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Study: Smart folks are racists too

According to the findings of a recent study, greater intelligence is not necessarily linked to greater racial understanding.



Intelligence can be fudging stupid.

I’ve seen it numerous times, even in myself. There’s a sort of cross-over when one person takes it upon themselves to know too much and becomes stupid. A surreptitious sort of mental exchange takes place, one that the user has no say it, where empathy leaves for the alpha Prozac of knowledge. Due to our programming, this new mindset is validated because he who knows more is better than you. A wolf among the sheeple, as it were, but know that the wolf still needs to be shaved come summertime.

Front and centre to this societal condition I’ve noticed (because I’m smart), is the idea of racial stereotyping. Now, we assume that racism’s most enduring bedfellow is stupidity. Pauline Hanson, Donald Trump, that person you went to school with and had to unfollow on social media, dolts all. Tritely put, they’re stupid because they don’t know any better.

However, a recent study authored NYU has put that truism to bed, placing a pillow over its mouth breathing face. It seems the intelligentsia also seek prejudice. The study consisted of a series of experiments, all of which suggested that people who performed better on a test of pattern detection—a measure of cognitive ability—were also quicker to form and apply stereotypes.

First, researchers from New York University showed 271 participants a series of pictures of red, blue, and yellow cartoon aliens with different facial features, paired with a statement of either a positive or negative behaviour.

Most of the pairings were random, but two were skewed so that keen observers might pick up on a pattern: 80 percent of the blue aliens were paired with unfriendly behaviours, and 80 percent of the yellow aliens were paired with nice ones. The subjects didn’t know if the statements about the aliens were true or false.  Later, the subjects were asked to pick which alien had committed a given behaviour from a lineup:

The participants then took a pattern-based exam that’s a common measure of human intelligence. The participants who were better pattern detectors were more likely to make stereotypical errors: They tended to ascribe the friendly behaviours to the wrong yellow alien, and the unfriendly behaviours to the wrong blue alien.

Next, the researchers tried the same method with human faces, showing a new set of participants a series of computer-generated pictures of men with either wide or narrow nose bridges:

The results were fucking terrible. 80% of the narrow nose-bridge men were paired with friendly behaviours, while an equal percentage of the wide nose-bridge men were supposedly unfriendly. The participants were then partnered with a new set of pictures of men for a trust exercise involving counterfeit cash. Again, the most intelligent gave more money to the characters with narrow nose bridges, suggesting they had learned the stereotype and applied it to the new men.

So, the hypothesis that the study approaches is that perhaps the intelligent read too much into situations, and apply their own spurious conclusions. That, and this is my own thinking, but perhaps racism is what binds us together as a species. Independent of intelligence, as some, or indeed differing levels, the primordial fear of the other will always be present.

That, or perhaps other people are fundamentally us.

Don’t be stupid, brainiac.

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