Eve Keneinan: Atheists, IQ, and the Burden of Proof

This is a tweet chain I have gathered here for easy reading, because it’s just too good not to and Eve Keneinan has not put it on her blog. (Source).

The only change I have made is to replace Eve’s allcaps words and phrases with bold for easier emphasis reading. All emphasis is Eve’s own.


Atheists love to dwell on the fact that unintelligent people with little education tend to be religious. They aren’t so fond of noting that the smartest and wisest men with the best and deepest education also tend to be religious. Atheism appeals to the slightly above average mind with a mediocre education. his is one of the reasons Pope (among others) warns against little education:

It was this class of people in Vietnam who were most likely to turn traitor. They are the most easily led by the nose class of persons. Vice Admiral James Stockade wrote about this, in a very interesting essay, “The World of Epictetus

Stockdale spent 8 years in the infamous Hoa Lo prison, the “Hanoi Hilton,” and observed many things about the human condition. One was the varying effects of Vietnamese communist propaganda on various types of men. Rough, uneducated soldiers were largely immune. A sargeant from Tennessee met every attempt to break his loyalty with one word: “BULLSHIT!”

Stockdale, highly educated (having studied philosophy) was also largely immune. He could show his captors how they were misreading Marx. The men who turned coat were the moderately smart, moderately educated. These are the class that are most susceptible to propaganda. It is highly significant that this is also the class that makes up the ranks of atheists.

They are a bit above average, but not greatly so, so they are constantly in need of reassurance of how smart they are. They also tend to vastly overestimate their own modest abilities, it being a mark of true wisdom to achieve an understanding of one’s limits. If one is smarter than average, but not by much, one tends to be very conceited about said superiority, but not smart enough to be humble. And one also tends to invest one’s identity in this “being smart,” and so be very insecure at things one doesn’t understand—to dismiss them. Do you think it is an accident that the most ridiculous sorts of beliefs and ideologies proliferate among academics? Of course not.

Professors are, by and large, smarter than average—it is almost a requirement to be one. But they are not typically very smart—though some are. Here I speak as one having spent roughly three decades associating with professors. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that atheists show as being statistically slightly more intelligent than theists (they average 103 IQ). Religiosity increases the lower you go on IQ … and beyond a certain point, the higher you go. Atheism is a middlebrow phenomenon.

I am reminded of the famous Taoist parable that distinguishes the common man, the sophisticated man, and the wise man:

The sophists (whence “sophisticated”) almost always call Socrates “simple” or “simpleminded”: because he agreed with the common people. What the sophists never could understand was that Socrates’ conclusions may have been common, but his reasoning was anything but. Socrates had already thought about all the “sophisticated” ideas of the sophists and thought through them to the point of wisdom. Simplicity is a sign both of never having worked through complexity and having fully worked through it.

That is to say, one can be “simple” by virtue of never thinking much, or by thinking very much indeed, and achieving wisdom. Not that the achievement of wisdom is ever total—again, Socrates’ basic insight was that he was not wise—which made him so.)

So you have three classes of people:

  1. Ordinary = theistic
  2. Sophisticated = atheistic
  3. Wise = theistic

Obviously, the sophisticated class loves to preen about how, well, sophisticated they are—and so better than ordinary people. This is the force of Bacon’s dictum:

Sure, study of philosophy can shatter a simpleminded and uneducated faith to bits. It will do so. But that isn’t the end of the story. The problem is not in losing one’s childish, simpleminded faith. The problem is in stopping or being arrested at that point. Most “skeptics” never reach the level of learning to become skeptical of skepticism—that is, they never learn to think self-reflectively.

This is again why so many people propound “bright ideas” that, if taken serious and applied to themselves, would be self-destructive. E.g. the way middlebrow atheists misunderstand Popper’s “falsificationism” and say “Anything that can’t be falsified can’t be known!” A statement which, of course, cannot be falsified, and therefore, by its own logic, self-destructs. Since I’ve been on Twitter, I’ve replied to every atheist who claims “the burden of proof is on the one who makes claim” to prove his claim.

None ever have. In fact, they get offended at being held accountable to their own proffered principle. But not only have I never gotten a proof of this “principle,” I’ve never gotten more than special pleading that I should just accept it. want to say: the ability to test one’s beliefs via retortion or self-application is one of the marks of wisdom.  Not doing this is why so many intellectuals are hypocrites, or have recourse to ad-hoc justifications.

Atheists usually don’t come right out and say “this rule applies only to theists,” even though that is what they really mean. In this respect, SJWs and feminists are more honest than atheists: they simply say outright that the rule only applies to whites or to men. Of course, there is a price for SJW/feminist “honesty”: they reveal themselves as the bigots they are. Atheists will sometimes do this. The most obvious way an atheist can do this, since they don’t buy “privilege theory”, is with a biased “burden of proof” theory.

It’s a shabby, intellectually dishonest trick, and I do not let it pass. No matter how much I get accused of “dodging” or using a “cop out,” I won’t budge in requiring an atheist to live up to his own standard. And none of them ever will.

That’s the interesting thing to me. What do you make of?
A: “EVERYONE MUST DO THIS.”
B: “Okay, then you do it.”
A: “No, I don’t have to.”

There is something deeply incoherent there, and since it seems to be willful (they could if the chose), deeply intellectually dishonest. say: basic fairness is dialogue or discussion requires that you do not demand that I abide by any principle or rule that you will not. In any case, I will not abide or accept any rule or principle that my opponent or interlocutor will not also accept or abide by. And I won’t do it, even if my interlocutor keeps demanding that I accept his double standard.

The answer is always going to be “No.”


This thread is continued here when Eve replies to some commentators.

The Lands of Fruit – A thought Experiment

Imagine a land of warm winters and wet summers, open plains, fertile soil and a specific family of prolific thornless bush that supplies a marvelous fruit that fulfills most of the nutritional requirements of the human body.  The various subspecies flower virtually year round.

People live in this Warm Land, and eat the fruit. They live simple lives and their population density remains low as they move about and forage for the fruit. Their lives are relatively easy, but not idyllic, there is still disease, a great scourge of the human race, especially so in such a warm wet climate.
Eventually a few groups venture outside this land, into harsher environments, including a cold land, . Here there are no simple easy fruit bushes to harvest. The ground is tougher and there is no simple bounty to be collected by moving around. At first people try to replicate the lifestyle that they had in their homeland. They find trees which grow tall, but bear fruit. Harvesting requires climbing, and those that are taller, with longer limbs are much more adept at this.
Then winter arrives, a season unknown to these people, many people die of starvation because the trees do not produce fruit in winter.
The next year, survivors collect more fruit, expending more effort, but only those who are tall enough can collect enough to survive. Now there is a bottleneck in the population. In the past, in the old land, everyone could have almost as many children as they wished, because food just required a hand with which to pick it. More children meant more hands. Now only tall ones can pick enough to sustain their families. The taller one is, the more surplus they can acquire to have a larger family. Thus those who are taller prosper and have larger families, the average height increases as those who are taller make up a larger and larger portion of the population through their posterity.

The limit to an individual’s offspring is not simply how many children he or she can have before expiring, but is now how many one can sustain with work. As with all people, this limit is to be tested, and pushed back. Methods are invented to reach more fruit, then devices are created to augment height. Those that invent these devices prosper even further and those that can use them to their fullest extent do so too. Children must be trained to use these techniques, which are a lot more complex than the simple fruit picking required in the Warm Lands.
Techniques to increase the yield of the fruit trees follow the advances in devices, and after thousands of generations the yield of fruit in the Cold Land is actually higher than that of the original Warm lands.

Now the Cold Landers re-discover the Warm Lands. They bring with them their techniques and devices, some of which are still useful on the bushes that flourish in the Warm Lands. The people of the Warm lands are made much more prosperous, but they do not rule themselves now. Those in the Cold lands harvest the fruit there. They use the increased harvest from the massive bounty of the Warm lands to feed their people back in the Cold lands and they also allow the Warm landers to take part in that increased bounty.

However, eventually the native Warm Landers they force the Cold Landers out when some of them return from the Cold lands, having learned more there. These few that went to learn in the Cold lands tell them that all people are equal, but once the tall Cold landers have left, they find that they have not the height to operate all of the devices left behind, and they lack the knowledge of all the techniques. Starvation and poverty follows, for the increased harvests allowed their population to grow further than the limit of their previous hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
For this they blame the former Cold Landers. They say that all the prosperity of the Cold lands was gained from plundering the Warm lands.

But was it?