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Comment author: Alicorn 30 November 2011 11:36:46PM 2 points [-]

I'm not sure how any of these wordings of questions handle people with ambiguous genitalia.

Comment author: Relsqui 04 December 2011 07:50:36AM 0 points [-]

Fair point. I'm not sure either; I think I'm relying on a given individual who is e.g. intersex either a) knowing that, and being able to make a better-educated guess about their chromosomes than any heuristic I offer, or b) not knowing that, which I'm willing to assume correlates well to having genitals that either do look like a penis or don't.

Comment author: arundelo 03 November 2011 03:01:57PM *  9 points [-]

I was kind of surprised how many people can't settle on a specific gender

You could cut the gordian knot by borrowing Randall Munroe and Relsqui's solution for the xkcd color survey, which was to ask about chromosomal sex:

Do you have a Y chromosome?

[Don't Know] [Yes] [No]

If unsure, select "Yes" if you are physically male and "No" if you are physically female. If you have had SRS, please respond for your sex at birth. This question is relevant to the genetics of colorblindness.

Comment author: Relsqui 30 November 2011 10:56:02PM 1 point [-]

Also, rereading that explanation, I'm annoyed at how I worded it. It's okay, but my trans*-inclusive vocabulary has improved since then and I could do better. Hell, just "if unsure, select 'yes' if you were born with a penis" would have been sufficient.

Comment author: Relsqui 29 November 2011 07:21:23AM 5 points [-]

Came out of activity hibernation to take this. Thanks for seeing a thing that needed doing and choosing to do it!

Problems with the gender field have already been discussed; the sexuality question has some of the same issues. "Gay" and "straight" don't really make sense for people with nonbinary gender, and many people interpret "bisexual" as referring to "both" genders (male and female), as opposed to a more inclusive "queer" or "pansexual." I do honestly appreciate how much effort you've put into making the survey as inclusive as it already is, though.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 01 November 2011 12:59:10PM 16 points [-]

I think it is generally good to avoid "other" options as much as possible.

There are a few biases related to filling questionnaires. For example, many psychological tests ask you the same question twice, in opposite direction. (Question #13 "Do you think Singularity will happen?" Question #74: "Do you think Singularity will never happen?") This is because some people use heuristics "when unsure, say yes" and some other people use heuristics "when unsure, say no". So when you get two "yes" answers or two "no" answers to opposite forms of the question, you know that the person did not really answer the question.

Another bias is that when given three choices "yes", "no" and "maybe", some people will mostly choose "yes" or "no" answers, while others will prefer "maybe" answers. It does not necesarily mean that they have different opinions on the subject. It may possibly mean that they both think "yes, with 80% certainty", but for one of them this means "yes", and for the other one this means "maybe". So instead of measuring their opinions on the subject, you are measuring their opinions on how much certainty is necessary to answer "yes" or "no" in the questionnaire.

Perhaps in some situations the "other" option is necessary, because for some people none of the available options is good even as a very rough approximation. But I think it should be used very carefully, because it encourages the "I am a special snowflake" bias. For example, if someone has no sexual feelings at all, then of course the "monogamy or polygamy" question does not make sense for them. But if it is "I like the idea of being in love with one special person, but I also like the idea of having sexual access to many attractive people" then IMHO this attitude does not deserve a separate category and can be rounded towards one of the choices.

Comment author: Relsqui 29 November 2011 07:02:47AM -1 points [-]

So how you do decide which options merit inclusion? Which snowflakes are special enough--or, I suppose, mundane enough? And what's the harm in counting how many snowflakes aren't, even if you don't ask them exactly what type they are?

In response to comment by [deleted] on 2011 Less Wrong Census / Survey
Comment author: Yvain 03 November 2011 01:38:23PM *  14 points [-]

From your perspective, that makes sense. From my perspective - I don't intend to ever look at this data. I'm going to import it into SPSS, have it crunch numbers for me, and come out with some result like "Less Wrong users are 65% libertarian" or like "Men are more likely to be socialist than women."

If you put "other" - and this applies to any of the questions, not just this one - you're pretty much wasting your vote unless someone else is going to sift through the data and be interested that this particular anonymous line of the spreadsheet believes in strong environmental protection but an otherwise free market.

Looking at the answers, I really shouldn't have allowed write-ins for any questions - I was kind of surprised how many people can't settle on a specific gender, even though the aim of the question was more to figure out how many men versus women are on here than to judge how people feel about society (I considered saying "sex" instead, but that has its own pitfalls and wouldn't have let me get the transgender info as easily. I'll do it that way next time.)

I was particularly harsh on the politics question because I know how strong the temptation is. I think next survey I'll give every question an "other" check box, but it will literally just be a check box and there will be no room to write anything in.

Comment author: Relsqui 29 November 2011 06:59:19AM 2 points [-]

If you put "other" - and this applies to any of the questions, not just this one - you're pretty much wasting your vote

I disagree; it might be important to identify oneself as something which is not one of the presented options, even if no one cares what other thing you are. For example ...

I was kind of surprised how many people can't settle on a specific gender, even though the aim of the question was more to figure out how many men versus women are on here

... I'm genderqueer, and when I take demographic surveys it's important to me that I'm not counted in either the "men" or the "women" group. Firstly, it would be lying, and secondly, it would be lying in a way which perpetuates the invisibility of my actual identity. That may not be a big deal to the survey writer, but it's always a big deal to me.

Comment author: [deleted] 04 November 2011 07:26:27PM 7 points [-]

Technically, isn't it the number of X chromosomes that matters to colorblindness? It's just that people with Y chromosomes almost always have one X chromosome, and people without them almost always have two.

In response to comment by [deleted] on 2011 Less Wrong Census / Survey
Comment author: Relsqui 29 November 2011 06:52:00AM 2 points [-]

You're correct; we asked for Y chromosomes rather than X chromosomes because it's way easier to have an extra X and not know it than to have a Y and not know it. So if we ask about Y, we can rough-sort into "probably XY" and "probably XX" groups and then look at the statistics for chromosomal deviations within those groups.

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 23 October 2011 11:40:27AM *  3 points [-]

If you just tell children what to do without regard for their own ability or status, you aren't getting very far.

The only other way to secure their cooperation involves beating them…

Comment author: Relsqui 23 October 2011 11:56:18AM 1 point [-]

Oh, thoroughly agreed. That was an observation, not an advocation.

In response to comment by Relsqui on Reference Points
Comment author: bbleeker 04 April 2011 03:35:52PM 0 points [-]

Sorry for the late reply, but I only just noticed the little red envelope. :( I'm coming up on my last Alexander lesson in a few days, and I really like it. It's not (yet) been as life-changing as I'd hoped (I still have bad knees (sigh), and people don't suddenly react very differently to me), but it has improved my posture a lot, and I'm very happy with that. At the very least, it'll help me not get RSI or back problems.

In response to comment by bbleeker on Reference Points
Comment author: Relsqui 06 May 2011 01:14:53AM 0 points [-]

I only just noticed this reply, so we're even. ;) Thanks.

In response to Ask and Guess
Comment author: TheOtherDave 01 December 2010 06:50:37PM 39 points [-]

I was raised in a strong Guess culture, then went to a tech university where Askers predominated, and it took me some years to come to terms with the fact that these are simply incompatible conversational styles and the most effective thing for me to do is understand which style my interlocutor is expecting and use that.

This, amusingly, often leads me to ask people whether they are using Ask rules or Guess rules. Except, of course, in situations where I intuit that asking them would be inappropriate, and I have to guess instead.

Bringing college friends home for dinner was the most wearing version of this. On one occasion I had to explicitly explain to a friend that, for her purposes, it was best to assume that the last piece of chicken was simply unavailable to be eaten, ever, by anyone. (There actually was a method for getting it, but it was an Advanced Guess Culture technique, not readily taught in one session.)

Incidentally, my own experience is that Ask and Guess are sometimes misleading labels for the styles they refer to (though they are conventional).

For example, "Ask" culture is often OK with "So, I'm assuming here that A, B, and C are true; based on that yadda yadda" with the implicit expectation is that someone will correct me if I'm wrong. In "Guess" culture this sort of thing carries the equally implicit expectation that nobody will correct me. Here both groups are guessing, but they guess differently.

"Guess" culture also has an implicit expectation in some cases that you do ask, but that an honest answer is not actually permitted... the answer is constrained by the social rules. For example, growing up if a guest says "Well, we should get going." the host is obligated to reply "Oh, but we're having such a good time!" and none of that actually lets you know whether the guest is still welcome or not (or, indeed, whether the guest has any desire to stay or go). (On one occasion, when highly motivated to have a departing guest take leftovers home with her if and only if she actually wanted leftovers, but not knowing her default rules, I ended up saying "So, among your tribe, how many times do I have to repeat an offer to have it count as a genuine offer?")

And "Guess" culture has all kinds of rules for how you communicate to someone exactly what it is you want them to do without being asked.

In response to comment by TheOtherDave on Ask and Guess
Comment author: Relsqui 06 May 2011 01:11:28AM 17 points [-]

(On one occasion, when highly motivated to have a departing guest take leftovers home with her if and only if she actually wanted leftovers, but not knowing her default rules, I ended up saying "So, among your tribe, how many times do I have to repeat an offer to have it count as a genuine offer?")

I once saw a friend ask our host, upon leaving a party, if he would like her to leave the rest of the cake she brought, which we'd eaten some of but hadn't finished. She's very asky, he's very guessy. However, she knows this, and immediately followed up with: "Please don't feel you need to take it--we'll happily eat it at home. I know I don't like it when people foist leftovers on me that I don't really want." He considered, and said since there was so much of it, he'd take a couple of pieces for himself and his roommate and let her take the rest home. Very asky question, very guessy answer, all parties satisfied.

What field do you go into if you want to study this stuff? Anthropology of some flavor? I find it fascinating.

In response to Ask and Guess
Comment author: JoshuaZ 01 December 2010 07:09:02PM 16 points [-]

I have a bias in that I really, really don't understand the "guess" mentality. Or rather, I see how it could develop but I don't understand how people once they are aware of the breakdown don't immediately say "hey! Ask is more efficient and less likely to lead to misunderstandings." While a culture that is a mix of Askers and Guessers will have a lot of misunderstandings (and likely more than a pure Ask or pure Guess culture), it seems that Guessers frequently have more serious misunderstandings due to poor guessing even when interacting with other Guessers. In contrast, Askers rarely have a problem interacting with other Askers in the same way. So it seems that utility is maximized with Askers. There's likely some biases coming into play in constructing this argument in that I'm heavily an Asker, and I've tried in areas I was more of a Guesser to move towards being more of an Asker because it just seems to work better. I'd be enlightened if someone could point out where my logic about ideal cultures breaks down.

In response to comment by JoshuaZ on Ask and Guess
Comment author: Relsqui 06 May 2011 01:06:09AM 12 points [-]

There are some things which it's impolite to say, in any words, because the sentiment is impolite--for example, "I don't want you to come to my party." Guess culture, applied well, allows you to avoid having to say those things or cause the attendant hurt feelings. (Guess culture applied poorly avoids the hurt feelings but puts you in the awkward position where they're at the party anyway because you felt compelled to invite them.) The same situation in ask culture requires you come out with it.

This may sound like a good thing in the long run--especially if you are yourself asky--but sometimes there are valid reasons both that you don't want someone at the party (they smell bad) and that you don't want to hurt their feelings (they're your boss/family member/other person you'll be spending more time around, especially in a position of authority).

Another thing guess culture is good at is keeping secrets. In ask culture, if someone asks you something you've promised not to tell, it's certainly valid to say "Sorry, I can't tell you." But then they know there's a secret, and sometimes that alone is enough to cause harm--through speculation and deduction, or asking someone else, for example. (You could also lie, but that might cause its own problems.) In guess culture, there are things you don't ask about. This is part of why.

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