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Thread: Religion & IQ: The Intelligence-Religiosity Nexus

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    Religion & IQ: The Intelligence-Religiosity Nexus

    A correspondent forward me this paper, The intelligence-religiosity nexus: A representative study of white adolescent Americans:

    The present study examined whether IQ relates systematically to denomination and income within the framework of the g nexus, using representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (NLSY97). Atheists score 1.95 IQ points higher than Agnostics, 3.82 points higher than Liberal persuasions, and 5.89 IQ points higher than Dogmatic persuasions. Denominations differ significantly in IQ and income. Religiosity declines between ages 12 to 17.

    It is suggested that IQ makes an individual likely to gravitate toward a denomination and level of achievement that best fit his or hers particular level of cognitive complexity. Ontogenetically speaking this means that contemporary denominations are rank ordered by largely hereditary variations in brain efficiency (i.e. IQ). In terms of evolution, modern Atheists are reacting rationally to cognitive and emotional challenges, whereas Liberals and, in particular Dogmatics, still rely on ancient, pre-rational, supernatural and wishful thinking.

    If you read this weblog you know I have touched upon this topic before. Here are the titles of some of the posts, Religious people are less intelligent, Biblical literalism or low IQ: which came first?, Educational levels & denomination, Pentecostals are stupid? Unitarians are smart? and Higher IQ ~ more atheism internationally.

    Obviously I've talked about this issue. I happen to be one of those people interested in religion, and, who believes in IQ. Most intelligent people don't happen to actually believe in intelligence, so there's a lot of interesting low hanging quantitative data there for anyone willing to poke around and cross-reference. As someone who has long conversations with people at Unitarian-Universalist churches and at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship meetings, these data aren't particularly world-shaking.

    So you're wondering who is smart and who isn't, right? (even if you don't believe in IQ) Here's the chart:



    You'll see a rough correspondence with the contentions I offered in my posts. The rank order shouldn't shock you.



    I don't put that much stock in the standard deviation differences for all these groups. Look at the N's (remember these were youth from the NLSY sample). This isn't to say that you should discard these inferences as some of you will want to based on the N's; look at my previous posts and you'll see data which supports much of this rank order, and the differences between some classes are very large. I only mention the standard deviation issue because it is a point of discussion in the paper itself.

    In any case, you might notice a few peculiarities. The spelling of "Muslem" for example; the author is Danish, so that's a minor issue. But, the racial breakdown for "Muslem" is wrong, at least for the general population. The racial breakdown for the other groups looks correct, so I don't know what happened here.

    The Pew Religious Survey has the details, but only about 30-40% of Muslims in the United States are "white" (which includes individuals of Middle Eastern origin), though this paper contends that 85% are. Additionally, the "Un. Church of Christ" is coded as "Dogmatic" in the paper. To me, "Un." would imply "United," as in United Church of Christ. This is in fact the most liberal Christian denomination in the United States. The Church of Christ on the other hand is moderately Fundamentalist. I suspect there was a confusion somewhere.

    Some of you might not be aware of how IQ distributions look. I decided to assume that the standard deviation was 13, and graphed a few of these denominations and did a little editing in Adobe Illustrator. The opacity causes some issues on the "left half" of the bell curve, but just look at the overlaps on the "right half."



    Finally, I thought I would address this:
    ...In terms of evolution, modern Atheists are reacting rationally to cognitive and emotional challenges, whereas Liberals and, in particular Dogmatics, still rely on ancient, pre-rational, supernatural and wishful thinking.


    There's some evolutionary talk in the paper, but I'm rather skeptical of it. I happen to think that religious cognition is the human norm, and that very high IQ individuals who have a naturalistic worldview are deviant. Those are just the numbers.

    Since intelligence is a normally distributed trait on a priori grounds you assume it has not been subject to strong unidirectional selection for any period of time. Perhaps there is a frequency dependent dynamic at work (that's my suspicion). In any case, intelligent people are evolutionarily being selected against right now, so I'd rather avoid language which depicts the religious as older models doomed to extinction.

    http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp/2008/12/religion_iq.php


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    Odd, I consider myself to be quite spiritual, yet score higher than any group listed. Is there room for an "intelligent seeker" out there?
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    I'd be curious to see a similar list compiled for Germanic Heathens, who I wager score particularly high. Then again, we might just score average with a huge standard deviation for having a mixture between reasonably intelligent people and a whole bunch of in-it-for-the-viking idiots...

    On a more serious note, I feel that there may be two major pointers which influence this list:

    - One is quite evidently the rationality involved. Where a greater dogma exists, evidently it will attract mainly people who like to follow something they have been given, whilst intellectuals will seek out a denomination where more speculation, personal study and personal search for truth is concerned. This could be the reason why not only Atheists, but also Agnostics score so high on this list.

    - The other would be certain reproductive practices. A main reason why I believe that Jews score so high on the list compared to especially Roman Catholics and the likes is that whilst Jews actively encouraged their priestly class to be fruitful and multiply (ever wondered why there are so many people named Cohen/Kohn/Cohn/Kohen/Cauin/etc.?) - our priestly classes were expressly forbidden to do so. Priests usually tended to come from a more intellectual/intelligent background, so obviously their breeding strategy was more eugenic than that exercised in Christian lands. This could even help to explain why the staunchly Catholic south of Europe has a lower mean IQ than the predominantly Protestant north.

    One may make of it whatever one will, but it is telling. Now as long as this research is not used by Atheists to push an agenda that faith is for stupid people...
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
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    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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    Why are all the scores above the 100 average point? I have read a lot about religious people having lower than average I.Q.s and Gnostics, Agnostics, Atheists etc. having higher than average. Also there is a linke between education and being atheist or gnostic. Also those who are more religious or go to church more often are usually the lower I.Q. people within their denomination.

    The thing here is that there really isn't much out there in terms of religion for an intelligent person. Religion itself I've noticed recently has become more extreme and unreasonable in its denial of science and logic and such which wasn't the case 60 years ago when everyone went to church as a social function.

    This is why I'm working on a religion for the more educated/intelligent which is a demonation of Asatru. Though I notice there are a lot of intelligent people who are spiritual. They are mostly into secretive things like occult and free masons and knowledge that isn't made freely available but must be earned. Many of the same philosophies exist in the upper tier of common religious communities e.g. mormon, catholic etc. So they aren't well studied.

    As a society we do need to work towards putting in religious institutions available to people that help to uplift them and that go along with logic, science, self empowerment etc. The only choice of guidance for most people now is either go it alone and don't be religious (which has problems associated with it- we all need a spiritual and social function in this increasingly isolated world and to seek answers) or go to some group that tells us to turn our brains off, deny science and become mindless zombies. That's one of the main reasons I'm working to promote my own religious beliefs to at least give people some kind of choice...

    About Asatru- seems the more popular the religion gets the more I see idiots coming into it and changing its nature. They basically are replacing "yahweh" with Odin. With no understanding that the whole philosophy of life is supposed to be different (at least I thought?). like we don't worship a god or gods and give our life over to his control and deny rational things and have blind faith in Asatru. I thought that was what seperated the religion from x-ainity but now I'm meeting "Asatruar" who believe the religion is about cultivating a personal relationship with a physical being (who they claim to have met, had a conversation with and shook hands with) name Odin.That's why I'm working on a "bible" if you will for my own denomination to clearly define exactly what we are and aren't. But anyway... wouldn't be so sure about that high I.Q. among heathens as a group.

    Jews score high because other than the occult/gnostic stuff I've learned about Judaism is the most rational religion. Besides that though most Jews are atheist and adhere to the religion as a sense of identity rather than philosophy. But the philosophy around a normal Jewish community is rational and doesn't go against the grain instinct of a highly intelligent, highly educated man. If you went to College and you step into a Christian church you will know that much of what they teach is false. Colleges usually don't teach things as dogma- you have labs where you run experiments, you disect an examine, you are given logical thought models, you actually KNOW the stuff to be truth, not just have faith in it. Then you go to a church and are told "well the sky really isn't blue its a neon green" and you look outside and your like "uh no I can see it's blue". meanwhile the retard is like "der ok". Though I guess part of accepting the irrational is about controlling people and a method of brainwashing.

    But yeah if you make a rational, intelligent religion you will draw rational, intelligent people generally. An irrational religion will draw the irrational, less intelligent. For example Mormonism though basically a disguised form of Free Masonry at the higher levels, at the base level is ultra-irrational. more so than regular Christianity because at least the Bible is a real historical document. The book of mormon is based on extremely absurd grounds. I would expect Mormon I.Q. to be below that of a Christian.

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    on the contrary, i feel that intelligence and belief in a higher power are not necessarily mutually exclusive. i believe that the more educated and intelligent an individual is, the more he is able to realize and acknowledge the limits of his education and intelligence. like socrates said, the only wise man is one who realizes that he is not so. in other words, "the more you know, the more you realize you don't know."

    in this world, there are many things that are inadequately explained by science nor logic alone, which is apparent to the greatest scientists and universities. for example, why is it that the universal gravitation constant is 9.8 m/s^2? these and many other universal physical constants (boltzmann, planck, etc) as well as the laws of thermodynamics which are the basis behind all scientific theorems today, ironically, really have no logical basis in of themselves. all scientific concepts rests upon a foundation, or rather, a limited set of principles or postulates. These rules of the universe, if you will, seem almost entirely arbitrary, and science cannot explain why these rules are in place, only how. the rest depends on metaphysics, or religion.

    even in the university i attend (which i profess is an elite research institution located in chicago), it does not surprise me to find many church-going or at least christian individuals among the student body and faculty. this is merely because it is most educated and brightest individuals are intelligent enough to realize that science is not the end-all be-all discipline that can explain reality. in fact, what science really does is explain how something works, not why. for example if you think about it, posing the questions "how does a car work" and "why does a car work" are two very different ones. the former is a question of engineering, the latter, one of metaphysics that perhaps maybe impossible to answer.

    thus, my point is basically, those to actively reject religion in favor of science actually have very little understanding of science.

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    Well looking at basically all the churches I've been to they say things like "the earth is 10,000 years old" and I can prove this is not so. Or "evolution is a lie" it is provable. The Bible itself is full of holes and contradictions. So highly educated people going to church are really ignoring logic on some level.

    Yes logic doesn't explain everything. There is not logical answer. The force of gravity for example- if it was slightly more or slightly less or even a lot more or less would it be any more logical? No. Therefore it is not illogical. It simply is outside the realm of logical examination and in the realm of observation.

    Yes learning helps open up an understanding of the spiritual. Yet turns you away from religion as it exists today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Octothorpe View Post
    Odd, I consider myself to be quite spiritual, yet score higher than any group listed. Is there room for an "intelligent seeker" out there?
    A certain degree of stupidity is required to believe in the literal existence of some God on the basis that you'd like it to exist. Willful self-deception is more common at lower levels of intelligence.

    Religious people who recognize the non-existence of their God, but continue to pursue the religion for cultural, social or existential (read: 'spiritual') purposes, but don't allow the irrationality and dogmatism inherent to their chosen religion interfere with their personal outlook, may well score highly on IQ tests. They're smart enough to realize what's true isn't necessarily beneficial, and they're certainly smart enough to indulge certain customs without literally believing laughable nonsense about Gods with hammers and axes, and genuinely believing any such thing occurred.

    I think what the IQ results show is this: People who believe what they are told are stupid, people who believe what they want to believe no matter how illogical are stupid, people who can think outside the box and question irrational cultural beliefs are slightly smarter, people who recognize nonsense for nonsense, but can appraise its value independent of its truth value are on average the smartest of all.

    There's also some obvious conflict between inherited intelligence (i.e. for Jews), and intelligence related to intellectual choice (i.e. atheists).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigurd View Post

    - The other would be certain reproductive practices. A main reason why I believe that Jews score so high on the list compared to especially Roman Catholics and the likes is that whilst Jews actively encouraged their priestly class to be fruitful and multiply (ever wondered why there are so many people named Cohen/Kohn/Cohn/Kohen/Cauin/etc.?) - our priestly classes were expressly forbidden to do so. Priests usually tended to come from a more intellectual/intelligent background, so obviously their breeding strategy was more eugenic than that exercised in Christian lands. This could even help to explain why the staunchly Catholic south of Europe has a lower mean IQ than the predominantly Protestant north.
    Either by natural proclivity or external limitation (so we are told), the Jews were confined to professions that required a higher measure of intelligence. So it is expected that through the process of selection, they naturally fostered more intelligent spawn.

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