2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey
It’s that time of year again.
If you are reading this post and self-identify as a LWer, then you are the target population for the Less Wrong Census/Survey. Please take it. Doesn’t matter if you don’t post much. Doesn’t matter if you’re a lurker. Take the survey.
This year’s census contains a “main survey” that should take about ten or fifteen minutes, as well as a bunch of “extra credit questions”. You may do the extra credit questions if you want. You may skip all the extra credit questions if you want. They’re pretty long and not all of them are very interesting. But it is very important that you not put off doing the survey or not do the survey at all because you’re intimidated by the extra credit questions.
It also contains a chance at winning a MONETARY REWARD at the bottom. You do not need to fill in all the extra credit questions to get the MONETARY REWARD, just make an honest stab at as much of the survey as you can.
Please make things easier for my computer and by extension me by reading all the instructions and by answering any text questions in the simplest and most obvious possible way. For example, if it asks you “What language do you speak?” please answer “English” instead of “I speak English” or “It’s English” or “English since I live in Canada” or “English (US)” or anything else. This will help me sort responses quickly and easily. Likewise, if a question asks for a number, please answer with a number such as “4”, rather than “four”.
The planned closing date for the survey is Friday, November 14. Instead of putting the survey off and then forgetting to do it, why not fill it out right now?
Okay! Enough preliminaries! Time to take the...
[EDIT: SURVEY CLOSED, DO NOT TAKE!]
Thanks to everyone who suggested questions and ideas for the 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey. I regret I was unable to take all of your suggestions into account, because of some limitations in Google Docs, concern about survey length, and contradictions/duplications among suggestions. The current survey is a mess and requires serious shortening and possibly a hard and fast rule that it will never get longer than it is right now.
By ancient tradition, if you take the survey you may comment saying you have done so here, and people will upvote you and you will get karma.
- Lesswrong 2016 Survey by 30 Mar 2016 18:17 UTC; 45 points) (
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- Non-standard politics by 24 Oct 2014 15:27 UTC; 9 points) (
- 17 Nov 2014 8:58 UTC; 4 points)'s comment on Open thread, Nov. 17 - Nov. 23, 2014 by (
- 22 Jul 2015 9:44 UTC; -7 points)'s comment on How to grow faster by (
Done. Too bad the basilisk question wasn’t on it; I hope that will one day be possible.
There is no disagreement that only a small percentage of LWers believe in it (just as there’s no disagreement that only a small % of scientologists are even aware of the more arcane aspects of their “religion”). But yeah if you had a survey the actual % may be worth listing on RW.
The coverage of the basilisk I’ve seen in the media does not include that, IIRC.
Given the widespread mockery of those aspects & their failure to keep it under wraps, I’m not sure how ignorant the rank and file these days really are.
But then, media is not really focussing on the peripheral aspects of the movement. They’re interested in what’s being radiated from the core, that’s why it is basilisk in the spotlight and not some random insane guy pondering the efficacy of shooting people rather than blowing them up, even though the latter is in principle more outrageous.
There’s just so many stupid details besides the big concepts like thetans...
The census provides a lot of ways to define core and most of them likely would give the answer that the majority of the LW core think differently than Eliezer about the basilisk.
Media is not writing about you. Or LW. It is writing about that FAI thing for which LW is just an online board that is in and of itself unremarkable.
The basilisk isn’t a very central idea of that FAI thing.
If you define remarkability the way Seth Godin does, LW might be remarkable in this case.
I don’t know whether FAI is central enough that a journalist get’s tasked to do a story about FAI and then finds LW and writes a story about the basilisk. It might very well have been that the journalist heard about LW and then found that it makes a good publishable story.
Lastly the article that could be said to be written about me because they write directly about my person are in the context of QS and not FAI.
What counts as a central idea? Does it have to be believed by a majority of the rank and file? Or is it sufficient that it is believed by the leader?
Central ideas are those that matter for the discourse about the idea. In academia that means ideas in academic papers. Ideas that are important enough that they get space in textbooks.
Given low little academic papers MIRI publishes there might be central ideas that are unpublished and still important but I don’t think the basilisk is among them by any reasonable count..
The most important tenet of the Catholic Church is probably something like “Jesus died for our sins”.
The tenets of the Catholic Church that critics pay the most attention to are their beliefs on abortion, contraceptives, homosexuality, etc. even though they are widely ignored by Catholics and certainly less central than “Jesus died for our sins”. Why? Because even though the church would describe them as less important, they are the ones that get non-churchmembers the most worried. And they are consequences of the church’s core beliefs, even if not (by church standards) the most important ones.
And it’s completely legitimate to criticize the church for its stand on abortion, and not criticize it for the matters that the church considers more important.
The basilisk is every bit as central to criticsm of LW as abortion is to criticism of Catholicism, even if it’s not central to the church and most LWers don’t believe it. Most Catholics are fine with abortion too.
The Catholic Church spends a great deal of effort trying to influence the secular politics of abortion, with effects on the lives of non-Catholics. This is why non-Catholics criticize it. Less Wrong spends no time at all trying to influence the world at large with respect to Roko’s basilisk. It is an amusing episode, but not likely to cause any problems for anybody.
Use the Galileo analogy then. The Pope’s belief that Galileo, while right on the facts, shouldn’t have challenged the church has pretty much no influence on anyone’s lives, but still gets criticism.
Also, LW has as its goal influencing the world about rationality and AI, and it seems that LW or at least Eliezer is unable to disentangle the Basilisk from tthe ideas it does want to spread. (Again, Eliezer doesn’t believe in the Basilisk exactly as stated, but he does believe Basilisk-like ideas could be dangerous.)
If you ask a catholic priest whether the position of the church on abortion is important for him, I think he will say “yes”. I you count official speeches and writing by popes I also think that abortion will come up from time to time.
We are not talking about criticism of LW. LW as it stands is not important enough in society as a whole to warrant criticism from journalism.
We are talking about centrality to FAI under the assumption that it’s a topic that journalists want to write about. maybe in the background of Transcendence that raised the topic a bit in public awareness.
It’s not an exact analogy, but it’s close because it’s much more important to outsiders than to insiders.
The basilisk isn’t directly a LW idea. but the basilisk follows from LW-style ideas and is close enough that Eliezer couldn’t just say “nothing like the basilisk could possibly work”. A closer analogy may be more like, oh, geocentricism. The church does not believe that geocentricism is true any more than LW believes in the basilisk. On the other hand, the man who became the current Pope has pretty much said that the church was right in its treatment of Galileo even if the church was wrong about geocentricism itself. And you still see this used to criticize the church. And I doubt that many priests would think that the way the church treated Galileo is very important compared to either abortion or Jesus dying for our sins.
Well, the point is, almost nobody cares about LW and where LW fits in. Few people have some ideas that are interesting due to the sheer ridiculousness, rest of the board is of no interest.
If you are dealing with media and the write partly about you, it’s quite useful to understand what they do care about in more detail.
Define “believe in the basilisk”. Even Eliezer doesn’t believe in the basilisk exactly as stated. But he does believe that basilisk-like ideas could be dangerous for basilisk-like reasons.
There’s no such thing as basilisk exactly as stated, because it has never been stated exactly.
It would have been a nice insurance agains possible future PR shitstorms. Was that your primary reason for suggesting it?
Geez, this might be the only issue so contentious that it can attract significant downvotes to a “did the survey” comment. Ironic that an alleged literal-mindkiller would become such a figurative-mindkiller.
Did the survey!
I took the survey. Out of curiosity (too late to change now) what should I have answered if I’m not my father’s first child, but I’m the first child he had with my mom? (There are kids from my dad’s first marriage, but I didn’t grow up with them).
I went with “no older siblings” since I assumed this was a question about socialization (or maybe even about uterine environment) but not siring. But I’d like to know for next year.
This should be a warning to us all about how hard it is to frame a good queston.
I would also like to know for next year. I have four older siblings on my father’s side, and two on my mother’s, and only spent any home time with one (from my mother’s side). So, I answered 6 for older, but depending on whether this was a socialization or uterine environment question, the best answer might have been either 1 or 2 for older.
I had the same situation. I was the oldest child my father had with my mom although I have siblings that are older that I didn’t grow up with. I’m the only child of my step-father (they had no natural children) so I grew up as an old child and that is what I went with.
Taken! The way you were being so apologetic about the length, I thought it would be much more grueling—I found it quick and fun! :)
I completed the survey, huzzah!
Did the survey. Also, now I know my digit ratio!
Filled in, but did not do digit lengths because I have no access to a printer or scanner in the near future.
Completed the survey (arguably the first thing I’ve actually contributed to LW, though I’ve discussed it at some length offline; this is my first comment ever). I have some degree of access to a scanner but not conveniently (same goes for a ruler actually; at best I may have a measuring tape somewhere I could find in under an hour’s search). I filled out all the rest, aside from the N/A questions. Some of my answers have very low confidence (calibration percentage?), though.
A tip for those who don’t have the equipment to perform the actual test: if you can verify that the lengths of the fingers on your left and right hands are equal (align the crease in the skin at the bases of the same finger on each hand, palm-to-palm), you can use the same technique to compare the D2:D4 lengths (one hand against the other). My fingers are the same length regardless of which hand (to the limit of my ability to measure without mechanical aid), and my D2:D4 ratio is somewhere in the range 1.00 < D2:D4 < 1.05, probably under 1.02 but definitely in excess of 1.00. As a cisgendered male, I guess I’m weird?
Oh, and some feedback: Part Four’s “Moral Views” section could have used links (LW, WP, wherever) for those of us who aren’t sure about the selection of moral philosophies. It is a question I had been exploring, but mostly just in a “judge each as they are presented to me” approach and I had not encountered all of them before.
Hello, LW community! I look forward to continuing to learn from you all and hopefully contributing something back.
You should post this as a comment to the original post, not as as a reply to another comment! ;-)
Thanks! Yeah, I did add a top-level comment, with a link to this one, but I realize that was sort of the backward way to do it.
I’m a bit confused about the accuracy of my BSRI because my true answer was frequently ‘only towards my SO’, such that my score would be drastically different were I single.
Same here. And in some cases it was ‘except towards my parents’ or ‘only when I’m very tired’. I still tried to take some kind of weighed average.
This is weird. I haven’t noticed that until you’ve pointed it out, but I believe that my masculinity score was only a little lower than all the benchmarks and not extremely low only because I’ve considered how my partner would gauge BSRI questions. They seem to push me towards expressing masculine traits. Isn’t it interesting that a sex-role inventory doesn’t make allowances for situations priming different sex roles in people?
My true answers were also frequently “highly situation-dependent [in assorted ways].” I tried to give a weighted average too, but that weighted average would change significantly with the balance of situational contexts I experience.
Survey complete! I’d have answered the digit ratio question, but I don’t have a ruler of all things at home. Ooh, now to go check my answers for the calibration questions.
Took the survey.
And yeah you should warn about the material needed for the digit ratio question in advance, so people don’t start the survey if they aren’t in the right conditions for it.
I’m done, but my ruler isn’t good enough that I’m super confident in my digit ratios; I would have preferred one less significant digit (no pun intended, but I’ll take it anyway).
Took the survey. I always feel like I did the last one only recently.
Done—and mildly disappointed that we won’t be measuring the prevalence of transponyism this year.
Does this post appear on LW’s Main or Discussion pages for anyone else? I only found it via an offsite reference. Edit: Nevermind, I had my Main set to ‘Promoted’ instead of ‘New’.
Has that been actually suggested?
Yes, by the author of the grandparent.
Took the survey.
Taken the survey (would have loved to do digit ratio, but too difficult to get access to the equipment needed).
I did the survey. (Comments on specific aspects appear as replies.)
It’s time to decouple sexual orientation from gender identity! If my gender is neither male nor female, but I’m primarily attracted to one of those, then I’m neither homosexual nor heterosexual (nor bisexual nor asexual). But neither am I some nebulous other; if only I had a binary gender identity, then suddenly I would have a binary sexual orientation too! Of course, some people identify specifically as homosexual or heterosexual (and some people even have prima-facie contradictory identifications such as both male and lesbian), and you could ask about that if you like, but you should also ask the more fundamental question of which genders one is attracted to.
… and that doesn’t even get into the sexual-vs.-romantic issue. My girlfriend is cis and bisexual, but only andro-romantic (hetero). She identifies as bi, for purposes of broad categorization such as surveys like this, but has no interest in dating other women even though she is sexually attracted to them.
In other words, yes, the better way to ask such a question would be something along the lines of “which gender(s) are you romantically attracted to?” and “which gender(s) are you sexually attracted to?” as different questions.
This strikes me as suspiciously like “she’d straight but identifies as bi because it’s fashionable”.
Out of curiosity, if I’d avoided mentioning how she self-identifies and had instead told you that “she has had sex with other women before and has asked me if it’s OK if she sleeps with other women while we’re dating (or brings them home for a threesome)… but has never shown or claimed any interest in actually dating another woman” (all of which is, incidentally, true), what would your response have been? Framed that way, one could assume that she’s actually bi or even lesbian and the only reason she’s dating me instead of one of those girls is because she wants to avoid the social or family stigma of homosexuality.
Or you could take me at my word. It’s not like you’re in any position to verify one way or the other, where she in particular is concerned, unless you’re one of the handful of people who actually know who I am speaking of and know her preferences at least as well as I do.
It also doesn’t matter for the point I raised (about how some people have different targets for sexual and romantic attraction) unless you intended to imply that not only is she personally actually neatly classifiable under the existing system but so is everybody else who would claim otherwise. That is a theory which only takes one counterexample to disprove (as I provided, although one could then debate the necessity of writing the survey to accommodate however many people have this “non-standard” categorization).
Do you have an actual response to my claim that the survey should account for the possibility that people may be romantically and sexually attracted to different genders?
What would you expect it to look like if in fact she found both men and woman sexually attractive but only men romantically attractive, as she claims?
See also the OKCupid Trends post about The Big Lies People Tell In Online Dating.
That’s a valid point. On the other hand, as a dating site, OKC messaging is probably going to be skewed towards the gender that one is interested in pursuing a relationship with (though maybe that’s just the way I use it; as soon as I typed it I felt sure there were plenty of people just looking to hook up). When the topic is sexual orientation vs. romantic orientation, I’m not sure that OKC is the best source of data. I can’t deny the specific claim that a large proportion of ostensibly bi people appear to not be both bisexual and biromantic.
The questions Family Religion and Religious Background seem to parallel the questions Religious Views and Religious Denomination, but they are phrased differently. The first is my family when I was growing up, while the second is simply my family. So as it happened, I was not thinking of the same families when answering them! Perhaps I should have paid more attention the name of the question Religious Background, which I really only noticed just now when I wanted to identify it for this comment. You did not in fact get information about my religious background in my answer to that question; you got information about the religious background of my spouse of less than 2 years (and my stepchild).
So I filled out the whole survey, and then I got to the part about the digit ratio, and I thought, OK, I’ll do this! But I can’t do it now (no photocopier at home, can’t trust a measurement to 3 digits if I’m not doing it the same way as others). And I can’t keep my answers up until I can do it (no battery in computer, must be turned off to transport, Lazarus plug-in has been problematic). So I put in a public and private key but no data. I will gladly supply the data to you tomorrow, using those keys to identify my survey.
Some countries hold elections but not major national ones; and sometimes a country has elections, but most people in them still can’t vote. (Examples are Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, respectively.)
I’d be much more comfortable answering the probability sections if I knew what epsilon is. I usually say 0% when the value is less than 0.5% and 100% when the value is greater than 99.5%, rounding to the nearest whole percentage, on the grounds that the whole point of using percentages is to avoid explicit fractions (common or decimal). But then you ruin this by explicitly mentioning 0.5% and 99.99% as possible answers. If you had put a hard limit on the number of digits allowed, then I could have used that. In the end, since I saw no consistent guidance, I fell back on my usual practice. The result is that I had a lot of 0s and 100s; hopefully that won’t mess up your algorithms.
ETA: It is probably relevant here that I am a naturally lazy person.
I think it might have been better to ask people to estimate what are the odds that a given statement is true. If a probability of a statement is close to zero or close to one, it gives us better precision without having to worry about digits after the decimal point (however, if a probability is close to one half, it is probably better to ask for a probability). Although it is easy to convert odds to probabilities, how many people in this survey actually took the mental effort to remind themselves to calculate the odds first and only then to express them as probabilities? I might be wrong, but I guess that only a minority. An idea for the next year survey—it might be interesting to compare the answers of two groups, one of which would be asked to estimate probabilities, the other one to estimate the odds.
Are you using “odds” to refer to percentages and “probabilities” to refer to fractions? I don’t think there is actually any difference in meaning between the two terms.
Colloquial language doesn’t make this distinction, but by technical convention, they are different.
Specifically, ‘odds’ refers to expressions like ‘5 to 3 against’; numerically, that’s the fraction 5⁄3, or rather (because of the ‘against’) its reciprocal, 3⁄5. Thus odds run from 0 (impossible) to infinity (certain), with odds of 1 being perfectly balanced between Yes and No. In contrast, probabilities run only from 0 to 1. An event with odds of 5 to 3 against, or equivalently odds of 3⁄5, has a probability of 3/(3+5) = 3⁄8. So the numbers are different. The conversion formulas are O = P/(1 − P) and P = O/(1 + O).
Then there are log-odds; this is log₂ O bits. (You can also use other bases than 2 and correspondingly other units than bits.) Now 0 indicates perfect balance between Yes and No; a positive number means more likely Yes than No, and a negative number means less likely Yes than No. Log-odds run from negative infinity (impossible) to infinity (certain).
Oh right, I forgot about that definition. The main probability conversions that I was aware of involved converting between fractions and percentages, sometimes expressed instead as probabilities between 0 and 1. Theoretically, it makes sense that odds can also be converted to or from probabilities, now that I think about it. Thanks for your explanation.
‘5 to 3 against’ is 3⁄8, not 3⁄5. Odds of ‘N to M’ or ‘N to M against’ are always between 0 and 1.
5 to 3 against is 3⁄5 (as odds), which is a probability of 3⁄8. You are muddling probability and odds ratios in an unacceptable way.
Yes, that’s exactly what I said. There is no way to express a fraction greater than 100% using odds notation; Saying that odds are “1 million to 1” is 99.9999%, still under 1.
In the Wikipedia article, take a look at the table below the words “These are worked out for some simple odds”. The odds that TobyBartels is talking about, which one gets by dividing the numbers in an “n to m” expression, and which go from zero to infinity, are shown in the second and third columns of that table (o_f and o_a). Probabilities, which go from 0 to 1 or 0% to 100%, are shown in the fourth and fifth columns (p and q).
You said ‘Odds […] are always between 0 and 1’, while Wikipedia said ‘Odds range from 0 to infinity’, so you didn’t say the same thing.
Did you actually read the article you linked? It says the exact same thing as I did, phrased differently. Their “Odds range from 0 to infinity” means that any number from 0 to infinity can be used in the odds ratio, but still always represent a probability between 0 and 1. Which is precisely what I said.
No, that’s not what you said. I am now done with this conversation.
Um, representing a number between 0 and 1 is not the same as being a number between 0 and 1. The representation of p = 3⁄8 as odds = 3⁄5 (“5 to 3 against”) is useful in practice, for example because bayes’ rule reduces to plain multiplication for odds ratios.
Yes, odds are good (and log-odds are even better), but people are bad at both dealing with very large absolute values and dealing with very fine precisions. I think that the survey is correct to put in a cut-off (whether an ϵ for probabilities, an N for log-odds, or one of each for odds); it should just tell us where. (Edit: put in stuff about log-odds properly.)
Epsilon is a minuscule amount. It’s vanishingly small, but it’s still there.
Yes, but which minuscule amount?
To be more specific: If ϵ ≥ 5 × 10⁻ⁿ (which it must be for some n, if it is a positive real number), then I only need to figure out my probability to n + 1 digits. Upon doing so, if it’s all 0s, then my probability is no more than ϵ, so I can enter 0. Otherwise, I should enter something larger. (And a similar thing holds on the other end.) Specifying ϵ serves the practical purpose of telling us how much work to put into estimating our probabilities. Since I had no guideline for that, I chose to default to ϵ = 1⁄2 (in percentage points), rather than try to additionally work out how small ϵ was supposed to be.
If, instead of bringing up ϵ, the survey had instructed us to use as many decimals as we need to avoid ever answering either 0 or 100, then I probably would have done more work. (There are reasons why this is bad, since the results will be increasingly unreliable, but still it could have said that.) But since I knew that at some point my work would be ignored, I didn’t do any.
(Edits: minor grammar and precise phrasing of inequalities.)
I took epsilon to be simply 0.5, on the basis of “the survey can take decimals but I’m going to use whole numbers as suggested, so 0 means I rounded down anything less than 0.5”. This is imprecise but gives me greater confidence in my answers, and (as you say), I have some tendency towards laziness.
Yes, that’s what I did too (0.5%).
I don’t think it will mess up the algorithms. My guess is that most people probably rounded most calibration answers to the tens place due to lack of enough confidence to be more precise, but since people are giving different values, the average across all respondents is unlikely to fall on an increment of ten, and should be a reasonably accurate measure of the respondents’ collective assigned probability for a question.
It could mess them up, because in theory a single wrong answer with 100% confidence renders the entire series infinitely poorly calibrated. The survey says that this won’t be done, that 100% will be treated as something slightly less than that. But how much less could depend on assumptions that the survey-makers made about how often people would answer this way, and maybe I did it too much.
I doubt it, since I’m pretty sure that they know enough about these pitfalls to avoid them. But I felt that I answered 0 and 100 quite a lot, so I thought that some warning was in order.
Even though percentages are typically used for cases where precision is less important, I’d say that in this context it would be better to err on the side of precision.
I don’t fit in well with any of the 5 answers to the Political question, and there was no Other, but skipping it also didn’t seem right. (Several questions have explicit cases when they are to be skipped, but this was not one of them.) I eventually picked 1 of the 2 that seemed less wrong than the other 3; I would have preferred to pick some sort of non-moderated mixture of those 2. (Actually, that is how I usually describe my politics when asked for a response in the form of a political party: somewhere between the ___ Party and the ___ Party, only more extreme.)
The Complex Affiliation was not a problem. (Actually, I was still torn between 2 answers, but this time I would have been happy with either of them!)
My public key is the same as my user name. Should it have been anonymous? (My private key was randomized and only identifies me if you know what format I use for general-purpose random strings.)
Assuming Yvain does the same thing as last year, both the public and private key will be released as part of the survey dataset if you checked the ‘release my survey data’ box.
Faith in Humanity moment: LW will not submit garbage poll responses using other LW-users as public keys.
If that’s true I wish I’d known it before choosing keys.
The private key too!? Fortunately I used a one-time key for that.
The public key is OK. I made sure that I was comfortable with people linking my answers to me before I used it. But then I thought that maybe I wasn’t supposed to.
I hope that you’ll publish the answers to the calibration questions, after the survey closes, of course.
I finished the survey.
Taken! Thanks as always for running it
Except for the digit lengths, survey taken!
I took it. If it’s anything like last year, officially 2⁄5 of my karma will be from surveys.
Took the survey. My first one. Thanks for putting it together Yvain/Dan.
I took the survey. Started on the BSRI but abandoned it because I found the process of giving vague answers to vague questions distressing.
I’m missing something here, I filled in the public and private and keys, but saw no game theory problem. Are we being given equal chances of the monetary reward?
Anyway, fun survey.
Presumably. The idea is to incentivize participation in the more difficult digit-ratio section. (Although, of course, that does create a game-theory problem...)
Didn’t have a scanner, so I traced my hand on a piece of paper with a pencil and measured that. Not sure I got enough accuracy to take seriously. Oh, well.
Given the ambiguity of the directions, you’re probably as close as anyone else.
I’m confident you didn’t.
About two hours ago, I submitted an incomplete census return—it looks as if some keystroke produces an immediate submission, at least on my browser. I’ll be submitting a complete one later today. Yvain, if you want to suppress the incomplete one and need help in identifying it then I can help. I was partway through the calibration questions when I accidentally submitted.
(I see TrE had the same problem.)
[EDITED to add: Complete return now submitted.]
Did it! I’m shocked that my digit ratio is so high. Like, I figured that it was pretty high, being a bisexual genderfluid “man” (assigned at birth, that is), but I didn’t expect it to be greater than 1. Also, it was much shorter than I expected.
Taken. Wasn’t bothered by the length—could be even longer next time.
I exist in a quantifiable way! (I took the survey)
I think it is somewhat unrealistic to expect individual digit ratios to be accurate to three significant figures (although I understand that two significant figures might be too crude a measure to show effects of smaller size). One can hope that the errors are symmetric and it doesn’t matter.
I don’t think it’s going to matter very much. 3 digits after the dot, with the understanding that the third digit is probably not very good, but the second probably is pretty good.
Suppose the actual length of a person’s index finger is 80.5 mm and the actual length of his/her ring finger is 83.5 mm. Then the 2D:4D ratio is 0.964. A measurement error of 0.5 mm is very easy to make, e.g. due to inaccuracy of a photocopier, inaccuracy of a ruler, inexactness of where a finger joins the hand (and even if it wasn’t a vague concept it would still be a problem to pinpoint the precise location of it with a great accuracy) and even differences in muscle tension in fingers at the particular moment of placing a hand in a photocopier. If a person measures his/her index finger as being 80 mm long (0.5 mm shorter) and her/his ring finger as being 84 mm long (0.5 mm longer), then they would obtain 2D:4D ratio of 0.952. Whereas if the length of the index finger is measured to be 81 mm, and the length of the ring finger is 83 mm, then 2D:4D ratio is 0.976. Therefore, the first digit after the decimal point does not vary that much (in the vast majority of all cases it is 9), the third one is basically noise, and even the second one is not that reliable (in an individual case). However, that might still be enough to notice some interesting correlations and if the errors are symmetric it might not even matter that much when all data will be aggregated.
For me its not even the second digit. Even left and right hand differ significantly. Copire doesn’t make things really better (OK, the copier quality was low, much too dark).
Agreed. Most rulers don’t give measurements more precise than millimeters.
This is why a scanner might make sense. Even 300 DPI is less than 0.1mm resolution, so just scan it in and measure with an electronic ruler in your image-editing software of choice.
There’s no point in measuring something more precisely than the thing itself exists. Which pixel “is” the base of the finger?
Has anyone tried repeating the measurement, following the same procedure each time? Do this on occasions at least a day apart, to avoid unconsciously imitating the second time exactly what you did the first time. I have. Reproducibility was no better than 1mm, and pretty much independent between fingers.
You could also try under different conditions, e.g. when your hands are cold and when they’re warm, when you’ve just been exerting them heavily and when you haven’t, etc.
I doubt that digit ratio exists as an entity to better than 1 or 2% accuracy.
I suspect it does, but you need to be a lot more precise with your instructions than Yvain was in this case.
Completed. Very excited to see the digit ratio data.
I did the survey in all its parts, and upvoted every top level comment to promote LW’s census partecipation.
It was fun and not particularly long, although I miss the ‘global prisoner dilemma’ of the last survey.
I completed the survey (and learned surprising things about my digit ratio)
I took the survey! This is my third survey.
Answered. WRT Type of Global Catastrophic Risk, I answered conditioned on greater than 90% of humanity being wiped out before 2100, which I assume is what you meant. If it wasn’t, well, I ruined everything, then.
I wondered about that too, but for me “wiping out civilization” includes the possibility that some disaster leaves half of humanity alive, but smashes all our tech, knocking us back to the stone age. Intelligence forbid!
Answered all I could except the digit one because of no access to scanner. Looking forward to the results!
In-group fuzzes acquired, for science!
I took it. A bit sad that it’s shorter than the last one.
I took it. A bit happy that it’s shorter than the last one. Last time I didn’t find time to do any of the optional questions, but this time I did all but a couple.
Done. Fairly high confidence that I’m still the lone Filipino LessWronger.
Survey done, awesome as usual, Yvain. Can’t wait for the results.
Survey finished- erred on the side of not screwing up Yvain’s numbers where possible, but I’m curious what the ideal way to mark down Religious Background for results of families that divorced over religious disagreement is. Also had a really strong desire (thwarted, but present) to put a SQL injection into the question about whether the universe is a simulation, which is a bad idea no matter what the answer turns out to be or whether I could conceivably affect the simulation. It’s like a pascal’s wager mixed with a Russian roulette, only the gun is fully loaded. Either I screw up the numbers, I tank the survey, or I crash the simulation. Dear brain, we were reading about akrasia just recently, were you paying attention?
Why would the universe be particularly likely to run an SQL statement in a form question about whether the universe is a simulation? All you have to do is think the attack and
Somehow this made me think of Larry Niven’s “Rotating Cylinders and the Possibility of Global Causality Violation”.
Just completed my first survey!
Did the survey!
EDIT: I was surprised to find the BEM test in it. I took it some time ago and it resulted in 65-70% F and 50-60% M (as far as I can see largely because of my strong and caring relationship to my children).
I didn’t determine my digit-ratio during the test but did right now. I arrive at totally different values (between 0.91 and 1.05) depending and hand and exact points and the copier print reading gives still different values. My best guess is that it is somewhere around 0.96.
I think you’re supposed to measure from the middle of the bottom crease to the middle of the tip. Also, since the bottom crease itself can be about a millimeter or two wide, I measured from the middle of that crease by its width in addition to its length. When I do that I get consistent results even on repeated measurements.
Sure. If I pick the same spot I get the same results. Esp. with a photocopy. But at least the significant difference between left and right hand remains. Even when photocopying it makes a difference how strong you press your hand against the plate and how much contrast the scan has (for me it was too dark to make out the creases clearly).
It is common for them to be different; that’s why the survey asks for each hand separately. Inter-rater reliability (given the same scan) for this measurement is in the r=.9 range, if I remember correctly, so don’t feel that bad about it being variable; the underlying quantity is actually difficult to measure (but meaningful nonetheless).
I don’t doubt that the measure is meaningful. The influence is surely real. The question is rather whether anything meaningful can be derived on the individual level.
Maybe the corresponding fingers on your other hand really are different in length. Mine are. Whenever I press my fingers against each other such as to line up their bottom creases (keeping the orientation of the fingers as straight as possible), the middle and upper creases and fingertips don’t line up. My right fingers are slightly shorter.
Good point about the photocopier. Hopefully these issues won’t add too much noise to the results and obscure any significant results.
I did the survey.
I hope you don’t count fanfiction as “books”, because otherwise my response is off by at least two bullet points.
I took the survey.
Nope. You’ve been surveilled, by the survey.
I think you’ve been surveyed, rather. (Although undoubtedly surveilled as well, given the current political climate...)
Well, in all fairness, Rubix presumably did also survey the survey. And hopefully perused it as well, maybe even filled it out!
Tooken. My scanner was being evil today so I only had low-res overview scans, and could only get to within a tenth of a centimeter, but I think my results are dramatic enough that it’s not wildly incorrect to use my guess? Drop me if I’m wrong, I should be easy to pick out of the crowd via karma.
Done! Wish I had had a scanner handy going in, I’m curious about the digit ratio.
I think it should be fine to just hold a ruler up to your finger. The only potential problem might be that the highest tip of your finger wouldn’t actually touch the ruler, but if you don’t want to estimate by sight you can hold another flat surface perpendicular to it to see where that touches the ruler. I get consistent measurements this way.
Can anyone explain the Bem Sex Roles thing and why its relevant? I scored slightly more masculine and less feminine then average which confused me slightly. Its all self reporting though so I’m not sure how much it will express m nature vs what I value (like to think about myself)
Done, though sadly without the digit ratio due to lack of equipment. I’m a newbie and I just thought that was really cool.
I did the survey! This is the second time I’ve completed an iteration of this survey, but this year was the first time I answered all the questions. I also did all the extra credit except for the digit ratio question.
Took the survey.
Finished the survey. Didn’t answer the SSC question even though I read it regularly because I plan to take the edited version when it’s posted there, and I also didn’t answer the digit ratio question.
Did it, that was fun! Can’t wait for the results.
Did the survey! I think i gave highly contradictory answers.
Survey done, including digit ratio. And I learned something new.
But not particularly confident in the accuracy of my measurement.
Took the survey, except for the digit ratio part.
The entire community is extremely insular and is weighed down with it’s own established ideas. Most of the writers speak with total conviction, absolutely convinced of their own conclusions, despite the entire point of the endeavor being the pursuit of ever increasing amounts of correctness, thus making them ‘less wrong’.
It consists mostly of extremely narrow demographics, cutting it’s objectivity off at the knees by creating a culture that is perfect for serving as echo chambers despite their criticism of one another. It has also engaged in censorship of ideas, something that CANNOT be allowed in a group that is trying to further rational thought.
Aside from that there is also the personality cult surrounding Eliezer Yudkowsky. Objectivity is impossible if people weight the merit of your arguments by your popularity, which is inevitable in such a situation.
Took the survey. Skipped the digit ratio—I could have done it but didn’t feel like walking to the copier or finding a ruler.
Next year I want to see an independent measure of conscientiousness, and compare this between people who bother to answer the digit ratio question and those who don’t...
The conscientiousness/akrasia interactions are also fascinating, but even harder to measure. There’s a serious missing-not-at-random censoring effect going on for people too conscientious to leave off digit ratio but too akrasic to do the measurement. I nearly fell into this bucket.
Survey done, except for the digits ratio question!
I would have given a response for digit ratio if I’d known about the steps to take the measurement before opening the survey, or if it were at the top of the survey, or if I could answer on a separate form after submitting the main survey. I didn’t answer because I was afraid that if I took the time to do so, the survey form, or my https connection to it, or something else would time out, and I would lose all the answers I had entered.
It’s a Google-forms survey. I’m pretty sure they don’t do that. Can’t blame you for being cautious, though.
Did the survey.
Done, except the digit ratio thing.
I filled in the survey! Like many people I didn’t have a ruler to use for the digit ratio question.
I have taken the survey, and to signal my cooperation I have upvoted every existing top-level comment here. Do unto others...
I’m kind of surprised at how much better I feel like I’ve gotten about reasoning about these really fuzzy estimates. One of my big goals last year was “get better at reasoning about really fuzzy things” and I feel like I’ve actually made big progress on that?
I’m really excited to see what the survey results look like this year. I’m hoping we’ve gotten better at overconfidence!
The gender default thing took me by surprise. I’m guessing that a lot of people answer yes to having a strong gender identity?
This has seen a lot of discussion over at Slate Star Codex. Judging from the anecdotes I’ve seen in the comments there, there doesn’t seem to be an obviously dominant answer, although of course there are self-selection issues in that context; I’ll be interested to see what the survey turns up.
I definitely don’t have a strong identity in this sense; like, I suspect I’d be pretty okay if an alien teenager swooped by and pushed the “swap sex!” button on me, and the result was substantially functional and not horrible to the eye. Like, obviously I’d be upset about having been abused by an outside force, but I don’t think the result itself is inherently distasteful or anything like that.
I’m really curious to see how this and related stuff (male/female traits, fingers) relate.
Submitted. (Yvain, if you’re reading this, you might want to see my note about an accidental incomplete submission.)
I am somewhat disappointed to be asked about favorability with a movement without allowing me to distinguish between the ideals of that movement and the movement as it exists (see: feminism and social justice, which, as phenomenon in reality appear to be ways to generate indignation on tumblr—I love equality but do not use tumblr and I don’t see any purpose in being indignant on the internet).
Also, as regards a “Great Stagnation”: Strongly Doubt is not the opposite of Strongly Believe. So I have strong doubts where the balance of my estimation is that Cowen is incorrect—my radio button does not exist, it is too far to one end of the spectrum, despite not being a hyper-radicalized opinion.
There’s the movement as it exists, and there’s one facet of the movement as it exists. For example (and not to push any particular point of view here, it’s just an example), I’m involved in the feminist movement. But I spend no time on Tumblr. Sometimes I read things that reference Tumblr, and my impression is that to get involved on Tumblr would be a colossal waste of time, so I don’t do it. (Once in a while somebody links to something on Tumblr, basically saying “Look at this thing that I saw on Tumblr.”, and I look at that one thing, but I never feel the urge to do more.)
I also make it a point not to get indignant on the Internet, even when discussing feminism. (Occasionally I get indignant in face-to-face contact, but I have time to edit myself on the Internet.) Most of the feminism that I do on the Internet is arranging face-to-face meetings of feminists, so there’s not much to get indignant about. But occasionally I expand my focus to commenting on posts where a discussion, or even an argument, is taking place. The last time that I did that, one person private-messaged me to call me “diplomatic” and another person agreed that I was right after all; both of them had gotten indignant before this, but I hadn’t. (To be honest, this foray was more successful than usual, but the usual is neutral, not disastrous.)
So I do not use Tumblr, and I very rarely get indignant on the Internet, but here I am, in the feminist movement as it exists.
I think you should average over your meta-uncertainty and answer according to your overall probability.
You may have misunderstood me.
I have high levels of doubt but some certainty. Let’s say I’m 80% unsure but have information that leads me to be 20% sure (or, in other words, the probability I would assign to my analysis being correct is only a bit better than guessing). So I’d want something maybe 1/5th away from “Strongly Doubt”. But I am not 1/5th closer to “Strongly Believe”. I am 1⁄5 closer to “Strongly Disbelieve” or “Strongly Disagree”, perhaps.
Sorry, I hadn’t noticed that the leftmost option was labeled “Strongly doubt”—I think I must have seen the “Strongly d” part plus the “Strongly believe” label on the rightmost option and my brain must’ve autocompleted the former to “Strongly disbelieve”.
I would have picked the third radio button rather than the fourth if I had noticed that in time.
Done, except the digit ratio thing. I still picked a public key and a private key, so that if I get near a scanner or photocopier before November 14 I will submit an otherwise empty survey response with my digit ratios and the same public key and private key as today. Is that OK?
In Political, going only by the descriptions after the colons it looks like Liberal is halfway between Social democratic and Libertarian, and I picked it based on those, but… note that Moldbug also is socially permissive in most all the senses I care about (besides the post I linked, he also supports gay rights) and yet his position doesn’t resemble that of the US Democratic Party or the UK Labour Party.
In Less Wrong Use, I rounded my top-level posts down to zero.
In Time on LW and Hours Online, thanks to LeechBlock, I didn’t have to pull numbers out of my ass! Likewise for Meditate thanks to Beeminder. OTOH, I answered Books by counting the books I can remember reading and dividing by an anally extracted estimate of the fraction of books I read that I remember.
In the second part of the Calibration questions, does “correct” imply ‘correctly spelled’? My answers are P(correct and correctly spelled) + P(recognizable as the correct answer but misspelled)/2.
In the Mental Health section I took “believe” to mean ‘P > 50%’. Had it said ‘suspect’ instead, I might have answered a couple questions differently.
In the Voting question, I totally wish there were separate answers for ‘Yes, and I would do it again’ and ‘Yes, but I regret that’.
In the Vegetarian question I interpreted “flexitarian” narrowly and answered No, but I do eat much less meat than the average person.
I answered that I’m cis by default, but I would freak out if I woke up in a woman’s body. But then again, I also would freak out if I woke up bald, or four inches taller. What I mean by saying that I’m cis by default is that posts like this one almost completely fail to resonate with me.
In Paleo Diet I interpreted “paleo principles” narrowly to only include meta-level principles so I picked the last answer, but if you count object-level principles such as not drinking a can of soda a day, I should have picked the second answer instead.
In Food Substitutes I wished there was an answer for ‘Neither Soylent nor MealSquares ship to my country’.
I’m surprised that in the BSRI male students and female students score so similarly. Did the researchers decide which answers would be masculine or feminine a priori, rather than a posteriori?
I think it’s totally reasonable to consider that freaky for reasons other than that you now have to live as a woman. I think the spirit of the question was more, “If you were a woman but had the same personality, would you be okay with that?”
This seems like a contradiction to me.
You can make your own soylent. I do so, and it’s pretty tasty. http://diy.soylent.me/
Wikipedia describes its origin. The items on the test are based on the opinions of 100 Stanford undergraduates in the 1970s about what traits of behaviour and personality in each sex are socially desirable, and the norming of the test was done with a total of about 1500 Stanford undergraduates.
Here is a review article about the BSRI from 2001.
LOL. Oh, boy...
Cue the jokes about the 1970s … but the fact that they were all Stanford undergrads (very W.E.I.R.D.) is probably even more significant.
I see liberal vs. libertarian as a two dimensional thing as depicted here.
I’m familiar with a similar thing from Political Compass. Going from the descriptions after the colons only, Yvain divided the upper half plane into “Communist” and “Conservative” and the lower half plane into “Social democratic”, “Liberal” and “Libertarian”.
Done! The length is fine; the questions are interesting and fun to consider.
EDIT: removed concerns about “cryivf” if. “srzhe” nf ynetrfg obar (znff if. yratgu); gur cryivf nccneragyl vfa’g n “fvatyr obar”.
You should probably Rot13 this. I scanned the comments before I did the survey, and I couldn’t remember why I was so confident in the correct answer, but I was.
Survey completed. Account created to get starting karma and increase likelihood/amount of future participation.
I’d like to note that the current formulation of sex/gender/sexual orientation questions forced me to misrepresent myself because the technically correct answers seemed to cause an even greater misrepresentation. I would like extra options to the “sex assigned at birth” question, perhaps “male, now transitioned to female/other” and vice versa, to account for other-gendered transitioners; but I’ll be the first to admit that this probably isn’t a major issue.
I’m confused. If you were male at birth and transitioned to female, can’t you just answer the “sex assigned at birth” question male, and the gender question with “transgender m → f” ?
Well, that’s how I answered, but “other” would have been a more honest description of my gender. The question asked: “With what gender do you primarily identify?” and I don’t have a female identity, only what I can describe as a femininely androgynous body image (prompting transition treatments) and much heavier social dysphoria about being male’d than female’d, although the optimal no-mental-suffering-causing option would be to be recognized as non-binary. Answering “AMAB other homosexual” probably wouldn’t have had a statistically relevant effect but the possibility of being interpreted (even though realistically nobody would have cared about it in the anonymized answers) as a “male” genderqueer attracted to men was psychologically too painful.
I completed most things except for the digit ratio. Thanks for putting this together, the results are always very interesting to see. Now to see how many of the trivia I got right.
Carrier has arrived … what? huh? Where am … oh right, yea, did the survey.
We did it. Mission accomplished.
y’all a bunch of paranoid delusional mentally-disabled freaks who can’t get laid
Just took it.
Taken. Looking forward to seeing the results!
Took the survey. However, my answer for the probability of MWI is “Since MWI makes the same predictions as the standard interpretation, asking for the probability of MWI is meaningless. It is like asking “this glass is 50% full of water. What is the probability that it is half empty? What is the probability that it is half full?” I put 0 for the MWI question, but I’m not sure what you want for that.
For some of the other probability questions, my answer is “I don’t have enough information to come up with a good estimate, and I also don’t have enough information to come up with a probability that takes into account my inability to come up with a good estimate”. Again, I put 0.
Also, after the test, I’m starting to get worried how you anonymize the questions. Releasing the data without a name attached is not anonymization, if the answers people give are enough to identify them.
Both are 100%. Duh.
Likewise, I interpreted MWI to include any interpretation that makes the same predictions as it. I still gave an answer less than 100% because I wouldn’t completely rule out all objective collapse theories just yet.
I was especially bothered by the MWI question because it asked whether it was “more or less” correct. Of course it’s more or less correct since its math works! But since I assumed the question was intended to find out whether or not I thought favorably of the theory, I just skipped it.
Um, nothing complicated is required here. Consult your gut feeling and put whatever number comes up. Turning this into an actual probability is why we have calibration questions. Putting 0 is definitely a wrong way of refusing to answer the question (you can already leave the box blank, if you really want, and thereby avoid polluting other results).
As an aside, given we had at least three people with such strange interpretations of the MWI question so far, perhaps the survey should include a question asking one’s opinion on map-vs-territory...
I believe that effective anonymization (apart from removing names) is in general impossible. Although, for specific analyses a reduced dataset can be effective, such as all pairwise joint histograms, which I think preserves a certain amount of anonymity depending how unique each person’s answers are.
I also put 0 for MWI, although I feel pretty good about that. (For reasons explained in this comment, a 0 means that my answer is less than 0.5%.)
I am the kind of Bayesian who strictly speaking only speaks of probabilities of potentially observable events. (This is a kind of logical-positivist Bayesianism, I guess.) It doesn’t do to be too strict about this sort of thing (I don’t want to just wall off entire subjects as unspeakable, which is the classic failure mode of logical positivism), but it does mean that I have to think about what other statements really mean in practical terms.
So I interpreted this to mean, assuming that I learn much much more about the nature of the world than I know now, would I think that the MWI is a useful way for people today to think about things? (That’s pretty much how I always interpret questions about interpretations.) And no matter how much learning I contemplate, the log-odds are never as good as 8 bits against, so that’s a 0.
Putting 0 is misleading. It implies that you’re confident there is no chance at all. If you’re really not leaning one way or another, your best bet is to just put 50, or perhaps even skip the question if you really don’t want to give a probability.
Choosing 50% is availability bias. Just because the question is presented as a choice between MWI and everything else doesn’t mean there are only two choices. There are zillions of choices; MWI is just the one mentioned on the screen in front of me.
I assumed you’d already factored in those other choices and still weren’t leaning more for or against it relative to all the other possibilities combined. By “leaning one way or another”, I meant along a hypothetical axis of “strongly believe” or “strongly disbelieve” for the given proposition. You have a good point about availability bias though. You can self-correct for that to some extent by decreasing your assigned probabilities, and we’d have to take availability bias into account while interpreting the probabilities given by other people.
Done. The basilisk question was really interesting.
Welp, gotta go and destroy all humans now...
I don’t think I saw such a question? Spooky.
I suspect it was a joke, but god only knows wrt that clusterflip...
Can I ask what sentiment you were going for with “clusterflip”?
A more polite form of “clusterfuck”. It was the least ridiculous-sounding form I could think of.
Hopefully, i’ll be able to change a few of my answers regarding the LW meetup frequency by next year. And the answers regarding donations should change drastically within 3 years.
Was pretty happy that I knew a bunch of the answers wrt the calibration section. :)
Now hand over them Karma points.
Took the survey!
Done, except for the digit ratio, because I do not have access to a photocopier or scanner.
I took the survey.
I have filled in the survey (I wouldn’t have minded if it was longer!)
I did everything but finger length. I am shame.
Did the survey!
Did it, including the digit ratio.
I may have found a problem—if I didn’t click on the background after answering a radio button question, then using the down arrow marked a lower radio button. I think I cleared up all the resulting errors, but it took two passes, and I may not have caught all the errors.
I didn’t express how serious I think the down-arrow problem is, though perhaps my computer habits are unusual enough that no one else had it.
I think it led to at least ten wrong answers, and some of them showed up on the second pass when I was correcting the first batch.
Did anyone else notice this problem?
Always an annoying thing about radio-buttons on scrolling pages. I adjusted to clicking on the background in such situations a long time ago (for the most part), but it still really annoys me.
I was hyper-aware of this problem, since it’s happened to me on internet surveys in this past, so I nervously clicked on the background at least once before scrolling down each time. If there was some way to know that this wouldn’t happen it would be a bit of a weight off my mind :p
I usually scroll using the PageDown key and/or the scrollwheel on my mouse (I mean, the side bar on my touchpad, but I’m too used to using the word “mouse” to refer to any pointing device).
I’ve learned to use the mouse, and not the keyboard, when answering this sort of thing. YMMV.
Nthed. I had to scroll using only the mouse.
Since you can move through that with the tab key, I don’t think it’s a significant problem.
Is it deliberate that the size of the MONETARY REWARD is not stated anywhere?
Finished it. I can’t wait to read the post that talks about how bad people are at following directions.
I can already tell you that...well, you remember the preview thread. The one where I posted a version of the survey saying in big letters on the top “DO NOT TAKE THIS, IT IS NOT OPEN” and the first question was “You are not supposed to take the survey now” and the only answer was “Okay, I’ll stop”?
Four people took it. Obviously they won’t be counted.
Did those people get the coin probability question right?
If there were more of them, I’d be interested to know if there were significant differences in the survey responses between the people who did and didn’t.
(Reply to somewhat old post)
In “The Design of Everyday Things”, Don Norman points out that having a “push” sign on a door where the most natural action is to pull the door is a bad design.
Having a sign saying “do not take this survey” on a survey that would otherwise look like you should take it seems to be an extension of that.
Done! The survey has been a progressively smoother experience each of the past three years. And it’s nice to have a time to think about the past month’s habits in a structured way during the school year.
My first comment is to say I did the survey.
I completed the survey. (Did not do the digit ratio questions due to lack of available precise tools.)
Submitted, answering almost all questions.
The hardest question was choosing a single favorite LW post.
Also, I wasn’t sure if Worm should count as more than one book. (It didn’t end up mattering.)
A scanner + Photoshop makes it significantly easier to measure digit ratios.
Was that question not there yesterday?
I’m starting to feel rather disappointed that I took the survey so early. Should have waited around for Scott to add the interesting questions...
Surveyed—I feel somewhat unconfident about my calibration.
Did it just now. Lone portuguese (from Portugal) here with high certainty.
Took the survey! Now to upvote everyone who took it.
For those that have mentioned a lack of a ruler, I used this one online: http://iruler.net/.
Might be worth it to link in the survey, if it’s still editable.
First thing I thought was ‘I’m not sure it’s accurately calibrated’, but since we’re measuring ratios it doesn’t matter.
You can click “select your monitor dimension” to resize the ruler. The default they gave me was wrong. I actually suggest making the ruler even smaller than the authentic size, so that the distance between millimeters will be shorter and thus the ratio will be more precise.
I’ll be interested to compare the results to the 2014 Effective Altruists Survey from earlier this year. Peter Hurford will be presenting its results soon, and I believe he’s cross-tabulating them with those on the 2013 LW Census (including figures like the gender ratio and how much people donate).
Also: I’ve now taken the survey. There were some interesting questions there.
I took the survey.
I have a few suggestions though.
For the race question, I recommend allowing people to pick more than one option, or creating an extra option saying “I don’t primarily identify with one race”.
For profession, I feel like it was unclear what people who aren’t currently students or employed are supposed to pick. What they most recently worked in or studied in a formal setting? What about students who haven’t declared a major yet? The field of study they’re leaning toward?
For the time in community question, I suggest clarifying whether that includes lurking. My guess was no, but I think it was sufficiently vague to where a significant number of people wouldn’t have guessed that.
I would also be interested in seeing a question relating to use of artificial cognitive enhancement techniques such as tDCS and nootropics.
Thanks for working on the survey. :)
Amen. Though maybe in terms of analysis “I do not identify with any race,” which I imagine may be more common here than other places since people choose not to identify with other variables for which it is a more radical statement, is uninteresting to the survey. I that case, “I do not identify with a race” or “I identify with more than one race” could be usefully lumped in with “other.” If we’re the only two a racial people on the site I’m not sure it’s worth the effort.
It might be uninteresting from the standpoint of someone who only wants specific racial information, but it still might be interesting for other reasons to see what other qualities correlate with someone who picks that kind of answer. The thing is, I wasn’t sure Yvain had the capability to create checkboxes that allow selecting more than one answer choice, as I didn’t see them anywhere on the survey. The “I don’t primarily identify with one race” was meant to be a catch-all for mixed-race people who don’t want to pick sides between their races, but I agree it would be more useful to subdivide that even further to “I identify with more than one race” and “I do not identify with a race”. I personally got around this by selecting “other” on the grounds that I identify with the human race.
It looks like for the 2013 survey, 51 people answered “other” and 22 people left it blank, so I think there are enough people for further distinctions to be worthwhile. There were other race options that even fewer people selected. I feel like “other” is best reserved for people who do identify with an ethnicity that wasn’t represented in the answer choices, and leaving the question blank is best reserved for people who dislike the question/answers, want to be more anonymous, etc.
I agree. Selecting other felt like I was shoehorning in.
I just hate asking for special treatment. Growing up, a whiner was the worst legal thing one could be, and it stuck with me a little. But 73 people does seem significant .
Survey completed in full, reporting in for karma as per ancient tradition.
Thanks to Scott and Dan for all the work they put into this!
I tried doing it on my phone earlier, but was having “issues” and decided to wait until I could do so on a laptop. In the mean time, I read the digit ratio comments and decided to try and measure mine.
I measured wrong, and the ruler (which is no more precise than half centimeters) did not come with me to my current location. *is sad*
I have submitted the survey, AND for the first time realized I’m not sure the example lifespan in the anti-agathics question should be understood as continuous. And I learned about natural law!
Done did the survey!
Thanks, I did the survey. I had been lurking some multiple months in irc and reading bits of sequences and now made an account after the survey.
I would be interested to work with the organizers to include an actual IQ testlet in a future survey.
My worry is that taking an IQ test online (even timed with reliable questions) cannot duplicate the exact same experience as taking an IQ test in a proctored setting. There are likely to be more confounding factors that throw off the scores relative to proctored tests, since the environments cannot be as strictly controlled.
Well yes. Mainly including a couple of testlets would alleviate the self-test worry. We could infer the population average IQ relative to those testlets’ hardness, which could confirm or disprove the self-reported IQ accuracy. I have understood that there has been some amount of doubt related to self reporting of IQ on the census here.
Sure, if you gave the same test to a representative sample of LWers and to a representative sample of the general population, you could calibrate IQ scores across them. I still expect it to be less reliable than proctored IQ tests though, not because I’m worried about people lying about their scores, but because of a higher incidence of confounding factors such as distracting noises, internet connection failures, and even the presence of daylight from a nearby window.
I suppose it might be interesting to include some IQ questions anyway, as it might still turn up some interesting results. We’d just have to keep the limitations in mind while analyzing the results.
Hmm, I did worse on those calibration questions than I would’ve expected.
Most people do worse at calibration than they expect, but you can improve with practice. http://predictionbook.com/
I put an estimate on one calibration question that I knew was wrong. In hindsight I shouldn’t have done that. The mistake: I don’t know what bone is the longest in the body, but I knew that. So I put down a random answer for that question. But then I felt like it would be cheating on the calibration to put 0% after an intentionally wrong answer, so I put a higher number that wasn’t accurate. My mistake, but other people might have done something similar.
I want the political questions to measure the importance of an issue on next year’s survey.
If you put down a random answer and know you did, then it seems like the correct estimate for your calibration would be 1 over the size of the sample space. Google tells me there are 206 bones in the adult human body, but a lot them are mirrored left to right, so maybe you’d be looking at something just south of 1%?
Probably higher, though, if you filtered out the many small bones in e.g. the fingers and toes, or the vertebrae.
You’re assuming the answer I wrote down was an accurate name of a bone.
Even then your subjective probability wouldn’t have been exactly 0. You could have put 0.00000000001 or something like that. The instructions didn’t forbid you from using long decimals. Even so, I think it would have been fine to put 0 if your subjective probability really was 0 or you felt like rounding down to it.
The question was about the largest bone, not the longest bone.
Tomayto, tomahto. Comes out to the same. Which is good, since the question would be ambiguous otherwise.
Wasn’t sure whether to round to 100 or to 99. After all, we could all have been lied to.
If you think that the probability that we’ve all been lied to about this (the relative sizes of the bones in the human body) might be as high as 0.5%, then you live in a more interesting world than I do.
Unless you just mean that you checked Wikipedia, and somebody who knowingly puts a false statement on Wikipedia (a public website) is technically lying to everybody, and you didn’t check the references or even the edit history, so you were unsure whether the probability of having found such a false statement was higher or lower than 0.5%, then … well then I still think that that’s much too high!
(Edits: precise phrasing of stuff about technical lying.)
Well it gets really murky as to what constitutes lying if we’re in a simulation, which is more probable than 0.005 by far. What if there were historic humans, but you’re just a virtual facsimile of one? Is that a “we were lied to about our bones”-scenario? And so on. That’s mostly what I was pondering.
Well, the statement could still be true in the context of the simulation. You may not have bones that exist in the universe outside the simulation, but you still have “bones” within the simulation. The name “bone” as well as the names for specific bones would be accurate if those are the agreed-upon names within your simulated culture. Whether the bones need to physically exist in the most fundamental level of reality in order to be considered bones seems like an argument over semantics. They still possess the other typical characteristics of bones that our culture has decided bones are supposed to possess. In everyday practice, people assign objects to linguistic categories based on resemblance to a prototypical example, not by making sure they fulfill a list of necessary criteria.
Oh, I agree that “the statement could still be true in the context of the simulation”. Likely so, in fact, which is why we go down all the way to 0.005 from P(we all live in a grand ol’ simulation, in a simulation, in a simulation).
The whole survey was full of definitional quibbles. What is ‘supernatural’ etc.
Largest is ambiguous. It could mean longest, or largest volume (with or without counting the volume enclosed, if we’re talking about the skull), or even heaviest.
Not that i knew the answer, but I assumed that of course it meant the heaviest. I don’t seem to have much company in this!
I think it means largest volume without counting the volume enclosed.
That’s what I thought too, and apparently I was wrong...
I accidentally pressed enter and the form was sent away—half-filled.
This is stupid. I sent another form with only the second half of the survey filled out. Dividing line is the population question, which I incorrectly answered with Rot13(Ehffvn).
You might want to rot13 that.
Done. I accidentally hit enter when I had everything done except for the digit question, so It submitted my entry and I was not able to answer that question. :(
Completed. I’ll be fascinated to see how digit length correlates to gender default. It would imply some very interesting things about sexuality.
I answered every question except the last one (I don’t have a scanner set up).
Took the survey. I think I’ve mentioned this last year: I’d like more clarity about the distinction between a “supernatural” God and living in a simulation.
Thirded. I was momentarily stumped by that question, not being sure whether a simulator living in a universe with different natural laws than our own counted as “supernatural”. I ended up deciding no. The simulator’s universe might be a different kind of natural, but not “supernatural”. Still, including a clarification in the question would have reduced errors due to misunderstanding, not to mention saved us time. The survey is already quite long as it is.
I wouldn’t mind the survey being twice as long if it allowed it to handle these can’t-answer situations, though I would expect it to be the same length but just have a button or two to the right of each entry blank.
That would seem kind of redundant as it’s already not necessary to answer every question, even the ones that don’t say they’re extra credit or skippable. Maybe Yvain could have made that clearer at the beginning?
I personally wouldn’t have minded a longer survey either. I’m just worried that making it longer would deter others from completing as many questions or even taking the survey in the first place. It might be a good idea to have a poll (perhaps within the survey itself) asking for the amount of time we’d be willing to spend on such a survey.
Thank you for continuing to run it.
Given the decision on a cap in length I think it might be worthwhile to do a second LW Lifestyle and Values survey in addition to the census. At best with half a year of distance to the census.
I made this suggestion in the Yvain’s call for critiques on the census. Who’d do this. If nobody else is willing, I’d help create the Google Form, but I don’t know how to do statistical analysis. Otherwise, I am a generic volunteer for this project, to be assigned tasks.
I am curious what kind of analysis you plan to run on the calibration questions. Obvious things to do:
For each user, compute the correlation between their probabilities and the 0-1 vector of right and wrong answers. Then display the correlations in some way (a histogram?).
For each question, compute the mean (or median) of the probability for the correct answers and for the wrong answers, and see how separated they are.
But neither of those feels like a really satisfactory measure of calibration.
At the very least, I suspect one of the analyses will be ‘bucketize corresponding to certainty, then plot “what % of responses in bucket were right?”’ - something that was done last year (see 2013 LessWrong Survey Results)
Last year it was broken down into “elite” and “typical” LW-er groups, which presumably would tell you if hanging out here made you better at overconfidence, or something similar in that general vicinity.
The question called P(Global Catastrophic Risk) should really be called something more like P(not Global Catastrophic Risk). (Or else the question itself should be inverted, but that would be a Bad Idea since some people have now filled in the survey.)
Some US states do not have partisan voter registration, so choosing “no party” does not necessarily mean someone would not register by party if that option were available.
Did the survey! …And now to upvote everything.
I left the HBD (human bio-diversity) question blank, due to having misplaced my barge-pole.
Took the survey!
i did it yay me
Done. Skipped the digit ration questions to not put off answering the rest.
I’ve gone back, sorted the comments by ‘new’, and upvoted everyone who commented they did the survey since I took it, and upvoted everyone who did it before me. This way I’ve upvoted everyone, and they got more karma. It took me three minutes. If you spend a substantial amount of spare time on Less Wrong, it might be worth it for others for you to do the same. The more people who do this, the more karma everyone gets. Also, it can act as an incentive for people to take the survey for karma even if they’re late to the game.
Did so too.
Oh, right. Alternatively, just noticing comments on this post in the ‘recent comments’ sidebar might suffice.
Me, survey, did, etc.
EDIT: I do not self-identify as a LWer (and am a bit surprised other people here would do that), but I would expect to be in the survey target demographic none the less.
People who frequently play chess are chess players. People who frequently spent time on LW can be seen as LWers. With >1000 karma you simply fit in that category.
Undoubtedly a point of controversy.
In some societies, a great many people play games, if only mobile/phone/web games. Yet only a fraction of them would “identify as gamers”.
Birth genders vs. “identification”.
Or, myself: I identify as an LWer but only made an account today, and certainly haven’t yet finished all of the sequences. I could feel like a bit of a poser, or worry others would call me “fake”, but that’s not actually relevant to my own self-identification.
Wait, what other people?
I took the survey. No scanner available, alas.
I too have done the survey!
And am extremely excited to see the results.
Looking forward to the analysis and release of data!
I filled out the survey. Thanks for doing this!
The digit ratio instructions are underspecified.
″....from the middle of the bottom crease”. It’s hard to tell what the “middle” means meaningfully enough to produce any sort of measurement, even to the nearest centimeter; certainly it is impossible to measure “to the nearest hundredth of a centimeter.”
The instructions don’t mention the left hand, and don’t mention the step of scanning/copying your hand. We can easily interpolate, but the instructions are structured as if they are meant to be followed formally, so may as well make them precise.
I forgot to ask, does spelling count on the calibration questions? Because there are several were I was less confidient of my spelling than of having the basically right answer.
Yeah, my “powerhouse of the cell” probability varied from 100 to, like, 40 depending on whether spelling mattered.
Then I realized the entry boxes had spell-check and decided that didn’t count as “checking a source”.
Most comments show exactly one downvote without a clear pattern why. I’d guess that a single person downvoted all these short comments. Can it be that this user doesn’t know the custom of upvoting survey-takers?
ADDED 2014-10-25T16:20 UTC: The single downvotes disappeared.
ADDED 2014-10-26T21:10 UTC: The single downvotes reappeared again (at least for a lot of high scoring comments).
Or disagrees with it.
Doesn’t know? Of course said user knows. Do you think there’s someone going “Um, lots of upvotes here? I have no idea why, so I better downvote each one.”? It’s someone who doesn’t agree / care for the custom. Probably some crooked man, and not of the Scottish General variety (generally, no true Scottish General).
Edit: Don’t know who, if it’s considered against any unwritten rules, it should be easy to find out who it was.
This sentence is utterly impenetrable to me, and googling turns up nothing relevant. My curiosity is piqued—would you mind explaining a bit?
Sorry, it was through no fault of your own. The “crooked man” (stand-in for villain) reminded me of the “There Was a Crooked Man” nursery rhyme. The (short) wiki article should explain the rest.
Other than the riff on the No True Scotsman, since indeed the kind of people downvoting others generally consider themselves to be the “true LessWrongers”, or so I’d surmise. It was just a throwaway thought, thanks for inquiring :-).
Same happened last year.
Almost everyone has a downvote again. What’s more interesting is the short list of people who don’t…
It is interesting in kind of the same way that some people have quite a lot more up-votes than the others. The same threshold preventing downvotes prevents upvotes below.
I’m not sure I understand. I wasn’t able to find explanations by typing “upvote” into the search either. Can you please clarify?
Gwern (79) and Vaniver (66) show significantly more upvotes than the next in line (gwern was initially also one of those who didn’t get a downvote when the others did). If upvotes are handed out according to the rule and logically in order of occurrence the vots should roughly read n, n-1, n-2, … but they don’t. Quite some people upvote only their favorite LWers. A little bit of coalition politics or fan-boying on LW after all.
That is interesting! I think some of Gwern’s upvotes are coming from people who agree with his “Basilisk” comment / found it because of the discussion it generated, but I suspect the two of us are having some sort of name recognition effect. For everyone else it does look roughly like people upvoting everyone who took the survey the last time they checked: before writing this comment, I’d upvoted everyone before 3:30am server time on the 26th, but it seems like those before and after that line are both about low 30s. I think there’s also a factor of people not loading all the comments- otherwise we wouldn’t expect the oldest comment to be lower than the early bulk of comments.
It didn’t seem self-evident to me that his mention of the basilisk would help his comment’s score overall. I don’t personally believe in the basilisk and I do think it would make an interesting survey question, but I thought many LWers considered it a dangerous idea to discuss? They may think that even if they don’t believe in it either. Or maybe Eliezer was just weird in his reaction to it. Judging based on Gwern’s comment’s 99% positive rating, that’s certainly what it looks like.
It’s not so far off that I feel the difference can simply be attributed to people not loading all the comments. At the time of my writing this, the oldest comment has the same score as the third and fourth comments.
Thanks. That’s interesting. I hadn’t noticed that. They even score higher than some people who posted earlier, and with similar quality posts.
...At first I was going to say I think it would be more of an exponential decrease since most people take the survey in the first few days and I doubt many people diligently keep track of new comments, but then I remembered that the rate of new “I took the survey” comments themselves decrease exponentially, probably at a similar rate, which cancels out much of the effect. Oh well. This does make the situation less unfair.
At first I thought this person would only downvote short comments that have little content beyond saying that the user took the survey, but I’ve since noticed that even “I took the survey” comments with very detailed critiques are getting the single downvotes. My guess is this person doesn’t like the idea of some people getting 100% positive ratings through posting only survey comments, as survey comments would be the easiest way to attain that otherwise, or thinks that the amount of karma awarded by other users for these comments (even the detailed ones) is too much, and that karma should mainly be reserved for quality discussions.
Personally I think the amount of karma awarded for the short and simple survey comments should be based on the difficulty, time commitment, and benefit from having people take these surveys, but I think the amount of karma being awarded already is in line with that. Sure, there might be a few people lying by saying they took the survey when they in fact didn’t, but I suspect that’s pretty rare. I would like it though if there were some users who prioritized quality in deciding whether to upvote comments, so that it would be easier for people to quickly locate the most useful comments when they choose the “Sort by: Best” option.
That’s what I’ve been doing: voting as I normally do, based on quality, regardless of tradition.
I’ve been doing that too actually, although I am somewhat tempted to upvote some of the recent survey-takers just to make the playing field more equal for people whose other time commitments made them unable to take the survey very early.
I thought about suggesting to Yvain to edit his post by including a suggestion for people who have finished the survey to check back again later to upvote new survey-takers, but I get the impression he may prefer having this incentive against people procrastinating on taking the survey. It does at least mean that on average, the more heavily involved LWers are going to be awarded more karma since they’re more likely to notice the survey as soon as it’s posted.
This however has to be weighed against the disincentive for latecomers to take the survey if they didn’t see or were otherwise unable to take the survey early. (Yvain has also on occasion made little changes to the survey after it’s been posted, but I don’t think that’s enough to be a good incentive to take it later.)
I’m strongly considering it for next year.
From what people have said, it seems that after the survey was posted a new question was added about our favorite LW post. Were there any others?
I really want to know this, and maybe you should make it a top-level comment. (Or maybe I should.)
I feel cheated by taking it as soon as I saw it.
Is Anti-Agathics a strict superset of Cryonics? That is to say, would someone becoming cryonically frozen and then restored, and then living for 1000 years from that date, count as a success for the anti-agathics question?
I thought of this last year after I completed the survey, and rated anti-agathics less probable than cryonics. This year I decided cryonics counted, and rated anti-agathics 5% higher than cryonics. But it would be nice for the question to be clearer.
Definitely had a thought on this order; I went with “don’t die at any point and still reach age 1000”, though I also don’t really consider solutions that involve abandoning bodies counting.
I haven’t put too much thought into the plausibility of effective anti-agathics anyway, so I just left that one blank and moved on.
I wondered that, but I took the answer to be no.
Well, the description provided in the survey doesn’t preclude it, as long as that person is not currently cryonically frozen (the question says living at this moment). My guess is that the intent was to discover the likelihood we assign to anti-agathic drugs being developed during the next 1000 years, in which case they probably should have used a more precise description.
I interpreted the two as completely disjunct. In other words anti-agathics would be drugs or treatments that prevent or repair the symptoms of aging. Some of the same tech (cell repair nanites) could potentially do both jobs, but if you have to be frozen to use the tech then I wouldn’t call it anti-agathics. I guess I’m basing this usage on Blish’s “They Shall Have Stars” which predicted it in the fifties.
I didn’t interpret it that way, but then again, I’m not signed up for cryonics.
Whether or not you believe cryonics is plausible, counting cryonics-time-capsule as a means of anti-agathics would bound your anti-agathics probability from below. And the question was unclear.
I didn’t mean to say that not signing up for cryonics (or not thinking it plausible, which is different) tells me how to interpret the question. But it’s still indicative of an attitude towards cryonics that might make one more likely to interpret it as I did.
Did the survey!
Seems like bad wording—what if you’re in exactly one polyamorous relationship? Your partner could be seeing other people, and even if you’re not seeing anyone else you wouldn’t call it monogamous.
My first comment here after about a month of lurking is to say that I’ve completed the survey. Looking forward to seeing the results.
Done. If I were to make a wager I’d say that the correlation between a low digit ratio and stereotypically masculine traits is fairly weak, based on my own >90th percentile high digit ratio yet high masculinity/low femininity scores on the inventory (as well as anecdotal reports from others corroborating my stereotypically masculine traits)
done but for digit ratio
I took the survey. Happy aggregating!
Something that just occurred to me (separate from my took-it comment): Scott, do you take your own survey?
Yes, but I keep my data private because I’d be easy to find otherwise and I don’t want everyone knowing my income and politics et cetera.
Quick question: I assume the P(God) question excludes simulators, basement universes created in particle accelerators ect? I know it says supernatural, but since a parent universe would not necessarly obey the same laws of physics as the daughter universe, this could be counted as supernatural.
Last year the question defined supernatural via basic ontological entities with excludes many simulators, this year there no fixed definition and you are up to interpret is as you like.
It said God as an example of supernatural, again making me chuckle as I had to put essentially “committed theist, odds of (defined differently than I do) god and stated superset, 0”
Of course it’s not clear what “ontologically basic” means.
The problem is it’s not always clear what it means to “reduce” one entity to another.
You can take a car to bits, or a brain to bits, but you can’t take a soul to bits.
Although horocruxes work by ripping the soul apart. So souls in canon Harry Potter are not supernatural by that definition… which seems dubious. Maybe they are supernatural, but dark magic can turn them natural?
Nope. The bits are still soul-bits, and they’re still made of soul. The scalar is fractional, but the substance is still the same.
Ahh. I was thinking that “irreducible” implied “indivisible”.
Do religious people think that the soul is irreducible? Even if you can’t reduce it to atoms, maybe you could argue that it reduces to component memories, emotions and so forth.
The only religious belief I’m familiar with that’d be relevant is the doctrine of transsubstantiation, which holds that a wafer that goes through the communion process still has the form of a wafer, but it has the substance of Jesus’ body. (Likewise, wine becomes wine-like Jesus blood). The distinction between shape, quantity, taste, feel, etc. on one hand and substance on the other seems like it’s actually in line with what I said above, but I’m not enough of a theologian to say for sure.
Well, IIRC Dante Alighieri did, mentioning inattentional blindness as evidence of that.
Being able to analyze X in terms of smaller components is not necessarily the same as being able to split X into smaller pieces. For example, it is possible to split up 1 into 1⁄3 and 2⁄3, but 1 is nonetheless ontologically basic as a numerical entity...
I guess. But the above paragraph feels extremely confused and semantic. It is probably best not to try to wallow into metaphysics without a specific goal in mind.
Why are you reducing to bits rather than atoms? Which is more basic?
I meant bits as a synonym for ‘pieces’ not as in terms of information.
That still leaves the question of whether brains should be reduced to atoms or bits unresolved?
You can reduce a brain to atoms, and a mind to bits?
Possible bits are more basic, since physics seems to run on maths, if that makes sense. But I wouldn’t say this with especially high confidence.
That’s my point. Being “ontologically basic” is an extremely subtle concept.
Suppose I believe that “mental” and “physical” are both forms of information, and the bit is an ontologically basic mental/physical/information thing. Do I then believe in the supernatural?
Done! Although I’m not quite sure how that was supposed to be 10-15 minutes...
I have done the survey. Now I am off to upvote everybody else.
Yvain, thanks for organising these! :-)
Did the survey. Accidently pressed submit before calculating digit ratio :( Answered everything else though.
Maybe next time add schizoid personality disorder to the “I think I might have this psych disorder” list.
I took the survey. I won’t give it back, either.
Did the survey.
I started reading the articles only recently and just registered the account now.
Did the survey. Thank you once again, Yvain.
I suspect most self-identified communists would baulk at the description of their ideology as “complete state control of many facets of life”.
I took the survey. The BSRI reminds me of the MBTI, though, in that the questions are vague and I would probably give different answers depending on various factors, like what time it is or whom I’ve interacted with recently.
Finished the survey.
Took the survey!
Also, a frequent lurker who has finally made an account!
Taken, in full
Bravo! At this point, having actually gone through the steps of scanning the outline of one’s own hand and recording the digit ratios is a heroic feat. You have gone beyond expectations, achieving what many of us could not.
done. I always like doing these. how will the SSC version be different?
I did the survey! I don’t have sufficiently convenient access to a photocopier or scanner to be induced to do the digit ratio thing though.
Top-level comment to say yep, took the survey! Well, except for the digit length by tool-aided measurement. However, I did do a rough measurement (which I chose to not record on the survey) by manually aligning the creases on both hands (first to verify corresponding finger lengths, then to compare D2:D4) I determined my digit ratio to be in excess of 1.00 and possibly as high as 1.02, which would make me very unusual (especially for a cis male). Then again, my height already makes me that.
Also, this is the first thread in which I’ve commented on LW! My actual first comment (with more stuff about the survey) is here: http://lesswrong.com/lw/l5k/2014_less_wrong_censussurvey/bihv EDIT: Feedback that I posted in that other comment, which it was pointed out really belongs here: Part Four’s “Moral Views” section could have used links (LW, WP, wherever) for those of us who aren’t sure about the selection of moral philosophies. It is a question I had been exploring, but mostly just in a “judge each as they are presented to me” approach and I had not encountered all of them before. Also, the WP articles for some of them do not contrast them with the others, so suggested alternate sources would be welcome.
EDIT2: Did somebody go on a downvote-rampage? Every comment in this section of the thread seems to have been downvoted at least once. Is there some rule of “you’re not supposed to get more than 12 free karma out of this thread” or something that I missed? (Bearing in mind that I’m a newbie, I did not expect this behavior and would generally appreciate knowing why something I post is downvoted.)
Distinguishing Liberal/Social Democratic seems silly, as the difference between Neoreactionary and Conservative is much greater yet they aren’t on the poll, and in previous years they were about as common as self-aware Communists.
Also note that the majority of people who pick “Conservative” on LessWrong are probably going to be Neoreactionary in their preferences and one of the more important markers of that group is strongly dissaproving of right wing people who think they can change things by voting and a loathing for the useless and actually harmfull nature of US Republicans.
Distinguishing “Liberal” & “Social democratic” seems very sensible to me, assuming the survey should have good discriminating power among as much of LW as possible. On the last survey the two most popular categories were “Liberal” (35%) and “Socialist” (32%); it’s not as if either category is superfluous.
On similar grounds, I think there’s a case for rolling the “Communist” category into the “Socialist”/”Social democratic” category to make a broader “Social democratic, socialist and Communist” category that still splits the more leftist respondents from the more centrist. One could then replace the old “Communist” category with a new “Reactionary” category, improving the survey’s discriminating power while keeping the total number of categories constant.
...really? I’m sure you’ve done the research and I haven’t but may I see the data? I’d wager we may have more neoreactionaries than the prevailing rate but more than half of people self-identifying as conservative surprises me.
It was in Yvain’s dark matter essay.
That surprises me. Pleasantly. Thanks!
I think that “libertarian” is what you’re likely to get when you take “conservative” and remove all the opinions associated with religion. And for obvious reasons, LW is going to have a very low percentage of people who are serious religious believers.
I don’t know about that. For a simple counter-example, conservatives tend to love law and order, libertarians—not so much.
A common simplistic understanding of libertarians is “conservative economically, liberal socially”, but even then you don’t get there from conservatives just by removing religion.
Cladistically, libertarianism comes out of the Left, not the Right, and in fact shares fairly close historical ties with socialism. This is obscured somewhat by the fact that modern libertarians talk a lot like modern conservatives and tend to use “socialist” as a loose secular synonym for “the spawn of he whom we call the Desolate One”, but that’s a trend that started no earlier than the Seventies or late Sixties.
True, there are some non-religious issues which separate conservatives and libertarians, but someone doesn’t have to believe in every libertarian issue to be a libertarian. Are there enough prominent non-religious issues such that someone who takes a conservative position on only the non-religious issues would be considered closer to the conservative side than to the libertarian one?
Don’t you? Most issues where libertarians are socially liberal have the conservative side heavily influenced by religion.
Let’s check internationally. In Japan, for example, religion (Shinto and/or Buddhism) is not a prominent factor in sociopolitical issues. So does this mean that Japanese conservative politicians are essentially libertarians? Doesn’t look like that to me.
In Japan, Shinto is associated with Japanese nationalism. Just because it doesn’t affect people’s views on gay marriage doesn’t mean that it has no effect on politics.
Recall that the original issue was whether libertarians are just conservatives less religion. Are you applying this claim globally or you think it’s purely a US thing?
Going back up a thread a bit
I suggested law and order as a conservative issue. You think it’s “heavily influenced by religion”?
“Most” is not “every issue”.
Did the survey. Seemed shorter than last year but I haven’t gone back to double check how long last year’s was.
In regards to the question on what sort of job you have, I selected ‘other’ because I work in a factory. I considered selecting ‘business’ since the factory is owned by a for-profit business, but given that many of the other options were professional positions where one might also be an employee of a business, and because my job is a labor union job rather than a professional position, I took the ‘business’ option to be more along the lines of e.g. owning a business. I might suggest adding other options like ‘manufacturing labor’ or the like in the future, if you get enough similar responses to warrant adding those sort of options.
Did the survey. It felt much shorter this year.
I took the survey.
Took the survey. Anyone else concerned that “largest bone in the body” isn’t very well-defined? Largest by volume, longest measurement, … ?
It has been reported here that largest volume, longest length, and largest mass all give the same result.
That still doesn’t help for the purposes of calibration, when you have uncertainty over whether these are all the same.
Took the survey a few days ago, and forgot to even comment! Thanks Yvain and looking forward to seeing what comes out of it
I always look forward to seeing the results of these.
Did the survey. I don’t know what cisgender means, but I assume that’s me, as I’m definitely not transgender...
It means experiencing little or no conflict between the gender you’re generally treated as, the anatomy of your body, and the gender you regard yourself as.
“Gender normative” is another phrase that sometimes gets used. (More often, no phrase at all gets used and it’s treated as an unmarked case… most people understand “male” to mean cis-male, for example.)
It is perhaps worth noting that the term is treated as a tribal signifier on much of the Internet… people who describe themselves as “cisgender” are seen as expressing social alignment with transgender people, which is seen as a “left” position when viewed in U.S. left-right partisan terms.
The reasoning here is that being an unmarked case is a form of social power, so by explicitly marking what would otherwise be an unmarked case, the speaker is… well, I’m not sure what, exactly. Calling attention to that power, I guess. Which in this context is understood as aligning with the relatively powerless, though in other contexts (e.g., white people describing themselves as “white”) the reverse is true.
Well, that feels like it should be a sliding scale.
I’m not sure where I’d put such a conflict meter, if one existed, but it isn’t at 0.
Agreed that it’s more accurate to model such conflict (and gender identity more generally) as existing on a continuum than as some kind of binary.
Trans people are oppressed by having the existence of transgenderism denied, so by calling yourself cisgender, you are acknowledging the existence of transgenderism and countering that oppression. But Black people are oppressed by having the existence of race affirmed and exaggerated, so by calling yourself White, you are emphasizing race and exacerbating that oppression.
From what I’ve seen on the SJ side, they’ve done a lot to make white into a marked state (in other words, white people being referred to as white) rather than whiteness being an implied default.
Yeah, “cis-” (on this side of) is the opposite of “trans-” (across or on the other side of). So if you’re currently the same sex as the one you were born as, you’re cisgnder.
Actually, that’s the definition of cissexual.
Did it. Did all the extra credit except for the digit ratio.
Also, apparently I really have weird ideas about gender, as I’m masculine 55 and feminine 38, more masculine and less feminine than the average male (and I was born male), but I also answered that I don’t particularly prefer being born male, modulo the relevant social roles. It’s all just sorta a thing that happened; if it had happened the other way, I might have grown up being influenced into different roles and different ways of behaving, but I’d still pretty much be me (complete with being really weirdly headstrong and over-aggressive).
Done it. The whole thing! (edit: except the last question)
Too late now, but an interesting question would be: Have you volunteered for MIRI, CfAR, or the broader mission of rationality or AI-risk? (The question would have to be specified more precisely than that.)
Next year, can we have “something sort of like left-libertarianism-ist” on the big politics question. I think that there are many people here (myself included) that do not know how to categorize ourselves politically, but know that we have a lot in common with Yvain.
Why don’t you want to round “something sort of like left-libertarianism-ist” off to left-libertarian, which is the closest thing on the big list?
I actually do not think it is very close to left-libertarian at all. I am very curious what Yvain answers for this question.
Yes, having read (or rather reread) the blog post by Yvain that you linked to, I agree, it is pretty different —so different that the title of that blog post is rather misleading! I like ‘liberaltarian’ for that, but Yvain said in his blog post that he doesn’t like that term (which would explain why it’s not an option in the survey).
Took the survey. Did not read the comments first. Here are my observations after filling it out and reading the comments:
I followed the instructions carefully for the digit ratio question. I then went to enter my answer and found that the instructions failed to tell me to image my left hand as well as my right, so I gave the partial answer I had rather than go through all the steps again for the left hand. As of this writing, one other person commented on this problem.
Criticism of questions:
I realize after the fact that when answering “how many books have you read”, I counted only things which are books in the sense of “the kind of thing that has an ISBN”, excluding book-length self-published-on-the-internet documents, and also thought only of new books as opposed to rereads. I request that future versions of this question clarify what counts as a book and whether rereading counts.
“Hours Online”: what counts as “on the Internet” in today’s world is unclear. If I’m writing a book in Google Docs, does that count? If I’m focused on a problem, but I have an IRC channel open in the corner of my screen, does that count? If I’m walking down the street and my phone notifies me of a post which I immediately read, does that count?
Generally: there is a spectrum of plausible interpretations from “performing any activity which requires a functioning Internet connection” (broad definition) to “aimless web surfing” (narrow definition).
“Moral Views” could benefit from links to definitions.
I used the statistic for my “Everything” block set on LeechBlock, which amounts to interpreting “the Internet” as “the WWW”, but I now realize that maybe time spent reading/writing e-mails and/or on the Facebook Messenger app on my phone should also count.
I did it, I did it, I did it, yay!
I took the survey.
The only part I wasn’t sure about how to answer was the P(God) and P(supernatural) part. I put a very low probability on P(supernatural) because it sounded like it was talking about supernatural things happening “since the beginning of the universe” which I took as meaning “after the big bang.” But for P(God) I put 50% because, hey, who knows, maybe there was a clockmaker God who set up the big bang?
If one were to interpret these survey responses in a certain way, though, they could seem illogical because one might think that P(supernatural) (which includes God in addition to many other possibilities) would strictly have to have a higher probability than the more-specific P(God). But like I said, I took P(supernatural) as referring to stuff after the big bang, whereas I took P(God) as including any time even before the big bang.
I did the survey. Gadzooks!
Took the survey.
I completed the survey.
Yvain, in the “Referrals” section I feel the wording is a little ambiguous in what you should do if you were referred by Overcoming Bias but you’ve not “Been here since it was started in the Overcoming Bias days”. I think you should answer “Referred by a link on another blog or website” on the first one and write “Overcoming Bias” in the second question despite the “other than Overcoming Bias” in it. But I’m not completely confident that this is what you would expect, or if other people would read it the same way.
Took the survey! A few things:
I’m afraid my answer to the singularity start date is going to get thrown out, because I peg it to have started in the past with the start of the limited liability corporation. I know this is non-standard and weird, but it is genuine.
I’m a little disappointed that more of the suggestions from last year’s results weren’t included. This survey was nowhere near too long and I think that more optional questions (that don’t involve outside tests) would add value.
Still frustrated with ‘highest degree completed’ not being ‘highest degree completed or in progress.’
Don’t reuse your password from last year! The public ones were all published! And try harder to make your’s unique—last year there were a couple duplicates. If you put ‘SQUEAMISH OSSIFRAGE’, you’re doing it wrong.
Do you really mean that the advent of the LLC marks the Singularity? I would have thought UFAI; the Singularity implies (to me) a level of incomprehensibility (by those before it) that I don’t think is really true.
I see the advent of modern corporations as the start of independent agents competing for resources and striving for their own goals. It also is when we started seeing the exponential growth that defines our current age, and while there were many other factors that played into this growth, it’s a convenient marker. The standard thought is that the singularity is the moment when the speed of exponential growth outpaces the human ability to process that information in real time. I think that definition is too human-centric, and I’d rather refer to the phenomenon of exponential growth as a longer continuous process.
So the formation of LLCs was the start of the Singularity, and we haven’t seen the end yet. Like I said, non-standard and weird.
Did the survey (a couple days ago).
I wasn’t here for the last survey- are the results predominantly discussed here and on Yvain’s blog?
Yes, Yvain will write a post about the results here once it is finished. I think historically that has been around the start of the new year.
I took the survey.
Done! Ahhh, another year another survey. I feel like I did one just a few months ago. I wish I knew my previous answers about gods, aliens, cryonics, and simulators.
Glad to do the survey, and appreciate that LW takes the views of readers seriously, that’s great!
FWIW, I said I “strongly disagree” with Feminism and Social Justice, even though I find their Wikipedia descriptions generally agreeable. I think in the future, it would be good to split those questions into pairs: a) “Do you agree with the stated mission goals of X ?”, and b). “Do you agree with the actions of people who identify as X ?”
If we’re going to bother to ask (b) at all, it’s probably best to frame it in a way that doesn’t make “some but not all of them” the obvious answer.
For example, perhaps you could identify some groups you consider definitive of Feminism and Social Justice, and we could ask “How often do you agree with $group?” (IIRC, on their own blog Yvain often uses something called jezebel as a metric for what feminists believe.)
I took the survey. Finding a ruler with the correct precision was difficult so I skipped the digit question. Anyone in the Bay Area with the requisite equipment?
If I were doing it I’d just scan an image of my hand in at a high resolution and then use measurement tools in Photoshop or something similar. Should even be possible to do in MS Paint by taking pixel coordinates and doing a little trigonometry. It’s the ratio that’s important, so it shouldn’t matter if the measurements are denominated in pixels or inches.
(I didn’t do this on my survey because I took it at work.)
I can confirm that the MS Paint method works.
As I lack both a scanner and calipers, I just took a picture of my hand with my phone.
I took the survey. Though I can’t remember my SAT score, which I know I put on the last survey – I wish I had saved my answers last year.
You are probably one of the few people who can identify an exact year when you forgot your SAT scores.
Hopefully roryokane will remember this year … it may come up on a survey later!
Competed the survey. Thanks for doing this, the results are always interesting.
Done, without finger question.
EDIT: and +1 to everyone. It took me more doing that than the survey :|
FINISHED. ALL OF IT. \m/ Literally superhuman.
TIL I’m undifferentiated according to the BSRI… huh.
Karma for all, per tradition. <3
- a long time lurker
P.S. You can trashcan the premature submission that answers Part 8′s first question with 23200. While revising my predicted date of the singularity, I brushed my keypad’s enter (next to the 3) by mistake. ಠ_ಠ
Nice choice of username. :-)
Done. Thank you for running these.
This is my second year taking the survey. I wish I remembered what my answers were last year so I could see how I’ve changed.
Hello, I’m decloaking from lurker status to say that I took the survey.
Calibration question for the Religious Denomination and P(Religion) questions:
Do the terms “believe” and “correct”, respectively, in these questions refer strictly to the supernatural elements of a religion (accuracy of creation story, reification of pantheon, etc.)? Or more broadly over its entire catechism?
In other words, if a virtue ethicist were to feel that Floobian morality is pretty darn sound, but not truly believe that Floob herself literally sang the cosmos into existence… would you call that person a Floobist? Or does a point of disagreement constitute disbelief / incorrectness?
Given the recent example of the Pope coming out in favor of science’s version of the origins of everything, I think this is a relevant distinction to draw.
I typed “Please taboo “correct”” into the P(Religion) question.
That would have been a better choice, perhaps.
I instead gave a numerical answer to the rephrased question “What is the probability that the supernatural figurehead of your chosen belief system will appear to declare total operational success for your side, in our reality or in any afterlife in which you meaningfully believe?”
If that is a reasonable paraphrasing of the average interpretation of the question, I expect a strongly bimodal distribution of answers. Not sure that’s useful.
I was disappointed the question was not something more like “what is the probability that humanity’s far future descendants / FAI / alien modernoanthropologists will generally hold your religious system to have been a net good influence on humanity and worthy of participation by its members?” That is the most charitable interpretation of “correct” I can think of, sans a literal Judgment Day / Cast Party.
Concerning the mental health questions, how do you weight self diagnosed and diagnosed by psychiatrist? Do you think, given the Less Wrong demographic self diagnosis is less or more reliable (intuitively I would tend to more). How should cases like myself answer—diagnosed with asperger by psychiatrist1, two years later diagnosed with ADHD but not asperger by psychiatrist2, several month later diagnosed as neither asperger nor ADHD by psychiatrist3?
I’m new to LW and have been lurking and catching up for a while, but I answered the survey anyway. Working on gathering more ground so I’ll be able to increase my interactions soon enough.
Completed the survey.
Two issues: I put a very low donation to charity, even though I consider working for the FHI to be a donation in kind.
Second, I messed up the probabilities, sorry, because I could not give any answer to P(simulation) and P(MWI) other than “NAN” (not a number). I can explain that stance in detail if you want.
Right, let’s try and explain...
Consider either an infinite universe, or better yet, a Tegmark multiverse. In this infinite universe, there will be infinitely many copies of you, and of the world. Some will be run on what we would clearly consider to be simulations (a sci-fi super computer programmed by elegant post humans or bug-eyed monsters). Some would be in places we would consider “real”. Other would be in places we might or might not consider to be simulations (eg on a giant game of life board, inside a tower of simulations with no conscious simulation at any level, etc...). Add in dust theories, by which we can consider that we are sequences of events from wildly different space-time zones in the multivese.
Amazingly, we can still make decisions in this setting, by appealing to principle like entropy or artificial induction (ie “induction may or may not work, but if it doesn’t work, we can’t do anything anyway, so we may as well assume it works”). However, asking “are we a simulation” involves some sort of dividing an infinite number of copies of us (some clearly simulations, some occasionally simulations (see the dust theories) some completely ambiguous) by another infinity, without a clue of as to what measure to put on the whole collection. And the answer, if calculated, would be dependent entirely on the assumptions we made and would not be in any way observable.
MWI suffers partially from a similar problem (how do we count those places where we are MWI simulations on classical computers? Waveform collapse simulations on quantum computers? Universes where MWI is false?) and partially from my lack of understanding of what “quantum measure squared” is. It does not feel like classical probability, see http://lesswrong.com/lw/ixr/quantum_versus_logical_bombs/ and http://lesswrong.com/lw/g9n/false_vacuum_the_universe_playing_quantum_suicide/ . Until I sort that out, I can’t even trust an empirical experiment to confirm MWI, let alone logical arguments.
Hope that helps clarify what I mean! Subquestions of these (like “will we see god-like beings saying “it’s all a simulation!”?” or “will quantum mechanists come to accept MWI?”) I could have answered, but not the questions as asked.
Answered here http://lesswrong.com/lw/l5k/2014_less_wrong_censussurvey/bini
Took the survey. I loved the calibration questions; it takes ~20 times more effort to come up with the confidence level than the answer, and I always feel I learn about myself. I’ve messed with some calibration question games before and was downright astonished at how well calibrated I was (the irony is not lost on me); but the questions were all in A-vs-B format rather than free form. The A-vs-B format is much easier to appear to be well calibrated.
Once you choose your answer, you can still calibrate yourself in A vs B form: ask if your answer is correct (A) or incorrect (B).
Finger thing is weird. My fingers don’t have constant length to the tenth of a millimeter, and holding my hand in the copier for a long time was uncomfortable enough that the fingers probably bent at least two millimeters. So if you really need tenths of a millimeter accuracy, disregard the one that has a result for the right hand and says ‘nope’ for the left hand.
“Social democrat” and “liberal” have been given almost identical descriptions. Don’t know if that’s deliberate.
Agreed. I actually looked up tax & spending for UK vs. Scandinavian countries, and they aren’t that different. It may not be a good distinction.
But IIRC the way the tax money is spent is very different in the US vs in Scandinavia (and I’d guess the UK is somewhere in between): in the former it’s mostly spent on means-tested transfer payments and in the latter is most spent on in-kind services, such as healthcare and education, that anyone can (in principle) avail of.
This fits the UK, which is if anything more in this direction than most European countries. Of note, the ‘UK Tories’ referred to in the census largely accept this.
For the future, in the case of multiple choice questions it might be nice to have an “unselect” option. (Some of the questions say “if you don’t know leave blank” or similar and then if you accidentally click an option you are forced to choose something)
Took the survey. I almost missed it since I don’t really read Main these days.
Are options 3⁄4 on the BSRI backwards? To me “occasionally” is rarer than “sometimes”.
I think so too. I found that part odd.
Did it, as every year. Thanks for your work.
Took the survey! Some very interesting questions; I look forward to the analysis.
Survey completed, besides the digit ratio.
Did that too.
I identify with being “mixed race” far more than any individual race (which feels distinct to me from “other”, but it was still the only choice for me).
I learned/confirmed non-zero answers about myself for questions I hadn’t previously/strongly considered. This could be considered a “bonus” for taking the survey.
Not technically a race, but then again neither is “Hispanic”, which keeps getting treated as if it was a race. Race is a social construct anyway, so might as well.
I’m a bit surprised “mixed race” didn’t occur to me as an option to suggest. It is true that I don’t emotionally identify with either of my races, but I don’t emotionally identify with “mixed race” either, probably because I wasn’t raised in a community of mixed-race individuals and don’t know that many mixed-race people. I feel like there isn’t really a unique shared culture to unite us. Upon reflection, I’ve decided that if “mixed race” became available as an option on a future LW survey, I would continue to pick “other”, because I really do identify with the human race more than anything else. The word “identify” is key though. If it simply asked what race I am, I would defer to the general consensus for how people should be classified, because I’d assume that’s how the survey-writers want us to answer.
In the social milieu where I live, ‘Hispanic’ is definitely a race. And for that matter, Arabs and South Asians aren’t White either. If someone has in mind a classification of human beings in which these are technically not the case, then that’s fine, but they should come up with another word for it. The term ‘race’ is highly politically charged, and they will never be understood if they use it in a technical way that conflicts with its social usage.
The social usage of “race” is pretty clear: it is a set of people which look similar (and where the skin color is a very important characteristic in deciding on the degree of similarity).
No, it is a set of people who have similar ancestry and thus presumable similar features and behaviors (the latter is the part where it shades into non-genetics since it is a combination of nature and nurture). For example, no one considers dark skinned Indians to be “Black”.
I’ve also seen it used to refer to tribes since these tend to overlap the above definition.
No, I don’t think that quite captures it either. Under your definition, families would be races, but that doesn’t accord with the typical “social usage of ‘race’”.
About six months ago, a woman surprised me in a conversation by describing her (very) visibly South Asian boyfriend as “black”.
I’m sceptical that “no one considers dark skinned Indians to be ‘Black’”; I can readily find examples of people categorizing South Asians as black until as recently as 20-30 years ago. It’s no longer common (hence my surprise when someone does it) but it’s not an utterly unfamiliar usage, either.
I notice that all of the concrete examples I can think of are British. Presumably this is a usage difference between Britain and the US. (That the operationalization of “black” varies across time & place is interesting.)
“No one” doesn’t literally mean “a number of people which is equal to zero”.
I reflected on that before I posted my comment. Here are my thoughts.
Even if I read “no one” as “a nonzero but negligible number of people”, Azathoth123 is probably still wrong. I can name only one person who’s said “black” to me with the meaning “South Asian” in mind, but then I’ve only met a tiny fraction of all Brits; chances are there are thousands of other people out there using the term in a similar way whom I just haven’t met. That this was a relatively frequent usage before 1990 or so makes it all the more likely. (See also “Moslem”, which has been almost wholly displaced by “Muslim” in everyday speech here, but which I hear (albeit not that often) from middle-aged and old people, quite often see in old books, and occasionally encounter in more recent texts by non-native writers of English, like this book.)
Moreover, it’s a bit of a bad habit to write claims which are false when read straightforwardly & literally. It’s better to avoid writing things which are only true if read generously, to minimize the risk of planting falsities in people’s heads. Qualifiers are not expensive. (If you’ve ever wondered why I lean on adverbs like “relatively”, “occasionally”, “rarely”, “mostly”, “likely”, “probably”, “almost”, “nearly”, “hardly”, and “presumably” as much as I do, you now know why.)
Moreover moreover, asserting not-quite-true things makes room for mischief. If you’re arguing for some conclusion C which gets more convincing if your premise P is less qualified, there’s a temptation to grab illicit rhetorical power by asserting P too strongly in a plausibly deniable way, gambling on no one noticing; and if someone does flag it, you can just say you weren’t really asserting P in its bluntest form, even if that’s literally what you did. (I am not saying Azathoth123 consciously did that here, not least because their conclusion — the social meaning of “race” isn’t just about appearance — still mostly goes through if you appropriately weaken their premise. I just think this general phenomenon’s another reason to take notice of false-as-literally-stated assertions.)
But this amounts to “it’s better to avoid talking the way that pretty much every human being not in a minority of literal-minded Internet users talks in most contexts”.
This is of course correct, yet it still doesn’t change that.
And the correct way to respond to someone doing that is to respond when you think they’re doing it—not to be uncharitable and interpret every non-literal statement as literal regardless of whether you think it″s a case of that or not .
Sure. I’m not arguing that he’s right. But “he’s wrong even when I interpret him charitably” is not a reason to interpret him uncharitably.
Which I also agree with! Ceteris paribus, would it not be better if people were less keen to assert literal falsities in debates about facts?
I do of course give people more leeway on this in most contexts. If someone says something that’s literally false in a face-to-face conversation, but their intended claim is clear and basically accurate, I’m unlikely to bother contradicting them. But we are in fact talking about something written on Less Wrong, and I’m OK with applying a higher standard here.
I can parse that but I don’t understand the point it’s making.
For whatever it’s worth, I think there was a fair chance Azathoth123 was doing it unconsciously out of habit. (They have something of a track record of saying things I find incredible, apparently completely guilelessly.) And the effect of doing it can be pretty much the same, regardless of intention, so there’s a reason to flag when someone’s engaging in the behaviour even if there’s no objective evidence of mischievous intent. (Plus, again, this is LW, not a live chat where people have to compose sentences in real time, so why not exercise higher standards?)
But “he’s wrong even when I interpret him charitably” drains the force from an objection of the form “that’s an uncharitable interpretation”. If someone’s wrong under both available interpretations, they’re just wrong; why not respond as such?
Actually, it does. Literally.
Normal human speech isn’t literal. Just because someone failed to include qualifiers like “most” or “as a rule” doesn’t mean that a statement which is without such qualifiers should be read as unqualified. “No one” as used by actual human beings in this context doesn’t literally mean “zero”.
In which sense are you using the word “literally” in your posts?
Notice the difference in two sentences. One of them is correct and the other one is wrong.
“No one” doesn’t usually mean “a number of people which is equal to zero”.
”No one” doesn’t literally mean “a number of people which is equal to zero”.
You are misparsing the sentence. “No one” doesn’t mean “zero”, as it would mean if taken in a literal manner.
You want to rephrase that sentence, as it’s very easy to misparse the way Lumifer did.
“No one” literally means exactly that.
Yeah, I get the impression that most ordinary people define people as white or not based on if they have a white-seeming appearance and culture. This is more evidence for the socially constructed aspect of race.
Are you sure doctors (of the medical kind) agree?
EDIT: Brief googling couldn’t confirm either of the statements marked by “IIUC”, so take them with a huge grain of salt. Also, “no”, “no-one” etc. in the penultimate paragraph aren’t meant 100% literally—no doubt some people say and do lots of weird stuff.
Assume for the sake of argument that in Northern Ireland certain medically relevant alleles are much more common among Protestants than among Catholics or vice versa (not terribly unlikely, given that IIUC Protestants are mainly of Anglo-Saxon ancestry and Catholics are mainly of Gaelic ancestry). Would that make Protestatism and Catholicism not social constructs?
Or, the fact that people with different ancestries have different genotypes and phenotypes is not a social construct, but that’s just the motte. The fact that you write on the census which of those groups you’re in, they tend to live on different neighbourhoods, not interbreed, have distinctive cultures, have quotas in universities, etc., is the bailey.
(Here in Italy, IIUC the alleles for blond hair mostly originate from Germanic immigrants in the middle ages, and probably correlate with all kinds of other genes; but blonds and brunets freely interbreed, there’s no such thing as a blond church or Germanic-Italian music or a blond school or Germanic-Italian studies departments, no-one is ever accused of acting brunet, no-one refrains from going to a festival because it’s a brunet people thing, there’s no blog titled Stuff Brunet People Like, IIRC we aren’t asked for our hair colour on the census, and it wouldn’t occur to anyone to figure out the percentage of blonds in a university.)
So I’d say we have two correlated but distinct concepts, race2 which is a social construct, and race1 which isn’t except insofar as race2 reduces intermarriages which would otherwise dilute race1 over time to some extent.
If we’re taking about the usage of the word “race” then there are many possible meanings. Generally speaking, the proper usage depends on the context and on the aims of the speaker.
Certainly, some people use the word “race” to refer to social constructs—but that’s not the issue. The issue is whether race is a valid biological construct—and many people say no.
It seems to me there’s not just one issue here; the conversation has drifted from one to another in a rather ad hoc way. Whether race is a valid biological construct is different from the issue raised above (“Are you sure doctors (of the medical kind) agree [that race is a social construct]?”), which itself doesn’t, to my eye, address Elund’s original comment (“Race is a social construct anyway”).
Let’s cut to the chase. The issue is whether there are genetically similar populations with some phenotype features which are important and significantly different from other populations. IQ is the classic example. We are talking here in purely biological terms.
There are certainly populations with higher within-population genetic similarity than between-population genetic similarity, and which differ significantly in IQ and other important phenotypic features. It presumably follows because of reductionism that most of those phenotypic differences, including those in IQ, are mostly biological; big differences in IQ are probably manifestations of differences in brains, and brains are biology. (I’m assuming the referents of “We are talking here in purely biological terms” are differences in IQ and other phenotypic features...?)
(Seems to me this issue too is pretty distant from the remark that kicked things off. It’s hard for me to avoid the impression that “cut to the chase” really means “ride a personal hobby-horse” here.)
Well, speaking empirically, the phrase “race is a social construct” is pretty often followed by “therefore all races are the same in all important ways”. “Social construct” implies an arbitrary choice—our society decided to split humanity into races this way, but another society might do it in an entirely different way and all such ways are equally valid, which is to say, there are no underlying “real” differences.
It’s not that it is a personal hobby-horse, it’s just that I have some experience in watching similar conversations develop.
I’m now more sure you’re riding a hobby-horse. I’d better explain why.
Me too. Which is probably why I had a hunch that, from the start, you pattern matched Elund to the kind of person who says things like “all races are the same in all important ways” — because you’d observed such people before — in spite of Elund not having said that. That hunch now seems to be confirmed.
That pattern matching would make sense to me if, say, in the context of an argument about race & IQ, Elund had started insisting “race is socially constructed so racial IQ differences can’t exist haha I win!” as a desperate gimmick to shut down the argument. But the context wasn’t a fraught debate like that; Elund’s “Race is a social construct anyway” was an aside to explain why they were content with someone treating “mixed race” or “Hispanic” as racial categories, which doesn’t sound like a mind-killed person invoking “uh uh uh it’s a social construct!” to evade an argument.
So the way you responded to Elund (asking a pointed but not especially relevant question about what doctors think; intimating that Elund was doing an intellectually dishonest post-modernist two-step; asking a question which falsely implied Elund said race wasn’t a useful concept; and dragging IQ (hitherto unmentioned) into the conversation) didn’t seem consistent with a dispassionate correction. It looked a lot more like taking a hobby-horse out for a canter. Reviewing the argument, I’m not sure I could come up with any empirical question about race where the two of you would disagree on the answer!
Mea culpa, though I find pattern matching to be a useful tool. The reason that it’s useful is that it often works—though not always, of course.
The whole argument in this subthread wasn’t particularly focused—one notable diversion was into the meaning of “socially constructed” which Elund seems to understand very widely.
No, I don’t think I went this far—I didn’t and I don’t believe Elund showed any intellectual dishonesty.
Oh, but I lay no claim to being a dispassionate corrector :-D I have preferences, tastes, opinions, aesthetics, etc. all of which colour my posts and affect my responses. I am not even above—oh, horrors! -- periodically doing things purely for their amusement value.
Yeah, had the pattern match been correct I would’ve said nothing.
I’m glad to hear that. (I continue to think your comment would’ve planted the idea in some readers’ heads, regardless of intent, but since I’ve made my view clear and you indicate a lack of intent on your part, I’ll just agree to disagree.)
You’re entitled to those. I’m entitled to highlight when they’re fuelling a dubious argument.
Supposing someone wanted to split humanity into arbitrary races based on actual genetics (which is not how the concept of race originally started because genetics wasn’t known at the time), it would make sense for most races to be African, since Africa has far more human genetic diversity than all the other continents combined do. The reason races are delineated the way they are now is due to social reasons. (It could possibly make sense when you consider the phenotype though, but due to the outgroup homogeneity bias, I have some doubts.)
Still, regardless of where you set the boundaries between races, there will be average biological differences between them (provided you don’t do something biologically ridiculous like classifying whites and Asians as the same race but then classifying their half-white/half-Asian children as a different race).
You’re using a definition of “social construct” under which the word “heaps” is a social construct. Sure, given this definition race is a social construct, too, along with a rather long list of most everything. However I think your interpretation of “social construct” is atypical.
I’m just using it to mean things that are constructed socially.
Race2 is not a valid biological construct. Certain people by “race” mean that, and call race1 other words e.g. “ancestry”.
Sure, there also are people who say that race1 is not a valid biological construct. Bu then again, there also are people who say that Elvis is not dead.
Unfortunately, the former are more likely to get taken seriously than the latter.
The former are perfectly capable of getting those of a different opinion into a lot of trouble. The latter aren’t.
I expect that doctors (of the medical kind) would agree as much or more than the average person. Most of the ‘Doctor’ role is oriented toward enforcing (or following) social norms. They also have relatively little professional incentive to have beliefs about race that match reality (and more than enough compartmentalisation capability to ignore the occasional diagnostic relevance of race). Further, since the medical profession relies on far more arbitrary social constructs than race (for example: Most of the DSM) I’m not sure whether their considering something a social construct should be considered a criticism.
I’d be much more interested what doctors (of the scientific kind, preferably of a relevant field) say.
I think that would depend on the context and on how the question is phrased. Professionally, doctors know quite well that race matters—e.g. some blood tests have different acceptable ranges depending on your race, the prenatal testing of pregnant women depends on their ancestry, etc.
I think academia is much more politically correct than the medical profession.
There’s a pretty big gap between what doctors tell the public and what they tell each other.
There’s a nation wide, low profile, supposedly secure internet forum in Finland for doctors only. Identities are checked by a reliable system involving official registries. For some reason it’s used mostly by senior doctors, many in higher positions, who happen to know each other, didn’t grow with the internet and seem to have discussions with no regard to public image whatsover. Political mind kill seems to stand strong there, and some opinions regarding culture, nationality, race, religion and so on are interesting to say the least from the perspective of political correctness. Even the N-word and the R-word seem to be used quite liberally. Needless to say the same people are masters of PR at their day job.
Note that if it is a site for doctors from Finland then the ‘N-word’ use is still shocking but far less shocking than if it were in the United States. “Bad words” are actually an example of pure social constructs and second-hand arbitrary negative associations can be expected to be weaker than first hand arbitrary negative associations. (And if it were a forum in China it would mean even less.)
Does Finland have a political correctness problem? The Swedish minority is perfectly fine, and the Russians come and (having bought everything in sight) go. Are there a lot of third-world immigrants?
Well, Finland is next to Sweden which is notorious for taking political correctness to totalitarian levels.
Sweden has a very strong element of conformism in its national culture.
You could be right. Now I’m more curious.
My point is that the human population doesn’t divide neatly into discrete categories called “races”. There are of course genetic differences, but human variation is a continuum. The way people decide boundaries between races is an arbitrary social one.
Sorites paradox. Heaps exist regardless.
Heaps can be said to exist because of vagueness in the definition of what precisely makes something a heap. Race is the same way, which is why it is a social construct.
I’m not saying that “heap” and “race” are not useful terms. They do correlate with actual differences, but they are social constructs because they are convenient simplifications to help us describe phenomena.
Also, in case you’re wondering, the reason I didn’t object to “mixed race” being treated as a race wasn’t because I thought mixed-race people are genetically distinct enough to be put in a separate category, but because the phrasing in the survey (asking about what we identify as, not to mention including “Hispanic” as an option) implies that the survey-writers are mainly interested in race as an indicator of self-identity and/or culture rather than genetics. Race is still a social construct even when you use a cultural/identity definition, for reasons that might be more obvious. This was a definition I had in mind (alongside the biological one) when I said “race is a social construct anyway”. By default I do tend to use the biological definition though, simply because this is what most people seem to do, e.g. an Asian girl adopted as a baby and raised by whites in an all-white community is still considered Asian.
Also, “other” isn’t necessarily going to feel like a satisfactory answer for all of us. Including “mixed race” as an option to a race question is like including “atheism” as a result to a religion question. Atheism is not technically a religion, but it’s nice to include an option to account for it anyway. The data wouldn’t be as informative otherwise.
If “heap” is a social construct, so is all language, basically, and then everything is a social construct. Sigh.
Maybe this will help—hot off the bit presses:
Plus, you might be interested in the wonderfully named Troll’s Truisms:
It is true that all language is socially constructed, but I was trying to draw attention to how “race” is especially subjective. Many linguistic terms are much more precise. A “species” for example refers to related individuals who reproduce among themselves, producing viable offspring. There is still some room for ambiguity, but it is less than what you get with “race”. Besides, what’s wrong with the idea that all language is socially constructed? It is possible to believe that without falling prey to the fallacy of grey.
I would personally prefer to use the term “better informed” rather than “more real”. Hypothetically, if both theories turned out to be completely false, and supposing we learned of that but still had no idea what the actual truth was, it wouldn’t be certain which of them is more “real”, but it would be relatively clearer which one had stronger evidence supporting it at the time. To give a different example, if we knew that one of the two theories is 100% true but aren’t told which one it is, it would be reasonable for us to think it is far more likely to be the theory based on scientific evidence (i.e. the theory that actually aligns with the scientific definition of a theory as being a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena:).
Right conclusion, wrong reason. (The first sentence strikes me as incorrect all by itself. I could still call certain things heaps even if I had a sharp definition of a heap.) Race is a social construct because genetic data underdetermine racial categories.
Expanding: although knowledge of human population structure rules out (or at least makes implausible) many potential racial classifications, many other classifications are compatible with it. Therefore an analyst has lots of latitude to decide which genetic differences between groups constitute races.
(The continuousness/blurriness of human genetic variation is mostly a red herring, though it does sharpen the under-determination issue and make it more obvious.)
Sorry, what I meant was, “Heaps as they are currently defined can be said to exist because of vagueness in the definition of what precisely makes something a heap.” They can also be said to not exist because of vagueness in the definition of what precisely makes something a heap. However, it is extremely difficult if not impossible for any definition to have absolutely no ambiguity at all, and even if that was possible, language can still be considered a social construct in the sense that linguistic terms are constructed socially. Vague terms have an extra layer of social construction though, because rather than just giving a term to a phenomenon, they also introduce a simplification. This makes the constructed aspect more obvious. I guess I didn’t word my above quote very well, since I didn’t mention that the social construction of all language itself is also enough to make “heaps” a social construct.
That too sounded confusing/wrong to me on a first reading, but are you saying that because the definition of a heap is vague, there are multiple feasible definitions of a heap, so some people (using one definition) would call a candidate heap a heap and other people (using another definition) would say it isn’t a heap? (Assuming I’ve paraphrased you correctly, I think my formulation is clearer.) I’d agree with that.
Almost all terms introduce a simplification, not just the vague ones. Vagueness does often make social construction more obvious, but for a more mundane reason than simplification: vague terms have a wider array of meanings than non-vague terms, so people are more likely to notice the multiplicity of ways to define a term when it’s vague.
Not that they are necessarily using multiple definitions, but the common definitions themselves do not specify an exact range in quantity in which a cluster of things could be considered a heap. Two people could disagree about whether something is a heap despite using the same vague definition of “heap”. They may be comparing the candidate heap relative to things that they have experienced being called heaps in the past. I suppose you could still treat this as being a difference in their personal definitions of “heap”. However, I don’t think that if pressed to define “heap”, that people would be likely to state an explicit quantity range. They would most likely give vague qualitative definitions. The same person may even use inconsistent definitions at different times or forget to include certain aspects that they would consider to be important defining characteristics. People don’t normally think in terms of definitions when classifying things. They usually just classify based on what feels correct, and definitions are after-the-fact attempted explanations of their classifications.
Doesn’t the introduction of a simplification itself give a term some vagueness, because then you don’t know the details of the relevant characteristic, just a qualitative judgment? For “heaps”, the simplification is one that keeps the exact quantity obscured while providing a qualitative description instead. Even if you had a different quantity term that, unlike “heap”, didn’t have fuzzy boundaries, it could still be considered vague in a different sense if multiple quantities could fulfill its definition (assuming an exact quantity really did exist in reality). It would certainly at least be considered somewhat ambiguous. For example, the category “integers” has seemingly clear boundaries, but calling an unknown number an integer is still vague if it doesn’t express all the relevant information.
Yes, terms can be vague in that way too.
Ahhh, I think I understand. Yes, that makes sense.
Yes, although (as you suggest) that’s a different kind of vagueness: vagueness as a definition’s inclusiveness vs. vagueness as uncertainty about the definition itself.
Beware The Fallacy Of The .
You’re ignoring the part where I said human variation is a continuum. The fallacy of grey is where people deny the existence of the continuum.
Also, I did mention evidence about people’s varying definitions of the “white race” to illustrate how people do in fact use arbitrary social reasons to decide the boundaries between races.
So, let me repeat. Are you sure doctors (of the medical kind) agree?
It depends on how much they’ve thought about it. For instance, consider the “white race”. A neo-Nazi on Stormfront would likely say that “white” refers only to people of 100% European ancestry, excluding Jews. On the other extreme, some people use it interchangeably with “Caucasian”, which, according to its dictionary definition, refers to people of European, North African, Middle Eastern, or Indian ancestry.
Maybe the problem is with terminology. Let’s taboo “race” and talk about “gene pools” or “genetic clusters”. Will you still say that these are not useful concepts?
I never said race wasn’t a useful concept. I specifically said in my earlier post: .
I think my initial post that started this discussion may have been a source of misunderstanding. When I called race a social construct, I wasn’t trying to say that race is a useless concept, but instead indicate that it could be useful as a cultural/identity concept. Initially when I talked about “mixed race” and “Hispanic” not technically being races, I was defining race according to the mainstream definition that treats race as a genetically distinct group of people, since that is my default. However, during the part where I talked about how Hispanics are often treated as if they were a race, I was undergoing a shift toward thinking about race as a cultural identity regardless of genetics, which then led me to the statement that race is a social construct. I meant it in a similar way to what people mean when they say that gender is a social construct. When people say that, they’re not implying that gender is a useless concept, but that it is a personal subjective choice of identity. Significantly, I then spent the rest of my post talking about race as a personal choice of identity.
The idea that gender is a social construct is a pretty uncontroversial one, as far as I can tell. People seem to be somewhat less likely to say the same thing about race though, probably because “race” as a cultural term doesn’t have a satisfactory parallel term to refer to biology the way “gender” has “sex”. It didn’t matter for me in practice though. I thought of race as a social construct regardless of whether it was approached from a biological or cultural perspective, which is why I didn’t feel a need to distinguish between the two in my statement. However, subsequent comments drawing attention to its biological validity (e.g. would doctors agree?) pushed me to address my point underlying my passive implication that the biological aspect is also a social construct, which then skews the discussion in a way that buries much of my original meaning. The social construction of race as a biological concept is not itself adequate to explain why I would support including non-genetic race answers to a race question, but the social construction of race as a subjective personal identity is.
Earlier I was wondering why my comments were getting downvoted. What could possibly be so controversial about the idea that human genetic variation is a continuum, or that linguistic terms are socially constructed? Now I can see that if these are interpreted as if they are supposed to be arguments in support of including non-genetic answers to a race question or a lack of average differences between races, they might seem like bad arguments, but I wasn’t intending them to support those premises, and I didn’t think that people would think I was intending them to.
Part of the reason is that if you restrict to the population of the United States they are (more-or-less) a separate genetic cluster. (Yes, that cluster doen’t perfectly correspond to the official definition of Hispanic but a better term doesn’t exist).
Only because anyone who dares to point out the obvious truth that it isn’t gets called a “sexist transphobe” and unfit for polite society.
Well, I wasn’t restricting to the population of the United States. Anyway, race is still a socially constructed identity. This is apparent with mixed-race people who often identify with one race more than another based on how they were raised, how they look, how other people identify them, and whether they act more like a stereotypical member of one of their races than another. The race they identify most with might not be the one that makes up the largest proportion in their ancestry.
My understanding is that gender is specifically used to refer to the socially constructed identities. Biological sex differences get lumped under sex rather than gender, which is why people can believe in the social construct of gender while also believing that biology contributes in some degree to stereotypical gender roles. I’m not an expert on gender though, so I should probably leave it to someone else to debate you on this point.
Is the term “Hispanic” even used outside the US and places imitating the US?
That’s the claim made by “gender theorists”. In practice it’s used to refer to any sex differences they can claim to be socially constructed without seeming completely ridiculous. Nearly all of said differences are almost certainly largely biological.
It’s used on the Survey (which is how this discussion ever sprang up in the first place) even though non-Americans also take it. (What will Spaniards pick? I’m gonna go check what they did last year… EDIT: three picked “White (non-Hispanic)”, one picked “White (Hispanic)” and one picked “Other”, so they mostly went by the de facto definition rather than the official one.)
(IIRC I once classified myself as “Latin” on some kind of survey because I assumed it referred to anyone with Romance-speaking ancestry.)
Because Yvain is imitating US usage.
I know. But people outside the US also take the survey, so your “if you restrict to the population of the United States” upthread doesn’t apply.
Took the survey! Even the digit ration thing! I hope enough people did that for it to be useful.
I really like the calibration questions and would like to see more of them.
Where were the questions on things like Newcomb’s paradox?
I’d like the option to enter (rough) confidence intervals, and I’d think they’d be useful for analysis.
Why not expand the survey? People could always leave stuff out that they don’t want to answer.
Took the survey. Thanks for the karma, everyone.
Finished the survey! I’m curious to see what the results will be. Finding my digit ratio was interesting. I expected crazier questions.
When I first saw that there was going to be a digit ratio question, my first thought was that the survey was going to ask us to estimate our digit ratios, estimate our confidence in our estimates, and then measure the true ratios to see how far off we were. :P
I definitely want to see the results! For reference, 2013: http://lesswrong.com/lw/jj0/2013_survey_results/
I wonder if we could get a chart with the data matched up over time? Chart community changes over time?
Count me surveyed.
Took the survey! That last one was a hard because I didn’t have a ruler :( Also, out of curiosity—has anyone ever had the same Public and Private key before?
Yes, last year. I expect with 75% confidence that it will happen again this year.
Survey completed! Making a note here: Huge success!
Uh, did the survey a few days ago. Bit late to the punch, I suppose.
The ritual has been completed. I await my karmic reword, as per tradition.
There was a lot of good variance in the calibration questions (for me), so nice job thinking of them! Gur ivqrb tnzr dhrfgvba va cnegvphyne fhecevfrq zr jura V ybbxrq hc gur nafjre, nf rira nf n uhtr Zvarpensg sna V unqa’g ernyvmrq vg orng bhg frpbaq cynpr ol 3 zvyyvba.
Also, in a fit of needless cleverness, I made my public key decryptable (by my private key) into a plaintext message that works as an extra layer of identification in the case that I win the money.
Did it! Even the digit ratio question! (which is why I am taking it relatively late)
Unsurprisingly, my digit ratio is pretty feminine (0.969 averaged over both hands).
Could I suggest posting a link to the survey in Discussion as well? I hardly ever check Main any more, and I don’t think I’m the only one.
I took the survey.
For the first time I did it!
And want to thank the person who included “homemaker” in occupations list.
I took the whole thing! That’s two years in a row.
Done, and I did many (but not all) of the extra credit questions.
Did the survey. Mischief managed.
I completed the survey.
Without an accompanying glossary, my formulation consistently lurked in the critical analysis of the question. At one point I laughed under my breath pondering which resource would rusticate alternative interpretations. A modern Attorney, or Socrates himself!
My house is currently: me, wife, daughter, sister, another sister, mother, father. I put “with partner and/or children”, but that doesn’t seem like a good fit.
This makes me feel like I should have an IQ number to put here? Is that a thing people usually have?
I used a picture of my hand. We’re just going for ratios, so that should be fine, and it’s a lot easier.
Maybe there should be an ‘extended family’ option.
Only if you’re sure your hand is perpendicular to the line of sight of your camera (and not too close to it), otherwise you might get foreshortening effects.
Yes, the key thing being perspective. Simple angling is fine, because we just care about ratios, but the closer your hand is to the lens the more angling will distort the measurement through perspective.
Took the survey—looking forward to the results!
Took the survey! Glad to help out.
Completed. Look forward to the results.
And… done. I would like to point out that X-Risk question may be confusing when skimming. P(X-Risk) looks as if it were asking for probability of catastrophe coming to pass, but the explanations spells out that the probability of humanity successfully avoiding catastrophe should be entered.
Survey taken. I agree with others’ points re: the potential inaccuracy of the BSRI, although I also presume that if most other people are considering the fact that their interactions with partners / lovers is dramatically different than those with strangers / colleagues, much of the error in the test will be filtered out. For future tests, it may be helpful to put a qualification on the LW part of the test, asking people to self-identify whether they were taking an average of all interactions, or mostly using those with SOs, etc.
Completed survey less annoying question that required using an annoying scanner that makes annoying noises (I am feeling annoyed). Almost skipped it, but realized that the attitudes of ex-website-regulars might be of interest.
I have taken the survey, including the digit ratio question.
Since there was a box to be included in the SSC survey, I just a little bit disappointed there wasn’t a question for favourite SSC post to go with the favourite LessWrong post question.
Did the survey, except digit ratio due to lack of precision measuring devices.
As for feedback, I had some trouble interpreting a few of the questions. There were some times when you defined terms like human biodiversity, and I agreed with some of the claims in the definition but not others, but since I had no real way to weight the claims by importance it was difficult for me to turn my conclusions into a single confidence measurement. I also had no idea weather the best-selling computer game question was supposed to account for inflation or general growth of the videogame market, nor whether we were measuring in terms of copies sold or revenue earned or something else entirely, nor whether console games or games that “sell” for 0$ counted. I ended up copping out by listing a game that is technically included in a bit of software I knew sold very well for its time (and not for free), but the software was not sold as a computer game.
Also, a weird thing happened with the calibration questions When I was very unsure which of a large number of possible answers was correct, and especially if I wasn’t even sure how many possible answers there were, I found myself wanting to write an answer that was obviously impossible (like writing “Mars” for Obama’s birth state) and putting a 0 for the calibration. I didn’t actually do this, but it sure was tempting.
Took the survey. As usual, immense props to Yvain for the dedication and work he puts into this.
Done. Though I feel guilty about skipping a few of the more involved questions.
I did the survey.
I felt that I had to leave blank some of the questions that ask for a probability number, because no answer that complies with the instructions would be right. For instance, I consider the “Many Worlds” hypothesis to be effectively meaningless, since while it does describe a set of plausible alleged facts, there is, as far as I know, no possible experiment that could falsify it. (“Supernatural” is also effectively meaningless, but for a different reason: vagueness. “Magic”, to me, describes only situations where Clarke’s Third Law applies. And so forth.)
I would like to participate in a deeper discussion of the idea of the Singularity, but don’t know if that’s welcome on LW. I want to attack the idea on several levels: (1) the definition of it, which may be too vague to be falsifiable; (2) the definition of intelligence—I don’t think we’re talking about a mere chess-playing computer, but it’s not clear to me whether Minsky’s criteria are sufficient; (3) if those first two points are somehow nailed down, then I’m not at all sure that a machine intelligence is desirable, and certainly I’d hesitate to connect one to hardware with enough abilities that the revolution in “I, Robot” becomes possible; and (4) if such a change does happen, I would prefer, and I think most people would insist, that it happen relatively slowly to give everyone then alive time to cope with the change, thus making it not really a singularity in the mathematical sense.
(I do like the transhumanist notion that humans should feel free to modify our own hardware individually, but I don’t see that as necessarily connected with a Singularity, and I don’t use the jargon of transhumanism for the same reason I avoid the jargon of anarchism when talking politics—it scares people needlessly.)
I left both MIRI questions blank because I don’t know who or what MIRI is.
Re. The Great Stagnation: This theory asserts that we are in an economic stall, if you will, because of a lack of innovation, and is set against the assertion of a “Great Divergence” in which rising income inequality and globalization are to blame for the stall. I didn’t answer because I consider both views to be baloney—we are in an economic stall because of unnecessary and crony-driven overregulation, much of it done in the name of the misguided green and “social justice” movements.
I didn’t do the finger length questions; not sure what “the bottom crease” is, or maybe I don’t have them. (Do you mean the crease at the base of the fingers, or one farther down on the hand?)
Re. feminism, I answered based on what I believe the current use of the term is, which is not at all like the definition on Wikipedia. Wikipedia calls it more or less pro-equality and I support that, but the current usage is more like “social justice” and that whole concept is complete hooey.
You should be able to find a lot of info about the Singularity (and proposed ways to influence its outcome) in MIRI publications and LW posts. If you want to have further discussions about the Singularity you can comment below the relevant LW posts.
It’s supposed to refer to the crease at the base of the fingers.
Why was I downvoted? Was that from you, jdgalt? Were you hoping to have the Singularity discussion here instead of below another post? If so that wasn’t clear to me from your above comment, since you were asking about whether it was welcome on LW, and you seemed to be going off on a tangent (particularly with your latter two points). Also, you didn’t seem like you possessed much of the background knowledge regarding intelligence explosion and friendly/unfriendly AI, so I thought you would find it helpful for me to point you toward some relevant sources that might answer your questions, not to mention provide more general information on the topic. Of course, if you’re not interested in general information I’d be willing to address your specific questions.
Sorry, I’m not trying to be confrontational, I just want to understand what I did wrong so that I can better improve the quality of my comments, as well as clear up any misunderstandings.
It seems that I was the one who downvoted you, but now I don’t remember why. I’ve retracted it for now, since I don’t see anything wrong with the comment. May have just been a clicking error.
I agree with this position, and it was apparently controversial on the LW-TelAviv mailing list.
You really ought to back that up.
I’m not sure what I could post here that would back that up: it requires some economics knowledge. I can refer you to good economics blogs such as Marginal Revolution and Cafe Hayek, or to Mises’ Human Action.
It was MR that sent me here to LW in the first place.
Austrianism and “economics knowledge” do not go together. Science is built on empiricism, not on deliberately ignoring data because your ideology tells you there can be no empirical examination of human beings.
I am sorry, and on which basis do you make sweeping claims about schools of economic thought?
On the meaningless of MWI, you may find this post useful. It cleared up a lot of points for me.
It didn’t do much for me :-(
If there’s no way for me to figure out whether there’s a chocolate cake inside of the Sun or not, then I might as well assume there’s no cake, because this makes the math easier. I see MWI vs. no MWI the same way, but apparently that’s the wrong answer...
What about the question of whether something not in your light cone still exists?
Also, assuming something to make the math easier does not mean that it is meaningless. It may have little utility to calculate it if your utility function only counts things that affect you physically, although you’d still need the general rules for priors for things that can only be tested long term but influence decisions made short term.
I think I see what you are trying to say, but I don’t think the Boltzmann Cake Theory is comparable to Many Worlds.
In the Boltzmann Cake case, it may be impossible to physically test the theory (though I don’t conclusively assume so—there could well be some very subtle effect on the Sun’s output that would facilitate such a test), but the question of fact it raises is still of objective fact.
But the truth or falsity of the Many Worlds Theory can only exist in a reference frame which spans the entire conceptual space in which the many worlds would have to coexist. And I don’t believe such a frame can exist. The very fabric of logic itself requires a space-time in which to exist; without one (or extending beyond one) its very postulates become open to doubt.
How real is the research on digit ratio? (On bogus statistics-based research see, for example: http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21588057-scientists-think-science-self-correcting-alarming-degree-it-not-trouble).
In any case, can you please explain how you plan to use digit ratio data?
I, too, took the survey. (And promptly forgot to claim my karma; oh well.)
Done. Foof that was long…
Also, concerning the psychological states. I was diagnosed with a certain something, but the results were largely inconclusive. Chose “was diagnosed”.
From what people have said, it seems that after the survey was posted a new question was added about our favorite LW post. Were there any others?
(Posted as a top-level comment at the request of TobyBartels)
I also filled in the survey! Hurrah for laboureous data gathering.
My only two comments are one I made on that post inviting lurkers to post and this one, but I did take last years survey for what it’s worth. Though I don’t recall my answers to last year’s survey, I suspect they line up pretty well with this year’s. I wonder if there’s any potential in the data to track how respondents answers change over time.
A lot of people seem to have had some trouble with measuring digit ratio. I tried the scanner method, but the fingertips were too far away from the scanner bed to be in focus. I also had a transparent plastic bag between my hand and the scanner, to avoid leaving a handprint on the plate, which probably didn’t help. So I used a ruler instead. Which I would have used to measure the scan anyway, so why go via the scan?
Completed. I’m concerned that the “mixed” options for religious background are concealing meaningful demographic information. For instance, my parents are of Christian and Jewish parentage, so I chose the “mixed” option because I do not consider my cultural heritage to be predominantly Jewish or Christian. A person with Hindu and Muslim parents would have the same answer, but a very different cultural background. Perhaps in future it might be better to use a “check all that apply” format?
I took the survey and answered every question. As usual, I found my ability to correctly answer the calibration questions comically bad . . . but hopefully well calibrated.
Took the survey, and it made me realize I’d never bothered to register an account here before now. The situation has been corrected.
Done, but I’m afraid the fingertip measurements were not very precise
Partial success. I meant to fill in the survey completely, but my internet froze at calibration question 5. In an attempt to revive it, I pressed Enter, which resulted in submission of the incomplete survey. Now what ?
Take it again, and report here (which you pretty much already did) that there is an incomplete survey submitted just before or just after calibration question 5, and it should not be counted.
ETA: Not that I know what you’re officially supposed to do, but that’s what many people so far did do.
The political ideology question seems to equate libertarian with libertarian capitalist, and communist with totalitarian There’s no option for libertarian communism/socialism.
Also, the moral philosophy question seems to assume one believes moral questions have truth values. “None” isn’t given as a choice.
“None” is presumably included in “Other”, though next year it should probably be a separate option.
There were ‘left-libertarian’ and ‘anarchist’.
True, but from the definitions I found on this site, those aren’t quite the same.
The first option reads “Moral statements don’t express propositions and can neither be true nor false.” I’m curious what else you wanted. The second clause without the first?
That looks like an oxymoron to me.
It looks that way to you because you either don’t know what libertarianism is or don’t know what communism and socialism are (or both).
Of course, that’s too snarky. But people (particularly in the USA, less so in Europe) often don’t understand the breadth of these positions. In the 19th century (defining people by the words they used to describe themselves), most libertarians were socialists, and many socialists were libertarians. While the main branches of both movements have grown apart, there are still people who identify as both.
Anyway, you should look it up.
Too snarky is OK. The problem is that it’s wrong :-P
In the XIX century libertarians didn’t exist. Do you mean the anarcho-socialist cluster—Kropotkin, Bakunin, anarcho-syndicalists and such? Yes, they tried to meld individual freedom with collectivism and were popular for a while. But I would argue that their basic approach was incoherent and they pretty clearly have failed. While both contemporary communistm/socialism and libertarianism might point to them as historical predecessors, I doubt either would be willing to embrace them fully.
I’m talking about the people who called themselves libertarians in the 19th century. The libertarian socialists of today are their intellectual descendents. They exist, and they invented the word ‘libertarian’ (in a political context), and there is no use pretending that they aren’t real or that it makes no sense to apply that word to them.
OK, I take back my original comment. While I still don’t think “libertarian communism/socialism” is a coherent framework or a meaningful expression nowadays, clearly some people prefer that name for their own political philosophy and that’s fine. I guess “anarchists” has the wrong connotations ;-)
I took the survey. I was reminded by Brienne’s post today at Facebook. Thanks for running the survey.
Did the entire survey in the nick of time.
I’m very thankful for the humiliating experience of racking my brain to come up with plausible sounding reasons for why the answers to the calibration questions should be one thing or another, trying to lower my certainties so that I felt that surely I couldn’t be falling for that old overconfidence bias again, finishing the survey, and looking up the answers on wikipedia afterwards. Now that we have ten widely different questions I really can’t rationalize setting Russia as the fourth most populated country with 55% subjective certainty.
At least I got the darn norse god right.
Taken. Thanks go out to Brienne for posting about it on FB!
Nine of the questions ask which of various options you “identify with”: country, race, gender, political category, moral philosophy, political category (subdivided), effective altruism, gender again, and meta-ethics. I am unclear about this concept, and for the purpose of making a choice, mentally replaced it by respectively “reside in long-term”, “are”, “are”, “believe”, etc. Would such rephrasings have changed anyone’s answers to any of the questions?
“Identify with” reminds me of the Discworld’s Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson, who is a six-foot-six human who “identifies as” a dwarf, and who is accepted as such by the dwarves, even though everyone, including him, knows he’s human. I don’t know Terry Pratchett’s thinking behind the character, but Carrot strikes me as a reductio ad absurdum of the concept.
I don’t think it’s a reductio. Actually, I think it’s almost the opposite; one of Pratchett’s usual schticks is drawing up exaggerated social and political concepts that look absurd on their faces but later turn out to make internal sense. Looked at in that light, it’s pretty clear what’s going on: Carrot isn’t phenotypically a dwarf, but he’s culturally a dwarf, and he’s accepted as such by Pratchett’s dwarves because, to them, dwarvishness is less about being short and beardy and more about the culture. Wearing mail to dinner, being intimately familiar with mine engineering, baking bread that doubles as an assault weapon, et cetera. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect the situation Pratchett had in mind was something like being adopted into a religious group normally associated with another ethnicity: his dwarves very often play on religious and traditional themes.
As Pratchett’s developed Discworld’s dwarvish culture more, this has started to make less sense, but the series isn’t particularly good at long-term thematic continuity.
Carrot and Vimes, The Fifth Elephant.
In short, Carrot’s genetics play only a minor part in his sense of identity; he is genetically human but culturally dwarf, and thus in most situations he counts as both.
“Identifying with” something or “Identifying As” something has an explicit meaning to me, which is that it is something I would call myself. Some of this may come from training and industry I’m in, but it’s what you think of yourself as.
For instance, someone who doodles occasionally may or may not identify “as an artist”, but anyone who paints professionally almost certainly identifies as an artist. Someone who paints regularly as a hobby probably identifies as an artist; the doodler may be more idle about it and not really think of it as being an essential quality of self: It is something that person does, not something that person is.
From such lines of thinking come statements such as, “Ich bin ein Berliner.”—http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ich_bin_ein_Berliner
There are probably plenty of people who paint walls who don’t identify as artists.
And, despite this entire comments section, there are some LessWrongers who don’t identify as pedants!
Almost everyone below a certain age plays video/computer games, but only a small subset of those people would self-identify as “gamers.”
You exercise, but do you think of yourself as an “athlete”? You lift weights, but do you think of yourself as a “weightlifter”?
You are married, but is “spouse” a core part of your identity? You have reproduced, but is “parent” part of your core identity?
The spouse enters.
It better be.
The spouse exits.
I see, I think. It does not seem to be something that I do. For example, I play taiko regularly as a hobby, but if someone asked, “but do you identify as a taiko player”, my reaction would be “wuh?”
Going off on a tangent, how fixed or malleable is this mental experience? Has anyone who does “identify with” this or that tried as a meditative exercise, experimentally identifying with other things instead?
FYI I don’t think your view matches Pratchett’s intention (which of course doesn’t make you wrong). At one point Vimes (I think) asks Carrot about this, and Carrot replies that having dwarves for parents has never been a dwarfish definition of being a dwarf.
Ultimately the sensitivity of these question comes from the fear of hidden inferences—the concern that when you say Carrot is not a dwarf, you’re implying that it’s wrong for him to observe dwarfish customs. I suppose you have the equal and opposite worry, that once we start calling Carrot a dwarf we’ll build him a house with four-foot ceilings?
Another job for taboo.
Did the whole thing!
I did the survey! I decided to say I didn’t believe in god, even though I think there’s a high probability of the universe being a simulation, because I don’t count a simulation as supernatural. Supernatural is something that requires the universe to be non-reductionist, in my opinion.
Also found that my finger lengths are symmetrical across both hands to the limit of my ability to measure with a ruler. (Calipers might reveal differences, but I don’t have access to those.) I did suspect this level of symmetry, but I didn’t know until I measured them, so thanks!
Survey completed. Some of the questions are ambiguous.
“How many children do you have?” I find this question problematic each year. Biological offspring? Custodial children?
“What is your approximate annual income in US dollars?” Personal income? Household income?
“Gender Default” I wanted something like a Likert scale here. I would not say I would feel “wrong,” “creeped out,” or “freaked out” by switching genders, but I would even less say that I “identify with their birth gender only because they see no reason to go through the hassle and social stigma of transitioning,” which also seems qualitatively different than “a man who would be happy as either a man or a woman, but since they’re a man, they stay a man.” The question sets us a dichotomy that may not be so much false as a mild category error, sort of like “which one of you is the fork?”
Third time starting the survey, first time finishing it!
Did the survey. I’m not terribly interested in karma, but if you feel the need to upvote, then upvote away.
One answer I gave that may confuse—I put “atheist” down under “other” for my religion, because I do believe that a) atheism is properly defined as an active belief in the lack of god(s), b) I hold this belief, c) there can be no actual direct evidence for this belief, and d) being a belief about the nature of god(s)(or lack thereof) is sufficient to make something a religion.
(Oddly, I also put 5% down as my probability of there being a god, but this is mostly because the definition is a superset of the simulation hypothesis, and I don’t regard a big computer as being a god in any sense we use the term to mean)
Also, I didn’t have a digit ratio precise enough to put down, but it seems to be almost exactly 1, possibly slightly higher. (I am unambiguously male, which makes me wonder if my methodology is bad)
Not sure if your’re countersignaling, but if you aren’t, why mention it?
Regarding karma? Because I’m not a big fan of karma whoring, and I don’t want to feel like I’m just posting to get free upvotes. It feels unearned. I wanted to post to make an actual point, without feeling like I was going to get +50 votes just for breathing.
I’d consider partaking in the survey worthy of positive reinforcement, but I’d agree that the average karma award a bit out of proportion. Regardless I think it’s a rather interesting phenomena to dislike getting karma.
Also I realized that my previous comment may have been unintentionally hostile. I mean, suppose that you indeed did countersignal, then my comment could be interpreted as a challenge to your genuinity. I hope it’s clear that I intend to be game theoretically nice, but I’m really uncertain how to accomplish that in a such situation.
What definition of the Singularity did you use for the question about when you think the Singularity is likely?
I think I used the one about the future becoming incomprehensible.
I’m pretty sure you could get an incomprehensible future by increasing everyone’s IQ by 40 points (I know, it’s a vague concept) and this might be easier than AI.
I did the thing!
I took the survey, now give me my ~40 upvotes.
(is the free karma just an incentive to take the survey? or do 45 people really think that commenting that you took the survey is a valuable contribution to the discussion?)
Where’s the number 45 coming from here?
First-time taker! Shorter than I expected. Hope I did the digity thing right…
Man, I’m late this year. Taken. To save my index finger, just upvoted everyone who took it in November :)
Next time, the “supernatural” question really needs to just link to the Sequence post defining the word.
I’ve read the sequences. I still don’t think the concept is clearly defined.
I think the intuitive surface reading of that post (supernatural objects are black boxes; they have state, but are denied to have internal structure that implements the state) at least makes it clear that simulators are not “supernatural” under this definition. Which is the actual query people were blocking on. But evidently many people read the post differently.
Amen. Maybe we should just use a different wording. Thinking a thing is supernatural seems incompatible with believing it exists in most common uses (though yes, we all can contrive counterexample)
I have taken the survey, and can’t wait to see the results on the calibration questions. Post-hoc self-assessment suggests I have a long way to go...
I was oh-so-tempted to enter “Over 9000!” in there.
As of this moment, you have exactly 10000. Good job! (Thanks in part to whoever downvoted your comment here.)
I was slightly late, unfortunately, but filled out the whole thing anyway.
Was anybody else disappointed that the Sex Role Inventory wasn’t nearly as raunchy as the name suggested?
I was pretty happy about that, actually.
Took the survey—now going to give some people karma
Hey, this year I was able to answer some of the calibration questions! Three yays for norse mythology.
Also apparently I’m a weird person.
I took the survey.
Did anyone else fall on the borderline for some of these questions? I was in a weird space for the one about whether you ever had a relationship with someone else from LW (they introduced me to LW).
On November 2, I wrote: “Partial success. I meant to fill in the survey completely, but my internet froze at calibration question 5. In an attempt to revive it, I pressed Enter, which resulted in submission of the incomplete survey. Now what ?” I received recommendation to take the survey again and report the unfinished one as something to be discarded. So now I finally took the full survey. To avoid duplicity, please discard an old incomplete survey finished at calibration question 5, from someone who lives in Slovakia, attended 2013 “full” minicamp and reported that time carma of cca 174.
Btw., the definition of feminism ”...establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women” makes it a movement I endorse, but I am not sure the definition accurately describes what happened to it.
I did the survey (while I was still a lurker).
I think the question on P(God) is a lot more difficult to answer than the surveyors realize. We’re all cognizant of the possibility of the known universe being a simulation, a machine constructed by some intelligent entity in a higher level universe*. Some of us consider the probability of the scenario Simulation to be high, if not absolute for reasons I wont go into here.
Many of us are define “natural” as “happened in reality”, thus they define “supernatural” as “did not happen”. Those may rightfully assign literal 0 to P(God), that is a statement as sure as the axioms of the logic you formulate it in. The rest of us, though, those of us who believe that all words should by virtue of their existence have a use, have to think a bit more. If “Supernatural” means anything, I’d be surprised if anyone here bears a definition that does not render Simulation equivalent to the scenario God as God was defined in the survey.
To me, “Supernatural”, if you’re going to use it, could only mean “so mysterious as to be beyond being reasoned about or modelled”. The work of the simulator’s hand would definitely qualify as such, and so too would the simulator itself. Lo, a supernatural creator. God is reality.
FWIW, this line of reasoning comes up pretty regularly (especially in response to that survey question), so if the surveyors fail to realize the associated difficulties, it’s not through failure to have it pointed out. I suspect they realize it just fine.
For my own part, I just skip questions that I don’t know how to answer and move on.
Incidentally, LW has a preferred local understanding of “supernatural,” which derives from this post. That’s not to say everyone here thinks it’s a good definition—I don’t, for example—but it’s probably the best Schelling point to use when a shared understanding is important.
Continuing to complain about it may still have an effect though. I personally think they should post the definition they’re using for “supernatural” in the description for the question, maybe right below their current description.
Ah. Hardly incidental. I wish I’d known about that. I hold that the definition (if it belongs to anyone at all) belongs to those who self-identify as believers in the supernatural, this form feels far more like what I’d expect to find in their heads. Great clumbering atomic concepts that can’t be broken down to the stuff of ordinary reasoning.
For my own part, I try to avoid using words whose definitions are saliently ambiguous, and when I am listening to others do so I try as well as I can to understand what they mean to convey by using the phrase, and otherwise try to avoid getting too tangled up in questions of what ambiguous phrases really mean.
When it comes to “supernatural”… the people I listen to who (claim to) believe in the supernatural mostly just seem to be referring to events that aren’t explicable by or are inconsistent with modern scientific consensus beliefs. That is, it seems to be an epistemological category, not an ontological one.
And while it’s certainly possible to get into a whole discussion of whether any given event falls in that category or not, on a broader level it doesn’t matter much to the broader question of whether such events can occur. I mean, of course such events occur with regularity, since the modern scientific consensus at any given moment is always an incomplete (and to a lesser extent outright inaccurate) and evolving model of reality. I agree with that much completely.
They don’t, as far as I can tell, have any consistent beliefs one way or the other about whether ontologically basic mental entities are at the core of those events. For example, I have several friends who (claim to) believe that the spirits of dead people can manifest themselves physically in various contexts, but they have no more of a notion of whether those spirits are ontologically basic mental entities than I have of the mineral composition of Ceres.
Of course, there’s also a subset of those folks who argue that since scientific consensus is incomplete/inaccurate, they’re allowed to hold on to whatever explanations they’re most comfortable/familiar with, which frequently includes traditional occult legends and memes from various cultures. But that’s a fallacy of reasoning that seems entirely orthogonal to the question of what they mean by “supernatural.”
I somehow doubt that if it was suddenly discovered that cigarette smoking was good for your health, many people would refer to that as supernatural, even though that would be inconsistent with modern scientific consensus beliefs.
Supernatural under a definition which implies it cannot exist still has a use. The word is a useful label to talk about people’s beliefs; of course it’s possible to believe in things which cannot exist.
IIRC I gave the same answer for both for exactly this reason, but I might remember wrong and have just considered it.
I’m a bit unhappy about the options for metaethical positions. I object to the identification of non-cognitivism with emotivism, because if non-cognitivism is defined as the position that moral statements don’t have truth-values, then I’m a non-cognitivist, but I still hold that there are logical relationships between moral statements, and between moral and factual statements.
I suggested the metaethics question, and I’m sorry for any inadequacies in my descriptions. I used emotivism as the example for non-cognitivism because it’s the form of it with which I’m most familiar, and because it would’ve been difficult to come up with a general example that would encompass all forms of non-cognitivism.
It was similarly difficult to come up with a general example for constructivism—my example is along the lines of Hobbesian constructivism, with which other constructivists may disagree.
The formulation of the question didn’t quite make it clear that emotivism was just intended as an example for one possible non-cognitivist position. That’s what I objected to. As an example, it’s fine of course—it is, after all, the most well-known such position.
I was mostly irked that “the position from the Sequences” wasn’t an option (although I quite understand why you’d want to avoid parochial signalling), as neither your definition of subjectivist nor substantive realist seemed to capture it adequately. I eventually opted for the latter.
Can you expand on that? How do you have logical relationships among statements that don’t have truth-values?
If I think about it in abstract mathematical terms, just as a distance is a relationship between things (positions) that are not distances, one might set up a system in which implication is a truth-valued relationship between things that are not truth values, but I’ve never heard of such a system.
You can define a notion of logical consequence that isn’t preservation of truth and is therefore applicable to sentences that have no truth-values. For example, define a state as some sort of thing, define what it means for a sentence to be accepted in a state, and then define consequence as preservation of acceptance. But you still can’t identify acceptance with truth because you’ll have a separate notion of the truth which, in turn, is used in the definition of acceptance. It’s just that this notion of truth is only defined for some sentences of the language. (As a very simple case, say a state is a set of worlds, and a non-modal sentence φ is accepted in a state s iff φ is true in all worlds w in s.)
Mark Schröder and Seth Yalcin are two people on the philosophical side who defend modal expressivism with a semantics of that sort. On the more logico-linguistic side, there’s lots of Dutch people, for example Frank Veltman and Jeroen Groenendijk.
This depends on how you think about things (and what you count as a truth value), but arguably, ‘x = 3’ and ‘x² = 9’ do not have truth values, but ‘if x = 3, then x² = 9’ does.
I would say that “x=3” has a function from values of x to truth values, as does “if x = 3, then x² = 9″ (a constant function to the value “true”).
Sure, that’s one way to look at it. And a function from values of x to truth values is not itself a truth value. You may say that a constant function from values of x to the value True is not itself a truth value either, but it’s much closer (after all, you know which one it would be if it were one), so it’s a minor shift to your way of looking at it to get what I said.
Now consider ‘If x² = 9, then x = 3’. A lot of people would naturally want to label that False (at least if they remember about negative numbers). As a function from values of x to truth values, this is not constant (and in fact it assigns True to every real value of x except one), so this is not even the same way of looking at things as in my previous paragraph. But it’s common.
So if you want implication between non-truth-values to be a truth value consistently, then this is how I would do it.
That depends on the domain of x. That and the universal quantifier over its domain are typically omitted when they are clear from the context.
Yes, if we’re talking only about positive numbers, then ‘If x² = 9, then x = 3’ is true.
“Social democrat” and “liberal” have been given almost identical descriptions. Don’t know if that’s deliberate.
Duplicate comment, probably should be deleted.
I assume that TheAncientGeek has actually submitted the survey; in that case, their comment is “proof” that they deserve karma.
I did the survey.
I took the survey.
I failed to ask for this when the request for comments came up, but it would have been nice to get questions about people’s awareness/participation in the LWSH. Oh well, maybe next year.
I did the digit ratio question, but I am not sure if my datapoint is useful—I have arthritis in my fingers and I’m not sure if that warps the result.
Here are the answers to the calibration questions if anyone is curious (rot13):
Q: What is the largest single bone in the human body?
A: Gur srzhe (be guvtuobar) vf gur ybatrfg, urnivrfg, naq zbfg ibyhzvabhf obar va gur uhzna obql. Vg znxrf hc 26% bs na vaqvivqhny’f urvtug ba vgf bja. Gur gvovn (be fuvaobar) vf gur frpbaq ybatrfg, naq V pbhyqa’g svaq vasbezngvba ba gur frpbaq urnivrfg. Hapyrne vs gur cryivf pbhagf, orpnhfr gur cryivf vf znqr bs frireny obarf shfrq gbtrgure.
Q: In what US state was Barack Obama born?
A: Unjnvv. Gurer jnf na bqq pbafcvenpl gurbel gung Bonzn jnf npghnyyl obea va Xraln naq gung uvf Unjnvvna ovegu pregvsvpngr jnf snxrq.
Q: The Battle of Trafalgar was fought off the coast of which country?
A: Fcnva. Gur 1805 Onggyr bs Gensnytne jnf sbhtug whfg bss gur pbnfg bs Pncr Gensnytne, Fcnva. Gur Oevgvfu fbhaqyl qrsrngrq n pbzovarq Serapu naq Fcnavfu anil, ybfvat abg n fvatyr fuvc gb gurve 22. Vg jnf gur zbfg qrpvfvir aniny ivpgbel bs gur Ancbyrbavp Jnef.
Q: Who is the one-eyed chief god of Norse mythology, sometimes called “the All-Father”?
A: Bqva. Bqva vf gur Nyysngure bs gur Abefr Tbqf, naq gur ehyre bs Nftneq (juvpu pbagnvaf Inyunyyn). Ur tbhtrq bhg bar bs uvf rlrf va beqre gb qevax sebz gur Jryy bs Jvfqbz naq va qbvat fb tnva xabjyrqtr bs nyy guvatf.
Q: What is the last name of the famous scientist who received the Nobel Prize in 1932, which the prize committee described as being “for the creation of quantum mechanics”?
A: Urvfraoret. Jreare Urvfraoret jba gur 1932 Abory Cevmr va culfvpf sbe ‘gur perngvba bs dhnaghz zrpunavpf’, juvpu jnf npghnyyl njneqrq gb uvz va 1933 (gur Abory pbzzvggrr sryg gung ab 1932 cncref qrfreirq gur cevmr naq fb njneqrq gur 1932 njneq va 1933). Fbzr pbagebirefl rkvfgf nf gb jul Znk Obea qvq abg funer gur cevmr.
Q: What is the densest planet in the solar system?
A: Rnegu vf gur qrafrfg cynarg va gur fbyne flfgrz, jvgu n qrafvgl bs 5.51t/pz^3. Vg vf sbyybjrq ol Zrephel (5.43t/pz^3), Irahf (5.20t/pz^3), naq Znef (3.94t/pz^3). Fnghea vf gur yrnfg qrafr, ng 0.68t/pz^3 (vg pbhyq sybng va jngre).
Q: What famous Biblical figure had two wives named Rachel and Leah?
A: Wnpbo. Wnpbo gevrq gb zneel gur snezre tvey Enpury, ohg ba gur jrqqvat qnl Enpury’f sngure fjvgpurq ure jvgu ure fvfgre Yrnu naq Wnpbo vanqiregragyl zneevrq gur jebat tvey. Gur sngure nterrq gb yrg uvz zneel Enpury nf jryy vs Wnpbo jbexrq sbe uvz sbe na nqqvgvbany 7 lrnef, juvpu ur qvq. Wnpbo jrag ba gb sbhaq gur 12 gevorf bs Vfenry, znxvat uvz gur sngure bs gur Vfenryvgrf.
Q: What organelle, believed to be descended from ancient symbiotic intracellular bacteria, is sometimes called “the powerhouse of the cell”?
A: Zvgbpubaqevba (be zvgbpubaqevn). Gurfr cebqhpr raretl sbe gur pryy va gur sbez bs NGC naq ner gurbevmrq gb unir bapr orra vaqrcraqrag onpgrevn gung zretrq jvgu bgure pryyf va n flzovbgvp eryngvbafuvc. Guvf gurbel vf pnyyrq flzovbtravfvf.
Q: The three most populous countries in the world are China, India, and the United States. Which country is number four?
A: Vaqbarfvn, jvgu 252 zvyyvba crbcyr. Sbyybjrq ol Oenmvy (203 zvyyvba), Cnxvfgna (188 zvyyvba), naq Avtrevn (178 zvyyvba).
Q: What is the best-selling computer game of all time?
A: Zvarpensg, juvpu unf fbyq 17 zvyyvba pbcvrf. Jbeyq bs Jnepensg, Qvnoyb VVV, Unys-Yvsr 2, Fgnepensg, naq Gur Fvzf 3 unir nyy fbyq bire 10 zvyyvba pbcvrf.
Since Minesweeper comes with Windows, it easily beats Minecraft for “best selling game”.
Nobody actually buys Minesweeper, so I don’t think it counts as a bestselling game.
Having said this, the claims about the bestselling game of all time upthread sound wrong to me. The first game that came to mind, Wikipedia says this about it:
which handily beats Minecraft.
I suppose it comes down to whether Yvain was looking for the best selling video game of all time, or the best selling PC game of all time. ‘Computer game’ is a little ambiguous.
Ng nal engr, vg’f rvgure Grgevf be Zvarpensg qrcraqvat ba lbhe zrgevp. uggc://ra.jvxvcrqvn.bet/jvxv/Yvfg_bs_orfg-fryyvat_ivqrb_tnzrf
I was confused too. Not only by “did he mean video game?”, but also “how does he define sales?”.
I picked Super Mario Bros and called it a day.
I stated that all disputes would be resolved by Wikipedia, and here is Wikipedia’s verdict on the matter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_PC_games
The question in the survey is:
“computer game” != “PC game”
“computer game” == “PC game”
“video game” != “PC game”
Not in my usage of these terms, but YMMV, of course.
Why not this list?
Well the question did say computer game …
Which is different from PC games.
The contention that “‘computer games’, as defined by Wikipedia” is “PC games” is, of course, true.
However, did you deliberately intend that people who knew with high confidence Tetris was (by far) the best-selling game played on computers (as computers are defined by Wikipedia) would get caught by not knowing that Wikipedia redirects “computer game” to “PC game” rather than to “video game”?
V fhccbfr vg pbzrf qbja gb jurgure Linva jnf ybbxvat sbe gur orfg fryyvat ivqrb tnzr bs nyy gvzr, be gur orfg fryyvat CP tnzr bs nyy gvzr. ‘Pbzchgre tnzr’ vf n yvggyr nzovthbhf. Ng nal engr, vg’f rvgure Grgevf be Zvarpensg qrcraqvat ba lbhe zrgevp. uggc://ra.jvxvcrqvn.bet/jvxv/Yvfg_bs_orfg-fryyvat_ivqrb_tnzrf
Ner lbh fher nobhg guvf? Fbzr Tbbtyvat tvirf n znff nebhaq 260-300t sbe na nqhyg srzhe, pbzcnerq gb 1xt sbe n fxhyy, nygubhtu tenagrq abar bs gur uvgf V svaq frrz greevoyl fpubyneyl.
Abg fher ng nyy. Gur Jvxvcrqvn cntr sbe gur srzhe pynvzf vg vf gur zbfg znffvir obar va gur obql, ohg V pna’g svaq nal ahzoref ng nyy sbe gur fxhyy. Vg qbrfa’g frrz yvxr V pna svaq n oernxqbja bs n uhzna fxryrgba ol znff. N havirefvgl yvoenel zvtug or n orggre cynpr gb ybbx. Nygubhtu fgevpgyl fcrnxvat gur fxhyy vf pbzcevfrq bs frireny obarf shfrq gbtrgure, fb gung znl qvfdhnyvsl vg zhpu yvxr gur cryivf (vs Linva vf orvat gung grpuavpny nobhg vg).
Gur fheirl rkcyvpvgyl fnlf “fvatyr obar”, fb gur cryivf naq gur fxhyy qrsvavgryl qba’g pbhag.
Gur fxhyy vf hfhnyyl abg pbafvqrerq gb or n fvatyr obar, ab. Vg’f rnfl rabhtu gb tbbtyr “Ynetrfg obar”, naq gur nafjref ner pbafvfgrag.
That’s true, but I couldn’t find an actual medical source for bone proportions. Online, sites seem to repeat the ‘wikipedia comsensus’.
I have taken the survey, including all questions.
I took the survey, it was a good thing....
I took the survey.
Does “Magic Player” count as a non-English language?