Or, Male Atheists Have Small Penises


Oh, look. The same old, old, old, bad data is being passed around again. We’re going to be a little slower to jump up and claim it this time, right? Consider this repost an incentive.

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?

Comments

  1. thascius says

    And if you believe anything Lynn & Rushton come up with, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you.

  2. says

    So you’re saying we tend to uncritically accept conclusions (especially when presented in the form of colorful info graphics) based on questionable data, when they support our preconceptions? Interesting. I was just reading about skeptics and the Lesswrongs.

  3. Sili says

    I only have two hemipenes, thank you very much.

    (Small ones.)

    It was Nyborg that was the red flag for me when Calamities first did this one. Pity – it was mostly good.

  4. cubist says

    It wouldn’t surprise me if there actually was an inverse correlation between intelligence and religiosity. To be religious, all you need to do is just sit back and accept what you’re told; to be an atheist, you have to not do that, and more-intelligent people are more likely to not just sit back and accept what they’re told. Not sure what the strength of the statistical correlation should be; Klono knows there’s a lot of other relevant factors at work in religiousness…

  5. Walton says

    I agree with Stephanie (and PZ, who wrote a similar blog post earlier). I read the study this morning, and I’m really not convinced that the data supports the kind of strong conclusions that many commentators are drawing from it. I’m not convinced that “intelligence” is a concept susceptible to straightforward definition, let alone quantification, or that many of the measures adopted to quantify “intelligence” actually do so. IQ, in particular, is surely a discredited measure at this point. Does anyone really think it’s an objective measure of “general intelligence” (if such a measure is even possible) unaffected by class and cultural factors?

    I’d also be very interested in whether the results vary between demographic groups and/or countries. According to the paper (which I am reading now), the authors grouped the samples into “precollege, college and non-college samples”, so they did at least account for the fact that college students aren’t representative of the general population, but it would have been nice if they’d clearly broken it down by country and location. Culture might very well make a difference, and I would like to know if this is the case.

    I think it’s very dangerous to generalize from “certain measures of religious observance were negatively correlated with certain measures of cognitive ability in various studies of late twentieth/early twenty-first century North American people, mostly college students” to a sweeping, and probably inaccurate, statement like “religious people are on average less intelligent”. And that’s even leaving aside the issues Stephanie raises as to the trustworthiness of the studies in the meta-analysis.

  6. Walton says

    Culture might very well make a difference, and I would like to know if this is the case.

    er, that came out wrong. What I meant to say was that “religiosity” is not a homogeneous concept across cultures.

  7. Walton says

    So I have no idea if religiosity is negatively correlated with intelligence. I’d like to see some real discussion of how both “intelligence” and “religiosity” are defined, whether they can meaningfully be quantified, and whether the measures the studies in the meta-analysis are using are suitable. And some attempt to take account of the fact that North American college and precollege students aren’t representative samples of the world population.

  8. Corvus illustris says

    Anthony K @1: Penes, please.

    If there were a god I would thank it. This has been irritating me since we stopped saying mentula, pl. mentulae, way back when.

  9. sivivolk says

    There’s also good procedural and methodological problems with Lynn’s data, construct of IQ aside, as discussed at length by Wicherts and others.

  10. taxesmycredulity says

    #9 “So I have no idea if religiosity is negatively correlated with intelligence.”

    I can only speak to Western religions. If the Abrahamic branches (Hebrew, Christian, or Islam) who presuppose a patriarchal dominance.are creating the intelligence tests, no wisdom that does not comport with patriarchy will be valid, recognized, or scored. It would seem that the religious preclude knowledge.

  11. says

    “it’s more brain or more penis. You can’t have everything,”

    Amusingly, it is well known that humans have proportionally larger brains than other primates, but I also recall reading a study some time ago (having difficulty finding it atm), claiming that human males also had proportionally (and absolutely) longer penes than males of our nearer primate cousins, on average. This is flaccid length of course; AFAIK that’s all the research there is, nor would I want to be the person to try to learn what the average length of gorilla erections is. I can see all too many ways that could end poorly.

  12. Adamo says

    Funny that once again the only thing that counts is male anatomy. What does this say about women? Lack of intelligence correlates with breast size? Maybe it’s just as well that we don’t go there.

  13. says

    Hemant is the Daily Mail of atheism. The guy drives me nuts. You either post stuff like this with a qualifier like you and PZ, or you don’t. Too many atheists are in this for the feeling smugly superior to the religious.

  14. says

    Funny that once again the only thing that counts is male anatomy. What does this say about women? Lack of intelligence correlates with breast size? Maybe it’s just as well that we don’t go there.

    It’s pretty much a given that someone like Rushton is seriously misogynistic as well as racist as all get out, and I was just riffing off of that statement.

  15. Bozjemoj says

    Funny that once again the only thing that counts is male anatomy. What does this say about women? Lack of intelligence correlates with breast size? Maybe it’s just as well that we don’t go there.

    Actually, unlike the off-hand, for-effect comparison you are referencing, that study exists. (Linky if I can find it. I didn’t say it was an important study.)

    Yeah. Someone, somewhere, actually felt it was worthwhile to go there.

    So – off-hand remark vs. actually pursing it as a study. The weight of “only thing that counts” doesn’t seem necessarily in your corner to me.

    …is what I would respond if I thought for a second that you were capable of taking in arguments.

    (Sorry if I borked the block quote. I’m vague on the htmlz and can’t preview for some reason.)

  16. says

    Hemant is the Daily Mail of atheism.

    Err, what? The Daily Mail is nonstop sensationalistic right-wing propaganda. This is a piece of horrible reporting not terribly unlike some of the science “journalism” that comes out of many major news outlets.

    I understand the anger, but, seriously, the atheist equivalent of the Daily Mail is somewhere very near to the Slymepit. One piece of poor reporting does not equal a fucking propaganda mill for protecting privilege =/

  17. Martha says

    In this study, it turned out the Nigerians penises were longer, and the Czech’s had greater circumference.

    Is length or circumference most strongly inversely related to intelligence? We single women who date men urgently need to know!

    /snark (in case that’s not obvious!)

  18. Sili says

    . One piece of poor reporting does not equal a fucking propaganda mill for protecting privilege =/

    What makes you think that the comparison is based solely on this post?

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