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Pretty much all scientific studies find that atheists are more intelligent than religious people

Oh man, these researchers have really poked the hornet’s nest.

In a study that’s sure to court controversy and get people fighting in this article’s comment section, researchers from the United States have found that atheists are more intelligent than their religious counterparts.

Miron Zuckerman, Jordan Silberman and Judith A. Hall from the University of Rochester and the Northeastern University conducted a statistical analysis of 63 studies exploring the relationship between intelligence levels and religiosity.

The meta-analysis found that there was a “significant negative association between intelligence and religiosity”

The researchers discovered that the strength of the correlation changes with age – it was at its strongest among university students, and weakest in teens and kids.

Why?

Some suspect it might be because university is a transformative time where young adults are exposed to a world of new ideas.

More analytical students tend to question core assumptions and eschew conformity.

As the authors of the study say, it’s likely due to “the self-exploration that typifies emerging adulthood and that is often observed in students” as “the separation from home and the exposure to a context that encourages questioning may allow intelligence to impact religious beliefs”.

The researchers also suggest that the correlation could be due to the fact that more intelligent people tend to have higher-level jobs and self-esteem which “encourages control of personal beliefs” according to the study.

This of course doesn’t mean that those deemed “more intelligent” by scientific studies are correct about religion.

As the study itself notes, IQ sub-tests are the main determinants of intelligence in these studies – creative and emotional intelligence aren’t taken into account, so it’s not really fair to say “atheists are more intelligent than religious people”

They might be, but at the moment all we know is that they’re just better at IQ tests.

About the author

Technically, Riordan writes culture, politics and sport, but 80% of his words are direct quotes stolen from The Simpsons. He promises to tweet more at @riordanl and speaks words for The Zero Thumbs Down Podcast.

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