February 27, 2010

Um...Not So Fast There, Bub.

Saw this at CNN this morning:
Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs. This applied also to sexual exclusivity in men, but not in women. The findings will be published in the March 2010 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.
Now as I am a liberal AND an atheist, I'd like very much to believe this is true. But as I am a member of the reality based community, I have to be shown something that at least looks like data before supporting it.

And that's where this comes up short. CNN gives us some "numbers" (and you get a donut if you can spot the red flags):
Participants who said they were atheists had an average IQ of 103 in adolescence, while adults who said they were religious averaged 97, the study found. Atheism "allows someone to move forward and speculate on life without any concern for the dogmatic structure of a religion," Bailey said.
So adults who said they were religious scored a 97 while adolescents who were atheists scored a 103.

Setting aside the murky word usage here (how are "religious" and "atheist" defined? Dunno I do know a few Buddhists who'd say it's possible to be religious AND atheist, but I digress.) isn't it messy to compare adult IQ with adolescent IQ?

Then there's this:
The study found that young adults who said they were "very conservative" had an average adolescent IQ of 95, whereas those who said they were "very liberal" averaged 106.
I am curious about the inclusion of the adverb "very." What do the numbers look like when one just looks at self-described liberals vs self-described conservatives (i.e. without the "very")? How do those populations compare to each other in size? And how large is each "very" segment compared to those larger populations?

It's necessary to know this stuff before believing any of this CNN article.

I'll let this post have the penultimate word:
Seriously? Show me the error bars on those measurements. Show me the reliability of IQ as a measure of actual, you know, intelligence. Show me that a 6 point IQ difference matters at all in your interactions with other people, even if it were real. And then to claim that these differences are not only heritable, but evolutionarily significant…jebus, people, you can just glance at it and see that it is complete crap.
I can't say complete crap but there's enough to doubt in the piece on Kanazawa to safely toss all this in the "ignore this" pile.


High Lord Inquisitor and Factchecker of 2PJ. said...

I have to be shown something that at least looks like data before supporting it.
Unless it is data used to prove Climate Change in which case it is too complex for the stupid masses to comprehend.
We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it. There is IPR to consider.

Dayvoe said...


Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver. These conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence, and contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science.

From a letter (
signed by the leaders of 18 scientific organizations including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Meterological Society and the American Geophysical Union.

I guess we have to do this everytime.

Ol' Froth said...

But it snowed Dayvoe. IT SNOWED!

n'at said...

Since we're off topic, anyone wanna go for a ride on a iceberg the size of Luxembourg floating away from the "cooler" side of Antarctica? It was recently christened by another iceberg 60 miles wide earlier this month.

Those crazy icebergs... why cant they play nice, not melt or set their peers adrift.

Ol' Froth said...

it's an ICE berg, therefore, global warming/climate change is a HOAX! Also! Too!

EdHeath said...

"Ahh, Ice berg, Freedberg, Greenberg, it's all the same ..."

Punch line to a bad joke.

As for Steve McIntyre's post, it makes me wonder how there are peer reviewed papers if the climate scientists are sharing data.

EdHeath said...
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EdHeath said...
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High Lord Inquisitor and Factchecker of 2PJ. said...

More on True Scientific research from Phil Jones.
'standard practice' to release data and computer models so other scientists could check and challenge research.