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Dec 27 2011

Or, Male Atheists Have Small Penises

Ah, what one misses by having lots of social commitments over the holidays. A prime example would be this chart that Hemant posted on Friendly Atheist.

IQ Increases as Religiosity Decreases

Cute, huh? Go, us smart atheists! Yay!

Except for one little thing. You see that footnote about the source of the IQ data? Good old Richard Lynn. Shall we see where his data came from?

The main source for the Bell Curve’s claims regarding African IQ was a Lynn article from Mankind Quarterly in 1991, in which he said mean African IQ was 70. Lynn claims that he arrived at this figure by looking at the “best studies” on the subject since 1929. The study he claimed was the “best” was conducted in 1989 and involved 1,093 16-year old blacks, who scored a mean of 69 on the South African Junior Aptitude Test. From this, Lynn then extrapolated mean IQ to the whole of Black Africa. Even worse, Lynn completely misconstrued the findings of the study in question. According to the study’s author, Dr Ken Owen, his test was “not at all” evidence of genetic intelligence. In fact, Owen has noted that the results were found directly related to the existence of apartheid era oppression, and the fact that the test was in English.

Another of the “definitive” studies cited by Lynn in his own article was a 1929 study, in which 293 blacks in South Africa were given the Army Beta Test and scored a mean of 65. But this test was administered by M.L. Finch, an open protagonist of the view that blacks were inherently inferior, even before he had done any studies to “prove” such a thing: he was, in other words, hardly a pure, unbiased scientist. Furthermore, the Beta Test was one of the most culturally biased tests in the world at that time: one question on the 1929 version in dispute showed people playing tennis without a net. To get full credit for the question, one would have to draw the net in the picture—something few black Africans could have possibly known to do in 1929, having never been exposed to the game. A leading proponent of the Beta Test, C.C. Brigham, actually admitted that the test had no validity whatsoever for non-Americans: a fact totally ignored by Lynn, and by the Bell Curve.

You’ll want to read about Lynn’s sources for Asian IQs as well. The only reason these datasets keep getting cited (positively) is that Lynn and some cronies keep citing them, generally in a journal they help to edit. If you’re going to use these folks as a source, you might as well use Lynn’s buddy J. Phillipe Rushton’s work on IQ and penis size as well.

Rushton is cited eleven times in the Bell Curve, and Murray and Herrnstein go to great lengths to ensure their readers that Rushton “is not a quack.” This despite the fact that Rushton’s “scientific methodology” has included approaching shoppers at a Toronto mall (one-third black, one-third white, and one-third Asian) and asking them “how far can you ejaculate,” or “how large is your penis?” He has also said, that intelligence is inversely related to penis size, because “it’s more brain or more penis. You can’t have everything,” and has claimed that the success of the Nazi army was due to its Aryan genetic purity. Interestingly enough, Rushton’s data on penis size all comes from one study, conducted in 1898 by an anonymous French Army surgeon who traveled through Africa and recorded the size of African penises, and from a second study comparing the penises of Nigerian medical students to Czech army officers. In this study, it turned out the Nigerians penises were longer, and the Czech’s had greater circumference. So why is length more important in effecting brainpower than girth? Who knows? Neither the original study, nor Rushton, explains this point.

Hear that, atheist guys? Hemant posted a happy-making little graphic that says that says you’re irreligious because your penises are small. Doesn’t that make you feel good?

37 comments

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  1. 1
    Mara

    Ugh, I would have caught that sourcing if it had been Rushton, but I didn’t catch who Lynn was.

    Rushton is…slimy. I dealt with him many a year ago when I was employed by the American Anthropological Association and talking to him was an experience. He sounded so reasonable, polite with this lovely British accent, until my brain actually turned on and realized what he was saying and then I wanted to scrub my brain out with bleach.

    All these brain size and IQ guys make me want to scrub my brain out, actually. Ugh.

    I think I’m going to go read a chapter or two of The Mismeasure of Man to make myself feel better.

  2. 2
    Agagooga

    The Bell Curve was published in 1994

    The paper in questioned was published in 2009 and used IQ data from a 2006 book which as far as I can tell uses different datasets

    Why’re you critiquing an irrelevant dataset?

  3. 3
    Sili

    Well, Nyborg was the obvious red light to me as a Dane.

    Oh – and the fact the IQ is ever so much bollocks.

    But for the record, I do indeed have a small penis.

  4. 4
    Stephanie Zvan

    Agagooga, Rushton himself says the book “increased the number of countries for which they have calculated measured IQs from 81 to 113.” There’s no information about remeasuring for any countries, and that hasn’t been the practice in any of the rest of Lynn’s work, despite substantial criticisms of his findings and failures to replicate them. Feel free to provide information on any updated datasets.

  5. 5
    Agagooga

    From average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 nations (the 2009 article): “To investigate the relationship between intelligence and religious belief between nations we have taken the IQs of nations given in Lynn and Vanhanen’s (2006) IQ and Global Inequality”

    Review by McDaniel of the book: “From my perspective, it appears that Lynn and Vanhanen have been careful to select appropriate IQ tests that are suitable for the populations tested… there is no evidence showing that small errors in these data have affected any conclusions…

    Nationally representative samples of IQ data are hard to come by and Lynn and Vanhanen have used such samples when available. However, most of the national IQ estimates are based on convenience samples composed of individuals who were available for a study. Convenience samples abound in science. For example, much psychological research is based on samples drawn from college students in psychology classes. Convenience samples are not necessarily unrepresentative of the population, but they can be. Lynn and Vanhanen were aware of the potential limitations of the convenience samples and provided a variety of data in support of the appropriateness of their samples for estimating IQ… The convenience samples are generally in agreementwith each other and raises confidence in the representativeness of the convenience samples…

    Independent of Lynn and Vanhanen’s analyses, Hunt and Wittmann (2008) have documented the strong relationship between national IQ estimates (the 2002 estimates) and the OECD data. This is compelling given that Hunt has been a vocal critic of the Lynn and Vanhanen national IQ estimates…

    This review has addressed the issue of whether Lynn and Vanhanen’s (2006) national IQ estimates are credible. This reviewer concludes that they are credible and a valuable data set for future research.”

  6. 6
    Stephanie Zvan

    How sweet. A friendly review in the journal Lynn helps to edit (pdf)–which utterly fails to address the criticisms listed in this post. Yeah, color me impressed. Or not. At least now we’ve gone from, “You’re criticizing the wrong thing!” to, “Well, someone else thinks they did okay, at least by some countries.”

  7. 7
    Stephanie Zvan

    Also, you might want to look at Hunt and Wittmann directly instead of taking someone’s word for what they said.

  8. 8
    'Tis Himself

    Male Atheists Have Small Penises

    I shall respond to this assertion with all the dignity it deserves, to wit:

    ‘Snot true! I do have a big pee-pee! So there! Nyah! :-þ

    I now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.

  9. 9
    Bryan

    McDaniel is one cool dude and colleague. Here’s a graph we have showing US state IQs and “religious fundamentalism”

    http://a2.ec-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/102/907b54271366415f9c9e3bcadfaea499/l.jpg

    Considering the post’s title, State IQ’s correlate -.30 with State penis size. I would have loved to write that up for publication, but we couldn’t figure out why. Nothing else we have seems to co-vary with both IQ and penis size (except this one chemical in water supplies that shrinks testicles, but it didn’t statistically explain the relationship).

  10. 10
    Bryan

    I was a blind peer reviewer for a few of Lynn’s more recent National IQ papers. The parallels between State and National IQ (in terms of what each correlates strongly with) in my opinion suggest they are valid.

    The problem with the graph above is you have one crappy measure of religiosity. The state data I linked to come from Pew surveys and comprise a factor analysis on 8 or so questions ranging from “the bible is literally true” to “my prayers are regularly answered by God”.

  11. 11
    Stephanie Zvan

    *headdesk* Yes, Bryan. I’m sure McDaniel is a very nice guy…and that makes his tepid defense of some of the “samples of convenience” used by Lynn totally unbiased. *headdesk*

  12. 12
    Bryan

    Mara

    What about results from meta-analytic studies that show rather conclusively and IQ / brain size link?

    http://www.govrel.vcu.edu//news/Releases/2005/june/McDaniel-Big%20Brain.pdf

  13. 13
    Bryan

    Lynn, Rushton, etc., have published in some rather powerhouse journals (excluding “intelligence” from this list). Hard to do if your conspiracy theory is true!

    Stephanie, I wasn’t aware he commented on Lynn’s data– this is the first I’ve seen it. You should look at the more recent National IQ studies. They’ve updated the estimates, and present data on things like, er, validity.

  14. 14
    Zeno

    Okay, there must be some other reason I’m a nonbeliever.

    No, really. I have the proof around here somewhere, although not immediately in hand.

  15. 15
    Stephanie Zvan

    Bryan, if you’re honest and paying attention, you know that these guys publish their much less controversial work in the big-name journals.

    It’s good to know there are more recent country datasets. So why isn’t Lynn using them?

  16. 16
    Agagooga

    Thanks for the link to Hunt and Wittmann. I can’t view the paper but the abstract does note that there were “weaknesses” in “several of their data points” (presumably the rest were alright)

    Anyhow, Wicherts, Dolan and Maas (2009) critique the sub-Saharan African data but comment that “although these four studies appear to validate national IQs in other parts of the world, they do not appear to support the national IQs in sub-Saharan Africa”

    And while pointing out several problems with the dataset, Rindermann (2007) concludes that “the IQ-test data collection has advantages because it includes not only pupils in school but also older people, and it includes more developing countries”. Besides which, he discusses problems with all other datasets.

    It is a fact that most psychology studies are based on college undergraduates. So much so that we have to be warned to keep in mind that they are WEIRD (white, educated etc). Yet in general people use their conclusions merrily.

  17. 17
    becca

    I think it goes the other way.
    We all know women are more religious than men right?
    Well, the religiosity of a region is thus more defined by women. And what makes women believe in god? Big penises. Duh.

  18. 18
    Bryan

    So, they are capable of doing good / “A” science, but only for non-controversial topics? And, these same scientist are fraudulent hacks when they rotate to controversial topics?

    “Intelligence” is a reasonable outlet for people studying human intelligence. It’s not as elite as most APA journals, but only non-experts would dismiss a paper just because it was published there.

  19. 19
    Stephanie Zvan

    Bryan, where did I say they weren’t capable of doing good science on controversial topics. The fact is that there are some very ugly flaws in their data and methodology when this is the topic. You telling me they’re cool or published elsewhere doesn’t change that. You want to defend their results? Defend their methodology. Even a non-expert knows that.

    Agagooga, just a note: It doesn’t take getting rid of very many troublesome datapoints before that graph starts to look very, very boring.

    +1 internets to becca. I’m not sure the logic holds up, but I don’t care.

  20. 20
    Daniel Fincke

    I think it goes the other way.
    We all know women are more religious than men right?
    Well, the religiosity of a region is thus more defined by women. And what makes women believe in god? Big penises. Duh.

    And by this logic, there’re a couple explanations for why men in the other regions don’t believe in god.

  21. 21
    Freddieb

    I’d rather that women went for my brain than my penis.

    Btw, I have discovered that women of intelligence couldn’t care less about penis size, just as men of intelligence don’t care about breast size.

  22. 22
    howardpeirce

    Just today, I finally eliminated Jerry Coyne from my RSS feed because he defended Christopher Hitchens against charges of misogyny by claiming that Hitch was “charming” and only “mildly paternalistic.” That’s not misogyny, right?

    Granted, posting “Unsubscribe” and then removing his feed from my reader is the height of lame, but then I’d have to start my own blog.

    If I were a big-tent Gnu Atheist, I’d be saying, “Hey, let’s not fight amongst ourselves. The important thing is that we oppose The Other Guy.”

    But you know what? A whole lot of Our Guys are misogynistic, racist, unthinking assholes, with no more respect for the evidence than The Other Guy’s assholes.

    In the early days of the Internet, I checked out CSICOP and CFI and a lot of other gatekeepers of rationalism, and I left pissed off. A lot has changed, but these old fuckers are still there, still pedalling their racist, misogynistic bullshit.

    Fight, fight, fight fight!

    I want to see it, down and dirty. And I’ll wade in, as soon as you tell me you want me to. I do think that you, Jen, Amanda, Kylie, et al have the situation well in hand, but jeez, the lack of self-awareness among the various horsemen has me pissed off.

    Will the MSM use this as fodder? Can we expect a followup in Slate or HuffPo? Fuck all, I hope so.

  23. 23
    Bryan

    The measure of religiosity is just % believers. That’s not very robust. See the state IQ graph using Pew survey items that capture fundamentalism.

    What’s the second last line in the abstract you cite by Hunt?

  24. 24
    Stephanie Zvan

    Here’s the whole abstract, Bryan, though you’re just as capable of adding it to the comment thread as I am.

    What is the relation between the cognitive competence of a national population that nation’s economic prosperity? Lynn and Vanhanen [Lynn, R. & Vanhanen, T. (2002). "IQ and the wealth of nations." Westport, CT: Praeger.] presented data pointing to an exceptionally strong relationship between IQ scores and Gross Domestic Product per capita (GDP/c). However weaknesses in the Lynn and Vanhanen data set greatly reduce its construct validity. We re-examine the Lynn and Vanhanen data set and find that although the correlation between the IQ scores and GDP/c is approximately the same in developed and developing nations the absolute error in prediction of GDP/c from IQ is greater in the developing than the developed nations. We then show that recently obtained contemporary educational data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) provides a better predictor of national wealth than does the Lynn-Vanhanen data set. We conclude that in spite of the weaknesses several of their data points Lynn and Vanhanen’s empirical conclusion was correct, but we question the simple explanation that national intelligence causes national wealth. We argue that the relationship is more complex.

  25. 25
    Mara

    Bryan…a meta-analysis in a low impact factor journal whose editors are known to be lying racist bastards isn’t *exactly* the most convincing evidence. I did mention the “employed by the American Anthropological Association once upon a time” thing, right? I probably didn’t mention the “master’s degree in anthropology” thing, though. I know about that journal and I know some of those names.

    The fact that you have to cite something in Intelligence makes me suspect you haven’t got any halfway decent evidence. Well, I knew you didn’t, but this just proves it further :D

    Man, I really need to make the time to shred that meta-analysis. Maybe over New Year’s. It’ll be fun, just like old times. Need to keep the teeth sharp, after all.

  26. 26
    John McKay

    As far as religiosity and penis size are concerned, you are confusing the causes and effects in these data sets. Highly religious men use their penises only very rarely, either for you-know or boom-chicka-wow-wow, because they fear that their highly disapproving father-figure god will highly disapprove of such action and punish them. The lack of penile release leads to a build up of man juice, resulting in blue balls and lug nuts. Without healthy activity, their weiners become large and fat, just as the rest of their bodies do without healthy activity. Suffering blue balls and lacking in healthy activities they soon turn to television and deep fried foods for relief. Arterial sclerosis and adult onset diabetes become rampant in their demographic strata and they die.

    Their irreligious peers, in the mean time, develop lean, mean wanking machines (or wanked upon machines. It all depends on how you use the word “wank”). Sadly, they credit too much of their weiner size to exercise. But, giving in to our culture’s sad over-emphasis on size, they soon attempt to beat (so to speak) the size gap with their flabby friends be resorting to more exercize without taking into account the effects of erosion. More friction results in more erosion. Eventually, they die, too, probably of dehydration and electrolyte depletion.

    The IQ correlation is that both of these are really stupid ways to die and that they should both just chill out.

  27. 27
    John McKay

    Am I the only one who noticed that the graph is shaped like Cuba and is , therefore, probably a Commie-pause for effect-plot.

  28. 28
    Shaded Spriter

    I don’t like this chart because of the cultural difference in which countries do IQ tests regularly have more of a deciding factor than anything.

    I would like to see a version of this chart which just has european and US/Canadaa on it and russia too. This would have a better sample set (done at the same time etc) than including all of africa as well. Also I think it is important to point out IQ test scores are modified so the population average is 100. which makes testing religiousity and IQ a bit moot if different countries are modifying their scores differently.

  29. 29
    Graham Martin-Royle

    Okay, I’ve got a small dick, do I care?

  30. 30
    Jason Thibeault

    John McKay @27 just made my day. For the record, I see a flaccid penis.

    Funny how a happy-making article loses all its lustre when you find out what else the data used is designed to show.

    Also, really good to know that Bryan is part of the reason so much of this sort of nonsense passes peer review.

  31. 31
    Bryan

    Mara: Intelligence’s impact factor is 3.17. Spend a few hours and thrash that meta-analysis. We could use your perspective.

  32. 32
    Bryan

    I did a quick count: of the 24 articles used in the meta-analysis, six were published in Intelligence. Other journals included “Brain,” PNAS, Nueropsychology and Lancet.

  33. 33
    Ben Zvan

    That can’t be right. I’ve been to Iceland.

  34. 34
    Crommunist

    Seriously, Stephanie? You want to put up a post about “atheists have small penises” and expect me NOT to fire back with a million “my dick is so big” jokes? I’m not made of stone!

    My dick is, though, and I use it to fuck the Grand Canyon.

    SEE? THE TEMPTATION IS TOO LARGE TO RESIST!

    mfffrrllp…

    …be strong, Cromwell…

  35. 35
    Stephanie Zvan

    Not expect it?!? Hah!

    What you don’t understand, Crommunist, is that this was all a clever ploy to let my readers in on the sort of thing that happens in the FtB back channel without actually divulging any of it myself. And you fell for it!

    Bwahahahaha!

  36. 36
    Bryan

    It looks like a penis, only smaller?

  37. 37
    Gazza

    “Never mind the quality feel the width”. The name of a TV comedy set in a Jewish garment factory.

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