John Zogby recently interviewed nearly 5,000 American adults and asked them eight basic questions about economics. The eight questions have easily provable answers.
Here are the bottom line results published in a Wall Street Journal article titled “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader:” the more conservative people did the best and the more liberal people did the worst. In fact, as a group, the moderates to very liberal all failed. Out of eight questions, here is the average score of each group:
Very Conservative (1.3 wrong)=84% correct
Libertarian (1.38)= 83%
Moderate (3.67)= 54%
Liberal (4.69)= 41%
Very Liberal (5.26)=34%
Here are the results by party affiliation:
Republicans (1.61)= 80%
Going to college was no indicator of intelligence in this survey. On half the questions folks without a college education scored better than those that had one. In fact, in their abstract, the authors of the article wrote, “for people inclined to take such a survey, basic economic enlightenment is not correlated with going to college.”
Why then these results? Could it be that liberals and conservatives have two radically different views of human nature that influence them to answer in the way they do? Conservatives tend to understand that human nature is fallen and thus, when it comes to economics, needs incentives. Liberals tend to think against all the evidence that humans are inherently good and will do the right thing without incentives (even in the face of disincentives).
My friend Neil Mammen, who has an excellent new book, puts it this way on page 255: “Socialism depends on every man working as much as he can and only taking up as little has he needs. Yet in reality human nature is such that we work as little as we need and take as much as we can. Anybody who advocates socialism is essentially helping man continue to be mired in his sin nature.”
I used to think that many liberals were denying the facts. Now this survey makes me think that they just don’t know them. Maybe that’s because their false worldview causes them to never question what they already think is true. Sometimes it’s not the things we don’t know that cause us trouble– it’s the things we think are true but really aren’t.