Godless liberals measurably smarter than god-fearing conservatives

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins — author of The God Delusion — is an outspoken advocate for atheism. He not only rejects religion but argues the non-religious must forcefully protest against religion because it is so damaging. (Actually, comedian Bill Maher — who made the movie Religulous — fits this definition too.) Dawkins says atheists could market themselves better with a sexier name, and he recommends “brights.” Well, there’s now some statistical evidence suggesting the term “brights” — although an arrogant, elitist name to choose for oneself — is statistically accurate:

Young adults who identify themselves as “not at all religious” have an average IQ of 103 during adolescence, while those who identify themselves as “very religious” have an average IQ of 97 during adolescence.

The same is even more true of liberals:

Young adults who subjectively identify themselves as “very liberal” have an average IQ of 106 during adolescence while those who identify themselves as “very conservative” have an average IQ of 95 during adolescence.

So, when conservative talk show hosts rail against “godless liberals,” they’re trying to shout down some pretty intelligent people. As faux-conservative TV host Stephen Colbert says, “Facts have a liberal bias.”

The scientist behind these studies, London School of Economics evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa, claims (in a forthcoming issue of Social Psychology Quarterly) the statistical findings fit a pattern of more intelligent people using their intelligence to choose to believe and do things evolution does not select for. Evolution nudges us in certain directions, perhaps acting through emotions, built-in morality codes or subconscious patterns of thought. Evolutionary pressures would lead us — Kanazawa argues — to care about ourselves and our friends and family but ignore the suffering of people we don’t know. Liberals — he argues — use their brains to reason morally past their selfish instincts to care for the welfare of even distant strangers. Similarly, believing (or at least outwardly embracing) the religion of our parents and our friends and our community is the safe, easy, evolutionarily evolved religious strategy. Those who reject their local, parent-approved, community-approved religion are, therefore, using their (on average superior) intellect to make a decision antithetical to our evolutionarily evolved tendency.

Posted by James on Saturday, February 27, 2010