There's no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience."Prejudice is extremely complex and multifaceted, making it critical that any factors contributing to bias are uncovered and understood," he said.
It's tempting to say this is low hanging fruit, but then again, it's tempting to imagine the study conducted by angular people in white lab coats gathering data to outlaw the savages who don't believe in science, too. Still, it is a nice cheap shot to levy at your more conservative friends.
While the findings make good eye candy, they distract, I think, from the real issues of inequity in American society. It's the classic case of examining the local bigot who use lots of epithets and harasses outsiders while ignoring the CEO in the boardroom who never questions why everyone around the table is a white male, why white men control a lion's share of wealth. Which is more damaging to society? Clearly both are evil, but because we cannot name the prejudice so easily of the CEO, and because we cannot blame him for a lack of personal responsibility for the issue, our American worldview lacks the tools to examine and address a greater systemic evil. There is no study about the privileged' sins of omission.
So of course I laughed and enjoyed the article, but I wonder if it is not on another level an interesting skirmish between the powers and principalities: the power of science, demonstrating its legitimacy by attacking the power of prejudice, which is something everyone already knows is basically bad. It leads you right up to the point of saying, "Look! Science can prove what morality is, " but doesn't get there. It will be interesting to see how a study like this might become a part of public policy. It basically says fundamentalism of any kind is related to stupidity, and we will have to figure out how to respond to that data.
But beyond this border skirmish there is a greater power in Christ. Christ's freedom to give himself on behalf of all peoples demonstrates something potentially different in how Christians can treat people we disagree with, people who are different, and even people we are enemies with. His freedom can be our freedom in the midst of the powers clashing. We don't have to choose either side; we must love them because Christ is our reason. Christ is the highest power.
Anyways, Jonah has spurred a lot of thought about the freedom of God for me and so it was along these lines I got to thinking about the article. What do you think?