Sunday 14 September 2014



"It is not only fervent religiousness that is associated with low intelligence, but any fervent advocacy of an ideology - whether it is Marxism, multiculturalism, or conservative nationalism." 

Edward Dutton's book Religion and Intelligence: an evolutionary analysis finds, from a number of independent studies, that atheists have higher IQs than liberal religious people, who in turn have higher IQs than religious conservatives. Dutton's article begins:
"So, basically, your book is saying I'm thick," an Evangelical friend of mine said to me. In fact, I am saying no such thing.
What he does say is that "faith" means "strong belief based on conviction rather than proof" and that in this way faith is not rational or it wouldn't be faith: 
The failure to see that implies bias, which is caused by having an emotional investment in something. 
He goes on to look at the implications of the five 'essential personality characteristics' that psychologists generally agree, in order to look at their implications for many aspects of our lives - including obesity, alcoholism and depression... and religiousness. He examines how pronounced personalities (such as high levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness) might overwhelm the intelligence of religious people, even academics. Interestingly his research also finds - as suggested in the quotation above - that a certain balance of personality traits and intelligence can make for fervent advocacy of any ideology.
Indeed, I would argue that ideologies are, in many ways, replacement religions. 
Join us as we discuss his article at the next Wychwood Circle meeting.

Edward Dutton is Adjunct Professor of the Anthropology of Religion at Oulu University in Finland.  His book is published by the Ulster Institute for Social Research. The article which summarises the book's findings, and which is the basis for our discussions at Wychwood Circle on October 5th, was published in the Church Times in May 2014. Copies are available at Wychwood Library (OX7 6LD) or from 

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