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More news from Darwin’s atheists: Religion rots your intelligence.

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You didn’t hear?

Professor Lynn and colleagues wrote a paper in 2008 in the journal Intelligence which has been widely discussed. Here is a summary of its claims:

Evidence is reviewed pointing to a negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief in the United States and Europe. It is shown that intelligence measured as psychometric g is negatively related to religious belief. We also examine whether this negative relationship between intelligence and religious belief is present between nations. We find that in a sample of 137 countries the correlation between national IQ and disbelief in God is 0.60 [a high correlation].

The highlight of the paper is the chart of 137 nations. And it looks pretty convincing until you study it carefully. Then, picturing the data as a cart for the theory, wheels start wobbling.

I first became suspicious when Lynn et al. tried to explain why the United States is anomalous “in having an unusually low percentage of its population disbelieving in God (10.5 percent) for a high IQ country [98].”

Perhaps. The reader may protest, after all, that these are individual cases. Very well, let’s be daring. Let’s drop from the list all nations where government either enforces or forbids religion or is known to be generally unrepresentative. Most such countries report lower average IQ. But the centralized thinking of authoritarian culture could well cause lower IQ.


I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole, news. Actually, my above post is not quite true - it has dawned on him, and there are a number of papers that attempt to show that national IQ is a valid construct. I don't think that IQ itself has much construct validity, or, if it has, it's so hopelessly confounded with education and culture as to be meaningless as a dependent measure. This is demonstrated by the Flynn effect, to which of course Lynn contributed. I just don't understand why he doesn't see the obvious implications of his own work. I guess I'm just too politically correct for my own good, but these papers showing correlations between IQ and skin colour and distance from sub-Saharan Africa seem not only suspect but potentially self-perpetuating. Yes, IQ scores are lower in sub-Saharan Africa, but let's find out why. Stupid correlations like correlations with atheism are useless. What we need to know is what promotes good cognitive function. A decent diet would be a good start. Women's education would be a second. Elizabeth Liddle
Perhaps you will be so good as to write to the journal Intelligence and offer your view? News
news, the mean IQ for each country is irrelevant. All it means is that the tests weren't standardised in that country. Only the within-country slope is at all relevant, and even that, not much. The intercepts are meaningless. Lynn is a charlatan IMO. It still hasn't dawned on him that IQ tests are normed on a specific population and at best only valid for that population. Elizabeth Liddle

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