by Patrick Appel
A reader writes:
It seems likely that high IQ people are more likely than others to reject the religious outlook of their families and strike out on their own. As such, lower IQs will correlate with any society's dominant religion, and higher IQs will correlate with its minority religions insofar as those religions accept converts. Atheism is always recruiting, so in theistic, Christian societies like the United States, atheists will have, on average, slightly higher IQs than Christian theists. I recall reading that, in Japan, Christianity and high IQ are correlated, for similar reasons.
Jason Richwine made this same point last year in response to another study:
The correlation exists not because smart people have necessarily rejected religion, but because religion is the “default” position for most of our society.
This same principle works in places where the default and iconoclastic beliefs are reversed. Japan, for example, has no tradition of monotheistic religion, but the few Japanese Christians tend to be much more educated than non-Christians in Japan. By the logic of someone who wants to read a lot into the Stankov study, Christianity must be the wave of the future, perhaps even the one true faith! But, of course, the vast majority of educated Japanese are not Christians. Just as with atheism in the West, the correctness of Christianity cannot be inferred from the traits of the minority who subscribe to it in Japan.To reiterate, people who subscribe to non-traditional ideas probably have above-average intellects, but that does not mean other smart people will like those ideas.
Ilya Somin thinks along similar lines.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.