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Stupid is as stupid does

Stupid is as stupid does

by Michael Cook | September 26, 2017

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If you want to know why you oppose same-sex marriage, the answer is obvious, according to an Australian academic. You. Are. Stupid. 

Stupid, not in the sense being obnoxious or badly informed, but stupid in the stark and unvarnished sense of having “low cognitive resources”, ie, a basement-level IQ.

So really, Australia’s postal plebiscite is a clash between high-level intellects who favour “marriage equality” and low-level intellects who don’t. The tragedy is that those stupid people could win.

Such, at least, is the argument presented in The Conversation by Francisco Perales, a senior research fellow at the University of Queensland: “there is a strong and statistically significant association between higher cognitive ability and a greater likelihood to support equal rights between same- and different-sex couples.”

How does Dr Perales know this? He relies on tests performed by participants in the the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey – a study that collects information about economic and personal well-being, labour market dynamics and family life. One of the tests involves asking participants to:

  • recall and recite backwards progressively longer strings of numbers;
  • correctly pronounce 50 irregularly spelled words; and
  • match symbols and numbers based on a printed key against time.

These exercises, says Dr Perales, “have been shown to be highly correlated with overall intelligence”. And, in fact, the dumbest people, based on these tests, were least likely to favour “marriage equality”.

... the results suggest that, on average, people who stand against equal rights for same-sex couples are less likely to have cognitive resources that are important to participating in meaningful debate.

These may include the ability to: engage in abstract thinking and process complex chains of ideas; separate arguments based on facts from unfounded ones; not feel threatened by changes in the status quo; and critically engage with new or diverse viewpoints.

For deep thinkers like Dr Perales, the recalcitrance of “No” voters is puzzling. After all, all of the arguments on the “Yes” are rational and fact-based. Time and time again, high-IQ academics writiing in The Conversation have demonstrated this conclusively. For instance, the claim that children are worse off if they are raised by two parents of the same gender is false – but the stupid “No” people do not accept it.

And the advertising campaign conducted by the “No” side relies almost wholly on “emotional instead of rational arguments”. By way of contrast the “Yes” side relies on cool, logically impregnable arguments like “Love is Love”. In fact, the case for “Yes” is so clear that it doesn’t even require you to think. As one university student told The Australian today, “It’s funny, you don’t have to research it. It’s just a human right.”

“It is possible many supporters of the ‘no’ case could not be convinced by reason and evidence,” Dr Perales concludes about this basket of Australian deplorables. It seems that they are so irremediably stupid that they will never be persuaded by the clarity and brilliance of the case for “Yes”.

But if the “Yes” case does get up, what does this mean for the knuckle-draggers? Should they be demoted at work? Should they be barred from difficult jobs and demanding professions? Will they and their children have to be re-educated? Time will tell.

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.  

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