Why Do We Believe?

 by David Munger from Seed Magazine

"Medical writer Tom Rees devotes his blog Epiphenom to the scientific study of religion. Last week he examined a study on the relationship between intelligence and religious belief. Published in Social Psychology Quarterly, this study by Satoshi Kanazawa replicated the results of several earlier studies in showing that strong religious belief was correlated with lower intelligence. In this case, adolescents who scored higher on intelligence tests were less likely to be religious as adults.

But Rees says Kanazawa’s study goes beyond those earlier studies to arrive at a potential explanation of why less-intelligent people are more religious: Intelligence evolved in order for people to adapt to novel situations. Kanazawa’s analysis of two data sets found that intelligence is also correlated to political beliefs (liberals tend to be more intelligent), and some moral beliefs such as attitudes about promiscuity (smarter males believe promiscuity is bad). It’s not correlated to attitudes about things like children, family, and friends, that don’t change much over generations..."

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