While it is consistent with the prediction of the Hypothesis, the conclusion in my previous post that liberals are on average more intelligent than conservatives may not resonate with most people’s daily observations and experiences. If they are more intelligent, why are liberals – especially those in Hollywood and academia – so much more likely than conservatives to say and do stupid things and hold incredulous beliefs and ideas that stretch credibility?
Bruce G. Charlton, Professor of Theoretical Medicine at the University of Buckingham and Editor in Chief of Medical Hypotheses, may have an explanation. In his editorial in the December 2009 issue of Medical Hypotheses, Charlton suggests that liberals and other intelligent people may be “clever sillies,” who incorrectly apply abstract logical reasoning to social and interpersonal domains. As I explain in an earlier post, general intelligence – the ability to think and reason – likely evolved as a domain-specific evolved psychological mechanism to solve evolutionarily novel problems, whereas, for all evolutionarily familiar problems, there are other dedicated evolved psychological mechanisms. Everyone – intelligent or not – is evolutionarily equipped with the ability to solve such evolutionarily familiar problems in the social and interpersonal domains as mating, parenting, social exchange, and personal relationships, with the other evolved psychological mechanisms. Charlton suggests that the totality of all the other evolved psychological mechanisms (except for general intelligence) represents what we normally call “common sense.” Everyone has common sense. Intelligent people, however, have a tendency to overapply their analytical and logical reasoning abilities derived from their general intelligence incorrectly to such evolutionarily familiar domains and as a result get things wrong. In other words, liberals and other intelligent people lack common sense, because their general intelligence overrides it. They think in situations where they are supposed to feel. In evolutionarily familiar domains such as interpersonal relationships, feeling usually leads to correct solutions whereas thinking does not.