Researchers: Conservatives May Be Genetically Stupid. Oh, Wait. [VIDEO]

Researchers: Conservatives May Be Genetically Stupid. Oh, Wait. [VIDEO]

Researchers: Conservatives May Be Genetically Stupid. Oh, Wait. [VIDEO]

It’s been an article of faith for years among liberals that conservatives are, well, just plain stupid. They back it up with various theoretic studies, some of which even cite the reactions of prehistoric man to danger as an indication that conservative brains haven’t evolved, which is why conservatives are the village idiots of society.


Let this young woman explain it to you. I’m sure she has plenty of research credentials.

In 2012 three academics from Virginia Commonwealth University published their research in the American Journal of Political Science which theorized that a perceived lack of social evolvement among conservatives is genetic. Entitled “Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies,” the authors wrote in the abstract:

These findings cast doubt on the assumed causal relationship between personality and politics. Here we test the causal relationship between personality traits and political attitudes using a direction of causation structural model on a genetically informative sample. The results suggest that personality traits do not cause people to develop political attitudes; rather, the correlation between the two is a function of an innate common underlying genetic factor. (Bold-face mine.)

Here’s some of the specifics of their damning evidence:

In line with our expectations, P [for “Psychoticism”] (positively related to tough-mindedness and authoritarianism) is associated with social conservatism and conservative military attitudes. . . . We also find individuals higher in Neuroticism are more likely to be economically liberal. Furthermore, Neuroticism is completely unrelated to social ideology, which has been the focus of many in the field. Finally, those higher in Social Desirability are also more likely to express socially liberal attitudes.

You might think that Neuroticism would be a negative, but no, it’s seen as a positive among liberals:

People higher in Neuroticism tend to be more economically liberal. What is intriguing about this relationship is that it is in the opposite direction of what past theories would predict. . . That is, neurotic people are more likely to support public policies that provide aid to the economically disadvantaged (public housing, foreign aid, immigration, etc).

However, back in January of this year a very quiet correction was made to the data. It seems that the political leanings in the results were reversed, as explained in “Erratum to “Correlation not Causation:The Relationship between Personality Traitsand Political Ideologies” American Journal of Political Science 56 (1), 34–5.

Here’s part of the correction:

The authors regret that there is an error in the published version of “Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies” American Journal of Political Science 56 (1), 34–51. The interpretation of the coding of the political attitude items in the descriptive and preliminary analyses portion of the manuscript was exactly reversed.

And. . .

Thus, where we indicated that higher scores in Table 1 (page 40) reflect a more conservative response, they actually reflect a more liberal response. Specifically, in the original manuscript, the descriptive analyses report that those higher in Eysenck’s psychoticism are more conservative, but they are actually more liberal; and where the original manuscript reports those higher in neuroticism and social desirability are more liberal, they are, in fact, more conservative.

The authors “regret that there is an error?” Snort. More likely they regret that they were caught with their pants down, and that liberals ended up with egg on their face. Moreover, as Steven Hayward at Powerline points out, the original research was funded by taxpayer money. He notes, “And people wonder why Republicans in Congress want to cut off federal funding for social science research.”

I’m pretty certain that somewhere in the heavens, the brilliant conservative Justice Antonin Scalia is enjoying a hearty laugh over how this research “jiggery-pokery” amounted to nothing more than “pure applesauce.”

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

1 Comment
  • GWB says:

    Powerline points out that the point of the research wasn’t to say whether conservatives or liberals were good or bad. We can blame the media for most of that folderol. But, if you completely reverse all the data in your study, what else might you have missed?

    I’m still baffled by how you demonstrate that B doesn’t cause C, but both B & C are caused by A, when you have no way to determine when C came to be. It’s also rather simplistic to assume even a spectrum of political beliefs and personality traits, when it’s much more like a multidimensional scatter chart. Even single personality traits often can’t be placed on a single vector spectrum.

    Social science is generally NOT science.

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