Intelligent Design & idiocy

By Razib Khan | March 28, 2010 2:57 pm

idiotsguidIDI am consciously aware that the “Idiot’s Guide” series are not parodies. But when Josh Roseneau introduced me to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Intelligent Design I simply assumed that this was a parody or gag-gift. This illustrates the lack of unity of cognitive process. On the one hand as I note above I was aware of the reality that this was a well-known brand of introductory books, but my prejudice against Creationists and Intelligent Design folk, and my perception that they’re stupid, led to me infer reflexively that this was an ironic parody. After all, it seemed mean to point out that those looking to understand Intelligent Design may be somewhat duller, on average, than those who would find the enterprise laughable.

For your information, here are the mean WORDSUM scores for various evolution related questions on the General Social Survey (WORDSUM is a vocabulary test, with scores from 0 to 10).

“Human beings developed from animals”

True = 6.36
False = 5.87

“View about origin & development of man”

God created = 6.02
Evolved, god guided = 6.36
Evolved = 6.71

“Humans evolved from animals”

Definitely true = 7.02
Probably true = 6.11
Probably not true = 5.59
Definitely not true = 5.84

“Human beings developed from an earlier species of animal”

Definitely true = 6.91
Probably true = 6.33
Probably not true = 6.14
Definitely not true = 5.92

Photo Dave Munger

  • bioIgnoramus

    “Human beings developed from a more primitive species of animal”: now that would be trickier.

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  • Joshua Zelinsky

    Regarding the Idiot’s Guide series, not all of them are so bad. I’ve encountered them a few times and have found that the more practical oriented ones can be useful. After not programming in Java for a few years I found the Idiot’s Guide for Java to be helpful. However, whoever thought that this was a useful approach to something that was a political/scientific/religious issue must be a genuine idiot.

    The reviews for this book on Amazon are very interesting.

    Regarding overall intelligence of people who accept ID. While it is clear that overall people who accept ID/creationism are generally less intelligent on average this isn’t by itself an argument against the truth of ID.

  • WhatMeWorry

    I’m just finishing up The Complete Idiot’s Guide to String Theory, and I’ve read worse. Heck it even tips a cap to LQG.

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  • Razib Khan

    While it is clear that overall people who accept ID/creationism are generally less intelligent on average this isn’t by itself an argument against the truth of ID.

    you know, my reflex is to agree based on cultural wisdom. but actually i think it is an argument against the truth of ID, though a weak one. in other words, all things being equal i would generally prefer positions held by the smart over the stupid. but in the real world things are rarely equal so there are many positions of the stupid which i think are actually correct. either i’m stupid, or smart people can be brainwashed too! :-)

  • pconroy


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  • Pete Hodge

    So, people who accept ID/Creationism are less intelligent? Considering that many of the fundamentals of scientific knowledge have come from the work of scientists of the past. Men and women of tremendous learning and intellect, that seems to be a strange statement to make.

    I did like the definition of the difference between ID and creationism. I agree totally with it.

    The evolution/Darwinism lobby are far more ideological than we creationists are. Their devotion to their religion of naturalism is far deeper than many of us who believe that God created the entire universe.

    What are they afraid off? At the end of the day we will all know the truth eventually. In the meantime, Darwinists, try and practice a little bit of science and research, test, examine and take an genuinely open mind to what you are discovering. Not reject anything that you do not agree with.

    I am proud to be a creationists. It means that I really do have an intellectual basis for understanding what I observe around me.

  • Razib Khan

    just an fyi, i don’t normally publish comments from creationists. for future reference.

  • Mike Wagner

    @Pete Hodge,
    If there were any science involved in Creationism, then maybe you’d have a valid argument. But the scientific method is straightforward. Hypothesis, experimentation, observation, revision, (repeat as needed), then theory. Experiments must be falsifiable and repeatable.
    So even if the concept in question is still at the hypothesis stage, then the means for gathering evidence must conform to the scientific method.
    The biggest mouthpiece for the ID movement, the Discovery Institute, doesn’t even publish papers. There isn’t any science there. ‘God did it’ is good enough for them.
    Well, the rest of us like a little evidence with our morning coffee. They don’t feel the need for evidence.

    *The bible is not evidence.

  • Razib Khan

    right, this is why i don’t publish creationist comments. let’s not waste our time with this silliness folks. there are many places on the internet where you can debunk the people who done wrong :-)

  • Evil Merodach

    I agree with you, Razib. But it’s occasionally fun to give creationists enough rope to hang themselves as can they never have the facts to back up their beliefs.

    Then again, it isn’t like we haven’t heard it all before and we’re not going to change their entrenched religious views. It’s better to keep the discussion rational.

  • Joshua Zelinsky

    Also, note that the phenomenon in question as laid out by Razib in the initial post is very robust. In particular, the more religious people are the less well they perform on a variety of different sorts of intelligence tests. A very similar phenomenon exists when one looks at education levels.

    See and . (Using short URLs so as to not have to worry about formatting issues).

  • Terrence Walker

    I was really about to get into this site, until I read this post. I personally don’t care about Intelligent Design, Creationism, Darwinism or any other Dogma, and it is ALL dogma, but I have to take issue with the attitude displayed here. Assuming people to be less intelligent, or worse, calling them “stupid” because of beliefs? How is one to take any of your other writing seriously? Did you know that there are top physicists, lawyers, doctors and other professionals found in some of the most “out there” cults and religions?

    People tend to believe what they were raised on. Very few break away from following what their fathers, grandfathers and ancestors believe. To take such a “high and mighty” position as you have done destroys what could be great writing and a very interesting site.

  • Razib Khan

    Very few break away from following what their fathers, grandfathers and ancestors believe. To take such a “high and mighty” position as you have done destroys what could be great writing and a very interesting site.

    it destroys it for someone like you who is uncomfortable with saying most people are stupid and most ideas are stupid. not for me, and all those who read it. bye-bye.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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