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Lesswrong 2016 Survey

29 Post author: Elo 30 March 2016 06:17PM

It’s time for a new survey!

Take the survey now


The details of the last survey can be found here.  And the results can be found here.

 

I posted a few weeks back asking for suggestions for questions to include on the survey.  As much as we’d like to include more of them, we all know what happens when we have too many questions. The following graph is from the last survey.


http://i.imgur.com/KFTn2Bt.png

KFTn2Bt.png

(Source: JD’s analysis of 2014 survey data)


Two factors seem to predict if a question will get an answer:

  1. The position

  2. Whether people want to answer it. (Obviously)


People answer fewer questions as we approach the end. They also skip tricky questions. The least answered question on the last survey was - “what is your favourite lw post, provide a link”.  Which I assume was mostly skipped for the amount of effort required either in generating a favourite or in finding a link to it.  The second most skipped questions were the digit-ratio questions which require more work, (get out a ruler and measure) compared to the others. This is unsurprising.


This year’s survey is almost the same size as the last one (though just a wee bit smaller).  Preliminary estimates suggest you should put aside 25 minutes to take the survey, however you can pause at any time and come back to the survey when you have more time.  If you’re interested in helping process the survey data please speak up either in a comment or a PM.


We’re focusing this year particularly on getting a glimpse of the size and shape of the LessWrong diaspora.  With that in mind; if possible - please make sure that your friends (who might be less connected but still hang around in associated circles) get a chance to see that the survey exists; and if you’re up to it - encourage them to fill out a copy of the survey.


The survey is hosted and managed by the team at FortForecast, you’ll be hearing more from them soon. The survey can be accessed through http://lesswrong.com/2016survey.


Survey responses are anonymous in that you’re not asked for your name. At the end we plan to do an opt-in public dump of the data. Before publication the row order will be scrambled, datestamps, IP addresses and any other non-survey question information will be stripped, and certain questions which are marked private such as the (optional) sign up for our mailing list will not be included. It helps the most if you say yes but we can understand if you don’t.  


Thanks to Namespace (JD) and the FortForecast team, the Slack, the #lesswrong IRC on freenode, and everyone else who offered help in putting the survey together, special thanks to Scott Alexander whose 2014 survey was the foundation for this one.


When answering the survey, I ask you be helpful with the format of your answers if you want them to be useful. For example if a question asks for an number, please reply with “4” not “four”.  Going by the last survey we may very well get thousands of responses and cleaning them all by hand will cost a fortune on mechanical turk. (And that’s for the ones we can put on mechanical turk!) Thanks for your consideration.

 

The survey will be open until the 1st of may 2016

 


Addendum from JD at FortForecast: During user testing we’ve encountered reports of an error some users get when they try to take the survey which erroneously reports that our database is down. We think we’ve finally stamped it out but this particular bug has proven resilient. If you get this error and still want to take the survey here are the steps to mitigate it:

 

  1. Refresh the survey, it will still be broken. You should see a screen with question titles but no questions.

  2. Press the “Exit and clear survey” button, this will reset your survey responses and allow you to try again fresh.

  3. Rinse and repeat until you manage to successfully answer the first two questions and move on. It usually doesn’t take more than one or two tries. We haven’t received reports of the bug occurring past this stage.


If you encounter this please mail jd@fortforecast.com with details. Screenshots would be appreciated but if you don’t have the time just copy and paste the error message you get into the email.

 

Take the survey now


Meta - this took 2 hours to write and was reviewed by the slack.


My Table of contents can be found here.

Comments (273)

Comment author: Alicorn 28 March 2016 04:14:59AM 26 points [-]

I am literally pregnant right now and wasn't sure how to answer the ones about how many children I have or if I plan more. (I went with "one" and "uncertain" but could have justified "zero" and "yes").

Comment author: SoerenE 29 March 2016 05:49:07PM 8 points [-]

Congratulations!

My wife is also pregnant right now, and I strongly felt that I should include my unborn child in the count.

Comment author: Huluk 26 March 2016 12:55:37AM *  26 points [-]

[Survey Taken Thread]

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.

Let's make these comments a reply to this post. That way we continue the tradition, but keep the discussion a bit cleaner.

Comment author: Vaniver 26 March 2016 01:38:08AM 45 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Huluk 26 March 2016 01:06:44AM 44 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Houshalter 26 March 2016 03:48:53AM 43 points [-]

I took the survey 2 days ago. It was fun. I think I was well calibrated for those calibration questions, but sadly there was no "results" section.

Comment author: MTGandP 26 March 2016 04:42:51PM 6 points [-]

Is it possible to self-consistently believe you're poorly calibrated? If you believe you're overconfident then you would start making less confident predictions right?

Comment author: indexador2 26 March 2016 11:01:56PM 8 points [-]

Being poorly calibrated can also mean you're inconsistent between being overconfident and underconfident.

Comment author: scarcegreengrass 29 March 2016 03:00:06PM 3 points [-]

You can be imperfectly synchronised across contexts & instances.

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 26 March 2016 11:58:16PM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey. I like the new format.

Comment author: Crab 26 March 2016 10:34:52PM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Anders_H 26 March 2016 10:10:21PM 42 points [-]

I took the survey

Comment author: Sarunas 26 March 2016 03:42:26PM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Jonni 26 March 2016 12:22:48PM 42 points [-]

Survey: taken.

Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 26 March 2016 08:50:49AM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 26 March 2016 08:37:40AM 42 points [-]

I've taken the survey.

Comment author: Gyrodiot 26 March 2016 07:16:28AM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey. Yesterday.

Comment author: [deleted] 26 March 2016 05:07:21AM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey

Comment author: DataPacRat 26 March 2016 02:52:53AM 42 points [-]

Yet another survey be-takener here.

Comment author: gjm 26 March 2016 01:44:03AM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: ArgleBlargle 26 March 2016 01:42:56AM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: ete 26 March 2016 05:07:55PM 41 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Vivificient 27 March 2016 01:55:51AM *  40 points [-]

It is done. (The survey. By me.)

Comment author: DanArmak 26 March 2016 08:01:28PM *  40 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: MTGandP 26 March 2016 04:41:23PM *  40 points [-]

The survey has been taken by me.

Comment author: blacktrance 26 March 2016 03:43:14AM 40 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: iceman 26 March 2016 03:03:27AM 40 points [-]

Survey achieved.

Comment author: richard_reitz 26 March 2016 02:36:43AM 40 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Fluttershy 27 March 2016 04:38:29AM 39 points [-]

I have taken the survey. :)

Comment author: AspiringRationalist 27 March 2016 01:01:08AM 39 points [-]

I took the survey.

Comment author: bbleeker 26 March 2016 12:15:56PM 39 points [-]

I have taken the survey. I left a lot of questions blank though, because I really have no opinion about many of them.

Comment author: [deleted] 27 March 2016 04:30:40AM 38 points [-]

Survey taken.

Comment author: Terdragon 27 March 2016 02:16:33AM 37 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: ingres 26 March 2016 01:51:02AM 37 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: hawkice 27 March 2016 05:46:34PM 36 points [-]

Took the survey, had the recurring survey confusion about some questions. For instance, I think some taxes should be higher and others should be lower. Saying I have no strong opinion is inaccurate but at least it seemed like the least inaccurate answer.

Comment author: tut 27 March 2016 04:36:48PM 36 points [-]

Me too.

Comment author: Sophronius 27 March 2016 03:18:43PM *  36 points [-]

RE: The survey: I have taken it.

I assume the salary question was meant to be filled in as Bruto, not netto. However that could result in some big differences depending on the country's tax code...

Btw, I liked the professional format of the test itself. Looked very neat.

Comment author: Volyova 27 March 2016 01:37:15PM 36 points [-]

I did My Part!

Comment author: fictionfan 27 March 2016 12:43:46PM 36 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Artaxerxes 27 March 2016 07:42:08AM 36 points [-]

Took it!

It ended somewhat more quickly this time.

Comment author: faul_sname 27 March 2016 07:06:10AM *  36 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: b_sen 27 March 2016 06:21:30AM 36 points [-]

I took the survey!

Comment author: ahartell 27 March 2016 04:15:20AM 36 points [-]

Just finished. I'm sure my calibration was terrible though.

Comment author: harshhpareek 27 March 2016 02:39:25AM 36 points [-]

I took it.

Comment author: SoerenE 29 March 2016 05:54:11PM 35 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: RainbowSpacedancer 29 March 2016 11:45:06AM 35 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: HungryHobo 29 March 2016 11:22:30AM 35 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Plasmon 27 March 2016 10:49:32AM 35 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: SaxophonesAndViolets 27 March 2016 04:01:40AM 35 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Empiricst_or_not 27 March 2016 02:33:48AM 35 points [-]

Survey Taken

Comment author: Will_BC 30 March 2016 05:38:40PM 34 points [-]

I have taken the survey

Comment author: lfghjkl 30 March 2016 01:09:54PM 34 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: taryneast 29 March 2016 10:23:39AM 34 points [-]

I completed the survey. I also like the new format - easy to read, good instructions etc.

Comment author: iarwain1 28 March 2016 11:09:37PM *  34 points [-]

Took survey. Didn't answer all the questions because I suspend judgment on a lot of issues and there was no "I have no idea" option. Some questions did have an "I don't have a strong opinion" option, but I felt a lot more of them should also have that option.

Comment author: RowanE 28 March 2016 05:44:55AM 34 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: g_pepper 28 March 2016 03:28:22AM 34 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Sjcs 28 March 2016 01:01:18AM 34 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

The only option i think was missing was in the final questions about quantities donated to charities, an option such as "I intend to donate more before the end of the financial year" or similar. (and while likely not feasible, following up on those people in the next survey to see if they actually donated would be interesting)

Comment author: XFrequentist 27 March 2016 06:44:41PM 34 points [-]

Yar, have taken the scurvy survey, says I!

Comment author: tanagrabeast 27 March 2016 04:36:11PM 34 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: AlwaysUnite 27 March 2016 04:13:23PM 34 points [-]

I too have take the survey.

Comment author: sylvan_secrets 29 March 2016 05:08:35PM 33 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Stingray 29 March 2016 12:05:18PM 33 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: boatner 28 March 2016 05:21:13PM 33 points [-]

For a few moments I was paralyzed with uncertainty about how humorous to try to make my "I took the survey" response, since many seemed to have made a similar attempt, thus this post took longer to finish than the survey itself, which I have taken.

Comment author: Pfft 28 March 2016 03:43:31AM 33 points [-]

I took the survey!

Comment author: James_Blair 28 March 2016 12:19:35AM 33 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: roryokane 30 March 2016 09:41:19PM 32 points [-]

I took the survey.

Comment author: scarcegreengrass 29 March 2016 02:58:39PM 32 points [-]

((past-tense take) i survey)

Comment author: taryneast 18 April 2016 05:23:08AM 3 points [-]

You've got a slight lisp there ;)

Comment author: Caspian 29 March 2016 03:13:44AM 32 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: rational_rob 29 March 2016 02:27:41AM 32 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Dallas 27 March 2016 01:27:28PM 31 points [-]

For the interests of identity obfuscation, I have rolled a random number between 1 and 100, and have waited for some time afterwards.

On a 1-49: I have taken the survey, and this post was made after a uniformly random period of up to 24 hours.

On a 50-98: I will take the survey after a uniformly random period of up to 72 hours.

On a 99-100: I have not actually taken the survey. Sorry about that, but this really has to be a possible outcome.

Comment author: Vaniver 27 March 2016 04:40:22PM 18 points [-]

Have a 98% chance of an upvote.

Comment author: Glen 30 March 2016 10:13:52PM 30 points [-]

I have taken the survey

Comment author: Bitnotri 30 March 2016 10:09:35PM 30 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Styrke 30 March 2016 10:07:16PM 30 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

I think I spent about 1 hour and 20 minutes answering almost all of the questions. I'm probably just unusually slow. :P

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 31 March 2016 11:04:34AM 28 points [-]

Survey taken. By me, even.

Comment author: labachevskij 31 March 2016 08:50:15AM 28 points [-]

Took the survey, and as others pointed out had some trouble with the questions about income (net? gross?) Also, is there any place where all the reading (fanfiction, books, blogs) hinted to in the survey are collected? I knew (and have read) some, but many I have never heard of, and would like to find out more.

Comment author: Furcas 31 March 2016 12:32:06AM 28 points [-]

Did it.

Comment author: Alia1d 30 March 2016 11:56:21PM 28 points [-]

I have taken the survey

Comment author: Rixie 31 March 2016 12:25:20PM 27 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: moridinamael 27 March 2016 06:43:48PM 26 points [-]

Was taking it, and it crashed with a "This webpage is not available" error.

Comment author: ingres 27 March 2016 09:28:42PM 4 points [-]

We had some power outage related downtime for three hours or so, should be back up now.

Comment author: moridinamael 28 March 2016 01:49:30PM 4 points [-]

I'm a little unclear on how to proceed. I didn't establish a "save", so I can't really resume the survey. Does that mean I should start a new survey and pick up where I left off, or ... ?

Comment author: ingres 29 March 2016 05:34:13PM *  2 points [-]

If you'd be willing to go through the trouble of doing it, yes that's exactly what you should do. I didn't think of that, thanks.

Though from a data-consistency perspective people doing this would skew our response rate higher than it really is, I'd rather have the question data than an accurate response rate though so. shrug

On the session timeout front, we're trying something out to make the sessions longer, which should cut down on that particular problem significantly.

Comment author: EricHerboso 01 April 2016 05:54:15AM 25 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Mollie 01 April 2016 02:53:44AM 25 points [-]

I took the survey.

Comment author: [deleted] 31 March 2016 10:58:14AM 25 points [-]

I've taken the survey.

Thanks Huluk for creating this subthread, very handy when reading others' comments about the survey itself.

Comment author: Morgrim 01 April 2016 06:04:11PM 23 points [-]

I have taken the survey

Comment author: Val 01 April 2016 02:33:15PM *  23 points [-]

Besides saying that I have taken the survey...

I would also like to mention that the predictions of probabilities of unobservable concepts was the hardest one for me. Of course, there are some in which i believe more than in some others, but still, any probability besides 0% or 100% seems really strange for me. For something like being in a simulation, if I would believe it but have some doubts, saying 99%, or if I would not believe but being open to it and saying 1%, these seem so arbitrary and odd for me. 1% is really huge in the scope of very probable or very improbable concepts which cannot be tested yet (and some may never ever be).

... before losing my sanity in trying to choose the percentages I would find plausible at least a few minutes later, I had to fill them based on my current gut feelings instead of Fermi estimation-like calculations.

Comment author: MrMind 01 April 2016 10:43:28AM 23 points [-]

Survey taken.

Comment author: Bobertron 01 April 2016 06:38:36PM 22 points [-]

Me, too! I've taken the survey and would like to receive some free internet points.

Comment author: Vaegrim 01 April 2016 05:40:43PM 22 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: alexey 02 April 2016 09:14:05AM 20 points [-]

I've taken the survey.

Comment author: pseudobison 02 April 2016 09:11:12AM 20 points [-]

I've taken the survey.

Comment author: Vamair0 02 April 2016 08:37:12AM 20 points [-]

I've taken the survey.

Comment author: Rowdy 02 April 2016 07:45:57AM 20 points [-]

I completed the survey. Elo, thanks for organising this!

Comment author: Error 04 April 2016 07:05:47PM 19 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

I enjoyed the "yes, I worry about X, but only because I worry about everything" responses.

Comment author: taryneast 18 April 2016 05:25:59AM 1 point [-]

I really liked things like "option for people who aren't in the US and want an option to choose" plus I think I recall one like "I like clicking on options" :D

Comment author: ekr 03 April 2016 06:12:02PM 19 points [-]

Survey has been taken.

Comment author: coyotespike 05 April 2016 08:25:54PM 17 points [-]

Me! Me! I totally took the survey!

Comment author: Transfuturist 27 March 2016 12:39:57AM 44 points [-]

I have taken the survey. I did not treat the metaphysical probabilities as though I had a measure over them, because I don't.

Comment author: [deleted] 29 March 2016 04:10:37AM 8 points [-]

Similarly, I gave self-conscious nonsense numbers when asked for subjective probabilities for most things, because I really did not have an internal model with few-enough free parameters (and placement of causal arrows can be a free parameter!) to think of numerical probabilities.

So I may be right about a few of the calibration questions, but also inconsistently confident, since I basically put down low (under 33%) chances of being correct for all the nontrivial ones.

Also, I left everything about "Singularities" blank, because I don't consider the term well-defined enough, even granting "intelligence explosions", to actually talk about it coherently. I'd be a coin flip if you asked me.

So basically, sorry for being That Jerk who ruins the survey by favoring superbabies and restorative gerontology, disbelieving utterly in cryonics and the Singularity, and having completely randomized calibration results.

Comment author: Theli 08 April 2016 03:21:44AM 14 points [-]

Took the survey before joining.

Comment author: Nick_Roy 09 April 2016 11:53:17AM 13 points [-]

Taken.

Comment author: Soothsilver 09 April 2016 10:45:04AM 13 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: timujin 07 April 2016 07:11:44PM 13 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: nitrat665 09 April 2016 06:56:07PM 12 points [-]

I have taken the survey

Comment author: khriys 09 April 2016 06:13:56AM 12 points [-]

I have taken the survey! Please reward my compliance.

Comment author: elRobbo 12 April 2016 01:42:29AM 11 points [-]

I have taken the survey. It was fun, thanks!

Comment author: Jacobian 11 April 2016 06:54:17PM 11 points [-]

Lo, I have taken the survey.

Comment author: hylleddin 14 April 2016 08:11:38AM 9 points [-]

Oh right, I forgot this part. I have taken the survey (like two weeks ago)

Comment author: Conscience 18 April 2016 06:50:12AM 7 points [-]

I have taken the survey. It was interesting, thanx to those who made it!

Comment author: Legolan 26 April 2016 11:14:10PM 6 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: hofmannsthal 25 April 2016 07:59:50PM 6 points [-]

Newbie, done.

Comment author: cameroncowan 21 April 2016 11:47:54PM 6 points [-]

I took the survey for the 2nd year in a row. Can't wait to see the results.

Comment author: Spectral_Dragon 02 April 2016 10:35:30AM 16 points [-]

I've said it before and I've said it again - this is mild cult behavior.

... That being said, bring on the low cost gratification! I've taken the survey!

Comment author: hg00 03 April 2016 05:00:46PM 2 points [-]

Fun traditions might be undignified by the standards of academia, but they're perfectly normal in many other social contexts (small company, group house, etc.)

You know what else exemplifies "mild cult behavior"? Burning Man! They give each other physical gifts instead of imaginary internet gifts. Even more problematic.

If you are willing to define "cult" broadly enough, you can use the term to shut down any kind of cultural development. (Of course, cultural development that's already happened will get grandfathered in, the same way we don't call religions "cults" because they are too dignified and established.)

Comment author: [deleted] 27 March 2016 08:35:09AM 8 points [-]

META

  • Why are some people upvoted more or less than others? I predicted I would be far less upvoted than others because of my controversiality but I am one of the highest upvoted here. From memory, this can't be explained by the recency of others posting that they have completed the survey. In light of what I see here, I will re-evaluate my entire post history. If people are biased towards me rather than away, that changes my entire posting strategy.
Comment author: Vaniver 27 March 2016 04:44:01PM 8 points [-]

This has come up before. Then, it looked like gwern and I both got a boost from name recognition, but for everyone else it was just dependent on when they took the survey.

If I come by every day and upvote everyone, before I come that day a fraction of the people will have upvotes from me and another fraction won't, determined by time. Now add a bunch of people doing similar things but at different schedules (or only upvoting everyone who took it before they did, and not anyone who took it after, because they don't come back to this page).

Comment author: gjm 27 March 2016 07:08:49PM 9 points [-]

Yup. Pretty sure the dominant thing is just that people who report having taken the survey earlier get more upvotes.

Comment author: RowanE 27 March 2016 10:33:09AM 4 points [-]

I see 20-30 (didn't count) comments in the thread so far, probably people are too lazy to upvote every one more than they vet who they upvote here, I think.

Comment author: SquirrelInHell 27 March 2016 08:42:51AM 3 points [-]

Are you going to agree with everyone now, because it's more controversial to do so?

Comment author: Yvain 26 March 2016 02:04:36AM 24 points [-]

Elo, thanks a lot for doing this.

(for the record, Elo tried really hard to get me involved and I procrastinated helping and forgot about it. I 100% endorse this.)

My only suggestion is to create a margin of error on the calibration questions, eg "How big is the soccer ball, to within 10 cm?". Otherwise people are guessing whether they got the exact centimeter right, which is pretty hard.

Comment author: Elo 26 March 2016 02:14:30AM 6 points [-]

Since you are such a huge part of the diaspora community I would be delighted if you could share the survey to both your readers and your friends.

We will get that suggestion sorted asap.

Comment author: ingres 27 March 2016 01:32:13AM 17 points [-]

I'd like to make a miniature announcement so there isn't any confusion:

Most of the time when somebody writes in a suggestion for improving the questions I don't reply to it, I just silently upvote the post and write down the question in a list of things to do for the next survey. But I am reading them, and I plan to go through and read them again before I wrap up the final survey analysis.

Comment author: MTGandP 26 March 2016 04:19:27PM 14 points [-]

The question "How Long Since You Last Posted On LessWrong?" is ambiguous--I don't know if posting includes comments or just top-level posts.

Comment author: Vaniver 27 March 2016 05:53:35AM 7 points [-]

I assumed it was about comments, because only a handful of people would have posted a top-level post to LW 'today.'

Comment author: gjm 27 March 2016 12:25:29AM 3 points [-]

I think the ambiguity is kinda resolved by the fact that the previous question was about comments and this one would be largely redundant if interprete as also about comments. Also, the timescales in the question make better sense in reference to actual posts.

I agree it would be better if a bit more explicit, though.

Comment author: DanArmak 27 March 2016 11:51:46AM 2 points [-]

I assumed it was about posts, because of the wording - it said "posted" not "commented"!

Comment author: tjohnson314 26 March 2016 11:51:05PM 13 points [-]

It's probably too late to change this now, but I have a slight nitpick with some of the political questions.

Many of them use "No strong opinion" as the default between more and less. But I believe that leaves out those who have a strong opinion that the current level of, say, taxation is correct.

Comment author: Good_Burning_Plastic 26 March 2016 10:36:04AM 12 points [-]

Taken.

BTW, in the global warning question I took "significant" to mean "much larger than typical natural variability over the same timescales". My answer would have been higher if it meant "much larger than measurement uncertainties", lower if it meant "likely to have negative effects much larger than the cost of averting the warning would have been", and even lower if it meant "much larger than typical natural variability over any timescales".

Comment author: buybuydandavis 29 March 2016 12:20:09PM 6 points [-]

Ick. I was annoyed with the Global Warming question. Without a timescale and an objective definition of "significant", there's no particular meaning to the question besides signaling team membership.

I left it blank because of the vagueness. I wonder if the vagueness will have a biased or unbiased effect on those who decline to respond.

Comment author: Rubix 28 March 2016 10:09:05PM 11 points [-]

The contrast on the side-by-side options is way too low (clicking a dark blue text bubble turns it a slightly darker blue).

Surveiled!

Comment author: DanArmak 26 March 2016 06:34:54PM 8 points [-]

As before, I found the question on metaethics (31) to be a tossup because I agree with several of the options given. I'd be interested in hearing from people who agree with some but not all of these answers:

  • Non-cognitivism: Moral statements don't express propositions and can neither be true nor false. "Murder is wrong" means something like "Boo murder!".
  • Error theory: Moral statements have a truth-value, but attempt to describe features of the world that don't exist. "Murder is wrong" and "Murder is right" are both false statements because moral rightness and wrongness aren't features that exist.
  • Subjectivism: Some moral statements are true, but not universally, and the truth of a moral statement is determined by non-universal opinions or prescriptions, and there is no non-attitudinal determinant of rightness and wrongness. "Murder is wrong" means something like "My culture has judged murder to be wrong" or "I've judged murder to be wrong".

I'm a subjectivist: I understand that when someone says "murder is wrong", she's expressing a personal judgement - others can judge differently. But I also know that most people are moral realists, so they wrongly think they are describing features of the world that don't in fact exist; thus, I believe in error theory. And what does it mean to proclaim that something "is wrong", other than to boo it, i.e. to call for people not to do it and to shun those who do? Thus, I also agree with non-cognitivism.

Comment author: blacktrance 28 March 2016 12:20:41AM 4 points [-]

I don't agree with any of these options, but I proposed the question back in 2014, so I hope I can shed some light. The difference between non-cognitivism and error theory is that the error theory supposes that people attempt to describe some feature of the world when they make moral statements, and that feature doesn't exist, while non-cognitivism holds that moral statements only express emotional attitudes ("Yay for X!") or commands ("Don't X!"), which can neither be true nor false. The difference between error theory and subjectivism is that subjectivists believe that some moral statements are true, but that they are made true by something mind-dependent (but what counts as mind-dependent turns out to be quite complicated).

Comment author: fubarobfusco 27 March 2016 05:13:48AM 4 points [-]

And what does it mean to proclaim that something "is wrong", other than to boo it, i.e. to call for people not to do it and to shun those who do?

The intended difference is something like —

  • "I disapprove of murder." This is a proposition that can be true or false. (Perhaps I actually approve of murder, in which case it is false.)
  • "Boo, murder!" This is not a proposition. It is an act of disapproval. If I say this, I am not claiming that I disapprove — I am disapproving.

It's like the difference between asserting, "I appreciate that musical performance," and actually giving a standing ovation. (It's true that people sometimes state propositions to express approval or disapproval, but we also use non-proposition expressions as well.)

Comment author: scarcegreengrass 28 March 2016 07:25:14PM 3 points [-]

I was similarly torn between answers and i'm glad you brought this up. I think substantive realism is the most useful perspective here, but i clicked constructivism in an attempt to honor the spirit of the question, even if it was kindof a technicality.

For me, the hard-to-express part is that the universe cares nothing about human ethics, but it's fine for us (humans) to view our shared utility function as objective.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 29 March 2016 12:09:22PM 1 point [-]

I treat a moral sense similar to how I'd treat a "yummy" sense. Your nervous system does an evaluation. Sometimes it evaluates as yummy, sometimes as moral.

But the moral sense operates with a different domain and range than yummy, in that it has preferences between behaviors, and preferences between preferences about behaviors,... and implies reward and punishment up the level of abstraction in that scale of preferences.

I opted for Subjectivism as the best match.

Error Theory just seems rather dumb. I think I get the sense in which you mean it, which seems like a valid observation about the error of objectivists, but I think you're mistaking the definition here. It said " moral rightness and wrongness aren't features that exist", but they do, regardless of confusion that moral objectivists may have about them. They exist to you, right?

Non-cognitivism seems like a straw man moral subjectivism. There is a lot more to it than just "boo". There is structure to the behavioral preferences and the resulting behavioral responses.

Comment author: gjm 29 March 2016 12:31:56PM *  1 point [-]

I treat a moral sense similar to how I'd treat a "yummy" sense.

You are not the first to draw this parallel.

[EDITED to add:] Really fun paper, by the way.

Comment author: DanArmak 26 March 2016 07:54:02PM 7 points [-]

I don't understand the apparent assumptions behind the questions about genetic modification of children. Presumably they were chosen to represent different moral / legal / social / mental categories of modifications, but the categories don't feel entirely natural to me.

Why is "reducing the risk of schizophrenia" grouped with "improvements" rather than "preventing heritable diseases"? What is different about schizophrenia from all other heritable diseases? I don't know to what degree it's in fact heritable, but since we're talking about genetic modifications, only the heritable component would be addressed anyway.

And why are "improvement purposes" implicitly defined as disjoint from "cosmetic reasons"? What makes intelligence a legitimate improvement but height merely "cosmetic"? Is everything visible (i.e. cosmetic) therefore not in the improvement category? I feel confused and might be missing the intent of this division.

Comment author: Houshalter 27 March 2016 08:45:30AM 2 points [-]

Cosmetic feels like a distinct category from intelligence enhancements. One affects the actual personality and mind of the child, and the other is just their body. You can be ok with one and not the other.

Comment author: DanArmak 27 March 2016 11:44:21AM 3 points [-]

I find it hard to believe that significant changes to e.g. height, weight, or muscle tone, present since birth, wouldn't affect the personality and mind of a person. There's a big difference between growing up short and tall, and between being weak and athletic. And there's a really big difference between growing up ugly and beautiful.

Comment author: Houshalter 28 March 2016 02:46:04PM 1 point [-]

Well FWIW I voted differently for intelligence enhancements than cosmetic enhancements on the survey. I'm probably not the only one, so separating them makes sense.

Comment author: DanArmak 28 March 2016 04:23:34PM 1 point [-]

Can you explain your reasoning, please?

Comment author: gjm 28 March 2016 05:03:38PM *  5 points [-]

I'm not Houshalter, but: beauty is mostly a positional good (if everyone in the world were one notch less attractive, nothing would be terribly different) whereas intelligence is not (if everyone in the world were one notch less intelligent, it would almost certainly be really bad for the world's economic and technological progress).

[EDITED to add:] ... And therefore if you use a "what if everyone did it" criterion for distinguishing good actions from bad, intelligence enhancement looks distinctly better than attractiveness enhancement.

Comment author: benwr 26 March 2016 08:33:27AM 7 points [-]

Great survey!

However, when you save your progress and are asked to save a password, there's no indication that it will be sent to you in an email or saved at all in recoverable form. I used my least-secure password generation algorithm anyway, but: Do you think you could add a note to the effect that users should not use passwords that they use elsewhere?

Comment author: ingres 26 March 2016 10:16:36PM *  5 points [-]

Looking into it now.

EDIT: Added this warning to the save form:

"We store the password and send it to you by email, so please do not use a 'trusted' password for this that you use for anything important." (Not our design decision by the way.)

Comment author: aarongertler 02 April 2016 04:47:09AM 6 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment: "90% of humanity" seems a little high for "minimum viable existential risk". I'd think that 75% or so would likely be enough to stop us from getting back out of the hole (though the nature of the destruction could make a major difference here).

Comment author: Squark 04 April 2016 06:45:02PM *  3 points [-]

What makes you think so? The main reason I can see why the death of less than 100% of the population would stop us from getting back is if it's followed by a natural event that finishes off the rest. However 25% of current humanity seems much more than enough to survive all natural disasters that are likely to happen in the following 10,000 years. The black death killed about half the population of Europe and it wasn't enough even to destroy the pre-existing social institutions.

Comment author: gjm 05 April 2016 02:11:42PM 1 point [-]

We have a lot more infrastructure than Europe had at the time of the Black Death. If we lost 75% of the population, it might devastate things like the power grid, water supply and purification, etc.

We have (I think) more complicatedly interdependent institutions than Europe at the time of the Black Death. Relatively small upheavals in, e.g., our financial systems can cause a lot of chaos, as shown by our occasional financial crises. If 75% of the population died, how robust would those systems be?

The following feels like at least a semi-plausible story. Some natural or unnatural disaster wipes out 75% of the population. This leads to widescale failure of infrastructure, finance, and companies. In particular, we lose a lot of chip factories and oil wells. And then we no longer have the equipment we need to make new ones that work as well as the old ones did, and we run out of sufficiently-accessible oil and cannot make fast enough technological progress to replace it with solar or nuclear energy on a large scale, nor to find other ways of making plastics. And then we can no longer make the energy or the hardware to keep our civilization running, and handling that the best we can takes up all our (human and other) resources, and even if in principle there are scientific or technological breakthroughs that would solve that problem we no longer have the bandwidth to make them.

The human race would survive, of course. But the modern highly technology-dependent world would be pretty much screwed.

(I am not claiming that the loss of 75% of the population would definitely do that. But it seems like it sure might.)

Comment author: knb 11 April 2016 02:04:54AM 1 point [-]

The following feels like at least a semi-plausible story.

It doesn't feel plausible to me. You don't need computer chips or oil to have industry and science. Industry + science would eventually progress back to modern capabilities, but probably faster due to people rediscovering old knowledge preserved here and there.

Comment author: Lumifer 05 April 2016 02:40:13PM 1 point [-]

But the modern highly technology-dependent world would be pretty much screwed.

For how long?

Comment author: gjm 05 April 2016 02:59:14PM 1 point [-]

Indefinitely, in the scenario I described -- we'd have lost the technology necessary to rebuild the technology. (E.g., if abundant energy depends on one or more of { getting lots of oil, getting lots of uranium, making really good solar cells, figuring out fusion } and making any of those happen depends in turn on abundant energy.)

Comment author: Elo 02 April 2016 10:41:12PM 1 point [-]

I'd think that 75% or so would likely be enough to stop us from getting back out of the hole

yes maybe. but we have to draw a baseline somewhere.

Comment author: DanArmak 26 March 2016 06:55:42PM *  6 points [-]

I don't understand what this question is asking. Can someone please clarify?

Question 74, What would you want from a successor [LW 2.0]? More / same / less: Intense Environment.

What is an "intense environment"? What sites have it?

Comment author: [deleted] 26 March 2016 04:53:37PM 6 points [-]

Taken it, but there were a couple of questions I thought lacked flexibility (well, more than a couple, but I don't really care for political self-identification etc.)

Suppose I personally have an income too small to donate, but my husband found the money to, and did? What do I answer then?

Comment author: Viliam 26 March 2016 09:38:18PM *  5 points [-]

Error
We are sorry but your session has expired.
Either you have been inactive for too long, you have cookies disabled for your browser, or there were problems with your connection.
Please contact namespace ( root@localhost ) for further assistance.

If you have to leave the computer in the middle of the survey, the software will punish you by throwing away your already completed answers. Really sucks after having completed about 100 of them. :(

What the hell was the purpose of checking whether someone was "inactive for too long"? So what, they were inactive, now they are active again, what's the big deal? Sometimes real life intervenes.

(Problems with connections happen too; I have a crappy wi-fi connection that I often have to restart several times a day. But that wasn't the case now. Also, why can't the software deal with disabled cookies? Calling root@localhost and waiting for an explanation...)

EDIT: If you happen to find yourself in a similar situation, use the e-mail mentioned in the article. As long as you remember enough data to uniquely identify your half-written response, the situation can be fixed.

Comment author: Logos01 26 March 2016 10:12:46PM *  7 points [-]

The software needs a way to track who was responding to which questions. That's because many of the questions relate to one another. It does that without requiring logins by using the ongoing http session. If you leave the survey idle then the session will time out. You can suspend a survey session by creating a login which it will then use for your answers.

The cookies thing is because it's not a single server but loadbalanced between multiple webservers (multiactive HA architecture). This survey isn't necessarily the only thing these servers will ever be running.

(I didn't write the software but I am providing the physical hosting it's running on.)

Comment author: ingres 26 March 2016 10:01:59PM *  5 points [-]

Hi.

What the hell was the purpose of checking whether someone was "inactive for too long"? So what, they were inactive, now they are active again, what's the big deal? Sometimes real life intervenes.

I have no idea why that happened and I'm really sorry. It's definitely not supposed to. root@localhost isn't a real email address it's just there to stymie system 'error' messages we were receiving that were bogus.

The real mailing address you want is jd@fortforecast.com. We'd love to talk to you.

Comment author: Viliam 26 March 2016 10:59:16PM 2 points [-]

Sent an e-mail, thanks.

Comment author: Morgrim 26 March 2016 05:11:49AM 5 points [-]

The questions on donating to charity only relate to donating money to charity. Some people who have sufficient free time but little disposable income donate time to charities instead. I have seen reports that donating time over money is more common amongst students and people of low income, who seem to be a smaller proportion of the LW diaspora, but it may be interesting to compare donated time vs money on future surveys.

In my experience donating one's time is also seen as being extra keen on that cause, presumably because it requires more effort, and there are certain causes that consider time more valuable than funds (eg local environmental causes, where hiring sufficient people to remove invasive weeds from a local swamp is more expensive than holding a big weeding exercise on a Saturday afternoon).

Comment author: ingres 26 March 2016 05:26:11AM *  3 points [-]

This is a really good point. It'd make an especially interesting question set because it would give us some idea of how seriously LWers take the comparative advantage idea when it comes to charity, as measured by their actions.

Comment author: Will_BC 30 March 2016 05:44:49PM 4 points [-]

I suggest this be posted to Main. I go long stretches without checking discussion, and just happened to find the survey here, but I subscribe to the Main RSS feed.

Comment author: Vaniver 30 March 2016 06:18:14PM 3 points [-]

Moved to main and promoted.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 29 March 2016 12:24:07PM 3 points [-]

I think it was question 137 that assumed that a blank would indicate an infinite in the future response.

Bad design for interpreting the response. I ended up not having an opinion on the answer, but my lack of opinion gets interpreted as a particular opinion.

Comment author: HungryHobo 28 March 2016 02:39:51PM 3 points [-]

Question 17 seems to lack an "other" category or at least an

Academics (on the research side)

Box.

Comment author: [deleted] 31 March 2016 05:55:39AM 1 point [-]

...and Teaching (non-academics), too.

Comment author: blacktrance 28 March 2016 12:00:49AM 3 points [-]

The least answered question on the last survey was - “what is your favourite lw post, provide a link”.

IIRC, that question was added to the survey later.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 29 March 2016 11:41:31AM 1 point [-]

I don't remember even seeing that.

Comment author: Artaxerxes 27 March 2016 07:09:56AM 3 points [-]

Typo question 42

Yes but I don't think it's logical conclusions apply for other reasons

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 26 March 2016 11:55:52PM *  3 points [-]

I like the new format. Some notes:

  • In some cases I'd have preferred "other" options. Some I left out.
  • The "enter in field below" was a bit unclear because it only appears on clicking the option.
Comment author: MakoYass 26 March 2016 01:39:42AM 3 points [-]

I was on the slack review team, apparently. Will my data be thrown out or should I take it again?

Comment author: Elo 26 March 2016 02:02:45AM 3 points [-]

If you have successfully pushed submit your data has been counted. There were some spelling errors that were fixed but the substance of the survey was not changed.

Comment author: ingres 26 March 2016 01:46:34AM 2 points [-]

Could you elaborate on what you mean? If you've already taken the survey prior to this post your results were counted and you don't need to take it again.

Comment author: Document 26 March 2016 12:32:30AM 3 points [-]

Is there a deadline?

Comment author: ingres 26 March 2016 01:50:26AM 5 points [-]

Yes, all responses should be turned in by May 1st.

Comment author: Ixiel 31 March 2016 12:48:47PM *  2 points [-]

Is there a responses per IP limit? I just had my family over and had them all complete the survey on my computer (all semi-converts), but if I only get one submission I'll take it over so I get the vote :)

Comment author: Elo 31 March 2016 08:05:49PM 2 points [-]

no that should be fine.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 30 March 2016 06:18:19AM *  2 points [-]

I notice that the fact that I can't see all the questions on one page makes me feel more averse towards taking this survey. It makes me feel like there's a potentially infinite amount of content to be answered, lurking out of sight, whereas if it was all one page I'd always be clear on how many more questions there were left.

This format also makes it hard to answer questions out of order, skipping a hard one until I'm done with all the easy ones.

Comment author: Elo 30 March 2016 06:41:48AM 4 points [-]

this is a trade off that we make for partially completed survey data. On the one hand; the total number of questions was mentioned at the start (maybe could have been highlighted more), and there is a progress bar at the top of each page. I agree that this is not idea; does the trade off make more sense now?

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 02 April 2016 07:58:23AM 1 point [-]

this is a trade off that we make for partially completed survey data.

Not sure what you mean by that?

But thanks for mentioning the progress bar, I didn't notice it at first. That helps somewhat.

Comment author: Elo 02 April 2016 10:41:34PM 1 point [-]

we get partially completed data from every page submitted; if the survey is not completed.

Comment author: Ixiel 15 April 2016 04:06:39PM 2 points [-]

I mentioned this in previous years but I'll bring it up again: I had to skip "odds of supernatural."

Without examples, it seems like an easy "0," because it really sounds to me like "odds of something false."

It strictly includes God, however, and I would answer "odds God is supernatural" as also 0.

So it is unclear whether I should answer for odds of God (the rest is zero to me, so God + 0 = God), which might be 60-80%, or odds of supernatural given my understanding of God (Superman theist. There's a provident entity, but trusting people who used 40 to mean "a whole bunch" with understanding infinity seems silly. It's just a lot cooler than humans. And part of nature.), which is zero.

Again, skipped, and I may be the only Superman theist here so don't change it for just one person, but seemed worth repeating since there's a new person at the survey's helm.

Comment author: Gleb_Tsipursky 26 March 2016 08:06:25PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for putting this together, and I will share it through Intentional Insights channels

Comment author: devi 01 May 2016 07:21:05PM 1 point [-]

I just remembered that I still haven't finished this. I saved my survey response partway through, but I don't think I ever submitted it. Will it still be counted, and if not, could you give people with saved survey responses the opportunity to submit them?

I realize this is my fault, and understand if you don't want to do anything extra to fix it.

Comment author: robirahman 05 May 2016 05:28:30PM 2 points [-]

Someone said elsewhere in this thread that if you stop in the middle of the survey, it does record the answers you put in before quitting.

Comment author: Conscience 13 April 2016 03:25:08PM *  1 point [-]

AI reading LessWrong - will we find out soon?

Question number 90. Have you ever practiced not letting an AI out of the box? Choose one of the following answers Yes with Eliezer's Ruleset, Yes with Tuxedage's Ruleset, Yes with a different ruleset, No but I've been the AI, No

Option "No but I've been the AI" is of particular interest to me. I'm not native English speaker and I don't know how strongly "ve been" implies that the state is changed as of now.

My guess is that the survey tries to find out if some of the following is true:

1) There was AI who already became "natural" intelligence (maybe human, maybe Extra-Terrestial)

2) There was AI who had access to Time machine to read LessWrong in our present time.

Any other guesses?

P.S. I've searched LessWrong site for "No but I've been the AI" and found nothing, so the issue has not been discussed yet and I have not noted humor in questions of the survey, so I conclude interest of the question is genuine.

Comment author: gjm 13 April 2016 04:13:15PM 1 point [-]

Nope, it's referring to "AI-box" experiments where one (human) participant is role-playing the AI role. No actual AI participation is in any way implied here.

Comment author: efenj 04 April 2016 06:18:25PM *  1 point [-]

Is there an easy way of printing one's replies (or saving them permanently for offline use), other than either:

  1. Printing out each separate page;
  2. Waiting for all the answers to be published and extracting one's own row (though that's suboptimal since the questions will presumably be absent and also, one has to wait)?

In the old survey/census I could print (to pdf) the entire form in one go.

Thanks for organising the survey!

Comment author: ingres 04 April 2016 09:19:00PM *  2 points [-]

Oh I'm sorry about that. It's actually an option in the software but I didn't turn it on because I couldn't imagine anybody would use it. ^^;

Fixing now.

EDIT: Should be an option now when you complete the survey, thanks!

Comment author: efenj 07 April 2016 02:59:35PM 1 point [-]

Thanks! (Sorry for the late reply.)

Comment author: Vamair0 04 April 2016 03:38:17PM 1 point [-]

I'm always confused by the "spiritual atheist" question, that is, the "spiritual" part. Can anyone who selected this option try to explain what they meant when they selected it?

Comment author: Brillyant 19 April 2016 04:47:22PM 3 points [-]

Just define "spiritual" as something other than "supernatural". Life contains aspects of a numinous or sacred quality, even if there is no Absolute, supernatural basis for that quality.

I have an affinity for some of the teachings of Buddhism and Christianity. If someone asks me at the bar, I'd say I'm "spiritual, but agnostic and ultimately not religious"...or something like that.

In my experience, definitions get tricky when dealing in the atheist/agnostic/ignostic space.

Comment author: ChristianKl 19 April 2016 03:56:22PM 2 points [-]

Atheist Buddhists can label themselves that way, but there are a variety of different people.

Comment author: taryneast 18 April 2016 05:35:51AM 2 points [-]

I did not select that option, but I know people that identify this way. The sorts of people that do vary considerably, from an atheist who believes in ghosts or spirits, to people that believe that we can have telepathic and/or empathic connections and can achieve this through eg meditation etc. People that believe in "magic as a form of willpower making things change in the real world" consider themselves spiritual, but atheist. etc etc.

Comment author: gjm 19 April 2016 11:48:50AM 7 points [-]

I think it sometimes just means "I'm an atheist, but I feel a sense of awe when contemplating the Grand Canyon or Maxwell's equations or the way some people sacrifice their lives for others, I don't particularly enjoy being rude about religion, and I find Richard Dawkins a bit annoying".

Comment author: MrMind 01 April 2016 10:44:49AM 1 point [-]

Is there a list of the blogs / novels proposed in the "Have you read any of these..." section?

I've never heard of mostly of them and I would like to explore them.

Comment author: Elo 02 April 2016 10:43:04PM 1 point [-]

we will definitely release them; maybe when the survey is over will be better.

Comment author: smu95rp 31 March 2016 09:20:46AM 1 point [-]

It wasn't clear: is this survey intended for everyone?

I ask because so many of the opening questions only make sense from a US perspective. I realise I can just skip them but it was giving me the feeling I was taking part in something that wasn't aimed at me.

I have no SAT score, for instance, and as it would've been taken something like 28 years ago, I couldn't possibly remember what it was now if I had. Who has an IQ test? Is that normal?

Comment author: Elo 31 March 2016 11:28:24AM 3 points [-]

The survey is intended for all people who are in the lesswrong and it's diaspora community. If you saw this post then it's probably for you to take.

A lot of our community are in the US; and a significant enough number of people also have SAT's and IQ tests that we can estimate the average IQ of our population. I personally also have neither SAT or a recent IQ test to quote. You can skip any question you like.