Re: Einstein, Edison, & IQ

From: Tennessee Leeuwenburg (
Date: Fri Nov 11 2005 - 15:44:18 MST

Phil Goetz wrote:

>--- Tennessee Leeuwenburg <> wrote:
>>I think it's a quote of Einstein's that "whatever your troubles in
>>mathematics may be, I assure you that mine are still greater".
>An appealing notion - but look at the equations for general
>relativity and then say that with a straight face.
>Edison, however, I would say apparently did not understand math
>well. When I was at Edison's lab in New Jersey, they had on
>display Einstein's book "On Relativity". I remember thinking,
>when I read it, that it was a marvelously clear explanation of
>special relativity. Edison, however, had written a comment after
>the close of the most important chapter to the effect of, "Yet
>another genius who does't make a bit of sense in print!"
I think you have missed the point. It's not that Einstein was an idiot,
and thus could not understand maths as well as most people. The point
was that he was very smart, and problems were all the more complex and

>>seem to be an obvious correlation between IQ and atheism, for
>I don't know if it's "obvious", but it is documented.
>for a review. From my brief perusal of that page, it appears
>that the mean IQ score of atheists is over one standard deviation
>above the mean score of "believers", with the result that believers
>dominate the IQ under 110 region (around 90% believers at IQ=100),
>while atheists and agnostics dominate the IQ range of 140 and up
>(around 80-90% atheists-agnostics at IQ>140).
I partially disagree with your conclusions. The page, and let's just
assume its numbers are correct for the moment, does not show that simply.

For one thing, many of the tests studied "students". This is not very
helpful, as I have already said that I understand there to be a
correlation between academia and atheism. If "students" means university
students, than an additional correlation within that set between IQ and
atheism does not show the link as clearly as I would like. I think you
need a broader cross-section.

Regardless, perhaps it is a real phenomena within those circles, which
is in itself interesting.

I believe that the correlation appears to be between liberalism and IQ.
I read more sentences which were describing "religious conservatism" or
"orthodox beliefs" and "liberalism" or "religious liberalism". I don't
know whether it's right to say that's a link between IQ and atheism or not.

Without reading each study (and I don't intend to), I think it's unclear
whether it's merely strict adherence to dogma which poses a problem for
the intelligent, or the belief in something spiritual itself. A fuller
analysis of that idea would make very interesting reading!

But you would really need to account for a number of other possible
links before making strident claims about the correlation. Perhaps such
things were done in each study, but I retain a degree of scepticism.

The strongest claim was made thus: "The mean test scores of
non-believers was 119 points, and for believers it was 100". This shows
no small difference between the two. I'm frankly amazed that there could
be such a large difference. I accept that the study may have found such,
but extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof...

I would love to see the results of studies in non-US countries which
have a broader base of atheists.


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