Smart people accept evolution

By Razib Khan | August 19, 2011 12:24 pm

At Culture of Science there’s a little discussion about whether acceptance of evolution indicates intelligence. Looking at the GSS data there doesn’t seem to be a strong causal relationship when you control for other variables. But there is a correlation. That correlation can be explained by the fact that, for example, people who are Biblical literalists tend to be duller than those who are not, and Biblical literalists don’t accept evolution (in fact, I’ve seen evidence that very intelligence Biblical literalists are more Creationist than their duller co-religionists, probably because they’re more coherent in their beliefs).

With that, I’ll leave you with a screenshot of the results for WORDSUM, a 10 word vocabulary test, against acceptance or rejection of human evolution from other organisms (note that the numbers below the proportions are weighted sample sizes):

The real divergence is at the super high end of intelligence.

MORE ABOUT: Creationism, Evolution
  • Joe H.

    Now if only you could lay the WORDSUM/IQ relationship over the figure above, and we’d know how it really fit to the bell curve of intelligence.

  • Mike the Mad Biologist

    If we look at each wordsum category separately, which ones are significantly different? I ask because the trend seems to reflect the liberal-conservative split (low and high lean left; middle leans conservative). It also seems to mirror educational attainment–moderately educated people (some/completed college) are more likely to be conservative.

    Hard to suss out causal factors here.

  • Jim B

    Smart people accept evolution? Smart people generally accepted the flat earth theory 600 years ago. By the way, my IQ is higher than 99.68% of your readers. I do not accept the theory of evolution because it cannot answer the simple question of where “matter” was formed. When “smart people” start being “smart” again, maybe science will regain a foothold. It is the “elitist” attitude of science in articles like this that turn those of us who are TRULY smart away from the scientific community toward those who do not judge them based on something that can never be proven.

    [here’s the facebook profile of this genius -razib]

  • zovenix

    “Smart people generally accepted the flat earth theory 600 years ago”

    No. Wrong example. Smart people accepted the spherical earth theory 600 years ago.

  • Emil

    ^ troll or just stupid.

  • roger-u

    what has the formation of “matter” got to do with the theory of evolution ???

  • Baramos

    I guess cause animals are made up of matter? I dunno. Evolutionary theory doesn’t bother to explain the origins of matter or the universe, it attempts to explain the origins of life and the development of multi-celled organisms and species.

  • Phillip Lemky

    Superior performance on the WORDSUM test (with it being a vocabulary test) and acceptance of evolution are indicators of educational attainment rather than innate intelligence, in my opinion.

  • Razib Khan

    Superior performance on the WORDSUM test (with it being a vocabulary test) and acceptance of evolution are indicators of educational attainment rather than innate intelligence, in my opinion.

    1) you can actually control for education (which i did)

    2) you can actually look in the GSS as opposed to offering your opinion. if you did so you’d find some correlation with wordsum controlling for education. though it’s noisy.

  • Katharine

    Jim B, matter is an issue of physics. It has zero to do with evolution. And the claim that an animate, sentient entity created matter is ludicrous. You’re the idiot here. I’m skeptical about your claims of having an IQ higher than 99.68% of Razib’s readers.

  • Julian M

    How did a genius like Jim B overlook selection bias in his claim to be smarter than 99% of the readership here? Sometimes the brighter you are the duller you seem.


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This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

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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