Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey

Recently, a study was published that provided a link between right-wing ideology and cognitive ability. Actually, it provided a negative link, meaning: if a kid is showing signs of low intelligence, there is a high chance he'll adopt prejudicial attitudes later in life. The authors tested this theory with two highly representative data sets of decades-long sessions of sampling. There's little I could argue over their methodology. You can find the full study here: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/23/2/187

However, what I could argue is that this study is being misrepresented, and that what is thought of as being "right-wing" is usually wrong. And I do this because I've seen this study being used in social media as a flag-pole sign of how Democrats and members of the PRD-Morena Mexican parties are smarter than Republicans and well, whoever is not a member of PRD-Morena (PRI and PAN basically). It tickles me how this study, which shows prejudice as a sign of low intelligence, is used to prejudice people by other people thinking that they are being smart by doing so.

First off, the authors themselves state (note 1, page 193) that "We focused on social-cultural conservatism rather than economic conservatism, given that the former is more clearly related to prejudice (Jost et al., 2003; Van Hiel et al., 2010)." And what they mean by "right-wing ideology" is one that is "characterized by resistance to change and the promotion of intergroup inequalities" (page 188). This means, that they are not linking to any right-wing economic ideologies or political ones, only social ones. When framed like this, the study actually provides a pretty obvious conclusion: idiots like things to not change. Meaning: prejudice implies an absence of intent to grow intellectually (usually provided by greater diversity of opinions) which is itself a strong sign of a low cognitive ability. So, yeah, duh.

Every time I talk to a person that is against homosexuality or a minority coming in and taking his job, they rarely provide a logical, well-thought out argument. It's usually more of a sentimental one; one that comes from the gut, instead of the head. And I get it. These topics are usually ones that are too close to their feelings/identity: homophobes are such usually because of their parents teachings, so being fine with homosexuality is a slap in the face to their ancestors; nobody is born racist, but our brain is very good in fooling itself in finding patterns where there aren't any, and seeing a couple black muggers or Hispanic gangs is enough for prejudice to set in, specially when they live next to you.

However, I find it disappointingly ironic that while waiving this study as a flag against prejudice, they are in fact acting on a prejudice: right-wingers are dumb and left-wingers are smart. And they're doing so with an incomplete understanding of what being "right-wing" or "left-wing" means.

Being "right-wing" or "left-wing" is a many-sided dice, with different meanings depending on the context. Yes, socially speaking, "right-wingers" are usually those that are uncomfortable with change and, thus, discourage minority acceptance. However, economically speaking, a "right-winger" prefers the free market to provide solutions to problems, instead of having a centralized institution that regulates and oversees everything, such as the government, the preferred tool for good of the "left-winger". Politically speaking, the "right-winger" prefers a small government, charging few taxes, and letting the communities decide the solutions to their local problems, while the "left-winger" sees taxes as kind of social service, in which one nation implies one community, all governed by the same laws. Both have their pros and cons, but both have great minds behind them, which have been discussing for decades, even centuries. If one side was dumber than the other, shouldn't it have already won this economic/political argument?

In fact, I would submit that many of the economic/political philosophies of the "left-wing" PRD-Morena parties here in Mexico tend to be "right-wing": local indigenous communities with their own set of laws, lower taxes, and a small government with a small amount of power.

I would also submit that this study was used by a few, just a few "left-wingers" who liked being called smart by comparison, since it played right into their prejudicial mindset of "right-wingers" being homophobic, racist idiots. This wasn't about being smart or dumb, it was an us-versus-them issue. It wouldn't have mattered if the study would've concluded the opposite, I'm sure there would have been a few, just a few "right-wingers" using it to pour more gasoline into the flames of rivalry.

The irony is that I'm sure this few, just a few "left-wingers" didn't realize that they are part of a tribal battle in which it doesn't matter if you are right or not, you root for your team, and you boo everybody else. They didn't realize that they were behaving in the same manner the other side behaves for which they deservedly criticize them for. And, sadly, they didn't realize that by doing so, they were recursively casting themselves as dumb.

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