Over the years, we have gone after the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press and other liberal news sources countless times. We probably haven’t paid enough attention to the news outlets that many more people actually read, like Yahoo News. I haven’t seen any hard numbers, but I suspect that many more people see Yahoo News headlines than New York Times headlines. On Yahoo News, interspersed with news about the Kardashians are stories like this one: “Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice.”
Sure: conservatives are stupid and racist. Probably that is all that 90% or more of Yahoo visitors will see. The article comes from something called LiveScience.com:
There’s no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.
The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.
So, is this alleged study published somewhere, or is it just contained in an email? I haven’t been able to find it online. Yahoo merely reproduces this article from a site called LiveScience.com:
Polling data and social and political science research do show that prejudice is more common in those who hold right-wing ideals that those of other political persuasions, Nosek told LiveScience. …
Earlier studies have found links between low levels of education and higher levels of prejudice, Hodson said, so studying intelligence seemed a logical next step. The researchers turned to two studies of citizens in the United Kingdom, one that has followed babies since their births in March 1958, and another that did the same for babies born in April 1970. The children in the studies had their intelligence assessed at age 10 or 11; as adults ages 30 or 33, their levels of social conservatism and racism were measured. …
Social conservatives were defined as people who agreed with a laundry list of statements such as “Family life suffers if mum is working full-time,” and “Schools should teach children to obey authority.” Attitudes toward other races were captured by measuring agreement with statements such as “I wouldn’t mind working with people from other races.” …
As suspected, low intelligence in childhood corresponded with racism in adulthood. But the factor that explained the relationship between these two variables was political: When researchers included social conservatism in the analysis, those ideologies accounted for much of the link between brains and bias.
Yet we have reliable social science data here in the U.S. indicating that political conservatives are better educated than liberals, make more money than liberals, and are less likely to express racial hostility than liberals. I have no idea whether American liberals or conservatives are more likely to say “Family life suffers if mum is working full-time”–a statement that is obviously true–but I’m pretty sure American liberals are more likely to say that “Schools should teach children to obey authority.” Nowadays, to be a conservative in a public school, you have to be a rebel.
What is significant about this is not any purported science behind the original “study.” Rather, it is the fact that here in the U.S. and around the world, millions of people, most of them young and impressionable, see the Yahoo News headline: “Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice.” It is just one of thousands of examples of the sort of headwinds that conservatives fight against every day.