Mailvox: the distribution of atheist intelligence

As some of you have probably noted by now, I am not inclined to suffer fools gladly. And the fools I am least inclined to suffer are those who are prone to smugly offer erroneous corrections. Now, I have repeatedly pointed out that the small average atheist IQ advantage is small in comparison with the much larger number of highly intelligent theists and that most atheists have sub-100 IQs. These are all facts, easily verified by examining the GSS datafile.

Nevertheless, this did not prevent CLK from leaping in and attempting to correct me:

Now the unknown here is what is the data that you got #1 from —and
what does the distributions look like. The only way your statement #3
could possibly correct is if the two distributions are shaped
differently and the atheist one is much wider and shewed severely to a
low IQ .. which would seem very very unlikely… Its likely that
variance of the distribution of intellegence of theists will match the
general population variance and that the distribution of the atheists
will be in fact a subset of the theists….I do apologize for getting in the middle of the private conversation …
and for being right.. I will try to be less right in the future. 🙂

To which all the response needed is this graphic, taken from the latest 2012 General Social Survey and combined with the WORDSUM/IQ conversion table calculated by the estimable Aoli Pera. There is the explanation for the nonexistent dichotomy that CLK identified. The distributions are not only dissimilar, they are very nearly opposites. And note that as I predicted, the peak number of theists is precisely at 100 IQ.

As you can see, the two most common types of atheists are the High Church atheists with +2SD IQs (128+) and Low Church atheists with -2SD IQs (65-72). Note that the Low Church atheists actually outnumber the High Church atheists, 22.9 to 17.2 percent. This will surprise no one who has read TIA; as I noted there, we can observe a similar phenomenon at work in the Democratic Party membership.

Now, the statistically naive might look at this chart, note that the +2SD theists only account for 3.5 percent of the theistic population, and assume that this means there are more highly intelligent atheists than highly intelligent theists. This is not the case. As it happens, there are 11.4x more +2SD theists who either know God exists or believe God exists despite having the occasional doubt than there are +2SD atheists who don’t believe God exists.

The bad news for theists is that the overall number of those who know that God exists has declined from 63.8 to 62.6 percent from 2008. However, the number of those who believe, but are less certain has stayed the same. Interestingly enough, the increase in the agnostics (no way to know) and the spiritualists (higher power), has outpaced the increase in the number of atheists, with the spiritualists gaining the most, increasing from 8.1 percent of the populace to 8.8 percent. I’m not sure that’s quite what the anti-woo campaigners had in mind. Regardless, the chart below should put into perspective how mostly irrelevant atheists are to the population at large as it shows the percentage of atheists at the 10 different IQ levels in comparison to the most fervent categories of believers.

My guess is that most of the atheist trolls we see here from time to time are in the midwitted 114-121 category. In any event, I would think that most commenters here would understand by now that I don’t write anything here without having some evidential basis for it. I’m not saying that I’m always right, because that’s not the case. But I am saying that if you detect an apparent contradiction in what I’ve written, it would probably be a good idea to verify your assumptions before leaping in to correct me.

UPDATE: This amused me while playing around with the GSS. Of the dumbest strata of college graduates, nearly half, 46 percent, are atheists. That’s twice as many as all types of theists combined. We finally have an explanation for the Richard Dawkins fans.