Thursday, February 25, 2010

Smarter men are more monogamous, liberal, atheist, and nocturnal

I hope this is true, because it sure matches my prejudices. The findings of the study are that
More intelligent people are statistically significantly more likely to exhibit social values and religious and political preferences that are novel to the human species in evolutionary history. Specifically, liberalism and atheism, and for men (but not women), preference for sexual exclusivity correlate with higher intelligence.
The claim is that dumber people are more likely to think we should do things the way we always have, and smarter people can think of and embrace new ways of doing things. This does not go so deeply that intelligence is correlated with any preferences we have had since we were, say, Australopithecines.

In the current study, Kanazawa argues that humans are evolutionarily designed to be conservative, caring mostly about their family and friends, and being liberal, caring about an indefinite number of genetically unrelated strangers they never meet or interact with, is evolutionarily novel. So more intelligent children may be more likely to grow up to be liberals.

More intelligent
Less intelligent
More nocturnal
Less nocturnal

Adolescent IQ 106
Adolescent IQ 95
Very liberal
Very conservative

Adolescent IQ 103
Adolescent IQ 97
Not at all religious
Very religious

Value given to sticking to one member of the opposite sex
Smarter Men
Smarter Women
Dumber men
Dumber women
More monogamous
Same as dumber
Less monogamous
Same as smarter

One reason I like this is it fits into a general idea I have about people, following Jane Jacobs' analysis in Systems of Surval. That is, you can usefully divide people and human activities in to two broad groups. She calls these commercial and guardian. There's lots of caveats and slopping back and forth within and among people, but basically you have liberals and conservatives. It is natural that, because I am a serous liberal, I should think liberal ideas are right, and people who agree with me are smarter than those who don't.  So it is natural that this study should appeal to me.

I'll wallow around in it a bit and then step back and see what sticks, because it's too much in agreement with my prejudices to take at face value.

UPDATE: After mulling this a bit, if this is true, conservatism is the historic state of humankind, and liberalism and atheism are a new invention. I wonder how new. Presumably at some point when the occasional people born with liberal mutation didn't die off.   With language, grading back to apes' grunts? With H. sap. sap, call it 50,000 years ago or so, when art and technology also bloomed? When villages became cities big enough that nobody knew everybody, maybe 4000-3000 BC?

I wish the interesting questions were easier. No, I don't. I just wish I understood them better.

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