In a new study, Satoshi Kanazawa from the London School of Economics found a significant correlation between Intelligence and socialistic political viewpoints as well as atheism. The more intelligent a person is, the more likely it is that he is leftwing and an atheist. Knowing some results of brain science, this result actually does not surprise me very much. But what does that mean? In our society the word “intelligence” has a very good connotation. Intelligence is a good thing, something that no one can have enough of. However, if it was a significant advantage to be intelligent than why did human kind not develop a higher average intelligence throughout evolution? The answer is probably that, while intelligence can be a very helpful thing in many situations, it also might have some disadvantages.

The reason why intelligence is seen to be such a good thing has probably a lot to do with the perception that more intelligent people somehow are able to use their brains better than less intelligent people. But is this perception right? The science of intelligence is not really very advanced. We do not have a clear theory that could explain what intelligence is in a satisfying way. Nevertheless, in recent years more and more facts point to the idea that more intelligent people actually do not use their brains better but less good. Scientists were able to make people smarter by temporarily switching off certain areas of the brain using a strong electrical field. So it looks like everyone has the potential of being extremely smart, but our brain has developed a mechanism to actively suppress intelligence. If this is true, if we really have a part in the brain that actively makes us dumber, there needs to be something wrong with intelligence. To find out what this something is, it might be interesting to find out how this dumbing down mechanism works.

An important part of the work that our brain is doing is to filter out information. Every second an enormous amount of information is arriving in our brains from our senses. If we were to deal with all these information consciously, we would probably immediately go mad. That is why our brain has developed filters that let us only focus on the important information. These filters are not very intelligent, meaning they are not very flexible. They have been developed throughout our whole live. But once set up, it is hard to change them. How we perceive reality has a lot to do with the way these filters have been set up, which has a lot to do with how we have been broad up. The more filters there are the less flexible we are able to think. With this theory it becomes apparent why young people in general are seen to be more open minded and flexible. Their brains just have not developed enough filters yet. The older we get the less we are able to think outside the box. Our view of the world is basically set up and it needs a very strong input to change this worldview. This is why I think it is useless to try to persuade statist above a certain age of libertarianism. It is not possible to do that!

But intelligent people, in a way always remain children. Their ability of developing filters is reduced. Therefore, they are more open minded. They consider more information in their thinking and therefore come to new conclusions. This can be an advantage in certain areas. For example, there certainly is a place for intelligent people in our modern, very complex and quickly changing society. But there also is a big disadvantage in this. Filters help us to do routinely tasks more efficiently. We do not need to waste a lot of energy rethinking them over and over again. In other words it may not always be good to question everything. Very often it is much better to just except things without questioning them because these things have an inner wisdom that is hart to see consciously. This is a very conservative approach. It is the heart of conservatism to except certain things in the way society is structured and to conserve them. And it is not necessarily a right assumption that there is not historical wisdom in the way things are in our society. At least one has to acknowledge that a lot of the alternative society models of intellectuals have failed miserable. This may have something to do with the idea that they were smart enough to question society, but not smart enough to really understand it.