Thursday, September 02, 2004


Journalistic Conundrum

Many of America's political pundits are mightily puzzled as to why anyone in their right mind would vote for George Bush for president even once, let alone again. To an intelligent individual, this is a reasonable question. And to an intelligent individual, it can be reasonably answered: intelligence will get you nowhere in this election. Let's look instead at the Bell Curve, as a distraction from factual horrors.

Correlation between IQ and Voting Patterns

The Bell Curve, a statistical analysis tool that over the decades has proven nearly 100% effective at putting college students to sleep in droves, has other uses as well, the bell-like shape for which it is named accurately depicting the distribution functions for all sorts of stochastic processes, for example the number of members who pass out at a frat party, as I recall. In a statistically valid group it can depict IQ, income, height or just about any countable aspect you can think of, which also makes it perfect for looking at likely voter intelligence in the US.

The Upper 5%: the Intellectual Elite

The upper end of the Bell Curve, that little flare that is the right lip of the bell, comprises the 5% of the American population that has a very high IQ. This includes all of my readers. Also included are many of the political pundits aforementioned, as well as US presidents like Jefferson and Lincoln, US Nobel prize winners and others with quick minds. All will vote for Kerry with the exception of Jefferson and Lincoln, who no longer vote.

The Above-Average Joes

Now the 45% of voters who are just below the upper 5%, and who make up most of the 'undecided' voters that serve to throw elections into apparent doubt, are generally uncertain whom to vote for because they engage in thought, though less successfully than the top 5%. Many of them are well off, even rich, by virtue of their above-average intelligence; on the other hand, many of them put their money in Enron. Those of this percentile who see wealth as the focus of their lives will go for Bush all the way to the bank, through clouds of industrial pollution and treeless landscapes littered with dead wildlife; the rest in this group will vote maybe by flipping a coin, if, after four years of Bush they still have access to coins. Overall, statistically this group is a toss-up.

The Average Joe

Nobody knows who he is.

The Below-Average Joes

Now we get to The Above-Average Joes' counterparts, the 45% who though below average in IQ, are still mostly way smarter than the lowest 5% of the Bell Curve. Like their counterparts, these people cover a pretty wide range of cerebral luminescence, all the way down to very near darkness. They are currently exerting a great deal of mental effort looking for signs of character in the candidates, trying to decide if a man who volunteered for combat and was decorated five times would be a more effective war leader than a guy with a lot of lost weekends who finally went AWOL. It's a tough choice. These are the folks whose jobs and pensions are the first to go, but they are nothing if not loyal: the majority of those who don't pull the wrong lever or punch the wrong chad will pull or punch for Bush, who in gratitude will save money for the rich by cutting jobs and pensions.

The Living Nadir

Below The Below-Average Joes, at the extreme lower end of the Bell Curve, are the folks who have very small vocabularies, speak in very short, very simple sentences about very short, very simple topics, live by brute force and vote for anything that loves guns and lives in the dark. Bush has these voters in his back pocket; in some uncanny way, he knows these people.

What Does The Bell Curve Bode for the Coming Presidential Election?

So, starting at the top, we have 5%/0% for Kerry/Bush, 22.5%/22.5% Kerry/Bush, 5%/40% Kerry/Bush and 0%/5% Kerry/Bush. For those of the Living Nadir, that adds up to 32.5% for Kerry and 67.5% for Bush. This statistical pattern has been called the "Dumbing Down of America." The fact is, though, America has always been structured pretty much this way; it's just that the peak has never been a trough before.


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