Sunday, June 12, 2016



WHAAT?  Premature babies are brighter??

When I first saw the findings below I thought I was looking at another example of researchers getting their statistics back to front.  The logical and conventional view is that premature birth harms the baby to some degree.  And that is the official medical view too.  The authors of the study below were obviously pretty perturbed by their results too and turned themselves inside out trying to think of ways in which their very strong study got it wrong.  And I think that they went close to isolating the problem, but did not have the psychometric background needed to get it exactly right

The thing that told me what was going on was the Dutch Famine Study.  In the closing phase of WW2, Nederland experienced a severe food shortage.  The mothers of babies born at that time did the best for their infants but a lot still went very hungry.  But a food shortage at that early age could be expected to handicap the infant to some degree, with brain damage being probable.  So when that birth cohort came up for conscription into the Dutch army 18 years later, there was great interest in what their average IQs would be.  Most armies do carry out ability testing as an aid to weeding out soldiers who would be more dangerous to their companions than to the enemy. Putting lethal weapons into the hands of dummies is not recommended.

So what did the Dutch psychologists discover?  Did they find that the average IQ for that year was low?  No. To the contrary, they found that the average IQ was unusually HIGH for that year. 

So what had happened?  It was a eugenic effect.  As has repeatedly been shown, high IQ is a marker of general biological fitness -- and only the fit babies survived the famine.  The less fit were weeded out -- died.  So only the fit survived and they had higher IQs than average.

So you might by now see the strong analogy with the results below.  Less fit babies did not survive pre-term birth.  Those who did survive were generally  more fit biologically and hence of higher IQ.  It's actually interesting confirmation of the Dutch findings.  The other finding below, of a slight probability of physical impairment probably shows that even a selection effect cannot cancel out all the stresses and disadvantages that pre-term birth must be expected to impose



Long-term Cognitive and Health Outcomes of School-Aged Children Who Were Born Late-Term vs Full-Term

David N. Figlio et al.

ABSTRACT

Importance: Late-term gestation (defined as the 41st week of pregnancy) is associated with increased risk of perinatal health complications. It is not known to what extent late-term gestation is associated with long-term cognitive and physical outcomes. Information about long-term outcomes may influence physician and patient decisions regarding optimal pregnancy length.

Objective: To compare the cognitive and physical outcomes of school-aged children who were born full term or late term.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  We analyzed Florida birth certificates from 1994 to 2002 linked to Florida public school records from 1998 to 2013 and found 1?442?590 singleton births with 37 to 41 weeks' gestation in the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics. Of these, 1?153?716 children (80.0%) were subsequently located in Florida public schools. Linear and logistic regression models were used to assess the association of gestational age with cognitive and physical outcomes at school age. Data analysis took place between April 2013 and January 2016.

Exposures: Late-term (born at 41 weeks) vs full-term (born at 39 or 40 weeks) gestation.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  There were a number of measures used, including the average Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test mathematics and reading scores at ages 8 through 15 years; whether a child was classified as gifted, defined as a student with superior intellectual development and capable of high performance; poor cognitive outcome, defined as a child scoring in the fifth percentile of test takers or having a disability that exempted him or her from taking the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test; and Exceptional Student Education placement owing to orthopedic, speech, or sensory impairment or being hospitalbound or homebound.

Results:  Of 1 536 482 children born in Florida from singleton births from 1994 to 2002 with complete demographic information, 787 105 (51.2%) were male; 338 894 (22.1%) of mothers were black and 999 684 (65.1%) were married at time of birth, and the mean (SD) age for mothers at time of birth was 27.2 (6.2) years. Late-term infants had 0.7% of an SD (95% CI, 0.001-0.013; P = .02) higher average test scores in elementary and middle school, 2.8% (95% CI, 0.4-5.2; P = .02) higher probability of being gifted, and 3.1% (95% CI, 0.0-6.1; P = .05) reduced probability of poor cognitive outcomes compared with full-term infants. These cognitive benefits appeared strongest for children with disadvantaged family background characteristics. Late-term infants were also 2.1% (95% CI, −0.3 to 4.5; P = .08) more likely to be physically impaired.

Conclusions and Relevance: There appears to be a tradeoff between cognitive and physical outcomes associated with late-term gestation. Children born late-term performed better on 3 measures of school-based cognitive functioning but worse on 1 measure of physical functioning relative to children born full term. Our findings provide longer-run information for expectant parents and physicians who are considering delivery at full term vs late term. These findings are most relevant to uncomplicated, low-risk pregnancies.

SOURCE

Thursday, June 9, 2016


How to study IQ when you are not studying IQ

The article below is a significant advance.  The authors bypass IQ tests and go straight to the genes behind it.  They show that a particular set of genes can give you the same sort of correlates as you get with IQ tests.  Once again smart people are shown to be advantaged in all sorts of ways. 

The work is still at an early stage, however, as the correlations were much weaker than are found with IQ tests, indicating that only some of the relevant genes have so far been found and suggesting that some of the genes used were statistical "noise".   

There are by now a few comments about the study online, all of which are remarkably tight-assed.  They do their best to play  the findings down.  Put in the context of previous IQ studies, however, the findings are powerfully confirmatory of the pervasive importance of IQ -- vastly unpopular though that fact may be

The final sentence below is sheer nonsense -- added for the sake of political correctness only.



The Genetics of Success: How Single-Nucleotide Polymorphisms Associated With Educational Attainment Relate to Life-Course Development

Daniel W. Belsky et al.

Abstract

A previous genome-wide association study (GWAS) of more than 100,000 individuals identified molecular-genetic predictors of educational attainment. We undertook in-depth life-course investigation of the polygenic score derived from this GWAS using the four-decade Dunedin Study (N = 918). There were five main findings. First, polygenic scores predicted adult economic outcomes even after accounting for educational attainments. Second, genes and environments were correlated: Children with higher polygenic scores were born into better-off homes. Third, children’s polygenic scores predicted their adult outcomes even when analyses accounted for their social-class origins; social-mobility analysis showed that children with higher polygenic scores were more upwardly mobile than children with lower scores. Fourth, polygenic scores predicted behavior across the life course, from early acquisition of speech and reading skills through geographic mobility and mate choice and on to financial planning for retirement. Fifth, polygenic-score associations were mediated by psychological characteristics, including intelligence, self-control, and interpersonal skill. Effect sizes were small. Factors connecting DNA sequence with life outcomes may provide targets for interventions to promote population-wide positive development.


Psychological Science June 1, 2016.  doi: 10.1177/0956797616643070

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


There is still good social and economic upward mobility in America

Jeff Jacoby's argument below is both a cheery one and mostly right. He seems unaware, however, that the Italian study he mentions has a large predecessor in the work of Gregory Clark, who also finds that wealth is to a significant extent dynastic.

Clark's findings that SOME lineages stay wealthy is an interesting one.  And he explains it well.  He says (to simplify a little) that what is inherited is not wealth but IQ.  As Charles Murray showed some years back, smarter people tend to be richer and tend to marry other smart people.  So their descendants stay smart and smart people are mostly smart about money too.

But Clark's findings do not in fact diminish any of the points Jacoby makes.  Dynasties of wealth do exist but most people's wealth or poverty is not dynastic



TWO RESEARCHERS AT the Bank of Italy have documented something remarkable about Florence, the gorgeous Tuscan capital where the Medicis ruled and the Renaissance was born: The city’s wealthiest residents today are descended from its wealthiest families six centuries ago.

As The Wall Street Journal reported this month, economists Guglielmo Barone and Sauro Mocetti looked at tax records compiled in Florence in 1427 alongside municipal tax data from 2011. “Because Italian surnames are highly regional and distinctive,” the Journal explained, “they could compare the income of families with a certain surname today, to those with the same surname in 1427.” What they found was that the wealthiest names in 21st-century Florence belong to families that were near the top of the socioeconomic hierarchy in 15th-century Florence — those who were lawyers, or who belonged to the wool, silk, and shoemaker guilds.

Barone and Mocetti did not identify the actual families listed in the Florentine tax rolls, but they note that about 900 of the surnames are still used in Florence by some 52,000 taxpayers. Not all of them are descended from those who bore those names in 1427, of course. And the new study appears to focus primarily on correlations among the very highest and lowest income-earners, not on the majority in between. Over the course of six centuries, the authors note, Florence has undergone “huge political, demographic, and economic upheavals,” and they acknowledge that intergenerational mobility is higher in Italy today than was the case before the 20th century.

Yet even with all those caveats, the persistence of economic and social status across 600 years of Florentine history is eye-opening. And it helps explain what impelled myriads of Italians to uproot their lives and relocate to new homes — especially the 5 million people who immigrated to the United States between 1876 and 1930.

Critics have been lamenting the death of the American Dream for decades, but the US remains what it has always been: a land of opportunity where neither poverty nor wealth is immutable, and no one’s station in life is fixed at birth. Politicians whip up economic envy; activists stoke resentment at a “rigged” system. And yet economic mobility is alive and well in America, which is why so many foreigners still stream to our shores.

Ample evidence bears this out, much of it gathered in long-term studies that track the earnings of large blocs of Americans over many years.

In 2012, the Pew Charitable Trusts published one such study, appropriately titled “Pursuing the American Dream.” Drawing on longitudinal data spanning four decades, Pew was able to show that the vast majority of Americans have higher family incomes than their parents did. Among US citizens who were born into families at the lowest rung of the economic ladder — the bottom one-fifth of income-earners — a hefty 57 percent had moved into a higher quintile by adulthood. In fact, 4 percent had risen all the way to the highest quintile. Over the same period, 8 percent of those born into the highest income category had dropped all the way to the bottom.

For a different examination into economic mobility, analysts at the Treasury Department studied 84 million federal returns of taxpayers who had taxable income in both 1996 and 2005. They, too, found that “roughly half of taxpayers who began in the bottom income quintile moved up to a higher income group.” For two-thirds of all taxpayers, real incomes had increased. And — repudiating the frequent lament that upward mobility is vanishing from American life — the Treasury study concluded that the “degree of mobility among income groups [was] unchanged from the prior decade.”

The 25th great-grandsons of medieval Florentine shoemakers may still be riding high, but things don’t work that way in America. Here, riches-to-rags stories are not uncommon. When Bhashkar Mazumder, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, examined the earnings of thousands of men born between 1963 and 1968, he discovered that 17 percent of those whose fathers were in the top 10th of the income scale had dropped to the bottom third by the time they were in their late 20s or early 30s. Movement between income groups over the course of a lifetime is the norm for most Americans. The rich often get richer, but plenty of them get poorer, too. Though the top 1 percent makes a popular target, it’s actually a group no one stays in for very long. On the other hand, it’s a group that 11 percent of Americans will reach at some point during their working lives.

Affluence in America is dynamic, and our economic system is biased toward success. But bias isn’t a guarantee. Mobility — up and down — depends to a great degree on the choices that people make for themselves. Individuals who finish high school, marry before having children, don’t engage in criminal activity, and work diligently have a very high likelihood of achieving success. Those who don’t, don’t.

Of course, there are impediments to mobility that are beyond the control of any individual, and that are most likely to hurt those who start out in America’s poorest precincts. Broken public schools, for example. The normalization of single-parent households. Too-easy access to welfare benefits. Counterproductive mandates, like minimum-wage laws and stifling licensing rules. Would that our political demagogues and professional populists put as much effort into dismantling those barriers as they do into demonizing the rich and yapping about inequality.

Yappers notwithstanding, the American Dream is far from dead. This isn’t Florence. No one is locked out of economic success today because of their ancestors’ status long ago. America remains the land of opportunity. Make the most of it.

SOURCE

Monday, May 30, 2016



Female computer science professor blasts the sexist geeks she says show 'staggering' bias against women

If there is prejudice against women in computing, it is really POSTjudice -- as women are rarely good at it and it shows.  I am myself a computer programmer -- as is  my son -- and I have taught it at university level. In my observation only the top 2% in IQ can do the harder types of programming.  I still use FORTRAN and my son uses C#.  Many people find such languages hard but for us they are a doddle.

And because the IQ distribution among females is leptokurtic, there are many fewer women than men in that IQ range. I used to run Sydney MENSA for a number of years and it was notable how few female applicants passed the test.  I have met some very good female programmers.  It was a woman -- Gail Sonkkila -- who taught me FORTRAN.  But they are necessarily rare, given their IQ distribution

So Uschi below may be a good feminist but she is no social scientist

UPDATE:  Just to prove I am not a Dodo, I should perhaps mention that my son is NOT a computer programmer.  He is a "software engineer".  But he is a good one.  Recently his firm wanted to import some hardware from China.  But it needed programming.  So they sent their CIO over there to solve that -- accompanied by their hotshot "engineer" -- my son J.  He succeeded. He can of course code with great facility but what he really has to offer is problem-solving ability -- aka IQ




Sexist geeks who built a prototype of an 'enhanced human' which was entirely male have been lambasted by one of Britain's leading computer scientists.

Ursula Martin, a professor of computer science at Oxford University, said it was a symptom of the 'staggering sexism' in the industry.

She said there was still an anti-female bias and conjured up a picture of male academics like the characters of Sheldon Cooper and Rajesh Koothrappali in The Big Bang Theory, who struggled to engage with women or understand the female viewpoint.

The Times reported that Prof Martin told an audience at the Hay Festival she was shocked to discover some of the attitudes of male computer scientists when she visited the Microsoft research laboratory in Cambridge this week.

She said: 'I was absolutely staggered at the sexism on show.'

Prof Martin said there was a symposium on artificial intelligence and a presentation was given about the 'vision of what an enhanced human would be'.

Prof Martin pointed out the absence of female attributes in the new, advanced human to the person who made the presentation and he had simply responded: 'I suppose'.

A Microsoft spokesman told Mail Online: 'At the Artificial Intelligence Symposium held at Microsoft Research in Cambridge on May 26, there were many external speakers from across academia.

'Contrary to some media reports, the only Microsoft employees who presented at the symposium were women. 'Microsoft is committed through a range of programs such as Make What’s Next to increase the number of women in Computer Science.'

Prof Martin was at the Hay Festival to discuss the contribution to science of Ada Lovelace, a 19th century visionary who foresaw the existence of computers.

SOURCE

Monday, April 18, 2016



Are high IQ people socially inept?

Bruce Charlton has a long article (excerpted below) which says that they are.  It is of course a common stereotype but Charlton gives reasoning and references to back up his claim.  Going right back to the studies of Terman in the 1920's, however, research has tended to show that high IQ people are in fact socially more successful, so there is a conflict there.  I am not familiar with all the references Charlton uses but on the issues I am familiar with, I think every claim Charlton makes has been reasonably disputed -- his claim that religious people and conservatives are dumb, for instance, so I doubt that further reading would take me far.

So I think it might be useful for me to offer some thoughts that could explain what underlies Charlton's impressions.

I think that he is basically confusing high IQ people and academics -- or maybe also people with high academic qualifications.  But academics are only one subset of high IQ people -- and probably the least generally competent subset.  There's not much money in academe so really bright people tend to look more to the world of business -- with Bill Gates being the icon of that.  And there are some high IQ people who are not ambitious at all -- becoming butchers, mechanics etc.

One thing we can learn from academics, however, is the nature of eccentricity. Academics are of course notoriously eccentric.  So why is that?  It is mainly that their high IQ causes them to see the world differently from others.  What seems strange and inexplicable behavior to mainstream man actually seems perfectly logical and reasonable to someone whose vision encompasses far more of what is going on in the world.  The high IQ person sees many more influences bearing on a given decision so must sometimes come to decisions that perplex those who have not taken so much into account.

High IQ is however a solver of almost all human problems so the non-academic high IQ person will see why people are coming to what he sees as wrong or sub-optimal decisions and will deal with that in some way  -- taking time to explain himself, pretending to go along with the herd or some other strategy.  So the non-academic high IQ person will be much less likely to be seen as strange.

But let me reiterate that High IQ helps solve of ALL problems so it can even generate social skills or at least an approximation to social skills.  The high IQ person should in fact be socially insightful rather than socially inept.

Anecdotes prove nothing but they can be enlightening nonetheless -- so let me describe briefly a high IQ lady I know.  She is one of the most popular people I have ever met.  Faces light up all around the room when she walks in.  How come?  Because she uses her brain to take an interest in other people. Because she understands them, she talks to them in terms of what interests them.  So people find her a very sympathetic person and like her for it.  She uses her IQ to smooth social interactions and does very well at it.  Almost anyone she meets wants her for a friend. She did at one time gain considerable academic distinction but did not persevere with it.  She fell in love with an English poetry academic instead.  What a fine woman!

There are many uses for a good brain and acquiring and using social skills is one of them

Another woman I have known since she was a child has made an unending string of good decisions in her life that resulted in her being very highly paid at one stage.  But far from wanting a career, she just wanted a calm and peaceful life so retired very early to a green and pleasant place in the country and now has a big garden that feeds her and her family plus a sheep paddock that yields sheepmeat from time to time.  She lives the sort of life that greenies (and urbanites generally) tend to idealize.  But she would never show up on any list of anything much, let alone a list of high IQ people -- and that is exactly how she likes it. So there are many ways of using a good brain.

And the way academics use their brain is to focus on highly abstract things.  And academe is highly competitive.  So that focus has to be severe.  Taking an interest in people is just not a priority.  So people see them doing things that they don't understand and dismiss them as eccentric.  But the academic doesn't care.  He uses his brain in a way that pleases him and notices people only minimally.

A rather striking example of academic specialization is that it seems very rare for someone to be successful in both academe and in business.  Aside from myself, I know of only one other -- and he ended up in jail.  Because of the general usefulness of high IQ one might have expected that academics would be good in business too.  So it could well be that the high IQ people who are attracted to a life in academe are precisely those high IQ people who have inadequate personalities or who possess some other social limitation or emotional handicap.

So why do high IQ people tend to reproduce less? A glib answer would be that reproduction uses other organs than the brain but there does seem to be a rather deplorable effect there.  A lot of the problem lies with the educational system.  Because they are good at it, high IQ people mostly stay longer in education than others.  And a modern education has even managed to convince some of its victims that having children is bad for the environment etc. And there is no doubt that the emphases on feminism and homosexuality in a modern college education also militate against reproduction.  So it seems unlikely that reduced reproduction is an effect of high IQ per se.

It could also be argued that although they have fewer children, high IQ people invest more in them -- so gaining quality at the expense of quantity.  And those who know the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) will know that it is not always quantity that wins the day.  Would you rather have your descendant  being the army officer directing operations from the rear or would you rather him being cannon fodder in the front lines?  Genetic survival can be more than numbers



On the whole, and all else being equal, in modern societies the higher a person’s general intelligence (as measured by the intelligence quotient or IQ), the better will be life for that person; since higher intelligence leads (among other benefits) to higher social status and salary, longer life expectancy and better health. However, at the same time, it has been recognized for more than a century that increasing IQ is biologically-maladaptive because there is an inverse relationship between IQ and fertility. Under modern conditions, therefore, high intelligence is fitness-reducing.

In the course of exploring this modern divergence between social-adaptation and biological-adaptation, Satoshi Kanazawa has made the insightful observation that a high level of general intelligence is mainly useful in dealing with life problems which are an evolutionary novelty. By contrast, performance in solving problems which were a normal part of human life in the ancestral hunter–gatherer era may not be helped (or may indeed be hindered) by higher IQ.

As examples of how IQ may help with evolutionary novelties, it has been abundantly-demonstrated that increasing measures of IQ are strongly and positively correlated with a wide range of abilities which require abstract reasoning and rapid learning of new knowledge and skills; such as educational outcomes, and abilities at most complex modern jobs. Science and mathematics are classic examples of problem-solving activities that arose only recently in human evolutionary history and in which differential ability is very strongly predicted by relative general intelligence.

However, there are also many human tasks which our human ancestors did encounter repeatedly and over manifold generations, and natural selection has often produced ‘instinctive’, spontaneous ways of dealing with these. Since humans are social primates, one major such category is social problems, which have to do with understanding, predicting and manipulating the behaviours of other human beings. Being able to behave adaptively in dealing with these basic human situations is what I will term having ‘common sense’.

Kanazawa’s idea is that there is therefore a contrast between recurring, mainly social problems which affected fitness for our ancestors and for which all normal humans have evolved behavioural responses; and problems which are an evolutionary novelty but which have a major impact on individual functioning in the context of modern societies. When a problem is an evolutionary novelty, individual differences in general intelligence make a big difference to each individual’s abilities to analyze the problem, and learn to how solve it. So, the idea is that having a high IQ would predict a better ability in understanding and dealing with new problems; but higher IQ would not increase the level of a person’s common sense ability to deal with social situations.

IQ not just an ability, but also a disposition

Although general intelligence is usually conceptualized as differences in cognitive ability, IQ is not just about ability but also has personality implications.

For example, in some populations there is a positive correlation between IQ and the personality trait of Openness to experience (‘Openness’); a positive correlation with ‘enlightened’ or progressive values of a broadly socialist and libertarian type; and a negative correlation with religiousness.

So, the greater cognitive ability of higher IQ is also accompanied by a somewhat distinctive high IQ personality type. My suggested explanation for this association is that an increasing level of IQ brings with it an increased tendency to use general intelligence in problem-solving; i.e. to over-ride those instinctive and spontaneous forms of evolved behaviour which could be termed common sense.

The over-use of abstract reasoning may be most obvious in the social domain, where normal humans are richly equipped with evolved psychological mechanisms both for here-and-now interactions (e.g. rapidly reading emotions from facial expression, gesture and posture, and speech intonation) and for ‘strategic’ modelling of social interactions to understand predict and manipulate the behaviour of others. Social strategies deploy inferred knowledge about the dispositions, motivations and intentions of others. When the most intelligent people over-ride the social intelligence systems and apply generic, abstract and systematic reasoning of the kind which is enhanced among higher IQ people, they are ignoring an ‘expert system’ in favour of a non-expert system.

In suggesting that the most intelligent people tend to use IQ to over-ride common sense I am unsure of the extent to which this is due to a deficit in the social reasoning ability, perhaps due to a trade-off between cognitive abilities – as suggested by Baron-Cohen’s conceptualization of Asperger’s syndrome, including the male- versus female-type of systematizing/empathizing brain. Or alternatively it could be more of an habitual tendency to over-use abstract analysis, that might (in principle) be overcome by effort or with training. Observing the apparent universality of ‘Silly Clevers’ in modernizing societies, I suspect that a higher IQ bias towards over-utilizing abstract reasoning would probably turn-out to be innate and relatively stable.

Indeed, I suggest that higher levels of the personality trait of Openness in higher IQ people may the flip-side of this over-use of abstraction. I regard Openness as the result of deploying abstract analysis for social problems to yield unstable and unpredictable results, when innate social intelligence would tend to yield predictable and stable results. This might plausibly underlie the tendency of the most intelligent people in modernizing societies to hold ‘left-wing’ political views.

I would argue that neophilia (or novelty-seeking) is a driving attribute of the personality trait of Openness; and a disposition common in adolescents and immature adults who display what I have termed ‘psychological neoteny’. When problems are analyzed using common sense ‘instincts’ the evaluative process would be expected to lead to the same answers in all normal humans, and these answers are likely to be stable over time. But when higher IQ people ignore or over-ride common sense, they generate a variety of uncommon ideas. Since these ideas are only feebly-, or wholly un-, supported by emotions; they are held more weakly than common sense ideas, and so are more likely to change over time.

For instance, a group of less intelligent people using instinctive social intelligence to analyze a social situation will presumably reach the same traditional conclusion as everyone else and this conclusion will not change with time; while a more intelligent group might by contrast use abstract analysis and generate a wider range of novel and less-compelling solutions. This behaviour appears as if motivated by novelty-seeking.

SOURCE

Tuesday, April 5, 2016



Religion and intelligence

Edward Dutton has kindly just sent me a PDF of his 2014 book under the title above.  It is a very comprehensive and research-based treatment of its topic.  And I will mention his most striking finding straight away:  Churchgoers are just as intelligent as atheists.

The big problem with research in the area is defining religion.  There are all sorts of religions.  A major religion these days is "Belief in God only".  Does that count for anything? And what about Leftism?  It has many of the characteristics of a religon. Should it be included? So we cannot be too surprised to note that the various research studies show no uniform definition of religion. 

And even people of the same religion may have very different beliefs.  A Catholic who attends mass regularly will usually have much different beliefs than one who has not been to mass for years.  So direction of belief and strength of belief need to be sorted out too.

I can think of some solutions to those problems but none of the studies so far have addressed them adequately, as far as I can see.  But, out of what's available, the best indicator of religious belief would seem to be church attendance, or "religious practice" more broadly.  It too does of course have its weaknesses.  It is very well known that some people attend church for social rather than religious reasons.  They may even go just for the coffee and cake afterwards.  But there can surely be very few church attenders who are totally non-religious.  And when we think of religious people, it is surely churchgoers whom we are most likely to have in mind.

Table 7.2 on p. 180ff of Dutton's book gives the correlations between churchgoing and IQ.  Most are very low indeed and all but one are less than .20.  And a correlation of .20 reflects only 4% common variance between the two factors, so is negligible.

As it happens, the correlation with religious belief that Dutton tabulates are also low, though not as low as the correlations with religious practice.  The majority are in fact less than .20.

So the conclusion has to be that IQ is unimportant as an explanation of religious belief.

And if someone wants to get Marxist with me and say that I draw that conclusion only because I am myself religious, I reiterate  what I have often said before:  I am the most utter and  complete atheist.

Monday, March 28, 2016



Human religions

There is a site of the above name maintained by Englishman Vexen Crabtree, who says he is a Satanist.  He has slender academic qualifications but he seems to have read widely.   Curiously enough, however, he seems dismissive of religion generally.  Only the small band of Satanists have the truth, apparently.

As an atheist myself I find his Satanism amusing but I was interested to see what he has up about religion and IQ.  It is commonly asserted that religious people are a bit dim and he accepts that uncritically.  The only actual evidence he quotes, however is as follows:

[Paul Bell in Mensa Magazine, 2002, reviewed all studies taken of religion and IQ. He concluded:]

"Of 43 studies carried out since 1927 on the relationship between religious belief and one's intelligence and/or educational level, all but four found an inverse connection. That is, the higher one's intelligence or education level, the less one is likely to be religious or hold "beliefs" of any kind."


As I have pointed out previously, however, such studies are usually poorly sampled and usually report only slight effects.  Religious people are less frequent among high IQ people but not by much.  And the whole effect could be artifactual:  High IQ people get on better within higher education so almost certainly get more of it.  But universities are places where religion is skeptically viewed so  high IQ people will get more exposure to anti-religious messages.  And greater exposure to anti-religious messages would be very likely to undermine religious belief to some extent.  So it could be that the level of university exposure accounts wholly for the slightly smaller number of religious people in a high IQ population.

That could be tested fairly easily by assessing  religion and IQ BEFORE the people got into university.

In short, I doubt that IQ has any influence on whether you are religious or not.  It is probably a surprise to most of my fellow atheists but religious people think THEY are stupid.  You have to be pretty dim to think creation was a spontaneous, uncaused event, according to religious people.

There is what I think is good evidence for no association between religion and IQ here