Study: Conservatives are lazy thinkers

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By Rick Howell

Conservatives have always been irritated by studies that show that people who have a good, solid formal education tend to be more liberal than those who aren’t very well educated.
    Simply put, people with more education seem to find out the value of an old saying: The more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know. Knowledge is good and is not to be feared.
    An educated person knows that the world is not a simple place; conservatives seem to believe it is, and they put a great value on “simplicity.”
    If you’re old enough to remember the politics of the 1980s, the Reagan era, then you remember how “The Gipper” was always lauded for his “simple views.” His supporters always said he didn’t need a big college degree to understand “America’s real values.”
    Well, Reagan wasn’t stupid, but no one ever accused him of being excessively smart, either. A good example of the failures of his “simple views” was seen in Central America. There, he could only see the easy notion of “communism vs. freedom.”
    He didn’t seem to know or want to know that decades of poverty created by a U.S.-sponsored dictatorship just might make a few people in Nicaragua want to be a Sandinista.
    “Simple,” it turns out, can quickly become simple-minded. That’s what a lot of conservative views are.
    Now, another study has been published that supports the notion that right-wingers just don’t like to think a lot, or they don’t like to think very hard.
    A study published in the journal “Psychological Science” earlier this year showed that children who scored low on intelligence tests gravitated toward conservative views in adulthood (this comes from a story on The Huffington Post Web site on April 9).
    Another study recently published by a University of Arkansas psychologist said “low-effort thinking” is linked with conservatism. “People endorse conservative ideology more when they have to give a first or fast response,” said the author of the study.
    In other words, they’re a right-winger in a “knee-jerk” fashion before they start to think. Sounds realistic, doesn’t it?
    Conservatives have always been people who think they learned all they ever needed to know about the world at granddaddy’s knee. Grandfather, you see, understood life, the world, and all its values. He passed all that infinite wisdom on in all its beautiful “simplicity.”
    But not only is grandfather dead, his era is dead and gone, too. The world he knew no longer exists. If he was a Southern grandfather, well, racial segregation was probably the norm for him. Thankfully, that world is as dead as Julius Caesar.
    As much as you loved your grandfather and valued that time learning about the world at his knee, I’m sorry. It’s useless now. Everything changes, and there’s more change ahead, and that’s where we get to the heart of conservative “thinking,” which really isn’t thinking at all.
    It’s a word not mentioned in the study: fear. The conservative is an animal who experiences fear with every breath; he fears change the way children are afraid of the dark. He especially fears that change might adversely affect him, or worse, his wallet.
    The ancient notions of simplicity that his grandfather taught him are far more comforting than what might be ahead. Education? Well, that’s just a liberal plot, isn’t it?
    That’s why Rick Santorum called President Obama “a snob” for wanting every child to go to college.
    Come on, conservatives. Put that thinking cap on…lose that fear. Face the change in the world that’s coming anyway, whether or not you like it.
    You can put flowers on granddaddy’s grave, but you can’t bring his world back. You shouldn’t need a study to know that.

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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.