Friday, May 29, 2009


One of the above was not a conservative and thought for himself, both in the areas of science and politics. The other is a fan of the Rush Limbaugh radio program. Can you tell them apart?

----- Original Message -----
From: Jim Finkelstein
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Sent: Friday, May 29, 2009 12:10 AM
Subject: well, duh!

It's kind of hard to read this with a straight face. I've always told my friend Glenn that the phrase "intelligent Republican" is an oxymoron (Glenn is, in fact, both intelligent and a Republican). But if the shoe fits.... check out THIS

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Here We Go Again... [Jonah Goldberg]

The calipers are out and, lo and behold, conservatives are stupid according to the latest scientific research. Study here, skeptical commentary here.

Conservatism and cognitive ability HERE

References and further reading may be available for this article. To view references and further reading you must purchase this article.

Lazar Stankova,
National Institute of Education (NIE), 1 Nanyang Walk, Singapore

Received 17 July 2008;
revised 7 December 2008;
accepted 8 December 2008.
Available online 3 February 2009.


Conservatism and cognitive ability are negatively correlated. The evidence is based on 1254 community college students and 1600 foreign students seeking entry to United States' universities. At the individual level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with SAT, Vocabulary, and Analogy test scores. At the national level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with measures of education (e.g., gross enrollment at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels) and performance on mathematics and reading assessments from the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) project. They also correlate with components of the Failed States Index and several other measures of economic and political development of nations. Conservatism scores have higher correlations with economic and political measures than estimated IQ scores.

Keywords: Conservatism; Intelligence; Multi-level

Wayne S. replied:

That doesn't bother me . I am a registered "Independent". I was a Democrat years ago.
I, a conservative, am not gullible enough to accept this "study" at face value. Good try though , Jim.

Jim's riposte to Wayne S.:


There are essential differences between conservatives (the modern American equivalent, not the Barry Goldwater or Dwight Eisenhower examples) and non-conservatives. I won't use the word "liberals" because that word has become a pejorative term and a false comparison used by conservatives. Non conservatives are all of the people who don't label themselves as a conservative. They include- but are not limited to- people who consider themselves libertarians, independents, or Colin Powell Republicans.

Here is where the key difference lies between conservatives and non-conservatives: means and ends. In most cases, conservatives and non-conservatives have the same goals (ends). For instance, in the case of crime, conservatives and the rest of us can have the same goal, which is to reduce crime and reduce illegal drug use. Conservatives have one means- strict enforcement of the law (except for crimes which typically involve people like them, which is why no indictments have issued yet for bankers and financiers who crashed the American economy by engaging in massive fraud))- coupled with harsh punishment (except for people who look like them). If that doesn't work over, say a 40 year period, they will never change the means- only ratchet them up. Conservatives decry "technicalities" that get criminals off- unless the technicality is a Fifth Amendment violation and the criminal is Oliver North, who got his criminal conviction overturned. Criminals rail against the dangers of drug use and against judges who coddle criminals, unless their name is Rush Limbaugh, the drug is Oxycontin, and all charges are dropped for serious felonies because he completed a pretrial diversion program.

A non-conservative would look at the crime problem and see what works. If rehabilitation and job training of prisoners with smaller and less restrictive detention facilities reduces recidivism, then great, we'll try that. If increasing recreational opportunities and job programs in the community reduces overall crime, then put money in that direction. If legalizing drugs works in Switzerland and Portugal and greatly reduces violent drug related crime, then a non-conservative is willing to try it here. If it works, great. If not, then try something else. It's not an ideological issue, because if it doesn't work, then be willing to acknowledge reality (which a conservative won't or can't do) and try something else.

A conservative answer for a good economy is to cut taxes. For a bad economy it is to cut taxes. If terrorists attack, the answer is to cut taxes. In other words, the answer is always to cut taxes- most importantly, taxes which affect only the super rich- such as estate taxes, which at present only hit estates greater than $7 million. Their only means of fixing any economic problem is to cut taxes. At the same time, conservatives want to increase military spending even when the spending could not possibly be related to current or foreseeable national security threats (i.e. F-22 Raptor fighters and Seawolf nuclear attack submarines, both designed to go to war against a country which has not existed for 20 years- the Soviet Union). And yet conservatives claim to want a balanced budget. Their brains are apparently incapable of or unwilling to comprehend the inherent incompatibility of cutting taxes, increasing defense spending, and balancing budgets. They wax nostalgic for a return to the disastrous deficit spending which occurred during President Reagan's time in office, as he tried to do all three.

Or take reforming the health care industry to provide more access. Every so called "conservative" solution involves either unfettered, unregulated competition in the marketplace (except where monopolies are granted to large corporations- i.e. a "certificate of need" requirement that kept one local hospital from delivering babies while the other hospital jacked up fees which were among the highest in the state) or "medical savings accounts" which are available to the poor as well as the rich. Of course, the poor can't take advantage of them, because to actually create a medical savings account, the citizen must have a relatively large amount of discretionary income and have a high enough tax bracket to profit from the attractive tax breaks. A non-conservative looks at other countries which use single payer plans and national health insurance programs that expend pennies compared to our dollars for far better health services than what Americans have. If it works, great. And by "works" I mean lowering total health care costs in the country while affording coverage to more than the current population covered by private health insurance.

These are just a few examples, but it goes right on down the line. Conservatives may or may not be stupider than the rest of us.. But without question, they are more closed minded and intolerant. Their politics is the politics of fear, not of hope. They are united primarily to demonize groups which are perceived as "others:" Arab Muslims, Mexican immigrants, gay people, any non-English speaking people. When is the last time a conservative railed against all of the Canadians and Australians- white, English speaking, Anglo-Saxons- who are taking jobs away from hard working Americans? Never.

Finally, a key difference is that non conservatives don't unquestioningly accept assertions by their leaders. In fact, many non-conservatives prefer to do their thinking for themselves and routinely question and challenge their so called leaders. Witness the firestorm of criticism which has landed on Barack Obama for reneging on campaign promises to close Gitmo and to end the use of military commissions and preventive detention. In comparison, conservatives will accept and blindly repeat talking points handed down to them. In fact, many of them will proudly call themselves "dittoheads" when calling in to their favorite radio show, a term which in any context defines a person incapable or unwilling to think for himself, even when the talking points are blatantly false or incompatible with observable reality.

Now prove me wrong.

Jim Finkelstein


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