2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey

by Scott Alexander2 min read26th Oct 2014730 comments


Personal Blog

It's that time of year again.

If you are reading this post and self-identify as a LWer, then you are the target population for the Less Wrong Census/Survey. Please take it. Doesn't matter if you don't post much. Doesn't matter if you're a lurker. Take the survey.

This year's census contains a "main survey" that should take about ten or fifteen minutes, as well as a bunch of "extra credit questions". You may do the extra credit questions if you want. You may skip all the extra credit questions if you want. They're pretty long and not all of them are very interesting. But it is very important that you not put off doing the survey or not do the survey at all because you're intimidated by the extra credit questions.

It also contains a chance at winning a MONETARY REWARD at the bottom. You do not need to fill in all the extra credit questions to get the MONETARY REWARD, just make an honest stab at as much of the survey as you can.

Please make things easier for my computer and by extension me by reading all the instructions and by answering any text questions in the simplest and most obvious possible way. For example, if it asks you "What language do you speak?" please answer "English" instead of "I speak English" or "It's English" or "English since I live in Canada" or "English (US)" or anything else. This will help me sort responses quickly and easily. Likewise, if a question asks for a number, please answer with a number such as "4", rather than "four".

The planned closing date for the survey is Friday, November 14. Instead of putting the survey off and then forgetting to do it, why not fill it out right now?

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




Thanks to everyone who suggested questions and ideas for the 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey. I regret I was unable to take all of your suggestions into account, because of some limitations in Google Docs, concern about survey length, and contradictions/duplications among suggestions. The current survey is a mess and requires serious shortening and possibly a hard and fast rule that it will never get longer than it is right now.

By ancient tradition, if you take the survey you may comment saying you have done so here, and people will upvote you and you will get karma.


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Done. Too bad the basilisk question wasn't on it; I hope that will one day be possible.

5private_messaging7yThere is no disagreement that only a small percentage of LWers believe in it (just as there's no disagreement that only a small % of scientologists are even aware of the more arcane aspects of their "religion"). But yeah if you had a survey the actual % may be worth listing on RW.
9gwern7yThe coverage of the basilisk I've seen in the media does not include that, IIRC. Given the widespread mockery of those aspects & their failure to keep it under wraps, I'm not sure how ignorant the rank and file these days really are.
4Jiro7yDefine "believe in the basilisk". Even Eliezer doesn't believe in the basilisk exactly as stated. But he does believe that basilisk-like ideas could be dangerous for basilisk-like reasons.
6private_messaging7yThere's no such thing as basilisk exactly as stated, because it has never been stated exactly.
3marchdown7yIt would have been a nice insurance agains possible future PR shitstorms. Was that your primary reason for suggesting it?

Did the survey!

I took the survey. Out of curiosity (too late to change now) what should I have answered if I'm not my father's first child, but I'm the first child he had with my mom? (There are kids from my dad's first marriage, but I didn't grow up with them).

I went with "no older siblings" since I assumed this was a question about socialization (or maybe even about uterine environment) but not siring. But I'd like to know for next year.

This should be a warning to us all about how hard it is to frame a good queston.

I would also like to know for next year. I have four older siblings on my father's side, and two on my mother's, and only spent any home time with one (from my mother's side). So, I answered 6 for older, but depending on whether this was a socialization or uterine environment question, the best answer might have been either 1 or 2 for older.

Taken! The way you were being so apologetic about the length, I thought it would be much more grueling - I found it quick and fun! :)

I completed the survey, huzzah!

Did the survey. Also, now I know my digit ratio!

Filled in, but did not do digit lengths because I have no access to a printer or scanner in the near future.

Completed the survey (arguably the first thing I've actually contributed to LW, though I've discussed it at some length offline; this is my first comment ever). I have some degree of access to a scanner but not conveniently (same goes for a ruler actually; at best I may have a measuring tape somewhere I could find in under an hour's search). I filled out all the rest, aside from the N/A questions. Some of my answers have very low confidence (calibration percentage?), though.

A tip for those who don't have the equipment to perform the actual test: if you can verify that the lengths of the fingers on your left and right hands are equal (align the crease in the skin at the bases of the same finger on each hand, palm-to-palm), you can use the same technique to compare the D2:D4 lengths (one hand against the other). My fingers are the same length regardless of which hand (to the limit of my ability to measure without mechanical aid), and my D2:D4 ratio is somewhere in the range 1.00 < D2:D4 < 1.05, probably under 1.02 but definitely in excess of 1.00. As a cisgendered male, I guess I'm weird?

Oh, and some feedback: Part Four's "Moral Views" section could have used links (L... (read more)

5Stuart_Armstrong7yYou should post this as a comment to the original post, not as as a reply to another comment! ;-)


I'm a bit confused about the accuracy of my BSRI because my true answer was frequently 'only towards my SO', such that my score would be drastically different were I single.

[-][anonymous]7y 11

I'm a bit confused about the accuracy of my BSRI because my true answer was frequently 'only towards my SO',

Same here. And in some cases it was ‘except towards my parents’ or ‘only when I'm very tired’. I still tried to take some kind of weighed average.

4marchdown7yThis is weird. I haven't noticed that until you've pointed it out, but I believe that my masculinity score was only a little lower than all the benchmarks and not extremely low only because I've considered how my partner would gauge BSRI questions. They seem to push me towards expressing masculine traits. Isn't it interesting that a sex-role inventory doesn't make allowances for situations priming different sex roles in people?

Survey complete! I'd have answered the digit ratio question, but I don't have a ruler of all things at home. Ooh, now to go check my answers for the calibration questions.

Took the survey.

And yeah you should warn about the material needed for the digit ratio question in advance, so people don't start the survey if they aren't in the right conditions for it.

I'm done, but my ruler isn't good enough that I'm super confident in my digit ratios; I would have preferred one less significant digit (no pun intended, but I'll take it anyway).

Took the survey. I always feel like I did the last one only recently.

Done - and mildly disappointed that we won't be measuring the prevalence of transponyism this year.

Does this post appear on LW's Main or Discussion pages for anyone else? I only found it via an offsite reference. Edit: Nevermind, I had my Main set to 'Promoted' instead of 'New'.

Took the survey.

Taken the survey (would have loved to do digit ratio, but too difficult to get access to the equipment needed).

I did the survey. (Comments on specific aspects appear as replies.)

It's time to decouple sexual orientation from gender identity! If my gender is neither male nor female, but I'm primarily attracted to one of those, then I'm neither homosexual nor heterosexual (nor bisexual nor asexual). But neither am I some nebulous other; if only I had a binary gender identity, then suddenly I would have a binary sexual orientation too! Of course, some people identify specifically as homosexual or heterosexual (and some people even have prima-facie contradictory identifications such as both male and lesbian), and you could ask about that if you like, but you should also ask the more fundamental question of which genders one is attracted to.

9CBHacking7y... and that doesn't even get into the sexual-vs.-romantic issue. My girlfriend is cis and bisexual, but only andro-romantic (hetero). She identifies as bi, for purposes of broad categorization such as surveys like this, but has no interest in dating other women even though she is sexually attracted to them. In other words, yes, the better way to ask such a question would be something along the lines of "which gender(s) are you romantically attracted to?" and "which gender(s) are you sexually attracted to?" as different questions.
8TobyBartels7yThe questions Family Religion and Religious Background seem to parallel the questions Religious Views and Religious Denomination, but they are phrased differently. The first is my family when I was growing up, while the second is simply my family. So as it happened, I was not thinking of the same families when answering them! Perhaps I should have paid more attention the name of the question Religious Background, which I really only noticed just now when I wanted to identify it for this comment. You did not in fact get information about my religious background in my answer to that question; you got information about the religious background of my spouse of less than 2 years (and my stepchild).
8TobyBartels7ySo I filled out the whole survey, and then I got to the part about the digit ratio, and I thought, OK, I'll do this! But I can't do it now (no photocopier at home, can't trust a measurement to 3 digits if I'm not doing it the same way as others). And I can't keep my answers up until I can do it (no battery in computer, must be turned off to transport, Lazarus plug-in has been problematic). So I put in a public and private key but no data. I will gladly supply the data to you tomorrow, using those keys to identify my survey.
7TobyBartels7ySome countries hold elections but not major national ones; and sometimes a country has elections, but most people in them still can't vote. (Examples are Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, respectively.)
6TobyBartels7yI'd be much more comfortable answering the probability sections if I knew what epsilon is. I usually say 0% when the value is less than 0.5% and 100% when the value is greater than 99.5%, rounding to the nearest whole percentage, on the grounds that the whole point of using percentages is to avoid explicit fractions (common or decimal). But then you ruin this by explicitly mentioning 0.5% and 99.99% as possible answers. If you had put a hard limit on the number of digits allowed, then I could have used that. In the end, since I saw no consistent guidance, I fell back on my usual practice. The result is that I had a lot of 0s and 100s; hopefully that won't mess up your algorithms. ETA: It is probably relevant here that I am a naturally lazy person.
4Sarunas7yI think it might have been better to ask people to estimate what are the odds that a given statement is true. If a probability of a statement is close to zero or close to one, it gives us better precision without having to worry about digits after the decimal point (however, if a probability is close to one half, it is probably better to ask for a probability). Although it is easy to convert odds to probabilities, how many people in this survey actually took the mental effort to remind themselves to calculate the odds first and only then to express them as probabilities? I might be wrong, but I guess that only a minority. An idea for the next year survey - it might be interesting to compare the answers of two groups, one of which would be asked to estimate probabilities, the other one to estimate the odds.
5TobyBartels7yI don't fit in well with any of the 5 answers to the Political question, and there was no Other, but skipping it also didn't seem right. (Several questions have explicit cases when they are to be skipped, but this was not one of them.) I eventually picked 1 of the 2 that seemed less wrong than the other 3; I would have preferred to pick some sort of non-moderated mixture of those 2. (Actually, that is how I usually describe my politics when asked for a response in the form of a political party: somewhere between the ___ Party and the ___ Party, only more extreme.) The Complex Affiliation was not a problem. (Actually, I was still torn between 2 answers, but this time I would have been happy with either of them!)
4TobyBartels7yMy public key is the same as my user name. Should it have been anonymous? (My private key was randomized and only identifies me if you know what format I use for general-purpose random strings.)
4Vaniver7yAssuming Yvain does the same thing as last year, both the public and private key will be released as part of the survey dataset if you checked the 'release my survey data' box.
7dthunt7yFaith in Humanity moment: LW will not submit garbage poll responses using other LW-users as public keys.

I finished the survey.

Taken! Thanks as always for running it

Except for the digit lengths, survey taken!

I took it. If it's anything like last year, officially 2/5 of my karma will be from surveys.

[-][anonymous]7y 75

Took the survey. My first one. Thanks for putting it together Yvain/Dan.

I took the survey. Started on the BSRI but abandoned it because I found the process of giving vague answers to vague questions distressing.

I'm missing something here, I filled in the public and private and keys, but saw no game theory problem. Are we being given equal chances of the monetary reward?

Anyway, fun survey.

4Vulture7yPresumably. The idea is to incentivize participation in the more difficult digit-ratio section. (Although, of course, that does create a game-theory problem...)


Didn't have a scanner, so I traced my hand on a piece of paper with a pencil and measured that. Not sure I got enough accuracy to take seriously. Oh, well.

6therufs7yGiven the ambiguity of the directions, you're probably as close as anyone else.

About two hours ago, I submitted an incomplete census return -- it looks as if some keystroke produces an immediate submission, at least on my browser. I'll be submitting a complete one later today. Yvain, if you want to suppress the incomplete one and need help in identifying it then I can help. I was partway through the calibration questions when I accidentally submitted.

(I see TrE had the same problem.)

[EDITED to add: Complete return now submitted.]

Did it! I'm shocked that my digit ratio is so high. Like, I figured that it was pretty high, being a bisexual genderfluid "man" (assigned at birth, that is), but I didn't expect it to be greater than 1. Also, it was much shorter than I expected.

Taken. Wasn't bothered by the length -- could be even longer next time.

I exist in a quantifiable way! (I took the survey)


I think it is somewhat unrealistic to expect individual digit ratios to be accurate to three significant figures (although I understand that two significant figures might be too crude a measure to show effects of smaller size). One can hope that the errors are symmetric and it doesn't matter.

Completed. Very excited to see the digit ratio data.

I did the survey in all its parts, and upvoted every top level comment to promote LW's census partecipation.

It was fun and not particularly long, although I miss the 'global prisoner dilemma' of the last survey.

I completed the survey (and learned surprising things about my digit ratio)

[-][anonymous]7y 68

I took the survey! This is my third survey.

Answered. WRT Type of Global Catastrophic Risk, I answered conditioned on greater than 90% of humanity being wiped out before 2100, which I assume is what you meant. If it wasn't, well, I ruined everything, then.

4jdgalt7yI wondered about that too, but for me "wiping out civilization" includes the possibility that some disaster leaves half of humanity alive, but smashes all our tech, knocking us back to the stone age. Intelligence forbid!

Answered all I could except the digit one because of no access to scanner. Looking forward to the results!

In-group fuzzes acquired, for science!


I took it. A bit sad that it's shorter than the last one.

6roystgnr7yI took it. A bit happy that it's shorter than the last one. Last time I didn't find time to do any of the optional questions, but this time I did all but a couple.

Done. Fairly high confidence that I'm still the lone Filipino LessWronger.

Survey done, awesome as usual, Yvain. Can't wait for the results.

Survey finished- erred on the side of not screwing up Yvain's numbers where possible, but I'm curious what the ideal way to mark down Religious Background for results of families that divorced over religious disagreement is. Also had a really strong desire (thwarted, but present) to put a SQL injection into the question about whether the universe is a simulation, which is a bad idea no matter what the answer turns out to be or whether I could conceivably affect the simulation. It's like a pascal's wager mixed with a Russian roulette, only the gun is fully loaded. Either I screw up the numbers, I tank the survey, or I crash the simulation. Dear brain, we were reading about akrasia just recently, were you paying attention?

Why would the universe be particularly likely to run an SQL statement in a form question about whether the universe is a simulation? All you have to do is think the attack and


Just completed my first survey!

Did the survey!

Took it.

EDIT: I was surprised to find the BEM test in it. I took it some time ago and it resulted in 65-70% F and 50-60% M (as far as I can see largely because of my strong and caring relationship to my children).

I didn't determine my digit-ratio during the test but did right now. I arrive at totally different values (between 0.91 and 1.05) depending and hand and exact points and the copier print reading gives still different values. My best guess is that it is somewhere around 0.96.

9Elund7yI think you're supposed to measure from the middle of the bottom crease to the middle of the tip. Also, since the bottom crease itself can be about a millimeter or two wide, I measured from the middle of that crease by its width in addition to its length. When I do that I get consistent results even on repeated measurements.

Survey taken!

[-][anonymous]7y 64

I did the survey.

I hope you don't count fanfiction as "books", because otherwise my response is off by at least two bullet points.

I took the survey.

Survey surveilled!

Nope. You've been surveilled, by the survey.

7Vulture7yI think you've been surveyed, rather. (Although undoubtedly surveilled as well, given the current political climate...)
8TobyBartels7yWell, in all fairness, Rubix presumably did also survey the survey. And hopefully perused it as well, maybe even filled it out!

Tooken. My scanner was being evil today so I only had low-res overview scans, and could only get to within a tenth of a centimeter, but I think my results are dramatic enough that it's not wildly incorrect to use my guess? Drop me if I'm wrong, I should be easy to pick out of the crowd via karma.

Done! Wish I had had a scanner handy going in, I'm curious about the digit ratio.


Can anyone explain the Bem Sex Roles thing and why its relevant? I scored slightly more masculine and less feminine then average which confused me slightly. Its all self reporting though so I'm not sure how much it will express m nature vs what I value (like to think about myself)

Done, though sadly without the digit ratio due to lack of equipment. I'm a newbie and I just thought that was really cool.

I did the survey! This is the second time I've completed an iteration of this survey, but this year was the first time I answered all the questions. I also did all the extra credit except for the digit ratio question.

Took the survey.

Finished the survey. Didn't answer the SSC question even though I read it regularly because I plan to take the edited version when it's posted there, and I also didn't answer the digit ratio question.

Did it, that was fun! Can't wait for the results.

Did the survey! I think i gave highly contradictory answers.

Survey done, including digit ratio. And I learned something new.

But not particularly confident in the accuracy of my measurement.

Took the survey, except for the digit ratio part.

[-][anonymous]7y 62


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

The entire community is extremely insular and is weighed down with it's own established ideas. Most of the writers speak with total conviction, absolutely convinced of their own conclusions, despite the entire point of the endeavor being the pursuit of ever increasing amounts of correctness, thus making them 'less wrong'.

It consists mostly of extremely narrow demographics, cutting it's objectivity off at the knees by creating a culture that is perfect for serving as echo chambers despite their criticism of one another. It has also engaged in censorship of ideas, something that CANNOT be allowed in a group that is trying to further rational thought.

Aside from that there is also the personality cult surrounding Eliezer Yudkowsky. Objectivity is impossible if people weight the merit of your arguments by your popularity, which is inevitable in such a situation.

[-][anonymous]7y 62

Took the survey. Skipped the digit ratio - I could have done it but didn't feel like walking to the copier or finding a ruler.

Next year I want to see an independent measure of conscientiousness, and compare this between people who bother to answer the digit ratio question and those who don't...

Survey done, except for the digits ratio question!

I would have given a response for digit ratio if I'd known about the steps to take the measurement before opening the survey, or if it were at the top of the survey, or if I could answer on a separate form after submitting the main survey. I didn't answer because I was afraid that if I took the time to do so, the survey form, or my https connection to it, or something else would time out, and I would lose all the answers I had entered.

5dspeyer7yIt's a Google-forms survey. I'm pretty sure they don't do that. Can't blame you for being cautious, though.
[-][anonymous]7y 60

Did the survey.

[-][anonymous]7y 60

Done, except the digit ratio thing.

I filled in the survey! Like many people I didn't have a ruler to use for the digit ratio question.

I have taken the survey, and to signal my cooperation I have upvoted every existing top-level comment here. Do unto others...

Survey complete!

I'm kind of surprised at how much better I feel like I've gotten about reasoning about these really fuzzy estimates. One of my big goals last year was "get better at reasoning about really fuzzy things" and I feel like I've actually made big progress on that?

I'm really excited to see what the survey results look like this year. I'm hoping we've gotten better at overconfidence!

The gender default thing took me by surprise. I'm guessing that a lot of people answer yes to having a strong gender identity?

4Nornagest7yThis has seen a lot of discussion over at Slate Star Codex. Judging from the anecdotes I've seen in the comments there, there doesn't seem to be an obviously dominant answer, although of course there are self-selection issues in that context; I'll be interested to see what the survey turns up.

Submitted. (Yvain, if you're reading this, you might want to see my note about an accidental incomplete submission.)

I am somewhat disappointed to be asked about favorability with a movement without allowing me to distinguish between the ideals of that movement and the movement as it exists (see: feminism and social justice, which, as phenomenon in reality appear to be ways to generate indignation on tumblr -- I love equality but do not use tumblr and I don't see any purpose in being indignant on the internet).

Also, as regards a "Great Stagnation": Strongly Doubt is not the opposite of Strongly Believe. So I have strong doubts where the balance of my estimation is that Cowen is incorrect -- my radio button does not exist, it is too far to one end of the spectrum, despite not being a hyper-radicalized opinion.

7TobyBartels7yThere's the movement as it exists, and there's one facet of the movement as it exists. For example (and not to push any particular point of view here, it's just an example), I'm involved in the feminist movement. But I spend no time on Tumblr. Sometimes I read things that reference Tumblr, and my impression is that to get involved on Tumblr would be a colossal waste of time, so I don't do it. (Once in a while somebody links to something on Tumblr, basically saying "Look at this thing that I saw on Tumblr.", and I look at that one thing, but I never feel the urge to do more.) I also make it a point not to get indignant on the Internet, even when discussing feminism. (Occasionally I get indignant in face-to-face contact, but I have time to edit myself on the Internet.) Most of the feminism that I do on the Internet is arranging face-to-face meetings of feminists, so there's not much to get indignant about. But occasionally I expand my focus to commenting on posts where a discussion, or even an argument, is taking place. The last time that I did that, one person private-messaged me to call me "diplomatic" and another person agreed that I was right after all; both of them had gotten indignant before this, but I hadn't. (To be honest, this foray was more successful than usual, but the usual is neutral, not disastrous.) So I do not use Tumblr, and I very rarely get indignant on the Internet, but here I am, in the feminist movement as it exists.
[-][anonymous]7y 58

Done, except the digit ratio thing. I still picked a public key and a private key, so that if I get near a scanner or photocopier before November 14 I will submit an otherwise empty survey response with my digit ratios and the same public key and private key as today. Is that OK?

In Political, going only by the descriptions after the colons it looks like Liberal is halfway between Social democratic and Libertarian, and I picked it based on those, but... note that Moldbug also is socially permissive in most all the senses I care about (besides the post I linked, he also supports gay rights) and yet his position doesn't resemble that of the US Democratic Party or the UK Labour Party.

In Less Wrong Use, I rounded my top-level posts down to zero.

In Time on LW and Hours Online, thanks to LeechBlock, I didn't have to pull numbers out of my ass! Likewise for Meditate thanks to Beeminder. OTOH, I answered Books by counting the books I can remember reading and dividing by an anally extracted estimate of the fraction of books I read that I remember.

In the second part of the Calibration questions, does “correct” imply ‘correctly spelled’? My answers are P(correct and correctly spelled) + P(rec... (read more)

I answered that I'm cis by default, but I would freak out if I woke up in a woman's body.

I think it's totally reasonable to consider that freaky for reasons other than that you now have to live as a woman. I think the spirit of the question was more, "If you were a woman but had the same personality, would you be okay with that?"

8DanielFilan7yYou can make your own soylent. I do so, and it's pretty tasty. http://diy.soylent.me/ [http://diy.soylent.me/]
6RichardKennaway7yWikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bem_Sex-Role_Inventory] describes its origin. The items on the test are based on the opinions of 100 Stanford undergraduates in the 1970s about what traits of behaviour and personality in each sex are socially desirable, and the norming of the test was done with a total of about 1500 Stanford undergraduates. Here [http://libres.uncg.edu/ir/uncg/f/l_borders_twenty_2001.pdf] is a review article about the BSRI from 2001.
7Lumifer7yLOL. Oh, boy...
5TobyBartels7yCue the jokes about the 1970s … but the fact that they were all Stanford undergrads (very W.E.I.R.D.) is probably even more significant.

Done! The length is fine; the questions are interesting and fun to consider.

EDIT: removed concerns about "cryivf" if. "srzhe" nf ynetrfg obar (znff if. yratgu); gur cryivf nccneragyl vfa'g n "fvatyr obar".

You should probably Rot13 this. I scanned the comments before I did the survey, and I couldn't remember why I was so confident in the correct answer, but I was.

Survey completed. Account created to get starting karma and increase likelihood/amount of future participation.

I'd like to note that the current formulation of sex/gender/sexual orientation questions forced me to misrepresent myself because the technically correct answers seemed to cause an even greater misrepresentation. I would like extra options to the "sex assigned at birth" question, perhaps "male, now transitioned to female/other" and vice versa, to account for other-gendered transitioners; but I'll be the first to admit that this probably isn't a major issue.

I'm confused. If you were male at birth and transitioned to female, can't you just answer the "sex assigned at birth" question male, and the gender question with "transgender m -> f" ?

Well, that's how I answered, but "other" would have been a more honest description of my gender. The question asked: "With what gender do you primarily identify?" and I don't have a female identity, only what I can describe as a femininely androgynous body image (prompting transition treatments) and much heavier social dysphoria about being male'd than female'd, although the optimal no-mental-suffering-causing option would be to be recognized as non-binary. Answering "AMAB other homosexual" probably wouldn't have had a statistically relevant effect but the possibility of being interpreted (even though realistically nobody would have cared about it in the anonymized answers) as a "male" genderqueer attracted to men was psychologically too painful.

I completed most things except for the digit ratio. Thanks for putting this together, the results are always very interesting to see. Now to see how many of the trivia I got right.

Carrier has arrived ... what? huh? Where am ... oh right, yea, did the survey.

We did it. Mission accomplished.

y'all a bunch of paranoid delusional mentally-disabled freaks who can't get laid

Taken. Looking forward to seeing the results!

Took the survey. However, my answer for the probability of MWI is "Since MWI makes the same predictions as the standard interpretation, asking for the probability of MWI is meaningless. It is like asking "this glass is 50% full of water. What is the probability that it is half empty? What is the probability that it is half full?" I put 0 for the MWI question, but I'm not sure what you want for that.

For some of the other probability questions, my answer is "I don't have enough information to come up with a good estimate, and I also don't have enough information to come up with a probability that takes into account my inability to come up with a good estimate". Again, I put 0.

Also, after the test, I'm starting to get worried how you anonymize the questions. Releasing the data without a name attached is not anonymization, if the answers people give are enough to identify them.

6[anonymous]7yBoth are 100%. Duh. Likewise, I interpreted MWI to include any interpretation that makes the same predictions as it. I still gave an answer less than 100% because I wouldn't completely rule out all objective collapse theories just yet.

Done. The basilisk question was really interesting.

Welp, gotta go and destroy all humans now...

727chaos7yI don't think I saw such a question? Spooky.
5Vulture7yI suspect it was a joke, but god only knows wrt that clusterflip...

Survey complete!


Hopefully, i'll be able to change a few of my answers regarding the LW meetup frequency by next year. And the answers regarding donations should change drastically within 3 years.

Was pretty happy that I knew a bunch of the answers wrt the calibration section. :)

Now hand over them Karma points.

Took the survey!

Done, except for the digit ratio, because I do not have access to a photocopier or scanner.

I took the survey.

I have filled in the survey (I wouldn't have minded if it was longer!)

[-][anonymous]7y 53


I did everything but finger length. I am shame.

[-][anonymous]7y 53

Did the survey!

Did it, including the digit ratio.

I may have found a problem-- if I didn't click on the background after answering a radio button question, then using the down arrow marked a lower radio button. I think I cleared up all the resulting errors, but it took two passes, and I may not have caught all the errors.

5NancyLebovitz7yI didn't express how serious I think the down-arrow problem is, though perhaps my computer habits are unusual enough that no one else had it. I think it led to at least ten wrong answers, and some of them showed up on the second pass when I was correcting the first batch. Did anyone else notice this problem?


Is it deliberate that the size of the MONETARY REWARD is not stated anywhere?

Finished it. I can't wait to read the post that talks about how bad people are at following directions.

I can already tell you that...well, you remember the preview thread. The one where I posted a version of the survey saying in big letters on the top "DO NOT TAKE THIS, IT IS NOT OPEN" and the first question was "You are not supposed to take the survey now" and the only answer was "Okay, I'll stop"?

Four people took it. Obviously they won't be counted.

Did those people get the coin probability question right?

5TheOtherDave7yIf there were more of them, I'd be interested to know if there were significant differences in the survey responses between the people who did and didn't.

Done! The survey has been a progressively smoother experience each of the past three years. And it's nice to have a time to think about the past month's habits in a structured way during the school year.

My first comment is to say I did the survey.

I completed the survey. (Did not do the digit ratio questions due to lack of available precise tools.)

Submitted, answering almost all questions.

The hardest question was choosing a single favorite LW post.

Also, I wasn't sure if Worm should count as more than one book. (It didn't end up mattering.)

A scanner + Photoshop makes it significantly easier to measure digit ratios.

9[anonymous]7yWas that question not there yesterday?
7Vulture7yI'm starting to feel rather disappointed that I took the survey so early. Should have waited around for Scott to add the interesting questions...
[-][anonymous]7y 52

Surveyed --- I feel somewhat unconfident about my calibration.

Did it just now. Lone portuguese (from Portugal) here with high certainty.

[-][anonymous]7y 52

Took the survey! Now to upvote everyone who took it.

For those that have mentioned a lack of a ruler, I used this one online: http://iruler.net/.

Might be worth it to link in the survey, if it's still editable.

7[anonymous]7yFirst thing I thought was ‘I'm not sure it's accurately calibrated’, but since we're measuring ratios it doesn't matter.
4Elund7yYou can click "select your monitor dimension" to resize the ruler. The default they gave me was wrong. I actually suggest making the ruler even smaller than the authentic size, so that the distance between millimeters will be shorter and thus the ratio will be more precise.

I'll be interested to compare the results to the 2014 Effective Altruists Survey from earlier this year. Peter Hurford will be presenting its results soon, and I believe he's cross-tabulating them with those on the 2013 LW Census (including figures like the gender ratio and how much people donate).

Also: I've now taken the survey. There were some interesting questions there.

I took the survey.

I have a few suggestions though.

For the race question, I recommend allowing people to pick more than one option, or creating an extra option saying "I don't primarily identify with one race".

For profession, I feel like it was unclear what people who aren't currently students or employed are supposed to pick. What they most recently worked in or studied in a formal setting? What about students who haven't declared a major yet? The field of study they're leaning toward?

For the time in community question, I suggest clarifying whether that includes lurking. My guess was no, but I think it was sufficiently vague to where a significant number of people wouldn't have guessed that.

I would also be interested in seeing a question relating to use of artificial cognitive enhancement techniques such as tDCS and nootropics.

Thanks for working on the survey. :)

Survey completed in full, reporting in for karma as per ancient tradition.

Thanks to Scott and Dan for all the work they put into this!


I tried doing it on my phone earlier, but was having "issues" and decided to wait until I could do so on a laptop. In the mean time, I read the digit ratio comments and decided to try and measure mine.

I measured wrong, and the ruler (which is no more precise than half centimeters) did not come with me to my current location. *is sad*

I have submitted the survey, AND for the first time realized I'm not sure the example lifespan in the anti-agathics question should be understood as continuous. And I learned about natural law!

Done did the survey!

Thanks, I did the survey. I had been lurking some multiple months in irc and reading bits of sequences and now made an account after the survey.

I would be interested to work with the organizers to include an actual IQ testlet in a future survey.

9Elund7yMy worry is that taking an IQ test online (even timed with reliable questions) cannot duplicate the exact same experience as taking an IQ test in a proctored setting. There are likely to be more confounding factors that throw off the scores relative to proctored tests, since the environments cannot be as strictly controlled.
5kuudes7yWell yes. Mainly including a couple of testlets would alleviate the self-test worry. We could infer the population average IQ relative to those testlets' hardness, which could confirm or disprove the self-reported IQ accuracy. I have understood that there has been some amount of doubt related to self reporting of IQ on the census here.
5Elund7ySure, if you gave the same test to a representative sample of LWers and to a representative sample of the general population, you could calibrate IQ scores across them. I still expect it to be less reliable than proctored IQ tests though, not because I'm worried about people lying about their scores, but because of a higher incidence of confounding factors such as distracting noises, internet connection failures, and even the presence of daylight from a nearby window. http://h-m-g.com/projects/daylighting/publicity%20daylighting.htm [http://h-m-g.com/projects/daylighting/publicity%20daylighting.htm] I suppose it might be interesting to include some IQ questions anyway, as it might still turn up some interesting results. We'd just have to keep the limitations in mind while analyzing the results.

Hmm, I did worse on those calibration questions than I would've expected.

Most people do worse at calibration than they expect, but you can improve with practice. http://predictionbook.com/

  1. I put an estimate on one calibration question that I knew was wrong. In hindsight I shouldn't have done that. The mistake: I don't know what bone is the longest in the body, but I knew that. So I put down a random answer for that question. But then I felt like it would be cheating on the calibration to put 0% after an intentionally wrong answer, so I put a higher number that wasn't accurate. My mistake, but other people might have done something similar.

  2. I want the political questions to measure the importance of an issue on next year's survey.

6Nornagest7yIf you put down a random answer and know you did, then it seems like the correct estimate for your calibration would be 1 over the size of the sample space. Google tells me there are 206 bones in the adult human body, but a lot them are mirrored left to right, so maybe you'd be looking at something just south of 1%? Probably higher, though, if you filtered out the many small bones in e.g. the fingers and toes, or the vertebrae.
727chaos7yYou're assuming the answer I wrote down was an accurate name of a bone.

I accidentally pressed enter and the form was sent away - half-filled.

This is stupid. I sent another form with only the second half of the survey filled out. Dividing line is the population question, which I incorrectly answered with Rot13(Ehffvn).

8[anonymous]7yYou might want to rot13 that.

Done. I accidentally hit enter when I had everything done except for the digit question, so It submitted my entry and I was not able to answer that question. :(

Completed. I'll be fascinated to see how digit length correlates to gender default. It would imply some very interesting things about sexuality.

I answered every question except the last one (I don't have a scanner set up).

Took the survey. I think I've mentioned this last year: I'd like more clarity about the distinction between a "supernatural" God and living in a simulation.



Thank you for continuing to run it.

Given the decision on a cap in length I think it might be worthwhile to do a second LW Lifestyle and Values survey in addition to the census. At best with half a year of distance to the census.

8Evan_Gaensbauer7yI made this suggestion in the Yvain's call for critiques on the census. Who'd do this. If nobody else is willing, I'd help create the Google Form, but I don't know how to do statistical analysis. Otherwise, I am a generic volunteer for this project, to be assigned tasks.

I am curious what kind of analysis you plan to run on the calibration questions. Obvious things to do:

For each user, compute the correlation between their probabilities and the 0-1 vector of right and wrong answers. Then display the correlations in some way (a histogram?).

For each question, compute the mean (or median) of the probability for the correct answers and for the wrong answers, and see how separated they are.

But neither of those feels like a really satisfactory measure of calibration.

8dthunt7yAt the very least, I suspect one of the analyses will be 'bucketize corresponding to certainty, then plot "what % of responses in bucket were right?"' - something that was done last year (see 2013 LessWrong Survey Results) Last year it was broken down into "elite" and "typical" LW-er groups, which presumably would tell you if hanging out here made you better at overconfidence, or something similar in that general vicinity.

The question called P(Global Catastrophic Risk) should really be called something more like P(not Global Catastrophic Risk). (Or else the question itself should be inverted, but that would be a Bad Idea since some people have now filled in the survey.)

Some US states do not have partisan voter registration, so choosing "no party" does not necessarily mean someone would not register by party if that option were available.

Did the survey! ...And now to upvote everything.


I left the HBD (human bio-diversity) question blank, due to having misplaced my barge-pole.

Took the survey!

i did it yay me

Done. Skipped the digit ration questions to not put off answering the rest.

I've gone back, sorted the comments by 'new', and upvoted everyone who commented they did the survey since I took it, and upvoted everyone who did it before me. This way I've upvoted everyone, and they got more karma. It took me three minutes. If you spend a substantial amount of spare time on Less Wrong, it might be worth it for others for you to do the same. The more people who do this, the more karma everyone gets. Also, it can act as an incentive for people to take the survey for karma even if they're late to the game.

Did so too.


Oh, right. Alternatively, just noticing comments on this post in the 'recent comments' sidebar might suffice.

Me, survey, did, etc.

EDIT: I do not self-identify as a LWer (and am a bit surprised other people here would do that), but I would expect to be in the survey target demographic none the less.

People who frequently play chess are chess players. People who frequently spent time on LW can be seen as LWers. With >1000 karma you simply fit in that category.

Wait, what other people?

I took the survey. No scanner available, alas.

I too have done the survey!

And am extremely excited to see the results.


Looking forward to the analysis and release of data!

I filled out the survey. Thanks for doing this!

The digit ratio instructions are underspecified.

  1. "....from the middle of the bottom crease". It's hard to tell what the "middle" means meaningfully enough to produce any sort of measurement, even to the nearest centimeter; certainly it is impossible to measure "to the nearest hundredth of a centimeter."

  2. The instructions don't mention the left hand, and don't mention the step of scanning/copying your hand. We can easily interpolate, but the instructions are structured as if they are meant to be followed formally, so may as well make them precise.

I forgot to ask, does spelling count on the calibration questions? Because there are several were I was less confidient of my spelling than of having the basically right answer.

7zedzed7yYeah, my "powerhouse of the cell" probability varied from 100 to, like, 40 depending on whether spelling mattered. Then I realized the entry boxes had spell-check and decided that didn't count as "checking a source".

Most comments show exactly one downvote without a clear pattern why. I'd guess that a single person downvoted all these short comments. Can it be that this user doesn't know the custom of upvoting survey-takers?

ADDED 2014-10-25T16:20 UTC: The single downvotes disappeared.

ADDED 2014-10-26T21:10 UTC: The single downvotes reappeared again (at least for a lot of high scoring comments).

[-][anonymous]7y 21

Can it be that this user doesn't know the custom of upvoting survey-takers?

Or disagrees with it.

6Kawoomba7yDoesn't know? Of course said user knows. Do you think there's someone going "Um, lots of upvotes here? I have no idea why, so I better downvote each one."? It's someone who doesn't agree / care for the custom. Probably some crooked man, and not of the Scottish General variety (generally, no true Scottish General). Edit: Don't know who, if it's considered against any unwritten rules, it should be easy to find out who it was.
9Vulture7yThis sentence is utterly impenetrable to me, and googling turns up nothing relevant. My curiosity is piqued - would you mind explaining a bit?
6Kawoomba7ySorry, it was through no fault of your own. The "crooked man" (stand-in for villain) reminded me of the "There Was a Crooked Man [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_Was_a_Crooked_Man]" nursery rhyme. The (short) wiki article should explain the rest. Other than the riff on the No True Scotsman, since indeed the kind of people downvoting others generally consider themselves to be the "true LessWrongers", or so I'd surmise. It was just a throwaway thought, thanks for inquiring :-).
5Neo7ySame happened last year.

Is Anti-Agathics a strict superset of Cryonics? That is to say, would someone becoming cryonically frozen and then restored, and then living for 1000 years from that date, count as a success for the anti-agathics question?

6ChrisHallquist7yI thought of this last year after I completed the survey, and rated anti-agathics less probable than cryonics. This year I decided cryonics counted, and rated anti-agathics 5% higher than cryonics. But it would be nice for the question to be clearer.
4dthunt7yDefinitely had a thought on this order; I went with "don't die at any point and still reach age 1000", though I also don't really consider solutions that involve abandoning bodies counting.

Did the survey!

Minor quibble:

Number of Current Partners (for example, 0 if you are single, 1 if you are in a monogamous relationship ...)

Seems like bad wording - what if you're in exactly one polyamorous relationship? Your partner could be seeing other people, and even if you're not seeing anyone else you wouldn't call it monogamous.

[-][anonymous]7y 44

My first comment here after about a month of lurking is to say that I've completed the survey. Looking forward to seeing the results.

Done. If I were to make a wager I'd say that the correlation between a low digit ratio and stereotypically masculine traits is fairly weak, based on my own >90th percentile high digit ratio yet high masculinity/low femininity scores on the inventory (as well as anecdotal reports from others corroborating my stereotypically masculine traits)

done but for digit ratio

I took the survey. Happy aggregating!

Something that just occurred to me (separate from my took-it comment): Scott, do you take your own survey?

8Scott Alexander7yYes, but I keep my data private because I'd be easy to find otherwise and I don't want everyone knowing my income and politics et cetera.

Quick question: I assume the P(God) question excludes simulators, basement universes created in particle accelerators ect? I know it says supernatural, but since a parent universe would not necessarly obey the same laws of physics as the daughter universe, this could be counted as supernatural.

6ChristianKl7yLast year the question defined supernatural via basic ontological entities with excludes many simulators, this year there no fixed definition and you are up to interpret is as you like.
5Ixiel7yIt said God as an example of supernatural, again making me chuckle as I had to put essentially "committed theist, odds of (defined differently than I do) god and stated superset, 0"

Done! Although I'm not quite sure how that was supposed to be 10-15 minutes...

I have done the survey. Now I am off to upvote everybody else.


Yvain, thanks for organising these! :-)

Did the survey. Accidently pressed submit before calculating digit ratio :( Answered everything else though.

Maybe next time add schizoid personality disorder to the "I think I might have this psych disorder" list.

I took the survey. I won't give it back, either.

Did the survey.

I started reading the articles only recently and just registered the account now.

Did the survey. Thank you once again, Yvain.

I suspect most self-identified communists would baulk at the description of their ideology as "complete state control of many facets of life".

I took the survey. The BSRI reminds me of the MBTI, though, in that the questions are vague and I would probably give different answers depending on various factors, like what time it is or whom I've interacted with recently.

Finished the survey.

such utility

much karma

Took the survey!

Also, a frequent lurker who has finally made an account!

Taken, in full

7Evan_Gaensbauer7yBravo! At this point, having actually gone through the steps of scanning the outline of one's own hand and recording the digit ratios is a heroic feat. You have gone beyond expectations, achieving what many of us could not.

done. I always like doing these. how will the SSC version be different?

I did the survey! I don't have sufficiently convenient access to a photocopier or scanner to be induced to do the digit ratio thing though.

Top-level comment to say yep, took the survey! Well, except for the digit length by tool-aided measurement. However, I did do a rough measurement (which I chose to not record on the survey) by manually aligning the creases on both hands (first to verify corresponding finger lengths, then to compare D2:D4) I determined my digit ratio to be in excess of 1.00 and possibly as high as 1.02, which would make me very unusual (especially for a cis male). Then again, my height already makes me that.

Also, this is the first thread in which I've commented on LW! My actual first comment (with more stuff about the survey) is here: http://lesswrong.com/lw/l5k/2014_less_wrong_censussurvey/bihv EDIT: Feedback that I posted in that other comment, which it was pointed out really belongs here: Part Four's "Moral Views" section could have used links (LW, WP, wherever) for those of us who aren't sure about the selection of moral philosophies. It is a question I had been exploring, but mostly just in a "judge each as they are presented to me" approach and I had not encountered all of them before. Also, the WP articles for some of them do not contrast them with the others, so suggested... (read more)

[-][anonymous]7y 41

Distinguishing Liberal/Social Democratic seems silly, as the difference between Neoreactionary and Conservative is much greater yet they aren't on the poll, and in previous years they were about as common as self-aware Communists.

Also note that the majority of people who pick "Conservative" on LessWrong are probably going to be Neoreactionary in their preferences and one of the more important markers of that group is strongly dissaproving of right wing people who think they can change things by voting and a loathing for the useless and actually harmfull nature of US Republicans.

6satt7yDistinguishing "Liberal" & "Social democratic" seems very sensible to me, assuming the survey should have good discriminating power among as much of LW as possible. On the last survey the two most popular categories were "Liberal" (35%) and "Socialist" (32%); it's not as if either category is superfluous. On similar grounds, I think there's a case for rolling the "Communist" category into the "Socialist"/"Social democratic" category to make a broader "Social democratic, socialist and Communist" category that still splits the more leftist respondents from the more centrist. One could then replace the old "Communist" category with a new "Reactionary" category, improving the survey's discriminating power while keeping the total number of categories constant.
[-][anonymous]7y 40

Did the survey. Seemed shorter than last year but I haven't gone back to double check how long last year's was.

In regards to the question on what sort of job you have, I selected 'other' because I work in a factory. I considered selecting 'business' since the factory is owned by a for-profit business, but given that many of the other options were professional positions where one might also be an employee of a business, and because my job is a labor union job rather than a professional position, I took the 'business' option to be more along the lines of e.g. owning a business. I might suggest adding other options like 'manufacturing labor' or the like in the future, if you get enough similar responses to warrant adding those sort of options.

Did the survey. It felt much shorter this year.

I took the survey.

Took the survey. Anyone else concerned that "largest bone in the body" isn't very well-defined? Largest by volume, longest measurement, ... ?

7TobyBartels7yIt has been reported here that largest volume, longest length, and largest mass all give the same result.

That still doesn't help for the purposes of calibration, when you have uncertainty over whether these are all the same.

3TobyBartels7yGood point.

Took the survey a few days ago, and forgot to even comment! Thanks Yvain and looking forward to seeing what comes out of it

Survey complete!

I always look forward to seeing the results of these.

Did the survey. I don't know what cisgender means, but I assume that's me, as I'm definitely not transgender...

7TheOtherDave7yIt means experiencing little or no conflict between the gender you're generally treated as, the anatomy of your body, and the gender you regard yourself as. "Gender normative" is another phrase that sometimes gets used. (More often, no phrase at all gets used and it's treated as an unmarked case... most people understand "male" to mean cis-male, for example.) It is perhaps worth noting that the term is treated as a tribal signifier on much of the Internet... people who describe themselves as "cisgender" are seen as expressing social alignment with transgender people, which is seen as a "left" position when viewed in U.S. left-right partisan terms. The reasoning here is that being an unmarked case is a form of social power, so by explicitly marking what would otherwise be an unmarked case, the speaker is... well, I'm not sure what, exactly. Calling attention to that power, I guess. Which in this context is understood as aligning with the relatively powerless, though in other contexts (e.g., white people describing themselves as "white") the reverse is true.
3SteveReilly7yYeah, "cis-" (on this side of) is the opposite of "trans-" (across or on the other side of). So if you're currently the same sex as the one you were born as, you're cisgnder.
[-][anonymous]7y 40

Did it. Did all the extra credit except for the digit ratio.

Also, apparently I really have weird ideas about gender, as I'm masculine 55 and feminine 38, more masculine and less feminine than the average male (and I was born male), but I also answered that I don't particularly prefer being born male, modulo the relevant social roles. It's all just sorta a thing that happened; if it had happened the other way, I might have grown up being influenced into different roles and different ways of behaving, but I'd still pretty much be me (complete with being really weirdly headstrong and over-aggressive).

Done it. The whole thing! (edit: except the last question)

Too late now, but an interesting question would be: Have you volunteered for MIRI, CfAR, or the broader mission of rationality or AI-risk? (The question would have to be specified more precisely than that.)

Next year, can we have "something sort of like left-libertarianism-ist" on the big politics question. I think that there are many people here (myself included) that do not know how to categorize ourselves politically, but know that we have a lot in common with Yvain.

Took the survey. Did not read the comments first. Here are my observations after filling it out and reading the comments:

Problems encountered:

  • I followed the instructions carefully for the digit ratio question. I then went to enter my answer and found that the instructions failed to tell me to image my left hand as well as my right, so I gave the partial answer I had rather than go through all the steps again for the left hand. As of this writing, one other person commented on this problem.

Criticism of questions:

  • I realize after the fact that when answering “how many books have you read”, I counted only things which are books in the sense of "the kind of thing that has an ISBN", excluding book-length self-published-on-the-internet documents, and also thought only of new books as opposed to rereads. I request that future versions of this question clarify what counts as a book and whether rereading counts.

  • "Hours Online": what counts as "on the Internet" in today's world is unclear. If I'm writing a book in Google Docs, does that count? If I'm focused on a problem, but I have an IRC channel open in the corner of my screen, does that count? If I'm wa

... (read more)
5[anonymous]7yI used the statistic for my “Everything” block set on LeechBlock, which amounts to interpreting “the Internet” as “the WWW”, but I now realize that maybe time spent reading/writing e-mails and/or on the Facebook Messenger app on my phone should also count.

I did it, I did it, I did it, yay!

I took the survey.

The only part I wasn't sure about how to answer was the P(God) and P(supernatural) part. I put a very low probability on P(supernatural) because it sounded like it was talking about supernatural things happening "since the beginning of the universe" which I took as meaning "after the big bang." But for P(God) I put 50% because, hey, who knows, maybe there was a clockmaker God who set up the big bang?

If one were to interpret these survey responses in a certain way, though, they could seem illogical because one might think that P(supernatural) (which includes God in addition to many other possibilities) would strictly have to have a higher probability than the more-specific P(God). But like I said, I took P(supernatural) as referring to stuff after the big bang, whereas I took P(God) as including any time even before the big bang.

I did the survey. Gadzooks!

[-][anonymous]7y 39

Took the survey.

I completed the survey.

Yvain, in the "Referrals" section I feel the wording is a little ambiguous in what you should do if you were referred by Overcoming Bias but you've not "Been here since it was started in the Overcoming Bias days". I think you should answer "Referred by a link on another blog or website" on the first one and write "Overcoming Bias" in the second question despite the "other than Overcoming Bias" in it. But I'm not completely confident that this is what you would expect, or if other people would read it the same way.

Took the survey! A few things:

  • I'm afraid my answer to the singularity start date is going to get thrown out, because I peg it to have started in the past with the start of the limited liability corporation. I know this is non-standard and weird, but it is genuine.

  • I'm a little disappointed that more of the suggestions from last year's results weren't included. This survey was nowhere near too long and I think that more optional questions (that don't involve outside tests) would add value.

  • Still frustrated with 'highest degree completed' not being 'highest degree completed or in progress.'

  • Don't reuse your password from last year! The public ones were all published! And try harder to make your's unique - last year there were a couple duplicates. If you put 'SQUEAMISH OSSIFRAGE', you're doing it wrong.

3TobyBartels7yDo you really mean that the advent of the LLC marks the Singularity? I would have thought UFAI; the Singularity implies (to me) a level of incomprehensibility (by those before it) that I don't think is really true.
4Username7yI see the advent of modern corporations as the start of independent agents competing for resources and striving for their own goals. It also is when we started seeing the exponential growth that defines our current age, and while there were many other factors that played into this growth, it's a convenient marker. The standard thought is that the singularity is the moment when the speed of exponential growth outpaces the human ability to process that information in real time. I think that definition is too human-centric, and I'd rather refer to the phenomenon of exponential growth as a longer continuous process. So the formation of LLCs was the start of the Singularity, and we haven't seen the end yet. Like I said, non-standard and weird.

Did the survey (a couple days ago).

I wasn't here for the last survey- are the results predominantly discussed here and on Yvain's blog?

3Adele_L7yYes, Yvain will write a post about the results here once it is finished. I think historically that has been around the start of the new year.

I took the survey.

Done! Ahhh, another year another survey. I feel like I did one just a few months ago. I wish I knew my previous answers about gods, aliens, cryonics, and simulators.

Glad to do the survey, and appreciate that LW takes the views of readers seriously, that's great!

FWIW, I said I "strongly disagree" with Feminism and Social Justice, even though I find their Wikipedia descriptions generally agreeable. I think in the future, it would be good to split those questions into pairs: a) "Do you agree with the stated mission goals of X ?", and b). "Do you agree with the actions of people who identify as X ?"

If we're going to bother to ask (b) at all, it's probably best to frame it in a way that doesn't make "some but not all of them" the obvious answer.

For example, perhaps you could identify some groups you consider definitive of Feminism and Social Justice, and we could ask "How often do you agree with $group?" (IIRC, on their own blog Yvain often uses something called jezebel as a metric for what feminists believe.)

I took the survey. Finding a ruler with the correct precision was difficult so I skipped the digit question. Anyone in the Bay Area with the requisite equipment?

6Nornagest7yIf I were doing it I'd just scan an image of my hand in at a high resolution and then use measurement tools in Photoshop or something similar. Should even be possible to do in MS Paint by taking pixel coordinates and doing a little trigonometry. It's the ratio that's important, so it shouldn't matter if the measurements are denominated in pixels or inches. (I didn't do this on my survey because I took it at work.)

Survey complete.

I took the survey. Though I can’t remember my SAT score, which I know I put on the last survey – I wish I had saved my answers last year.

You are probably one of the few people who can identify an exact year when you forgot your SAT scores.

3TobyBartels7yHopefully roryokane will remember this year … it may come up on a survey later!

Competed the survey. Thanks for doing this, the results are always interesting.

Done, without finger question.

¡He terminado!

Done :)

EDIT: and +1 to everyone. It took me more doing that than the survey :|

FINISHED. ALL OF IT. \m/ Literally superhuman.

TIL I'm undifferentiated according to the BSRI... huh.

Karma for all, per tradition. <3

- a long time lurker

P.S. You can trashcan the premature submission that answers Part 8's first question with 23200. While revising my predicted date of the singularity, I brushed my keypad's enter (next to the 3) by mistake. ಠ_ಠ

Nice choice of username. :-)

Done. Thank you for running these.

Took it.

This is my second year taking the survey. I wish I remembered what my answers were last year so I could see how I've changed.

Hello, I'm decloaking from lurker status to say that I took the survey.

Calibration question for the Religious Denomination and P(Religion) questions:

Do the terms "believe" and "correct", respectively, in these questions refer strictly to the supernatural elements of a religion (accuracy of creation story, reification of pantheon, etc.)? Or more broadly over its entire catechism?

In other words, if a virtue ethicist were to feel that Floobian morality is pretty darn sound, but not truly believe that Floob herself literally sang the cosmos into existence... would you call that person a Floobist? Or does a point of disagreement constitute disbelief / incorrectness?

Given the recent example of the Pope coming out in favor of science's version of the origins of everything, I think this is a relevant distinction to draw.

3[anonymous]7yI typed “Please taboo “correct”” into the P(Religion) question.

Survey taken!

Concerning the mental health questions, how do you weight self diagnosed and diagnosed by psychiatrist? Do you think, given the Less Wrong demographic self diagnosis is less or more reliable (intuitively I would tend to more). How should cases like myself answer - diagnosed with asperger by psychiatrist1, two years later diagnosed with ADHD but not asperger by psychiatrist2, several month later diagnosed as neither asperger nor ADHD by psychiatrist3?

I'm new to LW and have been lurking and catching up for a while, but I answered the survey anyway. Working on gathering more ground so I'll be able to increase my interactions soon enough.

Completed the survey.

Two issues: I put a very low donation to charity, even though I consider working for the FHI to be a donation in kind.

Second, I messed up the probabilities, sorry, because I could not give any answer to P(simulation) and P(MWI) other than "NAN" (not a number). I can explain that stance in detail if you want.

Right, let's try and explain...

Consider either an infinite universe, or better yet, a Tegmark multiverse. In this infinite universe, there will be infinitely many copies of you, and of the world. Some will be run on what we would clearly consider to be simulations (a sci-fi super computer programmed by elegant post humans or bug-eyed monsters). Some would be in places we would consider "real". Other would be in places we might or might not consider to be simulations (eg on a giant game of life board, inside a tower of simulations with no conscious simulation at any level, etc...). Add in dust theories, by which we can consider that we are sequences of events from wildly different space-time zones in the multivese.

Amazingly, we can still make decisions in this setting, by appealing to principle like entropy or artificial induction (ie "induction may or may not work, but if it doesn't work, we can't do anything anyway, so we may as well assume it works"). However, asking "are we a simulation" involves some sort of dividing an infinite number of copies of us (some clearly simulations, some occasionally simulations (see the dust theories) some completely a... (read more)

6Kawoomba7yWe want.
4Stuart_Armstrong7yAnswered here http://lesswrong.com/lw/l5k/2014_less_wrong_censussurvey/bini [http://lesswrong.com/lw/l5k/2014_less_wrong_censussurvey/bini]

Took the survey. I loved the calibration questions; it takes ~20 times more effort to come up with the confidence level than the answer, and I always feel I learn about myself. I've messed with some calibration question games before and was downright astonished at how well calibrated I was (the irony is not lost on me); but the questions were all in A-vs-B format rather than free form. The A-vs-B format is much easier to appear to be well calibrated.

5TobyBartels7yOnce you choose your answer, you can still calibrate yourself in A vs B form: ask if your answer is correct (A) or incorrect (B).


Finger thing is weird. My fingers don't have constant length to the tenth of a millimeter, and holding my hand in the copier for a long time was uncomfortable enough that the fingers probably bent at least two millimeters. So if you really need tenths of a millimeter accuracy, disregard the one that has a result for the right hand and says 'nope' for the left hand.

"Social democrat" and "liberal" have been given almost identical descriptions. Don't know if that's deliberate.

taken ^_^

For the future, in the case of multiple choice questions it might be nice to have an "unselect" option. (Some of the questions say "if you don't know leave blank" or similar and then if you accidentally click an option you are forced to choose something)

Took the survey. I almost missed it since I don't really read Main these days.

Are options 3/4 on the BSRI backwards? To me "occasionally" is rarer than "sometimes".

To me "occasionally" is rarer than "sometimes".

I think so too. I found that part odd.

Did it, as every year. Thanks for your work.

Took the survey! Some very interesting questions; I look forward to the analysis.

Survey completed, besides the digit ratio.

Did that too.

I identify with being "mixed race" far more than any individual race (which feels distinct to me from "other", but it was still the only choice for me).

I learned/confirmed non-zero answers about myself for questions I hadn't previously/strongly considered. This could be considered a "bonus" for taking the survey.


3Elund7yNot technically a race, but then again neither is "Hispanic", which keeps getting treated as if it was a race. Race is a social construct anyway, so might as well. I'm a bit surprised "mixed race" didn't occur to me as an option to suggest. It is true that I don't emotionally identify with either of my races, but I don't emotionally identify with "mixed race" either, probably because I wasn't raised in a community of mixed-race individuals and don't know that many mixed-race people. I feel like there isn't really a unique shared culture to unite us. Upon reflection, I've decided that if "mixed race" became available as an option on a future LW survey, I would continue to pick "other", because I really do identify with the human race more than anything else. The word "identify" is key though. If it simply asked what race I am, I would defer to the general consensus for how people should be classified, because I'd assume that's how the survey-writers want us to answer.

Took the survey! Even the digit ration thing! I hope enough people did that for it to be useful.


  • I really like the calibration questions and would like to see more of them.

  • Where were the questions on things like Newcomb's paradox?

  • I'd like the option to enter (rough) confidence intervals, and I'd think they'd be useful for analysis.

  • Why not expand the survey? People could always leave stuff out that they don't want to answer.

[-][anonymous]7y 36

Took the survey. Thanks for the karma, everyone.

[-][anonymous]7y 36

Finished the survey! I'm curious to see what the results will be. Finding my digit ratio was interesting. I expected crazier questions.

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
5Elund7yWhen I first saw that there was going to be a digit ratio question, my first thought was that the survey was going to ask us to estimate our digit ratios, estimate our confidence in our estimates, and then measure the true ratios to see how far off we were. :P

Mission Accomplished.

I definitely want to see the results! For reference, 2013: http://lesswrong.com/lw/jj0/2013_survey_results/

I wonder if we could get a chart with the data matched up over time? Chart community changes over time?

Count me surveyed.

Survey done!

Took the survey! That last one was a hard because I didn't have a ruler :( Also, out of curiosity - has anyone ever had the same Public and Private key before?

Survey completed! Making a note here: Huge success!

Uh, did the survey a few days ago. Bit late to the punch, I suppose.

The ritual has been completed. I await my karmic reword, as per tradition.

There was a lot of good variance in the calibration questions (for me), so nice job thinking of them! Gur ivqrb tnzr dhrfgvba va cnegvphyne fhecevfrq zr jura V ybbxrq hc gur nafjre, nf rira nf n uhtr Zvarpensg sna V unqa'g ernyvmrq vg orng bhg frpbaq cynpr ol 3 zvyyvba.

Also, in a fit of needless cleverness, I made my public key decryptable (by my private key) into a plaintext message that works as an extra layer of identification in the case that I win the money.

Did it! Even the digit ratio question! (which is why I am taking it relatively late)

Unsurprisingly, my digit ratio is pretty feminine (0.969 averaged over both hands).

Could I suggest posting a link to the survey in Discussion as well? I hardly ever check Main any more, and I don't think I'm the only one.

I took the survey.

For the first time I did it!

And want to thank the person who included "homemaker" in occupations list.

I took the whole thing! That's two years in a row.

Done, and I did many (but not all) of the extra credit questions.

Did the survey. Mischief managed.

I completed the survey.

Without an accompanying glossary, my formulation consistently lurked in the critical analysis of the question. At one point I laughed under my breath pondering which resource would rusticate alternative interpretations. A modern Attorney, or Socrates himself!

Who do you currently live with most of the time? (Alone, with parents or other guardians, with partner and/or children, with roommates.)

My house is currently: me, wife, daughter, sister, another sister, mother, father. I put "with partner and/or children", but that doesn't seem like a good fit.

Please give the score you got on your most recent PROFESSIONAL, SCIENTIFIC IQ test

This makes me feel like I should have an IQ number to put here? Is that a thing people usually have?

Place your right hand firmly on the plate of a photocopier or scanner with fingers straight.

I used a picture of my hand. We're just going for ratios, so that should be fine, and it's a lot easier.

5TobyBartels7yMaybe there should be an ‘extended family’ option.
4[anonymous]7yOnly if you're sure your hand is perpendicular to the line of sight of your camera (and not too close to it), otherwise you might get foreshortening effects.

Took the survey - looking forward to the results!

Took the survey! Glad to help out.

Completed. Look forward to the results.

And... done. I would like to point out that X-Risk question may be confusing when skimming. P(X-Risk) looks as if it were asking for probability of catastrophe coming to pass, but the explanations spells out that the probability of humanity successfully avoiding catastrophe should be entered.

Survey taken. I agree with others' points re: the potential inaccuracy of the BSRI, although I also presume that if most other people are considering the fact that their interactions with partners / lovers is dramatically different than those with strangers / colleagues, much of the error in the test will be filtered out. For future tests, it may be helpful to put a qualification on the LW part of the test, asking people to self-identify whether they were taking an average of all interactions, or mostly using those with SOs, etc.

Completed survey less annoying question that required using an annoying scanner that makes annoying noises (I am feeling annoyed). Almost skipped it, but realized that the attitudes of ex-website-regulars might be of interest.

I have taken the survey, including the digit ratio question.

Since there was a box to be included in the SSC survey, I just a little bit disappointed there wasn't a question for favourite SSC post to go with the favourite LessWrong post question.

Did the survey, except digit ratio due to lack of precision measuring devices.

As for feedback, I had some trouble interpreting a few of the questions. There were some times when you defined terms like human biodiversity, and I agreed with some of the claims in the definition but not others, but since I had no real way to weight the claims by importance it was difficult for me to turn my conclusions into a single confidence measurement. I also had no idea weather the best-selling computer game question was supposed to account for inflation or general growth of the videogame market, nor whether we were measuring in terms of copies sold or revenue earned or something else entirely, nor whether console games or games that "sell" for 0$ counted. I ended up copping out by listing a game that is technically included in a bit of software I knew sold very well for its time (and not for free), but the software was not sold as a computer game.

Also, a weird thing happened with the calibration questions When I was very unsure which of a large number of possible answers was correct, and especially if I wasn't even sure how many possible answers there were, I found myself wanting to write an answer that was obviously impossible (like writing "Mars" for Obama's birth state) and putting a 0 for the calibration. I didn't actually do this, but it sure was tempting.

Took the survey. As usual, immense props to Yvain for the dedication and work he puts into this.

Done. Though I feel guilty about skipping a few of the more involved questions.

I did the survey.

I felt that I had to leave blank some of the questions that ask for a probability number, because no answer that complies with the instructions would be right. For instance, I consider the "Many Worlds" hypothesis to be effectively meaningless, since while it does describe a set of plausible alleged facts, there is, as far as I know, no possible experiment that could falsify it. ("Supernatural" is also effectively meaningless, but for a different reason: vagueness. "Magic", to me, describes only situations where Clarke's Third Law applies. And so forth.)

I would like to participate in a deeper discussion of the idea of the Singularity, but don't know if that's welcome on LW. I want to attack the idea on several levels: (1) the definition of it, which may be too vague to be falsifiable; (2) the definition of intelligence -- I don't think we're talking about a mere chess-playing computer, but it's not clear to me whether Minsky's criteria are sufficient; (3) if those first two points are somehow nailed down, then I'm not at all sure that a machine intelligence is desirable, and certainly I'd hesitate to connect one to hardware with e... (read more)

6Elund7yYou should be able to find a lot of info about the Singularity (and proposed ways to influence its outcome) in MIRI publications and LW posts. If you want to have further discussions about the Singularity you can comment below the relevant LW posts. It's supposed to refer to the crease at the base of the fingers.
6Elund7yWhy was I downvoted? Was that from you, jdgalt? Were you hoping to have the Singularity discussion here instead of below another post? If so that wasn't clear to me from your above comment, since you were asking about whether it was welcome on LW, and you seemed to be going off on a tangent (particularly with your latter two points). Also, you didn't seem like you possessed much of the background knowledge regarding intelligence explosion and friendly/unfriendly AI, so I thought you would find it helpful for me to point you toward some relevant sources that might answer your questions, not to mention provide more general information on the topic. Of course, if you're not interested in general information I'd be willing to address your specific questions. Sorry, I'm not trying to be confrontational, I just want to understand what I did wrong so that I can better improve the quality of my comments, as well as clear up any misunderstandings.
8Vulture7yIt seems that I was the one who downvoted you, but now I don't remember why. I've retracted it for now, since I don't see anything wrong with the comment. May have just been a clicking error.
5Elund7yThank you.
3[anonymous]7yI agree with this position, and it was apparently controversial on the LW-TelAviv mailing list. You really ought to back that up.


How real is the research on digit ratio? (On bogus statistics-based research see, for example: http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21588057-scientists-think-science-self-correcting-alarming-degree-it-not-trouble).

In any case, can you please explain how you plan to use digit ratio data?

I, too, took the survey. (And promptly forgot to claim my karma; oh well.)

Done. Foof that was long...


Also, concerning the psychological states. I was diagnosed with a certain something, but the results were largely inconclusive. Chose "was diagnosed".

From what people have said, it seems that after the survey was posted a new question was added about our favorite LW post. Were there any others?

(Posted as a top-level comment at the request of TobyBartels)

I also filled in the survey! Hurrah for laboureous data gathering.

My only two comments are one I made on that post inviting lurkers to post and this one, but I did take last years survey for what it's worth. Though I don't recall my answers to last year's survey, I suspect they line up pretty well with this year's. I wonder if there's any potential in the data to track how respondents answers change over time.

yay - done.

A lot of people seem to have had some trouble with measuring digit ratio. I tried the scanner method, but the fingertips were too far away from the scanner bed to be in focus. I also had a transparent plastic bag between my hand and the scanner, to avoid leaving a handprint on the plate, which probably didn't help. So I used a ruler instead. Which I would have used to measure the scan anyway, so why go via the scan?

Completed. I'm concerned that the "mixed" options for religious background are concealing meaningful demographic information. For instance, my parents are of Christian and Jewish parentage, so I chose the "mixed" option because I do not consider my cultural heritage to be predominantly Jewish or Christian. A person with Hindu and Muslim parents would have the same answer, but a very different cultural background. Perhaps in future it might be better to use a "check all that apply" format?

I took the survey and answered every question. As usual, I found my ability to correctly answer the calibration questions comically bad . . . but hopefully well calibrated.

Took the survey, and it made me realize I'd never bothered to register an account here before now. The situation has been corrected.

Done, but I'm afraid the fingertip measurements were not very precise

Partial success. I meant to fill in the survey completely, but my internet froze at calibration question 5. In an attempt to revive it, I pressed Enter, which resulted in submission of the incomplete survey. Now what ?

8TobyBartels7yTake it again, and report here (which you pretty much already did) that there is an incomplete survey submitted just before or just after calibration question 5, and it should not be counted. ETA: Not that I know what you're officially supposed to do, but that's what many people so far did do.

The political ideology question seems to equate libertarian with libertarian capitalist, and communist with totalitarian There's no option for libertarian communism/socialism.

Also, the moral philosophy question seems to assume one believes moral questions have truth values. "None" isn't given as a choice.

6blacktrance7y"None" is presumably included in "Other", though next year it should probably be a separate option.
5TobyBartels7yThere were ‘left-libertarian’ and ‘anarchist’.
3Leonhart7yThe first option reads "Moral statements don't express propositions and can neither be true nor false." I'm curious what else you wanted. The second clause without the first?