Does the Right Have a Stupidity Problem?
The idea that right wingers are less intelligent than left wingers is not an outrageous one. Nathan Cofnas notes that there is a stereotype that right wingers are less intelligent than left wingers, and given the prior that stereotypes tend to be accurate, it is likely that right wingers are less intelligent than left wingers. Reality, however, is a bit more complicated.
In his study of the General Social Survey, Emil Kirkegaard found that, within Whites, self-identified liberals had better vocabularies than conservatives, but no there was no difference between self-identified Republicans and Democrats.
This is somewhat counterintuitive, but it fits with the previous literature on this topic. People with socially conservative views tend to be less intelligent than those with socially liberal views, but right wing economic beliefs are associated with higher levels of intelligence. As these two effects balance each other out, the difference in intelligence between right wingers and left wingers ends up being negligible.
These results could potentially be biased by the fact that vocabulary size was used as a proxy for intelligence. The correlation between vocabulary and intelligence is about 0.75, which is reasonably high, but far from perfect, and it could be the case that specific mental abilities correlate more with political beliefs than others. Emil and I Kirkegaard found some evidence that this was the case, but the correlation between each specific ability and political beliefs was in the same direction for each mental ability, so using vocabulary as a proxy for intelligence is probably fine.
Me and Emil are also working on a different paper that researches the degree to which support for the Republican party correlates with intelligence. We found a positive association between intelligence and support for the republican party with a better test of intelligence (the ASVAB) in a cohort of nationally representative White Americans born between the 50s and 60s who were asked about their political beliefs in 2008 who were sampled in the NLSY79. There was no midwit effect, which has been a very consistent finding behind the scenes.
Within Whites and Hispanics, Republicans score roughly 5 IQ points higher than Democrats. Within Blacks there does not seem to be a substantial difference. On paper, this looks like a refutation of the GSS analysis, but upon closer examination, this is not the case. This NLSY data comes from 2008, a year in which Republicans outpaced Democrats in vocabulary size, though the advantage in Republican IQ (~5 points) is larger than the advantage in vocabulary size (~2 points) within the same year. This could either be because vocabulary size as an indicator may be biased against conservatives, or because vocabulary size is a worse test of intelligence, so the effect is weaker.
Nathan Cofnas stated in his piece that highly intelligent people tend to hold right wing or race realist views - this is probably not the case. I have tallied the political views of 22 people who are likely to have IQs of over 145, and the final results were 8 right wingers and 6 left wingers. Of that 22, there were only 5 outspoken race realists: Arthur Jensen, Francis Galton, Chris Lagnan, Richard Nixon, and Curtis Yarvin. In the case of Albert Einstein and Bobby Fischer, their racial beliefs are complicated…
Internationally, I find no evidence that support for left or right wing parties correlates with intelligence. Within Britain (2001) and Germany (2015), right wingers and left wingers are roughly equally intelligent.
The graph I provided earlier shows that Republicans are increasingly becoming a stupider party - in the modern day, Republicans have worse vocabularies than Democrats by a factor of about 3-4 points. This association also extends to voting, where White Trump voters are about 5 IQ points lower than White Clinton voters.
In his piece Why We Need to Talk About the Right’s Stupidity Problem, Nathan Cofnas highlights that extremely conservative Whites score 8.5 IQ points lower than extremely conservatives. However, he neglects to mention that modern White Republicans only have IQs that are 3-4 points lower than White Democrats. “Conservative” and “being right wing” are synonyms, but the former is more associated with social conservatism, while the 2nd is associated with more hierachical beliefs in general. There is also the issue of using vocabulary size as a proxy - Republican IQs are higher than their vocabulary scores suggest, so the true difference in IQ could potentially be as low as 0-2 points. Alternatively, if using vocabulary size as a proxy deflates the true association, the true difference could be around 5-6 points.
Nathan then argues that this (illusory) intellectual dominance over the right has resulted in leftist overrepresentation in universities and media. Of course, I cannot deny that media organizations and universities tend to be dominated by the left, but it is simply not true that this is due to the fact that conservatives have lower levels of innate cognitive ability.
Remember that the leftist advantage in intelligence within Whites only appeared around the early 2010s, and that before this, the evidence overwhelmingly suggested that it was the Republicans who were slightly more intelligent than the Democrats. Left wing domination of the universities has been underway ever since the 80s, which is not consistent with the hypothesis that this difference is due to higher levels of intelligence.
Likewise, journalists have leaned to the left long before 2008.
I have no opinion on whether this dominance in academia and media is a byproduct of leftist political dominance, the cause of it, or something in between; though I can say with certainty that this dominance is not caused by the fact that left wingers are more intelligent. I also do not know whether law and power are the causes of ideological shifts in the population, or whether those ideological shifts cause those changes in laws. Because of that, I will not respond to that specific section of the article which details that topic.
Cause of the reduction in Republican IQ
My current hypothesis is the result of the reduction in Republican IQ is due to changes in what political beliefs cause political identification, namely immigration. Out of all political beliefs, supporting more unrestricted immigration is the social belief that correlates most strongly with intelligence. As Republicans and Democrats have been increasingly diverging in views on immigration since the late 2000s, that should cause the average IQ of a Republican to drop - which it did, at exactly the same time.
Talking about race differences
In his piece, Nathan Cofnas argues that wokeness is the natural consequence of believing that races are equal in innate temperment and intelligence. As wokeness is the most plausible explanation for race differences in psychology, behaviour, and social status that does not involve genetic explanations, elites and highly intelligent people will gravitate to it as an explanation for these differences.
I cannot agree - there are multiple competing explanations for race differences in social status and psychological characteristics, and rejecting hereditarianism does not entail embracing wokeness. Of the potential explanations, I count:
Discrimination: (insert minorities) are less successful than Whites because they are discriminated against in work, housing, education, etc.
Systemic racism: laws that are not explicitly racial cause (insert minorities) to be less successful than Whites.
Education: (insert minorities) are less successful than Whites because they have worse educational opporitunities.
Socioeconomic status: (insert minorities) are less successful than Whites because their kin (parents in particular) have lower levels social status.
Environmental pollutants: (insert minorities) are less successful than Whites because their environments are polluted due to bad food, lead, contaminated air, etc.
Culture: (insert minorities) are less successful than Whites because they have cultural beliefs and practices that are less conducive to success.
Genes: (insert minorities) are less successful than Whites because they are less genetically predisposed to traits such as intelligence that are causal for success.
Out of these explanations, two of them are not woke (culture and genes), and the other 5 are woke-adjacent. Rejecting genetic causation will cause people to be more likely to endorse one of the 5 other explanations, but the cultural explanation can still be endorsed as an alternative. Cofnas, in his piece, argues that these cultural explanations are not plausible:
The standard conservative approach to racial disparities is to hope that no one challenges them to provide a serious solution. When they are forced to address the issue, they appeal to their own culture-only theories that do not invoke racism, and which are generally unconvincing to intelligent, open-minded, non-delusional people. Conservatives often blame liberals or Democrats for failed policies that destroyed the black family or caused blacks to choose welfare over work, ignoring the fact that government policies create identical incentives for members of all races. Or they cite Thomas Sowell’s idea that disparities are due to “culture”—a culture that for some reason follows (population-representative) people of certain ancestries wherever they go all over the world, and is impervious to the most extreme interventions, including cross-racial adoption, and which tracks biological markers such as brain size.
I’m not going to explain what’s wrong with mainstream conservative explanations of race differences in detail. For now I’ll just point out that all non-racism-based cultural explanations for race differences have fatal problems that most intelligent people immediately recognize. If it were true that the races were on average psychologically equal, the best explanation for disparities would be the continued existence, or the legacy, of white racism. For this reason, intelligent people tend to choose wokism over mainstream conservatism.
It is true that the cultural explanations are not that convincing when it comes to race differences in social status, but there are some differences that are probably influenced by culture. Despite being higher in psychopathology and lower in IQ, Hispanics are less likely to smoke, and the rate at which they smoke varies substantially by country of origin. Hispanics of Puerto Rican and Cuban origin are the most likely to smoke and Dominican individuals are the least likely to. This can’t all be explained by genetic ancestry, as American Indians are more likely to smoke than non-Hispanic Whites, but more amerindian Hispanic groups are relatively less likely to smoke.
That said, cultural explanations for the most notable race differences are failures. This failure, however, is not specific to cultural explanations - it applies to any explanation of IQ/status differences between races that does not involve genetics.
Education fails as an explanation, because school funding is not associated with the ethnicity of the students in the school, and because the education system serves to label the abilities of students, not to enhance them.
The discrimination hypothesis is also incorrect. The effect of skin color on social status and intelligence is not statistically significant between siblings. People with distinctively Black names do not have worse social outcomes than other black people when parental SES is controlled for.
The lower parental SES of certain racial minorities is also not responsible for discrepancies in income, as the difference in income between the races is eliminated when IQ is controlled for, but not parental SES.
As for environmental contaminants, they probably have an effect on psychological traits, and it is unlikely a that the distribution of environmental contaminants is equal among all races. That said, most environmental contaminants are unlikely to have large effects on psychological traits. The chief candidate that has been promoted the most in the literature is lead exposure, which, when even making some generous assumptions, only reduces IQ by about 0.15-1 points, which is fairly trivial. SSRI use during pregnancy drops mathematical ability by the equivalent of 1.3 IQ points, but has no effect on reading ability.
On its own, I wouldn’t say these are irrefutable evidence that each of these hypothesis are wrong. That said, the non-cultural environmental explanations also have holes in them that can be poked at.
Cofnas also argues that right wing positions on affirmative action, microaggressions, and immigration are not defensible without appealing to genetics. This is simply incorrect, affirmative action can be argued against by advocating for the fact that IQ/scholastic tests are not biased or by appealing to mismatch theory. Immigration can be argued against by simply noticing that immigrants tend to be very similar to the cultures they leave behind.
Yes, attacking these positions in a nuanced way would ideally involve appealing to some sort of genetic race realism. However, it isn’t necessary to do so - the cultural transmission theory has political implications that are so similar to the genetic theory that it makes no difference to advance it over the genetic theory.
Promoting hereditarianism politically
Nathan Cofnas closes out the article by arguing that the genetic causes of race differences in intelligence should be promoted to increase the intellectual appeal of the right wing and “destroy wokism”.
In my article, “How to Take Back Academia,” I proposed a three-part plan:
(1) Promote knowledge of the cause of race differences
(2) Change the population of decision makers on campus
(3) Leverage political power
The same plan can be generalized. Promoting knowledge of the genetic cause of race differences destroys the premise of wokism, but this is not enough to attain victory. Our institutions are brimming with delusional—and in many cases mentally ill—true believing Red Guard thugs who were appointed to maintain the ideological status quo. Many of these people will fight to the gates of hell to defend the woke system, and won’t accept evidence for hereditarianism no matter what. We need to find legal ways to remove these people from positions of authority: get rid of fake grievance-studies departments at universities; revoke the tenure of pseudoscholars who were hired in job searches that illegally discriminated against whites, Asians, and men; mass fire the woke commissars in the state department; and so on. We have to leverage political power both to change the population of decisions makers and in order to deprive the woke of one of their most powerful weapons, which is civil rights law. The law might not be the ultimate cause of wokism, but as long as it’s illegal not to be woke, it will be far more difficult to reform our institutions.
Sorry, but this is delusional. These kinds of things should be talked about online and in polite company, but promoting these things in public or political life is not helpful and will backfire. Previous attempts have been made to popularize race realism, and every single one of them failed.
This debate about promoting HBD actually sprung up recently, with Bronze Age Pervert posting a great tweet about it which translated into a debate between him and Bo Winegard. Most people who responded him ignored the argument, which was that HBD is true, but it is not a politically feasible strategy; and they instead implied that BAP wanted to promote colourblind liberalism.
People who are advocating for trying to mainstream HBD are not considering the historical record. Jensen tried in 1969 by publishing his timeless piece ‘How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement’, where he argues that there is a 15 point difference in IQ between Blacks and Whites, and that the broad sense heritability of IQ is 80%, and that because of that, it’s unlikely that this is solely due to environmental causes. This piece is now his most cited work, even more than his books, which are also of very high quality. The evidence for between and within groups hereditarianism was relatively weak at this point, and most expert psychologists disagreed with his ideas.
Murray tried again in 1994 by releasing the Bell Curve, which initiated what I call the “2nd race realism wave”. He had much better data than Jensen did, and found that IQ was much more predictive of child outcomes than parental SES, even within races. On top of that, he was able to determine that lots of race differences disappear when intelligence is controlled for. Unfortunately, his work was (wrongly) distorted and criticized by ideologically motivated activists and has fallen out of favour.
The alt-right era youtubers and bloggers (e.g. Moly, alt hype) tried it again and failed. I was online back then, and I thought that their videos were good, especially when compared to the standards that are expected from youtube videos. This wave of race realist were able to broadcast these ideas to a wider audience, but they lost steam after they were censored or banned.
I don't think these failures were due to deficiencies in competence or character, rather the circumstances in all cases were stacked massively against all waves of race realists. Jensen dealt with massive amounts of negative press and pressure from colleagues very well, but the evidence was limited back then. Murray was able to upgrade Jensen’s work, and presented complex ideas in an understandable yet undiluted manner in the Bell Curve, but his one book could only go so far, and only so many people will read books. The alt-right era youtubers had good videos on race with lots of views, but were shut down quickly by censors and the momentum the movement died.
If competent people have tried to do something three times, and failed, that suggests that what they are trying to do is probably impossible. Yes, the evidence has increased in quality ever since the 90s: we now have polygenic scores, correlated vectors, brain size, cold winters, admixture studies, adoption studies, skin color sibling control studies, and the jensen variance argument to appeal to. This evidence will only grow in size, though this increase in quality of evidence has not coincided with an increase in belief of hereditarianism. According to the GSS, the amount of people who believe that Black people are less successful in earnings and occupational status due to a lower innate learning ability has decreased substantially over time:
In the modern day, only about 5% of the public is friendly to hereditarian race realism. If we failed to popularize this theory when >20% of the public supported it (1969), when 15% of the public supported it (1993), and when 10% of the public supported it (2010s), How are we going to succeed when only 5% of the public believes in racial hereditarianism at the moment?
The rate at which it changes is also depresssing - a decrease of 18% in 50 years. If we assume that belief in hereditarianism will rise at the same rate, it’s going to take 130 years to get back to a majority of 51%. Yes, the internet will probably change the rate at which beliefs change in a population, but there is no guarantee that the race realism revival is going to happen tomorrow, and it is very unlikely that adoption of race realism will surge enough to “rock the vote” in time to close the borders and deport the illegals. In this climate, the best we can hope for is to convert as many people as possible to the heredtiarian position behind the scenes, and advance the cultural position in mainstream political spheres.
Of course, I will still be speaking openly about genetic race differences. But I don’t intend to attach my name and face to these discussions, or become a prominent political actor. And if you are attaching your face and name to your opinions, please do yourself a favour and try to avoid talking about race and genes.
Some people have expressed optimism about the lack of censorship on twitter and substack - I share this sentiment, but I don’t think it can translate into mainstream approval for several reasons:
- Most Blacks/Hispanics will not accept HBD for emotional reasons, as BAP said in his original post. There are oddities like me who are willing to believe anyway, but we are a substantial minority of the “racist community”, despite what the internet memes suggest.
- It's uncomfortable to talk about. For the average low agreeableness internet autist this is not an issue, but this is a massive issue for the average person.
- The liars, cowards, and cowardly liars who promote race denialism still have control of the funny hat institutions and social proof mechanisms. Weaker minded people will still flock to these institutions even if there is a strong dissenting community.
The face right also neglects that promoting HBD aggressively may end free speech and anti-deboosting on twitter. It wouldn’t be the first time that advertisers have pressured Musk to change his platform to favor special interests.
The p word?
Nathan Cofnas noted in his article that hereditarians are probably dumber than environmentalists:
I confirmed this with GSS data, which show that, on average, whites who attribute lower black socioeconomic status to genes (i.e., admit to being race realists) have WORDSUM IQs that are 8.5 points lower than whites who espouse environmentalism.
Coincidentally, I published an article about this very topic two years ago, using the same dataset and variable, which I promoted on twitter several times. Did Cofnas see that article… And post that analysis without citing me? Maybe. Who knows. I suppose that I only learned that this variable existed from other people in the community, perhaps the same happened to him. I’d give it a 30-40% probability that he saw it and didn’t cite it - not likely, but still worth mentioning. (edit: he claims he first noticed this in 2013, and has proof. Response seems believable enough). The disparity between his analysis and mine is due to the fact that he subsetted to recent years, while I used the whole dataset.)
Using the whole GSS dataset, I got a difference of 9.06 points when you norm the scores on the White mean, 8.8 points when you norm them on the general population mean, and 9.2 points when you adjust for between year effects. Removing Hispanics causes the difference to increase to 10.5 points.
To be fair to Cofnas, I didn’t know how to download data properly when I wrote that piece, and only used the 2012 dataset. The difference within Whites is somewhat smaller when you look at the whole GSS data.
Right wingers are probably less intelligent than left wingers, but the magnitude of the difference in the modern age is very small, and probably close to 2-4 points. This is not enough to make any meaningful difference, especially when you consider that intelligence is not that predictive of eminence, anyway.
The dominance the left hold over the universities and the media has existed before 2008, which is the year that the Republican IQ began to lower, probably because views on immigration became a driving factor in political identification.
Was a bit angry when I wrote this, due to a reason that looks somewhat apparent if you scroll up a few paragraphs. Reworded the article to be more charitable/less emotional, improved the clarity of the arguments, and fixed grammar/spelling.
Political views of individuals estimated to have an IQ of above 145, according to my database:
Curtis Yarvin: right wing. Race-aware, pro-autocracy but not strongly authoritarian.
Chris Lagnan: race realist. Supports Trump, if I recall correctly. Classified as right wing.
Steven Pinker: known for supporting liberalism/democracy. Anti-woke, and probably more based on the race question than he lets on. Supported Obama. Would peg him as a moderate.
Richard Nixon: conservative. Doesn’t like Jews or Blacks. Against interracial unions.
Mark Zuckerberg: Based on his wikipedia page, he seems moderate.
Elon Musk: right wing.
Vitalik Buterin: used to be interested in socialism… and libertarianism? He rarely makes political statements out in the open - besides one time he spoke out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Based on this interview, he seems like a moderate anti-authoritarian.
Bill Gates: center-left . He thinks climate change is a threat, is fine with federal funds being used for pro-abortion groups, against the wealth tax, and pro-LGBT. Also pro-IP.
Alvin Lee King: shot up a church and wanted to move to Soviet Russia. Probably left wing.
EliGE and Faker: don’t talk about politics. Unlikely that pro-gamers have strong political views, so they were labelled as apolitical.
Magnus Carlsen: has made few political statements, besides this one:
A few months ago I joked about the upcoming US election. I said I liked Trump's style, I said he was funny, maybe because does not argue in a rational way, or because he's good at putting names on things [like 'crooked Hillary', arguably the most well-known 'trumpism']. The next day all the newspaper headlines read 'Carlsen supports Trump.' In my home county, political correctness dominates everything. We should be more open.
Vaguely suggestive of right wing political beliefs, but not enough to make a definitive judgement. Classified as apolitical.
There are multiple people who are very likely to have IQs of above 145, but are not in the database. I have also researched their political views:
von Neumann: conservative. Classified as right wing.
Einstein: socialist. Classified as left wing.
Bobby Fischer: anti-semitic and anti-American. Classified as right wing.
Noam Chomsky: marxist. Classified as left wing.
Francis Galton: conservative. Classified as right wing.
John Stuart Mill - liberal/socialist. Classified as left wing.
Right wing: 7
Left wing: 4