This is from the National Geographic News, 3/3/10: Liberals, Atheists Are More Highly Evolved? Smarter people more inclined to nontraditional values, study suggests.

Your apelike ancestors probably aren't on the top of your mind when you enter the polling booth. But a new study suggests that human evolution may have a big influence on whether you're liberal or conservative—not to mention how smart you are, whether you believe in God, or whether you've got a cheatin' heart.

It's all linked to the evolution of intelligence, says author Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Kanazawa's theory is that intelligence—particularly our ability for on-the-spot problem solving and reasoning—arose as an adaptation to deal with the unusual and unexpected, such as a sudden forest fire.

Since disasters like that are rare in daily life, responding to them wouldn't likely be something our ancestors were hard-wired to "know" how to do. Surviving the fire required both the ability to think up a new behavior, and the willingness to try it out.

Passed down via genetics, those two traits are still the calling cards of an intelligent brain—expressed as a tendency toward adopting nontraditional social values and preferences, Kanazawa says in his new study, published in the March 2010 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.

As a result of their iconoclastic ancestry, he suggests, people with higher levels of intelligence are more likely to adopt social values and behaviors that are relatively new to human life—liberalism, atheism, staying up late, and (for men) monogamy, for example.

PL's comment: "DUH!!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's an interesting theory. I don't think I disagree with the connection. In fact I remember someone putting out a chart after the 2000 election that showed which states voted for Gore and which states voted for Bush listed in descending order of each state's average IQ. The result was a clean break somewhere around an IQ of 100 or so, maybe 98 I think. Every state who's average IQ was above 98 voted for Gore, every state who's average IQ was below 98 voted for Bush. It was a pretty remarkable demarkation line; no cross over at all. So I think there's something to that theory that liberal=smarter. (Obviously there are very smart people who are conservatives and very dumb people who are liberal, but the point is that over large enough numbers there's some intriguing evidence to show that the averages tell the story of the big picture).

However. You should check out the movie Idiocracy. It's a really bad movie, one that barely has any cinematic value to it save for a very interesting central premise. Which is that America is undergoing a sort of a de-evolution. Towards the beginning of the movie the whole premise is summed up in a quick montage that cuts back and forth between two very different families. One, a well to do, well educated, supposedly well adjusted urban couple who are emotionally complicated but ultimately squirrelly in their actions. The second a red-neck ex-high school football player, typical red state, gun toting kind of guy who puts his penis in every hole he can find. As the montage goes on, they show a graphic of each family tree, and you see the family tree of the ex-football player grow and grow and grow as he's constantly impregnating cheerleaders, waitresses etc... On the other side, the urban couple mulls over the decision to even have a child, ultimately their emotional complications lead to them getting divorced and their family tree is left completely empty. Based on the tendency of that dichotomy playing out the movie cuts to a century in the future where the entire population is disastrously stupid.

The theory of how intelligence is evolved makes a lot of sense, but in reality, (which is highlighted in the extreme by the premise of this movie), we're unfortunately experiencing a de-evolution through the over-procreation of the less gifted.


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