Good news, social conservatives: according to a new study, you're not bad people; you're just stupid. And also? Racists. Fox News: at long last explained by science.
I'm referring to a recent study that found a strong correlation between low intelligence (for any conservatives reading this, that means being a stupidhead) and socially-conservative and racist attitudes. Of course, that study, led by psychologist Gordon Hodson of Brock University in Toronto, measures correlation, not causation, because of how it's tough to make people stupid as part of an experiment. (Although I suspect that, say, Oral Roberts University might have a few pointers it could give researchers. Also, if a study has access to some of those icepicks they used to use for lobotomies lying around, it's a lot easier.) So stupidity doesn't necessarily cause social conservatism and racism, nor do social conservatism and racism cause stupidity; they just tend to occur together. (Like, a lot.) A whole different third factor might cause both. Your parents being siblings, for example, or how your favorite snack food is lead paint chips.
Now, of course, I'm taking a nuanced piece of research and (slightly) distorting and simplifying it, in much the same manner that the news media do when they blare, "Broccoli Causes Rectal Cancer" (that one I choose to believe) or "Gun Control Leads To Rise In Knifings." The problem with most science is that it doesn't give us simple conclusions that lend themselves readily to headlines or simple courses of action. Remember how, back in the '90s, doctors and other health providers -- and of course the media -- took as an article of faith that butter was bad for you because it raised cholesterol and urged you to substitute margarine for it? If you took that advice -- and I didn't, because Julia Child was like a goddess to me -- you wound up ingesting a whole bunch of trans-fats and probably doing little or nothing to reduce your cholesterol. Plus, you missed out on lots of delicious butter-eating. So perhaps we might want to take with a grain of salt (or butter!) the slightly-more-general-than-the-research-indicates conclusion that social conservatives are, you know, a little slow. Um, bless their hearts, as one might say in the South. Their really stupid racist tiny little hearts, one might add, if one were me, and one is.
Another thing to point out about this study is that it's about averages. On average, people in this study who were more socially conservative had, you know, Otises that didn't go all the way to the top floor. While it's true that on average, men are taller than women, that's not a conclusion that pertains to extremely-short me; the only women in my life than whom I'm taller are my daughters and my girlfriend, and of course, the female attendees of Dwarf-Tossing Night at my local drinking establishment. So, before you get to feeling too good about yourselves, liberals and progressives, keep in mind that while statistically speaking you might be smarter than the conservative you're arguing with, there remains the statistically not-insignificant possibility that--despite all the idiocy that conservative might spew--you might not be. If that doesn't keep you humble, nothing will.
Nor do I think that my conservative friends, of which I have none, believe the ridiculous nonsense that they believe because they are stupid. (Except for the ones who support Rick Santorum. Google him!) No, I think that they believe the ridiculous nonsense that they believe because they are evil. And honestly, do we even need a study to demonstrate the correlation between social conservatism, racism and evil?
Follow Floyd Elliot on Twitter: www.twitter.com/FloydElliot