back to article God makes you stupid, researchers claim

A psychology researcher has controversially claimed that stupidity is causally linked to how likely people are to believe in God. University of Ulster professor Richard Lynn will draw the conclusion in new research due to be published in the journal Intelligence, the Times Higher Education Supplement reports. Lynn and his two …


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  1. Dominic Kua
    Thumb Up

    You owe me one monitor

    Mine's covered in tea, excellent title!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    My point since 1985...

    ... now how do you get it into their thick skulls?

  3. Ferry Boat

    Have your cake and eat it

    I thought I read this in Our Lord Dawkins' Book, 'Why I Am Better Than Everyone Else and God Don't Exist At All'.

    Hang on, what about if god made the clever people clever so they wouldn't believe in him and see all his faults? He only wants thick people to believe in him because they won't question him. I suspect he's insecure at heart. Poor thing, when I get to heaven I'll give him a hug.

  4. Chris

    Religion teaches a lack of critical thinking.

    Lesson 1: don't eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge.

  5. oliver Stieber
    Gates Halo

    from my expreiance of religious people.

    They do all seem to be stupid, typically quoting near nonsence theories from the new scientist to back up their beliefs with the possibility of doubt in there not being a god. (well the ones who actually are religious not the ones who go to church because it's something they've always done and it's a bit of a social on a Sunday)

    Mines bill with a halo, because we all know angles don't exist.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Boffins prove boffinry does not improve statistical ability.

    "Similarly, as average IQ in Western societies increased throught the 20th century, so did rates of atheism, he said."

    The average IQ is by definition 100.

    How did they manage to measure an increase in 100?

    Regardless, their statistical correlation between the rise in average *intelligence* (not IQ) and in western Europe suffers under the same problems as climate modelling: our sample set is one. One world, one climate; one Europe, one population. Do they have any data showing the converse of this, ie that increasing religiousness in Western Europe correlates with decreasing intelligence?

    This is not statistically significant data!

    It is pretty obvious that human beings will show more intelligence as human knowledge and schooling increase and improve. Anything that occurs at the same time as this may be a) related or b) coincidental. We do not have anywhere near enough data to prove either of these.

    Statistics for Dummies is available in all good bookshops on the High Street and on-line.

    (And they say it's religion that makes people stupid.)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Ooooh Boy! This should be interesting

    This is an atomic bomb of a publication and no mistake.

    Reading between the lines, it brings up the interesting hypothesis of cultural inteligence.

    Does this mean that cultures that believe in God (or similar deity) are nationally less intelligent than those that have a more broader view on the ultimate reality that is to come to us all.

    I can't wait to see how this is going to stand with the Muslims, jewish and christian societies of the world.

    I would not want to be in the shoes of whoever thought out this brilliant Manhatten project mark 2.

  8. James

    Being a psycologist makes you stupid...

    "Similarly, as average IQ in Western societies increased throught the 20th century..."

    IQ is defined such that the average IQ is always 100. If your IQ is 150, you have 150% the intelligence of an average bod. If your IQ is 50, you have half the intelligence of an average bod (of the same age).

    By definition, the average IQ is 100. It can't increase.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Not wanting to be offensive...

    But LOL.

    I can just picture thearguments...

    Person of Religeous Belief (PRB) : "But I belive in God"

    Athiest Acedemic of Intellegence (AAI) : "Yes, thats because you are too stupid"

    PRB : "I am not stupid, God damn it!!!!"

    AAI : "Research shows otherwise. If you were less stupid you would have less faith"

    PRB : "Go to Hell"

    AAI : " Sorry no such place."

  10. Panos

    Academics have higher IQ?

    Maybe they do, but they are also some of the most socially inept people as well. So how is that linked to religion then?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Stupidity makes you get headlines backwards

    They said stupidity makes you believe in god, not belief in god makes you stupid.

  12. Paul Buxton

    Isn't this obvious?

    You've only got to look at the slogan on a US dollar to prove this.

    I can actually argue a very good case for the existence of God, however, I choose not to because even though I can argue a case for His existence I really don't believe it. Believers therefore have no chance with attempts to convert me because their arguments are always flawed and easily dismissed. Anyone who can make a cohesive argument for the existence of God is usually playing Devil's Advocate (ooh, the irony) or getting paid for it. I have found no exceptions to this.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    God preserve us !

    From Psychologists hell-bent on proving their field isn't a science at all.

  14. Disco-Legend-Zeke
    Paris Hilton

    The Human mind needs to have an answer.

    Most of us humans just don't like to have unanswered questions, and god is a very easy answer.

    As we discover scientific answers to these questions, the religeous answer becomes less appealing.

    paris... because its me.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It would be far more useful if they could show that IQ was actually a good indicator of intelligence (or in fact that it had any relation at all to intelligence). Then they might actually be able to make some form of conclusion...

  16. combatwombat
    Paris Hilton


    So does that mean that me and my 148 IQ gotta stop talking wid God?

    Gimme a break. "academics" will say anything to get there 15 minutes of fame.

    Paris icon, cos' that's the closest most of these academics will get to seeing a real human being.

  17. Paul Smith


    And they got paid for that research? Mind you, you got paid for that headline so we can't complain too much.

    There are two forms or types of knowledge, recieved and percieved. Recieved knowledge is stuff you believe to be true because you trust the person who told you. Percieved knowledge is stuff you believe to be true because you have worked it out for yourself.

    As a child, almost all your knowledge is recieved. When your parent told you not to put your finger in the flame because it would burn, you accepted that as the truth. You also accepted as the truth what you were told about God, the tooth fairy and santa clause. When you put your finger in the flame, as all children do, you burnt your finger. That knowledge had gone from recieved to percieved. But when you began to doubt santa and the tooth fairy, wether due to a questioning mind, peer pressure or your parents telling you etc., then you naturally started to doubt all the similar stuff you had been told. In times past, your belief in God would have been supported and reinforced by your society, (if everyone around you believes something, it is hard to say they are all wrong!) but in the modern (western) world, with so much contact with other religions and none, this lack of support makes anybody with a questioning mind reconsider their beliefs. This is not a factor of intelligence except in so far as a more intelligent person is more likely to have a questioning mind. The more intelligent person is also more likely to answer a question in a way that reduces potential embaressment. In other words, many acedemics will say they are not believers to avoid ridicule from their peers, regardless of what they actually believe.

  18. Sir Runcible Spoon


    As any good scientist knows, ignore your intuition at your peril. I ignored my instict to leave the motorway a junction early last week and got stuck in a jam for 3 hours.

    Anyway, did anyone run this past Einstein?

    Perhaps if children believe in God and only convert to atheism later on (the high IQ ones at any rate) doesn't that just mean a high IQ means you're easier to brainwash? Seems about as plausable as the kind causal relationship they are spouting here.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps a tad reckless?

    Announcing a paper that demonstrates that Muslim fundamentalists are stupid..

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Why is it?

    Then why is that every atheist I have ever met has been a very low IQ prat that pretends to know everything?

    I will say though that I have met some pretty stupid believers

  21. Knowledge
    Black Helicopters

    Science Vs Religion

    Scientific academics don't believe in God because they are much more likely (due to years of training) to be strictly 'seeing is believing' - thats how science works.

    Anthropological academics have a broad knowledge of many cultures whose definitions of 'God' greatly vary, making the academic less likely to believe any one God story.

    Anyone with an understanding of both disciplines knows that what religious types call 'God' and what boffins call 'Energy' have more or less the same desription, and therefore believe the God story was born of misunderstanding.

    As was once said to describe organised religion:

    "scary language designed to control primitive peoples"

    nuff said.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I don't want to knock the conclusion as I've long thought this was the case, but the researchers don't do themselves any favours with the phrase: "as average IQ in Western societies increased throught the 20th century, so did rates of atheism". So did reports of a number of things, like brain tumours, rape, and (if you believe the hype) acts of terrorism. Surely they're not all connected to increasing intelligence?

    I'm sure the paper (haven't read it) is more scientific with its analysis, but that phrase just reinforces why scientists (of which I am one) need to be taught how to communicate, the media need to be taught how to listen, and the general public need to be taught how to be critical.

  23. Dark


    What complete Bollocks!

    Most of the erudite people the world has known have beleived in some form of Devine Entity.

    The link between belief in God and IQ has no scientific merit at all - just opinion.

  24. Maurice Shakeshaft

    Interesting article but...

    I understood that "IQ" was not that good a measure of "intelligence" - whatever that may be taken to mean.

    There are, and have been, some very bright and humane "god-botherers" but I'd suggest that it's a bit strong to link intelligence and god-bothering either way.

    "Intelligence" and "Bigotry" I suspect are, however, inversely linked.

    Mines the kevlar lined jacket made from Flame retardant materials.

  25. Dan Price
    Paris Hilton

    Go figure.

    What, having a higher IQ makes you more likely to question what you're taught? I'd never have guessed. In other news, Dog bites cat, toast lands buttered side down.

    Paris, because... well, yeah.

  26. Elmer Phud

    I had always wondered . . .

    . . .what was going on with 'intelligent design', it really is an oxymoron after all.

    mine's the one with many colours

  27. James

    Anyone else miss cake club?

    Didn't Einstein say God does not play dice with the universe? I wonder what he would say about this research. I'd be interested to know if the researchers looked into the backgrounds of their subjects to see if there could be other causal factors such as wealth.

    Skeptical about skeptics.

  28. Andrew Oakley

    Humpty Dumpty's God

    When they asked the queston "do you believe in God?" did anyone stop to ask which definition of God they meant?

    Some Anglicans will accept definitions as loose as "God is a metaphor for emergent patterns of human behaviour which benefit society as a whole". Do I, with an IQ of 175, believe in God according to that definition? Yes. Do I believe that extraterrestrial intelligence has ever been in contact with humans? No. Do I believe that a giant Europid man sporting a white beard and wearing a white robe lives in the clouds and throws thunderbolts at sinners? No.

  29. Ron Enderland

    Yeah, you've probably heard this one

    "God is dead" -- Nietzsche

    "Nietzsche is dead" -- God

    Mine's the one with the manna in the pocket

  30. ImaGnuber

    Bun Fight

    If the University of Ulster has a theological department you might want to stay away from the cafeteria for a while.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    And scientologists are dumbest of all....

    Coat please quick, before they catch me here..

  32. Hywel Thomas

    atheism and cake ?

    Is there a causal link ?

  33. Ru
    Thumb Down

    God lowers your IQ?

    Clearly, doing weird little abstract image puzzles and word association games is an abomination in the eyes of the lord.

    Next research topic: why do people think IQs are a useful metric for anything other than doing weird little abstract image puzzles and word association games?

  34. Richard Barnes

    Correlation vs Causation (part 94)

    The Times Higher Education article states that the researcher posits a *correlation* between intelligence and belief, not a *causative* relationship.

    There's a world of difference between the two & it's surprising how often journalists from the Register and elsewhere confuse one with the other.

  35. Ashley

    Title wrong?

    Shouldn't the title be "You being stupid makes god"?

  36. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Messages from AI Seventh Heaven .... Global Communications HQ

    "Nonetheless, there is evidence from other domains that higher levels of intelligence are associated with a greater ability - or perhaps willingness - to question and overturn strongly felt intuitions."

    I imagine that to be Greater Consciousness for Enlightened and Enlightening Views/Sees.

    <Spin Run>

  37. Ben Ash


    Dawkins highlighted this relationship yonks ago - it's nothing new.

  38. James


    "as average IQ in Western societies increased throught the 20th century"?!!

    Ah yes, that's why all the kids are getting 'A's at A-level & going to university these days. Unfortunately they had to sacrifice the part of the brain that deals with spelling, grammar & pronunciation to gain all that extra intelligence.

    Clearly nobody now believes in astrology, crystals, homeopathy or bad-things-that-happen-living-next-to-mobile-phone-masts.

    When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing; they believe in anything.

    BTW man does not get fat by cake alone. But it sure helps!

  39. Jaster
    Paris Hilton

    High Intelligence makes you question

    People with High intelligence tend to question things ... including religion, the existence of God etc ... some of them conclude that God exists many don't ....

    Most people believe because they were brought up to believe and have never questioned it...

  40. Frank

    @ Olivre re. angles

    "because we all know angles don't exist."

    The world is full of angles, of all sizes. For some reason my house has lots of right angles in it. I can send you pictures to prove it if you like.

  41. Steve

    Decline in number of pirates causes world population to increase

    "Similarly, as average IQ in Western societies increased throughout the 20th century, so did rates of atheism, he said."

    Two trends (the number of pirates and global population, or IQ and religious believe) doesn't necessarily imply any link at all, never mind causation.

    He might have a point, intelligent people in my experience are less likely to believe all sorts of fairy tales, but his research methodology sounds a bit simplistic.

    PS - average IQ is adjusted to 100, but it's possible to get the unadjusted figures to compare the change in ability to perform IQ tests (not necessarily much to do with intelligence) over time.

  42. Stewart

    I think

    Cogito ergo Deus absconditus

  43. James Whale

    Fear and comfort

    The most pressing problem for faith is that it's all about comfort. Unquestioning belief in something one can neither know nor prove is driven by fear - fear of being alone out here in the universe - cold, unloved and worst of all, finite. Life's end terrifies us on a genetic, mechanistic level. Hard-wired to survive at almost any cost, it becomes apparent that, ironically enough, religious belief might be a purely Darwinistic response to the prospect of death.

  44. Edward Rose

    Erm, I might have to agree to a point

    The bible (to my knowledge) teaches people to believe without questioning.

    People with higher IQs are them wot like ask questions and learn you know.

    Asking questions and seeking answers does seem to go against what I was always taught in RE classes.

    So, the link would seem logical, not based on how intelligent a person is, but how likely they are to seek answers as to how why, etc. (Obviously from this, the wanting knowledge leads to both intelligence, and a lack of acceptance based on faith).

    Mind you, that's just my opinion, sure there will be many contradicting it, all worth considering.

  45. Sooty

    Direct causal link?

    Even if every person who believed in god had a worse IQ than a glass of water, you still couldn't infer that believeing in God caused their low IQ, only that people with a low IQ are more likely to believe in God! (G W Bush anyone?)

  46. James Anderson
    Thumb Up


    Thety are trying to insuate that only stupid people would have thier whole lives governed by books of dubious authorship written over a thousand years ago.

    I think religiosity is the mark of a superior, more intellegent sort of person. If you agree (and I am sure a highly moral and superiour being like yourself would) then please pledge one tenth of you income to the Reformed Orthodox Church of the Bretheren of the Latter Day Sons of Khan and help us spread truth and rightiousness throughout the world.

    Please send an email for details or visit our headquarters at "Paddy's Pub", 13 HochStrasse, Lichentstien and join us in the sacred ritual of Red Bull and Absolute slammers (may it always be your round!).

  47. Jim T

    I still like the integral model

    And other models, like spiral dynamics, that see individual people developing through stages. As people develop, God takes on different forms, a personal God that's out there and looking down is actually one of the lower levels, but the higher levels aren't too well populated yet ...

    Higher levels require higher intelligence (well, cognition, almost but not quite the same), but higher intelligence alone isn't enough.

    Not sure how much there is to it, but it sounds good.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Amen that.

    People who truly believe in God are no more childish or stupid than people who truly believe in Santa Claus. The (apparent) fact that a majority of people around the world are still believing in some gods is a good indicator of how "intelligent" the human race is. Fortunately, however, we might be getting better as atheism and freethinking are slowly but surely gaining popularity.

  49. Yogi

    No link here between IQ and belief in matter how hard you try!

    1st Corinthians 1:23

    "but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles"

    The good book said it first - no link between human intelligence and belief in the Almighty. And in fact, the harder to try to find God by your own ideas, the more likely you are to fail.

    No qualifications are required for entry to Hell..

  50. Funky Dennis

    Correlation does not imply causation

    Across European countries there is a correlation between the number of abortions performed and the number of condoms sold.

    Across European countries there is a correlation between the number of abortions performed and the number of lollipops sold.

    The hidden variable is population size -- bigger countries have bigger populations, a higher number of abortions and higher lollipop sales.

    I haven't read the original research article, so I did know if he really did assert a _causal_ relationship (which way?) or just a correlation.

    Either way I don't like people who aren't willing to question their beliefs, religious or otherwise.


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