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Author Topic:   Atheists are more intelligent than Religious people
caffeine
Member
Posts: 1799
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


(2)
Message 7 of 60 (810114)
05-23-2017 3:57 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tangle
05-22-2017 9:35 AM


53 out of 63 research studies found that belief correlates negatively with intellignce. This study explains why - religion is instinctive, it requires intelligence to overcome it.

What did most of those 63 studies all have in common? They were conducted in places where there majority of people were religious.

So we can simply religion from the equation and come to the conclusion that, the more intelligent someone is, the more likely they are to question the prevailing orthodoxy.

The authors of the meta-analysis discuss this rather obvious explanation, and admit that it may play a role. They seem to be resistant to the idea that it explains away the whole phenomenon, on the basis that:

quote:
Atheism might be considered a case of nonconformity in societies where the majority is religious. This is not so, however, if one grows up in largely atheist societies, such as those that exist in Scandinavia

Which is a fair point, but not really relevant, since I can't see any studies in their analysis that looked at Scandinavia (though I could easily have missed them - this is frustratingly not easy to see from the paper without reading each of the 63 studies independently). There is one from Finland, a country which could probably be considered majority atheist; though I can't find access and I am little unclear what info the meta-study is looking at (the paper's abstract says the sample size is 20; but the meta-study says 142).

Either way; it seems to me that there could be something to the idea that religious belief is negatively correlated with intelligence; but if you really wanted to test it you should begin by studying irreligious societies and seeing if the relationship holds. Otherwise you haven't addressed the obvious alternative explanation.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tangle, posted 05-22-2017 9:35 AM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
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caffeine
Member
Posts: 1799
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


(2)
Message 24 of 60 (810444)
05-29-2017 2:41 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by Tangle
05-28-2017 7:06 PM


But they're all based on the same premise - that intelligence can be measured in some meaningful way.

They might be controversial but they measure intelligence in the way we define it.

No they aren't, and no they don't. The studies did not all set out to test either religiosity or intelligence. Some were explicitly discussing the idea, but many were not. The requirement for inclusion in the metastudy was simply that it included a measure of something the authors considered to be a correlate of religiosity and something they consider to be a correlate of intelligence; and the necessary information to look at correlation between the two.

So 16 of the 63 measured performance on university entrance exams, for example, one looked at membership of Mensa.

Nor do they all measure religiosity in the same way. A few are based on declared religious affiliation, which is an obvious problem since we know from surveys that more people are self-professed Christians than believe in God (in Europe, at least). Most are based on a survey of beliefs, but they're not all asking the same questions; so it's not clear if they're directly comparable.

It is what it is - a series of studies that find the same thing. In another, less contentious, area we'd just nod and say ok.

On EvC? I'd be surprised and disappointed.

When something publishes something which confirms your prejudices in an area that's contentious because it's very difficult to measure, nodding and saying 'ok' is not the right approach if you're actually interested in the subject. Looking at what they did and considering whether it actually provides any strong support for your prejudices would be better.

Found the pdf here.

Edited by caffeine, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 21 by Tangle, posted 05-28-2017 7:06 PM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 26 by Tangle, posted 05-29-2017 7:52 PM caffeine has responded

  
caffeine
Member
Posts: 1799
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


(1)
Message 33 of 60 (810666)
05-31-2017 3:37 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by Tangle
05-29-2017 7:52 PM


All the studies had some form of measurement of intelligence and some form of measurement of religiosity. Of course they're not all the same but that's not an argument to dismiss them, simply a limitation to note. It could just as easily be a strength - different methods producing similar results can indicate robustness.

Unless some of these correlates are not actually measuring what they're purported to be. If your religiosity measure is not actually a genuine correlate of religious belief, but is measuring something else negatively correlated with intelligence for a different reason; then it's not an independent support for the correlation. It's spuriously making the correlation look stronger than it really it.

Oh come on! None of us have time to read and analyse the source material for every article we come across in our musings - most here don't even have access to the base papers. I lost my access 12 months ago when my last period of study ended. The best we can often do is point to an article that has made it into the general media and leave it at that. Of course if it becomes contentious, then we look further.

I have so far only skim read the paper that you found but it has all the hallmarks of being pretty thorough and it's published in a decent enough publication. The researchers found "a reliable negative relation between intelligence and religiosity". I'm not seeing any reason to throw away the overall conclusions.

I'm not suggesting we throw anything away - I'm suggesting we proceed with caution. This means considering alternative explanations for the results. I already suggested the one that I consider most likely (that people with higher IQ are more likely to differ from convention - whatever convention happens to be). Given that the metastudy is dominated by studies of Americans; this idea is not tested.

Another explanation for the correlation (the one favoured by the authors of a review on the literature on this topic which I found whilst searching for the original metastudy) is that it is simply explained by education; mediated by the fact the religious fundamentalists are likely to receive less formal education than the general population. The metastudy does try to test this idea and their findings are not supportive. However, it's no longer an impressive metastudy, since only 6 of the included studies* have the necessary data.

*4, really, but they count separate data sets within the same study as independent studies

ABE: What I am trying to say is not that this study is nonsense. Rather, I'm saying that jumping from this to "Atheists are more intelligent than Religious people" is doing the same as news editors do when they tell us that grapes cause and/or cure cancer due to a suggestive study that establishes no such thing.

Edited by caffeine, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by Tangle, posted 05-29-2017 7:52 PM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
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