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    Atheists And Liberals More "Intelligent"? Better Check Your Definitions...
    By Andrea Kuszewski | March 8th 2010 07:37 PM | 74 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Andrea

    Andrea is a Behavior Therapist and Consultant for children on the autism spectrum, residing in the state of FL; her background is in cognitive

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    In the past week or two, there have been several news stories and blogs (including here on SB) written in regards to a paper that came out this month titled, "Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent". It would be easy for the untrained eye to read such a headline and think, "Gee.... this was published in a peer reviewed journal, so this must really be something..." However, if you read through the paper in detail, and look at the longitudinal data methods used for the analysis, one begins to question the validity of such broad assumptions.

    I have run across other studies in the past which claim similar correlations between intelligence and atheism and political affiliation, so I was not at all shocked when I first read the title. What did shock me, however, was the nature of the arguments presented by Kanazawa in defense of his position. The problem with papers like this is, when the analysis of the data is so far from logical, it ends up threatening the validity of the entire data set used, even though the data itself may have been relevant and sound.

    The information he used for the basis of his analysis came from two sources. They are publicly available data sets, one from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), and the other from the General Social Surveys (GSS). While I have a few issues with their testing measures (mainly to determine intelligence), those problems are nothing compared to the gross misinterpretations of the data and the absurd theories presented by Kanazawa.

    First of all, the measure used to determine intelligence in the Add Health study is a vocabulary test. Yes, I know vocabulary tests correlate with general intelligence, but it is a correlation, not a true measure of general intelligence. It is a measure of crystallized intelligence, or a sum of the learned knowledge at any given point in time. A true measure of IQ should not be based on how many math courses you have taken, or how many works of literature you have read, or how many vocabulary words you have memorized prior to the examination. The GSS used a Picture-Word Vocabulary Test as their measure of IQ, which is just as bad.

    Anyone who has done any amount of research in the field of intelligence knows that the correlations of individual skill tests to overall ability only hold up for a segment of the population, mainly the lower to middle portion of the distribution. They begin to break apart after IQs of 120-125, which means there are other factors involved in IQ that are not measured by those tests.

    This means that a majority of you reading this article right now have IQs that are past the point of solid correlation, so these assumptions and correlations are no longer as valid, just by the nature of being out of the group of highly correlated subjects. I have written oodles on this topic before, so I will not elaborate further; if you want a more detailed explanation of the validity of using individual skill test correlations (such as a verbal test) when determining IQ, you can go here.

    Now to discuss Kanazawa's "theories"...

    One of the problems I have with many Evolutionary Psychologists is that they fail to understand that we are humans, not animals. We have other things going on cognitively and neurologically as a species that do not apply to animals. First, we have Kanazawa's own Savanna Principle, which he uses as the foundation for his Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis (sounds
    impressive, doesn't it?) which he continuously references throughout the paper as a supposedly valid explanation for his conclusions:

    "The Savanna Principle: The human brain has difficulty comprehending and dealing with entities and situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment."
    Say what?

    Just what is considered the "ancestral environment"? The ocean where we were amoebas? A primitive cave? The home of the earliest hominids? The part of the world where we see the emergence of the genus Homo? Aren't we still discovering more details about the origin of our ancestors? How do we know what that environment was like specifically, and thus draw these types of conclusions?

    He goes on to say,

    "The Savanna Principle can potentially explain why some otherwise elegant scientific theories of human behavior, such as the subjective expected utility maximization theory or game theory, often fail empirically, because they posit entities and situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment. For example, many players of one-shot Prisoner's Dilemma games may make the theoretically irrational choice to cooperate with their partner, possibly because the human brain has difficulty comprehending completely anonymous social exchange and absolutely no possibility of knowing future interactions (which makes the game truly one-shot). Neither of those situations existed in the ancestral environment, but they are crucial for the game-theoretical prediction of universal defection."
    That sounds like a beautifully complex, yet completely unnecessary and unfounded explanation for the result of the Prisoner's Dilemma. I tend to follow Occam's razor, which states that the simplest explanation or strategy (that follows and supports the data) tends to be the best one.

    Here are my thoughts that might explain why the Prisoner's Dilemma prediction and game theory might fail empirically:







    1. We are humans, not bots. When it comes to psychological behaviors, we don't follow algorithms. 






    2. We have free choice to make any decision we want, even if it is irrational. In fact, humans are irrational a lot of the time. 






    3. We are creatures of emotion. Animals are not. Emotions effect our decision-making in ways that don't apply to animals. We have feelings of loyalty, trust, and general misanthropy, which all influence our exhibited behaviors. To say that we should act a certain way because an algorithm says it is the most rational choice is completely disregarding the factors that make us human.


















    After Kanazawa defines the Savanna Principle, he goes on to describe what he calls the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis:

    "The logical conjunction of the Savanna Principle and the theory of evolution of general intelligence suggests a qualification of the Savanna Principle. If general intelligence evolved to deal with evolutionarily novel problems, then the human brain's difficulty in comprehending and dealing with entities and situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment (proposed in the Savanna Principle) should interact with general intelligence, such that the Savanna Principle holds stronger among less intelligent individuals than among more intelligent individuals. More intelligent individuals should be better able to comprehend and deal with evolutionarily novel (but not evolutionarily familiar) entities and situations than less intelligent individuals."
    First of all,  his definition of intelligence, which he admits strays far from currently accepted theories of intelligence by those in the field, is defined as such:

    "[General Intelligence] may have originally evolved as a domain-specific adaptation to deal with evolutionarily novel, nonrecurrent problems."
    I am not even going to get into what I think of his theory of intelligence. If you've read any of my other articles about intelligence, you can probably guess what I would say about that.

    In the list of "accumulating evidence" to support this hypothesis, he includes the tendency for less intelligent individuals to respond to TV characters as if they were real friends, and says that people of above-median intelligence do not become more satisfied with their friendships by watching more TV, but less intelligent people do. Huh? He claims this is because TV was not available in the ancestral environment, so that is the reason for the correlation between TV friendships and intelligence, which is supported by his hypothesis.

    Hmm. Maybe more intelligent people just spend their time doing other things more academically related, like reading, therefore, they don't watch as many TV programs, and thus don't feel as much of a connection to the characters? There are a plethora of better explanations for this relationship (and others like this mentioned in the paper) than the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis.

    Kanazawa also has some interesting, yet flawed definitions of "liberalism" and "conservatism". According to him, he defines liberals as having a "genuine concern for the welfare of genetically unrelated others" and they have "the willingness to contribute larger proportions of private resources for the welfare of such others." He then classifies this as evolutionarily novel behavior because humans are designed to help their kin and no others. Apparently conservatives are only concerned with helping themselves, and are not altruistic in the least.

    Is he forgetting about the entire religious population that tends to affiliate themselves with the conservative party? They make far more charitable contributions to anonymous people then do any other group. And I know plenty of people who don't fit into his model of "liberalism".

    He also thinks that atheism is a product of communism (yes, he really wrote that), rather than the more likely explanation that atheism is a product of increased scientific and technological discovery.  Things that were once thought to be mystical in nature, such as gravity, are now known to have an explanation in science. The more unknown things that are found to have a root and explanation in science, the less likely people are to believe the mystical explanation. The more we discover about the world through science, the more people question alternate explanations. No Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis needed.


    The Savanna Principle and the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis make no sense given human nature, and should not be used to support his contorted and biased view of religion or political affiliation.

    I understand that Kanazawa is trying to come up with an exciting new theory of intelligence here, but he should really focus on basing it in common sense. I think he saw this as a convenient way to fit his theory into a data set a posteriori, and launch it to the public under the guise as a theory proven with solid data. The link between IQ and religious/political beliefs has been made before in other studies, so he isn't breaking new ground here with the claim made in the title of the paper. What he is doing is taking longitudinal data and warping the implications of it to suit his unsubstantiated theory of general intelligence.

    Comments

    rychardemanne
    Thanks a lot Andrea, I made some disparaging remarks about Kanazawa in another recent article (which I can't find at the moment). My hypothesis is that he is not so much building a solid theory as much as a pension portfolio.

    "He also thinks that atheism is a product of communism (yes, he really wrote that), rather than the more likely explanation that atheism is a product of increased scientific and technological discovery." LOL. Atheism existed in classical philosophy in Greece and India.

    The research here has a much smaller sample but suggests that atheists and christians regard themselves in very much the same way when asked about their personal traits but wide differences emerged when asked about their social views - and there was no significant difference between their IQ profiles.

    Also, from your quotes, he defines intelligence as the ability to do pecisely the tasks that he then uses IQ to support. Circles are such perfect shapes.
    Andrea Kuszewski
    I think this whole article was a veiled attempt at getting his (wrong) "theory of intelligence" out there in the public spotlight and backed up by public data. The link between intelligence and the other variables has already been made by other researchers, so he knew it was a sure win as far as the conclusion of the paper went. The problem is, he should consider basic logic when forming his arguments, because they are seriously lacking. Did he think no one would read past the abstract?

    Did you read the whole paper? There is so much wrong with it, I couldn't possibly cover all of it in one sitting. It is deserving of a second beating, for sure.
    Gerhard Adam
    While I don't completely agree with some of your points regarding animals, I'll leave that for another discussion.  However, the most obvious problem should be apparent when one considers that not all human beings live in cultures derived from Europe or Asia.

    I'm not arguing against your perspective, but simply adding my own two cents to a very thorough criticism of the original work.

    There are many tribal peoples in the world and one of the most notable is the Australian Aborigine, so I would be curious to know what the rationalization regarding intelligence is regarding such indigenous people.  After all, it is clear that when the children of such tribes are raised in western cultures they do as well as anyone else, so it can hardly be argued that they lack an innate intellectual capability. 

    Until intelligence can be defined in a manner that eliminates cultural bias, then nothing useful except approximations can come from any such claims.  Even if there is a slight correlation, it cannot be consider causal until something more definitive is provided.


    Mundus vult decipi
    Aitch
    Gerhard
    Interesting also, in relation to comparisons of White Australians and Aborigine that I've seen before, was the observation that whilst it was noted the Aborigine children showed similar IQ when put in the mainstream schools, when the reverse was applied and White Australian children were taken to the outback to see how their instincts for survival would show superior IQ, they failed miserably

    Aitch
    I disagree with one of your position, regarding game theory responses, that "We have free choice to make any decision we want, even if it is irrational. In fact, humans are irrational a lot of the time." As I see it, while our decisions are oftentimes based on inadequate or incorrect information, they are very unlikely to be "irrational," which would mean made without a reason. We may not be consciously aware of the reasons (as with bias), but they are there nonetheless, producing the response. Perhaps the reasons arise from value systems we are born with, such as an instinct to suckle or grasp (or even not to suckle or grasp) or from experiences that have created an "emotional memory" (for lack of a better word) that produces a visceral response to a certain stimulus, but one wouldn't contend that those are irrational decisions, would she?

    Steve Davis
    "...because humans are designed to help their kin and no others."
    This is the key to understanding the weaknesses in evolutionary psychology. This assumption comes direct from selfish gene theory, and it is false.
    jtwitten
    Steve, you are finding support for your misinterpretation of altruism and your crusade against selfish-gene theory in a quote from a man whose having his work dismantled left and right by experts in the field your comment implies that he represents. His assumption comes from simplistic and failed understanding of evolutionary theory paired with a lack of humility to recognize what he does not comprehend.

    Steve Davis
    But Josh, exactly how have I misinterpreted altruism?
    And I do like your "simplistic and failed understanding of evolutionary theory..." Sounds like a good description of selfish gene theory! Please can I borrow it?
    jtwitten
    The notion that evolutionary theories of altruism that do not invoke group selection only allow for altruism between genetically related individuals.

    And, no, you may not use it as you are ellipsing out relevant information, namely the assumption of Kanazawa to which it refers.
    Gerhard Adam
    The notion that evolutionary theories of altruism that do not invoke group selection only allow for altruism between genetically related individuals.
    What are you trying to say, because this comment doesn't make any sense to me.
    Mundus vult decipi
    jtwitten
    But Josh, exactly how have I misinterpreted altruism?
    -Groupie Steve
    The notion that evolutionary theories of altruism that do not invoke
    group selection only allow for altruism between genetically related
    individuals.
    -I
    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, Josh.  I understood the context, but it's the statement itself that wasn't clear.

    Are you saying that unless you invoke group selection, then evolution theories of altruism only allow for it between genetically related individuals (i.e. kin selection)?  This would then mean that altruism between non-genetically related individuals would require some sort of group selection theory.  Is that what you're saying?
    Mundus vult decipi
    jtwitten
    I'm saying that this is Steve's misunderstanding. He assumes that so-called "selfish gene theory" forbids altruism except in cases of high genetic relatedness (i.e., kin selection). Therefore, he concludes that group selection is necessary for the observation of altruism, which he observes to be more common than competition. The dismissal of group selection as a major factor in evolution to focus on genic selection based on this apparent dilemma

    Altruism research, however, has established an interesting variety of parameters that allow altruism to evolve by natural selection both with and without kin selection. Kin selection is far from the only potential mechanism for altruism that is consistent with gene-level selection.

    Opponents of genic selection (on altruism grounds) act as if this research ended with Hamilton and Dawkins' description of Hamilton's approach to kin selection.
    Gerhard Adam
    Thanks for expanding on that. 
    Opponents of genic selection (on altruism grounds) act as if this research ended with Hamilton and Dawkins' description of Hamilton's approach to kin selection.
    From reading many of the articles that deal with this, one would think that it is a closed topic (hence the difficulty).
    Mundus vult decipi
    jtwitten
    The misperception is certainly not just on the end of the information consumer. This field of research is badly misrepresented essentially everywhere other than the specific, technical literature.
    logicman
    "...because humans are designed to help their kin and no others."
    This is the key to understanding the weaknesses in evolutionary psychology. This assumption comes direct from selfish gene theory, and it is false.

    Steve: you and Einstein are in perfect agreement there.  No, the other Einstein - my doggy friend.
    Steve Davis
    Patrick, I shall call my next dog Einstein in his honour!
    logicman
    Patrick, I shall call my next dog Einstein in his honour!
    Nice!
    rholley
    Regarding how people thought in a long time ago, the following contains a lovely turn of phrase:
    [quoting] 'Here breath, blood, self are so many attempts at expressing what we should now call "cause".'

    It would be difficult to conceive anything more perverse than this paragraph; there is, indeed, something painful in the spectacle of so catholic and enthusiastic a scholar as Max Müller seated so firmly on the saddle of etymology, with his face set so earnestly towards the tail of the beast. He seems to have gone out of his way to seek for impossibly modern and abstract concepts to project into that luckless dustbin of pseudo-scientific fantasies--the mind of primitive man. Not only 'cause', we are to suppose, was within the range of his intellection, but 'something', 'principle of life', 'outward sign', 'mere animal life', 'spiritual as opposed to mere material', and heaven knows what else. Perverse; and yet for that very reason useful; for it pushes to a conclusion as logical as it is absurd, a view of mental history, which, still implicit in much that passes muster as anthropology, psychology, etc.--even as ordinary common sense--might easily prejudice an understanding of my meaning, if it were ignored without comment.
    This is from Poetic Diction by Owen Barfield.  (chapter on Metaphor)
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    jtwitten
    This is essentially the worst fears about sociobiology (as voiced when EO Wilson popularized the field) coming to fruition. Kanazawa is using the trappings of scientific reasoning to support his preferred group. It comes off as innocuous because he is promoting atheism and liberalism, as opposed to Rushton promoting white supremacy. The logic is the same though.

    Two missing points, or not touched on strongly in this appropriate review. First, most evolution of the mammalian brain (i.e., most of the hardware and software) occurred before hominids. We could be talking about <10000 generations of Homo sapiens, which is not a lot in evolutionary terms given effective population sizes of ~10000 individuals for most of that time. Arguments like Kanazawa's are not creationist, but they share the ideology of human exceptionalism.

    Second, the argument about liberal generosity only examines one side of the equation. These analyses are based on how the "liberal" wants to use taxation and revenue. Leaving aside your astute point about conservative religious giving, one should bear in mind that not only is the liberal considered more likely to give resources to those to whom they are not genetically related, but they are more likely to take those resources from individuals to whom they are not genetically related also. 
    Hfarmer
    You have summed up the leftwing's way of thinking in the fewest possible words. 
    Second, the argument about liberal generosity only examines one side of the equation. These analyses are based on how the "liberal" wants to use taxation and revenue. Leaving aside your astute point about conservative religious giving, one should bear in mind that not only is the liberal considered more likely to give resources to those to whom they are not genetically related, but they are more likely to take those resources from individuals to whom they are not genetically related also. 


    That should be in a newspaper where a million people can see it. lol
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    jtwitten
    Only because that was the argument to oppose. I'm not sure rightwing "charity" is often more noble. Consider religious giving. Two un-noble motivations of missionary giving are 1) to save your own soul through acts of mercy, and 2) as a marketing tool to recruit new members to your faith.
    Gerhard Adam
    Two un-noble motivations of missionary giving are 1) to save your own
    soul through acts of mercy, and 2) as a marketing tool to recruit new
    members to your faith.
    I think you have to careful to separate the act from the actor.  Motivation is difficult to assess, but regardless, while it may diminish the character of an individual it doesn't reduce the charitability of an act. 

    In addition, your phrasing of these two points makes them sound more manipulative than they may actually be.  In other words, it could just as readily have been stated that 1) in order to live up to your standards of being a missionary you should carry out acts of mercy and 2) this can also demonstrate the benefits of your belief and encourage others to become members as well.

    As a non-Christian I'm not supporting the concept of missionary work, but only illustrating that it is difficult to judge the motivation and rationale by which people perform charitable work (religious or not).
    Mundus vult decipi
    jtwitten
    You have illustrated the point very nicely. The point is that one can find a framework to praise the behavior of those you agree with in a positive light and make villains out of those you oppose.

    A less subjective way to criticize religious donations would be to call donations to churches as very inefficient methods of transmitting resources to the needy. For example, paying to send missionaries without particular expertise to a needy area is a much less efficient way to create immediate effects than giving funds to Doctors Without Borders.

    Very few liberals actively think of social welfare programs in the way I portrayed above.
    rholley
    Two un-noble motivations ....
    Tread carefully, Josh.  Methinks thou art beginning to sound a little bit like Jesus:
    Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
    (Matthew 23:15)
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Wabidon
    Hi Josh ,

    Some may give thinking it saves their  soul and there are them religious ministries that are (big business) . I must disagree about all ; and that you have them (stereotyped) .

    The purpose some religions give are similar as some Fortune 500 companies " and that is for others to notice and get a reputations but for different reasons . "In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father" .

    The fortune 500 companies give for reputation building .

    Also it is the same as Karma or the laws or reciprocity in business and religion .

     
    "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together."

    It is like karma and the Buddhist religion has that same principal . Business Organizational Management (corporate business ) teaches a company to build back reputation or have a good reputations is to give . 

    Don
    jtwitten
    Don,

    The entire point was not to characterize either group as giving for malicious reasons, but to demonstrate that the charitable acts of one group can always and easily be construed negatively by an opposing viewpoint, which was the approach taken by Kanazawa from the left side of the political spectrum.

    The response to these comments has shown that, while not everyone has understood the point, my examples have clearly demonstrated the phenomenon.
    Wabidon
    Cool ! Okay Josh definitely your post has been construed by several and my apology. It could be your Photo ? :)

     I just wanted to let you know, I do not not give to save my soul and I do not go to church . The Sarah Palin denomination doctrine "Pentecostal" only believes you go to heaven by faith and grace and cannot earn your way to heaven . Many non-denominational doctrines are saved by grace only and not by works.

    Religions giving in order to Get members and attention you have a better argument .

    People do give for the reason of giving, the Jewish religion requires 10% and some Christian doctrines goes by that teaching , it is not to save their soul but for reverence and obedience.

    I do believe in 10% if I can ,but am not under condemnation if I cannot . Most of all helping others as you would want to be helped .

    If Atheist and Liberals are more intelligent . I wish we get some solving the problems we have in America - the climate crisis ,crime, war and the economy . 

    Thanks Josh
    Andrea Kuszewski
    By the way, here is the full quote describing how he came to his conclusion regarding atheism and intelligence (and why he thinks it is a product of Communism):

    There are no non-former-Communist cultures described in The Encyclopedia as containing any significant segment of atheists. Nor is there any reference to any individuals who do not subscribe to the local religion in any of the monograph-length ethnographies cited above. It may therefore be reasonable to conclude that atheism may not be part of the universal human nature, and widespread practice of atheism may have been a recent product of Communism in the twentieth century. The Hypothesis would therefore suggest that more intelligent individuals are more likely to be atheist than less intelligent individuals.
    Sounds reasonable, right?
    rychardemanne
    Does that mean communists are more intelligent than atheists? ;-)
    Is it possible that (gulp) communists are even more intelligent than liberals?

    Do you think he actually read that whole encyclopaedia?
    jtwitten
    widespread practice of atheism may have been a recent product of Communism
    Not to defend Kanazawa (perish the thought), but I think the key words are highlighted above. He does not seem to be saying that Communism invented atheism, but that the current boost in marginal popularity of atheism is a product of 20th Century Communism, especially interest in communism by intellectuals.
    Andrea Kuszewski
    A friend sent this to me this morning, and it provides a nice visual explanation of atheism and the influence of science:

    Larry Arnold
    Indeed vocabulary tests are fundamentally flawed as an indicator of that most elusive faculty that the not so esteemed Kanazawa essays in his epistolary postulation, and do not bear translinguistic comparison let alone interpretation in epistemological philofiduciary attraction to post babylonian epic literature.

    For anyone who collects words in English and as the veriest union jack, underpant wearing Englishman must expose, British English being the richest variety, that it  must define even the most average high school student as more intelligent by definition. For such is the much larger capacity of Shakespeares language and the Oxford dictionary for almost infinite  neologistic expansion, pleonasm and sesquipedalian nocciflaucinihilipilification. Neamoins (whoops that last one was French) linguibucally and only quasijestionally I must be by the self-evidence of this post of such an intelligence as the world has never known in it's vasty incommensurality, that even mensans incorporeally hide under that two tailed quadripedal metaphorical figuration to shield themselves from my curruscating radiance :)
    logicman
    Laurence: I think you are just the right person to spell check my forthcoming article on our planet's

    astrobiocarbochemocryogeohydrometeoronitrophotothermocyclic system.
    I really do not like commenting on topics involving intelligence because I am of the opinion that intelligence is too vague a term to have any real scientific meaning. But for what it is worth, here is my 2 cents...

    People are different, this is a fact, but modern society has developed a polite stance about this so as not to blatantly expose these differences. This is especially true regarding intelligence. Most of the really intelligent people I know try and maintain a sense of false humility about their intellect. In reality many of them consider themselves superior, but feel bad for doing so, not because there is anything intrinsically wrong with thinking that, but because it isn't polite.

    In my opinion, this view is no different from when someone appreciates a good looking individual. You wouldn't expect the attractive person to feel bad that he/she is attractive - no one would expect this - so why should an intelligent person be humbled to be intelligent.

    That being said, being arrogant about intelligence is no more necessary than the popular kids at school segregating the less popular ones. I think the paper by Kanazawa does tend to be arrogant about the intelligence and its importance. I do agree that there seems to be an a-priori bias with his ideas, but even if that was not the case, the conclusions that he makes cannot be validated or tested. It would be very difficult to reduce the aspects involved with intelligence into any single factor.

    However, it is interesting that the overwhelming responses to Kanazawa's paper is clearly negative - perhaps most of us are also steadfast in our polite stances to consider the possibility that some of his arguments might be valid, even if his conclusions are not. Maybe we should step back - and really take an objective view of his arguments and disregard his conclusions.

    Larry Arnold
    I don't really think the paper deserves much attention at all because it is not dealing with any fundamental questions of importance, but merely looking at correlations with the authors self importance, that is the desire to be with the hoopiest froods in the class who will confirm his sense of superiority over those who happen not to share his opinions.

    One can really just play it all as a kind of parlour game, of the kind one might in asserting that darts players are more intelligent than rugby players, carrying out a straw poll suitably jiggered to support the conclusion.

    A persons individual faith is a matter defined by many things, and those who wish to think it is incompatible in some way with the construct of empirical science just because it deals with a seperate epistemology, and who as a consequence consider all those who don't share there equal conviction in atheism as lower forms of animal life, are just plain arrogant and the enemies of reason as much as those they wish to denigrate by ad hominem assertions as to some mythical correlation with a lower IQ.

    I think it is possible to discuss questions of 'intelligence' intelligently, (if that is not another derisive Derridian word play) but solely in terms of what that construct means and the limitations upon it. I find Flyn in this respect makes interesting reading, but to look at it in the way this paper presupposes, particular with reference to vocabulary is really to misunderstand what the concept of 'g' is in the first place, which can be summed up cynically as the capacity to correctly record a set of relationships conventionally agreed upon by those who have set the test.

    In other systems of knowledge, in other era's the set of relationships agreed upon are different as they will relate to different competences required to either survive or advance in that society, which might be the ability to enumerate and identify a dozen varieties of seed corn, rather than come up with a vocabulary to describe a science that is not relevant at that level of endeavour.

    Relatevism is not just a post modern whipping boy, it is of relevance. Consider why the Inca's highly advanced in astronomy, architecture, and administration never invented the wheel. Or why such a useful tool is as irrelevant to a seafaring culture of Polynesians, as an oar or sail is to a Roman Charioteer.
    I enjoyed this article, but this statement really jumped out at me:
    we are humans, not animals. We have other things going on cognitively and neurologically as a species that do not apply to animals.

    I'm not aware of any scientific basis at all for that. On the contrary, I think that we are animals, and we have absolutely nothing going on cognitively or otherwise that doesn't apply to other animals. I think that human minds are different in degree, but not in kind. We might do things with additional levels of abstraction while other animals only seem to be able to handle one level - but the mental activity itself is not unique to us.

    Andrea Kuszewski
    We might do things with additional levels of abstraction while other animals only seem to be able to handle one level -
    That is a very, very, very important difference. Animals don't use logic and reason combined with emotion in the same way humans do. The process and brain structures may look the same, but the resulting behaviors can be quite different.
    It's really bad to compare animals to humans because there are millions of species of animals out there that are really different from each other. And we don't now what is going around in their heads, I really dislike your oversimplifications of animals and there are lot of studies that comes up with that chimpanzees are very similar to us and clearly have emotions and logical reasoning, in the other hand sponges doesn’t have any neurons and I would be really surprised if they have anything similar to emotions and logical reasoning.

    Gerhard Adam
    Animals don't use logic and reason combined with emotion in the same way humans do. The process and brain structures may look the same, but the resulting behaviors can be quite different.
    Mmmm... I might dispute that, because we don't really know.  Specifically we don't really know how different humans are as evolved animals versus how they have manifested themselves as socially integrated animals.  In other words, our behavior is much more subject to our culture than it is to our physiological brain. 

    This was my original point regarding comparison of a New Yorker to an Australian Aborigine.  One would be hard pressed to argue that their brains were substantially different, but it reflect a radical difference in behaviors, including values and objectives that could produce wildly different outcomes.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Steve Davis
    Josh said "He (Steve) assumes that so-called "selfish gene theory" forbids altruism except in cases of high genetic relatedness..."
    I don't assume that at all Josh. That has actually been stated by many selfish gene theorists. It has become text-book dogma.

    After a discussion with Gerhard you said this; "The misperception is certainly not just on the end of the information consumer. This field of research is badly misrepresented essentially everywhere other than the specific, technical literature."
    I was told much the same thing in the comments following an article titled Selfish Gene Theory and its Interdisciplinary Roots by Claire Elmouden. It seems to be becoming a refrain for those who want to defend selfish genes but don't want to actually discuss the issues. Claire stated her intention to produce a series of articles, but after being challenged on some of the main points she has not returned. You might recall, as an avid reader of my articles, that I followed Claire's article with one of my own titled Evolutionary Biology - Home of the Idiot Savant, in which told how I checked out her claim that selfish gene theory had moved on, but found that this is not the case. Hamilton's perverted view of altruism still dominates the field of evolutionary biology.   
    Conservatives in churches make more 'charitable donations' because their churches qualify for the tax credit. They're really just paying membership dues for their social clubs. Take away that red herring and the difference goes away... or may swing the other way. It really comes down to tribalism. Conservatives are more likely to seek leaders who appear to be in their tribe, seek mates that appear to be from their tribe, fear those who do not appear to be from their tribe... and more likely to pay into local charities and to be supportive of people like themselves. They apply inconsistent legal and political standards based on the way people look and act; They support war against outside threats while ignoring threats from their own tribe (i.e. Islamic terrorists (9/11) are scarier than Christian terrorists (Oklahoma City). And they can't understand the reasoning of people who differ politically -- and can't forgive them for those political differences because they feel betrayed. All that has nothing to do with IQ. It has a lot to do to brain training and socialization. That's why people in coastal regions (port cities) are more liberal than middle-America: exposure to human variety and a wider definition of one's own tribe... More likely to include like-minded people vs. judging by appearance, language, or other superficial tribal differentiation.

    I think this is a very interesting article and a great perspective on Kanazawa's Study.

    With that said, I think something else that bears thought regarding charitable donations by churches is that often they are not done with the same intention of only helping others, as a non-religious contribution. This is because at the heart of it, the willingness to either convert or show the church in a good light plays a role, even if it isn't at the forefront. Of course, the latter can be said of many non-church related donations as well and there are certainly a number of exceptions to the "rule," but I think when you look at religious charities as a whole, the reasons are often not as altruistic as they may appear.

    Hank
    Even the act of conversion is with the intention of helping others - whether or not that is true to outsiders is another issue. The fact remains that religious groups put more boots on the ground and help more people than bloated UN committees or travesties like the Unites Way ever could. The angry militant atheists in the world talk about helping people by getting rid of religion but religious people, like them or not, actually do help a lot of people - even the ones who hate them.
    I see your point, but I think it is important top note that the other issue, whether or not it is actually true, is an incredibly important one that should not just be brushed aside with the mantra that the person feels they are doing good, so that makes it so.

    For example, the guy who killed Tiller while he was attending church argued that he was doing it for the right reason, but in reality it is a horrible crime.

    Hank
    Even then it depends on your perspective; to them, 35 million dead babies is a horrible crime so 8 abortion provider deaths in that same period of time is hardly the same thing.    The entire rest of the civilized world regards late-term abortions as a blight on US culture yet we will still allow it.   

    So intent does mean something both legally and culturally, it just may only mean something if it's the side people happen to agree with.
    There are very few actions, from bombings to wars to genocides, that can't be defended with this logic. At some point, I believe all actions need to be objectively evaluated to see if they really hold up past a person's own biases.

    In regards to legal and cultural meaning, while certainly important, it is very subjective, so I don't feel it is a strong or definitive metric. For instance, there have been many cruel cultures that felt they were doing the right thing.

    With that said, it is hard to downplay the importance of the reasons a person does something they perceive as "good."

    Gerhard Adam
    There are very few actions, from bombings to wars to genocides, that can't be defended with this logic.
    Such actions cannot have an objective analysis, since the people doing the evaluating will, by definition, use their own bias' to do so.  I also think it is reasonable to assume that the vast majority of people think they are doing the "right thing" regardless of what outcomes may occur.

    More importantly, an approach to being more objective is if we begin to analyze the action rather than trying to examine the motivation behind such an action.  This is one of the problems that keeps coming up.  Is an act altruistic?  Can an act be altruistic even if performed for selfish reasons? 

    Such questions attempt to get inside someone's head rather than evaluating what is knowable.  If someone gives you a million dollars, then their particular motivation has nothing to do with the act itself.  It is an altruistic act, regardless of the reasons it is performed.  Knowing something about the motivation may provide insight into the person's character, but it has nothing to do with the action being examined.
    Mundus vult decipi
    rholley
     
    Can an act be altruistic even if performed for selfish reasons?
    Here is an apposite quote from C.S.Lewis, which I dug up previously when somebody dug up Kant during an argument as to whether the roots of morality could be found in animals ....
    All popular opinion is, indeed, on Kant’s side.  The people never admire a man for doing something he likes: the very words “But he likes it” imply the corollary “And therefore it has no merit”.  Yet against Kant stands the obvious truth, noted by Aristotle, that the more virtuous a man becomes the more he enjoys virtuous actions. . .
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Wabidon
    Hi Mr. Hedberg.

    There are the crazy sick religious nuts as you mention out of there but also millions of church goers . I do not think we can stereotype them. There are a many girls and children killed and raped by men who are atheist and no affiliation with any church or religion .

    In reality a lot of horrible things are taking place in every sector of society .


    Hank
    Conservatives in churches make more 'charitable donations' because their churches qualify for the tax credit. They're really just paying membership dues for their social clubs. 
    Are you alleging your charitable donations are not a tax deduction?   Are you saying a soup kitchen run by an atheist is discriminated against in our tax code?   

    This is written well enough but is basically a veneer for a bunch of stereotyping and political hack jobbery.    Conservatives donate more money to charities of all kinds - deal with it.  Steve Jobs is a billionaire and adored by leftwing fanboys but does jack for anyone else with this money.

    If you don't like that religious people and conservatives are more charitable, do something about it.   
    The rest of this is apparently just an excuse to shovel your political sneers at people who happen to be different than you are.  Show some tolerance for diversity.
    Your claims are so full of holes and untruths it is impossible to give any credence to your claims.

    Your speculations about the motivations of conservatives and their donations are not supported by any evidence, I note.

    "Islamic terrorists (9/11)" are scarier than "Christian terrorists (Oklahoma City)" because they're an "outside threat"? Hmm... Couldn't have anything to do with those "Islamic terrorists" having killed somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty times as many people just on 9/11, never mind the on-going terrorist campaigns that have claimed hundreds of lives in the Western non-Islamic world, and hundreds of thousands in the Islamic world...

    Never mind that McVeigh and his fellow terrorists were hardly "Christians"; at least as far as that label is interpreted by anyone outside the fringes of far-left paranoid atheism...

    Nah, no point letting inconvenient facts get in the way of a good bigot's rant.

    This article is just as narrow-minded as the claim it seeks to critique.
    First of all, I agree that the research is not extensive enough to support such a claim. It fails to include why the data provided supports that athiests and liberals tend to be more intellectual. It also, by the nature of the research, lacks any sort of control group that would allows to take some things into consideration. For example, the fact that an athiest's "religion" is science, and someone of christian denomination may reject some scientific research, and rightly so.
    However, this article is extremely biased. It's hard to take seriously. This article fails to examine, and doesn't even attempt to seek, validity in any of the presented claims. How can you expect people to agree on this, unless it is exactly what they want to hear? And then, really, it's only purpose is to make those who have been labeled as "Less-intellectual" feel better about themselves. You're only analyzing parts that you want to examine.
    Moving on to your critique of Kanazawa. As with any written document, it's very easy to extract information, read and understand it out of context, and fail to grasp the concept in its entirety. Did you know that with every psychological or sociological paper, each term, like ancestral environment for example, are defined specifically for that article in particular? Thus, connotations and sometimes even denotations, are different than with every day speech. Not only that, but there is a "case" or "findings" section, and a "discussion" section. One must read both, together, in order to grasp the meaning. Unless any sort of summary or paraphrasing is provided, which it is not.
    Another little thing. In the Prisoner's Dilemma section, you argue that humans make both rational and irrational decisions and are emotional beings. That is very true. However, the game takes those things into consideration. It was found that when people played the game, a vast variety of different strategies were used, many of them irrational. The Cooperation Theory demonstrated by this game, which is actually Robert Axelrod's theory, explains that cooperation (the seemingly 'rational' strategies) usually occurs when the game has a finite number of rounds. This translates into different rules or regulations in different situations in the real world.
    Also, Kanazawa's claims about liberals tending to be more concerned with the social welfare of others, is a theoretical claim. It is not proven fact, and he does not seek to diminish the moral standards of conservatives. Personally, however, I feel as though it is demonstrated through the way in which liberals, statistically speaking, spend their money. Or vote (health care, taxes, gay marriage, pro-choice). Although it is true that conservative people, more than not, are also christians, and vote against some things because of religious values, that is still hurting those who don't share your beliefs. Which is not being very concerned about others social welfare.
    That being said, I think it's important to remember that this is a peer reviewed journal that doesn't have any affiliation with scholarly journals. It needs to survive on its own. It caters to a certain audience. It wants to get its name out. Such a defensive response over such a trivial thing, that didn't make any data on its own, is silly. Like I said, in order for you to reach people who aren't a part of your fan base, you need to make it so that criticizers can't critique your argument. Explain your points, and talk about things that you'd expect someone on the other side to argue. Don't attack them. It's so easy to write attackers off as lunatics.

    I'm very interested in and open to responses of all sorts. I love educated arguments.

    Wabidon
    Nikola Tesla (January 12, 1897) "Is there a field in which his God-given powers would be of greater benefit to his fellow man than this almost unexplored virgin region like in a silent forest a thousand voices respond to every call "(p.10). If your a scientist or educated you know who Nikola Tesla is ?
    Reference :
    Tesla, N. (1897). On Electricity. Maryland:Wildside-Press

    Famous Scientist who believed in God :

    Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
    Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
    Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543)
    Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
    Robert Boyle (1791-1867)
    Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
    Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)
    Max Planck (1858-1947)
    http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/sciencefaith.html#wcEJD4fD1IFO

    Albert Einstein there is only speculation ,he had a lot of quotes regarding God ,but was not a practicing Jew ; however supported Zionism.
    I tend to view atheists as smarter than the other groups (including Liberals) because atheists do their own thinking. Could be wrong on lots of stuff, but as atheists, we don't rely overmuch on external sources for morals or our worldview.

    Atheists aren't really a group, we're more a collection of individuals.

    Whereas, when the thinking gets into the group think/perspective, that's when the IQ often goes down.

    I've done several of those project management/team building excercises where you rank a list of things and then get into a group and the group has to come up with a listing. When the instructor provides the ranking for the list by experts, your personal score is supposed to be lower than the group score.

    Mine never has been.

    Groups are good for many things - community, help, identity - everything except thinking

    Hfarmer
    In speaking of group think... why is it Atheist as a group all think they are superior.   You come across as quite smug, stuck up, and bougie Bourgeois in your post.  "Oh look at what a free thinking person I am,"  roll. 
    Religious people have the humility to admit that there are things which are beyond human comprehension and control and will remain that way.  Scientist who are religious know this becase we are essentially still the apes that walked Naked off the savana.

    @Andrea

    That brings me to your post and the whole Savanna theory of inteligence.  Until you wrote this I did not know that anyone had ever though of it that way.  I had a kooky professor who taught theoretical physics.  Every once in a while he would say.  "This is hard because the human brain did not evolve to think about (insert physics subject) it evolved to think EAT."  I would add SS&F to that list too.  It makes a certain kind of sense.  We are essentially animals, only a very little bit of brain wiring separates us from the Bonobo.

    That said I defer to your expertise on the definition of intelligence.  You have shown the holes in that notion of inteligence.    
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    rholley
    "This is hard because the human brain ... evolved to think EAT."
    Did this bird brain evolve to think DANCE?

    http://www.personal.reading.ac.uk/~spsolley/Bird_loves_Egyptian_music_00...
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Hfarmer
    That's so sweet.  Funniest thing I ever heard a parrot was trained to do was to swear at a specific person in French. 
    What the bird or any other trained animals is doing is trying to get the food reward that comes after the trick.  So that's a survival strategy involved to satisfy the need to EAT! 

    What we scientist do who make our living thinking on complex problems is not so different.  Sure there are other motivations, specifically human curiosity.  However if science paid no money we'd still have to find a way to EAT.   So a career in science is just another survival strategy, no different from hunting and gathering food. 
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Did you read beyond the first 7 words? "because atheists do their own thinking"

    Atheists and non-religious scientists know that we are apes and not far way from the wilds.

    As for "beyond human comprehension", there are certainly things about the universe that we don't know, but there's no reason to not say "we don't know yet" and not posit a supernatural cause (which isn't an explaination at all) or baselessly claim that there is a supernatural.

    Claiming supernatural realms or causes isn't humility when you position them as being overly concerned with human behaviour or waiting for some unspecified hour when they are going to rapture the "good" ones or having created the universe for us. That's arrogant. There's no basis to beleive the universe takes any notice of us.

    How is it that you think you come across, posting out of the blue and calling me names?

    rholley
    Nina,

    I don't see Hontas "getting personal" here, I think she's making a general statement.

    However, on other blogs that I occasionally lurch into like a sleepy wombat, I see atheists zooming in and attacking like wasps on the slightest stimulus.  The term "hive mentality" does, therefore, automatically jump to mind.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    I am unsure how "You come across as quite smug, stuck up, and bougie Bourgeois in your post. " is a general statement on the issue.

    rholley
    I am unsure how ... is a general statement on the issue.
    Point taken.  I hadn't caught the subject switch from plural to singular.

    Even worse when reading scientific papers, when I'm not instantly sure what the "it" refers to.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    logicman
    I'm not instantly sure what the "it" refers to.

    I know what "it" means well enough, when I find a thing, it's generally a frog or a worm.

    lumidek
    That's very unfortunate if they interpret selected "correlations" as "identities" and use this methodological flaw to eliminate the explanations using other correlations that could have been equally or more valid.
    Clearly, it's more fashionable among the left-wing people to read, especially various things.  But that's not an IQ: that's just a combined consequence of IQ and other things such as political orientation. It's more likely that this data is actually explained by the latter, not the former, and the two are inequivalent.
    Interesting post and thoughts.

    My only thought on your entire article is that you started out with an egregiously false claim:
    "they fail to understand that we are humans, not animals"

    That is false, 173% false in fact. We are animals and no matter how much you like to pretend we are beyond our animal instincts and desires, it doesn't change the facts that we still are governed by these primative forces. Just because you like to think you are better then the other animals, doesn't make it true either. We may be more complex in certain cognitive ways, but we are still fudamentally the same as the first few amobeas started having sex with each other.

    nobody has ever so much as _defined_ the term "intelligence", let alone found a way to measure it.

    athiests are LESS PREDICTABLY STUPID than theists, but that isn't the same thing at all.

    In your article you mentioned religious people who are politically conservative, and indicated your belief that these people donate larger percentages of their salary to take care of the poor members of society. I am not sure you can prove this. First of all, they primarily donate to their church, which is an evangelical organization designed to recruit new members. The primary mission rarely has anything to do with feeding the poor or healing the sick.

    Second of all, I doubt your research. Just because athiests do not attend services where a plate is passed around does not mean they don't donate. It just means they don't do it publicly

    Third, I think you proved the opposite point. Evangelical political conservatives are statistically not only undereducated, but proudly so. Their reasoning ability is not only lower than average, but proudly so. Remember that 60% of this group thinks Iraq attacked us on 9-11.

    80% of this group thinks global warming is a myth. 70% of this group thinks the housing bubble was caused by the (1972) Community Reinvestment Act. 70% of this group thinks that tax cuts increase government revenues. nearly 100% of this group think that Obama was President during the bank bailout.

    The list goes on an on. You end up winning the point about definition of terms, but losing your entire argument as a result.

    rholley
    And where do the figures for your last-but-one paragraph come from?
    70% of this group thinks that tax cuts increase government revenues.
    If you lived in Britain, where government spending, not to mention subsidy of Quangos, has got out of hand, then you might see that they have a point.  If the productive sectors of society are suffering like a plant crippled by a massive aphid attack, then the time is come to get out the spray, in order to allow economic recovery.
    Too often, government spending is seen as a form of vote-buying.  We (on either side of the Atlantic) do not want to end up as Predator Democracies.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Andrea Kuszewski
    [Low Budget] Dave:

    I do not dispute the ultimate results of the paper that was published by Kanazawa; indeed, I have seen these conclusions made before in other papers, and I think they are correct about the statistical averages. What I dispute here is Kanazawa's skewing of the definitions of the variables in order to push his agenda, which is a "new theory of intelligence"- a theory which I think is 100% wrong.

    Big picture here, Dave. I am not even getting into political sides and debates here- let's keep it to the science.
    What happen to plain old common sense? This guy needs to be in Washington with all the other idiots.

    Benjamin Koshkin

    Fuck this stupid bitch. Please excuse my language, but I have read some really outrageously naive comments in this article--if you can call it that. Humans ARE animals. Also, animals DO exhibit important human like qualities such as trust, loyalty, and compassion. Some species even have culture. Who the hell do you think you are? You should be kicked the fuck off of this site. I put you in the same fringe group status as with creationists. You know squat about science.

    Fuck this stupid bitch. Please excuse my language, but I have read some really outrageously naive comments in this article--if you can call it that. Humans ARE animals. Also, animals DO exhibit important human like qualities such as trust, loyalty, and compassion. Some species even have culture. Who the hell do you think you are? You should be kicked the fuck off of this site. I put you in the same fringe group status as with creationists. You know squat about science.