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Old 02-27-2009, 01:22 AM   #85
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The Nexus of Intelligence and Religiosity

There has been some discussion on Garfield's part regarding the veracity of Nyborg's research, so I'm going to give it the same treatment I did Stankov. Fair use prevents me from simply posting the entire article, but the full paper is available in volume 37 of Intelligence, which is available at most university libraries or via public libraries either in their stacks or online access. Ask your local librarian.

The present study examined whether IQ relates systematically to denomination and income within the framework of the g nexus, using representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (NLSY97). Atheists score 1.95 IQ points higher than Agnostics, 3.82 points higher than Liberal persuasions, and 5.89 IQ points higher than Dogmatic persuasions. Denominations differ significantly in IQ and income. Religiosity declines between ages 12 to 17. It is suggested that IQ makes an individual likely to gravitate toward a denomination and level of achievement that best fit his or hers particular level of cognitive complexity. Ontogenetically speaking this means that contemporary denominations are rank ordered by largely hereditary variations in brain efficiency (i.e. IQ). In terms of evolution, modern Atheists are reacting rationally to cognitive and emotional challenges, whereas Liberals and, in particular Dogmatics, still rely on ancient, pre-rational, supernatural and wishful thinking.
The “g nexus” that Dr. Nyborg refers to is the “general intelligence” factor, a construct used in psychology to quantify common trends across various methods of scoring intelligence. Basically, there is an assumption that there exists a factor in human cognition that drives intelligence which may be phenotypical and an indicator of brain efficiency. While the g factor hypothesis generated a fair bit of controversy in the early 1980s, most notably from Stephen J. Gould, it has since become widely accepted with the advent of much empirical research. Wikipedia barely touches on this topic for which entire texts have been written, but I provide that link as a starting point for anyone interested in further information.

What Nyborg attempts to do (and appears to succeed) is to bring religiosity into the g nexus. Like Garfield is always saying, Nyborg has an agenda. Unfortunately, perhaps for Garfield, the agenda isn't so sinister. Nyborg acknowledges the scientific curiosity of the “origin, development and persistence of religion worldwide” in his introduction to the research questions. He also notes the pervasive nature of religion across global boundaries as a human condition, anthropologically relevant to understanding human cognition in general given the presence of religion in both developing and developed nations and given the diverse range of superstitions and beliefs which exist.

Nyborg describes his research thus:
The present study examines the working hypothesis that
dogmatism reflects a neurologically less than optimally evolved low g brain that seek supernatural guidance in ambiguous or life threatening situations. The study begins with two sets of a priori assumptions. First, high g people have a brain based biological capacity for solving complex problems, and for acting rationally when confronted with fundamental questions about existence, human nature, underlying causes, or the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. Second, low g people lack this protection and are therefore unfairly ordained to live in a prerational world based on poorly validated evidence and little accumulated insight. They accordingly often find themselves in cognitively, emotionally, or morally challenging situations and have to use plan B, that is, to call upon easily comprehensible religious authoritative guidance and to submit more or less uncritically to culturally given stereotyped rituals. Frustration with their life may also make them seek redemption or faith in an after life.
Nyborg also describes Six testable syllogisms about g which defined the empirical program:
Originally Posted by Nyborg
Syllogism 1
Premises 1 and 2:
Cognitively complex people typically resort to reason, science and data to reduce uncertainty,whereas people lacking this cognitive protection often resort to ancient supernatural beliefs and claims. Ergo: High-IQ people gravitate towards atheism and/or science, and low-IQ people become religious.

Syllogisms 2a–c
Premise 1 and 2+premise 3:
Denominations differ in cognitive complexity. Ergo, 2a: Cognitively highly complex people choose Atheism/science; 2b: Medium complex people choose liberal denominations (i.e. fairly open, critical, less committed, metaphorical, cultural heritage type), and 2c:Least complex people drift towards dogmatic denominations (committed, personal relationship with Jesus, emphasis on sinfulness, fixed rules for behaviour, and need for atonement).

Syllogism 3
Premise 4: Denominations of different conceptual complexity also differ in IQ. Ergo: Denominations can be systematically rank ordered by average IQ.

Syllogism 4
Premis 5: Denominations that differ in distribution score will according to Gaussian distribution theory also differ in the proportions of high-IQ individuals (i.e. with IQ≥120)—the group from which society primarily recruits its members for the upper positions. Obviously, the absolute denominational contribution of high-IQ members also depends on its numerical size. Ergo: Large denominations may offer more gifted individuals to occupy the upper religious and social positions in society than do small denominations, even if they do have relatively low mean IQs and Sds.

Syllogism 5
Premise 6:
IQ is the most important single predictor of income. Ergo: Denominations with high IQ earn more than less favored denominations.

Syllogism 6
Premises 7 and 8:
The indicator for the heritability of IQ goes up with age as children have more chances to actively create their own environment rather than just reacting passively to parental directions. Moreover, individuals tend to gravitate over time towards a job with a task complexity that matches their own cognitive complexity level— the so-called Gravitation hypothesis. In the present context the Gravitation hypothesis gives basis for the expectation that individuals will gravitate over time towards a non-faith/faith position with a degree of complexity that matches their own cognitive complexity. Ergo: Agnostic and Atheist persuasions become increasingly more prevalent from ages 12 to 17, and the proportion of religious believers drops accordingly.

Nyborg conducted 12 sub-tests on sample sizes that exceeded 10,600,000 adolescents based on CAT-ASVAB97 test scores converted to IQ across 19 denominations which included Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Muslim, atheist, agnostic Pentecostal, and Presbyterian among others.
Results of these data show:

The data, as we can see in the lengthy and detailed methods section of his paper, aren't from Nyborg's own survey questions, questionnaires, or subjective hypotheses. They are arrived at using existing test scores used by the Department of Defense (the ASVAB test that many adolescents take every year in high school) and use to place potential service members in jobs and specialties to which they are cognitively suited.

The results are clear: “white religious people trail Atheists by 5.13 IQ points. Analysis of variance on the actual number of respondents indicates that this difference is statistically significant (p=.02).”

In the event that Garfield sees fit to erect a straw man or send us all on a red herring (he undoubtedly will if past behavior is an example) with the inclusion of “white” in the statement above, its important to note that Nyborg, like many social scientists who study social and anthropological research questions, was merely controlling for race. In the paper itself, you can see where he applied similar controls to other social constructs like wealth and status in order to isolate the correlation itself.

There appears to be no basis to Garfield's unfair and dishonest strawman, red herring and ad hominem attempts to dismiss Nyborg's research when his 2009 study is closely examined. It has nothing to do with his previous research nor has Garfield shown any indication that he understands what, specifically, Nyborg was accused of -an accusation that was so insignificant that the result was a reprimand. An accusation that is unrelated to this research.

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