Skip to main content Accessibility help

Intelligence, competitive altruism, and “clever silliness” may underlie bias in academe

  • Guy Madison (a1), Edward Dutton (a2) and Charlotta Stern (a3)


Why is social bias and its depressing effects on low-status or low-performing groups exaggerated? We show that the higher intelligence of academics has at best a very weak effect on reducing their bias, facilitates superficially justifying their biases, and may make them better at understanding the benefits of social conformity in general and competitive altruism specifically. We foresee a surge in research examining these mechanisms and recommend, meanwhile, reviving and better observing scientific ideals.



Hide All
Alvesson, M. (2013) The triumph of emptiness. Oxford University Press.
Baron-Cohen, S. (2011) Sex differences – a welcome dialogue. The Psychologist 24:34. Available at:
Berggren, N., Jordahl, H. & Stern, C. (2009) The political opinions of Swedish social scientists. Finnish Economical Papers 22:7588.
Charlton, B. G. (2009) Clever sillies: Why high IQ people tend to be deficient in common sense. Medical Hypotheses 73:867–70.
Charlton, B. G. (2011) Thought prison – The fundamental nature of political correctness. University of Buckingham Press.
Charlton, B. G. (2012) Not even trying: The corruption of real science. University of Buckingham Press.
Crawford, J. T., Jussim, L., Cain, T. & Cohen, F. (2013) Right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation differentially predict biased evaluations of media reports. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 43:163–74.
Del Giudice, M. (2013) Multivariate misgivings: Is D a valid measure of group and sex differences? Evolutionary Psychology 11:1067–76.
Del Giudice, M., Booth, T. & Irwing, P. (2012) The distance between Mars and Venus: Measuring global sex differences in personality. PLoS ONE 7:e29265.
Dutton, D. G. (2012) The case against the role of gender in intimate partner violence. Aggression and Violent Behavior 17:99104.
Dutton, E. (2013) The cultural mediation hypothesis: A critical examination. Intelligence 41:321–27.
Dutton, E. (2014) Religion and intelligence. Ulster Institute for Social Research.
Dutton, E. & Lynn, R. (2014) Intelligence and religious and political differences among members of the U.S. academic elite. Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion 10:129.
Dutton, E. & van der Linden, D. (2015) Who are the “Clever Sillies”? The intelligence, personality, and motives of clever silly originators and those who follow them. Intelligence 49:5765.
Frisell, T., Lichtenstein, P. & Långström, N. (2011) Violent crime runs in families: A total population study of 12.5 million individuals. Psychological Medicine 41:97105.
Jussim, L. (2012) Social perception and social reality: Why accuracy dominates bias and self-fulfilling prophecy. Oxford University Press.
Jussim, L., Crawford, J. T., Anglin, S. M. & Stevens, S. T. (2015a) Ideological bias in social psychological research. In: Social psychology and politics, ed. Forgas, J. P., Fiedler, K. & Crano, W., pp. 91109. Psychology Press/Taylor & Francis.
Kahneman, D. (2011) Thinking, fast and slow. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
Klein, D. B. & Stern, C. (2005) Professors and their politics: The policy views of social scientists. Critical Review 17:257303.
Klein, D. B. & Stern, C. (2009) By the numbers: The ideological profile of professors. In: The Politically Correct University : Problems, scope, and reforms, ed. Maranto, R., Redding, R. E., & Hess, F. M., pp. 1537. AEI Press.
Långström, N., Rahman, Q., Carlström, E. & Lichtenstein, P. (2010) Genetic and environmental effects on same-sex sexual behavior: A population study of twins in Sweden. Archives of Sexual Behavior 39:7580.
Lewis, J., DeGusta, D., Meyer, M., Monge, J., Mann, A. & Holloway, R. L. (2011) The mismeasure of science: Stephen Jay Gould versus Samuel George Morton on skulls and bias. PLoS Biology 9:e1001071.
Lippa, R. (2010) Sex differences in personality traits and gender-related occupational preferences across 53 nations: Testing evolutionary and social-environmental theories. Archives of Sexual Behavior 39:619–36.
Maranto, R., Redding, R. E. & Hess, F. M. (2009) The politically correct university: Problems, scope, and reforms. AEI Press.
Merton, R. K. (1973) The normative structure of science. In: The sociology of science: Theoretical and empirical investigations, pp. 267–80. University of Chicago Press.
Miller, G. F. (2011) The mating mind. Doubleday.
Mosing, M. A., Madison, G., Pedersen, N. L., Kuja-Halkola, R. & Ullén, F. (2014) Practice does not make perfect: No causal effect of music practice on music ability. Psychological Science 25:1795–803.
Sesardic, N. (2010) Race: A social destruction of a biological concept. Biology and Philosophy 25:143–62.
Söderlund, T. & Madison, G. (2015) Characteristics of gender studies publications: A bibliometric analysis based on a Swedish population database. Scientometrics 105:1347–87.
Stanovich, K. E. (2009) What intelligence tests miss. Yale University Press.
Stanovich, K. E. (2011) Who is rational? Routledge.
Woodley, M. A. (2010) Are high-IQ individuals deficient in common sense? A critical examination of the ‘clever sillies’ hypothesis. Intelligence 38:471–80.
Woodley, M. A. & Dunkel, C. S. (2015) Beyond the cultural mediation hypothesis: A reply to Dutton (2013). Intelligence 49:186–91.
Zahavi, A. (1975) Mate selection – A selection for a handicap. Journal of Theoretical Biology 53(1):205–14.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed