Mailvox: superior atheist intelligence

A psychologist writes from Finland:

I enjoyed greatly your book Irrational Atheist and used it in my two books about atheism published here in Finland. Have you noticed the new study the summary of which is below? I have not read the full article, yet, but will do it. This must be great news for those “bright” atheists.

The Finnish PhD is referring to this metastudy, which noted: “A new review of 63 scientific studies stretching back over decades has concluded that religious people are less intelligent than non-believers.”

Setting aside my intrinsic skepticism concerning the reliability of metastudies, this finding is nothing new and I have readily conceded that religious individuals are less intelligent than non-believers in general and atheists in particular on average for years.  However, what the midwits who get very excited about this statistical fact never seem to keep in mind is that because there are so many more religious people, there are considerably more highly intelligent religious people than there are highly intelligent non-believers.

In fact, the ratio of theists to atheists with Mensa+ level IQs is more than 10 to one.

Logic dictates that because the vast majority of people are religious, the average religious IQ is right around 100.  This is, in fact, what most of the religion and IQ studies have determined.  The average atheist IQ advantage appears on the order of about 5 points. That is less than one-third the 16 point difference in average IQs observed between blacks and whites.

So, a substantial portion of the observed difference between average religious and irreligious IQs can be attributed to the fact that atheists tend to be a) male, and, b) European or Jewish.  Now isn’t that awkward….

More importantly, the fact that people who believe X happen to be modestly more intelligent than people who believe Y does not indicate that the first group is correct. I suspect that the average IQ of the economists who believed massive quantitative easing would produce economic growth in Japan is considerably higher than that of the average atheist, and yet the recent GDP report shows it would have been hard for them to have been more wrong.