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As we wrap up the 2016 survey, I'd like to start by thanking everybody who took
the time to fill it out. This year we had 3083 respondents, more than twice the
number we had last year. (Source: http://lesswrong.com/lw/lhg/2014_survey_results/)
This seems consistent with the hypothesis that the LW community hasn't declined
in population so much as migrated into different communities. Being the *diaspora*
survey I had expectations for more responses than usual, but twice as many was
far beyond them.
Before we move on to the survey results, I feel obligated to put a few affairs
in order in regards to what should be done next time. The copyright situation
for the survey was ambiguous this year, and to prevent that from happening again
I'm pleased to announce that this years survey questions will be released jointly
by me and Scott Alexander as Creative Commons licensed content. We haven't
finalized the details of this yet so expect it sometime this month.
I would also be remiss not to mention the large amount of feedback we received
on the survey. Some of which led to actionable recommendations I'm going to
preserve here for whoever does it next:
- Put free response form at the very end to suggest improvements/complain.
- Fix metaethics question in general, lots of options people felt were missing.
- Clean up definitions of political affilations in the short politics section.
In particular, 'Communist' has an overly aggressive/negative definition.
- Possibly completely overhaul short politics section.
- Everywhere that a non-answer is taken as an answer should be changed so that
non answer means what it ought to, no answer or opinion. "Absence of a signal
should never be used as a signal." - Julian Bigelow, 1947
- Give a definition for the singularity on the question asking when you think it
- Ask if people are *currently* suffering from depression. Possibly add more
probing questions on depression in general since the rates are so extraordinarily
- Include a link to what cisgender means on the gender question.
- Specify if the income question is before or after taxes.
- Add charity questions about time donated.
- Add "ineligible to vote" option to the voting question.
- Adding some way for those who are pregnant to indicate it on the number of
children question would be nice. It might be onerous however so don't feel
obligated. (Remember that it's more important to have a smooth survey than it
is to catch every edge case.)
And read this thread: http://lesswrong.com/lw/nfk/lesswrong_2016_survey/,
it's full of suggestions, corrections and criticism.
Without further ado,
Our report system is currently on the fritz and isn't calculating numeric questions. If I'd known this earlier I'd have prepared the results for said questions ahead of time. Instead they'll be coming out later today or tomorrow. (EDIT: These results are now in the text format survey results.)
Philosophy and Community Issues At LessWrong's Peak (Write Ins)
Philosophy and Community Issues Now (Write Ins)
CC-Licensed Machine Readable Survey and Public Data
(Note for people looking to work with the dataset: My survey analysis code repository includes a sqlite converter, examples, and more coming soon. It's a great way to get up and running with the dataset really quickly.)
In depth analysis:
Mental Health Stats By Diaspora Community (Including self dxers)
How Diaspora Communities Compare On Mental Health Stats (I suspect these charts are subtly broken somehow, will investigate later)
Improved Mental Health Charts By Obormot (Using public survey data)
Improved Mental Health Charts By Anonymous (Using full survey data)
Political Opinions By Political Affiliation Charts (By anonymous)
More coming soon!
1. FortForecast on the communities section, Bayesed And Confused on the blogs section, and Synthesis on the stories section were all 'troll' answers designed to catch people who just put down everything. Somebody noted that the three 'fortforecast' users had the entire DSM split up between them, that's why.
2. Lots of people asked me for a list of all those cool blogs and stories and communities on the survey, they're included in the survey questions PDF above.
1. Add more in depth analysis, fix the ones that decided to suddenly break at the last minute or I suspect were always broken.
2. Add a compatibility mode so that the current question codes are converted to older ones for 3rd party analysis that rely on them.
If anybody would like to help with these, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Followup to: Words as Hidden Inferences
"What is red?"
"Red is a color."
"What's a color?"
"A color is a property of a thing."
But what is a thing? And what's a property? Soon the two are lost in a maze of words defined in other words, the problem that Steven Harnad once described as trying to learn Chinese from a Chinese/Chinese dictionary.
Alternatively, if you asked me "What is red?" I could point to a stop sign, then to someone wearing a red shirt, and a traffic light that happens to be red, and blood from where I accidentally cut myself, and a red business card, and then I could call up a color wheel on my computer and move the cursor to the red area. This would probably be sufficient, though if you know what the word "No" means, the truly strict would insist that I point to the sky and say "No."
I think I stole this example from S. I. Hayakawa—though I'm really not sure, because I heard this way back in the indistinct blur of my childhood. (When I was 12, my father accidentally deleted all my computer files. I have no memory of anything before that.)
But that's how I remember first learning about the difference between intensional and extensional definition. To give an "intensional definition" is to define a word or phrase in terms of other words, as a dictionary does. To give an "extensional definition" is to point to examples, as adults do when teaching children. The preceding sentence gives an intensional definition of "extensional definition", which makes it an extensional example of "intensional definition".
Followup to: The Parable of the Dagger
"All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore Socrates is mortal."
Socrates raised the glass of hemlock to his lips...
"Do you suppose," asked one of the onlookers, "that even hemlock will not be enough to kill so wise and good a man?"
"No," replied another bystander, a student of philosophy; "all men are mortal, and Socrates is a man; and if a mortal drink hemlock, surely he dies."
"Well," said the onlooker, "what if it happens that Socrates isn't mortal?"
"Nonsense," replied the student, a little sharply; "all men are mortal by definition; it is part of what we mean by the word 'man'. All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal. It is not merely a guess, but a logical certainty."
"I suppose that's right..." said the onlooker. "Oh, look, Socrates already drank the hemlock while we were talking."
"Yes, he should be keeling over any minute now," said the student.
And they waited, and they waited, and they waited...
"Socrates appears not to be mortal," said the onlooker.
"Then Socrates must not be a man," replied the student. "All men are mortal, Socrates is not mortal, therefore Socrates is not a man. And that is not merely a guess, but a logical certainty."
Once upon a time, there was a court jester who dabbled in logic.
The jester presented the king with two boxes. Upon the first box was inscribed:
"Either this box contains an angry frog, or the box with a false inscription contains an angry frog, but not both."
On the second box was inscribed:
"Either this box contains gold and the box with a false inscription contains an angry frog, or this box contains an angry frog and the box with a true inscription contains gold."
And the jester said to the king: "One box contains an angry frog, the other box gold; and one, and only one, of the inscriptions is true."