Higher IQ linked with atheism, liberalism, and monogamy

I took a few days off in light of my recent birthday, and while I was away, I received a ton of email concerning a study done by evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa that linked IQ with atheism, liberalism, and monogamy. I figured I should probably talk about it a bit.

Kanazawa believes the reason this is true is human beings are designed by natural selection to be more conservative (and therefore more religious) and care only for our kin. Intelligence itself was a fairly recent development meant to help us solve complex problems, but because the changes happen gradually over time, there were some who possessed more raw brain power than others, who tend to take on values such as liberalism, atheism, and monogamy (which actually might explain why religious folks have a higher divorce rate than atheists).

I read his book: “Why Beautiful People Leave More Daughters“, and although it was interesting and offered some pretty unique explanations to human behavior through the lens of evolutionary psychology, it’s important to note this is also the same man who believed that poor health was the result of lower IQ. This study was criticized for failing to take into account the fact people with lower IQs also tend to live in poorer neighborhoods, and their intelligence is more a sign of poor education rather than anything inherent about their brain power.

If you want to cling to the study to make yourself feel good, I’m not going to stop you. Intelligence is notoriously hard to measure, but as far as I’m concerned, the correlation is a lot simpler; atheists, agnostics and non-theists are more likely to have been exposed to a larger variety of ideas in the course of their lives (since they aren’t afraid to read religious and philosophical materials of other cultures), and that in itself may account for the difference in intelligence Kanazawa measured.  Let’s not all pat ourselves on the backs just yet; one study doesn’t prove shit; besides, do you really need some excuse to feel smarter than your religious counterpart?

Comments (4)

  • avatar

    The Mother

    And let’s not forget the large error bars on any IQ measurement. The data in this study suggest a 6 point difference in average IQ measured in the teens. I would not only argue that this is within the margin of error of the test, but also that the teenage years are notoriously in flux. You are likely measuring the parents’ religiosity, not the teens’. Let them grow up, go to college, and ask them again. You might get very different results.

  • avatar


    Makes sense to me. Another thing that makes sense, at least anecdotally, is what I’ve always heard about a correlation between higher IQ and more frequent masturbation.
    I’m always busy and I’m no idiot.

  • avatar

    Zombie Jesus

    If there is to be any correlation, it lies in critical thinking. Atheists have usually looked deeply into religious philosophies and scientific theories and studies alike. After considering facts and evidence, the atheist usually concludes that while science may not have the right answers all the time, there is no evidence to support any religious claim outside of a tome and faith.

    People who blindly believe ridiculous religious claims lack the critical thinking opportunity that atheists have seized. We’ve honed our skills. It’s just a matter of time before people smarten up and actually bother to read what their doctrines actually propose.

    By “Intelligence Quotient” they mean critical thinking. When being tested, they usually implement a variety of logic puzzles and time the result. This does not mean that we are inherently more intelligent, it just means that we’ve actualized our potential, and theists will not be able to until they shake off the religious haze.

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