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article imagePsychology debates liberal vs.conservative intelligence

By Carol Forsloff     Apr 26, 2010 in Politics
In a posting about a study done recently, an evolutionary psychologist declared liberals more intelligent than conservatives, but his thesis is countered by another psychologist saying, "No conservative should trust my profession."
Satoshi Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist, Reader in Management at the London School of Economics and Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Psychology at University College London and in the Department of Psychology at Birbeck College, University of London who believes liberals are more intelligent than conservatives based upon research he has done.
Kanazawa's thesis begins with his definition of what a liberal is, as evolutionary novel in contemporary United States, as "the genuine concern for the welfare of genetically unrelated others and the willingness to contribute larger proportions of private resources for the welfare of others."
This means paying taxes and having more social welfare programs, Kanazawa, points out, a particularly altruistic way of dealing with people outside one's genetically related group. These are things conservatives oppose, he mentions.
Politicians like Bill Clinton would figure into the thesis, given his reputation both as a liberal and as intelligent, the kind Kanazawa points out reflects the results of his study.
Man has evolved, as Kanazawa states using an examination of the 10-volume compendium The Encyclopedia of World Cultures as reference. Ancient man moved in genetically-related packs, sharing with family with no evidence of freely sharing with members of other tribes. This makes the liberal way of dealing with others higher on the evolutionary scale, Kanazawa maintains.
Using analyses of samples from the United States and the United Kingdom, Kanazawa examined the information and found more intelligent children are likely to grow up to be liberals by examining those who identified themselves as "very liberal" had a mean childhood IQ of 106.4 whereas those identifying themselves as "very conservative" have a mean IQ of 94.8.
Kanazawa also concludes that intelligence has a greater impact on the choice of being liberal than either sex or race, nothing how studies have shown women more liberal than men and blacks more liberal than whites.
The argument that conservatives give more to charities than liberals is not inconsistent with the results of this study, Kanaza notes because in the case of charities one can choose the beneficiaries of donations. Those who pay taxes don't have any control on how that money is spent. As an example he uses Medicare where people don't choose to pay taxes to help the elderly. This is why, he says, conservatives are likely to give to charities while opposing higher taxes.
Liberals do control the media as well as other institutions, therefore justifying conservatives complaints about this Kanazawa says, but that's because they are more intelligent.
Now Kanazawa's research is not without its detractors, something The Scientific Fundamentalist's author is willing to admit, putting a link at the bottom of his blog to his principal critic.
Shawn Smith, Psy. D., a psychologist in Denver, Colorado, takes exception to Kanazawa's research findings. He said, ", I don't believe his study is to be taken seriously. And that is a shame.
Smith goes on to say he has reviewed the research findings and found the construction of them flawed, although on his blog he doesn't provide the evidence used. He does say, however, that Kanazawa's research build on each other and are meant to build a body of "unflattering" research with reference to conservatives views.
Smith quotes what a Professor Redding who believes the anti-conservative bias is one used to get attention for additional research, since there are more of them available and offers ways of countering the bias that include:
* Explore conservative alternatives to problems so that the profession can benefit from the wisdom of more than one ideology.
* Expand the notion of cultural diversity to include diversity of ideas.
* Enrich training curricula to explore and challenge both liberal and conservative wisdom.
* Separate science from advocacy so that advocacy efforts are based upon empirical data rather than the dominant ideology of the field.
Then Smith ends with this: " We bill ourselves as a healers, but what conservative would trust us in the face of such hostility?"
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