2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey

by Scott Alexander1 min read22nd Nov 2013620 comments



It's that time of year again.

If you are reading this post, and have not been sent here by some sort of conspiracy trying to throw off the survey results, 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".

Last year there was some concern that the survey period was too short, or too uncertain. This year the survey will remain open until 23:59 PST December 31st 2013, so as long as you make time to take it sometime this year, you should be fine. Many people put it off last year and then forgot about it, so why not take it right now while you are reading this post?

Okay! Enough preliminaries! Time to take the...


2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey


Thanks to everyone who suggested questions and ideas for the 2013 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. I think I got most of them in, and others can wait until next year.

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.


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Surveyed. Having everyone participate in a Prisoner's Dillema is extremely ingenious.

Edit: Hey, guys, stop upvoting this! You have already falsified my answer to survey's karma question by an order of magnitude!

Edit much later: The lesswrong community is now proved evil.

Edit much more later: Bwahaha, I expected that... Thanks for the karma and stuff...

Taken. It was relatively quick; the questions were easy. Thanks for improving the survey!

Two notes: The question about mental illness has no "None" answers; thus you cannot distinguish between people who had none, and people who didn't answer the question. The question about income did not make clear whether it's pre-tax or post-tax.

Are you planning to do any analysis on what traits are associated with defection? That could get ugly fast.

(I took the survey)

Well, remember that that's a zero sum game within the community since it's coming out of Yvain's pocket. I was going to reflexivly cooperate, then I remembered that I was cooperating in transfering money from someone who was nice enough to create this survey, to people who were only nice enough to answer.

7Tyrrell_McAllister7yThis was my initial thought, too. But then it occurred to me that Yvain wants to incentivize people to take the survey, and more people will be so incentivized if the reward is larger. Thus, I can acausally help Yvain achieve his goal by cooperating. This will only influence people who know something about how the reward works before they decide to take the survey, but it still seemed worth it, so I cooperated.
2ThrustVectoring7yCooperating for reasons other than "I expect cooperating to make other people cooperate" gives people a reason to defect and make the total (and your expected) reward lower. I've done the math elsewhere in this thread, and if at least a third of all respondents decide to cooperate no matter what, the optimal solution is to just defect and take their money.
9Tyrrell_McAllister7yYes. And I did cooperate because I expected that it would make other people cooperate (acausally). I was explaining why I wanted more people to cooperate, even though it would mean that Yvain would lose more money. Good. Then a defector has been enticed to take the survey.

I have taken the survey (and answered, to a good approximation, all the questions).

Note that if you take the survey and comment here immediately after, Yvain can probably identify which survey is yours. If this possibility troubles you, you may wish to delay. On the other hand, empirically it seems that earlier comments get more karma.

I conjecture that more than 5% of entrants will experience a substantial temptation to give SQUEAMISH OSSIFRAGE as their passphrase at the end. The purpose of this paragraph is to remark that (1) if you, the reader, are so tempted then that is evidence that I am right, and (2) if so then giving in to the temptation is probably a bad idea.

6Error7yI have taken the survey and done exactly this. I have also chosen COOPERATE. I figure doing so is cooperating in two ways; assuming a large number of people give SQUEAMISH OSSIFRAGE, Yvain will either discard those tickets or split the prize between them. If it is split, then the squeamish people are cooperating with each other by making it more likely that all of us will receive something, albeit a smaller amount. If the tickets are discarded, then we are cooperating with non-squeamish people. Gifting them, really; they are more likely to win a prize because we have opted out, and it will be marginally larger because I chose COOPERATE. Of course this procedure is probably defection against Yvain, who will have to deal with his system being subverted. Oops.
6gjm7yMy guess is that if lots of people give the same passphrase and one of them wins the draw, Yvain will simply hold another draw among the people who claim to have won. Also, for the sums we're talking about I bet your utility is close enough to linear that the difference between (say) "certainly $5" and "$60 with probability 1/12" is very small. (Perhaps it feels larger on account of some cognitive bias, though introspecting I think the two really feel basically equivalent to me.)
7Error7yHrm. Damn, that would be a sane solution and obviates both my mucking about and your own. My net utility for winning is as close to zero as makes no difference; I make enough that it's unimportant, so the marginal value of the money is probably worth less than the time it would take to arrange the exchange. My utility for playing amusing games with systems of this sort is rather higher, however.

I took the survey. My apologies for not doing so in every previous year I've been here, and for not finding time for the extra questions this year.

The race question should probably use checkboxes (2^N answers) rather than radio boxes (N answers). Biracial people aren't that uncommon.

Living "with family" is slightly ambiguous; I almost selected it instead of "with partner/spouse" since our kids are living with us, but I suspected that wasn't the intended meaning.

The race question should probably use checkboxes (2^N answers) rather than radio boxes (N answers)

Same with the diagnoses question. But I don't think that Yvain's software deals well with checkboxes. They seem to have much more radiobuttons this year.

2[anonymous]7yYes. I, who proposed the question, had worded those answers “with parents (and/or siblings)” and “with partner/spouse (and/or children)” respectively.

Surveyed. Left several questions blank.

Incidentally, while I answered the "akrasia" questions about mental illnesses, therapy, etc. as best I could, it's perhaps worth noting that most of my answers related to a period of my life after suffering traumatic brain injury that significantly impaired my cognitive function, and therefore might be skewing the results... or maybe not, depending on what the questions were trying to get at

I took the survey.

However, this question confused me:

Time in Community How long, in years, have you been in the Overcoming Bias/Less Wrong community? Enter periods less than 1 year in decimal, eg "0.5" for six months (hint: if you've been here since the start of the community in November 2007, put 6 years)"

(emphasis mine)

The wording confused me; I almost put "6 years" instead of "6" because of it.

Also, I was sorely tempted to respond that I do not read instructions and am going to ruin everything, and then answer the rest of that section, including the test question, correctly. I successfully resisted that temptation, of which fact I am proud.

Also, I was sorely tempted to respond that I do not read instructions and am going to ruin everything, and then answer the rest of that section, including the test question, correctly. I successfully resisted that temptation, of which fact I am proud.


[-][anonymous]7y 61


Nice to see the reactionaries got their bone thrown to them on the politics section.


Survey taken. The very last question made me laugh out loud. It also proved to me that this is truly my type of community.

Taken, Answering all questions. I answered the last question (Co-operate or Defect) only after coming back and reading the comments, but I think I forgot to put in my passphrase so it doesn't really matter.

Finally decided to register for an account here. That reward structure will be fun to watch.

Made an account here to comment that I filled out the survey, and to make future participation more likely.

I have never posted on LW before, but this seems like a fine first time to do so.

I am really very curious to see the results of the real world cooperate/defect choice at the bottom of the test.

Surveyed. Put a humorous pair of Lojban lujvo as a passphrase. I cooperated, knowing that regardless, I was unlikely to win no matter what strategy I pursued, and that priming myself by forcing myself to cooperate now would possibly make me unknowingly want to cooperate in the future to my benefit.

Survey taken.

I found the Europe question awesome because I, incredibly luckily, had checked Europe's total population for a Fermi estimate just yesterday, so I got to feel like a high accuracy, highly calibrated badass. Of course, that also means it's not good data for things that I learned greater than ~1 day ago.

Survey Taken.

dude, no "jewish" religious background? seems like a serious omission unless my priors are all screwed up.

I'm sorry. I'm not sure how that happened. Must have accidentally gotten deleted when I was adding in the Eastern Orthodox stuff. The question has been fixed and "Jewish" is now an option.

8Dr_Manhattan7ySorry I blew the conspiracy :-p

Survey completed in full. Begging for karma as per ancient custom.

I choose DEFECT because presumably the money is coming out of CFAR's pocket and I assume they can use the money better than whichever random person wins the raffle. If I win, I commit to requesting it be given as an anonymous donation to CFAR.

EDIT: Having been persuaded my Yvain and Vaniver, I reverse my position and intend to spend the prize on myself. Unfortunately I've already defected and now it's too late to not be an asshole! Sorry about that. Only the slightly higher chance of winning can soothe my feelings of guilt.

The money is coming out of my pocket, it is not funging against any other charitable donations, and I am in favor of someone claiming the prize and using it to buy something nice that they like.

6Salivanth7yIn that case, I pre-commit that if I win, I'll spend it on something leisure-related or some treat that I otherwise wouldn't be able to justify the money to purchase. I co-operated; I'd already committed myself to co-operating on any Prisoner's Dilemma involving people I believed to be rational. I'd like to say it was easy, but I did have to think about it. However, I stuck to my guns and obeyed the original logic that got me to pre-commit in the first place. If I assume other people are about as rational as me, than a substantial majority of people should think similarly to me. That means that if I decide that everyone else will co-operate and thus I can defect, there's a good chance other people will come to the same conclusion as well. The best way to go about it is to pre-commit to co-operation, and hope that other rational people will do the same. Thanks for the chance to test my beliefs with actual stakes on the line :)
3FourFire7yMy reasoning on this is in complete agreement of yours.
2radical_negative_one7yWell, I can't argue with that. I'm editing my previous comment to reverse my previous position.

presumably the money is coming out of CFAR's pocket

I think the money is coming out of Yvain's pocket, actually.

4DanArmak7yI cooperated, and I precommit to waiving my prize if I win.

I believe there is a strong argument for taking the prize, even if you don't need it, and not donating the prize, even if you would like to, so that people who are actually motivated by prizes do not feel they are obligated to waive or donate their prize. (A prime example of this is George Washington, one of the richest men in America at the time, who thought it was silly that he was getting a salary as president, and that it would be more public-minded of him to not collect his salary. He was convinced that if he did so, he might set a precedent, and this would prevent anyone but the independently wealthy from seeking the presidency.)

I can't wait to see the Cooperate/Defect ratio. I, for one, chose to cooperate.

Oh wow, you really cut down on the extra credit questions this time- no links to external tests! Not sure if I like that or not; in particular, now we only have one IQ source to look at. But oh well.

(I took the survey.)



The IQ question should, like with the SAT/ACT, make it clear you should leave it blank if you've not been tested. And the same with the follow-up in calibration.


The occupation thing could have been a checkbox, for us who are e.g. both students and doing for-profit work.

The income question could have used a clarification of whether it was pre- or post-tax. (I assumed pre-.)

3Jayson_Virissimo7yYeah, I'm both a student and am self-employed. I guessed pre-tax, but the number is going to be very different otherwise (for me anyway).
2FourFire7yI am both studying and working for profit. I am studying STEM and working in [other] areas. I desired an option to choose this.
2Said Achmiz7ySeconded on "occupation should be checkboxes" thing.

Done. I'm glad there was nothing about Schrodinger this time around.

Surveyed, requesting free internet points.

I took the survey.

I completed every question on the survey that I could.

3Benquo7yAnd was that at least one?

I've taken the survey.

By the way, nice game at the end. I didn't do the math but it seemed evident that defecting was the logical choice (and by reading the comments below I was right). I cooperated anyway, it just felt right. So, defectors, I probably just made one of you a few hundredths of a cent richer! Lucky you! ;-)

I'm doing the survey while I should be in a lecture, and I just reached the akrasia questions.

Took the survey. Note: "average" is not a very precise term. For one, "average person" is probably a mediocre stand-in for "typical person" (since there isn't actually a commonly accepted way to take averages of people). Furthermore, questions like "How long, in approximate number of minutes, do you spend on Less Wrong in the average day?" are actually highly ambiguous. The arithmetic mean of times that I spend on Less Wrong over days is substantially different from the median time.

3[anonymous]7yI think it was supposed to mean arithmetic mean.

It seems that I only comment here when I take the survey and remain a lurker otherwise.

(Survey taken)

Survey taken. Defected since I'm neutral as to whether the money goes to Yvain or a random survey-taker, but would prefer the money going to me over either of those two.

1christopherj7yIt seems that the fate of the prize money is having a huge effect on people's choice to cooperate or defect. Yavin could modify the numbers by some potentially large percentage by offering to either donate the remainder of the prize to a charity, or to do something near-equivalent to burning it. I chose to cooperate because the good feelings are worth more to me than a fraction of a cent, and I expect people to prefer cooperation even if it is the anti-game theory response.

Took the survey. Surprisingly short.

Notes taken while I answered.

What is your family's religious background, as of the last time your family practiced a religion?

We're Ashkenazi Jews, but AFAIK the last time any ancestor of mine practiced a religion was in my great-grandparents' generation. (And then only because I knew only one of them personallyh, so it's reasonable to assume at least one of the others could have been religious.) I get that every human is descended from religious ones, but conflating this datapoint with someone whose actual parents practiced a religion once seems wrong.


For some of these my confidence was so low that I didn't answer. For some questions, there are also semantic quibbles that would affect the answer:

  • Supernatural: AFAIK there is no agreed-on definition of "supernatural" events other than "physically impossible" ones which of course have a probability of 0 (epsilon). OTOH, if you specify "events that the average human observer would use the word 'supernatural' to describe", the probability is very high.
  • Anti-Agathics: what counts as reaching an age of 1000 years? Humans with a few patched organs and genes? Cyborgs? Uploads with 1000 s
... (read more)
7Scott Alexander7yI endorse you still putting your background as Ashkenazi Jewish, as this gives interesting ethnic information beyond that in the race question.
2[anonymous]7yMaybe you could have split “White (non-Hispanic)” into “White (Jewish)” and “White (other)”.
5EGI7ySomewhere on LessWrong I have seen supernatural defined as "involving ontologically basic mental entities". This is imho the best deffinition of supernatural I have ever seen and should probably be included into this question in the future. Other definitions do not really make sense with this question, as you allready pointed out.
5Eugine_Nier7yI don't think the concept of "ontologically basic" is coherent.
3hyporational7yI personally think it's a strawman, but I don't see why it's necessarily incoherent for people who reject reductionism. Can you expand?
2EGI7yHere I understand "ontologically basic" to mean "having no Kolmogorov complexity / not amenable to reductionistic exlanations / does not posses an internal mechanism". Why do you think this is not coherent?
3Eugine_Nier7yAssuming the standard model of quantum mechanics is more or less correct which enteties are ontologically basic? 1) Leptons and quarks 2) The quantum fields 3) The universal wave function 4) The Hilbert space where said wave function lives 5) The mathematics used to describe the wave function
3JoshuaZ7ySo, I understand what it would mean for something to not be amenable to reductionist explanations and maybe what it would mean to not have internal mechanisms. What does it mean to not have Kolmogorov complexity? Do you mean that the entity is capable of engaging in non-computable computations? That doesn't seem like a standard part of the supernatural notion, especially because many common supernatural entities aren't any smarter than humans.
2Said Achmiz7yLikewise here, the last time my family practiced a religion was when my grandparents were children (my family is also Ashkenazi Jewish). I wasn't raised religious at all, but there was certainly a good deal of cultural effect.


Also, spoiler: the reward is too small and unlikely for me to bother thinking through the ethics of defecting; in particular, I'm fairly insensitive to the multiplier for defecting at this price point. (Morality through indecisiveness?)

I took the survey. Thanks for putting this together, Yvain!

I chose DEFECT: CFAR/MIRI can keep their money. Furthermore, if I win I precommit to refusing payment and donating $120 * (1 - X) to MIRI, where X is the proportion of people who answer COOPERATE. I humbly suggest that others do the same.

Taken, answering all of the questions I was capable of answering. I will be very interested to see the results on some of the new questions. (The shifts on existing questions could also be interesting, but I don't expect much to change.)

First survey and comment, and I liked it too! (Including the bonuses, especially the reward question :)

I took the survey. Also just realised that my choice of pass phrase was really silly... I was trying to make it easy for myself to remember what the second word would be, but failed to observe that the first word could become public and therefore it would be sensible to choose something that wouldn't be obvious to just about anybody from knowing the first word! Ah well, in the unlikely event that I win the draw, whoever gets in first can have the prize, I guess...

Survey taken.

taken. I did the whole thing! it actually wasn't that long.

I took the survey.

I realized while answering one of the questions that the comments that I make for free karma are one of my main interactions with the LW website.

Survey taken, answered all questions I could. This excluded the IQ question set. I've never taken an IQ test. I've never been offered an IQ test, nor considered taking one. Is that strange? The survey seemed pretty confident that I'd have measured my IQ.

3Vaniver7yA previous incarnation of the test just asked what your IQ was. We got both people who had taken official tests responding, and people who were just estimating their IQ. The second group is really noisy, and made it difficult to meaningfully talk about the IQ of LWers. I suggested the current question as a way to get high-quality information out of survey-takers, but I also wanted a question where people estimated their IQ (maybe as two questions, for the lower and upper bound of a 50% CI) so that we could still get the low-quality information.
3Lumifer7yI've never taken an IQ test either. However in the US the usual standardized tests (SAT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT) are highly correlated with IQ and going by percentiles you can get a reasonable IQ estimate easily enough.
9Vaniver7yThis is no longer true for high IQs, and most of the conversion tables are only for the old SAT. A 1600 just ain't what it used to be.
2Lumifer7yMeasuring high IQs is difficult in general, but a rough estimate on the basis of, say, SAT scores is better than no data at all.
2Vaniver7yMy point is that the renorming in the 1990s (if I remember correctly) chopped off the right tail of the SAT distribution. It used to be that about 1 in 4000 people got SATs of 1600, and so that implied a commensurately high IQ, but now about 1 in 300 do (only looking at M+CR), so the highest IQ level that the SAT is sensitive to has dropped significantly. If I remember correctly from the last year's survey, the mean SAT score of LWers who reported it implied that the mean LWer was about 98th percentile, which seemed about right to me (and suggests that the SAT is a decent tool at discriminating between most LWers).
2JQuinton7yI haven't taken any official IQ test nor have I taken any standardized tests. The only sort of official intelligence test I took was the ASVAB [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASVAB], though I forgot what my score was. I did score high enough to take the DLAB [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_Language_Aptitude_Battery] though (I was originally tasked to be a Turkish linguist in the Air Force).

I have taken the survey, also the extra part. Although I was never tested for IQ in professional way and since it was a question in the non-extra part, I assume that most LW readers were. Interesting observation (if true). Maybe it is a nationally dependent thing? This ad-hoc hypothesis can be validated by the survey if only enough people from enough countries take it

Cooperator here.

[-][anonymous]7y 47

Surveyed. Is it okay to answer commited theist/pastafarian? :)

Surveyed. Thank you.

I took the survey! Great set of questions. I felt like it was rather well designed,

It is done.

Short comments:

(Calibration Question) Without checking a source, please give your best guess for the current population of Europe in millions (according to Wikipedia's "Europe" article)

This is ambiguous! While strictly speaking "Europe" defaults to "the continent of Europe" spanning to the Ural, in common parlance "Europe" is used interchangeably with "European Union", similar to how you interpret "American student" in your very survey, a totum pro parte. Stahp with the totums pro parte for calibration questions, I beseech thee! (Of course I wouldn't have minded had I not given the correct answer for the European Union...)

(Akrasia: Elsewhat 1) Have you ever other things to improve your mental functioning?

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

(Human Biodiversity) (...) are in fact scientiically justified

I took the survey as well

Took the survey.

I surveyed.

COMPLAIN! I have one partner but I'm definitely not monogamous. Sorry :)

I guess that's why there were separate questions asking whether you prefer monogamy or whatever else, and how many partners you happen to have.

Took the survey. Can't wait for the results.

I took the survey.

I think most of my answers were the same as last year, although I think my estimates have improved a little, and my hours of internet have gone down, both of which I like.

Many of the questions are considerably cleaned up -- much thanks to Yvain and everyone else who helped. It's very good it has sensible responses for gender. And IIRC, the "family's religious background" was tidied up a bit. I wonder if anyone can answer "atheist" as religious background? I hesitated over the response, since the last religious observance I know of for sure was G being brought up catholic, but I honestly think living in a protestant (or at least, anglican) culture is a bigger influence on my parents cultural background, so I answered like that.

I have no idea what's going to happen in the raffle. I answered "cooperate" because I want to encourage cooperating in as many situations as possible, and don't really care about a slightly-increased chance of < $60.

2VAuroch7yI could and did answer atheist as background. My parents are both inspoken* nonbelievers, though they attended a Unitarian Universalist church for two years when their kids (me included) were young, for the express purpose (explained well after the fact) of exposing us to religion and allowing us to make our own choices. *The opposite of outspoken.


Taken the survey. Thanks for doing this, Yvain.

Taken for the first time. 'Twas fun.

Congratulations for putting the dilemma to test. That was the hardest survey I've taken since the 2012 one.

Took the survey.

I'm interested in seeing what sort of interventions ended up working for people with akrasia.

5[anonymous]7yHave you seen the akrasia tactics review threads [http://lesswrong.com/lw/i0e/akrasia_tactics_review_2_the_akrasia_strikes_back/] ?

I took the survey. Thanks for running it.

Should Muslim be divided into types?

I'm not sure what supernatural means for the more arcane simulation possibilities. I consider it likely that if we're simulated, it's from a universe with different physics.

I would rather see checkboxes for global catastrope, since it's hard to judge likelihood and I think the more interesting question is whether a person thinks any global catastrophe is likely.

Would it be worth having a text box for questions people would like to see on a future survey? I'm guessing that you wouldn't need to tabulate it,-- if you posted all the questions, I bet people here would identify the similar questions and sort them into topics.

So far no one of several hundred people has identified Muslim, so I think finer gradations there would be overkill.

I can't do checkboxes.

I ask every year what questions people want in a future survey on this site. That way the good ones can get updated and people can hold discussions about them.

6TheOtherDave7yI'm curious: why? (Not necessarily disagreeing, just wondering.)

Because the simulations we make have simpler physics than we do.

Survey taken, all of it!

Thanks Yvain, for all the time and work you put every year into this. Can't wait to see the results!

[-][anonymous]7y 45

I took the survey.

I completed the survey.

Second time taking the survey. I think a lot of my answers to the probability questions have changed in the last year — I think I've discovered more about myself and my beliefs since the first survey.

Took it.

Could you add a question asking how many of their donations people gave to non-x-risk EA charities? The EA movement would appreciate the information!

Surveyed. I liked the game.

If there are any naturalistic neopagans reading this, I'm curious how they answered the religion questions.

Answered them all as best I could :^)

I left the 'Singularity' question blank because it was I'll-defined - I treated it like a question specifically on the IE, but anyhu, my Priors on that are totally wacky. I expect it to happen, but I have no knowledge of the time at all really.

Took the survey.

Took the survey and cooperated.

Did the survey.

If possible, I'm interested in how unique the passwords were.

5DanArmak7yI used a random password generator (set to 'readable', because the survey asked for 'words' or some such). Why would you do anything else?
4Nornagest7yI was sorely tempted to use "squeamish ossifrage [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squeamish_Ossifrage]". But with more than a thousand regulars, many of whom are interested in computing trivia, I figure it's likely that someone else thought that would be clever.
3ChrisHallquist7yI'm pretty sure mine was unique - I went into my Ruby interpreter, loaded the dictionary I'd been using for class projects and used "sample" twice.
2handoflixue7ySecond that :)

I took the survey - extra credit and everything!

I meant to skip some of the extra credit questions (the ones about the changeability of personality in particular), but wound up stuck answering one of them by software glitch on my computer (I couldn't uncheck it entirely, but at least tried to keep it from being noise).

I took the survey. I didn't really know how to answer the "relationship" part since I'm not really poly right now, but have a number of "friends with benefits". So I answered it zero.

Taken the survey!

Suggestion: If you are upvoting people who took the survey, sort comments by "New" first so that late takers get their upvote.

Cool. Survey taken.

Survey complete.


Minor nitpick: I think it is better to clarify definition of Europe in calibration question. Because if you go to Wikipedia to check which definition of Europe survey authors had in mind, you will immediately see Europe population on the same page.

I interpreted that as "Include uncertainty about Wikipedia's definition of Europe."

[-][anonymous]7y 42

I finished and had fun even if parts of it made me feel dumb (I never thought about that calibration question before and am pretty sure I got it wildly wrong). The monetary reward at the end looks interesting but even in the unlikely case that I won I might have too much trouble claiming any kind of prize right now...

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

I found myself geuinely confused by the question "You are a certain kind of person, and there's not much that can be done either way to really change that" - not by the general vagueness of the statement (which I assume is all part of the fun) but by a very specific issue, the word "you". Is it "you" as in me? Or "you" as in "one", i.e. a hypothetical person essentially referring to everyone? I interpreted it the first way then changed my mind after reading the subsequent questions which seemed to be more clearly using it the second way.

(Dan from CFAR here) - That question (and the 3 similar ones) came from a standard psychology scale. I think the question is intentionally ambiguous between "you in particular" and "people in general" - the longer version of the scale includes some questions that are explicitly about each, and some others that are vaguely in the middle. They're meant to capture people's relatively intuitive impressions.

You can find more information about the questions by googling, although (as with the calibration question) it's better if that information doesn't show up in the recent comments feed, since scales like this one are often less valid measures for people who know what they're intended to measure.

6selylindi7yI answered that section quickly and on the basis of intuition in the hope that those questions were chosen because there is some interesting cognitive bias affecting the answers that I was unaware of. :D

Surveyed. Amused at the final part. I hope we can look forward to more such fun in the future surveys!

I took the whole survey.

I took the survey.

I was within a factor of 2 on the Europe question, which is pretty good, I think.

As a general rule I "cooperate" on prisoner's dilemmas where the prize is of a trivial size, regardless of my opinion about the incentives and people involved. An interesting experiment might be to take people familiar with the prisoner's dilemma, flip the "cooperate" and "defect" incentives, and see if it makes a difference.

I have taken the survey, as I have done for the last two years! Free karma now?

Also, I have chosen to cooperaterather than defect was because even though the money technically would stay within the community, I am willing to pay a very small amount of money from EV in order to ensure that LW has a reputation for cooperation. I don't expect to lose more than a few cents worth of expected value, since I expect 1000+ people to do the survey.

I've taken the survey.

Did the survey. Thanks, Yvain.

Survey taken. Nearly all questions answered, except for the Akrasia ones, since I haven't implemented many formal practices to fight akrasia.

Taken. Quite tickled by the prize question.

Survey taken, can't wait to see the results :-)

Answered the entire survey (except questions for U.S. residents). I can't see why Newcomb's problem is a problem. Getting $1,001,000 by two-boxing is an outcome that just never happens, given Omega's perfect prediction abilities. You should one-box.

4polymathwannabe7yWhat's the method for submitting proposals for next surveys?
2[anonymous]7yYvain usually posts a post in Discussion about a month before the survey asking for such proposals.

I worry that I harmed the results by mentioning that I have meditated for cognitive benefit reasons, without a way to note that it wasn't to deal with Akrasia. I wanted to answer truthfully, but at the same time the truthful answer was misleading.

4JenniferRM7ySearched for a comment on this, found yours, and upvoted because I share the test design concern.... In my case I ended up saying "No" to all technique questions other than "Other", despite having dealt in the past with something that might be called "akrasia" and also despite having taken vitamins, and tried therapy and meditation in the past. I assumed, because of each "How well did X help with akrasia?" followup question that there was an implicit "Have you done X for akrasia?" whenever it asked about "doing X", and I've never thought vitamins or therapy or meditation would help with akrasia and didn't do them for that and didn't track how they interacted.
2Vaniver7yIf you didn't record yourself as having akrasia, this seems like it's still useful information. It can be interesting to compare "these are the things akratics try for cognitive self-improvement" and "these are the things non-akratics try for cognitive self-improvement," and the survey didn't specify to skip that section if you don't consider yourself as having serious akrasia. If you do consider yourself as having had serious akrasia, and meditated for unrelated reasons, then I'm not sure what I would respond there, although it seems like you might have some information about whether or not meditation helps with akrasia.

Survey taken.

took the survey, enjoyed the PD

Thanks for running these, I took it. :) Love the prize question.

...I'm way off on the population of Europe, as I expected.

Took the survey.

Survey taken. I defected, because I am normally a staunch advocate of cooperation and the stakes were low enough that it seemed like a fun opportunity to go against my usual inclinations. If I had read the comments first, I would likely have been convinced by some of the cooperation arguments advanced here.

8Vaniver7ySuuuuure. :P
[-][anonymous]7y 38

Took the survey.

Took the survey. I definitely did have an IQ test when I was a kid, but I don't think anyone ever told me the results and if they did I sure don't remember it.

Also, as a scientist I counted my various research techniques as new methods that help make my beliefs more accurate, which means I put something like 2/day for trying them and 1/week for them working. In hindsight I'm guessing this interpretation is not what you meant, and that science in general might count as ONE method altogether.

Surveyed. Looking forward to the data and analysis, as per every year.

Survey complete! I answered ALL the questions. ^_^

Survey taken, as always. It sure was well prepared. It's worth starting it for the first option (ruining everything), and continuation is always just one click away...

Took it.

I definitely gave a finite probability for "God" if "God" defined as a super-intelligent being that created the universe. This is of course quite different from an intervening god who is interested in say, human affairs.

Took survey. Reminded me that I've never had an IQ test; is it worthwhile?

2hylleddin7yI found the WAIS helpful, but only because it factored it into multiple components and the structure of my scores was illuminating. (I had a severe discrepency between two groups of components, and very little variation within them)
2eurg7yValue of information is zero. Do it if you are curious, or take the money and watch some movies with friends.

Took the survey. I was unusually confident of an incorrect number for the population of Europe because I looked it up recently, but remembered it wrong.

Guess I learned something, in that I should adjust down my confidence in recalled figures after a few weeks.

I took the survey.

This is, incidentally, my first comment on LessWrong. I've lurked for years, and pretty much thought I'll probably stay as a lurker for good. For some reason taking the survey made me want to break my silence.So that's a bonus, I guess.

Another lurker that took the (full) survey and signed up...

I discovered LW last year through gwern.net

My biggest barrier to registration was the risk of more procrastination. So, thanks in advance for any encouragement!

I have been surveyed.

I definitely appreciate being asked to assign probabilities to things, if for no other reason than to make apparent to me how comfortable I am with doing so (Not very, as it turns out. Something to work on.)

Done! Phew

I should mention that I've taken the survey.

I have taken the survey. Thank you Yvain for running it.

Took the survey.

Surveyed! I noticed that someone said that they cooperated on the prisoner's dilemma problem, so I'll balance the odds and tell you all that I defected. Am curious to see if this will reflect in the karma people give this comment.

Also, I wouldn't do this, but you leave the option open of someone poisoning the well and taking the survey a bunch of times to improve their chance of winning the money. Are you screening for duplicate IP addresses?

I took it, and even did the bonus questions. Yay me!

Survey completed! Also, everyone, please cooperate!

Yvain, will you reveal who won the money? Whether they cooperated or defected?

Took the survey yesterday and forgot to comment here afterwards. I chose to cooperate since the small chance of winning a little money mattered less to me than the pleasure I would get though even such a minor show of benevolence. I also have never taken an IQ test, and am glad to see at least a fair number of other people in the comments who have not either.

You wouldn't necessarily have known you were taking an IQ test. I learned I was administered IQ tests in elementary school only by accident, when I found a summary in my parents' papers. 'So', I thought, 'that's why my speech therapist kept asking me questions any fool would know, like the meaning of the word "gyp".'

Apparently even then, little gwern spent all his time searching out data to organize and summarize.

[-][anonymous]7y 34

I took the survey.

Took the survey. Prisoner's dilemma was a nice addition - would be interesting next year to have 'would you co-operate in a prisoner's dilemma situation' earlier in the survey before the for-stakes version, and compare how often people co-operate in the for-stakes then as compared to this year (also compare across who has taken a LW census before, since this one might bias that a bit).

Took the survey. Yvain, thanks for doing this.

Took. Definitely liked the shorter nature of this one.

Cooperated (I'm OK if the money goes to someone else. The amount is such that I'd ask that it get directly sent elsewhere, anyway.)

Got Europe wrong, but came close. (Not within 10%.)

I took the survey.

Took the survey.

Would probably not have defected a year ago, and it would not have been an easy decision for me at that time.

I appear to be getting better at estimating.

I think the IQ questions should probably just be dropped from future tests. A number of people get tested as kids and get crazy numbers and never get tested again (since there's no real point, and people are generally afraid of seeing that number dive, people who get a crazy number are probably less likely to retest than others). That's a charitable explanation for the results in last year's survey, which I didn't take.

I just took the survey. Thanks for spending time on making and evaluating it! A few questions/comments:

When you asked for time spent on less wrong, did you mean mean time or median time? I assumed mean, which resulted in a higher number since I occasionally come here to procrastinate and spend way too much time in a single sitting...

Am I interpreting the agathics question correctly in that a person dying, getting frozen cryonically, and then being unfrozen and living for a 1000 years would count?

Singularity question, which starts by asking when the Singularity (with capital letter S) will occur seems a bit leading to me. I'd expect that if you asked "Do you think a singularity will occur, and if so, when?" that people would give lower probabilities.

Taken to completion.

The Cryonics Status question really needs an "other" answer. There are more possible statuses one can be in than the ones given; in particular there are more possible "I'd want to, but..." answers.

I took the survey, and look forward to the results.

Took the survey.

Got the Europe question right, unless Yvain rounds -- I was off by 9.90%.

7knb7yI was off by quite a bit. I really underestimated non-EU Europe.
[-][anonymous]7y 33

Survey (mostly) done. My answers about the future were based on this comment


and assigned equal probabilities to the five listed outcomes over the next few centuries

Survey taken. It seemed shorter than the previous one.

[-][anonymous]7y 33

Having completed the survey, I took this as an opportunity to register an account.

I hereby take part in the tradition and note that the tradition makes the following moot for relatively low levels of karma. You may round off your karma score if you want to be less identifiable. If your karma score is 15000 or above, you may put 15000 if you want to be less identifiable.

Income question: needs to specify individual or household. You may also want to specify sources, such as whether to include government aid, only include income from wages, or separate boxes for different categories of income.

I have done professional survey design and am available to assist with reviewing the phrasing of questions for surveys, here or on other projects.

Income question needs to be explicit about if it's pre-tax or post-tax, since it's a huge difference, and the "default measurement" differs between cultures, in some places "I earn X" means pre-tax and in some places it means post-tax.

Took the survey. Cooperated.

For the Prize Question, you should use a random number generator and cooperate with probability 0.8. Why? Suppose that the fraction of survey-takers that cooperate is p. Then the value of the prize will be proportional to p and there will be p + 4(1 - p) raffle entries. The expected value of Cooperating is p/(p + 4(1-p)) and the expected value of Defecting is 4(1-p)/(p + 4(1-p)). In equilibrium, these must be the same: if one choice were more profitable than the other, then people would switch until this was no longer the case. Thus p = 4(1 - p) and thus p = 4/5.

Addendum 29 November: Actually, this is wrong; see ensuing discussion.

The expected value of defecting is 4p/(p + 4(1-p), to within one part in the number of survey takers. Whether or not you defect makes no difference as to the proportion of people who defect.

The solution is to determine how likely it is that a random participant is going to defect, conditional on your choice of cooperate or defect. If you're playing with a total of N copies of yourself, you cooperate and get the maximal payout ($60/N). If you're playing against cooperate bots, you defect and get $60*4N/(N-1).

We can generalize this to partial levels. If you play with D defectors and C cooperators whose opinion you can't change, and X people who will cooperate when you cooperate (and defect when you defect), then the payouts are as thus:

C: (C + X)/(C + D + X) D: 4(C /(C + D + X)

You can solve for the break even point by setting C + X = 4 * C

So the answer is that you should defect, unless you think that for every person who is going to cooperate no matter what, there are at least three people who are thinking with similar enough reasoning to come up with the same answer you come up with (regardless of what answer that is).

4stevko7yI think that way to get maximum reward is doing the survey (at least) four times and always answering cooperate.

Well that was the most interesting survey I have taken in a long time - looking forward to seeing the results. I was a little concerned at the start, as it seemed like some sort of dating service so the comment 'hang in there - this bit is almost over' was well placed.

One survey (and bonus questions!) completed.

I took the survey.

Thank you for putting this together Some of the questions were unclear to me, for example: does living with family mean my parents or my spouse and children? (I guessed the former, but was unsure) For the politics question, there should be an option for not identifying with any label (or if that will lead to everyone not wanting to be labeled an option for disinterest in politics could be an alternative.) Should an atheist who practices a religion (e.g. buddhism) skip the question on religion? P(aliens), this question leaves out the time dimension which seems important to establishing a probability for aliens, e.g. if aliens live 5 bilion light years away, are we asked the probability that there were aliens there 5 billion years ago such that we could receive a message from them now, or whether there are aliens now, which we will not be able to discover for another few billion years. P(supernatural) its not clear what counts as a supernatural event, e.g. god is included even though most would not define god as an event nor as occurring since the beginning of the universe (since if god created the universe he is either nontemporal or prior to the universe) for the... (read more)

That was shorter than I expected. I peevishly admit to having to look up a few things I should have known.

I took the survey!

[-][anonymous]7y 32

I took the survey.


No, I don't read instructions and am going to ruin the survey results for everyone.


Also, wow, the population of Europe is wildly lower than I thought it was, it's outside my 90% range...

Random math: one way of deciding whether or not to cooperate in the reward question is plot reward versus percentage-UDT-users in the LW community (under the assumption that everyone in that set will do the same thing you do, and everyone else splits 50-50). If that percentage is larger than about 65% (which I'm 70% sure it is), cooperating is superior to defection, but defection actually has the higher maximum expected value - if the entire community chooses randomly, anyway.


blink blink

Aw, darn it, I should've flipped a coin...

Edit: No, wait, nevermind, that would halve my expected reward.

[-][anonymous]7y 31

I did the survey, mostly.

I took the survey, my first, and answered all the questions and extra credit. I did not defect on the monetary reward.

I predict my survey will show me as highly confused. :-)

Surveyed, including bonus. Only just remembered to comment.

I see the logic, but did think that the Prisoner's Dilemma question was overly complicated - possibly leading to some participants not making the connection to their beliefs about How To Behave In Prisoner's Dilemmas (well, I see now from below that it led to at least one.)

I have no idea if this is a good or bad thing.

I have taken the survey, thanks a lot Yvain!

I wouldn't have minded if it was shorter.

One minor nitpick for next time: there were a couple questions where the title was the opposite of what the question was about: P(Global catastrophic risk) was actually about P(no global catastrophic risk), and Defect calibrate were about how many people cooperated.

I suspect a couple people might not read the questions and answer the opposite of what they meant.

Took the survey.

A few observations:

  • Family's religious background should probably include an 'Athiest/Agnostic' answer, rather than just lumping in with 'Other'. At the very least, it would be interesting to see what kinds of patterns the 'Other' box breaks down into.

  • I computed P(Supernatural) as dependent on P(Simulation), based on my understanding of the two concepts. Would anyone be interested in a Discussion page on whether those probabilities can be logically separated?


Thanks for putting this together.

Perceived flaws:

Percentages are probably not the best way to elicit well-calibrated guesses about very probable or very improbable events. (The difference between 1/1,000 and 1/1,000,000 is a lot bigger in reality than it looks, when you put them both between 0 and 1 on a scale of 0 to 100.)

Computing P(Many Worlds) requires assuming that the phrase "Many Worlds" refers to a specific set of concrete predictions about the nature universe, which admit the possibility of truth or falsity. I tend to disagree with that presumption.

P(Anti-Agathics) seems, from the name, not to be intended to include cryonics, but does seem to include it in the actual text. I predict paradoxical answers in which people give P(Cryonics) > P(Anti-Agathics), even though cryonics is a way of allowing a person alive today to reach the age of 1000 years.

P(Simulation) may or may not actually be a well-defined question. If, as some people are surely visualizing while answering it, there are aliens somewhere hovering over a computer terminal with us running on it, certainly the answer is 'yes'. Whatever the reality, it seems likely to be a lot stranger than that. Eliezer's own "Finale of the Ultimate Meta Mega Crossover" describes a scenario (admittedly fanciful) in which one would be hard pressed to answer the "simulation" question with a simple yes or no.

Took it. It's a good survey with a lot of interesting questions.

I took the survey, and wanted it to be longer.

Done. There were a few questions that were iffy, but overall I think this year's survey was a significant improvement from previous versions. Thanks Yvain for doing this.

I'm seconding the request for next year to include a Monogamish option. I'm in a basically monogamous relationship, but we both sometimes sleep with friends.

(also I took the survey)

6MixedNuts7yWhy do you want this to be a separate option, rather than "other"?
3Eneasz7yBecause I think it's one of the three major relationship models. Pure Monogamy is traditional, and Polyamory is the reaction against it, but Monogamish is how a lot of relationships actually work (while operating under the cloak of monogamy). It's like a worldwide religion survey allowing only "Christian" and "Muslim", and lumping Hinduism under "Other". There's another major option here that should be broken out.
[-][anonymous]7y 31

Ok, went and took the survey.

And I only lied about one question!

I have taken the survey. Whoot!

Taken and look forward to seeing the results. Thanks for putting this together.

Took the survey, including all questions. Hope it is not discarded for contradictory elements.

I took the survey.

The answer to how many minutes I spend here is a bit lower than you might expect, in that my robots scan the RSS feeds and send me interesting stuff so basically it's almost zero, unless you count my robots time somehow.

I completed the survey & had to look up the normative ethics choices (again). Also cisgender. I cooperated with the prisoner's dilemma puzzle & estimated that a majority of respondents would also do so, given the modest prize amount.

Also, based on my estimate of a year in Newton's life in last year's survey, I widened my confidence intervals.

Took the survey. Cooperated because most puzzles which explicitly use the words "cooperate" and "defect" have been created in such a way as to make cooperation the better choice.

(Considering my fairly low chances of winning, a deep analysis would have had only recreational value, and there were other fun things to do.)

Completed survey.

I took the census. My answers for MWI and Ailens were conditional on ¬Simulation, since if we are in a simulation where MWI doesn't hold, the simulation is probably intended to provide information about a universe in which MWI does hold.

I'm a European, and the thought that geographical Europe might be meant didn't even occur to me,since in most of my daily interactions (media consumed, small talk, etc.), "Europe" is used interchangeably with "European Union". Teaches me to read such survey questions more thoroughly.

I want to congratulate you on how well you integrated the many suggestions you got, I see many improvements compared to the 2012 (for example, the introductory text convinced me to take the survey right away, when I was one of those who put it off last year).

Done. Loved the prisoner's dilemma.

I took the survey.

Surveyed! And for the first time, too. This survey was pretty interesting and definitely not what I expected

Yay, survey taken!

I loved the Prisoner's Dilemma at the end, I wonder how that will turn out?

Did all of it. Monetary reward questions made me laugh.

I did it!

Done, all questions answered. Yvain, well done on clear questions and good design.

Took the survey. Very interesting questions overall, especially the site-wide Prisoner's Dilemma.

I'd like to note that I was very confused by the (vague and similar) CFAR questions regarding the possibility of people changing, but I'm assuming that was intentional and look forward to an explanation.

Mission complete.

Boomshanked! (aka done)

Excited to see the results.

Took the survey, and continued to finally make an account. Some questions were ambiguous though (as some other people partially pointed out). I had most problems with:

  • Having more children. Over which period of time? As an adolescent I'm not really keen on having children just yet, but I might be in 15 or 20 years.
  • Time on LW: I've recently finished reading almost all posts on LW, which meant I spent several hours a day on LW. But now that I have finished reading all those I am only reading new posts, which takes no more than 5-10 minutes a day on average. So there is a large difference between a best estimate of the amount of time I spent on LW any previous day and the best estimate of the time I will spend tomorrow. Which of these is the average day?
  • Hear about: I had problems interpreting the question. Taking the wording literally the category specified is extremely broad, including even casual comments by colleagues along the lines of: 'Try checking the batteries more frequently.' (which is a technique to improve your productivity, provided batteries are important in your line of work).
  • Akrasia: meditation. I've meditated after sporting frequently in the past, which had nothing to do with akrasia. I decided not to mention the meditation (contrary to Keller, whose comment I only noticed after filling in the survey).

Surveyed, including bonus.

I really liked the monetary reward prisoners dillema. I am really curious how this turns out. Given the demographic here, I would predict ~ 85% cooperate.

The free text options were rendered in german (Sonstige). Was that a bug or does it serve some hidden purpose?

4aspera7yMy confidence bounds were 75% and 98% for defect, so my estimate was diametrically opposed to yours. If the admittedly low sample size of these comments is any indication, we were both way off. Why do you think most would cooperate? I would expect this demographic to do a consequentialist calculation, and find that an isolated cooperation has almost no effect on expected value, whereas an isolated defection almost quadruples expected value.
4EGI7yI expected most of the LessWrong comunity to cooperate for two reasons: 1. I model them as altruistic as in Kurros comment. 2. I model them as oneboxing in newcombs problem. One consideration I did not factor into my prediction is, that - judging from the comments - many people refuse to cooperate in transfering money form CFAR/Yvain to a random community member.
2Kurros7yYou don't think people here have a term for their survey-completing comrades in their cost function? Since I probably won't win either way this term dominated my own cost function, so I cooperated. An isolated defection can help only me, whereas an isolated cooperation helps everyone else and so gets a large numerical boost for that reason.

Took it. Comments:

  • Hopefully you have a way to filter out accidental duplicates (i.e. a hidden random ID field or some such), because I submitted the form by accident several times while filling it out. (I was doing it from my phone, and basically any slightly missed touch on the UI resulted in accidental submission).

  • Multiple choice questions should always have a "none" option of some kind, because once you select a radio button option there's no way to deselect it. Most of them did but not all.

  • I answered "God" with a significant probability because the way the definitions is phrased, I would say it includes whoever is running the simulation if the simulation hypothesis is true. I'm sure many people interpreted it differently. I'd suggest making this distinction explicit one way or the other next time.

3Kurros7yIt defined "God" as supernatural didn't it? In what sense is someone running a simulation supernatural? Unless you think for some reason that the real external world is not constrained by natural laws?
3Lion7yMaybe my definition of "supernatural" isn't the correct definition, but I often think of the word as describing certain things which we do not (currently) understand. And if we do eventually come to understand them, then we will need to augment our understanding of the natural laws...Assuming this "supernatural" stuff actually exists. I suppose a programer could defy the laws he made for his virtual world when he intervenes from outside the system....But earthly programers obey the natural physical laws when they mess with the hardware, which also runs based on these same laws. I understand this is what you mean by "constrained by natural laws".
2NNOTM7yThere are no "correct" or "incorrect" definitions, though, are there? Definitions are subjective, it's only important that participants of a discussion can agree on one.

Taken. Thanks for putting in the effort to do the surveys. I noticed that the question on IQ calibration asked about "the probability that the IQ you gave earlier in the survey is greater than the IQ of over 50% of survey respondents", and I wondered if you meant to ask instead about (the probability that the IQ given earlier is greater than the reported IQ of over 50% of survey respondents). I recall that people tended to report absurdly high IQs in earlier surveys.

Did the survey.

Results: I'm better at estimating continental populations than I had thought; I am frustrated by single-option questions in many cases (e.g. domain of study, nothing for significantly-reduced-meat-intake-but-not-strict-vegetarian, interdependent causes of global catastrophe) and questions that are too huge to be well-formulated, let alone reasonably answer (supernatural/simulation/God).

Also the question about aliens made me unaccountably sad: even if I retroactively adjust my estimates of intelligent alien life upwards (which I would never do), I have to face the incredibly low probability that they're in the Milky way.

Huh, I put svir uhaqerq zvyyvba sbe Rhebcr'f cbchyngvba. Turns out I was thinking of the Rhebcrna Havba, (svir uhaqerq naq frira zvyyvba) engure guna Rhebcr vgfrys, which is substantially higher.

[-][anonymous]7y 17

Please rot13 this (and spell out the numbers)!

ETA I have not yet taken the survey yet - skimmed through it yesterday - but when I do, I'll skip the calibration question.

6bramflakes7yOops, sorry! Fixed.
5NancyLebovitz7yI wish you hadn't posted that-- I read the comments before taking the survey.
4kilobug7yDid the same mistake :/

Several of these questions are poorly phrased. For instance, the supernatural and god questions, as phrased, imply that the god chance should be less than the chance of supernatural anything existing. However, I think (and would like to be able to express) that there is a very small (0), chance of ghosts or wizards, but only a small (1) chance of there being some sort of intelligent being which created the universe-for instance, the simulation hypothesis, which I would consider a subset of the god hypothesis.

5VAuroch7yI believe it was worded specifically to exclude simulation from the god hypothesis. That is the only sensible conclusion from the wording used, which I assume was thoughtful.
3Jayson_Virissimo7yI interpret a (a steel-manned) supernatural (above or outside of nature) event to be something like the Simulator changing program variables from outside the simulation in contradiction with its normal rules of operation. But, my priors said that there are more simulations without interference from the Simulator (besides "natural laws", named constants in the source code, initial condition values passed in before run-time, etc...) than with interference, so I assigned a higher probability to the God Hypothesis than to supernatural events having occurred (in our world). Although, having written this down, I'm not sure my priors made as much sense as it felt like they did beforehand.

I took it. I was surprised how far I was off with Europe.

I already commented on other people's comments and got Karma while not stating that I took it. Am I still supposed to just say "I took it" and get more Karma without commenting anything more of value? Well, I took it. All of it. And I chose to "cooperate" because it seemed more ethical. 30$-60$ isn't enough to arouse my greed anyway.

Oh, btw. Hi everybody, I'm new here even though I created this account years ago when I was lurking. I knew I'd come back.

5witzvo7yYup. Your points on the earlier comments were just the "ordinary" kind.

Thank you for your unpleasantly phrased and confrontational feedback.

The software I use to process this information has a lot of trouble handling "check multiple boxes". Adding "biracial" would be strictly inferior to just asking people which of their two races they identify more with, since biracial gives no race information.

You cannot infer relationship status from number of partners, because status differentiates "married" from "in a relationship", which the partner question cannot do.

So far each one of the three computer options has been selected by significantly more people than the "other hard sciences" group. There are 174 people selecting "practical computing", compared to 10 people in all of "hard science". I base these categories not based on what people think is the "central science" but on what will best distinguish between large categories of people.

No good deed goes unpunished. Yvain, thank you again for all the hard work you put into assembling and analysing this survey every year, it's a boon for all of us.

Fun as always. Looking back at my answers, I think I'm profoundly irrational, but getting more aware of it. Oh well.

Took the survey, and finally registered after lurking for 6 months.

I liked the defect/cooperate question. I defected because it was the rational way to try to 'win' the contest. However, if one had a different goal such as "make Less Wrong look cooperative" rather than "win this contest", then cooperating would be the rational choice. I suppose that if I win, I'll use the money to make my first donation to CFAR and/or MIRI.

Now that I have finished it, I wish I had taken more time on a couple of the questions. I answered the Newcomb's Box problem the opposite of my intent, because I mixed up what 2-box and 1-box mean in the problem (been years since I thought about that problem). I would 1-box, but I answered 2-box in the survey because I misremembered how the problem worked.

3scav7yHeh. I also didn't care about the $60, and realised that taking the time to work out an optimal strategy would cost more of my time than the expected value of doing so. So I fell back on a character-ethics heuristic and cooperated. Bounded rationality at work. Whoever wins can thank me later for my sloth.
2RussellThor7ySame thats pretty much why I choose cooperate.
2Kurros7yLol, I cooperated because $60 was not a large enough sum of money for me to really care about trying to win it, and in the calibration I assumed most people would feel similarly. Reading your reasoning here, however, it is possible I should have accounted more strongly for people who like to win just for the sake of winning, a group that may be larger here than in the general population :p. Edit: actually that's not really what I mean. I mean people who want to make a rational choice to maximum the probability of winning for its own sake, even if they don't actually care about the prize. I prefer someone gets $60 and is pleasantly surprised to have won, than I get $1. I predict that overall happiness is increased more this way, at negligible cost to myself. Even if the person who wins defected.
2Ander7yAgreed, I think that the rational action in this scenario depends on one's goal, and there are different things you could choose as your goal here. I also think I shouldve set a higher value for my 90% confidence of the number of people who would cooperate, because its quite possible that a lot more peopel than I expected would choose alternate goals for this other than 'winning'.
1Eneasz7ySo if a group using your decision-making-process all took this survey, "rationally" trying to win the contest, they would end up winning $0. :)

Well I took this year's survey, answering as many questions which I felt comfortable answering (nice one on the last question).

I'm confused by the CFAR questions, in particular the last four. Are they using you as 'the person filling out this survey' or the general you as in a person? "You can always change basic things about the kind of person you are" sounds like the general you. "You are a certain kind of person, and there's not much that can be done either way to really change that" sounds like the specific you.


8Adele_L7yThe ambiguity is intentional, apparently [http://lesswrong.com/lw/j4y/2013_less_wrong_censussurvey/a2z9].
2JacekLach7yHuh! Now I'm even more confused. How can my answer be useful if they don't know how I interpret the question? Esp. since my answers are pretty much opposite depending on the interpretation... My bad for not finding that comment. I skimmed through the thread, but didn't see it.

I tend to dismiss Steven Landsburg's critique of the standard interpretation of experiments along the lines of the Ultimatum Game, since nobody really thinks it through like him. But I actually did think about it when taking this survey (which is not the same as saying it affected my response).

I took the survey, after having found out about the site a mere 15 minutes prior. As you might imagine this is my first comment.

So that's how Omega got the money for box B!

Census'd! And upvoted! But an upvote isn't really quite strong enough to demonstrate my appreciation for this work. Thank you.

Did the whole thing. Cheers to all involved. :)

[-][anonymous]7y 21

I made an account after taking this survey.

[-][anonymous]7y 21

I wanted an ADBOC answer to the HBD question. Lacking that, I answered the question about the belief (regardless of whether I endorse policies that people with the same belief typically endorse -- like I did for the AGW question), but given that (unlike the AGW question) it was in the politics section and that it mentioned a movement, I felt a bit uncomfortable doing that. Also, I interpreted "we" in the Great Stagnation question as "American", given that that's what the cited Wikipedia article says.

In the income question I only counted my PhD scholarship after taxes, and not the "reimbursement" of travel expenses (which often exceed the amount I actually spend while travelling) nor the private tutoring I've very occasionally done (I kind-of consider the money a gift in exchange of a favour).

I rounded my top-level contributions to Main and Discussion down to zero.

3Vaniver7yIn the US, at least, this would be taxable income. (I find this amusing in the context of the sibling comment about tax evasion being a problem.)
2[anonymous]7yOther comments to my answers: In the Living With question, what's the point of the “most of the time”? These days I probably spend more time at my girlfriends' than at my own place (though neither makes up the absolute majority of hours in an average week), but I wouldn't consider myself to be living in the former because I don't have the keys to that place, don't pay the rent there, don't do homework there (other than setting and clearing the table when I eat there), and don't spend any nontrivial amount of time without my girlfriend there. So I answered “With roommates” (where I do do all of those things), but given the “most of the time” I'm not sure that was what I was supposed to answer. “Are you planning on having more children? Answer yes if you don't have children but want some” -- we want some children some day, but we're not planning on having children now. (I'm not even sure how I answered anymore.) There's no such thing [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_wage_law#European_Union] as a minimum wage law in my country. Rather than spending time trying to figure out what the answers should be supposed to mean in this situation, I just skipped the question. “How would you describe your opinion of social justice, as you understand the term? See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_justice” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_justice”] -- as I understand the term before or after reading the lede of that WP article? On reading it, I realized there's a mostly kind-of sort-of sane mainstream social justice movement that social justice warriors on Tumblr and the like aren't representative of any more than the likes of Dworkin and Daly are of kind-of sort-of sane mainstream feminism, so I answered 4/5 -- but would have probably answered somewhere around 2/5 hadn't I seen that WP article.

Survey completed. I cooperated without thinking about it much. I believed that TDT-like reasoning would probably lead a significant number of others to cooperate too, and I felt I should support the group.

Always lurking, never commenting, but I'm happy to participate in the survey since the results are interesting to read.

Regarding the preferred relationship status I'm not sure that combining uncertain with no preference was ideal. I have no strong preferences on that issue and I'm very certain of that.

Also, the religion question was difficult, in that I had to choose between "atheist but spiritual" and "atheist and not spiritual"- I'm an atheist but go to religious services regularly. But it isn't out of anything "spiritual" which is at best a hideously ill-defined term, but rather out of emotional and communal attachment.

The Singularity question is also broad, since there are so many different meanings. I interpreted it as about an intelligence explosion (partially since I consider the others to be much less likely).

Overall, this version was well-done. Thanks for putting in the effort, and thanks for everyone who helped contribute questions.

7[anonymous]7yI would have interpreted it as “I realize that I am not a monkey brain, but am a timeless abstract optimization process to which this ape is but a horribly disfigured approximation [http://lesswrong.com/lw/ep/applied_picoeconomics/]”, but IIRC I was told that was not the actual meaning.

Survey taken. I'm particularly interested in what the ratio between an individual's estimate of alien life in the milky way vs observable universe is (not just the individual averages)

Answered the survey, including the bonus questions. Took me 32 min altogether. Comments:

How many people are aware of their IQs? I'm from Germany and have never taken an IQ test. Is knowing about one's IQ common enough in the US that not making that question a bonus question made sense?

There were quite a few questions (e.g. estimate weekly internet consumption, estimate how often you read about ideas for self-improvement) which felt pointless - how could you possibly get accurate estimates from people, given how ambiguous these questions were, and how difficult these estimates are?

The money question: After I failed to come up with a unique passphrase, I chose cooperate and left the rest blank. This kind of stuff tempts my perfectionism, and that's a lose-lose situation for me.

Finally had time to take the survey. I missed the on-line IQ test from the previous survey. Since I haven't taken any professional IQ-test I had to leave the question blank.

I defected, and then afterwards I realized that the proportion of people cooperating could likely have a causal effect on future in-group cooperativeness among LWers. Dammit, I should have thought of that earlier.

7Benquo7yYeah, that's why I always take the option called "cooperate" if the prize is small enough that my expected winnings are a rounding error either way. I'm not sure what I'd do if the names were flipped relative to the incentives.

Some notes on my answers:

  • I put 0 for supernatural, God, and religion, not because I think the answer is literally zero but because I didn't think Yvain wanted us answering using exponential notation.
  • Some of the other probability estimating questions deeply confused me, and I'm pretty sure I didn't base my answer on any kind of consistent assumptions. Like I based my cryonics answer on the assumption that uploading counts without even really thinking about it, but then assigned a lower probability to anti-agathics by assuming it required keeping the original meat alive. Also I'm really confused by the simultation hypothesis debate.

It was noted that for our convenience, 0 is interpreted as epsilon and 100 as 100-epsilon.

This has been the most fun, satisfying survey I've ever been part of :) Thanks for posting this. Can't wait to see the results!

One question I'd find interesting is closely related to the probability of life in the universe. Namely, what are the chances that a randomly sampled spacefaring lifeform would have an intelligence similar enough to ours for us to be able to communicate meaningfully, both in its "ways" and in general level of smarts, if we were to meet.

Given that I enjoyed taking part in this, may I suggest that more frequent and in-depth surveys on specialized topics might be worth doing?

Took the full survey again. I am kind of sad that we didn't get some of last years questions which resulted in awesome answers such as the 'describe lesswrong in a sentence' one.

Surveyed; hope to receive karma per most ancient tradition.

I think your relationship preference question conflates very different clusters. You should differentiate between the kind of polyamory which is trendy in rationalist communities these days, the kind where a wealthy/high-status man is allowed to keep more than one wife (or a wife and couple of mistresses), the kind of serial monogamy which is the default relationship model of the West and Western-influenced countries today (have lots of sexual long-term boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, marry one of these, divorce, repeat), arranged marriages in cultures in which divorce is impossible or virtually impossible, and perhaps some other empirical clusters on relationship-space which I am forgetting about.

After several years of answering the probability questions I finally grew tired of them and left them blank. You would have been more likely to get a response from me if you had used radio buttons like with the political questions (0-25%, 25-50%, 50-75%, 75-100%, or something like that).

Also, next year I would like to see more hypothetical questions. Both standard ones like the Prisoner's Dilemma, the Trolley Problem, etc... ... (read more)

I thought Europe was about a third the size it actually is, whee! On the bright side, at least I didn't claim to be confident about that.

On the god/simulation questions, I answered them using the theory that they're the same thing, but in retrospect perhaps that isn't quite what you had in mind?

Amusingly, google chrome autofill still remembered my answers from last year. This made filling the demographic part a bit faster, and allowed a little game: after giving a probability estimation I could check my answer from a year ago.

I had to skip "Professional IQ test" questions, having never taken one. What's a cost-effective way to get this done?

2aletheianink7yI live in Australia and took the entrance to Mensa IQ test. I was accepted but not given a number, and was told to contact the evaluating psychologist (even though I wasn't sure how to find that out). That may be a way to do things, but since I never followed through I don't know how hard it is to get the results like that. I just put the lower bound for Mensa entrance because I know I at least got that, and mentioned it in the comments so they can discount it if it's not very useful.

Apparently I don't participate in the community. I only comment once a year, to report that I took the survey.

6TheOtherDave7yThis causes your %positive score to be awesome. :-)

Took the survey. Got the Europe question right, although if you believe my confidence level (25%), pretty much by sheer luck.

I'm disappointed to see that most of my suggestions weren't used.

I'm sorry. I couldn't put in checkboxes where you can choose as many as you want, because my software can't process them effectively. And I am reluctant to take suggestions about clarifying or adding more options to different questions as past experience has told me that no matter how fine the gradations are people always ask to have them finer. I took your suggestion about better divisions of Christianity and I thank you for making it.

Took the survey.

I took the survey.

I took the survey (answered nearly everything).

I have taken the survey!

So you'll exclude yourself from the sample, artificially biasing the census against you?


I defected. If I win I'll donate it all to GiveWell's top-rated charity--so the rest of you defectors have stolen statistical cash from the world's poorest! (Unless you were planning to do the same thing.)


I really liked the questions last year related to if you had $x, how happy would you be? I know I missed the 1 week comment period for this survey, but Yvain, could you put those questions in again next year??


I took the survey.

I, like many others, was very amused at the structure of the MONETARY AWARD.

I'm not sure it was an advisable move, though. There's an ongoing argument about the effect of rewards on intrinsic motivation. But few argue that incentives don't tend to incentivise the behaviour they reward, rather than the behaviour the rewarder would like to incentivise. In this instance, the structure of the reward appears to incentivise multiple submissions, which I'm pretty sure is not something we want to happen more.

In some contexts you could rely on most of the participants not understanding how to 'game' a reward system. Here, not so much, particularly since we'd expect the participants to know more game theory than a random sample of the population, and the survey even cues such participants to think about game theory just before they submit their response. Similarly, the expectation value of gaming the system is so low that one might hope people wouldn't bother - but again, this audience is likely to have a very high proportion of people who like playing games to win in ways that exercise their intelligence, regardless of monetary reward.

So I predict there will be substantial... (read more)

I enjoyed taking this survey. Thanks!

I can't wait to see the results and play with the data, if that becomes possible.

Took the survey. I was pretty confident about my answer for Europe because I thought I remembered the number, but it turns out I was wayyy off. So I looked it up and yep, sure enough, the number I was remembering was for the EU, not Europe as a whole. So, uh, whoops.

I took the survey a few days ago and ran into trouble trying to answer the IQ test-related questions (IQ/SAT/ACT/etc.) because I would have to dig around for the answers to those questions and that required more effort than I wanted to spend on a survey.

The instructions for entering percents was also a bit confusing.

Other than that, the survey was well designed. I really appreciated how clear you were about where it was OK to stop and that it was fine to leave things blank.

2Nornagest7yIt's probably fine to answer the standardized test-related questions to the best of your recollection instead of bothering to dig out paperwork. I'm fairly sure the SAT score I gave was exact, since that number ended up having moderately important consequences for me, but I may have been a point or two off on the ACT, or up to three or four on IQ. The error bars on the wider survey are almost certainly wide enough that that level of imprecision in individual reporting is of absolutely no consequence, if your experience is anything like mine.
1TheOtherDave7yDo you have any advice for what kind of instruction would be less confusing?

Done. I hate to get karma without posting something insightful, so here's a song about how we didn't land on the moon.

4redlizard7yTaking the survey IS posting something insightful.
3gjm7yJust to check whether I've understood: Do you in fact consider that song insightful? If so, what insight do you think it embodies? (I'm trying to figure out whether you, or they, are being ironic, or whether you are seriously endorsing as insightful a song that seriously complains that the Apollo moon landings were fake. My prior for the latter is rather low, but evidence for the former just doesn't seem to be there.)
2JoshuaZ7yApparently it comes from an album each of which is a song arguing for a different conspiracy. Perhaps they are meant as parody?
3gjm7yI do so hope so.
2Martin-27yI'm a musician if that's any hint.

I noticed a bunch of people saying that they will donate the money if they win. I find that a surprisingly irrational sentiment for lesswrong. Unless I am missing something, it seems people are ignoring the principle of the fungibility of money. It seems like the more rational thing to do would be to commit to donating 60$ whether or not you win. (If your current wealth level is a factor in your decision, such that you will only donate with the higher wealth level with the prize, then this can be modified to donating whether or not you win if you receive a windfall of 60$ from any source (your grandmother gives a generous birthday present, your coworker takes you out to lunch every day this week, you find money in the street, you get a surprisingly large bonus at work, your stocks increase more then expected etc))

4Jiro7yPeople intend to donate the money when they win because they don't want the prospect of gaining money to influence their decision. Donating it is just an alternative to burning it. (It does also follow that those people who donate it for this reason must find the utility of such a donation to be very small.)
2jazmt7yBy 'their decision' do you mean the decision to cooperate or defect? If so you would predict people would not offer to donate if there was no choice involved (e.g. all participants in the survey automatically receive one entry)? It does not seem like this is what people are describing e.g. http://lesswrong.com/lw/j4y/2013_less_wrong_censussurvey/a3xl [http://lesswrong.com/lw/j4y/2013_less_wrong_censussurvey/a3xl] http://lesswrong.com/lw/j4y/2013_less_wrong_censussurvey/a2zz [http://lesswrong.com/lw/j4y/2013_less_wrong_censussurvey/a2zz]and http://lesswrong.com/lw/j4y/2013_less_wrong_censussurvey/a36h [http://lesswrong.com/lw/j4y/2013_less_wrong_censussurvey/a36h]

I just realized I forgot a very important question I really want to know the answer to!

"What is your 90% confidence interval for the percent of people you expect to answer 'cooperate' on the prize question?"

I've added this into the survey so that people who take it after this moment can answer. If you've taken the survey already, feel free to record your guess below (if you haven't taken the survey, don't read responses to this comment)

3Manfred7yHmm, I guess I expect more defectors than cooperators, so let's say 8-70
2Emile7yInteresting, I answered with a symmetrical range, but afterwards thought I should have biased it towards there being more cooperators, as I expect that to be more likely.
2threewestwinds7yI failed at reading comprehension - took it as "the minimum percentage of cooperation you're 90% confident in seeing" and provided one number instead of a range. ^^;; So... 15-85 is what I meant, and sorry for the garbage answer on the survey.
2[anonymous]7yV unir ab vqrn, fb V nafjrerq ng znkvzhz ragebcl (v.r. svir gb avargl-svir); vf gung evtug be fubhyq V whfg unir yrsg gurz oynax?
2CoffeeStain7yRight down the middle: 25-75
[-][anonymous]7y 15

I was confused by what was meant with supernatural. I mean if you believe you live in a simulation of course things that are not constrained by the physical laws of our universe might occasionally show up in it. Preferred the ontologically basic mental entity formulation of previous polls.

7Kawoomba7yIndeed, these vague questions that are meant to supposedly "capture the intuition" may have their uses, but not in this community. Instead, the vagueness just pollutes the interpretability of the results: For example, "anything which can be described at some level becomes a part of the natural laws just by including that definition, ergo nothing supernatural can exist" maps true beliebers and staunch Hitchensites to the same answer. Another thus ensuing problem: "There are parts about you which cannot be changed" can translate to "... under any conceivable circumstances" or to "given a typical life trajectory". Both are different questions with different intuitions.

What is the probability that there is a god, defined as a supernatural intelligent entity who created the universe?

I've included our potential simulators in this.

What is the probability that any of humankind's revealed religions is more or less correct?

I've included religions such as venturist.

What is the probability that at least one person living at this moment will reach an age of one thousand years, conditional on no global catastrophe destroying civilization in that time?

I've put the answer includying and excludying the use of cryonics.

I estimate that 90% of people will have deffect.

I wouldn't mind if my survey wasn't anonymous.

I defected, because I'm indifferent to whether the prize-giver or prize-winner has 60 * X dollars, unless the prize-winner is me.

3Nornagest7yI cooperated, because I'm more or less indifferent to monetary prizes of less than twenty dollars or so, and more substantial prizes imply widespread cooperation. I view it as unlikely that I can get away with putting myself into a separate reference class, so I might as well contribute to that.

I took the survey.

Taken. Now self-consciously thinking up some witty comment, because I am in more of an introvert state right now.

I don't answer survey questions that ask about race, but if you met me you'd think of me as white male.

I'm more strongly libertarian (but less party affiliated) than the survey allowed me to express.

I have reasonably strong views about morality, but had to look up the terms "Deontology", "Consequentialism", and "Value Ethics" in order to decide that of these "consequentialism" probably matches my views better than the others.

Probabilities: 50,30,20,5,0,0,0,10,2,1,20,95.

On "What is the probability that significant global warming is occurring or will soon occur, and is primarily caused by human actions?", I had to parse several words very carefully, and ended up deciding to read "significant" as "measureable" rather than "consequential". For consequential, I would have given a smaller value.

I answered all the way to the end of the super bonus questions, and cooperated on the prize question.

Took survey. Now realize that given the first phrase of my passphrase the second word is easily determined. To enable me to claim the prize anyway should I win it: it is powdery and turns red and black in reaction to potassium hydroxide.

Nice job on the survey. I loved the cooperate/defect problem, with calibration questions.

I defected, since a quick expected value calculation makes it the overwhelmingly obvious choice (assuming no communcation between players, which I am explicitly violating right now). Judging from comments, it looks like my calibration lower bound is going to be way off.

Completed survey.

Feedback: I feel like it would be valuable to disambiguate between "I'm planning to have more children in <2years" from "I'd like to someday have kids".

"am I a student?" and "how do I make money?" like separate questions to me. Like student is sort of an occupation, but it's not a way to earn money. I am both a student and self-employed, and about 6 months of the year I do internships = for-profit work.

It would be awesome if Time of LW included both a mean and median time or something, also perhaps a total time spent on it. For me it varies hugely, and I really had no idea what to put. Some weeks I spend many hours on it, other weeks 0.

Done the survey. Nice touch at the end.

I took the survey, was fun!

I felt so rebel giving passwords right above Google's message:

Never submit passwords through Google Forms

All the extra credit questions!

Yes I did the survey. PW: one two.

Firstly I need to also say that giving probabilities to things that are either very low or very unknown is not very helpful. For example, aliens etc I don't know and as others have pointed out, God or simulation master, are they the same thing? Also giving the probability to us being Boltzmann brains or something very weird like that is undefined as it involves summing over the multi-verse which is un-countably infinite etc. For the simulation hypothesis I think we simply cant give a sensible number.

On a more general note, for friendly AI/unfriendly AI I think more attention should be on the social and human aspect. I don't see what maths proofs have to offer here. We already know you can potentially get bad AI because if you get an evil person say then give them a brain upload, self modifying powers etc, then they quite possibly will self modify to make themselves even more evil and stronger, turn off their conscience etc. What the boundaries of this are we don't know and need actual experiments to find out. Also how one person behaves and a society of self modifiers could quite possibly be a very different matter. Questions like do a large range of people with different values converge or diverge when given these powers is what we want to know.

Answered all questions, I hope I helped!

I'm very curious to see how the monetary reward works out.

What about being the ultimate defector and submitting multiple times to increase your chances of winning (and screwing up the survey results as a side effect)?

3Benquo7yHmm, or you could just do four times as many "cooperate" dummy entries, similarly increase your chance of winning, and increase the size of the prize as well. Are "No I will screw things up" answers counted towards the PD?
4V_V7yBut that would still be a defection on a meta-level towards the people who played a single time. If you account for the possibility of playing multiple times, this game is an example of the Tragedy of the commons [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons]

Did that.

Re. relationships: The only people I've heard use "polyamorous" are referring to committed, marriage-like relationships involving more than two adults. There ought to be a category for those of us who don't want exclusivity with any number.

I've left most of the probability questions blank, because I don't think it is meaningfully possible to assign numbers to events I have little or no quantitative information about. For instance, I'll try P(Aliens) when we've looked at several thousand planets closely enough to be reasonably sure of answers about them.

In addition, I don't think some of the questions can have meaningful answers. For example, the "Many Worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics, if true, would have no testable (falsifiable) effect on the observable universe, and therefore I consider the question to be objectively meaningless. The same goes for P(Simulation), and probably P(God).

P(religion) also suffers from vagueness: what conditions would satisfy it? Not only are some religions vaguely defined, but there are many belief systems that are arguably relgions or not religions. Buddhism? Communism? Atheism?

The singularity is vague, t... (read more)

Re. relationships: The only people I've heard use "polyamorous" are referring to committed, marriage-like relationships involving more than two adults. There ought to be a category for those of us who don't want exclusivity with any number.

Huh. This is what I've usually heard referred to as "polyfidelity". The poly social circles that I'm familiar with encompass also (among others) people who have both "marriage-like" and "dating-like" relationships, people who have multiple dating-like relationships and no marriage-like ones, and people who have more complicated arrangements.

P(religion) also suffers from vagueness: what conditions would satisfy it? Not only are some religions vaguely defined, but there are many belief systems that are arguably relgions or not religions. Buddhism? Communism? Atheism?

The question is "What is the probability that any of humankind's revealed religions is more or less correct?"

"Revealed religion", to my interpretation, means "a religion whose teachings are presented as revelation from divine or supernatural entities". (See Wikipedia, where "revealed religion" links t... (read more)

8Paul Crowley7yMy circle uses polyamorous to include wholly non-exclusive relationships; to indicate exclusivity we'd say "polyfidelity".
7MugaSofer7yI left them blank myself because I haven't developed the skill to do it, but the obvious other interpretation ... are you saying it's in-principle impossible to operate rationally under uncertainty? Do you usually consider statements you don't anticipate being able to verify meaningless? The obvious next question would be to ask if you're OK with your family being tortured uner the various circumstances this would suggest you would be. I believe I've read that story. Azimov-style robots prevent humans from interacting with the environment because they might be harmed and that would violate the First Law, right? Could you go into more detail regarding how as you "usually hear it described" it would be a "catastrophe if it happened"? I can imagine a few possibilities but I'd like to be clearer on the thoughts behind this before commenting. Hmm. On the one hand, political stupidity does seem like a very serious problem that needs fixing and imposes massive opportunity costs on humanity. On the other hand, this sounds like a tribal battle-cry rather than a rational, non-mindkilled discussion. I don't know, I find most people don't identify such a pattern and thus avoid a BWCW effect; while most people above a certain standard of rationality are able to take advantage of evidence, public-spirited debunkers and patterns to screen out most of the noise. Your milage may vary, of course; I tend not to may much attention to environmental issues except when they impinge on something I'm already interested in, so perhaps this is harder at a higher volume of traffic.
2TheOtherDave7yUpvoted entirely for this phrase.
5Daniel_Burfoot7yThis phenomenon is very real and should have a catchy phrase to describe it.
5TheOtherDave7yIn my workplace we call it "crisis management," fully aware of the ambiguity of that phrase.
4[anonymous]7yBriefly, how do you usually see the singularity described?
3Vaniver7yI get the impression that this is actually a core part of Thiel's argument. Consider this [http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/278758/end-future-peter-thiel/page/0/4], for example.

Delurked and taken (finally); this is my first comment. I'd been wanting to take this survey for a while, but offline matters kept me away until now. At least I got in a good stab at most of the extra credit questions.

I second the following suggestions:

  • Clarify the income question on tax status (pre-tax / post-tax / pre-some taxes and post-others) and individual vs. household. I mention the third tax possibility here because some taxes are deducted by the employer, so employees don't see that money in their paychecks. If the question intended is along the lines of "Other than tax refunds, how much money do you / your household receive (that you can use in a budget and could theoretically spend, although some of it may be set aside for further taxes) in a year?", then this matters.
  • Add a "None" option to the mental illness question to distinguish between "none" and "didn't answer". Checkboxes would be nice, since mental illnesses can interact with each other, but Yvain has stated that he can't put them in the survey. I will mention this anyway in case checkboxes become viable for future versions of the survey.

I will also make a furthe... (read more)

Took the full survey (ouch, my calibration is terrible, especially if I misunderstand the question...). I find it a bit frustrating that it asks only about the SAT and ACT (which I haven't taken), and not, for example, the GRE. Otherwise it was really fun without taking very long, thanks Yvain!

Took the survey. I assume from the phrasing that 'country' means where I'm "from" rather than where I currently reside (there is more room for uncertainty about the former than about the latter). Might be interesting to put both questions.

4radical_negative_one7yThe survey's exact wording is: So, if you for example grew up in France and currently live in the USA, and you thought of yourself primarily as being "from France" then France would be the correct answer. If you thought of yourself mainly as American, then USA would be the correct answer. In other words, neither answer would be "wrong".

Survey taken!

I tried it a few days ago and it didn't submit as far as I can tell - in between I looked up the answer to the calibration question, but I answered as I did originally (NAILED IT anyway).

Survey gripe: I answered "left-handed" for the handedness question, but I only really write with my left hand, and do everything else with my right. My left hand might be a little more dextrous but my right is definitely stronger. As such I'd see myself as cross-dominant rather than ambidextrous; is this something that could be included on future surveys or is it not useful for the kind of data you're collecting?

Finally did it. I'd like exactly 7 karma please.


For the questions about the many worlds hypothesis, and whether we are living in a simulation, it seems to me that there is no way to know the truth, because the world would look just the same, but it may sometimes be useful to think as if they were true? Or am I just missing something fundamental?

I enjoyed reading about the MONETARY REWARD.

Took the survey.

I chose to defect. Defecting maximizes the expected payoff for me personally, and the expected overall payoff isn't affected by my decision since Yvain just keeps whatever money isn't claimed.

An interesting variant would have been for Yvain to throw away whatever money was lost due to defections, or donate it to some organization most don't like. In that case I would probably have cooperated.

I answered everything I could. I wish I could have put what my IQ is, but I've never taken an official test. I'm not sure I want to know what my IQ really is. If it's lower than I want, I think I'll feel inferior, envious, and generally frustrated that I can't do much to improve it.

5[anonymous]7yWhat is true is already so. Owning up to it doesn't make it worse. [http://lesswrong.com/lw/id/you_can_face_reality/]

I've never been IQ tested.

One-boxing is not necessarily what you will do. You can still judge incorrectly, and choose to two-box, and end up with $1,000. That's something you can still choose to do, but not what you should do.

Done, including most bonus questions. Missed the IQ ones since I've never had that test, and defected before reading the comment saying the money was coming from someone's pocket rather than lesswrong (order of preference for where money is: my pocket>lesswrong>random lesswrong survey completer). Though I'd probably still defect knowing it's coming from Yvain.. ideally next time you could find a source of prize money who everyone wants to take money from?