James, I'm inclined to think that you are right - the average atheist probably is cleverer than the average theist.
One of the things I like about christianity is that it welcomes all sortsof people (well generally, anyway). People with disabilities, people with poor social skills, the full range of social classes, etc, can all find a welcome within a christian church - most churches anyway. I think this egalitarianism before God (we all need forgiveness) is a wonderful thing, but it does probably lower the average IQ - as if that mattered and as if God cares about that.
Atheists often ask why God hasn't left more evidence so they can demonstrate scientifically that he exists, but they miss the point. They seem to assume that life is a great scientific study where the prize goes to the smartest, but why would God want to reward cleverness? Other qualities are more important.
We should be glad that we are not collectively as clever, but we must try hard to be more gracious.
Without disagreeing with anything that has been written here, I thought you might be interested in the following. There was an article on daytime TV last week (so I have been told) about a forthcoming paper for the journal Intelligence by Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Ulster, in which he argues that there is a strong correlation between high IQ and lack of religious belief and that average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 countries. The story was also followed in the Times Higher Education supplement.
I was forwarded a net link for the paper. It is worth reading for one reason and one reason only - as a good example of an incredibly, incredibly awful paper.
I think this was the paper that set off this discussion in the first place.
Ah, therein lies the problem, at least insofar as me understanding allusions to your blog. My work (from where I tend to watch these things and comment on them) does not allow access to some sites, including your blog - not sure why, something to do with having the word 'blog' in the address, I think...
It's hard to know where to start - however, to stick to my own field of expertise, it's primarily because it makes such huge errors with regard to its tratment of statistics. The things that stood out to me on reading through it:
1. The authors never seem to discuss the weaknesses in their approach, and never challenge their own thesis. And boy, oh boy does it need challenging - the overall impression I got (unfortunately) was of people who have a thesis and then find the evidence to back it up, ignoring any weaknesses in the data and argument. In short, I think the paper is dishonest.
2. Apparently IQ is the same as intelligence, at least according to the authors. They use the term IQ at the start and then revert most of the time to using intelligence. The 2 are not synonymous.
3. They cite the decline of religious belief with age amongst children as evidence for a positive correlation between IQ and atheism. I find it hard to believe that they could be so naive as to ignore the influence of other factors that would affect professed belief in teenagers. Also, as far as I knew, intelligence does not actually increase between the ages of 12 and 18 - knowledge and ability to apply knowledge, yes, but not intelligence.
4. They cite the decrease in religious attendance in England over the last 100 years as evidence for a positive correlation between IQ and atheism. Again, I am gobsmacked that they have ignored the influence of other factors in this decrease in religious belief. The number of motor cars has also increased in the last 100 years - would they take this to mean that owning a car would make you an atheist?
5. They attempt a correlation between national IQ and national rate of belief in God (note, monotheist). It's worth noting that many of the countries with 'low IQ' but high belief in God are in Africa - their 'low IQ' couldn't have anything to do with poorer education in many areas of these countries rather than inteliigence, could it?! And having Japan in there with 65% not believing in God but with with an IQ of 105: I'm sure that the figures could well be correct, but Japanese culture isn't geared around a single god but around honouring the extended family (including the dead ones) and around kami, so to use the Japanese as examples of 'atheists' is pushing definitions just a little I think.
How any periodical worth its salt could publish such trash is beyond me. But then, there are periodicals and then there are periodicals...
I'll raise you one on this subject. Lets assume for the sake of argument that atheists are on average better educated than the average theist in most societies, especially predominantly christian societies. Lets also assume the commonly heard story of accepting Christian belief nominally until being exposed to other ideas, science, reason, etc., then found Christianity lacking, and rejected it. Thus, one grows up, questions the dominant view, and rejects it. However, there are also plenty of people who grow up, question the dominant view, but don't reject it. What about those people?
Certain atheists will say that they have questioned everything else, but left their religious beliefs protected, and thus are still theists. I don't need to discect that claim here, but I did find it in the comments section of the article about the Richard Flynn paper. Anyway, so among the "intellectual elite" there are people of a very wide spectrum of views on various issues, but one thing in common: they were forced in their education to question the dominant or accepted norms on every subject. Some rejected mainstream views, others didn't.
Therefore, I will hypothesize, admittedly not with much evidence, that in any society, people who reject the dominant or mainstream views and beliefs in favor of alternatives should be expected to be better educated or be smarter than average, because they reached the point in education where they do an awful lot of questioning. Or, they just have plenty of time to philosophize when most people are busy with their lives and making ends meet.
That's my view. If it holds water, than that means that the average intelligence and education of people who hold particular views is a severely unreliable way of determining the truth about anything.
Average intelligence is one thing, expertise in a relevant field is another.
Post by humphreyclarke on Jul 18, 2008 12:43:07 GMT
It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion; for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity. Nay, even that school which is most accused of atheism doth most demonstrate religion: that is, the school of Leucippus and Democritus and Epicurus: for it is a thousand times more credible that four mutable elements, and one immutable fifth essence, duly and eternally placed, need no God, than that an army of infinite small portions or seeds unplaced should have produced this order and beauty without a divine marshal.
I hate resurrecting a year-old thread, but I remember what James said about how many atheists believe the Jesus Myth theory, which certainly isn't clever. But, presumably because Europe is more secular than America, the Jesus Myth theory is more popular in Europe.
What I wanted to get at was this: are there certain ideas, myths, rumors, that seem much more popular in Europe than America (and vice-versa)? I have heard that 9/11 conspiracies are still very big in Europe, and holocaust denial seems very popular in the Muslim world, and that itself is becoming a problem with integrating Muslim immigrants.
It's a tricky one because we generally subscribe to the same conspiracy theories. For example the moon landings being faked is a popular one here, so are the 9/11 ones but they all started in the States and have been transported over. Holocaust denial is especially popular in Muslin communities but is scoffed at in the wide society.
There are a few uniquely British ones. The only one which springs to mind is the one about Maggie Thatcher sinking the Belgrano so she could escalate the Falklands War and prevent Labour winning the next election.
Saying that conspiracy theories are more popular here is tricky, climate change denial (as opposed to climate scepticism) is here mostly confined to either the far right (PVV) or the fringes of main right-wing parties (I mean conservative liberals like the VVD here, not Christian democrats, who are more centre/mostly centre-right/sometimes centre-left). The left rejects such beliefs for obvious ecological reasons, but seems more prone to believe in 9/11 theories and the Bilderberg Group being a secret world government as far as I can tell.
My point is that somebody like Glenn Beck doesn't seem likely to go mainstream in Europe, because libertarianism is really improbable to take off here. Quite some people are very positive about Obama (even more positive than they are about their own politicians, an opinion I don't quite share), so the conspiracy theories about Acorn are not popular.
Now, I did come across somebody claiming that Obama has the Indonesian nationality and he was also upset about the undemocratic aspects of the healthcare bill that were conveniently linked to the rise of fascism. He didn't take my sarcasm kindly. To be fair, universal and mandatory coverage was implemented by the German occupiers here, but for rather different reasons (and more scrupled politicians tried it before them, so invoking Godwin's Law was really uncalled for).
Conspiracy theories are generally carefully groomed for a specific audience to suit their political tastes, but the left and the right may ascribe to generally the same theory with a different context (and scapegoat). So often they will look similar when it comes to the general story.
A specific Dutch conspiracy theory would be about the death of Pim Fortuyn, I heard there recently was a "documentary" about how Volkert van der Graaf was not the murderer. I'd label that a conspiracy theory. Another Dutch conspiracy would be the belief in an imminent Muslim take-over of the Netherlands or at least islamisation.
Post by ignorantianescia on Aug 6, 2010 10:13:48 GMT
I have heard of that whistleblower at school (maatschappijleer), but his story was referred to as factual. So it's a conspiracy theory? That's new to me, but reading a bit about it, I can see why. It's about an extremely, exquisitely corrupt government. What strikes me is that the article presents it as factual, but is insufficiently referenced.
The talk page is pretty loopy, by the way.
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