Wednesday, November 11, 2009

IQ, education, religious attendance, and fertility

Jewish Athiest's contributions are valued at this blog because he does such a good job of teeing it up for me. To quote him:
[Abortion's] just a symptom of the greater problem: religion is dysgenic. The less intelligent&educated, the more religious. The more religious, the more kids. Abortion's just a very small part of that picture.
Based on a GSS data of 23,871 people, the correlation between frequency of religious attendance and WORDSUM (an IQ proxy) is a whopping 0.00.  And the correlation between attendance and educational level is an even more whopping 0.02.  

At least he got the religiosity-fertility part right. One out of three ain't bad.

In the world of Americans who never go to church, low-IQ people (0-4 on WORDSUM) ages 40 and over in this decade average 1.82 kids. The number is 1.45 among the smartest non-attending group (8-10 on WORDSUM). A dysgenic situation exists in this secular world.  Are you surprised?  We would expect the incompetent to have more kids in an environment where it can be pulled off.

Among people who attend more than weekly, the dumb group average 2.24 kids. For the intelligent group, the mean is 2.10. In a world of religious people, the dysgenic trend almost disappears. 

Another way to look at it is, if we assume the greater fertility of religious people is completely due to their church attendance, then religiosity boosts the fertility of dumb people 23% while it boosts the fertility of the smart group by 45%.  The dysgenic influence of religion on the dull is more than made up for by the eugenic influence on the bright. Check out the Mormon case--a group with a mean IQ of 106.


  1. Richard Lynn found that IQ is inversely proportional to religious belief. This squares well with anecdotal evidence.

    Come on Ron, you have to know this is true.

    It's also interesting to note that about 60% of scientists express doubts about God and the NAS is 93% atheist/agnostic.

    (That is the only time I will EVER link to!)

  2. OneSTDV: Jewish Atheist's point was about the general linear relationship between, IQ, education, and religiosity, and not what happens at the extreme right tail.

  3. Doesn't Lynn's study show that? And if at the extreme right tail almost no one believes in God, isn't that evidence that intelligence probably has something to do with believing in God or not?

    How can you not admit that religiosity correlates inversely with education and IQ?

    The GSS has given some fishy conclusions before so I don't put too much faith in it, especially when it contradicts my eyes.

  4. Anonymous1:30 PM

    Religiosity can be measured in various ways. If you look at church attendance, it is positively correlated with intelligence. If you look at belief, it is negatively correlated.

    The question is which of the two better correlates with fertility? I think you should follow up by looking at the relationship between fertility and these two measures of religiosity. If belief has a higher correlation with fertility than church attendance, then JA may have a point.

  5. Anonymous2:56 PM

    This is sort of a tangent. It seems intelligent people's offspring have the advantage because intelligent people are more likely to help them survive and invest in their children's success. The simple would have more kids but fewer would survive. Birth control/abortion seems to have eliminated the advantage because the intelligent people use it to avoid passing their wealth and genes to the next generation. They have adopted the "you only live once and you can't take it with you" attitude vs. the "live forever through your children" type of attitude so prevalent in religion.

  6. Anonymous3:39 PM

    "It's also interesting to note that about 60% of scientists express doubts about God and the NAS is 93% atheist/agnostic."

    Notice it is not 100%. Anyway you expect the super smart to be skeptics. However, they are not the breeding ground for the next generation of thinkers because there are so few of them and few of them are women. The religion dynamic is more applicable to the general group of reasonably smart folks who will produce the next generation of smart productive people. To the extent that atheism really does contribute to falling birthrates among these folks, then there's reason for concern. Honestly, far more dangerous are liberal ideologies (whether religious or atheist) that lead productive responsible people to help the less intelligent increase while shaming responsible intelligent people into genetic suicide by birth control.

  7. I see religious attendance as a sign of civic involvement. It's a sort of sign of class, interest in networking, the ability to focus on the community. I'd be surprised if all that many people attended church regularly. Most people believe and occaisionally catch the bible TV channel. They don't actually go to church. I go to church about as often as some of the biblical literalists that I know. My parents are Hindu and I'm an atheist, but if you do a lot of charity work, eventually you will end up in a church service now and then. My 140+ IQ father goes to temple at least once a month and he's an atheist.

    Perhaps the issue isn't that church attendance correlates with fertility but that civic mindedness and community involvement is the real factor determining fertility. Otherwise belief correlates with lower IQ which correlates with higher fertility.

  8. Mormons in the NLSY have IQ scores which are pretty much exactly at the white average. Small sample sizes make it difficult to be confident. But nothing suggests they are below average.

  9. Anonymous10:13 PM

    1. Is this data for whites only? For racial reasons alone I'd suspect higher church attendance correlates with lower intelligence.

    2. I've heard before that attendance actually has a positive correlation with intelligence, but belief has the opposite effect. Try it with a question about if people believe in god or not.

  10. I should also note that Anabaptists, like the Amish -- perhaps the white group with the highest fertility in the US -- also have average or above average intelligence, despite living in backwards religious communities. So their way of life has not obviously had a dysgenic effect, as far as IQ goes anyway (Amish people also purportedly have above average health/longevity, despite lack of modern medical care).

  11. reiver11:25 PM

    @Jason Malloy, you said...

    "Amish people also purportedly have above average health/longevity, despite lack of modern medical care."

    I'd imagine that it would be plausible that it's because of the lack of modern medical care that they have above average health/longevity.

    I.e., Perhaps the "weak" are aren't contributing as much to the next generation as the "strong" because they are dying off; and thus over time, the gene pool gets "stronger" and "stronger" because the "strong" are contributing more to the next generation.

    ("Strong" being whatever survives "nature". And "weak" being whatever doesn't.)

  12. Interesting results, Ron. I asked the GSS some slightly different questions a while back:

    I found negative correlations between wordsum score and belief that the Bible is the word of God or inspired or fables or other; how fundamentalist R is (self-reported); belief that God is personally concerned with human beings; and (perhaps most strongly) opinion of how important church is.

    It could be that religious attendance is not a good proxy for religious belief, or maybe your data are atypical.

  13. Perhaps I was sloppy with my original wording. "More religious" is kind of ambiguous. I meant by it something like "more traditionally religious" or "more fundamentalist." Certainly there are plenty of liberal religious groups which do not substantially increase fertility.

  14. "It could be that religious attendance is not a good proxy for religious belief"

    I think there are two opposing forces. People with higher IQs are more socially adjusted; community participation is one aspect of higher social adjustment, and church remains one of the few ways to connect with their wider local community. People with higher IQs are also more logical, and therefore less predisposed toward supernatural explanations.

    At the edge there are actual atheists and agnostics who are active in churches (we call them Unitarians), but in the broad middle are people like Obama, professed believers with agnostic tendencies, who are strongly involved in their churches.

    These people are probably 'second-in-command' in their religions behind those who are equally intelligent, but with stronger supernatural beliefs.

  15. Anonymous9:40 AM

    "Certainly there are plenty of liberal religious groups which do not substantially increase fertility."

    Interesting point, JA.

    I wonder if those who identify with the liberal religious groups are more of the "attendance" type or more of the "believer" type.

    Personally I can't imagine getting up on a Sunday morning and going to some service to hear someone rattle on with the utmost sincerity about something I thought was nonsense. So the type that attend but don't believe are pretty baffling to me. The believe but don't attend seem more understandable. Hey, if you already believe, you don't need to hear it again, might as well just relax. Well, now I'm just rattling on.

  16. Religious fundamentalists have a social advantage over rationalists, in that humans are genetically predisposed towards religiousness, and therefore religion is an organic social organizing force. This gives fundamentalists social power over rationalists.

    Higher IQ people with 'spergery tendencies don't care about this, because they have no need to connect with any community. But higher IQ people with normal social instincts have their beliefs shaped by this reality. People's beliefs are shaped by logical and exta-logical motivations.

    Professed atheists therefore tend to come from two camps: A) people who are 'spergery enough that their beliefs have not been affected by social incentives, and B) people who have always been ensconsed in a wider sub-community with atheist norms. This is primarily those who come from scientist, artist, or far-left families.

  17. I'm personally very stupid, and I'm religious. Like Kant, Wittgenstein, Gödel, Einstein, Descartes, Newton, Kierkegaard, St. Theresa of Ávila... All stupid; all religious.

    Well, most of them left no descendants, but I have three children and one grandchild. Bwahaha.

  18. Einstein was not religious. He was essentially an atheist with respect to the traditional formulation of God. He has explicitly rejected the Judeo-Christian personal God in letters.

    As for Newton, he was religious, but he had obvious mental problems. His obsessive religiosity seems to be part of a larger neurotic disorder he had.

  19. Anonymous1:41 AM

    Ron's right yet again.

    In 200 years, when swpls are no longer with us, it will have seemed obvious. A group of people with a birthrate of 1.5 children per female is practically halfing themselves every 2 generations (about 80 years). The latino catholics who will probably comprimise the majority of the North American State at that point probably wont even commemorate 70's-90's feminists in History books with any more space than they'd allot for the Shakers or the flappers of the roaring 20's.

    One wonders, that if we could go back in history for -real-, if we'd note a depression of birthrates in Babylon, Assyria, Persia, the Hittite capital, and various other once-great civilizations right before their fall from history? We know the Greeks were (especially the Spartans) by their own failed birthrates.

    I cannot think of any other way to better defeat a people than to put emnity between their men and women with asinine laws. You just need to do so and sit back for about 100 years. They will be destroyed so throughroughly that they wont even be lamented because the remnant will despise each other.

  20. Professed atheists therefore tend to come from two camps: A) people who are 'spergery enough that their beliefs have not been affected by social incentives, and B) people who have always been ensconsed in a wider sub-community with atheist norms.

    you missed a third, admittedly tiny, camp -- those atheists who are smart enough to hide their views when hiding them is personally advantageous.

  21. @roissy

    What's the point to hide your beliefs in a pool?
    Sure you might do that for friends/relatives but not in a pool(especially if you're in the smart category).

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