Sunday, February 16, 2014

So, who are the smartest scientists?

The paper below is a curious one. The authors seem to be making mountains out of molehills.  There IS for instance a correlation between IQ and conventional religion but it is slight  -- unlikely to be of any practical importance and probably artifactual anyway.  See here

But the thing which amused me most was the claim that social scientists are more religious.  I spent many years teaching the social sciences in Australian universities and during that time  went to a lot of conferences both in Australia and overseas  -- where I met many fellow social scientists.  And it is true that most social scientists are religious, but the religion is Leftism. Anybody who can still believe in socialism after all the socialist disasters of the 20th century is in the grip of deep faith.  I think I only ever met three Christian social scientists.  So I would have thought that social scientists were the LEAST religious academic group as far as conventional religions are concerned.  So the study below would seem to rely on some very strange sampling.  Journal abstract included below

SOCIAL science professors at elite institutions are more likely to be religious and politically extreme than their counterparts in the natural sciences, argues a new paper. Why? Natural scientists are just smarter.

“There is sound evidence of a negative correlation between intelligence and religiosity and between intelligence and political extremism,” reads the paper in the Interdisciplinary Journal on Research and Religion which examines existing data on academic scientists’ IQs by field, and on religious beliefs and political extremism among science professors in the US and Britain. “Therefore the most probable reason behind elite social scientists being more religious than are elite physical scientists is that social scientists are less intelligent.”

The paper, written by Edward Dutton, adjunct professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Oulu, in Finland, and Richard Lynn, a retired professor of psychology from the University of Ulster, in Northern Ireland, who is known for his work on race and IQ, continues: “Intelligence is also a factor in interdisciplinary differences in political extremism, [with] physicists, who have high IQs, being among the least extreme and lower-IQ scholars being among the most extreme.”

In an interview, Dutton said social scientists aren’t stupid, or necessarily extreme in their politics or overly religious. But, statistically speaking, they have lower IQs than their colleagues in biological and physical sciences and are likelier to be extremely conservative or liberal or religious, or both.

Dutton said that there are many similarities between political extremism and religious fundamentalism; in other research, he uses the term “replacement religions” to describe the phenomenon.

“[Physical] scientists are overwhelmingly atheist,” Dutton said. “This is predicted by their high IQ, which allows you to rise above emotion and see through the fallacious, emotional arguments.” Arguments about God are all emotional arguments, he added.

The paper is a meta-analysis of existing data showing several things: that natural scientists have higher IQs than social scientists; that low intelligence “predicts” political extremism and religiosity; and that physical scientists at elite institutions are less likely to believe in God or be politically extreme than their counterparts in the social sciences.

The connection between all three research areas has never been made until now, Dutton said. But — in just one example of potentially problematic methodology — the logic can’t be extended to academe in general. Several studies cited in the paper drawing from a wider mix of colleges and universities than simply the most elite show that life sciences professors are more likely to attend church than their peers in the social sciences, not less. The paper assumes this is because professors at elite institutions are smarter than their peers elsewhere.

The researchers also use IQ as the sole measure of intelligence (they mention Howard Gardner’s multiple forms of intelligence, but argue that they could also be considered personality traits).

The researchers acknowledge some of their limitations, including that some older data in the analysis involve a very small sample size. Dutton and Lynn say that future research involving larger academic samples would be “extremely useful” in exploring these areas in greater depth.

Dutton said he knew his paper would upset some readers, but that he invited feedback from fellow scholars. The point of research, even when controversial, is to “get closer to the truth of human life,” he said.

Interdisciplinary Journal on Research and Religion. 2014 Volume 10, Article 1

Intelligence and Religious and Political Differences Among Members of the U.S. Academic Elite


Many studies have found inverse correlations between intelligence and religiosity, intelligence and political conservatism, and intelligence and political extremism. Other studies have found that academics tend to be significantly less religious and more liberal than the general population. In this article, we argue that interdisciplinary differences in religiosity and political perspective among academics are predicted by interdisciplinary differences in intelligence between academics. Once personality factors correlating with religiosity have been substantially controlled for, physicists, who have higher average intelligence, are less religious than are social scientists, who have lower average intelligence. Physical scientists are also less politically extreme than are social scientists.



Why Valentine's Day Makes Me Queasy

Andrew Klavan has some good thoughts below but I do not agree with him entirely.  He seems to find the transactional nature of male/female relationships objectional but most psychologists would see that as basic.  A relationship is a trade of sorts.  Not very romantic, I guess, but it explains a lot

As Valentine's Day approaches, I find myself looking at contemporary depictions of romance with a distinct feeling of nausea. TV ads for flowers, Teddy Bears and jewelry all suggest that men will — wink, wink — get lucky if they give their girl the right gift and will have some serious 'splaining to do if they do not. It's awful tripe. I mean, I understand the Kay Jeweler slogan "Every Kiss Begins with Kay," is meant as a clever nonsense, but my mind reflexively responds, "Yeah, and Every Prostitute Begins with Pay!"

Do these ads really speak to any human males and females in actual relationships?

I fear they must. The ABC-TV show The Bachelor has been running for 18 seasons and, according to Slate television critic Willa Paskin, it basically makes popular entertainment out of women giving themselves in sex and even marriage in return for luxury and treacly lies. "It's callow, sordid behavior made somehow acceptable by the use of Hallmark Card language and a really fly hotel room."

I would chalk this up to trash TV, and yet I see with my own eyes the elaborate and expensive lengths young men now go to in order to propose to their girlfriends "romantically," not to mention the enormous gobs of cash these couples then shell out to turn the wedding into "her special day." I don't think you have to be a psychologist to suspect that this extravagance is meant to disguise the emptiness of such white-dress rituals in a world where virginity goes cheap, divorce is easy and gender roles are blurred.

But worse, beneath such displays of conspicuous enchantment, there also lies, I think, an insecurity about the depth of true affection between man and mate. I was not surprised to read a column this week by the Wall Street Journal's Elizabeth Bernstein in which, under the headline "Answers to the Relationship Question Readers Ask Most," she deals with the absence of sex in marriage. Well, at least the wedding was nice!

Listen, at this point, to be frank, I have no chips in this game. My marriage of more than three decades has been a God-sent miracle of love and hilarity. I have no idea what our "secret" is. We try to be nice to each other. We made a conscious decision to ignore cultural pressures from all sides. She treats me like a king. I worship the ground she walks on. It works for us. I really don't care what the rest of you do.

But I have an observation which, in lieu of chocolates, I offer as a Valentine's gift from an old campaigner to the romancing young.

I think in all the modern hysteria over gender roles, young people have become trapped between two competing materialist world-views, both wrong. On the one side are the idiot feminists, whining about a mathematical equality no one wants, prattling endlessly about their tiresome vaginas as they seek to intimidate men out of their inborn natures and pressure women to forgo their deepest dreams.

On the other side are the latest scientific and sociological studies that inevitably prove that boys will continue to be boys and girls girly. The gifts-for-sex jewelry ads and "reality" shows are outgrowths of this deterministic view of human sexuality: exaggerated Darwinian kabukis of power and fertility in which I give you presents and romance to show I can and will support you, you parade your body to show you can and will bear young.

And it's true, I know, nature shapes us. We shouldn't let the culture bully us out of our native selves. But in the end, both Darwinian fundamentalism and reactionary feminism are reductive and foolish. We are individuals — and more: incarnate spirits, fearfully and wonderfully made. It is love, not money, not sex, not even reproduction, that is our true heart's desire.

Trust me on this. You can do without the Teddy Bear. Come Valentine's Day, man or woman, devote your soul to your lover's. You'll get a lot luckier than you ever imagined.



The Rushdie Fatwa 25 Years Later

By Daniel Pipes

Twenty-five years ago today, Ayatollah Khomeini brought his edict down on Salman Rushdie. Iran’s revolutionary leader objected to the author’s magical-realist novel The Satanic Verses because of its insults to the Muslim prophet Muhammad and responded by calling for the execution of Rushdie and “all those involved in the publication who were aware of its contents.”

That Rushdie was born in India, lived in Britain, and had no significant connections to Iran made this an unprecedented act of aggression, one that resounded widely at the time and has subsequently had an enduring impact. Indeed, one could argue that the era of “creeping sharia” or “stealth jihad” or “lawful Islamism” began on February 14, 1989, with the issuance of that short edict.

If Rushdie, 66, is alive and well (if not exactly flourishing; his writings deteriorated after The Satanic Verses), many others lost their lives in the disturbances revolving around his book. Worse, the long-term impact of the edict has been to constrain the ability of Westerners freely to discuss Islam and topics related to it, what has come to be known as the Rushdie Rules. Long observation of this topic (including a book written in 1989), leads me to conclude that two processes are underway:

First, that the right of Westerners to discuss, criticize, and even ridicule Islam and Muslims has eroded over the years.

Second, that free speech is a minor part of the problem; at stake is something much deeper – indeed, a defining question of our time: will Westerners maintain their own historic civilization in the face of assault by Islamists, or will they cede to Islamic culture and law and submit to a form of second-class citizenship?

Most analyses of the Rushdie Rules focus exclusively on the growth of Islamism. But two other factors are even more important: Multiculturalism as practiced undercuts the will to sustain Western civilization against Islamist depredations while the Left’s making common political cause with Islamists gives the latter an entrée. In other words, the core of the problem lies not in Islam but in the West.



Communist echoes haunt Sochi

As the Olympics got underway in post-Soviet Russia this weekend, a moment in NBC's coverage briefly revived a Soviet-era controversy: the charge that Western liberals are soft on communism.

Narrating the network's lead segment on the opening ceremonies, actor Peter Dinklage mused on Russia's history and referred to "the revolution that birthed one of modern history's pivotal experiments." Conservative blogs quickly accused NBC of glorifying Russia's Soviet past. Unfortunately, such a rose-tinted view of communism is not an isolated instance. It is a mindset that still infects the left and, too often, spills over into more mainstream liberalism., a leader in the left-of-center media, recently published an article by activist Jesse Myerson titled "Why you're wrong about communism," purporting to debunk American "misconceptions" on the subject. Among those alleged errors: the notion that "communism killed 110 million people for resisting dispossession."

First, Myerson writes that the 110 million figure is not rooted in "sound research." Actually, the figure, based on "The Black Book of Communism," a landmark 1999 work, may be too low: The book lists a body count of 20 million for the Soviet Union, but some scholars put the number of terror victims at 20 million-25 million and the death toll from regime-made famines as high as 10 million.

Second, Myerson argues, many victims were not resistant property owners but people who were Communists. So? No anti-communist ever claimed that all of communism's victims died for refusing collectivization. Rather, the idea of collective ownership could be imposed only through such violent coercion that even supporters of that "dream" were caught in the terror machine.

Myerson offers other standard excuses (the Soviets had to fight a revolutionary war and battle the Nazis) before turning to China to conclude that Mao's Great Leap Forward, which caused a famine that killed tens of millions, had nothing to do with communism. Then, he asserts that if communism must be held accountable for its terror toll, capitalism should be blamed not only for the deaths in wars against Communist regimes, but also for presumed future deaths from climate change. Someone should tell him communism was no environmental paradise.

While Myerson is on the far left, milder versions of such apologetics can be found closer to the media mainstream. In 2005, reviewing a biography of Mao, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof argued that "Mao's legacy is not all bad" and that his rule "brought useful changes to China."

Meanwhile, U.S. Communists such as folk singer Pete Seeger, a onetime admirer of Josef Stalin, often get a pass for supporting murderous totalitarianism. After Seeger's death last month, David Graham, a political editor at The Atlantic, admitted the singer took some "distressing and dangerous positions" -- but argued that his pro-communist politics were part of an idealistic commitment to social justice that also led him to embrace the civil rights movement.

After "The Black Book of Communism" was published, socialist writer Daniel Singer lamented in The Nation that to see communism as "merely the story of crimes" -- rather than flawed but real "social advancement" -- is to give up on the possibility of "radical transformation" today. It's a telling admission. Many on the left still yearn for egalitarian alternatives to capitalism, often finding them in authoritarian left-wing regimes such as the rule of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela.

Democratic capitalism is nothing if not flawed. But if there is one thing the 20th century should have taught us, it's to beware of noble "experiments" that use human beings as their fodder.



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