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Thu Oct 29, 2020, 11:28 PM

Trump and Low IQ Voters

I've held a theory for a while that Democrats are smarter than Republicans. It's not by much - perhaps only about 5 points, but it's consistent with what I've seen in the literature. If you control for other factors - race, sex, age, income, and region, for instance - this difference is another way of talking about college-educated vs. non-college-educated people. College specifically tests for intelligence, by either direct or indirect measures, and while hardly consistently true, going to college usually signals that a person is more likely to be just a bit smarter than average.

Why does this matter? Intelligence, like many aggregates, tends to follow a normal or gaussian distribution (with some caveats). The actual distribution is slightly asymmetric, with a somewhat longer tail towards higher values and a somewhat bulgier (short tail) towards lower values. Put another way, if you assume the mean is 100, then there are roughly as many people between an IQ of 100-112 as there between 90 and 100, and there are likely fewer people at 80 than there are at 120. This is also not necessarily talking about the Stanford-Binet IQ test, which has many flaws, but is more a question of any reasonable measure of mental capacity. For purposes of discussion, however, talking about a normal or gaussian distribution for intelligence is not unreasonable.

When you make the argument that Trump generally attracts lower-IQ voters, what that means is that the mean of the distribution of Trump voters is likely about 5 points lower. You may have Trump voters that have IQs of 130 (two standard deviations), but there will be fewer of them there are Biden voters at 130. How much fewer? Consider that IQ has a standard deviation of around 15 points, this means that there are 22,800 people per 1M people with an IQ of 130, given a mean of 100. If the mean is 95, however, there are only 9,800 people per 1M people with an IQ of 130.

What's telling is that at an IQ of 95 or below (or a standard deviation of about 0.33) you end up with about 37% of the population, approximately the size of Trump's base. Again, is should be emphasized that this is a distribution - you will have high IQ trump supporters, but you will have more Trump supporters with IQs of 90 or less than you would in the Biden distribution ... significantly more.

There are some cognitive hallmarks that you tend to see at different levels of intelligence. At an IQ of 100, magical thinking usually begins to give way to more analytical thinking - the ability to think logically from known priors. At around 120, analytic thinking shifts towards systemic thinking - the ability to understand how systems operate, to get a better sense for the idea of chains (or graphs) of events. At 140, you are beginning to think holistically - the ability to compare multiple systems and see the metaphoric similarities and differences. Most mathematicians usually clock in around 135-140 and go up from there.

Below 95, magical thinking predominates - the world exists in black and white, supernatural agents predominate, and there is a clear social order that you belong to. The ability to think analytically is simply not developed yet, though it's nascent in conspiracy theories that appear logically consistent but are usually built upon weak priors. This is the land of the cargo cult - people do actions that make no sense though at one point they did. This is also the realm of the sports team booster - my team is better than your team because I am a member of this team. Since you are not, I am better than you. Roughly 40% of the population in the US is in this zone.

About half of the conservative faction, 50% are magical thinkers, while only about 35% of the liberal faction is. On the other hand, there are about three times as many holistic thinkers among liberals than conservatives, and these tend to be responsible for the majority of patents, books, and other intellectual property produced in this country.

Trump understands the low IQ voter, because he is one. The Dunning-Krueger Effect, where one overestimates personal competence when you don't have the necessary foundations, is strong among this crowd. They live with a personal feeling of resentment, fear of complexity and distrust of those people who are the "intellectual elite", who understand things they don't, and they often turn this resentment into hatred. They want their world to be understandable and simple, and when it is neither, they tend to blame those who do.

This also should give some indication about who is and is not likely to be a blind Trump follower. As intelligence rises, the ability to compare data points and draw inferential conclusions also rises, and after awhile, someone who is already an analyst, even if they are predisposed to a conservative viewpoint, will get alarmed when they see ongoing incompetence and corruption. Trumpist lawmakers are ideologues, and for the most part, they tend to have a magical thinking view of the world (or at least project that they do) in order to reach the sub 100 population. Personally, I think that Trump probably once had a working IQ around 115 or so, but it's deteriorating fast as he self-destructs.

I expect to get a few bricks thrown at me for this, but it seems consistent with what I'm seeing.

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Response to kurtcagle (Original post)

Thu Oct 29, 2020, 11:35 PM

1. Everybody is stupid about something: nobody can help that, so give the stupid no further grief

Ignorance, however, can result from sloth, one of the deadly sins

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Response to kurtcagle (Original post)

Thu Oct 29, 2020, 11:38 PM

2. Trump voters are easy to spot . . . they're the ones with knuckles dragging on the floor . . . n/t

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Response to OneBlueSky (Reply #2)

Thu Oct 29, 2020, 11:46 PM

3. Not really

Yes, some are, but I know Trump supporters with PhDs (though not very many). I also know a few Democrats that are of the knuckle-dragging type, though again, not many. I'm talking primarily about distributions in two different populations, and how Trump exploits this fact.

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Response to kurtcagle (Reply #3)

Sun Nov 1, 2020, 12:37 AM

14. let me know what school those Trumpers got their Ph.D.s from . . .

so I can suggest that family and friends seeking doctorates apply elsewhere . . .

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Response to kurtcagle (Original post)

Thu Oct 29, 2020, 11:52 PM

4. I can agree with this in part...

...but I also think there's an important element of differing emotional intelligence too.

There's less empathy. There's less ability to see things from another person's point of view, a less developed theory of mind.

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #4)

Fri Oct 30, 2020, 08:11 PM

10. One of the reasons I didn't get into depth about types of intelligence

I think EQ is definitely a thing (I'd call it wisdom), but it too likely follows the same distributions. Most people that I know who are holistic thinkers also tend to have high apparent EQs (harder to measure, but the corollaries are there). You're just more aware of the universe around you, more observant of others, more inclined towards compassion. People with low EQs are more psychopathic, more manipulative. It's not a big stretch to say that narcissism and high EQ are probably pretty inversely correlated.

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Response to kurtcagle (Reply #10)

Fri Oct 30, 2020, 08:14 PM

11. Probably a correlation that's a good thing

Because a really smart narcissist is a very dangerous thing. Imagine how fucked we'd be if Trump were intelligent?

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Response to kurtcagle (Original post)

Fri Oct 30, 2020, 12:04 AM

5. Racism and misogyny are drivers of Trump's support. After all, he was the most openly bigoted

prospective nominee among Republicans, and there's a reason why he "won." Also, his support was a reaction to Obama, often described by Republicans as the worst president or as weak, without a single shred of evidence to support that.

Studies show a correlation between racism and IQ. For example, a study of 45,000 whites, found that racist views were much more prevalent among those who scored lower on intelligence tests.

https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2016/0127/The-surprising-relationship-between-intelligence-and-racism

So, yes, Republicans are less intelligent. They seek simple answers to complex problems. They don't understand the importance of science. They focus on grievances, including race and anyone who is different, rather than a true vision. Trump is their perfect president, simply by expressing their grievances. They remain impressed by Trump, even though he has failed to achieve anything that actually makes America better.

I think your estimates on IQ are about right.

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Response to kurtcagle (Original post)

Fri Oct 30, 2020, 12:27 AM

6. Let me add that I don't agree that Trump's IQ would have ever been in the 115 range.

He's been a fraud his whole life, getting by on BS and bluster, getting others to take his exams and write his books, running businesses to the ground and grifting off other people's money. He would have nothing, were it not for the banks bailing him out. If he had just put daddy's money in the stock market and done nothing else, he'd be as wealthy as he claims. His entire career has been nothing more than an actor pretending to be a tycoon, even creating fake personas to promote himself. That doesn't necessitate a higher level of intelligence.

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Response to Doodley (Reply #6)

Fri Oct 30, 2020, 10:25 AM

8. +1 He would never have gotten into college without paying a smart kid to take his SAT.

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Response to Doodley (Reply #6)

Fri Oct 30, 2020, 08:17 PM

13. The 115 was generous

Keep in mind that even GW, who was not exactly in genius territory, was in the low 120s. If you listen to him from twenty five to thirty years ago, Trump was fairly engaging, and I think that to pull a con, you do have to have a certain innate craftiness. However, he's seen significant mental decline since then. I'd say he's probably below average for the population today, given his inability to write or even carry on long thoughts, and I've wondered more than once whether at least one of his trips to Walter Reed was for micro-strokes.

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Response to kurtcagle (Original post)

Fri Oct 30, 2020, 10:11 AM

7. This explains a lot! n/t

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Response to kurtcagle (Original post)

Fri Oct 30, 2020, 12:59 PM

9. K&R

 

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Response to kurtcagle (Original post)

Fri Oct 30, 2020, 08:14 PM

12. Who is surprised by this?

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