Thursday, April 19, 2012

Political news IQ

++Addition++See Steve's insights on the Pew results.

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Expanding beyond the News IQ quizzes it periodically conducts, Pew Research recently released the results of what the organization calls the Political News IQ Quiz, which you can take here. I answered them all correctly, as I suspect the majority of readers of this blog and others like it will also do. Yet only 8% of the population fared as well, a reminder that the overwhelming majority of the American public is unaware of the basic layout of the political landscape, let alone plugged into the minutiae of committee memberships, legislative action, or how relevant Lochner v. New York is in the Supreme Court's consideration of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

Some points of interest from the results:

- Men fared better than women on every single question asked. Ho-hum, that's always the case when it comes to current events more distant than the dinner table or, at most, the local city council meeting. As has become its custom, Pew did not publish these results in the body of the actual report, but they can be accessed by users who finish the abbreviated online version of the quiz. Pew's acts of commission are honest and laudable. Acts of omission, on the other hand--well, Pew's still better than most, so I guess we have to take what we can get.

- On most items, age and political knowledge increase together. There are a few exceptions, though. Those aged 18-29 were more aware than older cohorts that the Democratic party is more favorably inclined towards spending cuts on defense, allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens, and expanding the privileges of homosexuals. These (especially the latter two--the first is more of a reflexive and rhetorically effective reaction to conservative calls for spending cuts) presage the direction the Democratic party will take in the future, away from concerns like punitive taxation of high income earners and creating laws favorable to labor organizations that the contemporary left doesn't care that much about, and will care even less about going forward.

- As Republicans have higher average IQs than Democrats do, and Democrats have higher average IQs than independents do, it isn't surprising that Republicans fared best, answering an average of 12.6 of the 17 full length quiz questions correctly. Democrats followed, with 11.4 correct. Independents took up the rear at 10.7 correctly answered questions. To SWPLs' eternal frustration, failing to break out results by race means that assessments by party affiliation are always going to make Republicans, members of the nation's de facto white party, look better than they do.

19 comments:

Shawn said...

I got them all right. Too bad Pew didn't have the courage to ask about race, as I am sure that some groups perform far worse than others on this.

Anonymous said...

Aced it and I'm a recent Caucasian college graduate.

I doubt the majority of my peers would get even half right.

Steve Sailer said...

35% got less than half right -- in other words, 35% did worse than guessing randomly.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

The more ignorant we are, the more susceptible to demogoguery we'll be. Just exactly what the Left wants.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

As an aside, I'd love to see an IQ comparison of black Republicans and black Democrats. I suspect the former would absolutely blow the latter out of the water.

Anonymous said...

"As an aside, I'd love to see an IQ comparison of black Republicans and black Democrats. I suspect the former would absolutely blow the latter out of the water."

I second that request.

Jokah Macpherson said...

"As an aside, I'd love to see an IQ comparison of black Republicans and black Democrats. I suspect the former would absolutely blow the latter out of the water."

Actually, it's the other way around, but I imagine the smarter ones are more likely to conform to strong social pressure on political identification.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

Got a link for that, Jokah?

Jokah Macpherson said...

Ed Tom, sorry, I don't have a link to anything. I just used the GSS to check.

Olave d'Estienne said...

To SWPLs' eternal frustration, failing to break out results by race means that assessments by party affiliation are always going to make Republicans, members of the nation's de facto white party, look better than they do.

ZING

Audacious Epigone said...

Ed,

As Jokah says, black Republicans score lower than black Democrats do by about one-half a standard deviation. They do tend to be more religious than black Democrats, but not by an huge margin.

Noah172 said...

27% of men, and 32% of women, do not know that the R's are supposed to be the conservative party. 42% of men, and 51% of women, do not know which party is supposed to be for small government. Thanks George Bush, John McCain, and Karl Rove (and Reagan, and Nixon....)

44% of women do not know the party of the first female Speaker of the House. LOL She made an impression.

Perhaps some oldsters cannot even conceive of reductions in the defense budget.

35% got less than half right -- in other words, 35% did worse than guessing randomly.

In 2008, that would have been 46,000,000 voters.

Audacious Epigone said...

Wow, that's perspective. I didn't catch that, but women, collectively, basically have no idea which party tends to be for smaller government, and one-third of the population is really politically illiterate.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

Not terribly surprising, AE. American ignorance is pretty catholic.

RN144 said...

To estimate the actual level of knowledge represented by the percentage of correct answers to a given question you have to estimate the percentage due to guessing. For instance if 55% answer that Lincoln was a Republican that seems to break down into 10% who actually know and 45% (half of the remaining 90%) who guessed. I'm hard put to believe that only 10% actually know the answer to the question so maybe someone can tell me what the flaw in my reasoning is. If there's no flaw then the level of ignorance of the American public is astonishing.

Audacious Epigone said...

RN144,

Good point. I wonder to what extent people errantly assume admirable public figures are on "their team". On the Lincoln question, specifically, it wouldn't surprise me if lots of Democrats assume he was a Democrat, too, despite Republicans' lame attempt to court blacks by pointing out otherwise. In other words, they may not feel like they're guessing even though they are ignorant.

hbd chickadee said...

i got 'em all right! do i get a cookie? (^_^)

for the record, i'd "identify" as a republican if the gop wasn't so retarded (no offense to low iq people) on immigration (and a whole load of other things). for the time being, i'm floating in political limbo as far as a label goes.

pat said...

I had a professor in grad school who had been a real Management Consultant. He told all the MBA students that when he was called in to help with a an organizational problem there were typically two groups who took opposite positions on whatever the issue was. Each side would testify that the problem was that the other side was stupid.

This of course is a delusion.

People invariably couch disputes in terms of IQ. They assume that whatever position they hold on whatever topic it was reached by a process of careful reasoning and that those who don't hold that position had simply failed to think it through properly, usually from a want of gray matter.

Complete nonsense of course.

Political parties are aggregations of interest groups. Some of those groups will be mostly smart guys and other groups will be quite dumb.

For example at any one company the top managers are likely to be Republicans while the union members on the shop floor are likely to be Democrats. Within that one company then, the Republicans will likely be smarter.

But trial lawyers are also smart and they are all Democrats. Movie stars - a dumb group - will be Democrats while the studio money men in New York will probably be Republicans.

IQ varies all over the place but smarts don't cause party affiliation directly. It is only the indirect result working through the various interest groups.

Anonymous said...

Did the test, got all answers right, did better than 92 % of people.

But guess what? I am a French Canadian...I do not live in the USA.

I am only mentioning this because if most people know less than a French Canadian knows about their own political parties; how can they know what they are voting for???

I know people in Canada are just as un-informed ( and as dumb ) , this is NOT an attack on Americans, but should they really be allowed to vote when they do not even know which party stands for what???

Would you let a plumber do your electrical wiring and a baker do your plumbing?

If people do not know which party stands for what, why should they be allowed to vote????

democracy is illogical and I guess to an extent; suicidal, when the dumbest of us have an equal voice as the best of us in what direction to steer the ship, the ship is sure to eventually hit some iceberg and sink...