Pursuit of Truthiness

my gut tells me I know economics

Does Politics Actually Make Us Dumber?

with one comment

It is sometimes said that while talking about politics the average person loses 15 IQ points. You could look for evidence that this effect persists with a classic priming experiment: people are randomly assigned to answer questions about either current political issues or something innocuous before taking an IQ test. See if the people who recently had politics on the brain did worse than those who didn’t.

This test may already have been done inadvertently by someone trying to figure out which political groups have higher IQ scores, since the same experiment could also provide evidence on that front.

Bonus: If the experiment finds the predicted effect, calculate what the lengthening US election cycle may be doing to average effective IQ (and therefore GDP, et c).

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Written by James Bailey

August 12, 2012 at 4:49 pm

One Response

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  1. A variation on this idea that an economist or political scientist who doesn’t know how to run experiments could pull off: see if things we have data on that correlate with group IQ (eg GDP, profits) change noticeably in swing states during election years (since swing states get more political ads).
    Politics may be making people worse off in ways that aren’t well described as intelligence/IQ; as ads increase your dislike of people on the other political side you may find it harder to cooperate with them within your politically heterogeneous company, thereby reducing profits.

    James Bailey

    August 12, 2012 at 10:31 pm


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