Not from the Onion

Imagine a news story like this:

Prejudiced Researchers find Evidence that Stupid People are Prejudiced

Several researchers who have negative views of social conservatives, have found evidence that stupid people are more likely to be prejudiced.

(Alternate headline:  “Study show smart people are more skilled at hiding their prejudice.”)

Or how about:

Students Who Don’t Drop Out are More Likely to Graduate

“We also know that when students don’t walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. When students are not allowed to drop out, they do better. So tonight, I am proposing that every state — every state — requires that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18. (Applause.)”

Seems like it’s pretty easy to get Congressmen to applaud.

Gingrich calls for the US to annex  the moon

“Gingrich is so confident in his vision in a lunar base that he said if the colony had 13,000 permanent American residents it should be considered for statehood.

He admits the proposal is ‘the weirdest thing [he’s] ever done,'”

Reality is a harsh mistress.



22 Responses to “Not from the Onion”

  1. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    28. January 2012 at 10:20

    Speaking of not getting the joke, it appears to have gone over the head of a certain Nobel laureate that Mrs. Steve Jobs was a guest of the President at the SOTU.

  2. Gravatar of Daniel Daniel
    28. January 2012 at 11:49

    Nice scifi reference (

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    28. January 2012 at 12:26

    Patrick, Yes, that would be a good one.

    Daniel, I’m not well educated enough to have actually read Heinlein, but at least I’ve heard of him.

  4. Gravatar of Gordon Gordon
    28. January 2012 at 12:48

    I find Gingrich’s desire to colonize the Moon his best policy proposal. But, as Mr. Heinlein warned, watch out for the rocks!

  5. Gravatar of PrometheeFeu PrometheeFeu
    28. January 2012 at 15:48

    OK Scott, I’m a libertarian with some strong sentiments about government spending. But by God if Newt can get us to the Moon, get out of the way! I don’t care how stupid it is. It is also the most amazing thing ever.

  6. Gravatar of Anon Anon
    28. January 2012 at 15:49


    “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” is absolutely amazing. Even if you’re pressed for time, I’d recommend it. Good light reading, too. At least, if you have too much rigorous reading as it is.

  7. Gravatar of Steven Kopits Steven Kopits
    28. January 2012 at 16:18

    I think conservatives are in fact more likely to be prejudiced.

    Here’s the thinking. The objective function for the individual involves the certain attitudes towards effort, reward and risk (their objective function). If you’re a high effort, high reward, high risk guy, then you’re acting like a (classical) liberal. If you wish to cap both effort and reward (and in doing so, risk), then you’re an egalitarian. If you wish to minimize risk, then you’re a (social) conservative.

    Why is risk important for social conservatives? Both intelligence and education enable a person to take greater risk. If I’m a PhD economist and I lose my job, I probably won’t starve to death. If I’m illiterate and not too clever, then I can’t afford to lose my job, as I might not find another.

    So a low tolerance for risk will tend to make someone (socially) conservative or egalitarian (note that I have inverted the causality). Such conservatives will prefer limited change, and therefore standards will be important (ie, “that’s the way we’ve always done it”). And unfamiliar settings or people may be viewed as threats, as the individual’s perceived capability to response or react may be limited. Thus, the tendency to prejudice.

    Importantly, this sort of socially conservative behavior should not be confused with either liberal (free market) ideology or theoretical conservatism (built on increasing returns to scale in social organizations and related issues associated with the allocation of effort, risk and reward from the group to the individual).

    In any event, prejudice resulting from the inability to cope with new information is associated with social conservatism, but it is not the same thing.

  8. Gravatar of StatsGuy StatsGuy
    28. January 2012 at 20:20

    It’s too late for the US to annex the moon. The Nazis have already established a permanent base there.

  9. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    29. January 2012 at 00:18

    There *was* a Nazi base there. We took it out.

  10. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    29. January 2012 at 12:19

    Gordon, Fortunately, it won’t happen.

    Prometheefeu. Been there, done that.

    Anon, Thanks for the tip, but to be honest I almost never read sci-fi. I enjoyed Wells and Lovecraft, but that’s about it.

    Steven, I don’t really have an opinion, I just thought it was rather bizarre. In our society, if you think a group of people are stupid, that’s prima facie evidence that you are prejudiced. Not saying that’s fair, but that’s how things work around here.

    Statsguy and anon/portly. Maybe Newt saw that story.

  11. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    29. January 2012 at 12:26

    Steven Kopits,

    I view social conservatism as unfortunate – my best friends are gay (Republicans).

    But generally, as a libertarian who wants open door immigration and also wants to colonize Mexico (in a totally nice and legal way)…

    I do agree that we should be a melting pot and not a tossed salad.

    Being an American is about being a capitalist wildcatter cowboy, and everyone who comes here should be forced to culturally to adopt that mindset.

    Socialists have no place here, and excluding them, cutting them out like cancer is a form of social conservatism I endorse… a certain social construct serves free market libertarianism.

  12. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    29. January 2012 at 12:30

    Scott, you don’t have a real cell phone because you don’t read Sci-Fi…. it has nothing to do with being a high saver.

    You also aren’t as good an economist as you could be, because your brain doesn’t roll around in the future-fetishist of libertarian fiction.

    Reagan grasped his Star Wars missile defense system from an old B movie.

    You aren’t yet that great a man, and you should be taking notes.

  13. Gravatar of Joe Joe
    29. January 2012 at 17:07


    It seems odd, but this quote sounds far more fascist than libertarian:

    “Being an American is about being a capitalist wildcatter cowboy, and everyone who comes here should be forced to culturally to adopt that mindset.

    Socialists have no place here, and excluding them, cutting them out like cancer is a form of social conservatism I endorse… a certain social construct serves free market libertarianism.”

    Forcing people to adopt and forcibly removing them from society?? Sounds odd….

  14. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    29. January 2012 at 20:13

    Joe, the best part about free speech is being able to crush people’s identity with shame, the best part about a free press is printing almost anything you want about anybody you want.

    Now when I say best part, I don’t mean, “most fun” or “ticket to heaven” I mean the raw function of the freedom in service to fixing things without needing government for mush more than protecting that right.

    Let me say it this way, business owners should be able to fire and not hire socialists…. you think they’ll be able to stick around?

  15. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. January 2012 at 06:01

    Morgan, Taking notes from you, or that “Great man” Reagan?

  16. Gravatar of Frank in midtown Frank in midtown
    30. January 2012 at 10:13

    We all know that there is no free lunch, so why would you believe that there is a free market? All markets come with social costs that you would choose to ignore. Liberatarian is just another word for free-rider.

  17. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    30. January 2012 at 12:03

    You should be taking notes from Sci-Fi writers!

  18. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. January 2012 at 13:51

    Frank, And your point is?

    Morgan, Like HG Wells, who was a socialist?

  19. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    1. February 2012 at 21:23

    Heinlein is best read in your teens. But it is sad if you don’t get around to his best work (usually the stuff written before the obsession with bright, feisty redheads with big tits).

  20. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    1. February 2012 at 22:08

    Could you elaborate. What is the problems with redheads?

  21. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    1. February 2012 at 23:11

    +1 on dtoh

  22. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    2. February 2012 at 12:57

    Maybe the problem was bright and feisty

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