I saw two interesting studies that shed some light on how to diagnose a person with low intelligence. The first one was published in PLOS ONE journal. It talks about what a person’s attitude to C0VID tells us about their intelligence. The second one was published in BMC Psychology, and talks about what a person’s attitude to celebrities tells us about their intelligence.
Here’s a report on the first one from the UK Daily Mail:
A new study has found that those who are worried about the COVID-19 pandemic are slower at processing information, worse at retaining information and more likely to overestimate negative odds than their less anxious counterparts.
The study, conducted by McGill University and the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital, surveyed 1,500 Americans online from April to June 2020.
The authors concluded that people more worried about coronavirus and its effects performed worse at information processing tests and had a distorted view of risk levels.
And here’s an article about the second one from New York Post:
New research has deemed people obsessed with Hollywood gossip and A-list celebs to be not that smart — which will surely come as a blow to those who love poring over the pages of tabloid magazines and tuning into reality TV.
The study, published in BMC Psychology late last year, asserts that “there is a direct association between celebrity worship and poorer performance on cognitive tests” measuring both literacy and numeracy.
[…]Researchers found that high scores on the Celebrity Attitude Scale correlated with lower performance on the two cognitive ability tests. Participants were also asked about their income, material wealth and levels of education in order to gain the most detailed picture possible.
Very interesting. This provides a quick way of checking on a person’s intelligence. Just ask them what their level of anxiety is about C0VID, and ask them what their level of knowledge is about celebrities. I wonder if they include artists, musicians, and athletes in the category of celebrities?
This reminds me of an article from 2018 that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. The article talks about a recent Gallup survey entitled “Look Who’s Irrational Now“.
The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won’t create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that’s not a conclusion to take on faith — it’s what the empirical data tell us.
“What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.
The Gallup Organization, under contract to Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, asked American adults a series of questions to gauge credulity.
[…]The answers were added up to create an index of belief in occult and the paranormal. While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.
Conservative Christians were even less likely to be irrational than progressive Christians:
[…][T]he more traditional and evangelical the respondent, the less likely he was to believe in, for instance, the possibility of communicating with people who are dead.
When I think of the “weird” things that evangelical Christians believe, I think of the origin of the universe, the cosmic fine-tuning, the origin of life and the sudden origin of animal body plans in the Cambrian. All of this is superstition to an atheist, and yet all of it is rooted in mainstream science. Not just that, but the scientific evidence for these defeaters of atheism has grown stronger as science has made more discoveries.
I can accept the fact that an atheist may be ignorant of the science that defeats his atheism, but that’s something that has to be remedied with more studying of the evidence, not less. If you generate a worldview by 1) your desire to dispense with moral judgment and/or 2) your desire to prefer Star Trek and Star Wars to mainstream science, then of course you are going to have an irrational worldview. I’m not saying that all atheists do this, surely someone like Peter Millican does not. But for rank-and-file Dawkins acolytes, I think this is pretty accurate, and it’s why we get the survey results that we do.