Columns / Discourse / February 8, 2012

Observing America: Are conservatives dumb?

There is a recent psychology study that concludes liberalism is smarter than conservatism. According to the Canadian case, right-wingers gravitate “into prejudice against others,” be it racism or homophobia. This prejudice is determined by the intelligence gap between the two ideologies.

The author of the study finishes by saying that “‘Clearly, however, all socially conservative people are not prejudiced, and all prejudiced persons are not conservative.’” (http://goo.gl/KDBcf) But what’s the point then? It’s pretty obvious that the study itself engages in prejudice.

In fact, there is a Time magazine article that refutes these findings. First of all, Robert Warren points out that in studies like these, psychologists have a hard time figuring out where values come from. Warren writes, “Psychologists don’t have a good understanding of why people embrace the values they do. Many kids share their parents’ values, but at the same time many adolescents define themselves in opposition to what their parents believe.”

Warren is also baffled by the idea that liberalism has a strong correlation to open-mindedness. He responds to this argument by stating, “Openness to new experience isn’t necessarily intelligent (cocaine is fun; accidental cocaine overdose is not).”

Science at times makes silly correlations. Warren shows this in a recent California study that tested how political views influence physical strength. The experiment “measured the strength of 343 students using weight-lifting machines at a gym” (http://goo.gl/ISooS). They found that conservatives are physically stronger than liberals.

But these findings are preposterous. I’m a conservative, (I know, right? Shocking!) but that doesn’t mean I’m naturally stronger or, for that matter, dumber. I’m personally tired of hearing that conservatives are dumb, be it inside or outside of this campus. To be quite honest, I don’t think it’s stupid to believe in balanced budgets, in strong family values and in the U.S. Constitution. It’s fair to say that there are liberals who believe in these exact things. That’s the problem with these studies. They generalize too much.

Well then, get over them. These studies are strongly offensive not only because of my personal political views but because a huge part of our population is conservative. In fact, 40 percent of the American public considers itself conservative (http://goo.gl/umKSo). Are these studies suggesting that close to half of America is stupid? Are these studies suggesting that conservative figures like British Prime Minister David Cameron, or George Will, or William Buckley Jr., or Congressman Paul Ryan or Governor Chris Christie are dumber than Senator Al Franken or Congressman Dennis Kucinich? There are dumb people on both sides and that’s a fact.

So hate them or love them, conservatives are here to stay. How about psychologists start making studies to show how conservatives and liberals can get along? If people castigate the other side as being less intelligent then there will be very little respect and cooperation. Stop making these studies. Both sides have valid points and no one side is superior to the other. Let’s listen to both and expand our knowledge. That’s when we become smarter.

Alex Uzarowicz
Alex Uzarowicz has been a weekly conservative political columnist for The Knox Student for three years. He also writes for The College Conservative. Alex will graduate in June 2013 with a degree in political science, after which he will head abroad to begin his Peace Corps service.


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