Higher IQ ~ more atheism internationally

God makes you stupid, researchers claim:

Lynn and his two co-authors argue that average IQ is an excellent predictor of what proportion of the population are true believers, across 137 countries. They also cite surveys of the US Academy of Sciences and UK Royal Academy showing single-digit rates of religious belief among academics.

Well, I actually blogged this relationship years ago (December 2003 actually). It jumps out at you pretty clearly if you know the two traits and their international trends. I think that the causal factors which underly the relationship need to be qualified carefully; I do not believe that it is just high IQ leading to some inevitable skepticism. I think a psychological phenomenon such as religious belief should be modeled as a quantitative trait subject to a norm of reaction. So of late I've become more interested in the correlations of these traits which vary within a culture. I'm especially interested in the ~0.50 heritability that Thomas Bouchard found among twins separated at birth in regards to religious intensity....

I've placed the three tables I found in a pre-press form of the paper that is circulating below the fold....

Table 1. Decline in percentage holding religious belief, with age (Francis,1989)

Age N Boys Girls
5-6 400 87.9 96.0
11-12 400 79.6 84.1
15-16 400 55.7 70.4

Table 2. Declining belief Correlates with Age (sd =15.6)(Turner,1980)

Age N Belief (%) R: Non-belief x IQ
12 50   69.54   0.183
13 50   66.10   0.110
14 50   59.86 -0.113
15 50   57.94 -0.354*

* significant at p<.01 

Table 3. Correlations between the National IQs and Religious Disbelief

IQs N.Countries Non-Believers Range Non-Believers R: Non-belief x IQ
64-108  137  10.69%  <1% to 81% +0.60
64-86   69   1.95%  <1% to 40%  +0.16
87-108   68   16.99%  <1% to 81%  +0.54
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When people think that if they convert to atheism they will get a stats boost... it would be funny.

As it is, I'm wondering if companies and schools would track said correlation. After all, insurance companies are obsessive about insuring costs are low.

By Samuel Skinner (not verified) on 12 Jun 2008 #permalink

As it is, I'm wondering if companies and schools would track said correlation. After all, insurance companies are obsessive about insuring costs are low.

hm. well, the r-squared isn't THAT high. i assume that GPA is a better correlate, and i know insurance companies do use that for college students for auto and stuff....

Is that the same Richard Lynn of race and IQ? That guy is totally discredited, no matter he now spouses something I think it's true. How can someone claim that any human group has overall an IQ of deeply retarded, when we know some (trained) chimps have non-verbal scores of 80 or so. It's pathetic!

Besides, I'm pretty sure that most countries have not actualized "national IQ" stats anyhow. It's not, you know, something administrations, or even univrsities, invest their money in finding out. They are just interested in GNP and stuff like that. So how do you or Lynn know which is the average IQ of say Botswana (preferably something that is of this century, of course)?

Said that, I do think IQ and skepticism/critical thought (atheism included) are related, of course. But I don't think these transnational or trans-ethnic studies have the least validity. I want to check with microscope the "matherials and methods" section, sincerely.

Luis,

Richard Lynn is not discredited on GNXP!

For example:

http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2007/10/james-watson-tells-inconvenient-truth_…

Lynn is simply reporting the IQ facts in the literature, and the mass of research is that measured IQs are predictive of academic performance.

Maybe you need to read-up a bit more on the meaning of IQ? - it may not be what you think it is. Try Ian Deary - "Intelligence: a very short introduction"; excellent book from a top researcher and only takes a couple of hours to read.

But I don't think these transnational or trans-ethnic studies have the least validity.

What about when they corroborate each other? Still no validity?

"...Still it's spooky that the NEAP and its international counterpart show that Asians in America score just as well as Asians in Korea and Taiwan, and the SAT shows that english-first Asians, who are born in America score just as well in math [i.e. better than whites] as immigrant Asians..."

http://www.arthurhu.com/INDEX/aintell.htm

Yes, spooky!

Luis: Scientists may make statements that you desperately _wish_ are not based upon given data.

You cannot wish them away or whitewash them with a blanket of hate.

Stagnant entities are often given to fits of the wishy-washies. 8 ^ (

How can someone claim that any human group has overall an IQ of deeply retarded, when we know some (trained) chimps have non-verbal scores of 80 or so. It's pathetic!

It's quite possible, actually. Consider that the human IQ scores are based on both verbal and non-verbal performance, whereas you're comparing them (or rather, rejecting comparing them) with the non-verbal skills of chimps only.

Compare only the non-verbal skills and see how human groups measure up. Keep in mind that studied chimps may have better health care and nutrition than some human populations, too. Childhood deprivation and parasites can have a real impact.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 13 Jun 2008 #permalink

"How can someone claim that any human group has overall an IQ of deeply retarded, when we know some (trained) chimps have non-verbal scores of 80 or so. It's pathetic!"

Studies put the median African IQ at 75, which in mental age is 12. I had a paper route, babysat, and did algebra at that age. Show me a chimp that does any of that. From what I've read in several places, chimps are about at the level of a 2-year old human--a non-verbal IQ of 80 is the mental age of 13.

African IQs predict academic and job performance, the same as with whites. Studies show that low IQ whites are likely to have single-gene or chromosomal abnormalities, while black kids with the same IQs are functionally normal children, just slow learners. Poor nutrition, disease, etc., also appear to depress African IQs (from Vincent Sarich's book, Race (2004)--he is an emeritus professor of anthropology at Berkeley) .

Richard Lynn is not discredited on GNXP!

That certainly doesn't say much in favor of GNXP.

Lynn is simply reporting the IQ facts in the literature...

Lynn is financed by a racist foundation. The little I've looked upon those "facts" is that they are more dubious than the Bible. As I said, since decades, ago most countries don't make IQ stats nor keep track of this factor. Neither Lynn nor his obsolete and more than questionable sources have invested in actually testing samples people in their native languages. And, yes, the language in which an IQ test is made does affect the performance strongly, as it affects if you have some basic education or not (and of course malnutrition - but that would at least report a real issue).

Luis: Scientists may make statements that you desperately _wish_ are not based upon given data.

You cannot wish them away or whitewash them with a blanket of hate./

I know it's impossible to have correct and actualized IQ stats in all the planet. Would that be something the different governments or local educational institutions cared about and kept testing, they would have something to compare. But such stats simply don't exist in most cases and I am not aware that Lynn or his collaborators have ever travelled around the world testing populations. They are comparing apples and oranges.

It's quite possible, actually. Consider that the human IQ scores are based on both verbal and non-verbal performance, whereas you're comparing them (or rather, rejecting comparing them) with the non-verbal skills of chimps only.

IQ: 70-79 Borderline Mental Retardation
IQ: 50-69 Mild Mental Retardation

Are you telling me that many populations worldwide are plainly retarded? I can't understand how people like the !Kung, able to read perfectly into tracks, among other abilities, are mentally retarded.

You guys are not doing this properly. It's giving results that are contradictory with reality. If you believe that, you can begin believing in creationism as well.

Studies put the median African IQ at 75...

"Studies put" is as vague (and likely false) as "God says". Can you document that claim with something that is not financed by a branch of the KKK?

African IQs predict academic and job performance...

That is assuming they can ever reach to any academy beyond primary school - and primary school if they are quite lucky, anyhow.

In any case, all I see is a bunch of unsourced statements. Where are those IQ tests? Who makes them. Does a Baluba kid get a test in Kiluba or in French? Are they from any post-colonial date?

...

I could understand ethnic and even genetic variance in IQ if these would be inside normality (i.e. above 80) but what Lynn and all his cheerleaders claim is just way too abnormal to be taken at face value.

Additionally he is financed by racist organizations and nobody seems to know really which are his sources, his data, his materials and methods. Sounds like pseudoscience but it's creepy that people who claim to have a crutical and scientific mindset take such super-suspicious as "good science". Why is it good science? "Studies say" is not an answer, specially when the only one doing those "studies" is that Richard Lynn.

"Studies put" is as vague (and likely false) as God says".

Every point I made is drawn from Sarich (2004) pp. 225-232. You're criticizing my lack of sourcing when all you've devoted to this debate is vilification and assertion.

By Inductivist (not verified) on 15 Jun 2008 #permalink

Sarich?! When are you going to quote Goebbels?!

His colleague's words: "He is teaching controversial material and is doing it without scientific evidence, yet leaps to these radical conclusions. It's like he's been searching and searching and somehow has gotten confused."

"The evidence he has is either unknown or not yet published and may never get published..."

(from New York Times, Dec 23 1990)

So we go from lack of evidence to more lack of evidence. From a cotroversial racist to another controversial racist.

What's the difference from defending and teaching this junk to defending and teaching creationism? It's all prejudices and lack of (known) research.

I've been searching for a while and the only one who praises him is, guess who? Rushton, the president of the racist Pioneer Fund that finances Lynn's "research".

Review at PubMedCentral by M.R. Foster: Despite repeated assertions of their superior adherence to rigorous scientific standards, Sarich and Miele have written a book that is full of anecdotes and unsupported claims for genetic determinism and that has far fewer citations of peer-reviewed literature than do most popularizations.

Another random review notes that an argument of Sarich's racist faulty logic is that human races should be considered like bonobos (that he calls "pygmy chimpanzees") and chimpanzees. He doesn't seem to know that these are two different species separated by several million years of divergence, not like human types.

Present serious stuff or move on. There is absolutely no difference between teaching this racist junk and doing the same with creationism. Actually it's even worse probably, because it spreads error and confusion not about the dark past but about the present reality. It's exactly what Hitler and his minions did before the terrible events that shattered the early 20th century.

I will note that Australian aborigines score better than European-derived Australians on tests of visuospatial memory and processing. This is presumably due to the different demands of the environment and the quirks of their evolutionary history.

Did it never occur to you, Luis, that the sort of environmental pressures that led the !Kung to become experts at tracking might not have led to the development (either culturally or neurologically) of traits that IQ tests measure?

More importantly, did it never occur to you that they might not have developed mental traits which are critically important for living in a modern-style society?

All your jabbering about Hitler and Goebbels and cries of racism do not change the reality here: that different groups of humanity may differ not only in their acquired mental traits but their inherent neurological propensity for them, and that were one group is better, another must be worse.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 15 Jun 2008 #permalink

That should be 'where', btw. (sigh)

Possessiion advanced skill doesn't necessarily imply possession of basic skill, as my inability to post without typos demonstrates.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 15 Jun 2008 #permalink

Luis,

If you're interested in actually looking at what data is out there for international IQ scores, Steve Sailer has put up a useful table with information on the methodology of the tests contained in "IQ and the Wealth of Nations."

http://www.isteve.com/IQ_table.htm

I agree that skepticism is warranted in regard to tests performed in third-world countries. (I would add that expressions of skepticism generally don't include references to the KKK and Hitler.) But my experience has been that most people who cite Lynn *are* skeptical of the results coming out of Africa as representative of Africans' true IQ scores, mainly because they diverge from the results of (far more numerous) IQ tests performed among African-Americans in the United States. Lynn himself reports the results of IQ tests performed among African-Americans next to the results of IQ tests performed on native Africans in Race Differences in Intelligence. I don't have the book, but I would assume that his implication in doing so is that environmental conditions in Africa are resulting in artificially low IQ scores.

In other words, there is a difference between reporting what data is out there, and assuming that one subset of that data (i.e. the scores coming out of Africa) is in any way ideal.

It's dangerous to speak of 'Africa' as a single place, of course. It's also important to remember that the gene pool of 'African-Americans' isn't equivalent to any of the pools within Africa.

Since both environmental conditions and genetic heritage vary, we have no strong grounds for saying either is (or is not) responsible for the observed IQ differences.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 15 Jun 2008 #permalink

Did it never occur to you, Luis, that the sort of environmental pressures that led the !Kung to become experts at tracking might not have led to the development (either culturally or neurologically) of traits that IQ tests measure?

That is obviously just cultural aplications of the same intelligence: your ancestors and mine were doing the same a few thousand years ago. If IQ tests can't find intelligence in people who is so obviously smart, then they are wrong.

But there are, I understand, IQ tests that can reasonably overcome cultural and educational differences like those. The problem here is that actually there are no such test results for the !Kung (and many other ethnicities). It's a politically motivated hoax and you are swallowing it with incredible naivety.

Show me the raw data: what test, on what sample, in which date, which language, and, if such data exists at all (what I'm starting to doubt more and more) it should be fairly easy to show it's comparing apples and oranges. Do you think a classical Eurocentric test performed in a non-native language in 1930 is the same as a refined test performed in a native language in 1990? And that assuming those tests are actually there and it's not, as I suspect, another Piltdown Man.

In any case I don't think it's a genetic matter, at least not primarily. It may be cultural, nutritional or whatever you wish but hardly genetic only. Certainly Lynn's maps resemble too much the rates of literacy and stuff like that, that are not genetically caused but a direct product of public expenditure and other socio-economical factors.

If you're interested in actually looking at what data is out there for international IQ scores, Steve Sailer has put up a useful table with information on the methodology of the tests contained in "IQ and the Wealth of Nations."

Ok, thanks. I will look at it with more time but certainly a test made in 1933 and another in 1998 cannot be compared. The tests are wildly different and the language used is not mentioned. You almost always score lower when testing in non-native languages, just because you may not understand the question or recognize words so easily. It depends on the type of test, of course. I can't find any data for the Bushmen.

That is obviously just cultural aplications of the same intelligence: your ancestors and mine were doing the same a few thousand years ago.

Actually, it is highly unlikely that our respective ancestors lived the same way, with the same selection pressures, several thousand years ago.

If IQ tests can't find intelligence in people who is so obviously smart, then they are wrong.

You don't understand what IQ tests do, Luis. This ignorance wouldn't be a problem except that you keep making proclamations about what they are and what they should be.

Their purpose is not to seek out and display whatever competencies a person might have - their purpose is so measure a limited subset of cognitive capacity related to specific kinds of abstract thought. That's ALL they do.

It's a politically motivated hoax and you are swallowing it with incredible naivety.

You are an idiot and I will not stoop to addressing you again.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 15 Jun 2008 #permalink

It's dangerous to speak of 'Africa' as a single place, of course. It's also important to remember that the gene pool of 'African-Americans' isn't equivalent to any of the pools within Africa.

No, but African-Americans are pretty close to West Africans. Argentines have about as much non-white admixture as African-Americans have non-black admixture, yet they score on average (96) only 3 points below Spainards (99) and 5 points below Italians (102) (Spain and Italy being the principal European countries which contributed to the Argentine gene pool).

Conversely, African-Americans score around 85, whereas those in Sierra Leone score around 67, according to Lynn. That's an 18 point difference. I find it difficult to believe that white admixture is so potent that giving a West African 15% white blood will raise his IQ nearly 20 points. So I do think we have reason to believe that the test scores coming out of at least western Africa are not an accurate representation of the population's potential.

Poor Razib's thread has been hijacked, so I'll finish with a couple quick points and bring it back to the topic. Sarich is a first-class scholar from Berkeley who contributed a great deal to our knowledge of the age of our species. And calling a Jewish researcher Goebbles is funny.

And it is also funny how all this "Nazi" funded research has produced that findings that East Asians and Jews are smarter than white gentiles. "Prof. Lynn, here is a 100 grand--bring back evidence that whites are...mediocre."

At least Lynn has tons of data. Luis, like the cheap-shot IQ critics he cites, offer empty speculation, and any scientist knows that data trumps speculation. If the Nazis are coming, how come none of these critics has managed to show that African IQ is really 100? Loudmouthiness as a substitute for the hard work of data collection and analysis is embarassing.

Finally, using General Social Survey data, I've reported at my blog that, among Americans, agnostics and atheists have IQ averages several points above believers. We might very well expect a cross-national correlation between atheism and IQ. And Razib reports that we do, and that the correlation is impressive. If international IQ data is just BS as you suggest, why do we see a +0.6 correlation?

I find it difficult to believe that white admixture is so potent that giving a West African 15% white blood will raise his IQ nearly 20 points.

Agreed.

It would be very interesting to see how a population of infants with Western European genetics would fare, with the same pre- and post-natal environment as West Africa. I suspect their intellectual performance would be even worse than the current African average.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 15 Jun 2008 #permalink

@jimmy | June 16, 2008 12:24 AM

GENIUSES have the highest IQs they always beleive in a SPIRIT....

Please present your data.