Saturday, February 04, 2012
Right-wingers are less intelligent than left wingers, says study
I debunked this study last month. The only well-justified statement below is the last sentence
Right-wingers tend to be less intelligent than left-wingers, and people with low childhood intelligence tend to grow up to have racist and anti-gay views, says a controversial new study.
Conservative politics work almost as a 'gateway' into prejudice against others, say the Canadian academics.
The paper analysed large UK studies which compared childhood intelligence with political views in adulthood across more than 15,000 people.
The authors claim that people with low intelligence gravitate towards right-wing views because they make them feel safe.
Crucially, people's educational level is not what determines whether they are racist or not - it's innate intelligence, according to the academics. Social status also appears to play no part.
The study, published in Psychological Science, claims that right-wing ideology forms a 'pathway' for people with low reasoning ability to become prejudiced against groups such as other races and gay people.
'Cognitive abilities are critical in forming impressions of other people and in being open minded,' say the researchers. 'Individuals with lower cognitive abilities may gravitate towards more socially conservative right-wing ideologies that maintain the status quo. 'It provides a sense of order.'
The study used information from two UK studies from 1958 and 1970 , where several thousand children were assessed for intelligence at age 10 and 11, and then asked political questions aged 33. The 1958 National Child Development involved 4,267 men and 4,537 women born in 1958.
The British Cohort Study involved 3,412 men and 3,658 women born in 1970. It's the first time the data from these studies has been used in this way.
In adulthood, the children were asked whether they agreed with statements such as, 'I wouldn't mind working with people from other races,' and 'I wouldn't mind if a family of a different race moved next door.'
They were also asked whether they agreed with statements about typically right-wing and socially conservative politics such as, 'Give law breakers stiffer sentences,' and 'Schools should teach children to obey authority.'
The researchers also compared their results against a 1986 American study which included tests of cognitive ability and questions assessing prejudice against homosexuals.
The authors claim that there is a strong correlation between low intelligence both as a child and an adult, and right-wing politics. The authors also claim that conservative politics is part of a complex relationship that leads people to become prejudices. 'Conservative ideology represents a critical pathway through which childhood intelligence predicts racism in adulthood,' says the paper.
'In psychological terms, the relation between intelligence and prejudice may stem from the propensity of individuals with lower cognitive ability to endorse more right wing conservative ideologies because such ideologies offer a psychological sense of stability and order.'
'Clearly, however, all socially conservative people are not prejudiced, and all prejudiced persons are not conservative.'
MPs' 'sexist' beer ban: Top Totty ale outlawed in the Commons bar
And the brewers are laughing all the way to the bank
Like many real ales, its quirky name helps it to stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately for a brew branded 'Top Totty', it stood out a little too much for one female Labour MP who has managed to have it banned from a House of Commons bar.
Kate Green, the party's equalities spokesman, said she found the beer – which has a pump plate with a cartoon picture of a bikini-clad bunny girl – offensive, adding later that it 'demeans women'.
Despite never having even seen the pump in question – and the bar not receiving a single complaint – Miss Green yesterday stood up in the Commons chamber to demand it be removed from sale.
Last night, however, her stance provoked a backlash from men and women alike who branded her 'humourless' and criticised her 'knee-jerk puritanism'. Slater's Ales, meanwhile, the ale's family-run Staffordshire brewery, said the outcry had seen its orders double.
The £2.70-a-pint beer was banned from the Strangers' Bar, where MPs can take guests, within an hour of Miss Green's complaint. Leader of the House Sir George Young intervened to rid Parliament of what he called 'offensive pictures'.
Miss Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston in Greater Manchester, brought up the issue at business questions in the Commons, where she called for a debate in the House on 'dignity at work in Parliament'.
She took up parliamentary time to say: 'I was disturbed last night to learn that the guest beer in the Strangers' Bar is called Top Totty, and that there is a picture of a nearly naked woman on the tap.' She said later on Twitter that it 'demeans women'.
But many MPs did not share her outrage. Tory Tracey Crouch asked on Twitter: 'Why is a beer called Top Totty offensive & now banned from Commons?' Fellow Conservative MP Nadine Dorries tweeted: 'Westminster = sense of humour-free zone. Banning of the Top Totty beer was weak PC decision and gives sensible pro-women advocates a bad name.'
The ale – described as 'blonde, full bodied with a voluptuous hop aroma' – had been introduced as a guest ale by Tory Jeremy Lefroy, MP for Stafford, where it is brewed. Mr Lefroy said: 'These guest ale slots offer a very welcome opportunity for small independent breweries like Slater's to reach a wider audience with their products, some of which have cheeky names.'
The ban was also denounced by Mike Nattrass, Stafford's UKIP MEP, and Claire Fox, director of think-tank the Institute of Ideas. Mr Nattrass said: 'Miss Green really is a humourless sort. This sort of knee-jerk puritanism does more to damage the cause of equality than a thousand beer labels.' And Miss Fox said: 'What really demeans women is the idea that we've no sense of humour – and MPs acting as sanctimonious killjoys in our name.'
Last night Vicki Slater, of Slater's Ales, said: 'At first I just couldn't believe it that in this economic climate a Labour MP would get exercised about the name of a beer.
'But all this publicity has been a blessing. After the fuss, it sold out immediately. People have been phoning from all over Britain asking us to supply their pubs. We're delivering twice as much Top Totty tomorrow as we ever have before.'
"Wrong" Speech Is Also Free Speech: "Citizens United" at Two
In the past week, many commentators have used the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee to reiterate their critiques of the controversial decision. Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Public Citizen's Robert Weissman, for example, write that the decision "poisoned our political process" and ask whether the "merits or the money" will now "tip the balance when an issue comes before Congress."
I sympathize with Rep. Sanders and Mr. Weissman. We all hope that our nation's policies are chosen due to merit rather than some other influence. But our valuation of a policy's merit is intertwined with our ideological commitments. Rep. Sanders and Mr. Weissman make this clear when they list policies that they believe would be in effect if corporate speech were suppressed, that is, if "merit" won out over money. Among these: a national health care program, rectifying the "collapse of the middle class," fixing the high price of prescription drugs, and ending gratuitous military spending.
Rep. Sanders and Mr. Weissman thus demonstrate a crucial fact: many who oppose Citizens United do so because they want to silence speech that promotes policies they oppose. They want to silence it because they think it is bad speech that gives a disproportionate influence to bad ideas. Yet there can be no greater violation of the First Amendment than to act with this motive.
Critics of the decision cite the "undue influence" corporations can have on elections through such mechanisms as "drowning out [candidates'] messages" with "misleading negative ads." Sean Siperstein writes about a new campaign by Public Citizen to expose the "mega-corporations" that are most "responsible for greedy, disastrously short-sighted policies, to the detriment of the rest of us."
These critiques blur the line between one type of influence that the Supreme Court has acknowledged should be stopped--outright candidate bribery--and other types of influence that are strongly protected by the First Amendment--such as affecting the national debate or influencing candidates' policies by making both them and the public aware of issues. Critics of Citizens United often conflate these two types of political spending, regarding all corporate spending as either corrupting the national debate through disproportionate influence, or corrupting politicians through something tantamount to bribery.
But tellingly, their critiques are one-sided. Missing from any of the articles linked above is any discussion of the "disproportionate" effect that unions have on the American political landscape. Although it is rarely acknowledged, Citizens United permitted both unions and corporations to make independent campaign expenditures. And make no mistake about it, unions are significant moneyed interests in American politics, comprising nine of the top 15 "heavy hitter" campaign spenders over the last 22 years, according to OpenSecrets.org. It is striking, to say the least, that those who rail against disproportionately loud voices and the "undue influence" of political speech are so silent when it comes to the effects of union spending. Perhaps it is more difficult to be critical of the undue influence of speech that one believes is meritorious. If you agree with the speaker, why not buy him a megaphone?
The omission of any discussion of union money in essentially every critique of Citizens United published in the past month is glaring. A dispassionate assessment of the effects of money in politics demands attention to union spending. But an ideologically committed assessment would tend to view the ideas that one finds convincing as being the result of merit, while viewing the ideas one believes unconvincing and harmful to the nation to be the result of "undue influence." This predilection is not because of any inadequacy on the part of Citizen United's critics, it is a result of human nature.
Yet I do not want to unjustly besmirch Rep. Sanders and the other critics of the decision. Perhaps they believe that union spending should also be curtailed. If so, I wish they would make more of a fuss about it. Otherwise, they demonstrate bias that is extremely harmful to their argument. They also underscore my broader point: it is difficult, if not impossible, for any ideologically committed person to assess which speech, if any, is "unduly influential."
The reasons for this are rooted in human psychology. It can be difficult to explain to ourselves why people disagree with us. This observation is simultaneously mundane and profound. On some level we expect disagreement, but on another level, we scratch our heads at how others can believe in ideas that are so obviously, well, wrong. This is more true for the ideologically committed who have devoted their lives and careers to pushing for a society that they believe would be happier and more just, a category of people to which I fully belong.
There are many possible explanations available to us for why there is opposition to our views. Perhaps those who oppose us are evil. Maybe they're selfish and only care about themselves. But the hardest explanation to accept is that your opponents are honest, well-meaning, informed people who have rational reasons for their views. It's easier, and more self-rewarding, to believe that your opponents are being misinformed by speakers who shout the loudest and actively spread lies.
This last explanation has become a crucial part of the modern debate over campaign finance reform. Understandably so. After all, why should we let liars and shouters stand in the way of a better world?
The First Amendment, that's why.
The First Amendment does not allow anyone to pursue his vision of a better world through censorship. Although we'd all love the liars and shouters to be silenced, the First Amendment forbids such censorship precisely because there is no way to agree on who is a liar and who is "too loud." Those determinations are too intertwined with our ideological commitments.
Although I agree with Rep. Sanders and Mr. Weissman that money may have too much influence on politics, perhaps we should address this problem by creating a government that lacks the power to reward undue influence — that is, a limited government that cannot determine whether someone succeeds or fails in life — and not by stifling free speech.
Australia: Debate rages after call for spanking children to be made illegal
READERS have overwhelmingly rejected a call for an outright ban on parents smacking their own children. At 1.15pm, more than 91% of 6500 votes cast said the practice should not be outlawed as debate raged among commenters.
The debate was sparked by this morning's Herald Sun report of comments by Dr Gervase Chaney, the head of Australia's peak paediatric body, who called for mums and dads to be banned from disciplining their children with physical force. He said it was no longer OK for parents to argue "it never did us any harm" - and called on colleagues to stand up for children's rights.
Speaking today, World Vision Australia head Tim Costello admitted smacking his own children but backed calls for an outright ban. Rev Costello admits he smacked his own children and sympathises with parents who have, but said it is not the right way to discipline. “I think smacking should not be allowed, it should be banned to prevent abuse,” he said.
He has been echoed by Dr Joe Tucci, CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation, who said his organisation had been campaigning for a ban for the past 15 years. "We think children should be afforded the same level of protection under law as an adult," he said.
"I don't believe parents necessarily set out to hit their kids, but if they are frustrated, angry or upset with the child it can inadvertently lead to them hitting too hard or in places where it does leave an injury and I don't think parents want that."
Ban 'too interventionist'
But former Australian of the Year and CEO of Child Wise Bernadette McMenamin rejected calls for a ban and said it would leave parents thinking they lived in a nanny state.
Ms McMenamin, whose brother was the victim of abuse as a child, said smacking needed to be stopped – but through education, not the law. "I think it would make parents feel like the Government is going too far, taking over the parental role,” she said. "Setting a law for no smacking, I know where the professor is coming from, but parents would find that far too interventionist and a nanny state."
Ms McMenamin has a child of her own whom she has never smacked and said parents who do smack their children did so for the wrong reasons – and risked escalating smacking into child abuse. "I do not believe that smacking is a useful disciplinary tool, it's about the parent taking out their frustration on a child,” Ms McMenamin said. "If you smack a child, how can you tell what is a smack and what is a punch? "It may start with an odd smack, but it can escalate.”
A spokesperson for Premier Ted Baillieu said this morning there were "no plans to change the law as it relates to the smacking of children".
Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews also said he did not support a change in the law. "A parent's first duty is to care and protect their child, and Victoria already has strong child protection laws in place," he said. "Parenting is hard and it's not made any easier by unenforceable and intrusive proposals like this."
Federal political figures have also opposed a ban on smacking kids, saying criminal law should not be applied to parents. Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey told Sunrise that parents had the responsibility to protect their children. “There are some things that the criminal law shouldn't be involved with,” he said. “In raising children, parents have a responsibility.”
His thoughts were echoed by Minister for Population and Communities, Tony Burke, who also appeared on the program. “These experts, there are helpful ideas they come up with, the naughty corner and these different ideas for raising kids,” he said. “I’ve found a lot of that really helpful with my own kids, but to start saying the criminal law and legal penalties is the way to deal with this - parents do it tough enough already."
Australia 'lagging behind'
Dr Chaney says Australia is lagging behind other countries in outlawing smacking, describing some cases as tantamount to child abuse. He is pushing for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians paediatric and child health division to officially support a ban as the body reviews its policy on smacking.
His comments come after The Royal College of Paediatrics in Britain this week called for a ban on smacking, saying too often "today's smack becomes tomorrow's punch".
In Victoria, parents can smack their children as long as the punishment is not "unreasonable" or "excessive".
The issue has polarised opinion in Australia - the Presbyterian Church last year backed the right of parents to smack their child within existing common-law parameters. The church's submission to a state government inquiry said there was "a significant body of research confirming its utility in raising children well".
Victorian Child Safety Commissioner Bernie Geary said he did not support smacking, but he was worried a ban could be misused and unfairly punish some parents. "The way children are disciplined should be thoughtful and respectful," he said.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.