Wednesday, February 11, 2009

When it comes to current events, women are ignorant

According to a Pew survey profiling who watches and listens to various media figures and networks, women are more than three times as likely as men are to listen to religious radio broadcasts. I find this especially notable because it is my impression that men are more likely to listen to non-musical radio than women are, in part because men are better informed about current events than women are and also because I presume men spend more time behind the wheel than women do, where listening to the radio is most natural.

I suspect it is theological self-help ("How should I talk to my son who says he doesn't believe in God?" "Well, God tells us...") and shows that do intimate profiles of how welcoming Jesus into Sad Sap's life helped pull him out of the gutter that women come for most. I, a typical male, find those kinds of programs empty filler and would never listen to them. But I do regularly flip to the local Christian radio station to listen to guys like Tony Perkins and Jay Sekulow, as a means of getting the political perspectives of the 'religious right'. I also find Hank Hanegraaf edifying, because he spends much of his time pointing out scriptural refutations to various non-traditional Christian and quasi-Christian belief systems.

The previous assertion that women are less informed than men is borne out by the results in the Pew survey. It labels viewers and listeners as "high knowledge" if they are able to answer three rather simple political questions. The correlation between the percentage of viewers and listeners to a show or network who are highly knowledgeable and the percentage who are female inversely correlates at .74 (p=0) for the 26 shows and networks Pew presents both figures for. Stated in another way, for each one percentage point increase in a program's viewers/listeners who are female, the "high knowledge" contingent drops by 1.35 percentage points.

This brings to mind a piece by Steve Sailer, where he describes why men care about 'unimportant' stuff like Israel's military action against Hamas in Gaza or Timothy Geithner's taxation avoidance while women pay attention to things that will make them better girlfriends and housekeepers:
Women are simply, on average, more practical than men. They aren't as interested in big issues where they are unlikely to have much impact. They are more interested in how to improve their own lives and those of the people they care about.

I've spent enormous amounts of time standing around magazine racks in my life, and I can assure you that women almost never look at the prestige section where they group together "The Economist," "The New Republic," and "The National Interest," and other journals that don't have anything to do with your personal life. Attractive single women look at fashion and beauty magazines. Attractive married women look at expensive home decorating magazines.
It's troubling that men are an electoral minority in the US.


Lover of Wisdom said...

"It's troubling that men are an electoral minority in the US."

I think your last sentence says something profoundly important about our current electoral base. I think Steve also made a post (or linked to one) some time ago about why our first six presidents were so damn good, smart, etc., especially compared to what followed (save Lincoln and perhaps Reagan): One possible reason is that the voting base was only made up of well educated, estate owning, highly politically savvy men. The average IQ here would have been more than one full standard deviation above the mean.

You could probably do the statistics hunting on this, but I bet the mean IQ of today's electoral base is probably 105—the same average as our college graduates.

Audacious Epigone said...


In Freedonomics, John Lott shows clearly how female suffrage has pushed the US to the left. I assume the liberalization of electoral eligibility has had the effect over most of the country's history, although now it's harder to tell if that's still the case--if the bottom 10% of voters are chopped off, it is, but if the bottom half are, it's more ambiguous.

al fin said...

To understand why government powers need to be limited, one needs a reasonably high IQ, and a good insight into the motives and behaviours of others.

If both men and women had understood the importance of limiting government powers over the past 2 + centuries, we wouldn't be in this pickle.

I suspect that NAMs have an even harder time understanding why the US founding fathers framed the constitution the way they did.

If the fiends (of all races and genders) take over all the US courts including the SCOTUS, as they have taken over the executive and the legislature, the limits on government power will be gone.

Jokah Macpherson said...

I hadn't read your previous post on the Pew findings but this is very interesting.

It seems from my personal experience that, less-informed though they may be, women are more likely to start awkward political conversations with openers like, "Aren't you excited about Obama getting elected?" Even my most politically outspoken guy friends never do this kind of thing in polite company.

As you point out, though: less informed but more likely to vote.

Anonymous said...

"...political conversations with openers like, "Aren't you excited about Obama getting elected?" Even my most politically outspoken guy friends never do this kind of thing in polite company."

I believe Audacious Epigone made a similar point about expressed PC attitudes being correlated with IQ.

Their higher IQ gives them the ability to know what they should say, regardless of their true beliefs.

Less intelligent people are less knowledgeable about what's appropriate to say, so they say what they believe to be true, PC or not.

In your example it looks like the women, who are more likely to be politically ignorant, also don't know what's appropriate in this social context. I've observed this many times at work. They know nothing about politics because they really don't care, so they assume others don't, so why not gab about it casually.

Audacious Epigone said...


I suspect that NAMs have an even harder time understanding why the US founding fathers framed the constitution the way they did.

Cliche as it might be to rail against the history curricula in US public schools, the educational system is not doing us any favor in this regard. To the extent that the terms in office of US Presidents are studied, those who expanded the power of the federal government in general and executive power in particular are looked upon the most favorably.


Yeah, my own experiences agree with that. As anon says, it's in part due to not being as interested in politics as men are, and consequently being less tactful in discussing them.

Lover of Wisdom said...


The founding fathers framed the constitution in such a way that the majority of people today don't even know what it is like to live in a minimum government intervention setting. My nightmare is that most Americans will think that big government is just the way it is, and shouldn't be different.

our public school education is not only teaching the opposite of what the founding fathers believed, but trying to bury them as well.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

One possible reason is that the voting base was only made up of well educated, estate owning, highly politically savvy men.

It would be more accurate to say the voting base back then was restricted to intelligent land owners.

Anonymous said...

One thing I've noticed in years of train commuting is that men are much more likely to read newspapers.

Of course, most of the time they read nothing except the sports pages.


Blode032222 said...

It would be interesting to see what the effects would be of a Black Sea-style current events test for (part of your) voting rights, assuming it were enacted. Would women change their habits and start using good sources of information, or start using mainstream sources of information, or make up a whole separate "women's media"? No way to tell, but it's fun to thought-experiment what the various effects would be....

Audacious Epigone said...


In other words, if we raised the standards, would people rise along with them? I find it difficult to fathom that they would do otherwise--I can't imagine that, if the entire population made some concerted effort to follow current events, fewer than one-in-five people would know which party holds a Congressional majority, who the US Secretary of State is, and the name of Britain's PM (the three questions comprising Pew's "High knowledge" test), as is currently the case.