That isn't surprising. Adherence to fantastic, empirically unverifiable beliefs does not denote intelligence. The more literal and less metaphorical those beliefs become, the less they are going to appeal to intelligent people.
That religiosity and intelligence are inversely correlated obfuscates the potential value of religion by suggesting that religious belief causes a drop in IQ. Half Sigma suggested as much a couple of years ago:
Doesn’t anyone think that it’s at least as important to tell us that religion also brings stupidity? I guess not.IQ stabilizes around age seven. I am unaware of data suggesting that an increase in religiosity corresponds with measured IQ over the course of an individual's life. So I am comfortable in presuming that to the extent the two are related, the causation arrow points from intelligence to religiosity.
From this perspective, I find religion potentially beneficial, for those of modest intelligence anyway. If some belief system is going to be uncritically followed, better for it to come from Billy Graham than from Us Weekly.
Nyborg's paper allows for an evaluation, by way of household income, of how members of various denominations fare relative to their average IQ levels. Unfortunately, he pulls the income data from the households of the teenagers, so the comparisons made below are based on the income of adults and the IQ and beliefs of their children (which are presumably mostly shared with that of the parents). Some of these children will have switched to different denominations upon becoming adults, just as some of their parents have brought the teenagers in the study up in a different denomination than they were raised in themselves. A study out of the University of Chicago finds that around two-thirds of Protestants, more than four in five Catholics, and nearly nine in ten Jews retain the same religious tradition they were raised in. Consequently, the table should only be seen as suggestive. If Nyborg had tracked adults in both cases, it would be superior.
Anyhow, following is an index created by subtracting a denomination's average household income (adjusted for sample size) in comparison with all groups, by standard deviation, subtracting it from the denomination's average IQ in the same way, and multiplying by 100 for ease of viewing. So a group that is .5 SDs above the mean in income and .3 SDs below the mean in IQ scores an 80 ((.5- (-.3))*100)--given their modest intelligence, they are pretty economically successful. Also included for reference are marriage-plus-cohabitation rates as reported by Pew's US Religious Landscape survey:
|4. Disciple of Christ||12.6||58%|
|6. Roman Catholic||5.8||65%|
|7. Personal philosophy||3.4||58%|
|8. Unified Ch. of Christ||0.7||58%|
|9. Other religion||(0.3)||60%|
|15. Bible Church||(13.5)||67%|
|18. Other Protestant||(30.0)||58%|
Even with the second highest IQ scores of the 19 groups measured, Jewish incomes far surpass what intelligence alone predicts. This suggests the story behind Jewish success is more than the history of Ashkenazi intelligence alone. The stock explanation that Jews put a great deal of emphasis on learning and focus on scholarship comes to mind. So do Bernie Madoff's investors. It would be interesting to see a full study with adjustments for IQ comparing the life outcome of Jews with goyim. It should also be noted that Nyborg made no cost of living adjustment for incomes, so Jewish population concentration in the relatively expensive Northeast causes some score inflation.
Mormons shine by this measure as they do by many others. A remark by a medical student and Steve Sailer reader seems right on the money:
I don't think Mormons in general have higher IQ's, but I think that since they are not allowed to drink, smoke, party, gamble, or any other fun stuff, they are all ultra productive, and even the mediocre ones are able to channel their hard work into success.Mormons are the least likely of the 19 denominations to live alone, but I suspect among the married, they are among the most likely to have a single breadwinner household.
Atheists and agnostics, by contrast, come in at the bottom. The low rates of multiple person households is part of the explanation, but the high number of lone wolves among their ranks illustrates their social marginality in another way relative to the cognitive endowments they enjoy. This does little to dispel stereotype I hold of atheists as cynical, single white guys who live in apartments downtown, work at used record stores, love George Carlin, and watch Adult Swim.
Nyborg's paper might give smug atheists justification for superciliousness, but unless the argument is that atheism increases intelligence, there isn't much to brag about, save being more worthy in the eyes of Socrates. They don't achieve as much as believers do given the hand they're dealt.
Speculatively, among Christian groups, those devoting relatively less attention to the Gospels and more to the entire Bible (Presbyterians and Catholics) and that also put greater relative emphasis on what is done by the individual in this world do a little better than others like Lutherans and Methodists.
Parenthetically, Razib uses the GSS to extensively compare Episcopalians and Jews, groups consistently found to perform similarly on IQ tests, averaging around two-thirds of one standard deviation above the white mean. Does Jewish liberalism relate to the group's material advantages over Episcopalians in the secular world?
The data, via Swivel.
* For lack of better alternative, marriage plus cohabitation for "Other religion" comes from Pew's "Unaffiliated, Religious" category. Pew's findings for the Presbyterian Church of the USA are used with Presbyterian in the table, since Nyborg classifies Presbyterianism as liberal. Pew's findings for ELCA members are used with Lutheran above for the same reason. The Bible Church marriage-plus-cohabitation percentage comes from Pew's findings on historically evangelical independent Baptist churches. Nyborg's Other Protestant rates come from Pew's findings on "Unitarians and other liberal faiths". The rates for both Pentecostal and Holiness are derived by averaging Pew's findings on Assemblies of God and Church of Christ, as it is unclear what parameters Nyborg uses to classify Pentecostals, and Pew does not report data specifically on the International Pentecostal Holiness Church.