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Liberals & atheists are smarter than conservatives & very religious, but why?

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanFebruary 25, 2010 2:20 PM


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Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent:

The origin of values and preferences is an unresolved theoretical question in behavioral and social sciences. The Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis, derived from the Savanna Principle and a theory of the evolution of general intelligence, suggests that more intelligent individuals may be more likely to acquire and espouse evolutionarily novel values and preferences (such as liberalism and atheism and, for men, sexual exclusivity) than less intelligent individuals, but that general intelligence may have no effect on the acquisition and espousal of evolutionarily familiar values (for children, marriage, family, and friends). The analyses of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Study 1) and the General Social Surveys (Study 2) show that adolescent and adult intelligence significantly increases adult liberalism, atheism, and men's (but not women's) value on sexual exclusivity.

I don't have access to the paper, but ScienceDaily reports the values. For the NLSY, which surveys teens: Very liberal IQ = 106 Very conservative IQ = 95 Atheist IQ = 103 Very religious IQ = 97 I don't know if I buy the evolutionary psychological explanation. OK, I don't actually buy it. But I really need to start poking around the NLSY data set. The gap between very liberal and very conservative teens is rather large, ~2/3 of a standard deviation. But I don't expect liberal readers of this weblog to take much joy in that, after all, many of them don't think IQ is real. Here are the results, with counts, of the survey I took a few weeks ago in terms of attitudes toward IQ by ideology:


As you can see, attitudes toward IQ track the Left-Right axis pretty well. I'll present the data later, but those with a "Left" ideology among the readers are clearly more well educated than those with a "Right" ideology (much higher proportion with post-graduate educations), so I suspect that liberal readers of this weblog are more intelligent than conservative readers, but, they may not believe themselves to be more intelligent. Rather than innate dispositions driving their views, I assume they believe it is mostly indoctrination. Note: These results aren't totally surprising. You can find similar results by looking at other data sets, though the gap between extreme liberals & conservatives here is rather large.

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