Sunday, November 1, 2009

people who hold views that contradict mine are stupid, part two

Although I was raised without any religion at all, I went through an earnest (but in retrospect hilarious) nine month period of piety at age 11. I read the New Testament for 30 minutes every night before bed, went to church every Sunday by myself, and spent an entire Easter Sunday on my knees praying. Older people from my church would come over to discuss God and pay visits of Christian fellowship. This weirded my mother out. I have one especially strong photograph-like memory of bursting in tears when they came over one day with yellow flowers. I was very sensitive at 11. But that was a long time ago.

Aside from that short phase, I've never* had any attraction to religious belief. It just seems so bizarre to me that otherwise intelligent people can believe there is a man in the sky who controls things. And this leads them to kill each other, wake up early on Sunday mornings, wear funny necklaces, talk to themselves, and not do fun things like have sex and eat certain delicious foods.

So I was interested in this second research article that links things-I-disagree-with and low intelligence:
Average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 nations. Of course, you will take issue with the methodology, and I am personally amazed that countries can have an average IQ, but please read the whole thing before you lodge a complaint.




*except for one week I spent at an ashram when I was 18. Or it was supposed to be one week. After 3 days I couldn't stop crying hysterically and had to leave. This might make you think that I cry a lot (which is true, or (now that I'm thinking about it) used to be true. I stopped my crying habit a few months ago, unintentionally.) but really I think it was the sleep deprivation and weird food combined with endless hours of chanting (chanting turns out to be exhausting). Another funny consequence of that visit: you were supposed to repeat a mantra ("om nama shaviyah") to yourself constantly when you were there. I must have said it 1000s of times in those three days. For the next few years, I would sometimes wake up and find myself saying it in my sleep.

27 comments:

Ben said...

lol!

Watching "Boston Legal" whilst reading your blog is so cool.

BPF

ChargingKing said...

I wonder if there are any statistics on people that must prove to themselves that people whom disagree with them are stupid and intelligence?

= p

Brian Lafferty said...

Religious faith need not embrace a male god, female god or any god.

Religious faith can be a simple and non-creedal as Love beyond one's self.

Robert Nunnally said...

I am a theist, but respect everyone's right to their own way of looking at matters of faith/skepticism.

One UK study suggested that people of faith are happier, and that
people uncertain of the answer
are of higher IQ than those certain of God or certain of God's non-existence:

http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2009/01/atheists-worry-more-than-theists-do-and.html

Anonymous said...

I think the IQ rates correlate more to education and development thus it is not surprising. Also, IQ is not really a sound measurement. Too many wildly divergent factors go into the actual testing of it such as the mood of the test subject (very important. My IQ nosedives 30 points to about 140 something when I am irritated or depressed. Granted I am not the most mentally stable person in the world), and whether the person has been educated (they ask math problems. Why? I haven't done complex math problems since high school. There is no fucking way I am going to remember how to do them. Should I really have to study for a ****ing IQ test?) Also, I think most aspects measured through the test are not even correlated. Does spacial reasoning correlate to vocabulary? Also what about autistic/Aspergian savants like Mozart? Composing operas as a toddler but never formally educated outside of what his father taught him. Would would happen if researchers went back in time in measured him? Granted he would probably show up for the test hungover and blow it off.

Anonymous said...

Wow you too? For instance my IQ drops like 60 points to 150 when I haven't had breakfast.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, well my IQ raised 31.4159 points after I voted for Obama!

oops, wrong pretentious thread...

es_trick said...

I looked at the data, and have to say that it looks like an extremely poorly done "study."

The correlation that the "researchers" found between national rates of stated disbelief in a god and national IQ averages was 0.597. But it's a spurious correlation, and they certainly did not establish a causal link between the two factors.

It's rather shocking to see that the "national IQ's" are below 85 for every single African country listed. And there's only one Sub-Saharan country shown that's even above 76. A calculation of the 39 African countries' IQ and atheist measures yields a negative correlation of -0.294! As Anon 10:09 suggested, you'll get much stronger results if you correlate IQ score averages with literacy rates or per capita GDP.

Looking at another region of the world, Latin America, the correlation for the 22 countries listed in this study is a very, very weak 0.166. It's quite telling that the four countries with the highest "national IQ's" in this group also have the highest per capita GDP, while the country with the lowest GDP also ranks at the bottom of the national IQ list!

Moving on to the group of countries in Western Europe plus Canada, the US, Australia & New Zealand, you once again get a very weak correlation of 0.272.

Given that IQ tests were invented and developed in the West, and most often given in these countries as well, one would expect the cultural bias which is inherently built into IQ tests to have the least impact on test takers in these countries. And given the wide range of rates of atheism in this group of countries (unlike Africa where Atheism rates have a very narrow range of half a percent to 5%) there is the greatest opportunity to test the hypothesis of whether religiosity and atheism correlate with IQ here. But we can see here that Sweden, which has the highest rate of atheism at 64%, averages only one point higher on the IQ scale at 99 than the US, which has one of the lowest rates of atheism among countries in this group.

Finally, the top five countries on the “national IQ list are all in East Asia. And once again, there is absolutely no correlation between the high IQ averages reported in these countries and the rate of atheism in this region of the world. Japan has the highest rate of atheism here at 65%, but ranks lower in average IQ than Singapore and South Korea, which have lower rates of atheism, 13% and 30% respectively.

It’s amazing that a “study” as shoddy this could even get published.

Anonymous said...

I just watched 'Race and Intelligence: Science's Last Taboo' which had similar figures implying that blacks were less intelligent than whites. The conclusion of the film was that the IQ test does a better job of measuring "one's ability to adapt to modernity."

Of course, its typical for people to take note of such things when it's convenient for them and ignore them when it is not.

I do find that agnostics would average as the most intelligent group I have met. Atheists are typically the blind liberals who regurgitate someone else's ideas without bothering to give any thought themselves, much like many of the fanatical deists they so despise. Interestingly, the most intelligent individuals that I have met were religious.

katar said...

Countries that have a Burger King franchise will also have a higher average IQ than those countries that lack a Burger King. Clearly there is a special ingredient in the Whopper. And the average life span of orchestra conductors is vastly longer than that of non-conductors. And 90 percent of individuals who die in a car wreck had eaten a pickle during the week before the accident.

Liz, these studies are FOOLISH. I could pick them apart but there is no point. There are smart people on both sides: Rawls and Nozig, Scalia and Ginsburg... Wouldn't you rather associate with a smart person on the "other side" than a dumbass who agrees with you?

Anonymous said...

Here's my two cents worth... I've gone to church all my life (we're Lutherans, if that means anything to you). My observation is that there really isn't much difference between believers and non-believers. Look, when I was little, I went to church becasue that's what my family did. As a young man, I went because there were lots of pretty girls there. I ended up marrying the prettiest one. We now take our children there. The community bonds thus formed help reinforce the lessons we try to pass on: don't do drugs, be nice, honor thy mother and father, etc. We don't exactly sit around and discuss theological doctrine all day long. In fact, I get into more of those kinds of discussions with my atheist and agnostic friends, who raise exactly the same questions, and the same doubts that the pastor does. But look who's missing out on the potluck suppers, the softball games, bridge night (sorry, no chess night), Easter and Xmas festivities, and so on.

Ivan said...

That was a great piece of writing. I enjoyed reading it.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

thanks!!

Anonymous said...

You are troubled

Anonymous said...

Who isn't?

es_trick said...

Here's a recent take on what IQ tests measure, and what their short comings are from New Scientist

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427321.000-clever-fools-why-a-high-iq-doesnt-mean-youre-smart.html?full=true

Liquid Egg Product said...

Eggs don't believe in God, as if we needed more evidence eggs are smarter than humans.

Anonymous said...

Anon@2:37PM, Nov. 2 wrote "You are troubled.

Anon@5:52PM, Nov. 2 wrote "Who isn't?"

Answer: Alfred E. 'What me worry?' Neumann

ben daswani said...

I wouldn't really compare this post to your one about conservatism. political fundamentals are strictly qualitative. I mean, it's absurd/impossible to say "socialised medicine is definitively good/bad". a) it's a matter of opinion b) public opinions on basically every pertinent matter have changed drastically throughout history and to say "well now we FINALLY know what the 'correct' form of government is" (or whatever) is the height of short-sighted naive audacity

existence of a being, on the other hand, is quantitative. since there is absolutely no evidence that any "god" exists, anyone who believes that a "god" does exist is either a) idiotic b) insane c) both. this is undeniable by any rational person

Anonymous said...

ben d,

What if God exists and is quantifiable, but we just have not yet developed the applicable measurement technology? Then who is, in your own words, a)idiotic, b) insane, and c)undeniably irrational?

Anonymous said...

You are troubled also.

Anonymous said...

Anon@11:15 AM: Please explain yourself.

Anonymous said...

2:37 p.m., 5:52 p.m., and 11:15 a.m. is the most troubled of all. At least the others stepped forward with actual opinions instead of trolling.

Anonymous said...

You are still troubled

Anonymous said...

You are still most troubled of all.

Anonymous said...

You are troubled

Anonymous said...

Not.