What else do the underpaid teaching, therapy and social-worker professions have in common? [Being paid less is not synonymous with being underpaid. Relative to other jobs, these require even less productivity and industriousness than their modest pay rates would suggest, which is why people in such occupations make more in the public sector than they do in the private sector.] Maybe the idealistic wish to help other people, even if it means making less money? You know, making personal sacrifices to help others?Uh huh. Well, I'm convinced. No image tied up in this one. Doesn't matter how other people react to such a non-statement. Doesn't matter at all!
Would that perspective have anything, anything at all, in common with the concern for the welfare of animals and for the environment that drives many of the “conversions” to vegetarianism? You know, might the career choices and the diet choices be driven by a common psychological force, rather than by two different forces?
For myself, I had already decided that I should go vegetarian at age nineteen, for animal-rights reasons; but only actually did it when I started following my erstwhile fraud-guru, Yogananda. So you see, I did it for the best of all possible reasons, which had nothing to do with signaling my superiority to others, and which any conservative could and should approve of: I did it for God. And by the way, although I grew up in a very conservative Christian community, I’ve never believed anything in my life that’s even half as ridiculous as what every Christian believes, as their articles of salvation. Frankly, in all seriousness, I’m not even capable of being that gullible.
After several more paragraphs of moral posturing, Falk takes aim at the substance of my post:
I was quite surprised to see (from a very small sample size of 42) the GSS data (from the same blog post quoting Peter, above) showing that vegetarians have a lower IQ than meat-eaters. But then I did a little Googling. And guess what? High IQ link to being vegetarian:Given that he is exploding with righteous indignation throughout, I'm going to give Falk the benefit of the doubt and assume in his haste he accidentally made--and then emphatically repeated--an invalid apples-to-oranges comparison before making another errant comparison, no doubt as honest a mistake as the first.
"The study of 8,179 [which, I will point out for those of you whose brains are sluggish from eating too much meat, is somewhat greater than 42] was reported in the British Medical Journal.
Twenty years after the IQ tests were carried out in 1970, 366 of the participants said they were vegetarian—although more than 100 reported eating either fish or chicken.
Men who were vegetarian had an IQ score of 106, compared with 101 for non-vegetarians; while female vegetarians averaged 104, compared with 99 for non-vegetarians."
That’s the same five-point gap which Audacious Epigone found in his number-crunching, but in exactly the opposite direction. From a sample size nearly 200 times larger. Plus, while AE’s numbers are from the 1993-4 GSS, the news item is from December of 2006. So there’s no contest at all about which study to take more seriously. It’s fucking hands down.
Firstly, the total respondent pool for the GSS question is 1583, not 42. Falk compares the number of those who abstain entirely from meat from the GSS to all people included in the Southampton University study, the vast majority of whom are not vegetarians. The study is not 200 times larger than the GSS sample. It is five times as large.
Secondly, although the "news item" is from December 2006, the study is based on IQ tests administered in 1970 and data collected on dietary habits in 1990. The GSS data is from 1993 and 1994. But if he insists we use his methodology for determining which results are the most contemporarily relevant, the blog item is from July 2009. Either way, it's hands down for me.
Participants in the university study took IQ tests at age ten. Intelligence is relatively unanchored at that age, which plausibly fits with Peter's conception that vegans/vegetarians tend to be SWPL-types who come from middle- to middle-upper SES backgrounds, but who do not make big bucks in adulthood.
Falk admits causality cannot be determined, but the university study casts doubt on the idea that meatless diets boost intelligence:
There was no difference in IQ score between strict vegetarians and those who said they were vegetarian but who reported eating fish or chicken.In other words, more than diet it is self-assigned labels (or possibly just avoidance of red meat) that were found to be associated with higher intelligence. SWPL posturing, anyone?
The GSS is a wide-ranging, mutli-year database that is considered the gold standard in social surveying. Still, as has been repeated here several times, the analyses run and the results presented are not claimed to be anything more than suggestive.
Falk insinuates that the research on the relationship between vegetarianism and intelligence is deep and mature. In reality, googling "vegetarianism intelligence" returns page after page of write-ups on the Southampton University study he references. There just isn't much out there.
That paucity is why it's worthwhile to glean what we can from the GSS. It's another source to consider. I'll allow readers to draw their own conclusions as to why Falk reacts so viscerally to it being tapped.