2013 Census/Survey: call for changes and additions

by Scott Alexander1 min read5th Nov 2013155 comments

46

Surveys
Personal Blog

I have finally gotten the survey to a point where I'm pretty happy with it. I have no big changes I want to make this year. But as is the tradition, please take a week to discuss what minor changes you want to the survey (within the limits of what Google Docs and finite time can do) and I will try to comply. In particular, we can continue the tradition that any question you request can be added to the Extra Credit section unless it's illegal or horribly offensive.

You can find last year's survey results here and you can find the very preliminary version of this year's survey (so far exactly the same as last year's) here.

EDIT: I don't particularly like the IQ test or the Big Five test used last year. If you have any better replacements for either, tell me and I'll put them in.

EDIT2: CFAR, you added seven questions last year. Let me know what you want to do with those this year. Keep them? Remove them? Replace them?

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[-][anonymous]7y 32
  • Maybe add Poland to the answers to the Country question -- last year it got more votes than France or New Zealand.

  • I'd use “Male”/“Female”/“Other” as answers to the Sex question and “Man”/“Woman”/“Other” as answer to the Gender question.

  • Why is “Number of Current Partners” write-in and “Children” multiple choice?

  • I'd split the “No” answer in “More Children” into “Not now” and “Never”.

  • I'd add “Apatheism” and “Ignosticism” to the Religious Views question, either as separate answers or as “Agnosticism/Apatheism/Ignosticism” (cf. “Don't know/Don't care/Don't understand”).

  • “Roman Catholic” and “Other Christian” is probably the weirdest possible way of cutting it. I'd have “Christian (Orthodox)”, “Christian (Catholic)”, “Christian (Protestant)” and maybe “Christian (other)”. (And maybe add “Atheist”, which got quite a few answers last year.)

  • Stylistically I'd prefer “None of the above” to “Other / no answer”, but whatever.

  • Would it be technically possible to have “%” displayed right after the write-in fields in the probability questions?

  • Maybe something more specific than “intelligent” in the “P(Aliens)” question -- would octopuses, crows, dolphins, or chimps count? A possibili

... (read more)
2[anonymous]7yIt makes a lot of sense to me, there are about as many Roman Catholics as there are all other Christians.

But LW is skewed more toward historically Protestant countries. I wouldn't be surprised if the breakdown actually has slightly more Protestant-background than Catholic-background.

6[anonymous]7yThis is a good point! On the last (2012) survey 55% of the respondents where from the US, and another 20% from Britain, Canada and Australia, followed by 5% from Germany. So at least 80% of the posters are from countries where Catholicism is significant but not dominant denomination among Christians.
1[anonymous]7yIn particular, 43.6% of respondents picked “Other Christian” last year.
7[anonymous]7ySure, but there are sizeable numbers of both Orthodox and Protestant Christians, and AFAICR they have relatively little in common that Catholics don't also share.
5knb7yAgreed, and LW seems to be especially big in countries where Protestantism is more common than Catholicism (US, Canada, Northern Europe). Protestant background might actually be larger in absolute numbers than Catholic.

I'm going to channel gwern from last year: give us a question that allows us to express disaproval about the handeling of the basilisk.

When I was interviewed about Friendship is Optimal, there was a minor side discussion in the comments on the interview. The comments were nonspecific enough that I think it's OK linking there; I'm pointing out that this is not going away since this came up with no prompting on something that only mentioned LessWrong. That interview is from 3 months ago, nearly a year after Yvain rejected having a basilisk question on the 2012 census.

This is still an issue. It will continue to be an issue. The way forward through this issue is to have something linkable that suggests that "XX% of LessWrongers (dis)agreed with the handling of the situation," so that the next time (Xixidu / RW / some internet rando) mentions the situation, we can point out that what the majority of LessWrongers actually think. (The phrasing there obviously suggests what I think, but if the results come back the other way, that too is useful information!)

I suppose it would be interesting to see if there is anyone left who does approve of how the basilisk was handled. I haven't been able to find anyone defending it recently, and Eliezer himself has implied that he now believes his response to the situation was counterproductive.

What would be the purpose of this question? It's too tempting to signal a contrarian "I am not in a cult" attitude by answering negatively. It is extremely hard to put oneself into Eliezer's shoes when he had to make a decision without knowing the repercussions, like Roko quitting with a bang, the resulting Streisand effect, etc. I suspect that Eliezer had to make similarly unpleasant decisions more than once, and most of them did not backfire as spectacularly. One recent example was handling eridu's posting on radical feminism, which had a potential to blow up but didn't.

What would be the purpose of this question? It's too tempting to signal a contrarian "I am not in a cult" attitude by answering negatively.

You don't really believe that this question's results would be meaningless. If we put the question in and the results were 100% 'I endorse Eliezer's handling of the basilisk', would you and everyone else simply ignore this, saying "it's too tempting to signal loyalty to prominent figures and willingness to make sacrifices"? No, of course not, you would make use of this evidence and cite it in future discussions.

And if one outcome is meaningful, then by conservation of evidence, the other outcomes (like, say, 90% polled expressing disapproval) are also evidence.

7NancyLebovitz7yWhat was the story there? I assumed that eridu simply decided to delete their account. Edited: I assumed that all of eridu's comments were stricken out, but it may have just been on the gender threads.
3DanArmak7yIt won't be very contrarian if everyone answers the same (negative) way.
-1shminux7yNot everyone would, but probably enough people to drown the signal in noise.
0[anonymous]7yWhat do you think would have happened if EY had never bothered dealing with eridu and had let the karma system take care of it as usual?

I suppose it would be interesting to see if there is anyone left who does approve of how the basilisk was handled.

As opposed to which other specific possible way of handling it?

For example I may think that there were both better choices and worse choices, and the Eliezer's choice wasn't optimal, but also wasn't obviously bad. Now do I agree or disagree?

7lmm7yThat's more approval than I was expecting anyone to still have. But it seems like it would be easy to offer a range of choices that would cover most of the possibilities ("was handled perfectly", "was handled fine", "was handled badly but not especially so", "was handled badly enough that it should lead to policy changes"). That said I think the question I'm most interested in is how many people think the current approach is better than the "null option": no special treatment, discuss it normally the way we discuss anything else, and apply the usual up- and downvotes to basilisk-related content.

Saying "I disagree" does not say what the person would prefer instead. It creates a non-natural cluster of people preferring various kinds of alternative solutions. A list of choices would give more information. For example "moderator should ignore it completely", "moderator should use a private message to suggest retracting the comment", "moderator should move all related comments to a separate discussion", etc.

In that way the people who think there should be a specific basilisk-related thread with trigger warnings don't end up in the same set as e.g. the people who think the site should be completely unmoderated. (And maybe we could get a result that most people think Eliezer should have done something else, but there is no general consensus about what specifically it should be, so it is likely that if Eliezer had actually done something else, he would still get a lot of criticism. You can't get this information by posing a dilemma of "I agree" and "I disagree".)

Alternatively, I'd like to have an answer: "I don't fucking care. Forever obsessing over a one-time event that happened years ago is more harmful than the event itself." Which is connotationally completely different from both "I agree" and "I disagree".

1Ben Pace7yYup, this is a very good comment,
8ChrisHallquist7yGiven the linked comment from Eliezer, I would support a policy of trying to give the damn topic a rest as much as possible.
4Humbug7yHow many people have been or are still worried about the basilisk is more important than whether people disagree with how it has been handled. It is possible to be worried and disagree about how it was handled if you expect that maintaining silence about its perceived danger would have exposed less people to it. In any case, I expect LessWrong to be smart enough to dismiss the basilisk in a survey, in order to not look foolish for taking it seriously. So any such question would be of little value as long as you do not take measures to make sure that people are not lying. Which would be possible by e.g. asking specific multiple choice questions that can only be answered correctly if someone e.g. read the RationalWiki entry about the basilisk, or the LessWrong Wiki entry that amusingly reveals most of the detail but which nobody who cares has taken note of so far. Anyone who is seriously worried about it would not take the risk of reading up on the details.
4gattsuru7ySeconding this. I can theoretically accept that there might well be logic bombs, or even just points of discussion that are downvote bait. But even outside of the practical and ideological issues, the current strategy just isn't working, and it's a really stupid thing to be having problems with.
-6Eugine_Nier7y
  • Suggestion: Change SIAI/CFAR to MIRI/CFAR.
  • Requested question: "How much money have you donated to organizations aiming to reduce x-risk other than MIRI/CFAR?"
  • Requested question: "Try to guess the same number that everyone does in the blank below.
9LEmma7yThis is ambiguous. Is it you who are aiming to reduce x-risk, or the organizations who are aiming to reduce x-risk. For example, someone could donate to the malaria foundation because they believe this somehow reduces x-risk, even though the malaria foundation's goal is not reducing x-risk.

Can you add a question that asks if people self-identify with the effective altruist movement?

Repeating the CFAR questions again is going to be skewed because a lot of us will have prior exposure to the correct answers from reading about last year's survey.

Suggested new questions:

About how many hours of television have you watched in the past week? "Television" here means commercially-produced programs that are broadcast on some TV channel; regardless of how you personally access them.

Do you live with pets? Pets are nonhuman animals that live in or around your residence, are not livestock or wild animals, and that you or someone you live with takes care of.

  • Do you live with cats?
  • ... dogs?
  • ... other mammals?
  • ... other vertebrates (birds, reptiles, fish)?
  • ... invertebrates (ant farm, tarantulas, sea-monkeys, snails, etc.)?

Have you ever donated blood?

  • Yes.
  • No; I am not allowed to donate blood in my country.
  • No; I am not sure if I am allowed to donate blood.
  • No; I am allowed to donate blood, but I haven't.

Think about the meals you have eaten in the past week. Whom did you eat with most often? (This is a plurality, not a majority.)

  • I ate alone.
  • I ate with people I live with (family, domestic partners, housemates).
  • I ate with people I work with but don't live with (coworkers, colleagues, fellow students).
  • I ate with other people not listed above.
8Kaj_Sotala7y"Commercially-produced" would seem to exclude e.g. documentaries produced by state-funded broadcasting corporations or with other non-profit funding, and "are broadcast" is vague about whether it includes "have once been broadcast" (does rewatching recorded TV shows count?), and what counts as a TV channel (is Netflix one?). "TV series and movies" or just "anything in a video format" might be better - I'm not sure whether we can really make a meaningful distinction between watching TV and watching non-TV videos anymore.
7fubarobfusco7yYou're right about public broadcasting. But I wanted to exclude Internet cat videos. Possibly "professionally-produced" is what I should have said.
3DanArmak7yI have lots of invertebrates coming in from the garden through the window. Ants have taken up permanent residence; I have not yet convinced them to move their colony into a farm. Does that count?
4Vaniver7yDo you count yourself as "taking care of" them?
6DanArmak7yIt's not a deliberate goal of mine, but my actions do provide them with food and shelter, and I don't act against them where other people might.
0[anonymous]7ySo watching a film does or does not count as television depending on whether or not the film has ever been broadcast on TV? (Where I live, or anywhere in the world?)

I'd like a question about how politically active people are. Tentatively suggested list of answers: vote, vote in primaries, do research before voting, involved with parties, tries to influence legislation by contact with people who can affect it directly, has run for office.

An option for probabilities to the effect of "this is so hard to estimate that I don't think much precision is possible"-- something equivalent to "revival from cryonics isn't going to happen next year, but I don't think there's a sensible way to talk about the odds for thirty years from now". In other words, the militant agnostic position: "I don't know, and you don't either".

Here's a question I've wanted to see about religion, but it would also work for rationality: Has rationality affected any of your major decisions about sex and/or money?

Has rationality been of practical use for you? Time, money, relationships, other.

Do you use rationality (not necessarily learned at LW/CFAR) as a filter for who you associate with?

"Vote in primaries" is a bit US-specific. How about "vote in national elections only" and "vote in other elections" (which would cover primaries, elections for local government, etc.)? Something like that, anyway.

2Xachariah7y"Voting in primaries" is US specific, but it is significantly stronger than "voting in other elections." We have an order of magnitude more people voting in state elections than in primaries. In fact, it's probably the strongest thing that you can do to influence politics in America. It's significantly rarer than volunteering to help elect parties or writing letters to your senator, and everyone who's at a primary already does those things.
5Nornagest7yI only bothered looking up the statistics for California, but there [http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/sov/2012-primary/pdf/2012-complete-sov.pdf] I found 31% of registered voters showing up for the 2012 presidential primary elections, as opposed to 75% for the general election. (The statistics for eligible voters are somewhat lower, but more or less proportionally so.) That's a significant difference, but we're not talking an order of magnitude, and I'd be very surprised to find that that many people are politically engaged in more substantive ways.
-6Eugine_Nier7y
2Emile7yFrance has primaries too now, I think it's an informative option to offer. How about "votes in parties' internal election, like primaries"?
-1Eugine_Nier7yI believe that the amount of effort this takes depends very much on the country.
2NancyLebovitz7yFine with me. I'm not politically active, even in just one country, so I was fairly uncertain about what should go on the list. For that matter, should going to demonstrations be on the list? How about organizing demonstrations?
1Larks7yUnintentional dark humour (does not reflect badly on you): that "does research" is considered rarer than "votes".
0ChristianKl7y"Do research before voting" seems like a strange formulation. It's has a ring of pulling an allnighter before an exam.
3DanArmak7yIt's a good way to decide how to vote if you strongly believe you should vote, but you don't know much about the particular issue being voted on in advance. If the studying only affects your vote and not your other behavior, then why not put it off until the last moment before the election, when the most information is available?
3ChristianKl7yBut it doesn't only affect your vote. Democracy lives from people discussing public events. Reducing democracy to voting seems like cargo cult democracy. There very little real information that's made available right before an election. If you want to judge whether to elect party A or party B, you have to look at the track record of those parties. Judging politicans by the promise that they make the month before election instead of judging them for the track record that they have gives all the wrong incentives.
7NancyLebovitz7yThe track record is still available a month before the election.
2[anonymous]7yIt's a better strategy than never getting informed about politics at all, though.
0ChristianKl7yYes, but I wouldn't use that strategy as a measure of whether someone is politically active.
2NancyLebovitz7yIt strikes me as taking voting more seriously than than voting on the basis of a vague impression. It might not be a measure of being politically active, though.
0[anonymous]7y...or even not voting at all.
5NancyLebovitz7yI'm curious about what proportion of LWers refrain from voting as a matter of principle, but I'm not sure whether this is worth putting in a questionnaire. For that matter, I'm also curious about whether anyone was convinced to stop voting by arguments against it, as distinct from people who didn't vote and now had more reasons for not doing so.
0NancyLebovitz7yAlso, following the news on a daily or even weekly basis means that you're going to get a lot of repetition.
0Xachariah7yEveryone does research before voting according to them. My family members aren't familiar with even the most basic differences between the executive and legislative branches, and routinely make mistakes that would be cleared up with a 1st year understanding of government. They attribute blame/praise to one branch that they couldn't possibly be responsible due to how the separation of powers works. But they've all "done their research, and [they] know a lot better than [I] do about who to vote for."
-1NancyLebovitz7yThere may be a better way to phrase it, but different people certainly acquire varying amounts of knowledge before they vote.
5ChristianKl7yI think twenty years ago the relevant question would have been: "Do you read the political section of daily paper?" Today I'm not sure how to phrase the question.

Add a question about cryonics to distinguish technical feasibility estimate from total probability estimate (the current P(Cryonics) question). This distinction is important, as the results of past surveys are sometimes misleadingly cited as talking about technical feasibility. Something like this could work:

P(Cryonics | No external defeaters)
What is the probability that at some future time, it will become technically feasible to successfully restore to life an average person cryonically frozen today, conditional on no global catastrophe and on the storage facility remaining functional (in some form)?

(I replaced "will be restored" with "feasible", since I suspect it might be morally suboptimal to restore frozen humans as opposed to doing something else, which is a factor unrelated to technical feasibility. The "in some form" is intended to address hypothetical change in form of storage, such as plastination or uploading, taking place before the "restore to life" point.)

4[anonymous]7yWould a future where it would be possible to restore a cryo patient but it'd cost the equivalent of one billion present-day dollars per patient count?
0Vladimir_Nesov7yI think it should count for the purposes of this question (which is about technology, not values/motivation, and reasonableness of a cost depends on values). But since the question is about what happens eventually in the hypothetical where we don't ever run out of time, I guess eventually the cost will become reasonable (in some sense).
0[anonymous]7yAre assuming that the economy will grow forever, so that one billion present-day dollars will eventually become an arbitrarily small fraction of the economy? Unless we colonize other planets within a very few centuries, I don't think that's possible [http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/04/economist-meets-physicist/].
0Vladimir_Nesov7y(I left a comment [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/iz9/2013_censussurvey_call_for_changes_and_additions/a22v] on a new version of the question.)

Family Religion

I suggest "None" as a distinct option.

SAT scores out of 1600

Would still like to know how to informatively fill this out given that, like many people, I took it when I was 12.

What is the probability that supernatural events, defined as those involving ontologically basic mental entities, have occurred since the beginning of the universe?

This is not what people usually mean by "supernatural".

Burns Depression Checklist?

Maybe add a distinction between regularly attending meetups and ever having attended a meetup? E.g. change the "Meetups" question from Yes/No to three options.

8Unnamed7yPerhaps include a broader question about in-person contact with LWers, to include (for example) people who share a house with LWers but don't go to official meetups? Such as: "Do you regularly spend time in person with people who have read Less Wrong?" Never/Occasionally/Often
4MalcolmOcean7yWhile you're at it, might as well make it four. * Have facilitated or helped facilitate a meetup * Attend meetups regularly * Have attended at least one meetup * Have never attended a meetup
[-][anonymous]7y 16

Possible new question: “Who are you living with?” with answers “Alone”, “With parents (and/or siblings)”, “With roommates”, “With partner/spouse (and/or children)”, and “Other”.

(And maybe “Have you had sex in the last 30 days?” with answers “Yes”, “No”, and “Depends on what you mean by ‘sex’”.)

[De-jargonified in response to Xachariah's comment]

The 'Taboo 'sex'' option is somewhat obnoxious, isn't it? You're pretty much saying, "I anticipate that you think I asked a malformed question"

7Xachariah7y"Taboo 'sex'" might want to be rephrased though. Until I saw Luke's response I thought it meant "Yes", "No", and "Yes, and it was really kinky sex!"
2[anonymous]7yYes. Better not use LW-specific lingo in a survey intended for lurkers as well as contributors. (I was going to change it but forgot to; done now.)
3Xachariah7yI normally understand the LW use of 'taboo'. It's just that 'taboo sex' brings up its own meaning/mental image faster.
2[anonymous]7yI'm similarly peeved by words used with non-literal meanings in contexts that prime the literal meaning.
3Alejandro17yThe option "With parents (and/or siblings)" could be rephrased as "With parent/s and/or other relatives" (to cover as well people living with only one parent, with grandparents, uncles, etc.)
2[anonymous]7yI considered adding “one or more” before every noun in the answers, but then didn't bother to; maybe I should have. Also there could be a “With extended family” option.

Add a "No political identity" or at least "It's complicated" or "Other" option to the "Political" question in "Views and Opinions". I'm just not interested in politics: it's hard to evaluate the implications of the elements included in its package deals (as opposed to fooling yourself or signaling tribal affiliation) and that effort ends up a waste of cognition. I don't want to study the listed options merely in order to pick one.

0satt7yI'd prefer keeping the main political question the same (although I can certainly see why you find it inadequate). I'd expect a none/other option to pick up a lot of false positives (people who don't realize their actual political ideologies really are a good deal closer to one of the existing options than any of the others). It'd break backwards compatibility with past surveys, too. I suspect the same sorts of biases/motivations lead quite a few people to claim/believe their broad political views are more nuanced, unique, or lightly held than they actually are. Claiming to be apolitical can bring self-image & signalling benefits, just like claiming to be conservative or Communist or whatever.
2Vladimir_Nesov7yYes. And in the hypothetical where you do manage to get over that, where should you end up in most cases? I think this option naturally comes up after sanitizing your epistemology, and so is sufficiently important for LW to break compatibility with previous years. Some people have previously done adequate research, but I suspect most haven't, so that after realizing that they haven't, they should notice that they don't have a justified position.
[-][anonymous]7y 14

Last year a few people complained that they wanted to take the survey but it had been closed before they got around to it, so this time the closing date should be stated in advance when the poll is opened (and preferably be at least 30 days since the opening).

Modifications to existing questions:

  • Clarify what "looking for more relationship partners" means. Perhaps being open to more relationship partners (but not looking actively) should be distinguished from actively looking and from not being open to new partners.

  • "Planning on having more children" - what's the time frame on that? Am I planning to have more children at some point, or in the near future?

  • For "Religious Background", there should probably be a "Protestant" option before "Other Christian". It doesn't make much sense to lump Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism into one group while having Catholics in a separate group.

  • For "Moral Views", make these checkboxes (check as many as apply) rather than mutually exclusive selections, because it's possible to be both a virtue ethicist and a consequentialist, or alternatively a virtue ethicist and a deontologist.

  • For "Alternative Alternative Politics", these should also be checkboxes, as some of these aren't mutually exclusive.

I'm looking forward to the survey. Thanks for doing this again.

9Vaniver7yAnother suggestion [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/iz9/2013_censussurvey_call_for_changes_and_additions/a0dv] , which I like, is to replace "no" with "not now" and "never."
1[anonymous]7yI thought the same too, but I couldn't think of any decent wording for “open to more relationship partners (but not looking actively)”. Do rule consequentialists simultaneously count both as consequentialists and deontologists?
3blacktrance7yPerhaps the three options should be something like "Actively looking for new relationship partners", "Open to new relationship partners, but not actively looking" and "Not open to new relationship partners". Probably not, Consequentialism is fundamentally concerned with consequences (hence the name), which makes it and deontology mutually exclusive.
1[anonymous]7yExcellent. So consequentialism be it (as I voted in the last two surveys).

I'd like to see an option for referred by other fiction (Friendship is Optional, Three Worlds Collide etc.) as well as the one for HPMoR.

Suggested earlier, perhaps use score voting for politics? That is, ask people to give a number from 0 to 10 expressing how much they approve of the five political options. (I would do this along with asking people to radio button just one of them, so we can see how the radio button compares to the scores, and still compare with previous surveys.)

On the self-reported IQ question, please specify that the test is supposed to have a mean of 100 and stdev 15, and scores from tests with different scales should be rescaled.

It might be useful to have two different questions:

  1. If you've taken an IQ test administered by a psychologist, and still have the scores, please tell us your score here. If your test was not normed to a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15, please renorm it before reporting it.

  2. What do you estimate your IQ to be? As with the previous question, please use a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15.

[edit]We might want to give people an opportunity to say what age they were when they took their IQ test, or ask what test it was- that way we can separate out childhood IQ and adulthood IQ, which can diminish many of the criticisms of childhood IQ tests.

7somervta7y"We might want to give people an opportunity to say what age they were when they took their IQ test, or ask what test it was- that way we can separate out childhood IQ and adulthood IQ, which can diminish many of the criticisms of childhood IQ test" ^ THIS.

This is a minor nitpick, but the options "Man" and "Woman" to the question "What sex were you assigned at birth?" seem kind of off to me. No one refers to a baby as a man or woman! You could just make it "M" and "F" like in the subsequent question about gender.

The same problem as for the cryonics question is present in the anti-agathics question, and arguably it's worse for anti-agathics, as the total probability doesn't inform any decisions. The current question is as follows:

P(Anti-Agathics)
What is the probability that at least one person living at this moment will reach an age of one thousand years?

In my estimate, most of the factors influencing the answer have nothing to do with life prolonging technologies. For a person to live for 1000 years, there has to be no global catastrophe that kills all during all ... (read more)

I would like if there was personal religion question that listed main religions, like the family religious background one does.

I would also like Unitarian Universalism to be among the list of religions, as I would like to test whether or not being UU is correlated with being on Less Wrong.

0Eugine_Nier7yHow about letting people enter specific denominations in general.

Would it be a good plan to change the calibration question? People probably looked up the answer last year, or remember having got it wildly wrong last year... could any of that cause over- or under-confidence in a systematic way compared to a new question? It doesn't seem impossible.

On the sexual orientation question, I would change "Bisexual" to something like "Bisexual (or pansexual, etc.)" It's not something I feel strongly about, but I know some people do. And it got discussed on Dan Savage's podcast today.

When it comes to the SRS/Anki question, I would like an option that indicates that the person has used it in the past.

(I ctrl-F'ed this but couldn't find anything similar.)

Could you add a question or questions along these lines:

In a typical week, approximately how many minutes do you spend in moderately vigorous physical activity (at least as strenuous as brisk walking)?

If you lift weights, what is your (non-estimated) one rep max for bench press? Squat? Deadlift? Overhead press?

[-][anonymous]7y 6

The cigarettes question needs a “Rarely / only tried a few times” answer too. (I second Username suggesting that all drugs questions have the same set of answers.)

The questions on Smoking and Nicotine distinctly lack a middle question "Do you use some kind of smokeless tobacco?" (eg I don't smoke but use snuff almost daily).

I want a mental illnesses question other than the Autism score one. I was going to come up with a wording that seems okay to me but surely you are more than qualified to decide what the more effective wording and answer choice is.

Separately, I will be interested in a question regarding drug use - both recreational and nootropics (perhaps as separate questions).

7NancyLebovitz7yThere's been a suggestion [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/iz9/2013_censussurvey_call_for_changes_and_additions/a0ee] to include a depression checklist. A more general question could be worth adding. And after reading this [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-barry-kaufman/the-real-link-between-cre_b_4149064.html?view=print&comm_ref=false] , I'm curious about whether LWers have close relatives with mental illnesses, but if it's included at all, it should be on one of the extensions to the questionnaire.

"Primary Language" clarified as "primary spoken language" is somewhat wrong in my case, as I speak in Russian, but read and write in English, and I read much more than I speak, so English is a better candidate for "primary language" overall. Maybe amend to something like this:

Primary Language
What language do you use most often (when reading, writing or speaking)?

2[anonymous]7yWeird -- same applies to me (but with Italian instead of Russian) but I'd still consider Italian rather than English to be my primary language.
1shminux7yMaybe separate the question into two, one for spoken, one for r/w. Or maybe even three, since some people read much more in one language and write in another.

Extra questions for politics. Policy questions might be better than identification labels.

The European welfare system is superior to the American system:
Strong Disagreement - Light Disagreement - Neutral - Light Approval - Strong Approval

Snowden did the right thing in making secret documents public:
Strong Disagreement - Light Disagreement - Neutral - Light Approval - Strong Approval

Capital gains should be taxed the same way as other income:
Strong Disagreement - Light Disagreement - Neutral - Light Approval - Strong Approval

Gun ownership should be legally ... (read more)

2JoshuaZ7yLibya. Also, "American system" - I think you mean US. I'd say that explicitly.
-3Eugine_Nier7yThis question is ambiguous. Do you mean that capital gains should not be subject to double taxation (once as a tax on corporate profits and again as capital gains tax), or do you mean that the capital gains rate should be the same as the income tax rate regardless of what the corporate tax rate is?
0ChristianKl7yI mean the second one. So: "Capital gains rate should be the same as the income tax rate regardless of what the corporate tax rate is." That sentence seems a bit long, but it does the job. If you have suggestions about making it shorter will keeping the precision I'm grateful.

Number of months since Nov. 2007 is 72 now, not 60.

[-][anonymous]7y 3

Bem Sex-Role Inventory? That could help us guess how many cis by default there are among us.

[-][anonymous]7y 3

Since there were so many people from the US last year, maybe we should ask people from the US which state they're from (and maybe ask people from the UK whether they're from England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland).

4ChristianKl7yI would recommend against doing this. It's information that you can easily gather about people and thus reduce anonymity.

1) If we are interested in autism quotient, I suggest adding RMET because, while not a direct measure, it's also not a self-report.

On that note, why all the focus on autism, and not generalized mental illness?

I suggest adding the most common Axis I and II disorders as listed here and asking people to specify [No] [Suspected but un-diagnosed] ][Yes, diagnosed]. If size is a constraint, I'd suggest just doing Axis I with a write-in option.

For ease of access:

Axis I: depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, eating di... (read more)

Standard, pointless request, because it would break comparability, though it is still worth saying:

  • Have a the main (first) politics question not prime people to give left-wing answers by offering 3 left wing options and only one right wing option.
4gjm7yI doubt there's that much danger of priming here, because most people's political identification is quite well entrenched and the main effect of a question like this is going to be to call to mind that affiliation, whether or not it matches any of the options in the question. On the other hand, I'm not quite sure why "communist" is on the list of options, especially with the explanatory text saying "for example the old Soviet Union"; there aren't a lot of advocates for Soviet-style communism around. (Last year 8 people picked this; the next most unpopular option got 35 votes, and not-answering-at-all got 30.) I doubt comparability would be badly broken by removing it. (I'd also argue that "libertarian" is in practice a right-wing option -- e.g., libertarians tend to vote for parties of the right in preference to parties of the left[1] -- and that what's described here as "liberal" is, if you look at a broader scale than just the US, pretty much centrist. I am aware that both of these are controversial assertions, and to reduce thread-derailing I will probably not respond to comments on them. Anyway, for anyone who agrees with me the picture after removing communism would then be two right, one centre, one left.)
2ChristianKl7yI doubts that true. There are a lot of people who might label themselves as conservatives or they might label themselves as libertarian. Depending on my own mood I might self label as "Liberal" or as "Socialist" in that quiz but I'm affiliated with neither label.
0ChristianKl7yWhat's left and what's right depends on where the middle happens to be. I think it makes sense to order the answer based on the frequency with which they were chosen the last time.
2Lumifer7yYes, except that to minimize anchoring, I would put them in reverse order of frequency.
-2ChristianKl7yI don't think so. Let's say you seperate numbers into four piles: Group A: 1-5 Group B: 5-25 Group C: 25-90 Group D: 90-100 How should you list those groups to minize that someone picks the wrong group? C, B, D, A seems to be the best order. Separating out on group into two subgroups shouldn't put them higher but lower on the list.
4[anonymous]7yIAWYC, but with that particular example any order other than A, B, C, D would violate the principle of least astonishment.

For Big Five, use the ten-item inventory (see p525).

4mexto7yYes, use the TIPI. Here is a better link: http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/faculty/gosling/tipi%20site/tipi.htm [http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/faculty/gosling/tipi%20site/tipi.htm]

A new edition of the cryonics question became more misleading than before. The new version is as follows:

What is the probability that an average person cryonically frozen today will be successfully restored to life at some future time, conditional on no global catastrophe destroying civilization before then?

It factored out the probability of global catastrophe, but not other things, and as a result it now superficially looks even more like a question about technical feasibility, but it's still dominated by events unrelated to technical feasibility (mot... (read more)

[-][anonymous]7y 2

The income question should specify if it's before or after taxes.

[-][anonymous]7y 2

This could be cannibalized for more questions.

Extra question:

Did you use Dual 'n' Back at some point in the past or currently?

P(Anti-Agathics) What is the probability that at least one person living at this moment will reach an age of one thousand years?

How is this to be interpreted? With or without the aid of cryonics?

[-][anonymous]7y 1

As I think someone already mentioned, the Schrodinger Equation question tells more about whether we're good at differential equations than whether we're familiar with the ontology of quantum mechanics enough that we're qualified to judge the plausibility of Many Worlds or other interpretations. Assuming the latter is the point of the question, “... to prove Bell's Theorem” would probably be a much better test (though still not an excellent one).

6solipsist7yIf someone can't do the problem sets for an undergraduate physics class, then I don't think they should consider themselves qualified to pass judgement on the field.
0[anonymous]7yUndergraduate physics classes (the ones I attended, at least) hardly mention the various interpretations of QM at all. Well, an introductory class did point out that you can't measure something without physically affecting it, which helped me dispel “consciousness causes collapse” nonsense -- but that class didn't teach how to solve the SE for the hydrogen atom (we just didn't have the mathematical background to solve second-order differential equations in 3D in spherical coordinates back then). (Or, in the third volume of Feynman's lectures, I'd consider the first few chapters way more relevant than the last few for that purpose.)
6shminux7yQuantum Information science [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_information_science] is more relevant for ontological musings of this kind than straight-up Quantum Physics.
5[anonymous]7yI assume the purpose of the Schroedinger equation question was to determine how many people had some understanding of the actual physics behind QM, perhaps inspired by the common saying that the only way to understand what QM means is to understand what QM does. I agree that the question as posed in the 2012 survey doesn't do a good job at determining either. I don't even know what it means to calculate the SE. Solve it perhaps? Or calculate the eigenvalues? A better question would be whether one can derive the SE. Or better yet just ask directly: Which best describes your understanding of quantum mechanics: * Can't do QM. * Can do non-relativistic QM. * Can do relativistic QM. On a side note, the QM question and many others (such as torture vs dust specks) from last year's survey are right now missing from the preliminary 2013 survey posted by Yvain. Were they intentionally removed, and if so for what reason?
0[anonymous]7yI'm pretty sure they were there yesterday.
  • Under Race, either add 'Mixed' or change 'Other' to 'Other/Mixed'
  • Under Degree, change 'What is your highest degree earned?' to 'What is your highest degree earned or in progress?'
  • Year of Singularity question - seems to imply that singularity has not already happened. Depends on your definition of singularity.
  • Calibration IQ - Can we calibrate to test score if we haven't taken a legit IQ test? Might be worth normalizing all IQ's/Tests to a percentile score.
  • Smoking - Change this question from 'Do you smoke cigarettes?' to 'How often do you smoke cigarett
... (read more)
7komponisto7yInstead of that, I would recommend two questions: "What is your highest degree earned?" and "What is your highest degree attempted or in progress?"
0Larks7yWe don't want people using different definitions! They can use the standard one used everywhere on this site. More pertinently, I guess one might think that the world was currently being run by a discrete Sysop FAI.
0[anonymous]7yWhy?
5Vaniver7yIt's moderately useful to be able to separate out PhD candidates from people that have just gotten Bachelors or Masters degrees, but I'm not sure it makes sense to clump them with people who have finished their PhDs, given the somewhat low survival rate.
1Username7yMore useful I'd say to filter those perusing bachelors degrees (me) from those who did not attend college after high school. There are gaps at other levels as well.
6Pfft7yI think the survey already handles that, since it asks about current occupation, with "student" being one option -- a current student who graduated high school is presumably pursuing a BA. On the other hand, this fails to distinguish drop-outs from never-starteds, and master students from phd students.

You could ask a question on "How do you define rationality?" or "Which of the following do you think is the best definition of rationality?" My favorite definition is "Accurate beliefs and useful emotions."

0ChrisHallquist7yToo hard to reduce to a multiple choice question.
3ChristianKl7yIt doesn't have to be multiple choice.
[-][anonymous]7y 0

Hacker News readership?

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
[-][anonymous]7y 0

(Inspired by this comment.)

What about a typing speed test? (And, while we're there, a question about alternative keyboard layouts such as Dvorak?)

Suggestions:

Hair color. Eye color. Skin color. Weight. Height. Hair length. Mustache. Beard.

8NancyLebovitz7yThis would tend to break anonymity.
0Locaha7yHow can anonymized statistics break anonymity more than they already do? The average color of lesswrongian beard isn't very sensitive information/
7Viliam_Bur7y(Insert 200-comment thread about the proper taxonomy of colors, mustaches and beards.)
6NancyLebovitz7yWhy?
2JoshuaZ7yWhat do you think will be gained by having this information?
-2Locaha7yFun.
0[anonymous]7yHeight is already there.

As far as the standard political question goes I would drop the label communist as it had only 6 repondends last year.

I would split the label socialist into socialist and social democrat. Last year 41 of those who picked socialist also identified in the detailed question as social democrat and 60 of them did identify as socialist in both. 30 social demoracts also picked Liberal.

There are also 3 times as much people who identifiy as pragmatists than as conversatives.

New questions:

  • Have a Meta-Ethical Views question, with the options like "Moral Realism", "Moral Relativism", "Moral Nihilism", etc.

  • Since we have an Alternate Politics question, we could have an Alternate Ethics question, preferably with "check all that apply"-style checkboxes. Suggested answer choices: utilitarian, egoist, consequentialist, Objectivist, deontologist, Divine Command, eudaimonistic virtue ethicist, other virtue ethicist, intuitionist, moral relativist, moral nihilist. (Feel free to add to or modify these options.)

  • Have questions about tobacco use and alcohol consumption.

1Larks7yIf you have a meta-ethics question, please make sure the options are mutually exclusive. Relativism is a type of Realism. Similarly, utilitarian is a subset of consequentialism, egoism intersects consequentialism. Intuitionism is a meta-ethical theory, not a normative one, as as such overlaps the normative options.