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July 7, 2010

Liberal Creationists Are Not Very Intelligent

Filed under: creationism,Creationist,Data Analysis,GSS — Razib Khan @ 2:17 am

A comment below about intelligent people who believe in dumb ideas made me want to revisit the Creationism demographics in the GSS. More on point I wanted to look at the relationship between IQ and Creationism crossed with demographic variables. I used the WORDSUM variable as a proxy for IQ (the correlation is ~0.70). WORDSUM scores range from 0 to 10; 10 being a perfect and 0 being not so perfect. To get a sense of the range, here are mean WORDSUM scores by highest degree attained, constrained for the years 2004 and later:

Mean WORDSUM
No High School Diploma 4.57
High School Diploma 5.91
Junior College 6.29
Bachelor 6.82
Graduate 7.73

I decided to limit the year to 2004 and later because to explore Creationism I want to use the variable EVOLVED, which was asked in 2004 and 2008. I selected EVOLVED because the sample size was not that small, nearly 1,500, and, the response is dichotomous. Here’s what EVOLVED asked:

Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals. (Is that true or false?)

Querying Americans about human descent from animals primes them to be a bit on the Creationist side. True and false come at at about 50:50 for the above question. Below is a table where the columns have mean WORDSUM scores for non-Creationists and Creationists, and the rows indicate the particular demographic. I have put in bold those variables where the horizontally adjacent cells are outside each other’s 95% confidence interval. Additionally I constrained the sample to non-Hispanic whites (so the N is closer to 1,350).

Accepts Human Evolution Creationist
No College Degree 6.14 5.95
College Degree 7.43 6.96
Liberal 7.36 5.84
Moderate 6.25 5.78
Conservative 6.42 6.48
Democrat 6.9 5.84
Independent 6.13 5.92
Republican 6.54 6.35
Bible is….
Word of God 5.03 5.93
Inspired Word 6.71 6.45
Book of Fables 7.11 5.88
Protestant 6.61 6.21
Catholic 6.35 6.08
No Religion 6.8 5.31
Confidence in existence of God….
Atheist and Agnostic 7.13 6.87
Higher Power 6.74 5.66
Believe Sometimes 6.8 6.06
Believe With Doubts 6.52 6.06
Know God Exists 6.49 6.18

Male 6.51 5.8
Female 6.82 6.4
Age
18-34 6.1 6.03
35-64 6.79 6.29
65 and older 7.25 5.89

First, I have no explanation for the age differences. Second, notice that liberals and Democrats who are Creationists tend to be kind of unintelligent. It’s not surprising to me that those who believe that the Bible is the Word of God but are not Creationists are less intelligent than those who are (the two ranges were almost outside of the 95% confidence interval). I suspect these are individuals lacking in the faculties with which to make any inferences at all from their putative beliefs, or, those who regularly get confused on questions because they have minimal comprehension of complex grammatical constructions. In my opinion something similar is going on with liberals and Democrats who are Creationist, though there is a subtle difference. In this case their social-political milieu would tolerate acceptance of the scientific consensus, but they go with their common sense gut. I have minimal experience with politically liberal Creationists of late, but when I was younger I knew a few, and their opinions were generally inchoate and vague due to an indistinct comprehension of the basic abstract issues. In other words, these were just not the sharpest tools in the shed.

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