Thursday, 2 March 2017

There are as many high-IQ Conservatives as Lefties - so why are there ten times as many left-wing academics?

Ask most left-liberals why there's such a preponderance of left-wing academics in British universities - almost 100% in some subjects - and they'll smirk and respond that it's because left-wingers are generally more intelligent than right-wingers. That has always been, to quote Dame Edna Everage, "a phallus I'd like to explode" - not because I believe that people who score well on IQ tests should be running everything (see the comments section of this post, in which GCooper suggests the term "Laputan" for what he calls "high-falutin' idiocy"), but because (a) I've met lots of very, very bright left- and right-wingers from most non-criminal walks of life, and, even discounting my own natural prejudice in favour of conservatives and the fact that I've spent most of my life amongst left-wingers, I haven't noticed a particular left-wing imbalance, smarts-wise - to be honest, many clever sods seem to display an imperfect understanding of how logic or the rules of evidence work. But until now, I've never found the right ammunition with which to attack leftists' smug self-regarding assumptions regarding their cognitive superiority. Well, here it is:

As for the myth of the distribution of intelligence among the Top 5% in terms of IQ, the third columns suggests that Right and Left are fairly equally represented - and that possessors of a high IQ vote in much the same way as the rest of us (middle column). But look at the first column, showing the self-reported voting intentions of academics (most of whom, presumably, are in the top 5% of the population in terms of IQ). It tells a very different - and alarming - story: Labour, Lib-Dem and Green voters are grotesquely over-represented compared to Conservative/UKIP voters. The skew in arts and humanities subjects is even more pronounced, because right-wing academics are over-represented in practical courses like Law and Business.

No wonder universities are politically intolerant echo-chambers, which, according to Allister Heath, used to set the political agenda , but are now "merely angry-onlookers, giant left-wing content factories with little practical relevance.” Yes, the Left has always been over-represented in universities, but it didn't used to be this skewed:
Wowsers! I think it's safe to assume that "Other" parties means various demented Marxist sects rather than UKIP - which means that only one in ten academics is a conservative. This, in turn, means that the people charged with teaching the future leaders of this (and other) countries are ten times more likely to be left-wing than the people they will be leading. And we wonder why there's a disconnect between our left-liberal elites and the rest of us?

These charts come from Why Do Academics Lean Left?, a briefing paper written by Noah Carl, a doctoral candidate in the Sociology Department at Oxford University. It's fascinating, and you can read it here. My thanks to Ed West, who tweeted some of the graphics and a link to Noah Carl's excellent paper.

I'll leave you this thought:


  1. Have you noticed how, whereas we might say "I saw it in the papers", a lefty liberal will say smugly "I saw it in the Guardian", evidently feeling that this establishes their credentials as the occupier of the moral high ground?

    1. Spot on, Helen! I began noticing it after one of the members of a book group I used to attend not only confessed to having read a particular item in the Guardian - but actually added, "Ah, the dear old Guardian", much as a communist might once have sighed, "Ah, dear old Pravda!"

  2. When I first went to university I thought these left wingers really must be clever.
    I mean what the hell was dialectical materialism?
    Later on listening to Blair and the Clintons I realised it was all a smokescreen.
    If Guardian readers are so brainy why is their so called hard Sudoku so easy?

    1. And if the people who run the paper are so bloody clever, why have they just forecast a loss of £90 million this year?