Opinion: The truth hurts

POSTED: 02/3/12 2:23 PM

Oh oh, here is one of those tricky scientific researches that will create a small firestorm somewhere. The Brock University in Ontario, Canada, claims that children who score low in IQ-tests are later on in life more inclined to develop prejudices and a social conservative mindset.
Lead researcher Gordon Hodson says that this is part of a vicious circle: people of lower intelligence are attracted by conservative ideas because that is where they find structure and order. This ideology opposes change and leads to a faster development of prejudices. In the end, this leads to racism and children are indoctrinated by it.
Predictably, Canadian conservatives were outraged about the research-results. They say that the data have been wrongly interpreted. They also argue that scientists disagree about the question whether IQ-tests realistically measure someone’s intelligence.
Hmm. The fact that the American magazine Psychological Science published the research ought to tell these conservatives something.
We are unable to shake the feeling that by reacting the way they do, conservatives actually prove the point. They have a hard time accepting that they are not as brilliant as they thought they were, and they will probably dismiss the research as a leftwing conspiracy. That’s what happens with science when people dislike the outcome of research.
The reliability of IQ-tests may be a valid point though. We read somewhere about a study whereby 99 school-psychologists independently scored IQ-tests from identical records. Their results varied from IQ-levels between 63 and 117 for the same person – in other words, from retarded to above average.
On the other hand, psycho-metricians (experts who practice the science of educational and psychological measurement) consider IQ-tests to have a statistical reliability. Modern tests show a margin of error of just 3 points either way.
So where does that leave these outraged conservatives? Are they insulted because their neighbors now know that their IQ leaves something to be desired? That seems unlikely, because conservatives usually surround themselves with conservatives, so their neighbors will find themselves in the same situation. We guess it’s much simpler: the truth hurts, and somebody’s got to pay.

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