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2016 LessWrong Diaspora Survey Results

32 ingres 14 May 2016 05:38PM

Foreword:

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
  will occur.

- Ask if people are *currently* suffering from depression. Possibly add more
  probing questions on depression in general since the rates are so extraordinarily
  high.

- 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,

Basic Results:

2016 LessWrong Diaspora Survey Questions (PDF Format)

2016 LessWrong Diaspora Survey Results (PDF Format, Missing 23 Responses)

2016 LessWrong Diaspora Survey Results Complete (Text Format, Null Entries Included)

2016 LessWrong Diaspora Survey Results Complete (Text Format, Null Entries Excluded)

2016 LessWrong Diaspora Survey Results Complete (Text Format, Null Entries Included, 13 Responses Filtered, Percentages)

2016 LessWrong Diaspora Survey Results Complete (Text Format, Null Entries Excluded, 13 Responses Filtered, Percentages)

2016 LessWrong Diaspora Survey Results Complete (HTML Format, Null Entries Excluded)

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)

Peak Philosophy Issues Write Ins (Part One)

Peak Philosophy Issues Write Ins (Part Two)

Peak Community Issues Write Ins (Part One)

Peak Community Issues Write Ins (Part Two)


Philosophy and Community Issues Now (Write Ins)

Philosophy Issues Now Write Ins (Part One)

Philosophy Issues Now Write Ins (Part Two)

Community Issues Now Write Ins (Part One)

Community Issues Now Write Ins (Part Two)

 

Rejoin Conditions

Rejoin Condition Write Ins (Part One)

Rejoin Condition Write Ins (Part Two)

Rejoin Condition Write Ins (Part Three)

Rejoin Condition Write Ins (Part Four)

Rejoin Condition Write Ins (Part Five)

 

CC-Licensed Machine Readable Survey and Public Data

2016 LessWrong Diaspora Survey Structure (License)

2016 LessWrong Diaspora Survey Public Dataset

(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:

Analysis Posts

Part One: Meta and Demographics

Part Two: LessWrong Use, Successorship, Diaspora

Part Three: Mental Health, Basilisk, Blogs and Media

Part Four: Politics, Calibration & Probability, Futurology, Charity & Effective Altruism

Aggregated Data

Effective Altruism and Charitable Giving 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

Political Opinions By Political Affiliation Charts (By anonymous)

Blogs And Media Demographic Clusters

Blogs And Media Demographic Clusters (HTML Format, Impossible Answers Excluded)

Calibration Question And Brier Score Analysis

More coming soon!

Survey Analysis Code

Some notes:

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.

Public TODO:

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 jd@fortforecast.com

Lesswrong 2016 Survey

29 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.

Results of a One-Year Longitudinal Study of CFAR Alumni

33 Unnamed 12 December 2015 04:39AM

By Dan from CFAR

Introduction

When someone comes to a CFAR workshop, and then goes back home, what is different for them one year later? What changes are there to their life, to how they think, to how they act?

CFAR would like to have an answer to this question (as would many other people). One method that we have been using to gather relevant data is a longitudinal study, comparing participants' survey responses from shortly before their workshop with their survey responses approximately one year later. This post summarizes what we have learned thus far, based on data from 135 people who attended workshops from February 2014 to April 2015 and completed both surveys.

The survey questions can be loosely categorized into four broad areas:

  1. Well-being: On the whole, is the participant's life going better than it was before the workshop?
  2. Personality: Have there been changes on personality dimensions which seem likely to be associated with increased rationality?
  3. Behaviors: Have there been increases in rationality-related skills, habits, or other behavioral tendencies?
  4. Productivity: Is the participant working more effectively at their job or other projects?

We chose to measure these four areas because they represent part of what CFAR hopes that its workshops accomplish, they are areas where many workshop participants would like to see changes, and they are relatively tractable to measure on a survey. There are other areas where CFAR would like to have an effect, including people's epistemics and their impact on the world, which were not a focus of this study.

We relied heavily on existing measures which have been validated and used by psychology researchers, especially in the areas of well-being and personality. These measures typically are not a perfect match for what we care about, but we expected them to be sufficiently correlated with what we care about for them to be worth using.

We found significant increases in variables in all 4 areas. A partial summary:

Well-being: increases in happiness and life satisfaction, especially in the work domain (but no significant change in life satisfaction in the social domain)

Personality: increases in general self-efficacy, emotional stability, conscientiousness, and extraversion (but no significant change in growth mindset or openness to experience)

Behaviors: increased rate of acquisition of useful techniques, emotions experienced as more helpful & less of a hindrance (but no significant change on measures of cognitive biases or useful conversations)

Productivity: increases in motivation while working and effective approaches to pursuing projects (but no significant change in income or number of hours worked)

The rest of this post is organized into three main sections. The first section describes our methodology in more detail, including the reasoning behind the longitudinal design and some information on the sample. The second section gives the results of the research, including the variables that showed an effect and the ones that did not; the results are summarized in a table at the end of that section. The third section discusses four major methodological concerns—the use of self-report measures (where respondents might just give the answer that sounds good), attrition (some people who took the pre-survey did not complete the post-survey), other sources of personal growth (people might have improved over time without attending the CFAR workshop), and regression to the mean (people may have changed after the workshop simply because they came to the workshop at an unusually high or low point)—and attempts to evaluate the extent to which these four issues may have influenced the results.

continue reading »

2014 Survey Results

87 Yvain 05 January 2015 07:36PM

Thanks to everyone who took the 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey. Extra thanks to Ozy, who did a lot of the number crunching work.

This year's results are below. Some of them may make more sense in the context of the original survey questions, which can be seen here. Please do not try to take the survey as it is over and your results will not be counted.

I. Population

There were 1503 respondents over 27 days. The last survey got 1636 people over 40 days. The last four full days of the survey saw nineteen, six, and four responses, for an average of about ten. If we assume the next thirteen days had also gotten an average of ten responses - which is generous, since responses tend to trail off with time - then we would have gotten about as many people as the last survey. There is no good evidence here of a decline in population, although it is perhaps compatible with a very small decline.

II. Demographics

Sex
Female: 179, 11.9%
Male: 1311, 87.2%

Gender
F (cisgender): 150, 10.0%
F (transgender MtF): 24, 1.6%
M (cisgender): 1245, 82.8%
M (transgender FtM): 5, 0.3%
Other: 64, 4.3%

Sexual Orientation
Asexual: 59, 3.9%
Bisexual: 216, 14.4%
Heterosexual: 1133, 75.4%
Homosexual: 47, 3.1%
Other: 35, 2.3%

[This question was poorly worded and should have acknowledged that people can both be asexual and have a specific orientation; as a result it probably vastly undercounted our asexual readers]

Relationship Style
Prefer monogamous: 778, 51.8%
Prefer polyamorous: 227, 15.1%
Uncertain/no preference: 464, 30.9%
Other: 23, 1.5%

Number of Partners
0: 738, 49.1%
1: 674, 44.8%
2: 51, 3.4%
3: 17, 1.1%
4: 7, 0.5%
5: 1, 0.1%
Lots and lots: 3, 0.2%

Relationship Goals
Currently not looking for new partners: 648, 43.1%
Open to new partners: 467, 31.1%
Seeking more partners: 370, 24.6%

[22.2% of people who don’t have a partner aren’t looking for one.]


Relationship Status
Married: 274, 18.2%
Relationship: 424, 28.2%
Single: 788, 52.4%

[6.9% of single people have at least one partner; 1.8% have more than one.]

Living With
Alone: 345, 23.0%
With parents and/or guardians: 303, 20.2%
With partner and/or children: 411, 27.3%
With roommates: 428, 28.5%

Children
0: 1317, 81.6%
1: 66, 4.4%
2: 78, 5.2%
3: 17, 1.1%
4: 6, 0.4%
5: 3, 0.2%
6: 1, 0.1%
Lots and lots: 1, 0.1%

Want More Children?
Yes: 549, 36.1%
Uncertain: 426, 28.3%
No: 516, 34.3%

[418 of the people who don’t have children don’t want any, suggesting that the LW community is 27.8% childfree.]

Country
United States, 822, 54.7%
United Kingdom, 116, 7.7%
Canada, 88, 5.9%
Australia: 83, 5.5%
Germany, 62, 4.1%
Russia, 26, 1.7%
Finland, 20, 1.3%
New Zealand, 20, 1.3%
India, 17, 1.1%
Brazil: 15, 1.0%
France, 15, 1.0%
Israel, 15, 1.0%

Lesswrongers Per Capita
Finland: 1/271,950
New Zealand: 1/223,550
Australia: 1/278,674
United States: 1/358,390
Canada: 1/399,545
Israel: 1/537,266
United Kingdom: 1/552,586
Germany: 1/1,290,323
France: 1/ 4,402,000
Russia: 1/ 5,519,231
Brazil: 1/ 13,360,000
India: 1/ 73,647,058

Race
Asian (East Asian): 59. 3.9%
Asian (Indian subcontinent): 33, 2.2%
Black: 12. 0.8%
Hispanic: 32, 2.1%
Middle Eastern: 9, 0.6%
Other: 50, 3.3%
White (non-Hispanic): 1294, 86.1%

Work Status
Academic (teaching): 86, 5.7%
For-profit work: 492, 32.7%
Government work: 59, 3.9%
Homemaker: 8, 0.5%
Independently wealthy: 9, 0.6%
Nonprofit work: 58, 3.9%
Self-employed: 122, 5.8%
Student: 553, 36.8%
Unemployed: 103, 6.9%

Profession
Art: 22, 1.5%
Biology: 29, 1.9%
Business: 35, 4.0%
Computers (AI): 42, 2.8%
Computers (other academic): 106, 7.1%
Computers (practical): 477, 31.7%
Engineering: 104, 6.1%
Finance/Economics: 71, 4.7%
Law: 38, 2.5%
Mathematics: 121, 8.1%
Medicine: 32, 2.1%
Neuroscience: 18, 1.2%
Philosophy: 36, 2.4%
Physics: 65, 4.3%
Psychology: 31, 2.1%
Other: 157, 10.2%
Other “hard science”: 25, 1.7%
Other “social science”: 34, 2.3%

Degree
None: 74, 4.9%
High school: 347, 23.1%
2 year degree: 64, 4.3%
Bachelors: 555, 36.9%
Masters: 278, 18.5%
JD/MD/other professional degree: 44, 2.9%
PhD: 105, 7.0%
Other: 24, 1.4%

III. Mental Illness

535 answer “no” to all the mental illness questions. Upper bound: 64.4% of the LW population is mentally ill.
393 answer “yes” to at least one mental illness question. Lower bound: 26.1% of the LW population is mentally ill. Gosh, we have a lot of self-diagnosers.

Depression
Yes, I was formally diagnosed: 273, 18.2%
Yes, I self-diagnosed: 383, 25.5%
No: 759, 50.5%

OCD
Yes, I was formally diagnosed: 30, 2.0%
Yes, I self-diagnosed: 76, 5.1%
No: 1306, 86.9%

Autism spectrum

Yes, I was formally diagnosed: 98, 6.5%
Yes, I self-diagnosed: 168, 11.2%
No: 1143, 76.0%

Bipolar

Yes, I was formally diagnosed: 33, 2.2%
Yes, I self-diagnosed: 49, 3.3%
No: 1327, 88.3%

Anxiety disorder
Yes, I was formally diagnosed: 139, 9.2%
Yes, I self-diagnosed: 237, 15.8%
No: 1033, 68.7%

BPD
Yes, I was formally diagnosed: 5, 0.3%
Yes, I self-diagnosed: 19, 1.3%
No: 1389, 92.4%

[Ozy says: RATIONALIST BPDERS COME BE MY FRIEND]

Schizophrenia
Yes, I was formally diagnosed: 7, 0.5%
Yes, I self-diagnosed: 7, 0.5%
No: 1397, 92.9%

IV. Politics, Religion, Ethics

Politics
Communist: 9, 0.6%
Conservative: 67, 4.5%
Liberal: 416, 27.7%
Libertarian: 379, 25.2%
Social Democratic: 585, 38.9%

[The big change this year was that we changed "Socialist" to "Social Democratic". Even though the description stayed the same, about eight points worth of Liberals switched to Social Democrats, apparently more willing to accept that label than "Socialist". The overall supergroups Libertarian vs. (Liberal, Social Democratic) vs. Conservative remain mostly unchanged.]

Politics (longform)
Anarchist: 40, 2.7%
Communist: 9, 0.6%
Conservative: 23, 1.9%
Futarchist: 41, 2.7%
Left-Libertarian: 192, 12.8%
Libertarian: 164, 10.9%
Moderate: 56, 3.7%
Neoreactionary: 29, 1.9%
Social Democrat: 162, 10.8%
Socialist: 89, 5.9%

[Amusing politics answers include anti-incumbentist, having-well-founded-opinions-is-hard-but-I’ve-come-to-recognize-the-pragmatism-of-socialism-I-don’t-know-ask-me-again-next-year, pirate, progressive social democratic environmental liberal isolationist freedom-fries loving pinko commie piece of shit, republic-ist aka read the federalist papers, romantic reconstructionist, social liberal fiscal agnostic, technoutopian anarchosocialist (with moderate snark), whatever it is that Scott is, and WHY ISN’T THERE AN OPTION FOR NONE SO I CAN SIGNAL MY OBVIOUS OBJECTIVITY WITH MINIMAL EFFORT. Ozy would like to point out to the authors of manifestos that no one will actually read their manifestos except zir, and they might want to consider posting them to their own blogs.]


American Parties
Democratic Party: 221, 14.7%
Republican Party: 55, 3.7%
Libertarian Party: 26, 1.7%
Other party: 16, 1.1%
No party: 415, 27.6%
Non-Americans who really like clicking buttons: 415, 27.6%

Voting

Yes: 881, 58.6%
No: 444, 29.5%
My country doesn’t hold elections: 5, 0.3%

Religion

Atheist and not spiritual: 1054, 70.1%
Atheist and spiritual: 150, 10.0%
Agnostic: 156, 10.4%
Lukewarm theist: 44, 2.9%
Deist/pantheist/etc.: 22,, 1.5%
Committed theist: 60, 4.0%

Religious Denomination
Christian (Protestant): 53, 3.5%
Mixed/Other: 32, 2.1%
Jewish: 31, 2.0%
Buddhist: 30, 2.0%
Christian (Catholic): 24, 1.6%
Unitarian Universalist or similar: 23, 1.5%

[Amusing denominations include anti-Molochist, CelestAI, cosmic engineers, Laziness, Thelema, Resimulation Theology, and Pythagorean. The Cultus Deorum Romanorum practitioner still needs to contact Ozy so they can be friends.]

Family Religion
Atheist and not spiritual: 213, 14.2%
Atheist and spiritual: 74, 4.9%
Agnostic: 154. 10.2%
Lukewarm theist: 541, 36.0%
Deist/Pantheist/etc.: 28, 1.9%
Committed theist: 388, 25.8%

Religious Background
Christian (Protestant): 580, 38.6%
Christian (Catholic): 378, 25.1%
Jewish: 141, 9.4%
Christian (other non-protestant): 88, 5.9%
Mixed/Other: 68, 4.5%
Unitarian Universalism or similar: 29, 1.9%
Christian (Mormon): 28, 1.9%
Hindu: 23, 1.5%’

Moral Views
Accept/lean towards consequentialism: 901, 60.0%
Accept/lean towards deontology: 50, 3.3%
Accept/lean towards natural law: 48, 3.2%
Accept/lean towards virtue ethics: 150, 10.0%
Accept/lean towards contractualism: 79, 5.3%
Other/no answer: 239, 15.9%

Meta-ethics
Constructivism: 474, 31.5%
Error theory: 60, 4.0%
Non-cognitivism: 129, 8.6%
Subjectivism: 324, 21.6%
Substantive realism: 209, 13.9%

V. Community Participation


Less Wrong Use
Lurker: 528, 35.1%
I’ve registered an account: 221, 14.7%
I’ve posted a comment: 419, 27.9%
I’ve posted in Discussion: 207, 13.8%
I’ve posted in Main: 102, 6.8%

Sequences
Never knew they existed until this moment: 106, 7.1%
Knew they existed, but never looked at them: 42, 2.8%
Some, but less than 25%: 270, 18.0%
About 25%: 181, 12.0%
About 50%: 209, 13.9%
About 75%: 242, 16.1%
All or almost all: 427, 28.4%

Meetups
Yes, regularly: 154, 10.2%
Yes, once or a few times: 325, 21.6%
No: 989, 65.8%

Community

Yes, all the time: 112, 7.5%
Yes, sometimes: 191, 12.7%
No: 1163, 77.4%

Romance
Yes: 82, 5.5%
I didn’t meet them through the community but they’re part of the community now: 79, 5.3%
No: 1310, 87.2%

CFAR Events
Yes, in 2014: 45, 3.0%
Yes, in 2013: 60, 4.0%
Both: 42, 2.8%
No: 1321, 87.9%

CFAR Workshop
Yes: 109, 7.3%
No: 1311, 87.2%

[A couple percent more people answered 'yes' to each of meetups, physical interactions, CFAR attendance, and romance this time around, suggesting the community is very very gradually becoming more IRL. In particular, the number of people meeting romantic partners through the community increased by almost 50% over last year.]

HPMOR
Yes: 897, 59.7%
Started but not finished: 224, 14.9%
No: 254, 16.9%

Referrals
Referred by a link: 464, 30.9%
HPMOR: 385, 25.6%
Been here since the Overcoming Bias days: 210, 14.0%
Referred by a friend: 199, 13.2%
Referred by a search engine: 114, 7.6%
Referred by other fiction: 17, 1.1%

[Amusing responses include “a rationalist that I follow on Tumblr”, “I’m a student of tribal cultishness”, and “It is difficult to recall details from the Before Time. Things were brighter, simpler, as in childhood or a dream. There has been much growth, change since then. But also loss. I can't remember where I found the link, is what I'm saying.”]

Blog Referrals
Slate Star Codex: 40, 2.6%
Reddit: 25, 1.6%
Common Sense Atheism: 21, 1.3%
Hacker News: 20, 1.3%
Gwern: 13, 1.0%

VI. Other Categorical Data

Cryonics Status
Don’t understand/never thought about it: 62, 4.1%
Don’t want to: 361, 24.0%
Considering it: 551, 36.7%
Haven’t gotten around to it: 272, 18.1%
Unavailable in my area: 126, 8.4%
Yes: 64, 4.3%

Type of Global Catastrophic Risk
Asteroid strike: 64, 4.3%
Economic/political collapse: 151, 10.0%
Environmental collapse: 218, 14.5%
Nanotech/grey goo: 47, 3.1%
Nuclear war: 239, 15.8%
Pandemic (bioengineered): 310, 20.6%
Pandemic (natural): 113. 7.5%
Unfriendly AI: 244, 16.2%

[Amusing answers include ennui/eaten by Internet, Friendly AI, “Greens so weaken the rich countries that barbarians conquer us”, and Tumblr.]

Effective Altruism (do you self-identify)
Yes: 422, 28.1%
No: 758, 50.4%

[Despite some impressive outreach by the EA community, numbers are largely the same as last year]


Effective Altruism (do you participate in community)
Yes: 191, 12.7%
No: 987, 65.7%

Vegetarian
Vegan: 31, 2.1%
Vegetarian: 114, 7.6%
Other meat restriction: 252, 16.8%
Omnivore: 848, 56.4%

Paleo Diet

Yes: 33, 2.2%
Sometimes: 209, 13.9%
No: 1111, 73.9%

Food Substitutes
Most of my calories: 8. 0.5%
Sometimes: 101, 6.7%
Tried: 196, 13.0%
No: 1052, 70.0%

Gender Default
I only identify with my birth gender by default: 681, 45.3%
I strongly identify with my birth gender: 586, 39.0%

Books
<5: 198, 13.2%
5 - 10: 384, 25.5%
10 - 20: 328, 21.8%
20 - 50: 264, 17.6%
50 - 100: 105, 7.0%
> 100: 49, 3.3%

Birth Month
Jan: 109, 7.3%
Feb: 90, 6.0%
Mar: 123, 8.2%
Apr: 126, 8.4%
Jun: 107, 7.1%
Jul: 109, 7.3%
Aug: 120, 8.0%
Sep: 94, 6.3%
Oct: 111, 7.4%
Nov: 102, 6.8%
Dec: 106, 7.1%

[Despite my hope of something turning up here, these results don't deviate from chance]

Handedness
Right: 1170, 77.8%
Left: 143, 9.5%
Ambidextrous: 37, 2.5%
Unsure: 12, 0.8%

Previous Surveys
Yes: 757, 50.7%
No:  598, 39.8%

Favorite Less Wrong Posts (all > 5 listed)
An Alien God: 11
Joy In The Merely Real: 7
Dissolving Questions About Disease: 7
Politics Is The Mind Killer: 6
That Alien Message: 6
A Fable Of Science And Politics: 6
Belief In Belief: 5
Generalizing From One Example: 5
Schelling Fences On Slippery Slopes: 5
Tsuyoku Naritai: 5

VII. Numeric Data

Age: 27.67 + 8.679 (22, 26, 31) [1490]
IQ: 138.25 + 15.936 (130.25, 139, 146) [472]
SAT out of 1600: 1470.74 + 113.114 (1410, 1490, 1560) [395]
SAT out of 2400: 2210.75 + 188.94 (2140, 2250, 2320) [310]
ACT out of 36: 32.56 + 2.483 (31, 33, 35) [244]
Time in Community: 2010.97 + 2.174 (2010, 2011, 2013) [1317]
Time on LW: 15.73 + 95.75 (2, 5, 15) [1366]
Karma Score: 555.73 + 2181.791 (0, 0, 155) [1335]

P Many Worlds: 47.64 + 30.132 (20, 50, 75) [1261]
P Aliens: 71.52 + 34.364 (50, 90, 99) [1393]
P Aliens (Galaxy): 41.2 + 38.405 (2, 30, 80) [1379]
P Supernatural: 6.68 + 20.271 (0, 0, 1) [1386]
P God: 8.26 + 21.088 (0, 0.01, 3) [1376]
P Religion: 4.99 + 18.068 (0, 0, 0.5) [1384]
P Cryonics: 22.34 + 27.274 (2, 10, 30) [1399]
P Anti-Agathics: 24.63 + 29.569 (1, 10, 40) [1390]
P Simulation 24.31 + 28.2 (1, 10, 50) [1320]
P Warming 81.73 + 24.224 (80, 90, 98) [1394]
P Global Catastrophic Risk 72.14 + 25.620 (55, 80, 90) [1394]
Singularity: 2143.44 + 356.643 (2060, 2090, 2150) [1177]

[The mean for this question is almost entirely dependent on which stupid responses we choose to delete as outliers; the median practically never changes]


Abortion: 4.38 + 1.032 (4, 5, 5) [1341]
Immigration: 4 + 1.078 (3, 4, 5) [1310]
Taxes : 3.14 + 1.212 (2, 3, 4) [1410] (from 1 - should be lower to 5 - should be higher)
Minimum Wage: 3.21 + 1.359 (2, 3, 4) [1298] (from 1 - should be lower to 5 - should be higher)
Feminism: 3.67 + 1.221 (3, 4, 5) [1332]
Social Justice: 3.15 + 1.385 (2, 3, 4) [1309]
Human Biodiversity: 2.93 + 1.201 (2, 3, 4) [1321]
Basic Income: 3.94 + 1.087 (3, 4, 5) [1314]
Great Stagnation: 2.33 + .959 (2, 2, 3) [1302]
MIRI Mission: 3.90 + 1.062 (3, 4, 5) [1412]
MIRI Effectiveness: 3.23 + .897 (3, 3, 4) [1336]

[Remember, all of these are asking you to rate your belief in/agreement with the concept on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (great)]

Income: 54129.37 + 66818.904 (10,000, 30,800, 80,000) [923]
Charity: 1996.76 + 9492.71 (0, 100, 800) [1009]
MIRI/CFAR: 511.61 + 5516.608 (0, 0, 0) [1011]
XRisk: 62.50 + 575.260 (0, 0, 0) [980]
Older siblings: 0.51 + .914 (0, 0, 1) [1332]
Younger siblings: 1.08 + 1.127 (0, 1, 1) [1349]
Height: 178.06 + 11.767 (173, 179, 184) [1236]
Hours Online: 43.44 + 25.452 (25, 40, 60) [1221]
Bem Sex Role Masculinity: 42.54 + 9.670 (36, 42, 49) [1032]
Bem Sex Role Femininity: 42.68 + 9.754 (36, 43, 50) [1031]
Right Hand: .97 + 0.67 (.94, .97, 1.00)
Left Hand: .97 + .048 (.94, .97, 1.00)

VIII. Fishing Expeditions

[correlations, in descending order]

SAT Scores out of 1600/SAT Scores out of 2400 .844 (59)
P Supernatural/P God .697 (1365)
Feminism/Social Justice .671 (1299)
P God/P Religion .669 (1367)
P Supernatural/P Religion .631 (1372)
Charity Donations/MIRI and CFAR Donations .619 (985)
P Aliens/P Aliens 2 .607 (1376)
Taxes/Minimum Wage .587 (1287)
SAT Score out of 2400/ACT Score .575 (89)
Age/Number of Children .506 (1480)
P Cryonics/P Anti-Agathics .484 (1385)
SAT Score out of 1600/ACT Score .480 (81)
Minimum Wage/Social Justice .456 (1267)
Taxes/Social Justice .427 (1281)
Taxes/Feminism .414 (1299)
MIRI Mission/MIRI Effectiveness .395 (1331)
P Warming/Taxes .385 (1261)
Taxes/Basic Income .383 (1285)
Minimum Wage/Feminism .378 (1286)
P God/Abortion -.378 (1266)
Immigration/Feminism .365 (1296)
P Supernatural/Abortion -.362 (1276)
Feminism/Human Biodiversity -.360 (1306)
MIRI and CFAR Donations/Other XRisk Charity Donations .345 (973)
Social Justice/Human Biodiversity -.341 (1288)
P Religion/Abortion -.326 (1275)
P Warming/Minimum Wage .324 (1248)
Minimum Wage/Basic Income .312 (1276)
P Warming/Basic Income .306 (1260)
Immigration/Social Justice .294 (1278)
P Anti-Agathics/MIRI Mission .293 (1351)
P Warming/Feminism .285 (1281)
P Many Worlds/P Anti-Agathics .276 (1245)
Social Justice/Femininity .267 (990)
Minimum Wage/Human Biodiversity -.264 (1274)
Immigration/Human Biodiversity -.263 (1286)
P Many Worlds/MIRI Mission .263 (1233)
P Aliens/P Warming .262 (1365)
P Warming/Social Justice .257 (1262)
Taxes/Human Biodiversity -.252 (1291)
Social Justice/Basic Income .251 (1281)
Feminism/Femininity .250 (1003)
Older Siblings/Younger Siblings -.243 (1321)
Charity Donations/Other XRisk Charity Donations .240 (957
P Anti-Agathics/P Simulation .238 (1312)
Abortion/Minimum Wage .229 (1293)
Feminism/Basic Income .227 (1297)
Abortion/Feminism .226 (1321)
P Cryonics/MIRI Mission .223 (1360)
Immigration/Basic Income .208 (1279)
P Many Worlds/P Cryonics .202 (1251)
Number of Current Partners/Femininity: .202 (1029)
P Warming/Immigration .202 (1260)
P Warming/Abortion .201 (1289)
Abortion/Taxes .198 (1304)
Age/P Simulation .197 (1313)
Political Interest/Masculinity .194 (1011)
P Cryonics/MIRI Effectiveness .191 (1285)
Abortion/Social Justice .191 (1301)
P Simulation/MIRI Mission .188 (1290)
P Many Worlds/P Warming .188 (1240)
Age/Number of Current Partners .184 (1480)
P Anti-Agathics/MIRI Effectiveness .183 (1277)
P Many Worlds/P Simulation .181 (1211)
Abortion/Immigration .181 (1304)
Number of Current Partners/Number of Children .180 (1484)
P Cryonics/P Simulation .174 (1315)
P Global Catastrophic Risk/MIRI Mission -.174 (1359)
Minimum Wage/Femininity .171 (981)
Abortion/Basic Income .170 (1302)
Age/P Cryonics -.165 (1391)
Immigration/Taxes .165 (1293)
P Warming/Human Biodiversity -.163 (1271)
P Aliens 2/Warming .160 (1353)
Abortion/Younger Siblings -.155 (1292)
P Religion/Meditate .155 (1189)
Feminism/Masculinity -.155 (1004)
Immigration/Femininity .155 (988)
P Supernatural/Basic Income -.153 (1246)
P Supernatural/P Warming -.152 (1361)
Number of Current Partners/Karma Score .152 (1332)
P Many Worlds/MIRI Effectiveness .152 (1181)
Age/MIRI Mission -.150 (1404)
P Religion/P Warming -.150 (1358)
P Religion/Basic Income -.146 (1245)
P God/Basic Income -.146 (1237)
Human Biodiversity/Femininity -.145 (999)
P God/P Warming -.144 (1351)
Taxes/Femininity .142 (987)
Number of Children/Younger Siblings .138 (1343)
Number of Current Partners/Masculinity: .137 (1030)
P Many Worlds/P God -.137 (1232)
Age/Charity Donations .133 (1002)
P Anti-Agathics/P Global Catastrophic Risk -.132 (1373)
P Warming/Masculinity -.132 (992)
P Global Catastrophic Risk/MIRI and CFAR Donations -.132 (982)
P Supernatural/Singularity .131 (1148)
God/Taxes -.130 (1240)
Age/P Anti-Agathics -.128 (1382)
P Aliens/Taxes .127(1258)
Feminism/Great Stagnation -.127 (1287)
P Many Worlds/P Supernatural -.127 (1241)
P Aliens/Abortion .126 (1284)
P Anti-Agathics/Great Stagnation -.126 (1248)
P Anti-Agathics/P Warming .125 (1370)
Age/P Aliens .124 (1386)
P Aliens/Minimum Wage .124 (1245)
P Aliens/P Global Catastrophic Risk .122 (1363)
Age/MIRI Effectiveness -.122 (1328)
Age/P Supernatural .120 (1370)
P Supernatural/MIRI Mission -.119 (1345)
P Many Worlds/P Religion -.119 (1238)
P Religion/MIRI Mission -.118 (1344)
Political Interest/Social Justice .118 (1304)
P Anti-Agathics/MIRI and CFAR Donations .118 (976)
Human Biodiversity/Basic Income -.115 (1262)
P Many Worlds/Abortion .115 (1166)
Age/Karma Score .114 (1327)
P Aliens/Feminism .114 (1277)
P Many Worlds/P Global Catastrophic Risk -.114 (1243)
Political Interest/Femininity .113 (1010)
Number of Children/P Simulation -.112 (1317)
P Religion/Younger Siblings .112 (1275)
P Supernatural/Taxes -.112 (1248)
Age/Masculinity .112 (1027)
Political Interest/Taxes .111 (1305)
P God/P Simulation .110 (1296)
P Many Worlds/Basic Income .110 (1139)
P Supernatural/Younger Siblings .109 (1274)
P Simulation/Basic Income .109 (1195)
Age/P Aliens 2 .107 (1371)
MIRI Mission/Basic Income .107 (1279)
Age/Great Stagnation .107 (1295)
P Many Worlds/P Aliens .107 (1253)
Number of Current Partners/Social Justice .106 (1304)
Human Biodiversity/Great Stagnation .105 (1285)
Number of Children/Abortion -.104 (1337)
Number of Current Partners/P Cryonics -.102 (1396)
MIRI Mission/Abortion .102 (1305)
Immigration/Great Stagnation -.101 (1269)
Age/Political Interest .100 (1339)
P Global Catastrophic Risk/Political Interest .099 (1295)
P Aliens/P Religion -.099 (1357)
P God/MIRI Mission -.098 (1335)
P Aliens/P Simulation .098 (1308)
Number of Current Partners/Immigration .098 (1305)
P God/Political Interest .098 (1274)
P Warming/P Global Catastrophic Risk .096 (1377)

In addition to the Left/Right factor we had last year, this data seems to me to have an Agrees with the Sequences Factor-- the same people tend to believe in many-worlds, cryo, atheism, simulationism, MIRI’s mission and effectiveness, anti-agathics, etc. Weirdly, belief in global catastrophic risk is negatively correlated with most of the Agrees with Sequences things. Someone who actually knows how to do statistics should run a factor analysis on this data.

IX. Digit Ratios

After sanitizing the digit ratio numbers, the following correlations came up:

Digit ratio R hand was correlated with masculinity at a level of -0.180 p < 0.01
Digit ratio L hand was correlated with masculinity at a level of -0.181 p < 0.01
Digit ratio R hand was slightly correlated with femininity at a level of +0.116 p < 0.05

Holy #@!$ the feminism thing ACTUALLY HELD UP. There is a 0.144 correlation between right-handed digit ratio and feminism, p < 0.01. And an 0.112 correlation between left-handed digit ratio and feminism, p < 0.05.

The only other political position that correlates with digit ratio is immigration. There is a 0.138 correlation between left-handed digit ratio and believe in open borders p < 0.01, and an 0.111 correlation between right-handed digit ratio and belief in open borders, p < 0.05.

No digit correlation with abortion, taxes, minimum wage, social justice, human biodiversity, basic income, or great stagnation.

Okay, need to rule out that this is all confounded by gender. I ran a few analyses on men and women separately.

On men alone, the connection to masculinity holds up. Restricting sample size to men, left-handed digit ratio corresponds to masculinity with at -0.157, p < 0.01. Left handed at -0.134, p < 0.05. Right-handed correlates with femininity at 0.120, p < 0.05. The feminism correlation holds up. Restricting sample size to men, right-handed digit ratio correlates with feminism at a level of 0.149, p < 0.01. Left handed just barely fails to correlate. Both right and left correlate with immigration at 0.135, p < 0.05.

On women alone, the Bem masculinity correlation is the highest correlation we're going to get in this entire study. Right hand is -0.433, p < 0.01. Left hand is -0.299, p < 0.05. Femininity trends toward significance but doesn't get there. The feminism correlation trends toward significance but doesn't get there. In general there was too small a sample size of women to pick up anything but the most whopping effects.

Since digit ratio is related to testosterone and testosterone sometimes affects risk-taking, I wondered if it would correlate with any of the calibration answers. I selected people who had answered Calibration Question 5 incorrectly and ran an analysis to see if digit ratio was correlated with tendency to be more confident in the incorrect answer. No effect was found.

Other things that didn't correlate with digit ratio: IQ, SAT, number of current partners, tendency to work in mathematical professions.

...I still can't believe this actually worked. The finger-length/feminism connection ACTUALLY WORKED. What a world. What a world. Someone may want to double-check these results before I get too excited.

X. Calibration


There were ten calibration questions on this year's survey. Along with answers, they were:

1. What is the largest bone in the body? Femur
2. What state was President Obama born in? Hawaii
3. Off the coast of what country was the battle of Trafalgar fought? Spain
4. What Norse God was called the All-Father? Odin
5. Who won the 1936 Nobel Prize for his work in quantum physics? Heisenberg
6. Which planet has the highest density? Earth
7. Which Bible character was married to Rachel and Leah? Jacob
8. What organelle is called "the powerhouse of the cell"? Mitochondria
9. What country has the fourth-highest population? Indonesia
10. What is the best-selling computer game? Minecraft

I ran calibration scores for everybody based on how well they did on the ten calibration questions. These failed to correlate with IQ, SAT, LW karma, or any of the things you might expect to be measures of either intelligence or previous training in calibration; they didn't differ by gender, correlates of community membership, or any mental illness [deleted section about correlating with MWI and MIRI, this was an artifact].

Your answers looked like this:



The red line represents perfect calibration. Where answers dip below the line, it means you were overconfident; when they go above, it means you were underconfident.

It looks to me like everyone was horrendously underconfident on all the easy questions, and horrendously overconfident on all the hard questions. To give an example of how horrendous, people who were 50% sure of their answers to question 10 got it right only 13% of the time; people who were 100% sure only got it right 44% of the time. Obviously those numbers should be 50% and 100% respectively.

This builds upon results from previous surveys in which your calibration was also horrible. This is not a human universal - people who put even a small amount of training into calibration can become very well calibrated very quickly. This is a sign that most Less Wrongers continue to neglect the very basics of rationality and are incapable of judging how much evidence they have on a given issue. Veterans of the site do no better than newbies on this measure.

XI. Wrapping Up

To show my appreciation for everyone completing this survey, including the arduous digit ratio measurements, I have randomly chosen a person to receive a $30 monetary prize. That person is...the person using the public key "The World Is Quiet Here". If that person tells me their private key, I will give them $30.

I have removed 73 people who wished to remain private, deleted the Private Keys, and sanitized a very small amount of data. Aside from that, here are the raw survey results for your viewing and analyzing pleasure:

(as Excel)

(as SPSS)

(as CSV)

2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey

88 Yvain 26 October 2014 06:05PM

It's that time of year again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

***


[EDIT: SURVEY CLOSED, DO NOT TAKE!]

***

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

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

Practical Benefits of Rationality (LW Census Results)

16 Unnamed 31 January 2014 05:24PM

by Dan from CFAR

 

Abstract: Two measures of the practical benefits of rationality, one a self-report of the benefits of being part of the rationality community and the other a measure of how often a person adds useful techniques to their repertoire, were included on the 2013 Less Wrong survey. In-person involvement with LW/CFAR predicted both measures of benefits, with friendships with LWers and attending a CFAR workshop showing the strongest and most consistent effects. Online Less Wrong participation and background had weaker and less consistent effects. Growth mindset also independently predicted both measures of practical benefits, and on the measure of technique acquisition there was an interaction effect suggesting that in-person LW/CFAR involvement may be especially beneficial for people high in growth mindset. However, some caution is warranted in interpreting these correlational, self-report results.

 

Introduction

Though I first found Less Wrong through my habit of reading interesting blogs, the main reason why I've gotten more and more involved in the rationality community is my suspicion that this rationality stuff might be pretty useful. Useful not only for thinking clearly about tricky intellectual topics, but also in ways that have more directly practical benefits.

CFAR obviously has similar interests, as it aims to create a community of people who are effective at acting in the world.

The 2013 LW census/survey provided an opportunity for us to probe how the rationality community is doing so far at finding these practical benefits, as it allowed us to survey a large cross section of the Less Wrong community. Unfortunately, there is not a standard, simple measure of practical benefits which we could just stick on the survey, and we were only able to use a correlational research design, but we sought to get some relevant information by coming up with two self-report questions to include on the survey.

One question was somewhat broader than the set of practical benefits that we were interested in and the other was somewhat narrower. First, there was a broad self-report question asking people how much they had benefited from being involved in the rationality community. Second, we asked people more narrowly how often they successfully added a useful technique or approach to their repertoire. We were primarily interested in seeing whether involvement in the LW community would predict practical benefits on these two measures, and (if so) which forms of involvement would have the strongest relationship to these benefits.

About 1400 people answered the relevant survey questions, including about 400 who have read the sequences, about 150 who regularly attend LW meetups, about 100 who have attended a full CFAR workshop, about 100 who interact with other LWers in person all the time, and about 50 who met a romantic partner through LW.  The survey also included a brief scale measuring growth mindset, and a question about age.

Some methodological notes: In the body of this post I’ve tried to put the results in a format that’s relatively straightforward to interpret. More technical details and additional analyses are included in footnotes, and I can add more details in the comments. Note that the study design is entirely correlational, and the questions are all self-report (unlike last year’s questions, which included tests of standard biases). This gives some reason for caution in interpreting the results, and I’ll note some places where that is especially relevant.

 

Background & Survey Design

The simple, obvious thing to do, in order to investigate how much people have benefited from their involvement in the rationality community, is to ask them that question. So we did: "How much have you benefited from your exposure to and participation in the rationality community (Less Wrong, CFAR, in-person contact with LW/HPMOR readers, etc.)?" There were 7 response options, which we can scale as -3 to +3, where +3 is “My life is MUCH BETTER than it would have been without exposure to the rationality community” (and -3 is “... MUCH WORSE…”).

This straightforward question has a couple of straightforward limitations. For one, we might expect people who are involved in almost any activity to say that they benefit from it; self-reported benefit does not necessarily indicate actual benefit. Second, it could include a broad range of benefits, some of which might not have much to do with the usefulness of rationality (such as meeting your current romantic partner at a Less Wrong meetup). So we also included a narrower question related to competence which is less susceptible to these issues.

A simple model of how people are able to become highly competent/productive/successful/impressive individuals is that they try lots of things and keep doing the ones that work. A person’s work habits, the questions they ask during conversations, the methods that they use to make certain kinds of decisions, and many other things can all be developed through a similar iterative process. Over time, someone who has a good process in place of trying things & sticking with the helpful ones will end up collecting a large set of habits/techniques/approaches/principles/etc. which work for them.

The second set of questions which we included on the survey were based on this process, with the aim of measuring about how often people add a new useful technique to their repertoire. There were 3 survey questions based on a streamlined version of this process: first you hear about many different techniques, then you try some fraction of the techniques that you hear about, and then some fraction of the techniques that you try end up working for you and sticking as part of your repertoire. We first asked “On average, about how often do you *read or hear about* another plausible-seeming technique or approach for being more rational / more productive / happier / having better social relationships / having more accurate beliefs / etc.?”, then “...how often do you *try out* another plausible-seeming technique..”, and finally “...how often do you find another technique or approach that *successfully helps you at*...”  This final question, about how frequently people acquire a new helpful technique, is our other main outcome measure of practical benefits.

In reality, people often generate their own ideas of techniques to try, and try many variations rather than just a single thing (e.g., many people end up with their own personalized version of the pomodoro technique). Focusing on the streamlined process of hear → try → acquire is a simplification which had two survey-specific benefits.  First, having the context of “hearing about a technique and then trying it” was intended to make it clearer what to count as “a technique,” which is important since the outcome measure is a count of the number of techniques acquired. Second, including the “hearing” and “trying” questions allows us to probe this process in a bit more detail by (for example) breaking down the number of new techniques that a person acquired into two components: the number of new techniques that they tried and the hit rate (techniques acquired divided by techniques tried).

One other predictor variable which we included on the survey was a 4-item measure of growth mindset, which was taken from Carol Dweck’s research (sample item: “No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially”).[1] A fixed mindset involves thinking that personal characteristics are fixed and unchangeable - you either have them or you don’t - while a growth mindset involves thinking that personal characteristics can change as a person grows and develops. Dweck and her colleagues have found that growth mindset about a characteristic tends to be associated with more productive behaviors and more improvement over time. For example, children with a growth mindset about being good at thinking tend to seek out intellectual challenges which stretch their abilities, while children with a fixed mindset tend to avoid tasks that they might fail at and seek tasks which they know they can do well.

A blog based on the idea of becoming less wrong sounds like it would reflect growth mindset more than fixed mindset, and many aspects of the local idea cluster seem to match that. Ideas like: there are systematic methods that you can learn which will allow you to form more accurate models of the world. Complex skills can be broken down into simple trainable components. Don't get too attached to a particular image of who you are and what you stand for.  Mastering the right cognitive toolkit can make you more effective at accomplishing the things that you care about. Tsuyoku Naritai! In addition to these connections to LW thinking, growth mindset also seems like it could facilitate the process of becoming more successful by trying out various changes to the way that you do things and sticking with the ones that work. Thus, we wanted to investigate whether people who were more involved in the rationality community (in various ways) had more of a growth mindset, and whether people with more of a growth mindset reported more practical benefits.

The other main predictor variables were several different indicators of people's involvement in the rationality community:

LW background
A composite scale, which standardized and then averaged together four questions which all indicate a person’s amount of background with the lesswrong.com website (and which, as I found on previous years' surveys, all correlate with each other and show similar patterns of relationships with other variables). The four questions measured: having read the sequences (ranging from 1 “Never even knew they existed until this moment” to 7 “[Read] All or nearly all of the Sequences”), karma (log-transformed), LW Use (ranging from 1 “I lurk, but never registered an account” to 5 “I've posted in Main”), and length of time in the community (capped at 8 years).

Time per day on Less Wrong
“How long, in approximate number of minutes, do you spend on Less Wrong in the average day?” (log-transformed).

Meetup attendance
“Do you attend Less Wrong meetup?”
“Yes, regularly,” “Yes, once or a few times,” or “No” (categorical variable).

CFAR workshop attendance
Have you ever attended a CFAR workshop?
“Yes, I have been to a full (3+ day) workshop,” “I have been to at least one CFAR class, but not a full (3+ day) workshop,” or “No” (categorical variable).

LW friendships
“Is physical interaction with the Less Wrong community otherwise a part of your everyday life, for example you live with other Less Wrongers, or you are close friends and frequently go out with them?”
“Yes, all the time,” “Yes, sometimes,” or “No” (categorical variable).

LW romantic partner
Have you ever been in a romantic relationship with someone you met through the Less Wrong community?
“Yes,” “I didn't meet them through the community, but they're part of the community now,” or “No” (categorical variable).

I considered combining these four measures of in-person involvement with the LW community (LW meetups, CFAR workshops, LW friendships, and LW romantic partners) into a single scale of in-person LW involvement, but there ended up being a large enough sample size within these groups and strong enough effects for me to analyze them separately.

Respondents also reported their age (which was transformed by taking the square root).

 

Results

I. Self-reported Benefit
"How much have you benefited from your exposure to and participation in the rationality community (Less Wrong, CFAR, in-person contact with LW/HPMOR readers, etc.)?"


The average response to this question was a 1.4 on a -3 to +3 scale (SD = 1.08), and 15% of people selected the scale maximum “My life is MUCH BETTER than it would have been without exposure to the rationality community.”

Which variables were associated with a larger self-reported benefit from the rationality community?

In short, all of them.

Each of the following variables was significantly related to this self-reported measure of benefit, and in a regression which controlled for the other variables all of them remained significant except for meetup attendance (which became p = 0.07).[2] For ease of interpretation, I have reported the percent of people in each of the following groups who selected the scale maximum.  I have sorted the variables in order of effect size, from largest to smallest, based on the results of the regression (see the footnote for more details).

Percent of people in each subgroup answering “My life is MUCH BETTER than it would have been without exposure to the rationality community”

61% LW romantic partner (n = 54)
44% attended a full CFAR workshop (n = 100)
19% age 25 or less (younger people reported more benefit) (n = 724)
50% LW friendships (n = 88)
28% above 3.0 on growth mindset scale (n = 277)
25% high LW background (n = 137)
35% regularly attend meetups (n = 156)
31% acquire a new technique every 3 weeks or more often (n = 213)
18% use LW for 30+ min per day (n = 218)
15% all respondents (n = 1451)

Three noteworthy results:

  • Each of the variables related to involvement in the rationality community was associated with reports of getting more benefit from the community.
  • The strongest effects came from people who were involved in fairly intensive, in-person activities: finding a romantic partner through LW, attending a full CFAR workshop, and being around other LWers in person all the time.
  • Three variables which were not directly related to community involvement – younger age, growth mindset, and acquiring new techniques – were all predictive of self-reported benefit from the rationality community.

One interpretation of these results is that getting involved in the rationality community causes people to acquire useful rationality skills which improve their lives, with larger effects for people who get involved in more depth through close relationships, shared housing, CFAR workshops, etc. However, as noted above, these effects could also be due to non-rationality-related benefits (e.g., finding friends or a romantic partner), a tendency to say nice things about activities & communities that you're a part of, or causal effects in the other direction (e.g., people who benefited the most from the Less Wrong website might be especially likely to attend a CFAR workshop or move into shared housing with other LWers).


It is worth noting that growth mindset and acquiring new techniques were both predictive of larger benefit from the rationality community even though neither variable is directly related to involvement in the community.  That makes these effects less open to some of the alternative explanations which could account for the community involvement effects and provides some validation of the self-report measure of benefits, although other causal paths are still a possibility (e.g., people who have changed more since they started reading LW may have come to have more of a growth mindset and also report more benefits).


II. Acquiring New Techniques

"On average, about how often do you find another technique or approach that successfully helps you at being more rational / more productive / happier / having better social relationships / having more accurate beliefs / etc.?"

The average response was a 2.23 (SD = 1.31) on a 1 to 8 scale where 2 is “About once every six months” and 3 is “About once every 2 months.”  This can be interpreted more intuitively as acquiring one new technique every 146 days (as a geometric mean).[3]

Which variables were associated with acquiring useful techniques more often?

Only some of them.

LW friendships and CFAR workshop attendance again had significant effects. The other two forms of in-person LW involvement, LW meetups and LW romantic partner, were also predictive of acquiring more techniques, but those effects did not remain significant in a regression controlling for the other variables. Time per day on Less Wrong had a weaker but reliable positive relationship with acquiring new techniques, while LW background had a significant relationship in the opposite direction: people with more LW background acquired fewer techniques. Younger age and growth mindset were again predictive of more benefit.

Based on the results of a regression, here is the number of days per new technique acquired (sorted by effect size, smaller numbers indicate faster technique acquisition).[4] In this list, both the number of days given and the order of the list reflect the results of the regression which controls statistically for the other predictor variables. (* = p < .05, ** = p < .01).

85 days: LW friendships *
87 days: Age (younger) **
95 days: Attended a full CFAR workshop **
114 days: LW romantic partner (p = .21)
118 days: Growth mindset **
174 days: LW background (negative effect) **
131 days: Time per day on Less Wrong  **
151 days: Regularly attend meetups (p = .63)
146 days: all respondents

The pattern that was apparent on the self-report measure of benefit from the rationality community – that in-person interactions were more predictive of benefits than online participation – was even stronger on this measure. Attending a CFAR workshop and LW friendships had the largest effects, and these effects seem to be cumulative. People who both attended a full CFAR workshop and interacted with LW friends “all the time” (n = 39) acquired a new technique every 45 days on average, while people who had no in-person interaction with LWers by any of the 4 variables (n = 824) acquired a new technique every 165 days.

Some of the alternative explanations for the effects on self-reported benefit seem less plausible here. For example, it seems less likely that people who have LW friendships would say that they try and acquire more new techniques out of a general tendency to say nice things about communities that you're a part of. Alternative causal paths are still a clear possibility, though. People who tend to try more things may be more likely to go to LW meetups, sign up for CFAR workshops, or move to a city where they can hang out in person with people from their favorite website.


III. The Process of Trying & Acquiring New Techniques

“On average, about how often do you *read or hear about* another plausible-seeming technique or approach for being more rational / more productive / happier / having better social relationships / having more accurate beliefs / etc.?”
“On average, about how often do you *try out* another plausible-seeming technique or approach for being more rational / more productive / happier / having better social relationships / having more accurate beliefs / etc.?”

On average, people heard about a new technique every 12 days and tried a new technique about every 55 days. That means that (at least according to the streamlined model: hear → try → acquire) people tried about 22% of the techniques that they heard about, and added about 36% of the techniques that they tried to their repertoire.[5]

Breaking down acquiring techniques into its two components, techniques tried and hit rate (techniques acquired divided by techniques tried) all of the effects discussed above involving acquiring techniques appear to be due to trying techniques, and not to the hit rate.  None of the variables discussed here were predictive of hit rate, and the variables that predicted acquiring techniques were similarly predictive of trying techniques (though in most cases the effect was slightly weaker).  In particular, trying techniques predicted self-reported benefit from the rationality community, and people with more LW background tried fewer techniques. People who both attended a full CFAR workshop and interacted with LW friends “all the time” (n = 39) tried a new technique every 13 days, while people who reported no in-person interaction with LWers (n = 849) tried a new technique every 65 days.

These data provide some evidence that, if CFAR workshops, LW friendships, growth mindset, and time on Less Wrong cause people to acquire more techniques, a substantial portion of the effect comes from getting people to try more things (and not just getting them to be more effective at trying the things that they already have been trying).

However, these data do not clearly pin down is different about people's process of trying things. One might expect that hit rate reflects how good a person is at choosing what to try and actually trying it (in a way that makes useful techniques likely to stick), so the lack of effect on hit rate indicates that the difference is just in trying more things. But if someone improved at the process of trying things, becoming more efficient at getting useful-for-them techniques to stick and setting aside the not-useful-for-them techniques, then that might show up primarily as an increase in number of techniques tried (as they cycle through the try things process more rapidly & more frequently). Or, a person who lowers their threshold for what techniques to try might start trying five times as many things and finding twice as many that work for them, which would show up as a drop in their hit rate (they'd also be adding useful techniques to their repertoire twice as fast).[6]


IV. Growth Mindset

Sample item: “You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are can't really be changed” (reverse-scored).

Growth mindset – seeing important parts of yourself as malleable, and focusing on what you can do to improve – seems like it could be related to the process of benefiting from the rationality community in multiple ways.  Here are three:

  1. People with more of a growth mindset might tend try more things, acquire more useful rationality techniques, get more practical benefits out of the things they do.
  2. Being involved in the rationality community might cause people to shift towards a growth mindset from a fixed mindset.
  3. Relatively intensive involvement in the rationality community (such as living in a house with other LWers, or attending a CFAR workshop) might provide a bigger benefit to people with more of a growth mindset.

Item 1 is what we've been looking at in the analysis of acquiring new techniques and self-reported benefit, with growth mindset as one of the predictor variables.  The hypothesis is that people who score higher in growth mindset will report more benefit on those measures, and the data support that hypothesis (though these correlational results are also consistent with alternative causal hypotheses).

Item 2 identifies a hypothesis which treats growth mindset as an outcome variable instead of a predictor variable: do people who regularly attend LW meetups have more of a growth mindset? Or those who have more LW background, or who have attended a CFAR workshop, or who have LW friends, etc.? This hypothesis is relatively straightforward to examine with this data set, although the correlational design leaves it an open question whether involvement in the LW community led to a growth mindset or whether having a growth mindset led to people getting more involved in the LW community.

When looking at one variable at a time, each of the measures of in-person involvement in the LW community is significantly predictive of growth mindset. In order of effect size (given in Cohen's d, which counts standard deviations), growth mindset was predicted separately by LW romantic partner (d = 0.42), attending a CFAR workshop (d = 0.21), LW friendships (d = 0.20), and regularly attending meetups (d = 0.15). However, when controlling for the other predictor variables, only having a LW romantic partner remained statistically significant (d = 0.46, p = .03) and attending a CFAR workshop remained marginally significant (d = 0.18, p = .07); LW friendships and meetup attendance became nonsignificant (d < 0.10, p > 0.3).

LW background showed the opposite pattern: it was not related to growth mindset on its own (r = -0.04, p = .13), but it became a highly significant predictor of lower growth mindset when controlling for the other variables related to LW involvement (r = -0.11, p < .01). One plausible causal story that could explain this pattern of correlations is that people who are high in growth mindset who get involved in the website are more likely to also get involved in other in-person ways, while those lower in growth mindset are more likely to just stick with the website. This would lead to the negative relationship LW background and growth mindset when controlling for in-person LW involvement. According to this causal story, growth mindset is a cause of in-person LW involvement rather than a consequence.

Younger age was the strongest predictor of growth mindset, whether controlling for other variables (r = -0.15, p < .01) or not (r = -0.19, p < 0.01), and time per day on Less Wrong was not a significant predictor.

Item 3 from the list predicts an interaction effect between growth mindset and involvement in LW: the benefit of greater involvement in the LW community will be stronger among people high in growth mindset (or, equivalently, the benefit of growth mindset will be stronger among people who are more involved in the LW community). This hypothesis is particularly interesting because this interaction effect seems more plausible under the causal model where LW involvement and growth mindset both cause greater practical benefits than it does under the alternative causal theory that competence or a tendency to try things causes in-person LW involvement.

When predicting self-reported benefit from the rationality there was no sign of these interaction effects, whether looking at the predictor variables one at a time or including them all in a multiple regression. Growth mindset was an equally strong predictor of self-reported benefit for people who are closely involved in the LW community (by each of the various measures) and for people who are less closely involved in the LW community.

When predicting acquiring new techniques, these interaction effects were significant in several cases.[7] A growth mindset was associated more strongly with acquiring among techniques among people who regularly attend LW meetups (p = .003), people who are younger (p = .005), people who have attended a CFAR workshop (p = .04), and (with marginal statistical significance) among people with LW friendships (p = .06).  In a multiple regression that included each of these variables, none of these interaction effects was individually statistically significant except the age x growth mindset interaction (presumably because of the various forms of LW involvement were all associated with each other, making it difficult to tease apart their effects).[8]

These results are consistent with the model that the various forms of in-person involvement with the rationality community are especially helpful at producing practical benefits for people who are high in growth mindset.

 

Conclusion

With this correlational research design there is a limit to how well we can distinguish the hypothesis that LW involvement leads to benefits from other causal stories, but each of the three main variables that we examined were related to in-person LW involvement in ways that were consistent with this hypothesis.

People who have been involved with the in-person LW/CFAR community were especially likely to indicate that their life is better due to the LW community. They tended to report that they tried out and acquired new useful techniques more frequently, especially if they were also high in growth mindset. If spending time with LWers or attending a CFAR workshop leads people to try more rationality-related techniques, find more things that work well for them, and reap the benefits, then these are the results that we would expect to see.

 

Footnotes

[1] The 4 mindset questions on the survey were taken from Dweck's book Mindset (p. 13). These questions and others like them have been used to measure mindset in many published studies. Many of the questions that have been used focus more narrowly on mindset about intellectual ability, while these four questions deal more broadly with personal qualities.

[2] Unless otherwise noted, all reported effects are significant both in tests with only the single predictor variable and also in tests which controlled for the other predictor variables. A regression was run predicting benefit based on the LW involvement variables and age (growth mindset and acquiring new techniques were not controlled for, since they could be consequences of LW involvement which mediate the benefit). Though all three levels of the categorical variables were included in the regression, the effect size used to order the variables in the list was calculated as the standardized difference in least square means between the highest level of the group (e.g., regularly attend meetups) and the lowest level (e.g., never attend meetups), leaving out intermediate levels (e.g., occasionally attend meetups). To estimate the effect size of continuous variables, the correlation coefficient was translated into an equivalent standardized mean difference by the formula d = 2r/sqrt(1-r2).

[3] The 8 response options were coded as a 1-8 scale, which was used for all analyses. Each scale point indicates a 3-4x multiplier in how often a person acquires new techniques. This 8-point scale can be interpreted as a log scale for the variable "days per technique acquired" (they are associated approximately by the equation 7*3^(5-x)) so a mean on this scale is equivalent to the geometric mean of the number of days. For example, a 3.5 on the 8-point scale translates into 36 days, which is the geometric mean of 21 days (a 4 on the scale) and 63 days (approximately a 3 on the scale).

[4] For categorical variables, the number of days is based on the least squares mean for the highest level of the group (e.g., regularly attend meetups). For continuous variables, it is based on the regression equation predicting the values one standard deviation above the mean of the predictor variable.

[5] On the 8 point scale, “heard about” has mean = 4.48 (SD = 1.62) and “tried” has mean = 3.12 (SD = 1.56).  Rate of trying is simply “trying” minus “heard about,” mean = -1.37 (SD = 1.42), and hit rate had scale mean = -0.94 (SD = 0.84). These numbers can also be interpreted as being on a log base 3 scale, so -1 on the hit rate scale corresponds to an actual hit rate of 1/3 (1 technique acquired for every 3 techniques tried).

[6] Trying techniques can be further broken down into two components, hearing about techniques and percentage tried (techniques tried divided by techniques heard about). The data suggest that both are relevant, but they are harder to tease apart with the limited statistical power of this data set.

[7] When looking at a single categorical variable, I only looked at the highest level of the group and the lowest level, leaving out the intermediate level. For example, I tested whether growth mindset was more strongly related to acquiring techniques among people who regularly attend meetups than among people who never attend meetups (leaving out the group that occasionally attends meetups). In the regression including all predictor variables, I included the intermediate level groups (since otherwise it would have been necessary to exclude the data of anyone who was in an intermediate level group on any of the variables).

[8] When I combined the four variables related to in-person involvement into a single composite scale (scoring the highest level of involvement on each variable as a 2 and the lowest level as a 0), the interaction between growth mindset and this in-person involvement scale was statistically significant in a multiple regression predicting techniques acquired (p < .01).

Rationalists Are Less Credulous But Better At Taking Ideas Seriously

43 Yvain 21 January 2014 02:18AM

Consider the following commonly-made argument: cryonics is unlikely to work. Trained rationalists are signed up for cryonics at rates much greater than the general population. Therefore, rationalists must be pretty gullible people, and their claims to be good at evaluating evidence must be exaggerations at best.

This argument is wrong, and we can prove it using data from the last two Less Wrong surveys.

The question at hand is whether rationalist training - represented here by extensive familiarity with Less Wrong material - makes people more likely to believe in cryonics.

We investigate with a cross-sectional study, looking at proto-rationalists versus experienced rationalists. Define proto-rationalists as those respondents to the Less Wrong survey who indicate they have been in the community for less than six months and have zero karma (usually indicative of never having posted a comment). And define experienced rationalists as those respondents to the Less Wrong survey who indicate they have been in the community for over two years and have >1000 karma (usually indicative of having written many well-received posts).

By these definitions, there are 93 proto-rationalists, who have been in the community an average of 1.3 months, and 134 experienced rationalists, who have been in the community an average of 4.5 years. Proto-rationalists generally have not read any rationality training material - only 20/93 had read even one-quarter of the Less Wrong Sequences. Experienced rationalists are, well, more experienced: two-thirds of them have read pretty much all the Sequence material.

Proto-rationalists thought that, on average, there was a 21% chance of an average cryonically frozen person being revived in the future. Experienced rationalists thought that, on average, there was a 15% chance of same. The difference was marginally significant (p < 0.1).

Marginal significance is a copout, but this isn't our only data source. Last year, using the same definitions, proto-rationalists assigned a 15% probability to cryonics working, and experienced rationalists assigned a 12% chance. We see the same pattern.

So experienced rationalists are consistently less likely to believe in cryonics than proto-rationalists, and rationalist training probably makes you less likely to believe cryonics will work.

On the other hand, 0% of proto-rationalists had signed up for cryonics compared to 13% of experienced rationalists. 48% of proto-rationalists rejected the idea of signing up for cryonics entirely, compared to only 25% of experienced rationalists. So although rationalists are less likely to believe cryonics will work, they are much more likely to sign up for it. Last year's survey shows the same pattern.

This is not necessarily surprising. It only indicates that experienced rationalists and proto-rationalists treat their beliefs in different ways. Proto-rationalists form a belief, play with it in their heads, and then do whatever they were going to do anyway -  usually some variant on what everyone else does. Experienced rationalists form a belief, examine the consequences, and then act strategically to get what they want.

Imagine a lottery run by an incompetent official who accidentally sets it up so that the average payoff is far more than the average ticket price. For example, maybe the lottery sells only ten $1 tickets, but the jackpot is $1 million, so that each $1 ticket gives you a 10% chance of winning $1 million.

Goofus hears about the lottery and realizes that his expected gain from playing the lottery is $99,999. "Huh," he says, "the numbers say I could actually win money by playing this lottery. What an interesting mathematical curiosity!" Then he goes off and does something else, since everyone knows playing the lottery is what stupid people do.

Gallant hears about the lottery, performs the same calculation, and buys up all ten tickets.

The relevant difference between Goofus and Gallant is not skill at estimating the chances of winning the lottery. We can even change the problem so that Gallant is more aware of the unlikelihood of winning than Goofus - perhaps Goofus mistakenly believes there are only five tickets, and so Gallant's superior knowledge tells him that winning the lottery is even more unlikely than Goofus thinks. Gallant will still play, and Goofus will still pass.

The relevant difference is that Gallant knows how to take ideas seriously.

Taking ideas seriously isn't always smart. If you're the sort of person who falls for proofs that 1 = 2  , then refusing to take ideas seriously is a good way to avoid ending up actually believing that 1 = 2, and a generally excellent life choice.

On the other hand, progress depends on someone somewhere taking a new idea seriously, so it's nice to have people who can do that too. Helping people learn this skill and when to apply it is one goal of the rationalist movement.

In this case it seems to have been successful. Proto-rationalists think there is a 21% chance of a new technology making them immortal - surely an outcome as desirable as any lottery jackpot - consider it an interesting curiosity, and go do something else because only weirdos sign up for cryonics.

Experienced rationalists think there is a lower chance of cryonics working, but some of them decide that even a pretty low chance of immortality sounds pretty good, and act strategically on this belief.

This is not to either attack or defend the policy of assigning a non-negligible probability to cryonics working. This is meant to show only that the difference in cryonics status between proto-rationalists and experienced rationalists is based on meta-level cognitive skills in the latter whose desirability is orthogonal to the object-level question about cryonics.

(an earlier version of this article was posted on my blog last year; I have moved it here now that I have replicated the results with a second survey)

2013 Survey Results

74 Yvain 19 January 2014 02:51AM

Thanks to everyone who took the 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey. Extra thanks to Ozy, who helped me out with the data processing and statistics work, and to everyone who suggested questions.

This year's results are below. Some of them may make more sense in the context of the original survey questions, which can be seen here. Please do not try to take the survey as it is over and your results will not be counted.

continue reading »

2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey

78 Yvain 22 November 2013 09:26AM

It's that time of year again.

If you are reading this post, and have not been sent here by some sort of conspiracy trying to throw off the survey results, then you are the target population for the Less Wrong Census/Survey. Please take it. Doesn't matter if you don't post much. Doesn't matter if you're a lurker. Take the survey.

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

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

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

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

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

***

2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey

***

Thanks to everyone who suggested questions and ideas for the 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey. I regret I was unable to take all of your suggestions into account, because of some limitations in Google Docs, concern about survey length, and contradictions/duplications among suggestions. I think I got most of them in, and others can wait until next year.

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

2012 Survey Results

80 Yvain 07 December 2012 09:04PM

Thank you to everyone who took the 2012 Less Wrong Survey (the survey is now closed. Do not try to take it.) Below the cut, this post contains the basic survey results, a few more complicated analyses, and the data available for download so you can explore it further on your own. You may want to compare these to the results of the 2011 Less Wrong Survey.

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