the survey, and your graphs are inaccurate.
    These are the numbers from your source, cited below the 2006 graph.

    Education Democrat Republican
    No High School (3%) 64% 35%
    H.S. Graduate (21%) 55% 44%
    Some College (31%) 51% 47%
    College Graduate (27%) 49% 49%
    Postgraduate (18%) 58% 41%

    From these numbers you can see that, with the exception of the “College Graduate” group, in which democrats and republicans are roughly equal, all groups favor democrats. However, your graph shows both the “Some College” and “College Graduate” groups favoring the republican party, something which differs from the raw data.

    • Keegan,

      My data is not wrong (and neither is yours). If you look at your data, you’ll notice that Democrats never have a lower percentage than Republicans. Why is that? Well, because there are more Democrats.

      My data takes the data you present and represents it as a share of Democrats and as a share of Republicans. That’s the only way to make a true apples to apples comparison. It essentially shows the educational profile of the “average” conservative voter vs. the “average” liberal voter. When you compare the two, liberal voters exhibit a bimodal distribution with heavy skewing at the highest and lowest education levels, while conservatives tend to cluster more around the middle (i.e., a higher percentage around college educated people).

      Does that make sense?

  13. Jed Pekoy says:

    This article (and some of the comments) strengthen the hypothesis that true “liberals” are indeed much more intelligent (have higher I.Q.’s) than conservatives. There appears to be some validity to these results, as being a liberal (not a democrat), I’ve come to these same conclusions on my own, using my own mind, without having to doing an experiment. You see (and I’m talking down to stay consistent to the relative demeanor of the comments), Democrats and Liberals are two completely different things. The lack of ability to discern this, again – demonstrates the relative differences in I.Q. level between conservatives and liberals. Conservative does not necessarily equal Republican, and Liberal does not necessarily equal Democrat. In fact, they are completely different things. And it is indeed correct that levels of education do NOT reflect I.Q. levels. That is a cultural fallacy. Far too few (uneducated) in this country, are not given the respect they deserve, simply because they did not follow some “institutionalized” learning system that’s supposed to make you smart. You see “liberals” (not democrats) are the upper echelon of societal intellects, and if you ponder history, you’ll come to realize that most all “improvements” to society were promoted and achieved by liberals and liberal policies (think slavery, woman’s rights, emissions controls, etc., etc., etc.). Each “party” if you will, has it’s voting base. These tend to be the less intelligent of the voters. For republicans, it tends to the be the more religious, less educated, lower I.Q. conservative valued folks. For Democrats, it tends to be the “less fortunate” (less intelligent, handi-capped, etc.) and those that want hand-outs, so of course the bottom of the democratic pool tends to be less intelligent. As per the top of both parties, this is where the most intelligent of the voting base lies. And note that the true “liberals” (not democrats) excel here in education. I’d be willing to bet that if the a study was done to further compare the I.Q. (not educational) differences between the liberals and conservatives at the top of the pole, you’d find that the liberals have much higher I.Q.’s than there Conservative counter parts.
    Amen! :-)

    • “This article (and some of the comments) strengthen the hypothesis that true “liberals” are indeed much more intelligent (have higher I.Q.’s) than conservatives. There appears to be some validity to these results, as being a liberal (not a democrat), I’ve come to these same conclusions on my own, using my own mind, without having to doing an experiment.”

      The strength of your argument lends weight to the opposite conclusion.

      “Democrats and Liberals are two completely different things. The lack of ability to discern this, again – demonstrates the relative differences in I.Q. level between conservatives and liberals.”

      Well that’s an opinion stated in a manner as to make it seem self-evident when it is anything but.

      “Conservative does not necessarily equal Republican, and Liberal does not necessarily equal Democrat.”

      I would agree with this contention. I would add that conservative generally correlates with Republican while Liberal correlates well with Democrat, though not all liberals are Democrats and not all conservatives are Republicans. That said, when the data is available for only Republican and Democratic voting behavior, Republicans tend to be good proxies for conservatives, while Democrats tend to be very good proxies for liberals. Your anecdotal data point of “one” notwithstanding.

      “And it is indeed correct that levels of education do NOT reflect I.Q. levels. That is a cultural fallacy.”

      Agreed.

      “You see “liberals” (not democrats) are the upper echelon of societal intellects, and if you ponder history, you’ll come to realize that most all “improvements” to society were promoted and achieved by liberals and liberal policies (think slavery, woman’s rights, emissions controls, etc., etc., etc.).”

      I’ll agree that liberals have been on the right side many times in history, but they have also equally been on the wrong side to it. The 1917 Communist Revolution and the Chinese Cultural Revolution are but two small examples of liberal ideals literally killing tens of millions of people in very short spans of time. So, if you ponder history, both sides get it right and wrong. Life is not so black and white.

      “As per the top of both parties, this is where the most intelligent of the voting base lies. And note that the true “liberals” (not democrats) excel here in education. I’d be willing to bet that if the a study was done to further compare the I.Q. (not educational) differences between the liberals and conservatives at the top of the pole, you’d find that the liberals have much higher I.Q.’s than there (sic) Conservative counter parts (sic).”

      Do you see what I did there?

      I actually think you’d find mixed results. I think you’d find higher verbal IQ among liberals, but higher spatial reasoning and analytical IQ among conservatives. You can’t prove your hypothesis, but neither can I. I think one of the fundamental reasons that more liberals earn PhDs, particularly in less challenging fields like the humanities and social sciences, is because the low barriers to entry inherent in these disciplines force liberal academics to erect artificial boundaries (subconsciously, of course) that prevent those with non-liberal research interests from breaking into the humanities. For instance, I’m sure you’d find far more feminist study professors at top universities than you would find military historians, as an example. Of course, in scientific disciplines few ideological barriers, if any, exist, which is why the proportion of liberals is likely lower there. Moreover, most of the brightest conservatives gravitate toward business, which doesn’t require a PhD.

      • Dummy says:

        > The strength of your argument lends weight to the opposite conclusion. >

        Hmmm? My argument is based on my observations over many decades. I’ve noted that in both parties, there are root voting “bases” if you will, while generally only the small percentage of voters ever vote for a different party. I’ve came to the conclusion that the Republican Base generally consists of the very religious (most often conservative), often hard-working, anti-abortion, poor rural folk. The Democratic Base generally consists of Poor (not necessarily liberal, and most likely “not” progressive), mostly religious, somewhat frequently “non-working” individuals who want hand-outs, and tend to live in cities. The Republicans & Democrats alike, always have to serve these “bases” or they are guaranteed to lose. On the other side of the coin is the upper echelon of the voting bases. These tend to be more intelligent, hard-working, successful on both sides of the party line, with the Republicans leaning strongly fiscally conservative, sometimes not being quite as religious, and believing in some socialistic types of policies, and the democrats tending to be more progressive, definitely more socially minded, and favoring strong regulation through intelligent policy to protect the less fortunate.

        > > Democrats and Liberals are two completely different things. The lack of ability to discern this, again demonstrates the relative differences in I.Q. level between conservatives and liberals. > Well thats an opinion stated in a manner as to make it seem self-evident when in is anything but. > > >

        Democrat: Person who supports democracy. Democracy: a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. Liberal: open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values. Progressive: the principles and practices of those advocating progress, change, or reform, especially in political matters. I don’t think that the people at the democratic voting base are anything of the sort. The just yearn for social reform and protection from the rich elite. True progressives are the elite, intelligent few looking to make change. This scares the masses, both republican and democrat, as they are afraid of change. Republican: Person who supports a republic. Republic: a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. Conservative: Favoring traditions views I.e., lacking the ability to desire or accept change.

        Here is a great link to symptoms of a highly intelligent individual: http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/Papers/GiftedProblems.pdf See how many correlate with conservatives.

        So, as you can see, the two party definitions have little to do with your assumptions that most all Democrats are Liberals or Progressives.

        > Republicans tend to be good proxies for conservatives, while Democrats tend to be very good proxies for liberals. Your anecdotal data point of one notwithstanding. >

        I would agree with the Republican Argument, however I disagree with that of the democrat argument, at least that is, if we are talking about “progressives” rather than simply liberals, as progressives tend to be the most intelligent of the Liberals.

        > The 1917 Communist Revolution and the Chinese Cultural Revolution are but two small examples of liberal ideals literally killing tens of millions of people in very short spans of time. So, if you ponder history, both sides get it right and wrong. Life is not so black and white. >

        I would agree with you here to some extent, however I would like to interject, that rarely in politics do things go exactly as parties, or leaders plan. These government and cultural systems were far more than just a conservative or liberal policy. I would suggest that most liberals feel that the free market with STRONG government regulation is quite ideal. Communism is terrible. Social/Democracy with the right balance is ideal. Right now we have Capitalism(65%)/Democracy(25%)/Social(10%), when it should be more like 30%-35%-35%. Of course, that being said, there are countless variations of each, so the right laws have to be passed to make any of them work. There is no ONE perfect type of government, however by the fact that our government is taking advantage of people through corporate persuasion, and devastating our environment in the process (pollution, climate change, mass-extinction), our current system is heading quickly to complete failure and self annihilation. As you stated that marxism caused the death of millions in a relatively short period of time our overly capitalistic structure (promoted by republicans) may cause the death of countless billions through nuclear contamination, climate change, and throwing the environment so far out of whack that it devastates us all. Population is another issue. We are on a steady path to an episode of massive starvation through over-population, yet most (maybe all) conservatives are afraid to talk about (let alone think about) the fact that we are quickly over-population as a species.

        > Do you see what I did there? >

        Nice :-) I’m not going to blame it on the spell checker. I’ll admit, I’m not a very good speller, although I do know how to spell both of those errors, they were simply a symptom of fast typing, and I’m sure I’ve made many errors here as well. Spelling bees are not my strong suit, however spelling has little to do with I.Q. Goes back to the Schooling thing not being reflective of I.Q. although more intelligent folks “may” be more likely to achieve a higher degree of education.

        > I actually think youd find mixed results. I think youd find higher verbal IQ among liberals, but higher spatial reasoning and analytical IQ among conservatives. >

        I disagree. I’d suggest both higher I.Q. among verbal, spatial, and analytical in progressives. Take this quote for example:

        “Liberals would be more flexible and reliant on data, proof, and analytic reasoning, and conservatives are more inflexible (prefer stability), emotion-driven, and connect themselves intimately with their ideas, making those beliefs a crucial part of their identity.”

        > You cant prove your hypothesis, but neither can I >

        I’ve read many studies (including those done by conservative scientists) and every one has conclude that liberals (particularly progressive liberals) have a strong I.Q. edge over conservatives.

        > I think one of the fundamental reasons that more liberals earn PhDs, particularly in less challenging fields like the humanities and social sciences, is because the low barriers to entry inherent in these disciplines force liberal academics to erect artificial boundaries (subconsciously, of course) that prevent those with non-liberal research interests from breaking into the humanities. >

        Disagree. I’d suggest it’s more likely that these types of fields of study are more interesting to those with higher I.Q.’s as they allow for “thinking”, rather than “learning”. And I don’t think that conservatives have much interest in liberal arts. Besides if your extra smart, why study to be a scientist. We have plenty of those already and conservatives don’t listen to them anyway :-)

        > Of course, in scientific disciplines few ideological, if any, exist, which is why the proportion of liberals is likely lower there. Moreover, most of the brightest conservatives gravitate toward business, which doesnt require a PhD. >

        Liberals are not “Idealogical”, which would suggest that they only believe in systems that by their very nature are doomed to failure. Currently, the completely unsustainable level of consumption in the western world is guaranteed to collapse due to environmental degradation. Ideology would be the belief that the current system can continue for any length of time without destroying what we depend on and ultimately us. So I guess both parties are guilty of “ideology”.

        Those seeking power tend to gravitate towards business. And there are very strong business leaders on both sides of the spectrum, however the progressive business leaders tend to give back to society through philanthropic donations, whereas the conservative ones do not. Also, the progressive ones are much more likely to run their businesses more sustainably, and seek ways to improve along those lines.

        To close, I’d like to say that although the statements above may make it appear that I feel that if you “put a liberal in charge you can’t go wrong”, this is not the case. However, I do feel that if the conservative mindset did not exist, that rather than debating things like weather or not climate change is real (duy!), we’d instead be debating how best to go about fixing it. In this type of scenario, the conservative mind-set only hinders progress. On the flip-side, although “organized” (organized being a key word here) religion is more allocated to those with lower I.Q.’s, and certainly hinders the way one can think logically about many things… in the great scheme of things, religion has allowed humans to function as groups sometimes for better sometimes for worse. There are no counties with smarter or dumber people. The fact is that 90+% of people are followers. Give them a good religion > they do good. Give them a bad religion > they do bad. Give them a good government > they do good. Give them a bad government > the do bad. It’s only the 10% that break ways, and those tend to be the more independent progressives. Note that conservatives are much more likely to “follow” an organized religion that they are told to follow by others, whereas liberals tend to be much more likely to be “spiritual” and have their own religious beliefs. Much less dangerous since you don’t have to please any “masters”.

        Thanks for the though provoking reply :-)

        • It’s late and I’d like to provide a more thoughtful reply to this comment, but I’ll keep it brief.

          First, it was unfair of me to call out minor spelling mistakes (no matter how subtle I did it). I interpreted the tone of the first part of your initial comment as being snarky (rightly or wrongly), and I responded in kind. Normally, I’m better than that. A typo or two has nothing to do with the strength or weakness of your argument. Please accept my apology for making such a pointless and unfair argument.

          On the article that provides the characteristics of intelligent people, I’ve met plenty of liberals and conservatives who exhibit many of these signs. The only item where I could see liberals having more characteristics than conservatives is with social interaction, and it was only one or two factors in that list. The bottom line is I don’t think the preponderance of those items on the checklist apply overwhelmingly to conservatives or liberals. I think that apply to smart folks of both persuasions.

          I also wasn’t attacking your thesis that the voting bases of each party tended to have lower IQs. I actually agree with you on that point. The point on which I disagreed with you was that smart liberals/progressives have higher IQs on average than smart conservatives. That said, if you’ve seen studies that prove your point, feel free to link to them here. I’d be interested in reading them. Heck, I’d be interested in learning whether I’m wrong. For all I know, I could be. I just need to see the data. That’s all.

          “Disagree. I’d suggest it’s more likely that these types of fields of study are more interesting to those with higher I.Q.’s as they allow for “thinking”, rather than “learning”. And I don’t think that conservatives have much interest in liberal arts. Besides if your extra smart, why study to be a scientist. We have plenty of those already and conservatives don’t listen to them anyway.”

          I agree that these fields are certainly more interesting. Heck, if feeding my family weren’t my primary concern, I would’ve gotten a PhD in Political Science or International Relations instead of an MBA and MPP, but a really smart mentor of mine told me that I’d be “bored” and wasting my time by pursuing further study. And unfortunately, many in my party’s base still think the Earth is only several thousand years old and that global warming doesn’t exist, so I can only shrug when you poke fun at them – after all both parties have their fair share of fruits and nuts. ;-)

          “The fact is that 90+% of people are followers. Give them a good religion > they do good. Give them a bad religion > they do bad. Give them a good government > they do good. Give them a bad government > the do bad.”

          I completely agree with you here. I just don’t think the majority of the remaining 10% is exclusively progressive. ;-)

          • Dummy says:

            First I’d like to say, “Thank you for the intelligent dialog”. It’s refreshing. I have only a little time tonight as well, so I’ll keep this brief.

            1) No worries on the spelling mistake. I found it amusing. 2) I agree there are smart folks in both persuasions as well. However, I think that politics gets in the way on both sides, and makes our politicians make bad choices due to corporate “influence”. 3) As per I.Q.’s. I really don’t have time to search and send the links, but if you do an online search for I.Q. conservative vs progressive, you’ll find plenty of info. It should be noted also, that there are many different facets of intelligence, and therefor not fair to call someone stupid because maybe they are not a calculus genius, when they may indeed have a much higher “nurturing” I.Q. than the math genius. Both need each other. It’s when smart people become greedy, and begin skewing what they know is the “right” thing to do because of hunger for money or power, which seems to infect the far majority of politicians, no matter how “righteous” they seem when running for office. 4) Fruits and nuts… I hear you there! The world posses more dumb than smart, because those are the ones that tend to reproduce more and be more effective evolutionarily. There are many articles on this as well. It’s too bad there wasn’t some way to put smart, “guaranteed righteous” people from both sides in office, then let them haggle about what is really best for the majority while still serving the minority. Seems to often that “politics” as usual gets in the way :-( I did not vote for Democrat or Republican this time around, and although I leaned O’bummer, I must say I’m quite disappointed in what he’s been doing “behind the scenes” if-you-will, including subsiding nuclear to the tune of 8.7B and so much more “ludicrous” stuff. 5) The 10%. I’ll have to give you that. I think we have stupid politicians, and stupid voters. I think one of the problems is that rather than voting for someone that is obviously “intelligent”, greater than half of the voters would rather vote for someone they could sit down and have a beer with while watching “the game”… rather than vote for an intellect. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather elect a person that I feel is far more intelligent than I, so long as their morals seem to be in the right place :-)

            Have a great night!

            And Thanks!

            ~Jeff~ dummy@spforsp.com

            • Thanks Jeff. I also think the election of increasingly radicalized politicians (both right and left) is a systemic problem stemming from the gerrymandering of districts. The loonies are basically crowding out moderate politicians because that’s the only way these politicians can get reelected in highly partisan districts.

              Anyway, have a great night!

  14. Joy says:

    Many of the conservatives I know and have met hold two main philosophies “War and Jesus”, these two things, clearly are utterly contradictory in and of themselves, but that’s neither here nor there. Their philosophy seems to be that all things that are not American and/or Christian in their foundation are somehow, scary, wrong or a threat, which demonstrates clearly to me that they do not understand how to share the world with others in any open minded (ahem intelligent) sort of way, no, they are not living in the same world as everyone else, they are living in their own little “I’m American, white and Christian and my way is the right way” world. I have a master’s degree in history, I think most people who have advanced majors in history do not hold very conservative views, maybe David Duke?! Why is that? Because history shows that people who shoot first and think later, are almost always wrong historically. History also shows that those who have fear of others groups of people, often do not so great things because of their own delusional fears, which often have no basis in reality. Would you agree that most of the world thinks Americans who call everyone who wants healthcare, for example, communists and who freak out if they may have to give up their guns in order to prevent a lunatic from shooting up a classroom of 6 year olds, laughable? It’s not only liberals, I’ve lived abroad in the Middle East and in Europe and I gotta tell you, everyone thinks conservatives are stupid, not just liberal Americans. So I suppose the answer would be, do you think you’re smarter than most of the world? I’ve met few people anywhere, other than conservatives themselves who think conservatives are smart…I’m just saying. The world is laughing…Further, my family is from Ukraine and I can’t help but bust out laughing when I see conservatives comparing Obama to a socialist or a communist (two different things, though I think they use them interchangeably). These same people would not last a single day in a truly socialist or communist country, because their belief is that they are entitled, simply because they are American to arrogantly flaunt their superiority and have their freedom. Is freedom a bad thing? Of course not, but it does open up some to being so out of touch with those who actually lack freedom, that any rule in society suddenly becomes a threat to them. A threat that most conservatives feel is always best dealt with using a strong stern “America will kick your ass” hand, which is really nothing short of an excuse to bully others and never use diplomacy, because of a superiority complex such Americans have. I recall having an argument with this woman who worked for the military. I was with a friend of mine from Thailand who agrees, Americans think they are entitled to special treatment. I asked the woman how she would feel if another country dropped drones on us or invaded our country just because they were the “super power” or didn’t like our President, as we’ve done to so many others (which is why we’re hated on a mass scale abroad). Her answer “I don’t care, because it’s not that way, we’re the power”. I looked to my Thai friend and said “Well, I was born here, so I guess I am more important than you, my life means more, sorry” and my friend just burst out laughing cause she saw how idiotic an answer that was. Do unto others, isn’t that a Christian belief? Doesn’t sound so Christian to me.
    Having conducted research myself, I would like to know how this research was conducted, as in college we were taught to question the validity of research statistics. For instance, does your research have enough standing to be published to an academic journal? I have conducted such tests and they are thoroughly checked and rechecked, so I don’t believe just any numbers people come up with.
    Further, I leave you with this: I developed a kidney disorder in college. I did not have healthcare. I would have died had I not had dual citizenship to a country where I had free healthcare (Israel), because I made “too much money” working PART TIME while in school I might add for the government to help me. So you will excuse me if I think those calling national healthcare “communistic” have no idea of what they speak.

    • Jeff says:

      Agree 100% with what you said. I’ve met very few republicans I ‘really’ liked. I’m not talking about those that ‘think’ they are republican because maybe there parents are, or because they never pay attention to politics, and don’t understand what it really means to be ‘republican’ in this country anymore. It’s no longer fiscal conservative that want to help small business succeed. Now it’s big corp, big god, anti-science, anti-gay, etc. Those that I have met that ‘seem’ nice on the outside when in shallow conversation, quickly portray their ‘real’ selfish selves once the conversation goes a little deeper. A common theme I’ll touch on here is this, “I’ve worked really hard for my money, why should I give it to those who ‘choose’ to live-off-the-system?”, somehow insinuating that those that struggle to make ends meet just to support their families somehow don’t work as hard as those earning the ‘big’ bucks. Such a profoundly dumb statement that it almost has to make you laugh. Making statements like, “about half of the U.S. doesn’t even pay any federal tax”, when in essence, the reason they don’t is because they “Can’t Afford To!”, “They are x-vets that fought in wars”, “They are mentally handicapped”, “They are lacking appropriate education because OUR COUNTRY DOES NOT FEDERALLY FUND QUALITY COLLEGE EDUCATION, so they can’t get a good job”, “They are old and/or retired”, etc. And if the country decided to make them pay Federal income tax, then they’d also have to raise the minimum wage, or create new programs so that the people and their families would not starve to death. The very fact that they “don’t” pay any federal income tax is directly tied to the fact that so-and-so republican that make their millions in the business did so by hiring cheap labor because they aren’t required to pay their employees a livable wage. It only makes sense in a ‘just’ system to gradually increase the tax burden on the individual the more you make, because you are continually profiting off the less fortunate, so you need to ‘give-back’ to the system that allowed you to become wealthy in the first place, so long as taxation is not so hight as to take away any incentive to create innovative products that benefit society, both human and ecology (which unfortunately probably less than 10% of all money making businesses actually do). Not to mention, the wealthy CAN afford to pay tax. To them it means, they can only buy 11 yachts instead of 12, but to the poor it means, they can either eat or starve. Duh! The fact is, if you do really well for yourself, it’s because you are blessed with motivation (also stemming from good healthy which comes with the territory when you are born into wealth), more intelligent than average, you were born into moderate to excessive wealth so you were able to get a college education, your family was wealthy so many more opportunities opened up for you, etc. Take Paris Hilton for example. Brainless idiot, yet born into wealth and somewhat attractive, so she’s an immediate success. Yes, there are always exceptions, but wealth is not equally distributed among ‘classes’ of people. If you are born into wealth for example, you have a FAR greater change of becoming wealthy yourself. In this country, unless you have below average intelligence, once you have money, it’s almost impossible not to be able to become far more wealthy, and unfortunately, most do it by taking advantage of other less fortunate, through either deceptive marketing, or darn right lies. Purchasing real estate is one good example of an opportunity open to the rich but not the poor. One of the simplest things you can do is but rentals, rent to others, and live off their monthly payments and build a massive nest egg. The more you start out with, the more you can gain. Also the stock market. LONG TERM (not short term) investment in this, is a virtual guaranteed deal. Having wealth opens up far more opportunities to succeed in this country. And all people are NOT create equal, or given equal opportunities. Just as some are far more athletic than others or far larger or smaller than others, some are far more or less intelligent then others too. We NEED to take care of our less fortunate people, as they still serve our country and provide things that are just as important as the more fortunate, just in different ways, and they have a right to life and enjoyment just as others do. The value of ones life should NOT be based on their intelligence, or perceived successfulness in life. Good examples of the important roles less educated or fortunate people take on is, soldiers, running small shops, providing basic (but necessary) services, helping others when in need, and so much more. Republicans don’t seem to get that. I call it the “Me-Me-Me” syndrome. With most republicans, like you said, it’s all about them. Some of the more wealthy may posses intelligence of certain kinds, but either 1) they are lacking true intelligence to see the big picture and think scientifically, or 2) their greed blinds them so much that they subconsciously ‘choose’ not to see it. If I’ve offended the author of this blog, and you don’t believe that our comments describe you, then maybe you are not really a republican. Maybe you are a moderate. I’ll leave you with this. Due to the arrogance and greed of the anti-environment republican types, we are now blessed with Poison Air, a Polluted Gulf, Ever increasing Mercury Contamination in our Rivers, A Radiated Pacific Ocean, Powerful Oil Lobbyists, A polluted Yellowstone River, Melting Glaciers, and not to mention, we are in the midst of the worlds 5th mass-extinction, but for the first time in the history of the world, it’s being caused by a “species” on the planet, rather than a natural phenomena such as meteor, earth-quake, etc. And I have to say, to anyone that reads this and thinks to themselves, “Ah, that a bunch of far left propaganda”, turn off your T.V. and do some ‘real’ research, but hurry before verizon sensors the internet too much. Good day, and thanks for your comments!

      • Jeff,

        Your comments don’t offend me any more than a caricature than a stereotypical caricature of the left might offend you.

        The fact is that all Republicans are not anti-science, Bible-thumping bigots any more than all liberals aren’t all lazy, welfare grubbing, baby-killing, naive idealistic socialists who hate God and their country, and would refuse to fight for its preservation at any cost.

        I personally think the social conservative wing of the Republican Party is crowding out the fiscally conservative wing.

        In the end, you have to take evaluate each-policy on its own merits and sometimes Republicans and Democrats do things that will surprise you.

        For instance, President George H.W. Bush passed the Clean Air Act in 1990 – a stereotypically un-Republican move.

        President George W. Bush signed Medicare Part D, which was a disaster from a fiscal conservative standpoint.

        President Obama tripled drone strikes in Afghanistan, which is a very bellicose and pro-Republican-like action.

        He also increased government surveillance of American citizens, which is distinctly unDemocratic.

        At the end of the day, Democrats believe government should play a much more central role in our lives, while Republicans would rather have a much smaller government. I think it is as simple as that.

        After all, government does some things well (e.g., defense) and some things terribly (e.g., setting up healthcare websites).

        • Jeff says:

          Recall, liberals and democrats are two different things. Many liberals are independent, due to the reasons you stated above. Additionally, government in our case does not do military well. They abuse it by invading for the sake of corporate benefit, and they continue to ‘test’ nuclear bombs on islands loaded (well previously loaded) with biodiversity, and so much more. Our military is ridiculously over done, yet we can’t seem to find the money to educate our people. As per Bush, he did far more bad than good, and Obama has dome somewhat more good than bad. Both have done terrible things, this is why I don’t vote on party lines, although one could reasonably argue that we must in order to be sure to keep the greater-of-two-evils gets out of office. I don’t agree with your statement, “At the end of the day, Democrats believe government should play a much more central role in our lives, while Republicans would rather have a much smaller government. I think it is as simple as that.” I think summarizing it like this would be better. At the end of the day, Liberals (were talking intelligent, supposedly left leaning democrat types) would like to see business serve people though environmentally sustainable processes for the greater good, and they realize that the ONLY way to do this effectively is via government regulation by the people, for the people, to the benefit of the people, while Republicans would rather keep government regulation out of business so that is can unsustainably, and every so temporarily reap ridiculous profits at the cost of everyone and everything else until we are left with a non-life-supporting eco-system, with a few rich sick people, and a whole slew of dead poor, and massively reduced biodiversity on this ball of green. Take a look at the so called “progress” of such lack of regulation (I mentioned some of these in my previous comment). I don’t know about you, but I’ve been to Norway & Sweden many times, and their supposedly ‘socialist’ government (which is actually a social democracy, while we are now a capitalistic, socialist, republic) is far better than where we have gone. They are far more sustainable, their people are happier, healthier, more intelligent, etc. etc. etc. They are wondering what the hell is wrong with the american right. I guess that’s what you get when you take imaginary gods out of the picture. BTW… I consider myself a scientific moderate, although this far right skewed country calls anyone that follows science over the bible left-leaning. Although you are correct in your assertion that not ALL republicans are so far right, most that I speak with don’t have much concern with the environment, and would rather see business do well at it’s expense, even if it means 90% of us will likely perish in the next century or so. Think climate change, big ag, big pharm, corrupted fda, poisoned lakes, rivers, streams and oceans, biodiversity loss, polluted air, radiated food, soil and oceans, and the list goes on. These things are not debatable. They are fact. And they are due to the ridiculous policies of governments such as those of the US and China to an even worse extent. I personally don’t even think that the far left is even far enough left. I also don’t think that most people believe that the consequences of our actions are even real. Not that is, until they are directly impacted by them. Find me a republican who agrees with what this organization supports (http://www.ucsusa.org) and you’ll have found me a republican that I can like. I know they exist, I just haven’t personally found any yet.

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