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June 19, 2006


People intelligent enough to not believe in God (or at least withhold judgement with respect to his existence) are probably intelligent enough not to listen to or watch or read mainstream media (MSM), at least not in the same proportion as the population at large. Therefore, any stories with a religious skeptic bent would likely go against their demographic, which would likely not sit well with those who pay their bills (advertising), which means that since there are few anti-religious stories in MSM, we can see that those who run MSM are not that stupid. :)

"Doesn’t anyone think that it’s at least as important to tell us that religion also brings stupidity? I guess not. "
That's quite a lapse there - correlation is not causation. Same for the first article mentioned - it could be that the dumber, more religious are more easily made happy. Asking people the extent of their religious practice and happiness won't reveal the answer.

"This is a rare form of political correctness that the political left isn’t behind."
More like an unspoken gentleman's agreement, I don't talk about the dumb fanatics, you don't talk about dumb minorities.

That piety is partly heritable (as Mr. Derbyshire says, citing research) complicates the argument. Are both intelligence and piety affected by the same gene(s)? I'm also curious as to the IQ of Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews and Mizrachi Jews generally, for that matter.


Anecdotally, the people in my "modern" Orthodox Jewish community growing up were exceptionally intelligent. Lots of government bigwigs, scientists, doctors, lawyers, etc. Of course, you had to make a lot of money to live there, so that probably skews things quite a bit. Still, I can't think of any major Orthodox population centers where you *don't* have to make a lot of money to live.


Is this really news to you? Maybe it's because of my background, but I thought everyone knew that atheism in America is correlated with wealth, education, and IQ.

I'd be interested in reading more about the correlation between stupidity and happiness.

JewishAtheist: Judaism doesn't count, and we all know why.

Superf: Good point. I actually think studies have shown that smarter people are happier (up to a point). So, yes, smarter people are less religious, smarter people are happier, and religious people are happier. It's like the vocabulary, Republicans, and conservatives example Half gave earlier. It's possible for A to be positively correlated with B and B positively correlated with C, but C negatively correlated with A.

Can anyone think of any other examples like this?

Yes, I know that religion doesn't CAUSE low IQ, I was just making fun of how the MSM jumps to incorrect conclusions like that.

I guess it just seems so OBVIOUS to me that the causation runs the other way, I didn't realize that other people might not get the humor.

Eh, you never know. Maybe churches have lead pipes.

Just a thought: could mostly high-IQ people have enough confidence in themselves to tell survey interviewers that they lack religious belief?

Yes, Peter, I also was thinking that people from higher social strata -- where income and IQ tend to be higher -- would be less fearful of social repercussions from taking an atheist stance. They would also be less needful of the networks of support that often come with religion.

The entire post suggests a lapse in reasoning. It commits the fallacy of divsion. It is the same form -- Delaware is the wealthiest state in the U.S., Dan Jones lives in Delaware, therefore, Dan Jones is wealthy. The argument is also a non-sequitur -- the avg. IQ is lower for religious people so religion causes a lower IQ. Brilliant. Apparently, unbelief is not a great indicator of intelligence.

Grapenuts, statistically speaking, if all we know about someone is that they live in a wealthy state, then that person is indeed more likely to be more wealthier than average.

And I know that it's intelligence which causes unbelief and not the other way around. I was just being facetious.

"The argument is also a non-sequitur -- the avg. IQ is lower for religious people so religion causes a lower IQ. Brilliant. Apparently, unbelief is not a great indicator of intelligence."

If you are talking about the religion brings stupidity thing. It's clearly a joke about how the press erroneously presents the correlations between things like happiness and religion.

Actually, Half, the fact that someone lives in a wealthy state does not give any indication of the probability that they are wealthy -- you need more information for such probability judgment. Further, it is also a non-sequitur that intelligence causes unbelief. You cannot derive a causal relationship from mere data on correlations.

I think a number of the IQ related oddities may be related to the fact that WORDSUM is a vocabulary test and doesn't test analytical ability/logical abstractions. In other words, it's capturing only one kind of intelligence.

Specifically, it's been my experience that intelligence generally falls into two categories which I'll classify as English majors and engineers. On our university's intercollegiate trivia team, most of our players fall into one of the two classes - either excelling in the humanities or the sciences. While there's maybe three of us exhibiting talent in both fields, the majority are either in the "Math is icky" or the "I don't know shit for Lit" categories.

Similarly in my research group (wireless communications), there's maybe two out of the 50 or so of us who could be called good writers. Expanding upon this a little bit - there's a reason engineers employ technical writers.

One last anecdote - in my highschool, the person who got the English award got a 800 on the verbal portion of his SAT (this was pre-renormalization) also got a 550 on the math portion. Not a horrible score, but definitely not commiserate with his verbal score. While the converse didn't hold for the person with the math award, most of the students who did well on the math section did not do perform at a similar level on the verbal section.

This is not to argue against g as there is indeed some predictive power to the concept, but I do believe that a more realistic model of intelligence incorporates both the mental module theory and g.

Tying this back into the sequence of intelligence posts, I believe that evaluating intelligence solely on the basis of verbal ability skews the test in favor of those who talents lie on the verbal side.

Thus I would expect that those who tend to score higher on WORDSUM and get an advanced degree are more likely to be an English PhD than an Engineering PhD which should have a noticeable impact on the correlation of income and WORDSUM score (though less at lower scores where g may dominate the modules).

Further it has been my observation that the negative correlation of religiosity with intelligence is much more greater with verbal intelligence than with analytical intelligence. I still find some correlation (and it may be due to overlap with verbal ability), but it's less pronounced. All but two of the members of our engineering research group have a belief in God in varying forms (number of Hindus and Muslims) and one of the two atheists is one of the two good writers. The atheists in the intercollegiate trivia organization are all on the verbal side and the 2 atheists out of my high school's 7 national merit finalists got two out of the three highest verbal scores and all but 1 of the 7 - the English award guy - were in AP Calc. (The other atheist high verbal scorer went to Williams to major in English.)

Also of note, it's my observation that high verbal IQ correlates with a more progressive mindset and that high analytic IQ correlates with a more libertarian/conservative mindset with similar anecdotes holding for all three of my "observation groups".

So my guess as to an explanation to the noted GSS phenomena is that it's verbal IQ that's being tested and the results are explained by noting that there should be noticeably different correlations with verbal and analytic IQ.

Um, Grapenuts: "the fact that someone lives in a wealthy state does not give any indication of the probability that they are wealthy"

Wrong. Consider a state with one inhabitant -- perfect estimate of the probability. Consider a state with N inhabitants -- noisy estimate, but still a probabilistically valid estimate. Thank you for properly saying, "probability."

By extension, knowing that someone is religious tells you something *probabilistic* about their IQ. But it's a really noisy estimate, so you'd be a fool to base any important decision on it. Get 1,000 religious people together, though...

A study like this can only tell us about contemporary intellectual perception of contemporary religious doctrine, not the absolute relationship between intellect and religious faith. Intelligence and religion are not Platonic realities, they are very complex social phenomena.

What would be useful would be to determine the correlation between the ratio of visual/spacial to verbal IQ and religious belief.

I am of the opinion (but do not have the time to dig through the GSS to show it) that there is a stronger inverse correlation of people with high visual/spacial IQ (as compared to verbal IQ) and belief in religion, especially the religions that came out of the middle-east (i.e. christianity, islam, etc.).

Superf: Good point. I actually think studies have shown that smarter people are happier (up to a point).

Not at all. High IQ people are less happy than low IQ ones. High IQ people are easily depressed and commit suicide.


rare form of political correctness that the political left isn’t behind

Taboos are widespread and have nothing to do with the left. You only use the phrase "political correctness" and associate it with the left because the left is so incompetent at suppressing speech. The phrase comes from a time that the left was foolishly being explicit about it.

What the artical doesn't tell you is spiritual attainment isn't correlated with intelligence. I'm a modestly intelligent person of 125-130 IQ, and i've always been a skeptic. Recently, however, i've gone from a skeptic to an interpreter, not believer, per say. I understand exactly where religion is coming from. In your post, it seems your opinion leans towards the negativity of religion. I tell you what the media says is true: religion is the mother of happiness. I believe the media is in line with extremely wise people who have a hold and understanding on the world that very few share. To have spiritual attainment is to be very wise. An intelligent person isn't necessarily a wise man, for he could have been learning meaningless facts all his life hence the reason why many intelligent people are more likely to suffer melancholy and depression. Unfortuneately, with all the religious fanatics, wretches, and midguided believers, religion is firing out miscarriages left and right.

I sometimes ponder the thought that part of the media's agenda is to leave people in the dark for their preservation of power.

"I sometimes ponder the thought that part of the media's agenda is to leave people in the dark for their preservation of power."


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