New study: Many highly educated people mistakenly believe they’re left-wing

posted at 8:36 pm on July 14, 2010 by Allahpundit

Really? The only one I can think of is Mickey Kaus.

The study suggests that some people may end up voting for left of centre parties because they hold the mistaken belief that they are left wing…

“The most startling result is that the more educated tend to believe that they are more left-wing than they are measured as being,” said Dr Rockey. “That is, well-educated individuals are more likely to think that they are quite left-wing but actually believe things that compared to the rest of the population would make them comparatively right-wing.

“The analysis suggests that the cause of this is different to the effect of gender, income, or job type. Other results suggest that men and those with higher-incomes are more likely to both think that they are rightwing and to be measured as such.”

Dr Rockey said one speculative explanation is that people may hold on to their perception that they have left-wing views, but that over time as their circumstances and social network changes their actual political opinions drift rightwards.

Two things. First, the sample involves 136,000 individuals from 82 countries, which may starkly limit its application to the U.S. After all, as every American poll-watcher knows, voters here are verrrrry reluctant to describe themselves as “liberal.” In fact, since 1992, the highest number willing to call themselves that was 22 percent in 2007 and 2008; by comparison, the lowest number willing to call themselves either “conservative” or “moderate” was the 35 percent who self-described as the latter this year. Plain and simple, the average world intellectual is probably more comfortable with the idea of him/herself as a left-winger — too comfortable, in fact, per the study’s results — than the average American intellectual is. Three cheers for our center-right country!

Second, while it’s true that lots of people become more conservative as they age, does anyone doubt that a huge swath cling to their left-wing identity not out of force of youthful habit but because they had it drummed into them in school that “intelligent” necessarily means “liberal”? The basic finding of the study is actually really banal: Namely, political labels aren’t a pure function of policy choices but carry all sorts of cultural and emotional baggage with them. If an intellectual associates voting conservative with being a moron, then yeah, of course he’s going to favor liberals even as he’s pining away for tax cuts. His pride is bound up in it; no doubt there are analogs for self-identified conservatives who favor some lefty policies (a rural voter squeamish about guns, maybe?). Exit question: Er, how do we explain David Brooks?

Update: A perfect illustration.

MATTHEWS: You, you sir, strike me, as I hate to use the word, as someone who’s well-educated. I know you went to UVA Law School. Is that hurting you? Is – no I’m dead serious about this. Do you get hurt in the Republican Party now for having had a fine education? Do people think, look askance at you and say, “Oh he’s an egghead, he’s got a good degree from UVA” Is that a problem now, it’s better to be a yahoo? Well I mean to be really uneducated like Palin, to really be proud of the fact you don’t know anything?


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teacher on the other hand is not very useful when one can learn whatever they need to know without one.

NotCoach on July 14, 2010 at 10:26 PM

Take that to the bank, folks. Your children can learn what they need to know without teachers–apparently, without teachers of any kind.

Good luck with that.

Grace_is_sufficient on July 15, 2010 at 5:49 AM

I believe that most of the teachers in “flyover country” are well-meaning, dedicated, motivated people whose only overarching agenda is to get kids to learn and to prepare them for adulthood.

That’s where I live, and that’s why I teach.

Of course their are great, good, mediocre, bad, and horrible teachers everywhere; the main problems that lead to many others are the tenure system and union influence that don’t allow for the unqualified teachers to be weeded out of schools as they would be were the system not distorted.

My $0.02.

Agreed, 100%. Fortunately, if the conservative groundswell continues, the unions will be forced to shape our or get lost. Thank goodness.

Grace_is_sufficient on July 15, 2010 at 5:56 AM

Grace_is_sufficient on July 15, 2010 at 5:49 AM

Well sure, if you ignore the first part of my post. I think most of us already knew how to selectively quote or take things out of context. You aren’t really teaching anyone anything.

NotCoach on July 15, 2010 at 7:08 AM

I thought I was a staunch conservative until I realized I was somewhere to the right of that.

mr.blacksheep on July 15, 2010 at 7:38 AM

Left-wing or Liberal? In the rest of the world, Liberal means committed to free markets and the rule of law.

Kafir on July 15, 2010 at 7:39 AM

Alternative Headline:

Study proves liberalism is a mental disorder

angryed on July 15, 2010 at 8:30 AM

Plain and simple, the average world intellectual is probably more comfortable with the idea of him/herself as a left-winger

I question the use of the word “intellectual” to describe any liberal. Having like-minded people do your thinking for you is not being an intellectual. Matthews thinking his education is better than mine just because we disagree politically only tells me that he is pompous and overpaid whose only marketable skills are being able to read off of a teleprompter and carrying buckets of water for anyone who can make his leg tingle.

slug on July 15, 2010 at 8:48 AM

I thought I was a staunch conservative until I realized I was somewhere to the right of that.

mr.blacksheep on July 15, 2010 at 7:38 AM

Haha. Just for fun, someday try telling a lefty you think of Rush Limbaugh as center right, and watch their eyes bug out of their heads.

bitsy on July 15, 2010 at 8:55 AM

MATTHEWS: You, you sir, strike me, as I hate to use the word, as someone who’s well-educated. I know you went to UVA Law School. Is that hurting you? Is – no I’m dead serious about this. Do you get hurt in the Republican Party now for having had a fine education? Do people think, look askance at you and say, “Oh he’s an egghead, he’s got a good degree from UVA” Is that a problem now, it’s better to be a yahoo? Well I mean to be really uneducated like Palin, to really be proud of the fact you don’t know anything?

No Chris, conservatives are genuinely happy for those who pursue their dreams, be it in education or industry, while liberals display nothing but envy and contempt for those who don’t follow the established leftist path. Conservatives know that human talents can be found in many ways besides just through academia while liberals are more consumed with the vain status and social hierarchy many in our society, such as yourself, have deemed a college degree to represent. While conservatives tend to be happy for those who reach their dreams, liberals tend to become jealous, often even demanding equal standing regardless of differences in ambition, drive, and hard work. Conservatives compete by rising themselves above the competition while liberals compete by pushing the competition to a level below themselves. Conservatives see value in every human life. The reason a conservative with a formal education can converse intellectually with another conservative without formal education is because we are intelligent enough to know that each individual has their own gift to give, lessons to teach, and talents they can refine when they follow their own path. We are not stupid enough to believe that somebody “doesn’t know anything”. Only a close minded, elitist, classless snob would believe something like that, don’t you think Mr Mathews?

Dollayo on July 15, 2010 at 9:26 AM

Left-wing or Liberal? In the rest of the world, Liberal means committed to free markets and the rule of law.

Kafir on July 15, 2010 at 7:39 AM

Yeah — it makes it hard to quantify things like this in a simple way.

But I would bet that it is also true for the US specifically. A lot of people in academia will continue to vote democrat and think of the Democrats as the “good guys” even as they disagree with most of the party platform.

Count to 10 on July 15, 2010 at 10:13 AM

It’s really simple: an education is no indication of intelligence.

Duh.

Jaynie59 on July 15, 2010 at 10:29 AM

Higly educated people are presumptuous?

Inanemergencydial on July 15, 2010 at 10:29 AM

New study: Many highly educated people mistakenly believe they’re left-wing

I suppose that’s only appropriate, given how many left-wing people mistakenly believe they’re highly educated.

RINO in Name Only on July 15, 2010 at 11:19 AM

Highly educated people, like people with high incomes, tend to be socially liberal or at least libertarian.

Jimbo3 on July 15, 2010 at 12:30 PM

I know one who argues against the legalization of prostitution on the grounds of dilution of copyright, yet rants constantly about the legal status of pot.

It drives me nuts because he’s otherwise a sensible (if sometimes oafish and preachy) Christian conservative who despises people that live off others’ money.

Dark-Star on July 14, 2010 at 10:03 PM

-On dilution of copyright grounds? Your friend is a freaking idiot. Does he know what a copyright is? It’s not like prostitutes are going around writing or otherwise telling people they are prostitutes.

Jimbo3 on July 15, 2010 at 12:32 PM

Dollayo on July 15, 2010 at 9:26 AM

A very thoughtful post. I agree with you 100%.

mtb on July 15, 2010 at 12:47 PM

This explains many, many people I know. Some are suffering from the hubris of youth, but several of them are a lot dumber than they think they are. I think they cling to liberalism because it gives them a patina of intellectualism that they wouldn’t otherwise have. I try to hold my tongue when they start railing about their property taxes, etc.

NoLeftTurn on July 15, 2010 at 1:46 PM

This! We must be twins.

SouthernGent on July 14, 2010 at 9:07 PM

We’re triplets!

I would characterize myself as a libertarian conservative but when you get right down to it, it’s just pragmatism.

NoLeftTurn on July 15, 2010 at 1:53 PM

It’s not really confusing.

You’ve got your typical young lib getting older, and realizing the government is killing them financially. They don’t like it, not one bit.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t want the government taking tons of other peoples money.

Squiggy on July 15, 2010 at 2:51 PM

MATTHEWS: You, you sir, strike me, as I hate to use the word, as someone who’s well-educated. I know you went to UVA Law School. Is that hurting you? Is – no I’m dead serious about this. Do you get hurt in the Republican Party now for having had a fine education? Do people think, look askance at you and say, “Oh he’s an egghead, he’s got a good degree from UVA” Is that a problem now, it’s better to be a yahoo? Well I mean to be really uneducated like Palin, to really be proud of the fact you don’t know anything?

Speaking of over educated idiots, that would be Tingles here. Bet Palin could out debate him and is a better problem solver than him and his messiah. Actually, I’m sure of it.

Sharr on July 15, 2010 at 3:40 PM

Yes, people drift to the right as they age; it’s called wisdom.

Theophile on July 15, 2010 at 9:45 PM

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