Intelligent people more likely to be left-wing atheists

Posted by Jean Antonique

Higher intelligence is associated with liberal political ideology and atheism, a statistical study has found.

Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science, suggests that more intelligent people are more likely to adopt evolutionarily novel preferences and values.

But, he says, intelligence doesn't correlate with preferences and values that are old enough to have been shaped by evolution over millions of years.

"General intelligence, the ability to think and reason, endowed our ancestors with advantages in solving evolutionarily novel problems for which they did not have innate solutions," says Kanazawa. 

"As a result, more intelligent people are more likely to recognize and understand such novel entities and situations than less intelligent people, and some of these entities and situations are preferences, values, and lifestyles."

Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health  support Kanazawa's hypothesis.  Young adults who subjectively identify themselves as 'very liberal' have an average IQ of 106 during adolescence, while those who identify themselves as 'very conservative' have an average IQ of 95 during adolescence.

Similarly, religion is a byproduct of humans' tendency to perceive agency and intention as causes of events. 

"Humans are evolutionarily designed to be paranoid, and they believe in God because they are paranoid," says Kanazawa.  This innate bias toward paranoia served humans well when self-preservation and protection of their families and clans depended on extreme vigilance to all potential dangers. 

"So, more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to go against their natural evolutionary tendency to believe in God, and they become atheists," he says.

Young adults who identify themselves as 'not at all religious' have an average IQ of 103 during adolescence, while those who identify themselves as 'very religious' have an average IQ of 97 during adolescence.