Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Smart People are Educated, Greedy, Sexist Bigots

The brilliant and irascible science blogger, Razib Khan, has conducted a thorough survey of his readers, in which 367, by my count, reported their IQ scores. The mean reported IQ was shockingly high at 133. The survey also provides data on a range of interesting views. For instance, he questioned whether “biologically derived behavioral differences” between sexes and “human races” are “trivial,” “very modest,” “somewhat significant,” or “very significant,” which I assigned values from one to four in said order. As shown here, the smartest participants were more likely to consider racial and sex differences important.

Intelligence did not seem to affect immigration attitudes.

Intelligence also did not impact body mass index.

Likewise, though his readers were overwhelmingly liberal on social issues, the intelligence of the survey takers did not affect their reported liberalism on a scale from zero to ten.

Economic issues, on the other hand, seemed to evoke a conservative streak from the super-smart.

As expected, smarter people were better-educated, and this was the strongest association that I have found so far.

The second-strongest association that I discovered was the fact that smarter readers had been following his blog for more years.

This might be a point of pride for Khan, but it could also be a confounding variable. Could it be that Khan’s blog is a source of racism exposure, despite his own minority status and his readers’ professed liberal social beliefs? Are smart people especially impressionable to prolonged exposure to racism? Or are smart people sexist bigots because … they are smart?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It might well be that people who report higher IQs are educated, greedy, sexist and bigoted.

Or, it could equally be the case that educated, greedy, sexist bigots tend to be dishonest in self-reporting their IQs. Could these results demonstrate that those who are less than secure about their place in society (which increasingly ignores economic, gender and racial differences) are more likely to exaggerate their IQ scores?

Unless the respondents are all given the same IQ test (as tests differ widely) under controlled conditions, it's impossible to know what variable is being measured.

Add to that the fact that almost all IQ tests, especially those taken on the internet, etc., are of little value, measuring primarily the ability of the taker to score on that particular test; few people have the more valid, far more costly tests given one-on-one by an educational psychologist or other professional. MENSA only requires the minimum, and is apparently the primary instigator of IQ testing.

A new and controlled study would have to be undertaken to discover whether those who are more intelligent are also more racist and sexist, or whether those who are more racist and sexist lie about their intelligence.

And, of course... Correlation is not causation.