Monday, December 18, 2006

An inconvenient truth for carnivores

An inconvenient truth for carnivores from a study of 8,179 people, published in the latest British Medical Journal:
A Southampton University team found those who were vegetarian by 30 had recorded five IQ points more on average at the age of 10... Men who were vegetarian had an IQ score of 106, compared with 101 for non-vegetarians; while female vegetarians averaged 104, compared with 99 for non-vegetarians.
Another sacred cow slaughtered -- if you'll pardon the metaphor.

LINK: High IQ link to being vegetarian - BBC News [Hat tip Andrei]
An Objectivist tiger in a vegetarian cafe - Not PC (June, 2006)
Myths that can kill: Meat - Not PC (Feb, 2006)

RELATED: Health

49 Comments:

Anonymous Sean said...

Peter,

Not sure what you are trying to say. Higher IQs increase the chances of someone being vegetarian. OK, now so what? What if the smartest person was a meat eater? Would that prove anything? Of course not. The only thing that matters is WHY they are vegetarian and IF their argument is valid.

Sean

12/18/2006 01:33:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

What am I trying to say?

That a Southampton University team found those who were vegetarian by 30 had recorded five IQ points more on average at the age of 10... Men who were vegetarian had an IQ score of 106, compared with 101 for non-vegetarians; while female vegetarians averaged 104, compared with 99 for non-vegetarians.

"What if the smartest person was a meat eater?"

What if an elephant wasn't large, grey and wrinkled?

12/18/2006 01:40:00 pm  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

" 366 of the participants said they were vegetarian - although more than 100 reported eating either fish or chicken. "

Geez it's amazing what passes for a 'vegetarian' these days isn't it?
Did someone mention to the scientists that fish & chickens aren't vegetables...

And did these 'vegetarians' actually eat only plant-derived food products their entire lives or just as they reached adulthood?

And did this study take into account that vegetarianism is an activity undertaken mainly by the middle class (who have access to superior educational facilities) who can afford the extra cost of basing their diet soley on vegetables (especially in the 1970s)?

I'm thinking that the scientists and you Peter are making too much stew out of a single onion.

12/18/2006 02:06:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Hahaha. I love rattling your cages. :-)

Note the difference, if you will, between "vegan" and "vegetarian."

The study simply says what it says, just as I said.

12/18/2006 02:11:00 pm  
Anonymous DenMT said...

Robert, I'm not sure where you get your idea that eating vegetarian is more expensive than meat-eating.

Your occasional block of tempeh or smattering of pine nuts doesn't reeeally compensate for the much greater cost per weight of your steak and fish and bratwurst. I remember the chagrin of my flatting days, paying an equal share into the shopping pot and still coming out worst even after getting loads of expensive vege sausages and other comparatively expensive foodstuffs.

I'm not convinced that us vegetarians are necessarily innately more intelligent (not totally convinced anyways ;) but I certainly can't believe we pay more for food...

DenMT

12/18/2006 02:31:00 pm  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

Actually Peter I'm miffed that such twaddle got published in a 'peer-reviewed' journal.

I've sweated bullets over the two papers I've published and some arse comes to a statistically 'valid' conclusion despite the fact that (according to the media report) fully 1/3rd of his subjects were mis-characterised!?!??

Why do I even bother trying to do my job properly when twats like that get funding, tenure and publicity for what appears to be a load of old cobblers!

12/18/2006 02:35:00 pm  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

Den,

I'm basing my conclusion about the cost of vegetarianism on the basis that the true vegetarians that I know (like Peter) eat a wide variety of vegetables (cooked a wide variety of ways) not just for the nutrition but also because to do anything else is to subject yourself to a bland dietry experience.

True, those days are changing as vegetarians have started to exert their buying power. But in England, in the 70s, I'd be willing to bet that being a vegetarian (away from the London flea-markets) was a luxury that most couldn't have afforded. But I'm happy to be proved wrong there.

12/18/2006 02:45:00 pm  
Anonymous DenMT said...

Robert, I agree whole-heartedly with your conception of a fine vegetarian diet. And I fail to see how 'a wide variety of vegetables' could be pricier than 'a narrow range of vegetables and some staple meat'.

From long experience, from conversation with workmates, from direct comparison, I can tell you that I enjoy a very rich, varied and awesomely delicious diet for a good deal cheaper than my carnivorous pals.

I'm unsure which vegetarian staples you are envisioning which cost more than meat? I concede that there certainly are the fat-bastard type vegtarians who are typically one or two years into their vegetarian adventure and supplant the bacon and schnitzel they miss so much with lashings of cheese and sour cream (plenty of these characters at varsity when I was there). But most vegetarians who can cook properly for themselves spend loads less than meat eaters.

I think your characterisation of a 'mainstream' vegetarian diet as one that necessitates the purchase of expensive and obscure imported and organic vegetables is plain wrong.

However I don't want to pull this thread off-track as this is really a side-note to your main point. So apologies - but we vegetarians eat better and cheaper!

DenMT

12/18/2006 03:03:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"...we vegetarians eat better and cheaper!"

It's true, you know. :-)

PS: Vegetarian != Vegan.

12/18/2006 03:09:00 pm  
Blogger Kane Bunce said...

Den, I can tell you from experience that when on a budget diet as I have had to be a lot of my life that meat is more affordable than veges. Budget meat costs less than most veges and goes further.

12/18/2006 03:15:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Let me just mention something that should be obvious, but isn't.

Vegetarian meals are not simply meat-and-three-vege minus the meat.

The intelligent vegetarian (but I repeat myself) eats a lot more than just veges, most of which are both nutritionally fulfilling and deliciously inexpensive compared with your slabs of dead flesh.

Nor does the intelligent vegetarian purchase their food from those over-priced emporia of pills, potions and dietary supplements for the foolish and easily bewildered (see also, under 'Vegan.')

Eating vegetarianly and intelligently is about as "rich, varied and awesomely delicious" as it's possible to eat, and also about as inexpensive.

12/18/2006 03:40:00 pm  
Anonymous DenMT said...

Alright, I thought the cost issue would be so obvious that it was not even in contention, so I asked my friend Google and he said:

"...Cost effectiveness is very important to consider when choosing a diet plan. Excluding meat will reduce the average grocery bill by approximately on third. Compared to vegetables, meat is extremely expensive." (http://www.studentnow.com/features/vegetarianism.html)

"...It is cheaper to eat a balanced vegetarian diet than a nutritionally equivalent meat-based diet. Certainly there is a great deal of variety in a vegetarian diet, and it is possible to buy many convenience and specialty foods that may cost more. (This is also true on meat-based diets). However, these foods are not necessary to provide a nutritionally balanced, varied and interesting vegetarian diet.

As a rule, it is cheaper to buy plant proteins than the equivalent amount of animal protein. The healthy diets of many poor countries are based on staples of grains and beans combined with vegetables, and these foods are among the least expensive." (http://www.navs-online.org/question.html)

...and plenty more. But it's kind of self-evident I would have thought. Bringing up a family on a budget could be done much more cheaply (and healthily) without meat (especially fatty, dodgy meat of the budget variety).

I'm lucky that I earn a good wage and use the general food-bill savings we enjoy from a vegetarian diet to get the odd luxury food - ie we tend to buy organic, and use good oil and so forth. But if I look back to my student days I still ate better than all my flatmates who were paying a good $20 a week more than me for sausages and chips, chops and peas, and chicken wings and mash every night.

DenMT

12/18/2006 03:47:00 pm  
Anonymous DenMT said...

"Eating vegetarianly and intelligently is about as "rich, varied and awesomely delicious" as it's possible to eat, and also about as inexpensive."

Quoted for truth. If I could somehow post up a taste of the kumara, fennel and walnut gratin we made for dinner on Sunday, I would. And all the ingredients came from the Sunday markets by Te Papa, which (over)fulfils our fresh vege, egg, and fruit needs for the week for about $30.

DenMT

12/18/2006 03:51:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Based on the information from that study, I can also extrapolate that Vegan have higher IQs than vegetarians . Over the past few years, some Vegans had been taken to court for not feeding their infants proper nutritions, which caused their deaths, I mean meat-based products.

12/18/2006 03:56:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

I am sure that if vegetarians taste some delicious lamb flab stew, they would convert permanently into being a carnivore, since they realised what they had missed all along.

12/18/2006 04:06:00 pm  
Anonymous DenMT said...

FF: Hehe, au contraire, I'm sure if you had a crack at a few slices of my personal recipe nut-roast drizzled in vege-gravy and lingonsylt that you'd renounce all meats instantly!

Every possible dietary path has its share of excellent tastes and stodgy boredom. It is, of course, down to the patience and ability of the cook to produce fine food, rather than the available ingredients.

I feel strongly about the personal and environmental benefits of vegetarianism but am not really of a proselytising disposition.

I have read serious scientific evidence, however, that vegetarians out-perform carnivores in the sack...

DenMT

12/18/2006 04:23:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"Based on the information from that study, I can also extrapolate that Vegan have higher IQs than vegetarians..."

And if I extrapolated from Tongans to Samoans? I thought you laid claim to being a mathematician, Fisi. You need should check out what I believe is called the Fallacy of Free Extrapolation, which is what you've just committed: There's no possible way to justify extrapolating from healthy intelligent vegetarians (who get plenty of protein and B12 thank you very much) to sickly, nutritionally bereft Vegans, who haunt the pills-and-potions shops in order to piss expensive urine.

I think your error comes from eating too many lamb flaps -- of whose 'delights' you've given me all-too-abundant opportunities to sample.

The pleasure is one shared only by you and your heart doctor. :-)

12/18/2006 04:24:00 pm  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

Very well I humbly concede that I was wrong about the dollar cost of being a vegetarian.

However, this doesn't discount the previous points about the 'science' of the article. Fully a third of those 'high IQ' vegetarians aren't getting by on just plant-products. They are supplementing their diet with fish or chicken flesh.

And despite my poor showing thus far I'm willing to make two more bets:

(1) that an even larger proportion of those 366 became vegetarians as adults after they'd finished their basic schooling.

(2) that an analysis of the occupations of each of the respondents would show that a large proportion of the vegetarians took on jobs that were desk-bound & required a degree of some sort whereas a higher proportion of the 'carnivores' were in labouring jobs with less demanding intellectual academic requirements.

Firstly, I don't trust standard IQ tests because they are biased against those who've endured shit schools.

Secondly, despite being utterly wrong about the how much a vegetarian diet costs, I note that the report mentions nothing about the study being designed to allow for the possibility that vegetarianism is a life style choice undertaken by well-educated middle-class people with desk-bound jobs...

It wouldn't surprise me at all that 100 random vegetarians do better on a standard IQ test (whose bias against minorities who've endured less well-funded schools is well documented) than 100 random 'carnivores.'

Yet another example of an interesting 'correlation' being trumpeted as reality.

Last year about this time it was saline nasal sprays that protect against viruses. Or the fact that quaffing zillions of extra vitamins (over and above a balanced diet) has the as dramatic effect on your health as it does on the colour of your urine!

I'd be more convinced if you could show me the underlying physiological cause of this effect.

12/18/2006 04:24:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Robert, I think we can all agree that the BMJ study draws a long bow just on its own.

I base my own views on the correlation between intelligence and vegetarianism on the abundant corroborative evidence seen in my personal experience. :-)

"I have read serious scientific evidence, however, that vegetarians out-perform carnivores in the sack..."

Again ... ;^)

12/18/2006 04:30:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"Fully a third of those 'high IQ' vegetarians aren't getting by on just plant-products. They are supplementing their diet with fish or chicken flesh."

And the average vegetarian IQs are still high, despite that recalcitrant third dragging the average down. Just imagine how high the average would be otherwise, eh?

;^)

12/18/2006 04:43:00 pm  
Anonymous Landsend said...

While we're on food habits and IQs, why not put yourself on the next level and remove even more from your dietary experience - anorexics will beat vegetarians hand down. Anorexics are dis-proportionately highly educated and intelligent young women. Just cause they got themselves some high IQs don't mean I'm joining their ranks!

12/18/2006 04:45:00 pm  
Anonymous Sean said...

PC,

OK, I see. You admit that there is no real meaning in this post. No values to be derived or conclusion to be drawn. Further, you clearly have your tongue in you check as you replace the scientific method with your own anecdotal biases. What is that quote you like about things not having meaning?

Sean.

12/18/2006 04:55:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Sean, the meaning of the study is exactly what it says it is. No more, and certainly no less.

Landsend, you appear to be committing the same logical error as the Falu Fulu Fisi. May I prescribe fewer lamb flaps? ;^)

12/18/2006 05:10:00 pm  
Anonymous Sean said...

"Landsend, you appear to be committing the same logical error as the Falu Fulu Fisi. May I prescribe fewer lamb flaps? ;^)"

Care to elaborate PC?

Landsend is simply stating a correlation, which is exactly what you did to kick this off. Though, unlike you, pointing out that correlation is a world away from causation.

Sean.

12/18/2006 05:29:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Sean, I have been exactly as silent on causation here as statistics are.

12/18/2006 05:40:00 pm  
Anonymous Sean. said...

LOL! That sentence should be taken out and shot. I'll assume you forgot to type the rest of that sentence out. Only real sentences please Peter. ;-)

Sean.

12/18/2006 06:22:00 pm  
Blogger Rebel Radius said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/18/2006 06:40:00 pm  
Blogger Rebel Radius said...

Sticker on my fridge

"I Love Animals - they're delicious"

And, I am pleased to see that my IQ is higher than those genders quoted.

12/18/2006 06:41:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

Yay, yay, slabs of dead flesh.

Jeez, PC - the time taken ploughing through 28 comments has overcooked my steak.

Bugger!

12/18/2006 07:20:00 pm  
Blogger sagenz said...

well if they have genuinely corrected for middle class bias it must mean that a vegetarian with a certain IQ has the same level of social and economic attainment as someone not quite as intelligent. ergo, vegetarians may be good at sitting some middle class tests but they have not been as socially and economically successful as their less intelligent meat eating peers.

That or the study is complete bullshit.

I fail to understand how denying yourself choice means something can be more varied. someone explain the maths of that to me in short sentences please.

PC you are going down this faith based lifestyle route again arent you.

12/18/2006 08:07:00 pm  
Blogger libertyscott said...

So easy to wind people up so close to Xmas. :)

12/18/2006 10:49:00 pm  
Blogger Rebel Radius said...

"An objectivist tiger in a cafe"

Brings to mind a book I have read (not by choice, it was thrust upon me). "The life of PI" about a castaway stuck in the middle of the ocean, sharing a life boat with a Bengal tiger.

The book was supposed to bring the reader closer to God, however in my case it was the opposite.

Stupid book won a Man Booker prize - why am I not surprised?

Anyone here read it?

12/18/2006 10:53:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"So easy to wind people up so close to Xmas."

Isn't it just. I think people need a Martini.

Hold the beef stock in mine. :-)

12/18/2006 11:17:00 pm  
Blogger Cactus Kate said...

This is a load of b.s.

I have recently tried to cleanse my system with no alcohol and a sushi diet.

Obviously this has been successful in the past 3 weeks with many positive effects, however one nasty side effect is the overwhelming desire to eat meat and when I do now it does not compute with my new constitution.

If I don't eat meat I can't concentrate long enough to do a fucking IQ test. And I also become very irritable and grumpy.

So fuck knows how I could turn vegetarian.

It's fucking pissing me off I can tell you that fucking much.

12/18/2006 11:33:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"And I also become very irritable and grumpy."

But how would we know? :-)

12/18/2006 11:43:00 pm  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

>libertyscott said...
>So easy to wind people up so close >to Xmas. :)

We'll see if you are so smug when this peer-reviewed study is sited to support fax & red meat taxes and such...

But I am ~so~ glad you are taking the fact that this research was paid for out of your UK taxes so well!

12/19/2006 09:44:00 am  
Blogger libertyscott said...

"We'll see if you are so smug when this peer-reviewed study is sited to support fax & red meat taxes and such..."

Fax tax? Damned things annoy me anyway. My red meat consumption here is VERY occasional, but I'm used to UK tax thievery, if I think too much about it I get wound up :)

"But I am ~so~ glad you are taking the fact that this research was paid for out of your UK taxes so well!"

if I think too much about what UK taxes pay for I'll get even more wound up - all of which is bad for my health. I get hammered with Stern report, the religions of recycling, climate change, food miles and other doggerall daily by the media. That's why drinking is important.

12/19/2006 10:14:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Attacking the messenger now, Robert? :-P

12/19/2006 10:34:00 am  
Anonymous Eric Crampton said...

I've not been able to find the original study, but there's a rather quick potential cause here. Specify that the bottom quartile of the IQ distribution hasn't the intellectual capacity to ponder the moral status of animals. Vegetarians are then only found in the next three quartiles, automatically pulling up the average.

What would be more interesting would be to see whether the effect remains after correcting for parental IQ.

12/19/2006 11:32:00 am  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

Attacking the messenger? Moi?!

Actually I'm off to have a few ales after signing off on the proofs of my second (first-author) peer-reviewed paper. A paper that took 6 long fucking years to publish because unlike the authors of that load of bollocks that sparked this thread, myself and my colleagues were determined to publish only the best quality data from experiments that we triple checked before hand.

I'm pissy because I take pride in being a scientist and feel strongly when some twat releases a paper proclaiming to have proved some half-baked hypothesis one the basis of some overtly dodgey statistical wankery and then classes it as 'science.'

The audacity of this swindle!

The authors haven't even bother to hide this studies flaws behind a veil of sophisticated-sounding computerised hocus pocus the way that the high-priests of Global Warming do!

12/19/2006 12:47:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

"Actually I'm off to have a few ales after signing off on the proofs of my second (first-author) peer-reviewed paper."

Hey, that's fantastic! Those ales are sure gonna taste great!!

We'll have a few for you here, you can be sure. Followed perhaps by a large, tasty tofu burger. :-)

12/19/2006 12:54:00 pm  
Anonymous James said...

You can keep ya extra IQ points....just give me that BBQ steak....oh baby! ;-)

12/19/2006 01:15:00 pm  
Blogger libertyscott said...

Robert, you getting wound up about this makes perfect sense now. Well done you!

12/19/2006 03:49:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soy makes you gay -like that's rocket science --http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53327

"Estrogens are female hormones. If you're a woman, you're flooding your system with a substance it can't handle in surplus. If you're a man, you're suppressing your masculinity and stimulating your "female side," physically and mentally...

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality".

Your bad. Enjoy the tofu burger.

12/19/2006 04:09:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bejus I have the last word again. I am the PENULTIMATE NZ blogger who is right about everything.

I'm telling Mark about this.

12/19/2006 07:51:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robert, it really doesn't sound like you read the paper.

There is nothing wrong with the science, the authors don't try to prove anything and it is just a short report highlighting an interesting finding that adds to an area in which the results have been mixed.

The authors do not talk about cause and effect. They discuss the effects in the true-veg and semi-veg groups, and as for complaining about IQ, blah blah blah that is old hat - the reality is that IQ tests are in themselves good predictors of a lot of things. You may not agree with what they measure, but they measure something that can predict many other things.

Take a few breaths and read the paper with an open mind.

Actually I'm off to have a few ales after signing off on the proofs of my second (first-author) peer-reviewed paper. A paper that took 6 long fucking years to publish because unlike the authors of that load of bollocks that sparked this thread, myself and my colleagues were determined to publish only the best quality data from experiments that we triple checked before hand.

Sounds like sour grapes Robert. My guess is that you are a relatively young academic (maybe doing or just finishing a PhD), who still thinks that all research except your own is crap. You'll get over that (hopefully).

The data for this paper was collected over 20 years. That is 20 years of hard work. Beats you 6 years. I am sure these data were triple checked and they used the best possible data.

12/21/2006 06:02:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Anonymous said...
[My guess is that you are a relatively young academic (maybe doing or just finishing a PhD), who still thinks that all research except your own is crap.]

Robert is a post-doctorate research scientist. I believe that he completed his PhD about 3 years ago, but I may be wrong.

12/21/2006 07:10:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FF - So I was close. Thanks for confirming what I believed.

12/22/2006 12:08:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kinda late, but hey..
Vegetarians more intelligent?

2/18/2007 08:02:00 am  

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