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Liberals Marginally More Intelligent Than Conservatives, Who Are Considerably Smarter Than Moderates
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In response to Dennis Mangan’s recent post discussing Satoshi Kanazawa’s speculations as to why political liberals dominate Western institutions, I left the following comment. Rather than rehash it as a stand alone post, I’ll just offer it again here. The body of Mangan’s post offers fuller context if the line I excerpted from it is tough to comprehend:

the General Social Survey show that there’s nearly an 11-point childhood IQ difference between those who identified (as adults) as “very conservative” and “very liberal”, with a monotonic increase between the two.

Kanazawa isn’t quite correct in this assertion (and I encourage those who can tolerate a clunky interface to verify as much for themselves). Mean wordsum scores for all white GSS respondents from the survey’s inception to the present, by political orientation:

Extremely conservative — 5.98
Conservative — 6.35
Slightly conservative — 6.51
Moderate — 5.97
Slightly liberal — 6.54
Liberal — 6.55
Extremely liberal — 6.57

Using a purely verbal test as a proxy measure of IQ has the effect of artificially inflating women’s scores relative to men’s. The effect is modest–women have a .15 point advantage over men on Wordsum–but when it comes to politics, where the gender divide is not insignificant, it shouldn’t be discounted. The same, this time for men only:

Extremely conservative — 5.98
Conservative — 6.29
Slightly conservative — 6.45
Moderate — 5.72
Slightly liberal — 6.39
Liberal — 6.29
Extremely liberal — 6.51

Those who describe as “extremely liberal” and “extremely conservative” together constitute just 5% of the total respondent pool. Cutting them out and looking at the remaining 95%, we see that liberals and conservatives are of about equal intelligence, with moderates coming in around 5 IQ points lower.

Of course, when it comes to dominating media institutions, we’re looking at the right tail of the intelligence distribution, and those who describe as “extremely liberal” are going to cluster here more than people with other political outlooks will. Further, the Wordsum distribution is wider for liberals than it is for conservatives–liberals are more likely to score in the 0-2 and 9-10 ranges than conservatives are, while conservatives are more likely to score in the 3-8 range than liberals are. The standard deviation for white men’s Wordsum scores, by political orientation (the larger the standard deviation, the more variance there is in scoring among those holding the political viewpoint):
Extremely conservative — 2.05
Conservative — 2.00
Slightly conservative — 1.99
Moderate — 2.01
Slightly liberal — 2.19
Liberal — 2.30
Extremely liberal — 2.68
On so many dimensions, the political situation in the US has become one of the top and bottom in alliance against the middle.

GSS variables used: WORDSUM, RACE(1), SEX(1)(2), POLVIEWS

(Republished from The Audacious Epigone by permission of author or representative)
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  1. One of the problems with being in the middle is there is no obvious subgroup which can be sacrificed, say in to the US prison system. Left-wingers like NBC can orchestrate anti-white violence and chuckle if their dark cohorts wind up in prison. Right-wingers have no such option.

  2. MC says:

    Do more blacks call themselves conservatives or liberals? My understanding has been that a disproportionate number (maybe not a majority or plurality) of blacks call themselves conservatives (i.e., "we go to church every sunday"), even though they favor a bigger welfare state. I wonder what this would look like with only whites. If blacks are in fact identifying themselves correctly as liberals, then the gap between white conservatives and liberals might actually be wider.

  3. MC,

    There are a higher percentage of blacks than whites who identify as "extremely conservative" but a higher percentage of whites who identify as "slightly conservative" or "conservative" than blacks, so that overall blacks are less likely than whites are to identify as conservative.

  4. Epigone, are you aware of this study ?

    "Evidence for this model comes from the UK study of Deary et al. (2008b): Supporters of the centrist and center-right parties had higher childhood IQ than those that supported the center-left party, or the few (N=69) individuals in the sample who supported the nationalist party (IQs of 107.55 and 103.40 for the supporters of the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives respectively vs. IQs of 102.30 and 97.90 for the supporters of Labour and the BNP respectively)."

    See Table 1:
    Without preference (56%) – 94.13 (15.46)
    Left (11%) – 98.38 (16.67)
    Center-left (9%) – 98.99 (17.17)
    Center (14%) – 102.83 (14.92)
    Center-right (5%) – 103.83 (15.94)
    Right (5%) – 94.36 (13.70)

  5. Meng Hu,

    I was not. Thanks for the heads-up. I'm not that familiar with contemporary British politics. Is the center-right roughly comparable to what we'd call libertarianism in the US? Is the right more nationalistic but also more statist than the Republican party in the US and also the center-right in Britain?

  6. As far as I know, BNP is favorable to nationalism, and the british center-right is indeed comparable to libertarianism.
    Is the BNP a right-wing party (as what is often said) ? I don't think so.

    The Conservative Party is a right and center-right party.

    "Is the right more nationalistic but also more statist than the Republican party in the US and also the center-right in Britain?"

    I would say "yes" but I have some hesitation.

    About Traditionalist Conservatives : "They are strong advocates of marriage and believe the Conservative Party should back the institution with tax breaks and have opposed Labour's alleged assault on both traditional family structures and 'fatherhood'. Most oppose high levels of immigration and support the lowering of the current 24 week abortion limit. Some members in the past have expressed support for capital punishment."

  7. Oh, and table 1 displays the figures for Brazil. In Brazil, the more intelligent people tend to be center-right.

  8. Thanks for that, Meng Hu.

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