Are atheists and liberals smarter?
Leanne Larmondin, Religion News Service
March 04, 2010

Are atheists and liberals smarter?

Are atheists and liberals smarter?
Leanne Larmondin, Religion News Service
March 04, 2010

Are people with high IQs

more likely to be liberal, atheist and monogamous?

They are, according to a

recently published paper by Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist from

the London School of Economics and Political Science.

In a controversial article

in the March issue of the journal Social Psychology Quarterly, Kanazawa

suggested that young adults with higher intelligence scores are more likely to

say they do not attend religious services; they also identify themselves as


His research is based on

U.S. data that showed young adults who self-identify as “not at all religious”

had an average IQ of 103, while those with an average IQ of 97 identified as “very


Kanazawa, who called himself

a libertarian and atheist, said there are evolutionary reasons for his

findings. Smarter people, he argued, are more willing to adopt “evolutionarily

novel” thinking and values.

Humans, he said, are

naturally designed to be conservative and put a high value on family and

friends. So, Kanazawa wrote, “What is conservative in the U.S. — caring about

your family and your friends and your kin — is sort of evolutionarily familiar.”

By contrast, caring about

unrelated strangers (what Kanazawa calls liberalism) is “evolutionarily novel,”

as is thinking rationally about natural phenomena, like drought and pestilence,

rather than seeking supernatural intentions behind such disasters.

Belief in God comes out of

paranoia, he said. Hunter/gatherers needed a supernatural explanation for

natural phenomena, like lightning, drought and pestilence.

“Humans are evolutionarily

designed to be paranoid, and they believe in God because they are paranoid,”

said Kanazawa. “So, more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to go

against their natural evolutionary tendency to believe in God, and they become


The study also found that

men with higher IQs tended to be monogamous.

Since it was released,

Kanazawa’s research has been criticized for his use of IQ scores as a measure

of intellect and for his limited sample of American young adults who self

identified as liberal or conservative and “very religious” or “not at all