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[Link] Discussion of LW in Ezra Klein podcast [starts 47:40]

9 Yvain 07 December 2016 11:22PM

[Link] Expert Prediction Of Experiments

10 Yvain 29 November 2016 02:47AM

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)

Meetup : Michigan Meetup 11/9

1 Yvain 31 October 2014 12:42AM

Discussion article for the meetup : Michigan Meetup 11/9

WHEN: 09 November 2014 03:00:00PM (-0400)

WHERE: 19334 Angling Street, Livonia, MI

Our more-or-less bimonthly Ann Arbor + Detroit area meetup. Myself and Ozy will be hosting.

No particular topic, but bring games and discussion topics as they interest you.

Discussion article for the meetup : Michigan Meetup 11/9

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.

2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey - Call For Critiques/Questions

18 Yvain 11 October 2014 06:39AM

It's that time of year again. Actually, a little earlier than that time of year, but I'm pushing it ahead a little to match when Ozy and I expect to have more free time to process the results.

The first draft of the 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey is complete (see 2013 results here) .

You can see the survey below if you promise not to try to take the survey because it's not done yet and this is just an example!

2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey Draft

I want two things from you.

First, please critique this draft (it's much the same as last year's). Tell me if any questions are unclear, misleading, offensive, confusing, or stupid. Tell me if the survey is so unbearably long that you would never possibly take it. Tell me if anything needs to be rephrased.

Second, I am willing to include any question you want in the Super Extra Bonus Questions section, as long as it is not offensive, super-long-and-involved, or really dumb. Please post any questions you want there. Please be specific - not "Ask something about taxes" but give the exact question you want me to ask as well as all answer choices.

Try not to add more than a few questions per person, unless you're sure yours are really interesting. Please also don't add any questions that aren't very easily sort-able by a computer program like SPSS unless you can commit to sorting the answers yourself.

I will probably post the survey to Main and officially open it for responses sometime early next week.

Meetup : Detroit/Ann Arbor - Memory Workshop

4 Yvain 17 March 2014 11:45PM

Discussion article for the meetup : Detroit/Ann Arbor - Memory Workshop

WHEN: 23 March 2014 01:00:00PM (-0400)

WHERE: 19334 Angling Street, Livonia, MI

Brienne from CFAR will be coming all the way from California to teach a couple hour workshop on memory and mnemonic techniques with some application to productivity hacking as well. Same location as usual. Donations appreciated.

Additional special guest Robby Bensinger of http://nothingismere.com/ (user: RobbBB)

Discussion article for the meetup : Detroit/Ann Arbor - Memory Workshop

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.

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