Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Let's look at America's scIQ: In 2006 the General Social Survey asked 437 respondents eleven basic science questions. The first one, for example, was whether the earth's center is hot. I gave each person one point for answering a question correctly, and then summed the scores. My next step was to convert these totals so they resemble IQ scores. I set the white mean at 100, and the standard deviation at 15. Here are some averages:

ScIQ mean scores

Whites 100.0
Blacks 80.3
Hispanics 90.0

Males 99.2
Females 94.9

Less than high school 82.4
High school 94.2
Junior College 96.8
Bachelor 101.2
Graduate 103.1

Protestant 94.1
Catholic 98.7
Jewish 109.3
None 102.8

Never attends church 101.1
Attends more than once a week 87.4

New England 101.4
Middle Atlantic 98.0
East North Central 96.8
West North Central 103.6
South Atlantic 92.8
East South Central 95.7
West South Central 94.3
Mountain 101.8
Pacific 100.9

Interesting stuff. Blacks are well over one standard deviation below whites. This doesn't quite square with all the black doctors and scientists we see on TV. Women are about one-third of a SD below men--score one for Larry Summers.

Educational degree is no surprise; neither is the high Jewish mean. Anyone who completes high school should have been exposed to the information needed to answer the questions correctly. Many of those who finished high school and even attended college missed some of the questions, indicating that people are not understanding or retaining the information.

ScIQ differentiates churchgoers from non-attenders better than IQ does. I calculated Pearson correlations between scIQ and church attendance, and then the latter with IQ: the estimates are -.26 and -.08, respectively. Scientifically-minded people are less likely to go to church than people who are smart in a more general way, which supports the notion that there is intellectual friction between science and religion. By the way, scIQ correlates with IQ at .46.

It is also interesting that the West North Central region (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota) is at the top of the scIQ list, considering that New England tops the IQ list based on GSS data. Is it all the nerdy white folks who live in those parts? The uncool Mountain States are not far behind.


  1. Anonymous12:03 AM

    Could you post a link to the questions?

  2. Are the religion numbers whites-only? There are way more African-American baptists than Catholics.

    Also, how much does intentional ignorance of evolutionary theory hurt low-ecclesicastical authority Protestants?

    Oh yeah, I was reading a thread over at pandagon about absent fathers. A great many of them had abusive fathers. Commenters are a biased sample, so I was curious if there is a relationship between either abuse and strong leftism, or a more general correlation between extreme political opinions and abuse.

  3. Commenters are a biased sample, so I was curious if there is a relationship between either abuse and strong leftism, or a more general correlation between extreme political opinions and abuse.

    Your father is the first authority figure you meet. It's not surprising that people with poor relationships with their fathers would be anti-authority, which many leftists are. To the extent that a core of 'left' and 'right' exists, I'd say it's a tendency to be anti- or pro- authority/power/tradition etc. Similarly, in high school, jocks tend to be conservative, nerds in the middle, and artsy types liberal. (Could you prove this, Inductivist? You're good at this.) People's political views do grow out of their experiences in life.

  4. What you've got with West North Central and Mountain is probably foiled by race; stratify on race and you'll probably get the expected educational order. I've never seen an IQ-related question those damned Bostonians don't come out ahead on ;)

  5. Anonymous5:57 AM

    I found these questions:

    A. First, the center of the Earth is very hot. Is that true or false?

    B. All radioactivity is man-made. (Is that true or false?)

    C. It is the father’s gene that decides whether the baby is a boy or a girl. (Is that true or false?)

    D. Lasers work by focusing sound waves. (Is that true or false?)

    E. Electrons are smaller than atoms. (Is that true or false?)

    F. Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria. (Is that true or false?)

    G. The universe began with a huge explosion. (Is that true or false?)

    H. The continents on which we live have been moving their locations for millions of years and will continue to move in the future. (Is that true or false?)

    I. Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals. (Is that true or false?)

    J. Now, does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth?

    K. How long does it take for the Earth to go around the Sun: one day, one month, or one year?

  6. Yes, this is the list of questions. GSS made them too easy, but c'est la vie.

  7. rob: The religion numbers include everyone, so "Protestant" is lowered by blacks.

  8. Consider questions (G) and (I). An evangelical/fundamentalist Protestant taking this survey may feel compelled by his or her faith to give the wrong answers despite knowing they are considered wrong by the non-religious community. Remember, this is just an opinion survey, there's no reward for right answers or penalty for wrong ones.

    This factor, in addition to race, may account for the low Protestant average ... and, for that matter, may in part account for the low black average, fundamentalism being popular among blacks.

  9. Might be worth doing it without the evolution question. Is the continental drift question also touchy?

    What's the correlation with the vocabulary quiz on the test? Any divergences stand out?


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