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Intelligence & Religiosity
Posted: 17 October 2006 12:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 91 ]  
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[quote author=“follyoffaith”]The one meta-analysis of this that I know of was published in Mensa Magazine. It looked at 43 studies on the relationship between educational level or IQ and religion. And in 39 out of 43—that’s all but four—there is a correlation between IQ/education and atheism. The more educated you are, the more likely you are to be an atheist. Or the more intelligent you are, the more likely you are to be an atheist.

Dawkins may have his source wrong:

 

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Posted: 17 October 2006 02:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 92 ]  
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Dawkins may have his source wrong:
http://www.answers.com/topic/religiosity-and-intelligence

And that solves that…

Thanks for the data…I feel smarter already!

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Posted: 17 October 2006 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 93 ]  
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[quote author=“cpl”]

What is your problem?

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“I will tell you with the utmost impudence that I esteem much more his Person, than his Works.”

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Posted: 17 October 2006 03:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 94 ]  
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What is your problem?

Perhaps my message was unclear, so allow me to explain every little bit.

First the lines: “And that solves that.  Thanks for the data…”

I’m really quite pleased to have the data from 39 of 43 studies brought to my attention.  I was wrong, rationalists really are smarter than religionists and I can now rely upon data instead of “common sense” or the opinion of vested interests for that information to support that assertion.

The last line “I feel smarter already!” is a quip, a brief moment of humor offered up at my own expense, a reference to what was clearly my ignorance which has now been cured by your direction to the evidence.

Being rational and somewhat historically inclined, I value real data over even the most expert of opinion.  (One of my favorite books is “The Experts Speak,” a compendium of “expert” analysis which time has proven false.)  I’m also naturally inclined to see great humor in human folly, especially my own.  I don’t see either of those traits as a problem.  Apparently you do, for which I am truly sorry.

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Posted: 17 October 2006 06:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 95 ]  
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[quote author=“Climacus”]It seems to me that all of the most important notions in our life are open to accusations of vagueness…

The lines may be blurry, but they’re not are all over the map in the same way you are. You are indulging in what I call the relativist dodge—you have a opinion you want to advance, but when pressed hard, you back off to the position: “Well, nobody really knows for sure.” You try to weasel out of the argument by retreating to epistemological relativism. This is as old as Pilate’s “What is truth?” and probably a lot older, but it’s still as irritating today as it was then. I’m sure you have a lot of fun with this rhetorical maneuver, but it’s sophomoric and undisciplined.

That presupposes that they’re epistemic pursuits, which I think is a mischaracterization.

Of course they are epistemic pursuits. Believers study sacred texts obsessively, and attempt to draw closer to God in order to know God better and earn his favour. Knowing God is central to all of this—get it wrong, perform the wrong rituals, hold the wrong beliefs, call him the wrong name, and you’re out. If meditation is used in this context, the point is to come to a clearer understanding of the divine, because all the religions are quite clear on the point that if you don’t have this understanding, if you get it wrong, it’s all for naught. I doubt there is a single page in any scripture of any religion (most certainly not Islam or Christianity) that does not try to drive this point home. Of course, it’s hit or miss—all this study is more likely to produce a heretic than a saint. Consider the lunacy of the Rapture. No method, no consensus, no means of correction.

Everyone comes to adopt beliefs in a non-rational manner now and then; only rarely is force ever involved. And, really, force tends to be a pretty ineffective way of pursuing non-rational persuasion.

Conversion isn’t the immediate goal in the use of force, only acquiescence. A sizeable minority wielding sufficient intimidation is enough to enforce the appearance of near total consensus. In Soviet Russia, people would even edit what they said in private, even before the advent of electronic surveillance. The idea, as expressed in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, was that if you weren’t permitted to say it, you would eventually be unable to think it—and Orwell based this is a paraphrase of what Stalin actually said. Force plus time equals conversion, if you can stifle all voices of dissent. Thanks to Western television and radio, they weren’t able to do that in Russia, and they aren’t able to do it in the Middle East—yet. But that hasn’t stopped them from trying. That’s why satellite dishes are illegal in Iran.

There are more than a very few Muslims who believe that the world must be converted to Islam: go lurk on some Muslim chat forums if you don’t believe me, or go here and follow the links. They have achieved sufficient critical mass that moderate Muslims are terrified to speak out; those that do so publicly, even in Europe, need police protection. In England the police are advising critics of Islam to keep their mouths shut because they just can’t protect them—and this is in England!

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Posted: 17 October 2006 07:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 96 ]  
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[quote author=“Elentar”]The lines may be blurry, but they’re not are all over the map in the same way you are. You are indulging in what I call the relativist dodge—you have a opinion you want to advance, but when pressed hard, you back off to the position: “Well, nobody really knows for sure.”

I’m not a relativist of any sort, and I don’t see where I’ve presupposed a relativist position. All I’ve said is that there are distinctively religious practices—practices that are essentially oriented towards God (of course, assuming, for the sake of argument, that God exists—if there is no God, then the religious dimension of those practices is illusory—but the practices do at least purport to be about God). And I’ve given examples of such practices.

I don’t feel that these claims have been “pressed hard” as of yet. Mostly you’ve just challenged me to clarify what I mean by “God”. I guess I would point to the big 3 Abrahamic religions. Of course there is dispute as to the precise nature of the concept of God in that tradition, but the concept seems clear enough to serve as a topic of conversation. (Clear enough, for example, for atheists to say, “I don’t believe in that God”.)

Of course they are epistemic pursuits. Believers study sacred texts obsessively, and attempt to draw closer to God in order to know God better and earn his favour. Knowing God is central to all of this—get it wrong, perform the wrong rituals, hold the wrong beliefs, call him the wrong name, and you’re out.

A great many believers specifically reject any such idea. Universalist Christians, for example.

Rituals in particular play no essential role in a wide range of Christian denominations—mainstream Protestantism takes a dim view of the notion that rituals are essential to salvation. And it would be silly to care about names, given that Jesus wasn’t originally named “Jesus”, and God has umpteen different names in the bible.

I doubt there is a single page in any scripture of any religion (most certainly not Islam or Christianity) that does not try to drive this point home.

To the contrary, there are, at least in the bible, passages which pretty clearly imply that you don’t have to be a Christian (or believe in any dogma, or participate in any ritual, or say any prayer) in order to be saved. (Or maybe they imply that you can be a Christian without jumping through those hoops—potayto, potahto.)

There are more than a very few Muslims who believe that the world must be converted to Islam…

I meant relative to the Muslim population at large.

As far as I know, the Islamic terrorists that are making the most trouble for the west are not ones who want to convert the entire world. Bin Laden has no such aspiration. Ahmadinejad has no such aspiration. Nor do the Iraqi insurgents. Nor does Hamas or Hezbollah. Etc. I know that there are Muslims who want to convert the whole world, but they seem thus far to be the fringe of the fringe. (If you have information which contradicts this, I’d appreciate a more focused reference than a link full of generically anti-Muslim links.)

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Posted: 18 October 2006 02:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 97 ]  
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[quote author=“Climacus”]. . . And it would be silly to care about names, given that Jesus wasn’t originally named “Jesus”, and God has umpteen different names in the bible.

I don’t think you’ll find too many people around here disagreeing with this. On the other hand, church people might frown on your calling out praises to the great almighty Zeus.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 18 October 2006 11:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 98 ]  
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[quote author=“cpl”]I’m really quite pleased to have the data from 39 of 43 studies brought to my attention.  I was wrong, rationalists really are smarter than religionists and I can now rely upon data instead of “common sense” or the opinion of vested interests for that information to support that assertion.

Oh dear.  Assuming this is not irony, where to begin.

I am not concerned that Dawkings misattributes a “meta-analysis” between two lightweight mags such as Mensa and Sceptic in a verbal interview.  For that matter, it may have appeared in both. 

What does trouble me is that he appears not to know what a meta-analysis is, since he says “in 39 out of 43 [studies]—that’s all but four—there is a correlation”.  (So what?  How good were those studies?  I could design 400 studies to find a positive correlation between intelligence and religiosity and they would all be worthless.)

I am further troubled that he does not seem to be aware that meta-analysis is notoriously unreliable when it comes to research reports - let alone that what he mentioned probably wasn’t even a meta-analysis, since the website refers to the Sceptic piece as a summary.  And Dawkins certainly describes it that way.

The New England Journal of Medicine rejected meta-analysis in favor of randomized clinical trials: that is to say, when the results of a meta-analysis conflict with the results of a properly done clinical trial, one is advised to accept the results of the trial.

Here is part of what the editors had to say in support of their position:

“[M]ajor problems with the implementation of meta-analyses have been common.  There have been a wide variety of these, including failure of the investigator performing the meta-analysis to understand the basic issues, carelessness in abstracting and summarizing appropriate papers, failure to consider important covariates, bias on the part of the meta analyst, and, perhaps most often, overstatements of the strength and precision of the results. It is not uncommon to find that two or more meta-analyses done at about the same time by investigators with the same access to the literature reach incompatible or even contradictory conclusions. Such disagreement argues powerfully against any notion that meta-analysis offers an assured way to distill the ‘truth’ from a collection of research reports.”

This article was called “The promise and problems of meta-analysis” and it was published in 1997.  You have to have a subscription to NEJM to access their web content now, or you can pay-per-view, so if anyone is interested go to the site and search.

Bear in mind that they were criticizing meta-analysis when it comes to the kind of data that can be obtained from clinical trials.  Imagine how much worse it is in other areas of research.

In the end, meta-analysis works well for research that uses common (as in mutual… sigh) mathematical parameters but very badly for everything else.  As someone here on the forum said recently, GIGO.

Dawkins made a fairly heavyweight claim.  I’d have liked to see some equally sturdy evidence for it - or at least not merely something so flimsy.  All he did was expose his position to ridicule with that statement.  Then again, it was just an interview.  Perhaps he has published all kinds of gold-standard data.

The last line “I feel smarter already!” is a quip, a brief moment of humor offered up at my own expense, a reference to what was clearly my ignorance which has now been cured by your direction to the evidence.

Again, assuming this is not irony, I apologize if you think that your ignorance is now cured by the page I directed you to.  Such was not my intent.  I find that my ignorance on the subject of intelligence vs. religiosity is no more enlightened by perusing that avalanche of information.  That is to say, I am not more able to draw a conclusion one way or the other.

Being rational and somewhat historically inclined, I value real data over even the most expert of opinion.  (One of my favorite books is “The Experts Speak,” a compendium of “expert” analysis which time has proven false.)

Indeed.  It sounds like an excellent example of how hard it is to acquire “real data” - especially on topics as uncertain as “intelligence” and “religiosity”.

I’m also naturally inclined to see great humor in human folly, especially my own.  I don’t see either of those traits as a problem.  Apparently you do, for which I am truly sorry.

“‘In that case, tinkerty-tonk.’  And I meant it to sting.”

This forum does seem to be solemn, perhaps because we are all so very intelligent.  It’s not usually that hard to recognize jokes in writing, even when someone’s being laconic AND ironic.  (Then again, unintended humor can be the funniest of all.)  So I suppose I need to tell you explicitly not to worry.  I love a joke on myself.  It’s a shame so few people are able to bring one off.

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Posted: 18 October 2006 12:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 99 ]  
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“‘In that case, tinkerty-tonk.’ And I meant it to sting.”

LOL  Perfect!

It’s a shame so few people are able to bring one off.

Dying is easy.  Comedy is hard.

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Posted: 18 October 2006 12:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 100 ]  
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[quote author=“cpl”]

“‘In that case, tinkerty-tonk.’ And I meant it to sting.”

LOL  Perfect!

It’s a shame so few people are able to bring one off.

Dying is easy.  Comedy is hard.

:D

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