When you write about social conservative wingnuts day in, day out, the question always comes up: are these people stupid, evil, or both? With some of the leaders, you get the sense that they’re evil, and that they’re simply preying on people who fit the “stupid” category. But all too often, it feels like they’re just stupid. Science says this hunch has something to back it up:
You’ve always had an inkling that this might be true, and now here comes Science to validate your gut: children with low IQs tend to grow up to be prejudiced adults who often adopt socially conservative ideologies. The “liberal elite” is not in your imagination, friends. Fox News viewers really are that dumb!
The first study examined two groups of British adults, one born in 1958 and the other born in 1970. Both groups were assessed for intelligence at age 10 or 11, and then a followup was conducted when they were between the ages of 30 and 33. During the initial test, children were asked to complete tasks that tested their abilities to reason and remember. During the followup two decades later, researchers assessed the subjects’ level of prejudice and degree of socially conservative views. “Social conservatism” was determined by asking subjects to respond to a series of questions like “Family life suffers if mom is working full time” or “I wouldn’t mind working with other races.” In this study, children with low scores on the first set of tests tended to grow up to exhibit prejudiced and socially conservative viewpoints on the second set of tests.
And here’s the gay part:
The second study analyzed by the Canadian researchers examined Americans’ attitude toward homosexuality. The study found that people with poorer abstract reasoning skills tended to be more homophobic, even when researchers controlled for education level.
The Canadian researchers hypothesize that people who “have trouble grasping the complexity of the world” may tend toward prejudice and conservatism because they crave structure and can’t process chaos and nuance. Religion, authoritarianism, and isolationism appeal to a desire for order in a world that offers few absolutes.
Yep, sounds familiar! It’s the low-road anti-gay activists who fit this bill, in my estimation. The ones who lead small hate groups and whatnot. Also, Rick Santorum.