Please Take The 2018 SSC Reader Survey

If you’re reading this and have previously read at least one Slate Star Codex post, please take the 2018 SSC Survey.

This year’s survey is in three sections. If you’re strapped for time, just take Section 1. If you have a little more time, take both Sections 1 and 2. If you have a lot of time, take all three sections. Each section will take about ten minutes. There’s some more information on the survey itself.

You can talk about it in the comments, but don’t read them until you’re done taking the survey.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

653 Responses to Please Take The 2018 SSC Reader Survey

  1. skybrian says:

    Bugs (or at least, things that bugged me) in this survey:
    – Under “work status,” there is no “retired” option.
    – Under “meetup,” there’s no choice for “No, but I’m open to attending someday.”
    – Under “Moral Views,” the terms aren’t defined. I used google searches, but…
    – Under “Political Disagreement III,” the terms aren’t defined and there’s no “other” choice.
    – Under “The System,” it seems like there should be a middle option?
    – Under “Mental Health”: “Family members (within two generations)” Seems unclear. Do cousins count? They’re the same generation. And if I don’t know their official diagnosis, how do I count that? Make a guess?

  2. inky says:

    Am I the only one who has problems with answering the stock psychological tests questionnaires that ask you to evaluate how characteristic “x” applies to you?
    Am I soothing? I don’t know.
    Am I likable? How would I know?
    Sympathetic. What does that even mean, am I capable of sympathy or am I sympathetic myself?
    In the case of latter, once again, I don’t know.
    Am I helpful? I have no idea.
    Etc, etc.

    • skybrian says:

      Very much so. I always wonder, “compared to what group of people?”

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      No, you are not.

      This is a fundamental critique of these sorts of questions.

      I do wonder whether the asocial have a greater difficulty in answering these kinds of comparative questions.

      • inky says:

        It’s just that they are not representative of the parameters they are supposed to evaluate. Instead of “how much characteristic x applies to you” the result is “how much I am certain that characteristic “x” applies to me” which roughly maps to self-esteem. “But this is not what the test is asking!” Alas, this is the best I can give.

        to Scott, if perchance, you will read this: please add to all the questions an option “misclick, ignore plz”. The problem is that Google Forms don’t allow “unchecking” the selectors, thus, once clicked, you will have to choose one of the options, even if none really apply. For example, I had to mark my parent’s religious disposition as “Other” despite them being not religious at all. Rather strange that this option was absent, too.

  3. Mark Atwood says:

    The questions about making plans vs accepting random fate and people being responsible for their fate vs just bad luck were too constrained.

    My own philosophy is “pray hard, accept your fate as being out of your control, but keep hold of the tiller and row hard anyway”.

  4. ajfirecracker says:

    I refused to take it because a bunch of the first questions were gender garbage. Also your results are probably biased because of this

  5. buckwheatloaf says:

    i need to speak to someone who found the circles in the picture of rectangles, you need to tell me how u did that.

  6. erweinstein says:

    Regarding the question on “American Parties”, if I might quote from Wikipedia:

    As of 2014, 28 states and the District of Columbia allow registered voters to indicate a party preference when registering to vote; the following 22 states (mostly in the South and the Midwest) do not provide for party preferences in voter registration: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

    Perhaps this would already have been taken into account when analyzing the results of that question; just trying to help, since I live in one of those states where there is no such thing as “being a registered [Democrat/Republican/Libertarian/Green/etc]”.

  7. Edward Scizorhands says:

    I didn’t say “yes” to Dancer 2 because I didn’t even read the sentence it asked about because I was looking for a different sentence.

  8. mondsemmel says:

    I find surveys >5 min genuinely painful to complete. As a general rule, please provide a time estimate for a survey before you ask anyone to take it. Completing sections 1-2 took me ~45 min.

  9. Radford Neal says:

    For the questions about depression, etc., it’s unclear whether “family members” is intended to refer only to genetically-related people, or also to socially-related people (via adoption or marriage).

  10. fortybot says:


    Damn, that is aggressive… something?

  11. wintermute92 says:

    Are the mental illness questions meant to be current or lifetime? The sense I get is lifetime, but it’d be good to recognize (and maybe point out) this ambiguity if you get super-high stats for things like depression.

  12. Senjiu says:

    Please remind us in the next survey that we probably mailed ourselves that identifier string in december or january 2018 (or so). I will remember that I filled out previous SSC surveys but I think I probably won’t remember mailing myself that random string.

  13. Alsadius says:

    I just brought up the car crash and doctor riddle in passing to my wife, and we got talking(rot13 follows):

    V’q or irel phevbhf gb frr jung gur erfhygf jbhyq or vs lbh tnir bar tebhc gur genqvgvbany irefvba bs gur evqqyr, jvgu gur xvq naq gur sngure va gur pne, naq gura tnir n qvssrerag tebhc n irefvba bs gur evqqyr jurer vg’f gur obl naq gur *zbgure* va gur pne. Gung’q vfbyngr sbe ubj zhpu bs vg vf frkvfz, naq ubj zhpu vf svkngvba ba gur cnerag whfg zragvbarq.

    Would that be something it’d be practical to do in a future version?

    • 10240 says:

      It looks like Scott didn’t indend this to be a sexism measure (nor would it be valid as one, imo).

      The effect of sex stereotyping is hard to separate from the effect of the riddle directing one’s thoughts towards assuming that the surgeon is the dad. This is an article about a study the riddle, which asserts that the fact that most people can’t solve the riddle is an evidence of strong sexism, implying that people can’t imagine that a surgeon can be a woman (even though according to the article many of them had female doctors as family members; by a comment even a female surgeon herself couldn’t solve it). They also asked a group with mother/daughter/nurse, with similarly few people solving it. Anecdotal evidence by a commenter has it that a mother/daughter/surgeon version is, however, solved by everyone.
      But even then, the reason that people have a hard time solving the original version may be misdirection by the riddle; while in the mother/daughter/surgeon version this misdirection is counteracted by the fact that the majority of surgeons are male, so people initially imagine a man when they read surgeon. This is a much weaker form of “sexism” than being unable to imagine that a woman can be a surgeon.

  14. Ezra says:

    – I didn’t know I was supposed to be timing myself on the first part, so I couldn’t give a time.

    – I think my answer to the “which letter did you see first?” question was biased by a slow internet connection, so that the image loaded row by row from the top.

  15. bassicallyboss says:

    “A and B, because the Nazis win”
    A and B, because the not-C’s win.


  16. anonymousskimmer says:

    Anyone else choose their own “random” string instead of having it generated?

  17. anonymousskimmer says:

    Minor quibbles and etcetera that I didn’t see addressed above:

    “Please answer ONLY if you described yourself as cisgender above: how often do you wish you were the opposite gender, wonder if you are transgender, or otherwise feel uncertain about your gender?”

    If this question had asked about transsexuality I would give it a 4 or 5. I am very interested in knowing the world from the eyes of others. Actual sex differences (especially in cognition) are a huge differentiator. I can somewhat comprehend what a shorter than normal person of my same sex experiences when interacting with men and the very rare women who are taller or stronger than I am, but I’ll never get the experience of a woman (of my same personality type).

    As is, I answered “1”, as I’m not particularly interested in being transgendered compared to the more common cisgendered of the opposite sex.

    “If your religion changed, why?”

    I honestly have no clue when or why I became an atheist despite being raised Christian. It has something to do with a personal desire for autonomy, though.

    “How much money, in number of dollars, have you donated to charity over the past year?”

    Does unrequired tipping count (e.g. for the workers at Quizno’s)? Does handing cash to a homeless person count? Does surplus food (which would otherwise never be eaten) to a foodbank count?


    The term “family members” should likely be replaced with “blood relatives”.

    “Did you notice the word “the” was reduplicated in the first answer to the question above?”

    I stopped reading the first answer before hitting any “the”, as it was obvious it was not the answer I was going to choose.

  18. Brienne Yudkowsky says:

    by far the most uncomfortable question was the one about street patterns.

    • by far the most uncomfortable question was the one about street patterns.

      Yeah. I’m someone who cares a lot about street patterns, and both of the extreme cases mentioned are very appealing to me, for different reasons. I had to choose the spot in the middle.

  19. kastaka says:

    Next time you’re going to ask for the time it took to do something, can you warn us up front so we can set up a timer? I made a wild guess because I had no real idea how long the section had taken.

    I also found the Reddit question awkward to pick an answer to – I know about the subreddit and generally would like to read it, but it rarely makes it on top of my to-do list to actually do so; it’s not that I don’t want to read it, it’s just that I don’t get around to reading it.

    • Obelix says:

      It took me 20 to 30 minutes, give or take, to complete section 1. So given that Scott had said at the beginning that each section would take about 10 minutes, by the time I got to this question, I scrolled back to try to find when I’d finished section 1 without noticing. It took me nearly 5 minutes to figure out that I was still in section 1.

      So I second this request.

  20. loki-zen says:

    There are a few points (aren’t there always) where there’s no accurate option: for instance re the giving what you can pledge I can only say ‘I don’t want to donate that much’ or that I haven’t heard of it, not ‘I’d like to but can’t currently afford to’.

    I also think there are some where your answer’s gonna be unclear cause the question is? Like on the politicians you’re likely to get a mashup of ‘how do I feel about their politics’ and ‘how do I feel about them as a person’. On feminism, I can’t tell if you want my opinion on the ideology or the movement.

    There’s also a factual error, I think- IIRC you’ve got that the UK Labour Party is Liberal ‘pre Jeremy Corbyn’ when it would be more accurate to say it’s Social Democrat with a fringe of Democratic Socialist except for the period from start of Blair to start of Corbyn.

    Also why are you only using trade names for the drugs? I’ve never been prescribed a drug called adderall but without a good bit of googling that I can’t really do on my phone while taking the survey idk if it’s the same thing as one of the ones I take.

    Somewhat interesting to see that, as someone with diagnosed autism, I only score 35 in that test – I would bet money that many of your readers without such a diagnosis will score more highly. But I’ve seen that test before and I don’t think much of it and neither does my clinical psych. It focuses on some very stereotypical/ typically male autistic traits so is gonna give a lower score to a hyper verbal female autist with a creative profession.

  21. googolplexbyte says:

    Why are people and things juxtaposed on the autism test so much?

    You can adore both, and still have a clear preference for one over the other.

    Why even have full sentences in these tests?

    Does having people rate base concept on a scale 0-10 not return good results?

    Sentences always seem like they’d just increase ambiguity.

  22. googolplexbyte says:

    LOC1: These answer are highly independent. Your happiness with your misfortunes are largely down to chance, but a substantial number of your misfortunes are a result of your own mistakes.

    Though your innate ability to stay happy in the face of misfortune likely has an impact of the amount of effort you put into avoiding mistakes that lead to misfortune…

    PS I don’t believe in free will but also like to plan things.

  23. googolplexbyte says:

    I didn’t answer the Truth or Beauty question, but I’d wager that I would have noticed the reversal, but I wouldn’t have noticed I noticed the reversal when questioned on it.

  24. googolplexbyte says:

    I read the the question before I read the the image…

  25. googolplexbyte says:

    For the surgeon riddle, am I missing something? How do we know the boy’s parent/surgeon’s gender? Is it something to do the distribution of homosexuality and women in sports fandom, drunk driving, and surgery? Am I just missing some gendered language? Also why is that even the answer to riddle’s question? It says how is this possible, not is the surgeon his mother or his father. How is what possible?

    Looking into it there seems to only be 3-4x as many straight female surgeons as there are gay male surgeons, though that doesn’t account for marriage rates or average number of children.

    • Toby Bartels says:

      I like this comment. We’ve had several comments so far about how The Kids These Days don’t even perceive this question as a riddle, but this one is the most utterly flabbergasted.

      In short, no, you didn’t miss anything, and nothing in the question statement suggests that the surgeon is a woman rather than a man (other than that the statistics favor that given the other data, as you’ve noted).

      To understood this question, you have to cast your mind back to when it was written (which to judge from some other comments would seem to be 1970s). The reader is expected to effortlessly pass from ‹The patient is the surgeon’s son.› to ‹The surgeon is the patient’s father.› without noticing it, then think ‹Hey wait, that boy’s father [and it goes without saying that he only has one] is dead, how can this be???›. And then upon seeing the answer, it’s ‹How clever, a lady surgeon, I never would have thought of that, but those gals sure are getting into everything these days, aren’t they?›.

      It’s all very quaint.

      • Deiseach says:

        Yes, for us old fogies, it’s very amusing to see the young’uns going “Wait, is the son supposed to be the surrogate offspring and this surgeon is the egg donor? Is the dead father one of two gay male spouses? Is the surgeon a trans woman? I don’t know how to answer this!”

        And that, my dearios, is why we fusty old conservatives say there has been such a huge turn around in social attitudes in living memory and we’re not talking about “back when Eisenhower was president” either, it’s Nixon at the earliest and Clinton at the latest – this article from 1996 contrasts the 90s with the 70s “Twenty-seven percent of industrial engineers in 1990 were women, up from 3 percent in 1970; 26 percent of lawyers and judges, up from 6 percent; 21 percent of physicians and surgeons, up from 11 percent; and 13 percent of police officers and detectives, up from 5 percent”.

        So in the 70s when this riddle was created, it was much more likely to be that “the surgeon” was a man, and this was the unconscious expectation of those hearing the riddle, the entire point of it: women can be surgeons, too!

        I think it’s also why there’s such a fuss over representation; if you take shows like (for example) Grey’s Anatomy there’s probably an unrealistically high proportion of female to male surgeons on that show (it looks something like 50:50 or just slightly over for women), but viewers watching it who don’t know the Official Statistics (19.2% of surgeons in the USA in 2015 are female) will assume this is how things are in reality and this colours their expectations and beliefs.

        • So in the 70s when this riddle was created

          It can’t be that recent. I think I first heard it when I was in elementary school, and I doubt it was new then.

          At least in the U.S., there have been women physicians since the late 19th century. Not a large number, granted, but common enough to base a riddle on, long before the 1970s.

          If I were forced to guess, I’d say this specific riddle comes from the immediate post World War II era, or maybe the early 1950s. Publications from that time feature this sort of humor — simple reframing jokes.

          • jd41 says:

            I found a reference in “Contemporary Social Psychology” from 1975 by
            William Samuel. I haven’t been able to find any earlier yet. Page 157:

            A father and his son are out driving. They are involved in an accident; the father is killed and the son is in critical condition. The son is rushed to the hospital and prepared for an operation. The doctor comes in, sees the patient, and exclaims, “I can’t operate, it’s my son!”

            (Of course I just post that and find another: From Radical Left to Extreme Right: A Bibliography of Current Periodicals of Protest, Controversy, Advocacy, Or Dissent, Volume 2 by Robert H. Muller, ‎Theodore Jurgen Spahn, ‎Janet M. Spahn – 1970)

      • dndnrsn says:

        I probably first heard this riddle back in, oh, mid 90s? I would have been a small child then. Presumably, then, the idea of a female surgeon was still novel enough in the mid 90s to be worth a riddle.

  26. The A/B/C similarity questions drove me up the wall, to the point that I wish I had chosen not to answer them, but I didn’t see a way to change any definite answer to a non-answer and I didn’t want to start the entire test over again. There may be some good justification for these questions that I haven’t thought of, but FWIW, here is my objection to what the questions appear to be assessing:

    Thingspace is very high-dimensional, and it’s very common for two clusters in thingspace to be much closer along some axes than along others. Even in saying that, I’m getting ahead of myself, because the very act of comparing a distance along one axis to a distance along another involves some messy choices, because most of the axes do not have the same “units” (or “dimensions” in the sense of “dimensional analysis”). If we absolutely have to compare distances on two different axes, there are non-arbitrary (if non-unique) ways of getting around this — you can, say, scale everything by the overall variance of known/observed things, so that 90th percentile on one scale is like 90th percentile on another. This makes sense of claims like “there is a bigger difference between a 7 foot tall person and a 4 foot tall person than between a 150 pound person and a 151 pound person,” although pounds and feet are different units.

    But again, thingspace has many dimensions. With just two (or 3 or 4) such axes in mind, we have the mental room to consciously consider each axis and the distribution along it, and make judgments like the one just mentioned. But when asked about the overall similarity between two clusters, we are being (implicitly) asked to do this calculation for thousands (millions? who knows) of axes at once, and combine all the results into a single number. Of course our brains can’t do this, so they don’t. I don’t know what they actually do — I would guess we latch on to a few axes that seem salient (at the time) for some complicated bundle of reasons, do something with those, and ignore the rest. There’s no possible way our brains could do overall similarity judgments in a way that was generally consistent and useful (except perhaps for some restricted classes of comparisons that had special evolutionary importance). And so general similarity judgments aren’t good material on which to base serious arguments.

    Do we still make them? Sure, all the time. Maybe there is something like the IAT which could measure whatever the hell my System 1 does instantly when confronted with these sorts of A/B/C questions. But on a survey, it’s not my System 1 alone that’s pushing the buttons. My System 2 has plenty of time to work before I make a decision, and its reaction is, “what kind of a shitty System 2 would actually treat general similarity judgments as useful raw material to work from?”

    I think I gave an “inconsistent” answer to those questions, in that I emphasized the abstract similarity in one case and the “who wins?” similarity in the other case. But really, I don’t care which similarities I emphasized when, because “which specific similarity dominates in a general similarity judgment, after System 2 reflection?” should not matter, and if it matters you’re already doing something wrong.

    (ETA: to clarify, the questions are asking about something sort of like the pounds/feet case, in that we are being given a few axes of difference and not told anything about the other axes. But with height/weight it’s easy to understand that we’re being asked to marginalize out the other axes before making the comparison — indeed, the marginal distributions are known, you can look them up — while in the civil servants / Nazis questions, we wouldn’t know how to marginalize out the other axes if we had to, and it’s not clear we’re being asked to. Instead, a few axes are being used to indicate certain clusters, and we’re apparently being asked to judge overall cluster distance. If it was just a matter of marginal distributions along the given axes, it would be asking about the relative extremity of [say] being a Nazi vs. violating a social contract of nonviolence given the existing distributions of ideology / social-contract-compliance [perhaps Nazism is 97th percentile in the relevant direction while violence is only 77th, or whatever], which is simultaneously difficult to judge, not very interesting, and not at all a natural question to ask.)

    • Deiseach says:

      I think that’s getting much too complicated. You can pose the question “is the taller person more like the fatter or thinner person?” and get a reasonable answer.

      Yes, feet and pounds are not the same thing. Yes, there’s a much bigger difference between seven feet and four feet than between 151 lbs and 150 lbs. But working on a very simplified “does bigness:smallness like heaviness:lightness?” comparison it can be done. It would not make sense to say the taller person is more like the lighter person, even if the seven foot person was a skinny beanpole supermodel and the four foot person was a roly-poly ball of lard, or if the 151 lbs person was six feet and the 150 lbs person was five feet. We only know one thing in each case (height for the seven and four foot persons, weight for the 150 and 151 lbs persons) and nothing more, so that one thing is what we have to go on.

      When there is only one characteristic quoted (weight and height in your instance, Nazi versus not-Nazi and legal versus not-legal in the A/B/C questions), then that’s what you compare. You don’t start going “Well, what skin tone is the four foot person? How tall is the 150 lbs person? Are they all the same gender? If the seven foot person is biracial trans bulimic multilingual with green eyes, how does that compare to the brown-eyed person?”

      You’re being asked to compare “is Thing 1 more like Thing 2 or Thing 3”, not “define the entire cluster of attributes of Thing 1 at a defined point on the space-time continuum along these six axes but also taking into account these seven other ones”.

      • In the survey, we’re given things that are specified to differ along two axes at once. Making a judgment of overall similarity involves (at least) figuring out how to make a tradeoff between distances on the two axes, which is why I brought in height/weight (to show that this could be done in principle). The height/weight version of the A/B/C questions would be something like:

        “A is 4 ft, 150 lbs. B is 4 ft, 151 lbs. C is 7 ft, 150 lbs. Which pair is most similar?”

        Note how we know two things about each person, and are being asked to trade two distances off against one another. There is a way that A and C are alike — they’re both 150 lbs — it just isn’t the dominant consideration. In the survey questions, we have the same setup: say, one pair is alike because Nazis win in both, but the other is alike because violence is used in both.

        You’re being asked to compare “is Thing 1 more like Thing 2 or Thing 3”, not “define the entire cluster of attributes of Thing 1 at a defined point on the space-time continuum along these six axes but also taking into account these seven other ones”.

        But “is Thing 1 more like Thing 2 or Thing 3” is a matter of judging distances between complicated clusters in a high-dimensional space! It’s measuring distances in thingspace! I’m pretty sure Scott is thinking of it that way too — see this
        old post of his
        for instance. (Do you think he is overcomplicating things in that post?)

        • Deiseach says:

          For a survey question? Yes, I think people are over-thinking it but hey, this is the site for People What Over-Think Things so no surprise there.

          I really do think the Nazi thing is tying a lot of people in knots because their gut instinct is “But Nazis are BAD, there is no way not-bad people have any similarity with them at all!”

          Let’s phrase the question as: (1) We have blerps going on a mookit. (2) We have blerps fighting with gadinks. (3) We have loolies fighting with blerps. Which two of these three situations is most similar?

          I think people would be a lot less conflicted about “blerps fighting with gadinks is like loolies fighting with blerps” in that instance, and not so worried about “but are the blerps who fight with the gadinks on a mookit or not?”

          Same with the second question if we phrase it as: (1) Only callabies can wear red. A draper sells a red dress to a nurnik. (2) Callabies, nurniks, floopsters and badunpas can wear green. A draper sells green clothing to them all. (3) Callabies, nurniks, floopsters and bandunpas can wear green. A draper refuses to sell green clothes. Which situation is most similar?

          Nota bene: I am not saying there is only one right answer to this question! I think both possibilities can be justified! But the way people are going “But how oh how can I possibly in any way make a comparison that is valid between A and B that is equivalent to a valid comparison between B and C which will leave me with a defensible comparison between A and C?” seems to me to be getting lost in the weeds and I do think it’s because of the HOT BUTTON CULTURE WAR elements of both questions.

          On the other hand it is entirely possible that I am a thick stupid, concrete not abstract, incapable of seeing subtlety if it smacked me in the face with a wet kipper, low-IQ marblehead, and that the people worrying about the finer distinctions are right to worry like that. I’m an Ascendant Sign Taurean, we bulls (and cows) just like to put our heavy heads down and graze that sweet luscious grass and not bother with airy-fairy intellectual stuff 🙂

          • The blerps / gadinks thing is fun. Let me give it a try:

            (1) A blerp vlorms. (2) A blerp bites a gadink. (3) A gadink bites a blerp.

            Looks like 2 & 3 are most similar, right? But the situation I had in mind was:

            (1) A dog barks. (2) A dog bites a man. (3) A man bites a dog.

            1 and 2 are commonplace; 3 is, as they say, news.

            Thing is, we could be here all day with gotcha examples like this, because general similarity judgments are complicated and messy and hard to generalize about. They don’t always feel that way, but they are.

        • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

          On the other hand, these questions were in the same test as an explicit «what is more similar to a square of squares: a square of triangles or a triangle of squares».

          There is not supposed to be an actual correct answer, the question is which incomparable difference feels the smallest.

          I skipped the questions, though, because I wanted to answer «B and C» in both cases (I did pick square-of-triangles in the shape question).

          • A1987dM says:

            How are B and C alike in the Nazi question? In the marriage question, I guess they’re alike because homosexuality is legal in both, right?

          • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

            Yes, in the marriage question B and C are alike because the realistic eventual outcome is the same.

            In the Nazi question the main difference of A is that there are significant consequences for people who didn’t want to be involved at all and in any form (the minorities). The situation I expect in the beat-the-Nazis case is a quickly escalating collision between two even initially not-completely-peaceful groups — groups of people who explicitly chose to be a part of one of those two sides.

  27. dansimonicouldbewrong says:

    A lot of the questions could have used an “other” option to cover possibilities outside those listed. For example:

    1) Some people–those who have grown up in one country and lived a long time in another, for instance–can identify strongly with more than one country, and have difficulty choosing between them.

    2) Some people’s attitudes towards religion are more complicated than any of the options you offered.

    3) Some people consider most political disagreements to be matters of conflicting tribal interests, not of “right” and “wrong”, and therefore wouldn’t necessarily consider those who disagree with them politically to be “wrong”, let alone ponder the reason for their error. (I’d have expected you, Scott, of all people, to have taken this into account.)

    4) I’m sure many people “want” to give 10% of their income to charity, but have compelling reasons for not doing so anyway.

  28. Dragor says:

    I have been diagnosed with all the mental health conditions listed other than schizophrenia and OCD. However, since my life has gotten far far happier I have not manifested any of them—it’s been about two years. I marked myself as though I had never been diagnosed. In retrospect, that may have screwed up the data set.

    Also, do SATs taken as an adult count? And are we only counting official SATs? I took an SAT to get the job for the tutoring company that I work for, but it was an SAT that they wrote. I did not mark this one as I don’t remember my official SAT scores.

    Final admission of mistaken responding: I forget how the sexual harrassment question was phrased, but I entirely forgot that I had been out and out sexually assaultes simply because the experience was not especially traumatic for me. I may have slightly misanswered as a consequence.

  29. InsertUsernameHere says:

    The most recent version of the SAT is scored out of 1600, not 2400. (It’s also, in my understanding, a somewhat different test from either the old 1600-scale version or the 2400-scale version.)

  30. kronopath says:

    I took it, now please excuse me while I nitpick.

    If multiple possible answers, please choose the one you most identify with

    As someone between multiple countries, who responds to “where are you from” with “that depends what you mean by ‘from'” I hate this. If you want my country of current residence, ask for that. If you want the country of current residence, ask for that. If you want my country/ies of citizenship, ask for that. If you want my historical ancestry, ask for that. But don’t make wishy-washy criteria like this.

    If you have one takeaway from my comment, please make it this. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine. Be clear about what you’re asking and stop trying to make things like this about “self-identification”.

    Have you taken the Giving What We Can pledge to donate 10% of your income to charity?
    – Yes
    – No, I didn’t know this existed
    – No, I don’t want to donate that much
    – No, I donate that much but I don’t want to take the pledge

    This needs another “No, for some other reason” answer for people who have other excuses. In my case, I haven’t started just yet (only recently got a stable wage) but I want to in the near future.

    Did you notice that on the above question, “agree” and “disagree” were reversed from the position they were in all the other questions thus far?

    I wasn’t sure whether to answer “Yes” or “No” to this. I noticed only subconsciously, in that I answered the previous question correctly (relative to my opinion), but I didn’t consciously notice that they were different from the previous questions, I just looked at the labels and clicked the correct button based on that.

    Anyway, use this data responsibly.

    • As someone between multiple countries, who responds to “where are you from” with “that depends what you mean by ‘from’” I hate this. If you want my country of current residence, ask for that. If you want the country of current residence, ask for that. If you want my country/ies of citizenship, ask for that. If you want my historical ancestry, ask for that. But don’t make wishy-washy criteria like this.

      It seems to me that Scott asked exactly the right question here. He didn’t care what your country of current or past residence or citizenship is; he wanted the country that you most identified with. That is only something you can answer. Like all the questions in the survey, there will be lots of edge cases that don’t fit well — it seems this is one of those for you. But I think Scott put it the best way he could. Of course that is easy for me to say, when I’ve lived in the same country all my life. But there were other questions that were difficult for me.

      • kronopath says:

        Of course that is easy for me to say, when I’ve lived in the same country all my life.

        This is exactly what I’m talking about. There’s little ambiguity in your case. Other people have a lot more ambiguity.

        I mean, if Scott is (correctly) querying for biological sex vs. gender identity separately, without making the assumption that they’re the same, then he should similarly be understanding that things like cultural heritage don’t necessarily have a strong connection to the country you’re currently living in, even if it’s for a minority of the population.

    • Deiseach says:

      As someone between multiple countries, who responds to “where are you from” with “that depends what you mean by ‘from’” I hate this.

      You’re the mermaid’s daughter 🙂

      Translation by Paul Muldoon of a poem (from a themed collection) by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, I think the Muldoon translation is bad but I have no better one:

      A Recovered Memory of Water

      Sometimes when the mermaid’s daughter
      is in the bathroom
      cleaning her teeth with a thick brush
      and baking soda
      she has the sense the room is filling
      with water.

      It starts at her feet and ankles
      and slides further and further up
      over her thighs and hips and waist.
      In no time
      it’s up to her oxters.
      She bends down into it to pick up
      handtowels and washcloths and all such things
      as are sodden with it.
      They all look like seaweed—
      like those long strands of kelp that used to be called
      ‘mermaid-hair’ or ‘foxtail.’
      Just as suddenly the water recedes
      and in no time
      the room’s completely dry again.

      A terrible sense of stress
      is part and parcel of these emotions.
      At the end of the day she has nothing else
      to compare it to.
      She doesn’t have the vocabulary for any of it.
      At her weekly therapy session
      she has more than enough to be going on with
      just to describe this strange phenomenon
      and to express it properly
      to the psychiatrist.

      She doesn’t have the terminology
      or any of the points of reference
      or any word at all that would give the slightest suggestion
      as to what water might be.
      ‘A transparent liquid,’ she says, doing as best she can.
      ‘Right,’ says the therapist, ‘keep going.’
      He coaxes and cajoles her towards word-making.
      She has another run at it.
      ‘A thin flow,’ she calls it,
      casting about gingerly in the midst of the words.
      ‘A shiny film. Dripping stuff. Something wet.’

      • kronopath says:

        That’s a very nice poem but I’m not sure what you mean by that.

        If you’re trying to say that my experience of the word “from” is like the “water” in the poem, I don’t think that’s quite correct. When people ask that, they’re usually either trying to make small talk (at which point I often give them a single answer tinged with just enough mystery to keep the conversation going), or they’re looking for a specific piece of information (such as “this guy’s name looks like it’s from the same part of the world as me, I wonder if that’s true?”) at which point I have to tease out of them what they’re actually looking for. I was admittedly being slightly hyperbolic in the post. It’s more “dissolving the question”, rather than being hopelessly confused by the question.

    • 10240 says:

      For the country question: a natural way to answer (if you think about how your answer will be used) is which country is likely to have the largest influence on your answers to the rest of the questions.

      • kronopath says:

        I did kind of try to do that, but that strategy is still incompatible with a single answer to that question.

        For example, if I were to take it as “the country you grew up and had most of your formative experiences in”, that’s a good fit for the kind of personality-vs-culture analyses that I know Scott does with these surveys.

        But if I were to take it as “country you currently live in”, then that makes it much more accurate for questions that relate to things like my current income and/or current living conditions.

        This is an example of two interpretations which are mutually incompatible.

    • A1987dM says:

      I’m likewise weirded out by the country question — adding “(for most people, this would be the country you’re a citizen of)” or “(… you live in)” would be nice. (I assumed the former. If the point of the question is to find out about my cultural background the former is more useful, whereas if the point is to find out where I would be most likely to attend a meatspace event the latter is more useful.)

  31. Yrke says:

    I needed “I’ve been diagnosed with this but the diagnosis was wrong” a couple times.

  32. Le Maistre Chat says:

    I left the questions about gender affecting my fee-fees blank because the answer was different 10 years ago. Are we supposed to answer how we feel now or what?
    Do not conflate how someone feels at a given time with their eternal essence.

  33. dndnrsn says:

    I’ve taken one of the gender tests before, and find myself puzzled as to why using hand lotion is considered feminine. Are dry, chapped hands masculine?

    • Deiseach says:

      Are dry, chapped hands masculine?

      Not for Norwegian fishermen! Gentlemen, if you too want hands as smooth as a trawler hand after six months in the North Sea, this is the product for you! 😀

      And Aramis, of the Three Musketeers, took good care of his hands to make sure they were white and elegant (though still not as good as those of Athos, who is a Natural Nobleman):

      His hands, of which he took little care, were the despair of Aramis, who cultivated his with almond paste and perfumed oil.

      • Toby Bartels says:

        Gentlemen, if you too want hands as smooth as a trawler hand after six months in the North Sea, this is the product for you!

        I don’t buy that one bit. The president of the company cleaning out soap vats?

  34. Moriwen says:

    Miscellaneous silly nitpicky things:

    I’d have liked a “no, but I plan to in the future” option on the GWWC pledge question. I suspect I am not the only person who takes pledges seriously enough to want to give that much reliably for a few years before taking the pledge. None of the current options seem to reflect this.

    On the map question, it would have been nice to have an “I looked at the answer without trying to figure it out” choice.

    Work status: it wasn’t clear if a grad student should answer “student” or “academics (teaching side)” (I went with the former).

    Moral views: the question asks “with which of these do you most identify”, but the answers say “accept [X]”. The answers are significantly different for me (I identify with the system I find most intuitively useful/pleasing, but that doesn’t imply accepting it as correct, just close enough.)

    For the “benefit” and “change mind” questions, it seems like it might be useful to have “no, I have not [benefited/changed my mind]” and “I don’t remember/don’t feel like doing extended reflection to see if I can come up with anything” options.

    I resisted the impulse to answer “how have your politics changed in the last ten years” in a way reflecting that ten years ago I was a preteen with political opinions limited to “clearly I should be Queen Of The World.”

  35. P. George Stewart says:

    Gaaah, those fucking “the the” things trip me up every time.

    The square circles were delightful.

  36. sty_silver says:

    These are the questions which felt non-ideal to me

    1. Missing response (the one I wanted to give in parentheses)

    – Do you read r/slatestardodex ; do you read the discord? (“not yet, but I’ve been meaning to look into it”).

    – The current System… (“is really bad but trying to overthrow it is a terrible idea nonetheless)

    2. On the question about how I view people with differing political views, I immediately thought “you talking about average people or about SSC people? makes a big difference.” I ended up answering assuming someone whom I consider similarly smart.

    Unrelated, I took both gender tests and felt like the first was obviously better (as in, had better questions which were obviously going to provide better results). I am pretty curious what others who have also taken both thought.

    • With regard to the Discord, my own status is “I noticed it mentioned once, and then followed the link and actually signed up for an account there and joined the group, but haven’t actually gotten around to logging in again since then, so you can’t really say I use it on an ongoing basis or that I’ve never heard of it either.”

  37. gbdub says:

    There was at least one question I accidentally checked a box, but should have left it blank. But there was no way to “uncheck” a box.

    I skipped part II because the illusions were repeats from last year, and I didn’t want to skew the results by “knowing” the answer. But there were new questions on there too. Would have preferred the “repeats” segregated into a separate section.

    I didn’t get the point of the sexual harassment “answer no preference” cutting out half your responses. Would be easy enough to just exclude “no preference” and treat them as blanks.

    • gbdub says:

      Also, it would have been nice if the only options for “how has your political stance changed” had something between “significantly” (which I interpreted as “a lot”) and “not at all”. Or “I’ve moved left on some issues and right on others”, or “I’ve become more centrist on most issues” (captures someone who had extreme views not easily described as all left / all right, but has mellowed out – I feel like this is a common suymptom of getting older).

  38. fion says:

    Only tangentially related: I have had an autism assessment and the result was negative, but I score 33 in the autism spectrum quotient test linked in the survey. These things deserve plenty of salt pinches.

    • ohwhatisthis? says:

      There are….
      9 trillion 847 billion 379 million 391 thousand 150
      different ways to receive that score!

      • fion says:

        I’m not sure if you’re making a point or just sharing random trivia. If you are making a point I’m afraid it’s passed me by.

      • A1987dM says:

        There are even more different possible ways to receive a score of 25, but anyway, it’s not like all 2^50 possible sets of answers are equiprobable (either for the full population, or for autistic people only, or for neurotypical people only), so what’s your point?

  39. maha says:

    I don’t think the “check the seconds hand of the clock” thing is really going to serve as a 10% filter after the first question, since you’re asked to do it repeatedly and sequentially. Average reading speeds will probably warp the results. Personally, I got into an uncomfortable situation where it would have taken too long to reset my perception of time to where I had no idea about what point I was at in the 10-second cycle, so I gave up on giving you 1-in-10 odds. (If you had considered this, obviously disregard.)

    I see David made a similar point earlier.

    • Inty says:

      I used an online dice roller. Maybe this would be better?

    • JulieK says:

      It doesn’t really matter.
      The point of looking at the the clock is so if someone out there really prefers not to answer, they won’t think “oh no, Scott will see I checked ‘prefer not to answer’ and he’ll think I’m hiding something.”
      Instead they can think “okay, Scott will think maybe I am one of the people who checked this box because of the clock.”

      • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

        In a sense, answering anyway would make one more «do not want to answer» look like «the seconds hand says not to answer»…

  40. “Highly regulated markets”.

    Not really.

    “Scandinavian countries are highly ranked in the Index of Economic Freedom. Although the United States ranks higher than these nations, they are more free in several decisive areas. Denmark has greater business freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, and freedom from corruption, while having comparable monetary freedom, and trade freedom scores to the U.S. Sweden has greater business freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, and freedom from corruption, while having comparable trade freedom, and monetary freedom, to the United States. Finland has greater business freedom, financial freedom, property right enforcement, and freedom from corruption than the United States, while having comparable monetary freedom, investment freedom, and trade freedom. Norway, the lowest ranked Scandinavian nation (but still rather high at no. 37), has greater freedom from corruption and property right enforcement than the United States while having comparable business freedom and trade freedom. Iceland has greater fiscal freedom, investment freedom property right enforcement, and freedom from corruption, while having comparable business freedom, and trade freedom.[5]”

    • Andrew Cady says:

      Employers in those countries don’t have the freedom to cut off their workers’ healthcare, which is big enough to negate all of that. It’s a case of one million $0.01 regulations vs. a single $10T regulation in the labor market.

    • ?????

      Costs for health and medical care amounted to approximately 9 percent of Sweden’s gross domestic product in 2005, a figure that remained fairly stable since the early 1980s. By 2015 the cost had risen to 11.9% of GDP -the highest in Europe.[4] Seventy-one percent of health care is funded through local taxation, and county councils have the right to collect income tax. The state finances the bulk of health care costs, with the patient paying a small nominal fee for examination. The state pays for approximately 97% of medical costs.[5]

      When a physician declares a patient to be ill for whatever reason (by signing a certificate of illness/unfitness), the patient is paid a percentage of their normal daily wage from the second day. For the first 14 days, the employer is required to pay this wage, and after that the state pays the wage until the patient is declared fit.

      • Andrew Cady says:

        Are you replying to me? If so I don’t understand your point.

        • I didn’t understand your point. Is there supposed to be a country where employers can cut off healthcare? Is that supposed to be desirable? Is any of that relevant to a taxpayer funded system?

          • Andrew Cady says:

            Is there supposed to be a country where employers can cut off healthcare?

            The USA. (Less so recently, though perhaps not for long.)

            Is that supposed to be desirable?

            I don’t think so, but it’s beside the point.

            Is any of that relevant to a taxpayer funded system?

            You said some things about ‘trade freedom” and “financial freedom” etc. — whatever that means. My point is that the healthcare situation — which really cobbles the power of employers over employees — is overwhelmingly large in importance, enough to dominate such “freedoms” when it comes to the overall “freedom” of property owners.

          • So … the Cato institute are using the wrong definition of freedom?

            Or maybe most people think in terms of freedoms that a remotely sane person would want. There are, after all, places where you can marry a twelve year old or set yourself up as a warlord.

  41. Havelock says:

    I answered in the affirmative to the question whether I’d been diagnosed with depression, because I have been. But I’m not currently depressed.

  42. Inty says:

    In future it might be worth having a question about how much you’ve earned in the past year, rather than how much you now earn. I’ve only had my current job for a few months, so my amount donated appears lower than it is.

  43. Jack V says:

    I’ve done my best to avoid quibbling. The one place where I was tempted was the planning question. I feel like both “mostly make them work” and “not wise to plan ahead because most things are luck” are really unrelated to how I plan (and how I assumed most sensible people plan).

    I think of it like playing go. You can’t *pick* a plan and expect to stick to it, because the other player often won’t do what you expected. But if you don’t think ahead, you’ll get totally pwned.

    What you do is, you have a main plan, and enough alternatives that you feel confident you’ve covered the most likely outcomes.

    This is how I think. Neither “I’ll quit my job and follow my dream” without thinking if I’ll starve if it fails, nor “I’ll do whatever, I don’t have any control”, but “if this is my dream, what’s my fallback if it turns out it doesn’t make a living?” And the same for small things, I won’t fail to plan a train journey, but I’ll also work out, if the train is late, is my plan “get the next train”, “walk home”, “get a hotel” or something else.

  44. James Picone says:

    Survey doesn’t appear to work in Pale Moon; clicking on any of the multiple-choice options doesn’t appear to do anything.

    This is probably Google’s bug, but I thought I’d point it out.

  45. yossarian says:

    The two questions I’ve had most problems with:
    1) Political whatever – I am a anarchist – empiricist, as in, do what you can to minimize the government and the capitalist influence, for the rest of the issues – do what works, no matter, which particular political brand it came out of. Put down “Marxist”, as wasn’t sure what else to put.
    2) Immigration – a similar problem to last year’s survey. No, I do not think that immigration policies should be exactly tighter or looser, I think they should be different – for example, i think that for lower-skilled immigrants and refugees the immigration policies should be mostly stricter, but for skilled and educated ones – much looser, so I just put a 3 in there, middle of the line.

    • Deiseach says:

      i think that for lower-skilled immigrants and refugees the immigration policies should be mostly stricter, but for skilled and educated ones – much looser

      Yes, but I think the open borders advocates would argue that skilled immigrants already have an advantage and choices, they can do better in their country of origin and have more options in what countries they move to, whereas unskilled immigrants are the ones needing to be lifted out of poverty and by allowing them to move to the Land of Opportunity you are giving them – and more importantly, their children – access to better opportunities.

      I think it comes down to what is the purpose of permitting immigration: for some people, it’s “this will benefit the economy”, for others it is “this will benefit the immigrants” and these two things need not work in tandem, hence the clash of views (benefiting the immigrants by letting them all go on welfare at the cost of the native tax payers, is the argument one political grouping may use against immigration as currently implemented or as proposed; benefiting the economy by maintaining a pool of cheap labour by keeping the immigrants in reduced circumstances would be the argument of another).

      • SamGamgee says:

        In the second case (immigrants joining cheap labor pool) note that it would still be an improvement for them. Immigrants would not come if they could not somehow get a better life (even if that life were still much worse than whatever you think they ought to have).

        The interesting question is whether “improving the economy” makes everyone at home better off or actually benefits some at the expense of others. It’s ironic that the left will no longer touch this, even though it comports with their general concern about distribution of wealth vs total growth. It’s the “free market” conservatives that have largely taken up this argument.

        • Andrew Cady says:

          We could probably trick at least an entire generation into coming only to meet with a worse life.

          • SamGamgee says:

            I strongly doubt that.

          • Andrew Cady says:

            We could adopt the policies that make their lives worse after they migrate, so that they would have to predict our policy changes before even moving here.

            Anyway, your overall argument relies on perfect information where it’s not at all plausible.

          • SamGamgee says:

            My argument doesn’t require “perfect” information, just the ordinary amount of information that past immigrants currently relay to their relatives and compatriots to encourage or discourage more immigration. If immigrants on the whole experienced a worse life after immigrating, do you seriously believe that could be kept secret in this day and age?

            Or if you have evidence that your scenario ever actually happened, what is it? And don’t say the Israelites in Egypt.

    • gbdub says:

      Also had trouble with the immigration question, since my general stance is “more permissive laws, more strictly enforced”. Ultimately I just put “3”.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      i think that for lower-skilled immigrants and refugees the immigration policies should be mostly stricter, but for skilled and educated ones – much looser

      Let’s import a ruling class, doo-dah, doo-dah.

      People in debt for college credentials should have their labor bid down all day.

      Sorry for the bad meter.

      • yossarian says:

        Ruling class? Hey, I am not saying “import bankers, fat capitalists and politicians”. Oh wait, those dudes already do have a free way anywhere anyways, if they are not under “sanctions” or something – of which there are probably like 1000 of those in the world.

        The problem with college debt is mostly US-related (and in US, it is really a problem that needs to be solved) – but there are many countries where it is smaller or non-existent. And, plus, any engineer-coder-doctor-scientist-any other normal educated dude is most and foremost the biggest consumer of the products by the other people of the sort. And they are significantly less likely to sit on welfare or commit crime or not assimilate or do other things that give immigrants a bad name. And they are likely to bring in useful technological knowledge with them.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          The managerial class is still part of the ruling class.

          I continued the argument here:

          The problem with college debt is mostly US-related (and in US, it is really a problem that needs to be solved) – but there are many countries where it is smaller or non-existent.

          I address this point here:

          Those with a lower debt load have a far easier chance at rising to the ruling class than those with a higher debt load.

          • yossarian says:

            Managerial class? Seriously, in many of the educated professional jobs, managers tend to be less educated/skilled than the actual workers.
            Easier chance at rising to the ruling class? Well, it’s really been a while since I’ve seen a chemist, for example, rising up to be a president or a congressman (in US or otherwise), let alone an immigrant chemist/physicist/mathematitian. And I don’t really see how the amount of debt would influence that chance, unless the “ruling-class” job is actually bought.
            And the internal high cost is mostly due to the local rules that are not optimal. For example, when I’ve got my education (and it was back in US), we’ve had a certain professor. In his class that we’ve had to take, no new discoveries that would be studied at the freshman/sophomore level were made for at least 50 years. And yet, we’ve had to use the newest version of a textbook that cost about 200$ (written by him, of course), that was re-written every year or so. You might ask, what was new in each of the newer versions? Nothing (damn copyrast, that he was!). Just all of the problems in the problem-solving section were shuffled and given different numerical values for each problem, so that the students would have a harder time if they use a second-hand textbook from the last year (like, if he tells you to do the problems 11.2, 11.3 and 11.6, you can’t give him the answers you would get from the problems 11.2, 11.3 and 11.6 from last year’s textbook, and if that is done in the classroom, not for homework – good luck finding a way to get it from your classmates!). (That’s a small example, but still, it shows what’s the problem with the official academic rules). If anything should be done, I would say, give the kick in the ass to dudes like that who make education more expensive that it has to be, and let in more skilled dudes from the outside.

  46. megawidget says:

    A few corrections:

    1. There’s an unintentional (?) typo for “stronglyagree” instead of “strongly agree” in TOA3.
    2. Did you really mean Marxist when you probably intended Communist for the political affiliation question? There are Trotskyists out there and they’re not getting any love.
    3. Like many others, I also got the alternative solution to the Surgeon riddle. It’s technically not wrong, but you might wish to clarify that there’s only one accepted answer, if that’s what you intended.

    I hope you’re doing some sort of analysis for people who have taken the survey before and are therefore aware of your common word repetition traps.
    Also, I’m willing to take bets that most adults over the age of 30 have been sexually harassed at some point in their lives, regardless of gender, and this survey will confirm my belief. This is why I find the #metoo campaign so obnoxious. Any takers?

    • 10240 says:

      Isn’t Trotskyism a subset of Marxism?

      I’m not taking the bet. Most people have probably been sexually harassed by the broader definitions in use, but those who weren’t been seriously distressed typically won’t answer yes.

      • fion says:

        Isn’t Trotskyism a subset of Marxism?

        In my experience most Trotskyists refer to themselves as “Marxists” but most other flavours of Marxist call them “Trotskyist”.

        So you get situations where Person A calls themself a “Marxist” and calls Person B a “Stalinist”. Meanwhile Person B calls themself a “Marxist” and calls Person A a “Trotskyist”.

        I would answer your question “Yes” and I expect Trotskyists would too (or at least most of them). But Stalinists might say “No”.

        • apollocarmb says:

          No Marxist calls themselves a Stalinits. They don’t think such a thing exists.

          • fion says:

            Yeah, exactly.

            I have actually encountered a few people who’ve called themselves Stalinists, but they’re definitely a very small minority.

    • Deiseach says:

      “Sexually harassed” is very broad, it can range from “porn in the workplace*” to the Harvey Weinstein model (though that gets more into the area of sexual abuse).

      So some people will have had minor unpleasant experiences of the Franken Ass-Grabbing type, and some will have had the full Weinstein/Spacey, and so any results will mean “yes, this percentage of people have experienced harassment” but it will not mean “yes, this percentage of people have been seriously assaulted”. I think it may be instructive for anyone under the age of thirty who has spent all their life in a nice politically correct atmosphere to find out that this isn’t the case everywhere, and so someone objecting to the innocent, joyful, open, expression of sexual interest is not necessarily a sex-negative prude killjoy, but anything more than that won’t be available.

      *No, I don’t mean girlie calendars, I mean (what passed for) hardcore porn magazines in the early 80s being passed around by the male workers and left in places they shouldn’t have been when you’re opening a drawer to get a tool and find this crap instead.

    • Toby Bartels says:

      Did you really mean Marxist when you probably intended Communist for the political affiliation question? There are Trotskyists out there and they’re not getting any love.

      Since he said that Marxism has never been tried, it seems that it’s the Communists who are left out from among the Marxists.

      • Deiseach says:

        I appreciated the joke that REAL Communism has never been tried, never mind the USSR/other places, that was not REAL Communism; it’s the same as “religion has caused wars and massacres but atheism has not” “Er, what about Stalin?” “Oh he wasn’t an atheist, Stalin was repeating the religious act of heretic hunting!”

        I’ve seen the same about REAL Capitalism, whenever I’ve raised “So what about….” questions. “No, that wasn’t REAL Capitalism, REAL Capitalism is only [set of very limited and strictly defined definitions and times, such that anything before the Tudors was not capitalist, anything after the Tudors is not capitalist, and the Tudors were not capitalists, but this one particular ideal system of interlocutor is REAL Capitalism]”.

        And of course, it’s all based on Chesterton’s “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried”.

        • SamGamgee says:

          Regarding the “no true communism/capitalism” problem. I agree that setting up a crude correlation between regimes that called themselves communist/capitalist and socioeconomic performance is not good enough. Maybe Stalinism was a disaster because he freed up the economy too much, while still claiming to be communist, or maybe the modern US is a disaster because its government is regulating everything to death, despite calling itself a “free market”. A deeper analysis of each case must be made to see whether state control of resources, i.e. “communism,” or private ownership, i.e. “capitalism”, is the cause of the outcomes in question. But that requires a lot of work.

          • Bugmaster says:

            Personally, I would expect any dictatorship to be involved in tons of atrocities, regardless of which ideology the dictator professes to subscribe to.

        • Bugmaster says:

          Stalin did kill a ton of people, but I think there’s a difference between killing people in the name of an ideology, vs. killing people while tangentially subscribing to that ideology. For example, Columbus and his friends killed some people too, but his motivation was probably closer to “I want their stuff (God says it’s ok)”, rather than “God wants them dead right now”. By contrast, your run of the mill Islamic terrorist is explicitly motivated by the “God wants them dead” idea. By analogy, the current ongoing persecution of Falun Gong in China appears to be entirely motivated by power politics, not religion or lack thereof.

          There are a few types of ideologies that make it a lot easier — though by no means mandatory — to subscribe to the “evildoers must die” notion. Religion is of course one of them; extreme nationalism or racism is another. Atheism, though, is genocide-neutral; there’s nothing about the statement “their beliefs in gods are wrong” that implies “and therefore they must die”. There’s no convenient logical link in that chain, unlike in religion, where “god told me so” is a kind of swiss-army-knife of premises that can be used to justify lots of behaviors, be they good or bad.

          • theredsheep says:

            The problem with this kind of argument is that it involves comparing beliefs of very different complexity. Atheism is an extremely simple idea, while most religions are extremely complex. The opposite of simple atheism would be simple theism, I suppose, but nobody really believes in either by itself. But each can be, and has been, the core of complex belief systems. Tack a belief in progress based on enlightening people to their class interests while eradicating reactionary superstitions, etc. onto “their belief in Gods is wrong” and sending believers to the camps becomes a more defensible proposition. And Stalin’s campaign to repress the Church was very much a deliberate outgrowth of his beliefs, not something incidental.

            I’m going to put the word Arendt here as a ctrl-F keyword, it’s the easiest way to navigate these monster threads.

        • A1987dM says:

          “Try” has at least two meanings, with respect to which it’s ambiguous when the object is a noun (e.g. “try communism”) but not when it’s a verb (e.g. “try to do X” vs “try doing X”).

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        Oh it was tried. But the Prussian and French monarchies called a truce to crush it.

    • Also, I’m willing to take bets that most adults over the age of 30 have been sexually harassed at some point in their lives, regardless of gender, and this survey will confirm my belief.

      I am 61 and answered no to all the sexual harassment questions. I would be very surprised to find a majority of males answering yes to any of the questions. I will be very interested to see the results of this survey. Not that SSC necessarily matches the rest of the population out there. Given the hostility to SJ on this blog, I would guess there would be more no’s than the population as a whole. But I’m not real confident about that.

      • Aapje says:

        I think that most men will have been harassed by the commonly used definitions for surveys, but that most don’t feel harassed.

        • @Aapje. I am curious what definition you mean.

          This is the definition of the US law used for employment:

          “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.”

          I would answer no to this one, and I suspect most males would also.

        • Aapje says:

          Hmm, it does seem that there is more variation that I thought. But I was thinking more about this definition from the UN:

          Forms of sexual harassment are usually are usually divided into three different types: verbal (remarks about figure/look, sexual jokes, verbal sexual advances), non verbal (“staring and whistling”) and physical (from unsolicited physical contact to assault/rape).

          I guess that one way to define it is to look at whether the person feels harassed and the other is to look at whether the behavior is solicited, which would result in far more similar results between men and women, of course.

    • Petja Ylitalo says:

      “Also, I’m willing to take bets that most adults over the age of 30 have been sexually harassed at some point in their lives, regardless of gender, and this survey will confirm my belief. This is why I find the #metoo campaign so obnoxious. Any takers?”

      I answered “no” to that question, since at the time of answering i used a definition of “it´s not harassment if you like it”, and i´ve always liked people signaling they are attracted to me, even if they do it in a crude way.

      While i don´t like that definition very much (since it means that same actions are harassment or not depending on who does it, and who it is done to), it seems to be how that word is most commonly used, so i went with it.

    • Derannimer says:

      Don’t take the bet. I’m a 32-year old conventionally attractive woman, and I’ve never been sexually harassed. #NotAllWomen

    • Mustard Tiger says:

      If I (middle-aged male) have ever been sexually harassed, I must not have been paying attention.

  47. JASSCC says:

    I was confused about how to answer the conversion question re: religion. I have dropped the religion I fervently participated in and believed in in my childhood and on up to about age 20, but I have not become an atheist, nor have I converted to another religion. However I have a leaning towards different religious beliefs. I don’t think this qualifies as having “converted” to another religion, but it’s not the same as staying in the religion I grew up in, nor have I become an atheist.

    • Dragor says:

      Out of curiosity, what religion and what leaning?

      • JASSCC says:

        I was raised with a perhaps slightly more liberal than average (my father thought evolution was compatible with a “literal” reading of Genesis! … don’t ask how) but intensely practiced (typically at least some of our family attended two to three church services weekly, we did lots of other participation in church activities and service to the church, daily devotional times were strongly encouraged and modeled by my parents, there were often family bible reading at the dinner table, and we were charged with an obligation from adolescence to “witness” to others) evangelical protestantism.

        Upon leaving that path forever around age 20, nigh on 30 years ago, I have been a quasi-agnostic leaning pantheist. I’ve never found a good name for this belief system, but it’s essentially the suspicion that God probably exists, or more precisely that the statement “God exists” is meaningful and probably true for some non-trivial definition of God (but again, I lean pantheist, so not Jehovah). I have no membership in any religious organization or community, nor have I attended any meetings with others, but over time I’ve become attracted to the philosophy of advaita, and some of the religious precepts arising from it. For what it’s worth, it seems to me that a particular perspective on God is almost totally optional in that context.

        Based on this history, I marked myself as not having converted, because I haven’t converted to anything.

        • JASSCC says:

          It occurs to me that the religious-conversion-oriented questions could probably capture more of the meaningful possibilities — including those that apply to me — by including about whether one had left the religion of one’s youth (which is _not_ synonymous with becoming an atheist), or whether one had changed one’s religious beliefs and opinions radically beyond another denomination of the same faith (which also is _not_ synonymous with converting, since converting is a formal process). This would better include people who have left the religion of their your and changed religious orientation later in life but who aren’t quite the same kind of “joiners” as those who become atheists or convert formally.

  48. edd91 says:

    Some feedback on the survey:

    1. The first question on noticing the two ‘the’ in the sentence on the image, I scrolled down and saw the answers before the image, so it was a give away
    2. The question have you attended a SSC meetup doesn’t exhaustively cover the No options to provide a default No, or in my case, ‘No, not yet’
    3. The red/brown cards are tough for someone with red green colorblind

  49. Gazeboist says:

    Will we be able to view our personal results via the random ID string?

  50. Gazeboist says:

    1) The system we have is pretty lousy and not a great thing to build on, but dismantling it is not something I believe we are equipped to do and the incremental fix failure modes seem distinctly less bad than the dismantling failure modes.

    2) Where are my maybes? I am an extremely ambivalent and uncertain person and would like to be able to express that please.

    3) AUGH PLACEBO ANSWER. I know I trend towards moderate answers. What should I pick? Maybe 5 to counteract? 3, to express this fact? What the hell is Scott even going to do with this. 4. The answer is 4.

    • 10240 says:

      People who insist upon a yes or no answer just don’t know how complicated things really are

      Well, it depends on what the question is. But people who insist upon a 1 to 7 answer to this question definitely don’t know how complicated things are.

  51. TK-421 says:

    Proposal: maybe replace heterosexual/homosexual with gynophilic/androphilic in the orientation question? As it stands, that question interacts with the gender identity question in a way that makes it hard for me to decide which way to answer. (Possibly I am unusual in this respect, but I predict there are enough gender-variant people among the readership here that it’s not unique to me.)

    • Toby Bartels says:

      Yes, please! I’ll still answer bisexual, but if you increase the precision to even that of the Kinsey scale (which is still less precise than the 1–10 scale used in a lot of questions in the survey), then I’ll answer slightly gynophilic. But I won’t answer slightly heterosexual or slightly homosexual! Those concepts don’t really apply to me, except in a purely mechanical sense.

    • Null42 says:

      I suspect the terms would probably confuse more people due to their lack of familiarity–a traditional macho hetero guy might pick ‘androphilic’ due to him identifying more with traditional masculinity, etc. But I’m a newbie and the terms might be well-known?

      • Gazeboist says:

        It’s probably a crapshoot whether people know it already, but you could solve that problem by just providing definitions.

      • Radu Floricica says:

        Yeap, I’d definitely be confused and it would turn a 0.5 second question into 3 minutes of google, even with definitions.

        Maybe just add the point of reference for heterosexual/homosexual?

        • Gazeboist says:

          How the hell does it become three minutes of googling?

          – Gynosexual: attracted to women.
          – Androsexual: attracted to men.

          All it does is remove your own gender from the equation. Any other issues were already present.

          • Radu Floricica says:

            I’m curious?

          • Deiseach says:

            How the hell does it become three minutes of googling?

            But all heterosexual is “attracted to not your gender” and homosexual “attracted to your gender”, so what is complicated about that?

            The complications arise when people go “but I don’t identify with a single or any gender/I’m attracted to all genders not just one/I don’t believe in the gender binary/does this include trans [gender I’m attracted to] because I’m only attracted to cis [gender I’m attracted to]/there is no cis/trans/nonbinary option” and so on.

            The same would go for gyno/androsexual: “I’m attracted to both/are you including trans as well as cis here/is that based on the gender identification of the person I am attracted to or only their outward presentation, because my current paramour presents as [this gender] for social and family reasons but identifies as [that gender]” and so on.

            In sum, the SSC commentariat is the worst possible sample set of respondents to try out “yes/no/pick a number from 1-7” type questions on! Our motto: let no nit remain unpicked! 🙂

          • Toby Bartels says:

            The same would go for gyno/androsexual

            But it’s not the same, since the very first complication that you listed for hetero/homosexual is no longer relevant:

            I don’t identify with a single or any gender

            By separating your gender from the gender of your attractors, things are simpler. Complications with the gender of your attractors remain, but at least complications with your own gender are avoided (or placed into a separate question).

          • Gazeboist says:

            I’m curious?

            Oh. You seemed to imply that the 3 minutes of google were either bad or at least obligatory.

      • A1987dM says:

        So word it as “You’re sexually attracted to *men *women *both *neither *I’d rather not say”.

    • Dragor says:

      Gynophilic! I like it!

  52. Controls Freak says:

    Three comments.

    On the, “What is most similar to the target shape,” I weighted the definite singular as being significant (that is, the overall shape was a single shape, while the individual pieces were a multiplicity). Curious if others had the same linguistic reasoning.

    When comparing lengths of tables, I’ve always had an ambiguity on what people mean by “length” versus “width”. In one sense, I think people identify the long side of the long/short sides as the “length” of an object. But then I was unsure whether I should be comparing the “long side” of each or cementing the “long” axis as the vertical axis, because the higher aspect ratio object fixed it. I think this question is trying to capture an optical phenomenon rather than this ambiguity, so again curious if anyone else has the same concern.

    In one of the external tests, the statement was, “I do not think it is normal to get emotionally upset upon hearing about the deaths of people you did not know,” and that just throws up all the alarm bells I have about the word “normal”.

    Oh wait, one more. I found the palindrome question mildly infuriating, but I sucked it up and stuck with a strict definition.

    • Null42 says:

      If you want to laugh, I remembered him asking about the alt-right, saw the parentheses in the palindrome question, and thought, ‘I hope this isn’t where he’s going with this.’

  53. Should the SAT question include the year they were taken, since at some point the tests were renormed?

    Should the question about employment include “retired” as an option?

    There is a problem with asking libertarians to locate themselves on a left right axis. If libertarian counts as right wing then I am extreme right wing. But if you tested degree of right wingness by policy questions I would come out very far from there, given my views on immigration and drug laws.

    • Nornagest says:

      The difference from renorming works out to about five IQ points across most of the test’s range — it’s probably small enough to get lost in the noise, especially since I expect most of the people here aren’t old enough to have taken the pre-renorming version.

      • Redland Jack says:

        I want to say that if you are about 41 years old, you scored under the old version of the test and if you are 40 your score was renormalized.

        Of course, if you took the old one, there should be an easy way to get the conversion (I graduated high school in 1995 and on my transcripts both scores were shown. If I recall correctly, a 710 verbal goes to 780 and a 770 math goes to 790.)

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          I’m 39 and last took the SAT in January of 1995 just prior to the April renorming. Presumably I would have scored higher if I took it 9+ months later during my senior year of high school (and not just due to the renorming).

  54. Skeptical Wolf says:

    Am I the only one skeptical of and/or confused by the Big 5 Conscientiousness number? The test seemed to have an awful lot of questions about tidiness and organization. But the wikipedia article for conscientiousness defines it as “Conscientiousness implies a desire to do a task well, and to take obligations to others seriously.”. I have a perpetually cluttered home and workspace; I commonly leave things wherever I was last interacting with them. I also describe myself as impulsive, particularly in matters of recreation (I get uncomfortable if I don’t have a substantial block of unplanned time in my schedule). However, I also have a reputation for pushing for higher quality than my peers in code reviews (I’m a software engineer). And I’m usually the first person called in multiple social groups because I’ve demonstrated dependability more consistently than some of my more organized friends.

    Looking at other people I know, I can easily fill in several examples of people in all combinations of tidiness/untidiness and conscientious/unconscientious (using the wikipedia definition). This leads me to believe that I may not be a strange outlier here.

    I get that these tests involve a lot of assumptions and generalizations that don’t account for the fullness of human diversity, but this one seems particularly weird to me. Is there a link that I’m missing here? Am I just a weird individual in a group with several individuals who are weird in the same way?

    Alternatively, am I using an incorrect definition (in which case this confusion is just what I get for relying too much on Wikipedia)?

    (In case anyone cares, the test scored me at 46.)

    • Nornagest says:

      It occurred to me that my Conscientiousness score would have been much, much lower if I’d taken the quiz in college, because I hadn’t developed cleanliness habits then. I don’t think my actual personality has changed that much.

    • Nick says:

      My Big 5 score was definitely different from in college because I’m not as stressed out anymore. That’s had a big impact on my neuroticism score.

    • donteverrunbad says:

      Was your household cluttered and untidy growing up?

    • Yrke says:

      other big online five tests usually break out conscientious differently. this one seemed to be hyper focused on tidiness – my score is usually much higher than I got here.

    • gemmaem says:

      Yeah, I got a 5 on conscientiousness — which is fine, if tidy/untidy is what they wanted to go for. But I’m a pretty big rule-follower in real life, and I definitely take obligations seriously. I just don’t view tidiness as one of my important rules, and I’m generally only ever tidy out of obligation to others, so I view such tidiness as I have as being non-central to my personality, if that makes sense…

    • mindspillage says:

      Huh. I got a much lower C score than I expected–even lower than I used to get several years ago, despite knowing that I am much better at this than I used to be. I figured I was probably answering the questions judging myself according to my current standards (can do better, frequently don’t) as opposed to my old ones.

      But if the questions over-focused on tidiness that explains it too, since my life may be less cluttered, but my house isn’t.

  55. This may well be an intentional ambiguity on your side, but just in case it wasn’t: On “Reversal”, regarding the scale having flipped, I picked ‘No’, even though I’m not sure how you mean ‘notice’. I answered the question the way I intended – I didn’t have to go back on it when the switch was pointed out to me, though I of course double-checked to be sure – I just wasn’t conscious of the switch. To make a poor pun: I was evidently subconscious of the switch. I don’t know if that classes as ‘notice’ for you.

    • TK-421 says:

      Same here – I ‘noticed’ in the sense that I hit the correct button the first time, because I read the scale separately on each question, and I answered ‘Yes’ to the question about it, but I didn’t ‘notice’ in the sense of consciously being aware “hey, this switched relative to the previous questions” until it was pointed out.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        Ditto. I’m not a categorizer so don’t particularly care which thing is not like the others.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      I think there was even something in my brain that registered as “messy survey”, but just wasn’t important enough to go to conscious thought. Then I decided it’s just as well, because I don’t really want my conscious flooded with random details, and then I remembered the survey is created by a psychiatrist and just chose “no” and moved on.

    • Incurian says:

      It was very conscious for me, “Hey! He switched the order!”

  56. Maggie says:

    For your income question, I wish you would explicitly specify pre- or post-tax. I had the same thought last year.

    • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

      I wonder if this is a way to signal that only (maybe binary, not decimal) order of magnitude is requested.

      • Artischoke says:

        Where I live, the difference between pre-tax and post-tax (and social benefit contributions) is about a binary order of magnitude for me…thats some costly signalling in terms of the data quality you’re gonna get!

      • wintermute92 says:

        Do note that the question explicitly includes foreign respondents. There’s a COLA conversion, but the take-home difference between a high salary in Northern Europe and New Hampshire (or Monaco) is larger than a binary order of magnitude.

    • wintermute92 says:

      Yes, please. Especially with international respondents, the difference between a high income earner in e.g. New Hampshire and Sweden is enormous.

  57. keranih says:

    I picked up on multiple places where the questions were aiming at “deeper principles” rather than object level responses (the nazi/gay marriage ones, f’zample). I do wonder which of those questions I thought were shallow were actually more complex than I gave them credit for.

    (There’s room for some interesting digging into family religion and charity/big five correlations, etc.)

    • Nornagest says:

      I picked up on multiple places where the questions were aiming at “deeper principles” rather than object level responses (the nazi/gay marriage ones, f’zample)

      I’ve never seen a quiz like this that didn’t. If I were you, I’d just recognize that I could make the test say anything I wanted, move on, and try to answer it honestly anyway. It’s not like it’s going to be a career-limiting move or anything.

      I think most of the “shallow” ones are just mining for correlations, or serving as checks of others. The SAT is effectively an IQ test, for example, so if we get a lot of people whose SAT scores don’t match their IQ scores, then we know people are inflating one or the other (probably IQ).

  58. Matthew S. says:

    I gave what might be taken as inconsistent answers on the degree to which outcomes are based on choices v. luck. Regarding people in general, I said luck, because whether one is born in a slum in a developing country or an upper middle class neighborhood in a developed country is entirely luck. Asked about my own life, though, I took it as already given that I had a middle class US existence and my choices were therefore highly relevant.

    Also, civil disobedience is something to be carried out by civilians. Government officials have an obligation to follow the law or resign in protest.

    • keranih says:

      Also, civil disobedience is something to be carried out by civilians. Government officials have an obligation to follow the law or resign in protest.

      Do you then agree that “I was just following orders” is an acceptable answer to accusations of supporting inhumane or immoral regulations, when the option was to let your family fall into impoverishment?

      Also, depending on your definition, all of the US government, with the exception of serving military members (who rarely if ever hold non-military positions, and whose authority is limited to military members), is “civilians”.

      • Matthew S. says:

        No, I don’t agree, particularly in the actual case “I was just following orders” comes from, where you are choosing the certainty of death for other people over increased risk for yourself.

        “Civil disobedience” is analogous to “civil society”, not to the civilian/military distinction.

        • keranih says:

          the certainty of death for other people

          Then the analogy clearly doesn’t apply to things like gay marriage, which is hardly life or death.

          I hold that in government of, by, and for the people, one neither surrenders moral agency nor gains added moral authority when one takes up a gubmit job.

          (I also wonder how many people assumed that “clerk issues marriage cert for same sex couple even though that is illegal” was a hypothetical question.)

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            I hold that in government of, by, and for the people, one neither surrenders moral agency nor gains added moral authority

            One gains moral strictures. Power comes with responsibility. Noblesse oblige (even when the nobility is non-titled or non-hereditary).

      • Toby Bartels says:

        Surely just following orders is not a sufficient defense when you have the option of resigning in protest. Now, if your argument is that people can’t resign because it risks impoverishing their families, then THAT should be the defense, not just following orders. (‹I killed these people so that my family would not starve.› is an argument that I have SOME sympathy towards at least.)

        • Evan Þ says:

          Exactly. If “I can’t impoverish my family” is a sufficient defense for being a bureaucrat carrying out whatever orders the government gives you, then it should also be a sufficient defense for stealing, being a contract killer, etc. Since it doesn’t work there, it shouldn’t work for being a government bureaucrat.

          • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

            Well, not being a sufficient defense is not means it is not even a partial defense/attenuating factor/doesn’t deserve _some_ sympathy.

            Also, risk of starvation did work as a defense for small theft in some jury trials.

          • Deiseach says:

            So what about all the park rangers, the march for science, etc. who were very vocal about Trump being Not My President?

            Should they all have resigned rather than remain in their jobs and carry out protests?

            I’m interested to see how you apply your principle to a case where your sympathies are not engaged. If you say “yes, absolutely, if you think you don’t want to censor your reports then you should resign, otherwise shut up and do what the government instructs you” then I can accept that as a genuine argument. If it’s “but that’s different”, then you’re not arguing against the right of conscientious objection itself, you’re arguing “they should carry out the laws I like and agree with”.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Deiseach, in what cases? They can go ahead and March For Science in their free time, no problem. But on the job as a government employee, yes, go ahead and follow legal orders or else resign.

            And yes, I’m aware that “legal” can have a whole lot of wiggle room given the vague provisions in our Constitution. I’m not sure how my moral intuition would deal with that.

          • Deiseach says:

            They can go ahead and March For Science in their free time, no problem.

            It was supposed to be a non-partisan march, the trouble with that is (a) there were no corresponding “this march is all about celebrating science and encouraging the public perception of it!” in the previous administrations (b) it very fast got non-partisan with all the “let’s march for the inclusion of trans, gay, reproductive rights, POC, feminism, antifa, anti-capitalism and so on” that swamped the organisers and threatened to take over the idea.

            So right now I would say that if you’re involved in organising the next march or eager to go on one, you probably do have a partisan attitude and that then leads into “so will this bleed over into your work life?” questions. Particularly as the website right now has a petition up to “Tell Congress and the CDC that we demand science, not silence” and they have taken a position on net neutrality.

            And they’re starting to describe themselves as a movement (“THE MARCH IS OVER. THE MOVEMENT HAS JUST BEGUN”) with the likes of this:

            It’s time we held our political leaders accountable for supporting good science policy. It’s time we join together and demand that our leaders use science to inform their work and cast their votes for science.

            So it is getting political, and in a clearly “not the current administration or party” type of political way. It’s also claiming to be non-partisan, but some of its partners are a little bit murky in their aims and history – see this lot, who grew out of early eugenicists (and whenever I see Margaret Sanger’s name invoked, it makes me wary) and presumably still are working on the same “way too many black and brown people, let’s avert catastrophe due to the population explosion” principles.

            I think scientists should be able to March For Science. But if you’re a government-employed scientist marching in a political movement march, then that gets blurry.

            I don’t think people should be fired or disciplined for marching. But if we’re going to respect freedom of conscience or we’re going to demand follow legitimate orders, this has to be done consistently, not “Clerk refuses to issue licences for gay marriage – boo, hang the bitch!” and “Judge refuses to issue marriage licences as long as gay marriage is illegal – hurrah, heroine!”

          • The Nybbler says:

            this has to be done consistently, not “Clerk refuses to issue licences for gay marriage – boo, hang the bitch!” and “Judge refuses to issue marriage licences as long as gay marriage is illegal – hurrah, heroine!”

            That is consistent… with a 100% object level approach.

          • Evan Þ says:

            But, @Deiseach, I’m perfectly happy to let government-employed scientists (or bureaucrats, or whosever) march in political movement marches, campaign for individual candidates, publish propaganda sheets, and whatever – just as long as they don’t do it while at work, and follow legal orders while there.

          • rlms says:

            Sometimes an object level approach is correct. Thinking that e.g. humans eating animals is good but animals eating humans is bad is not a failure to consider things abstractly; things are not necessarily interchangeable just because you can phrase them in a certain way.

    • Toby Bartels says:

      I gave what might be taken as inconsistent answers on the degree to which outcomes are based on choices v. luck.

      I answered these the same as you did, for basically the same reasons. So your interpretation’s not completely unreasonable!

      Government officials have an obligation to follow the law or resign in protest.

      When I think about denying marriage licenses to gay couples when it’s legal, I want to cheer this. But I’m not so sure about it as it applies to granting licenses when that’s not legal. And surely we agree that the flip side of just following orders during the Holocaust, which is issuing fake passports to people trying to flee, is a commendable action.

      So I want to say that when government officials refuse to grant or enforce people’s rights, then their only moral option is to resign in protest, whereas when they refuse to deny people’s rights, then they are morally correct. But that gets perilously close to simply saying that government officials are allowed (morally) to break the law whenever I think that the law is wrong!

      I do agree with you that ‘civil disobedience’ is not the correct term for this.

    • Choice / luck: I made the same choices, for much the same reasons.

      That said, on top of your arguments, I still have a layer of inconsistency: I’m generally “harder” on myself than I am on others, quite by design – if I were as strict with other people as I am with myself it would get in the way of my wider goal to be reasonably friendly and compassionate. The failure mode here is how hard I am on myself, though – I should be adjusting that downward. (It’s tricky finding a safe way to yield, though, without sabotaging traits of mine that I find useful.)

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Yeah I always figure that being born white, male, healthy and upper middle class in the late 20th century America put me as one of the luckiest, wealthiest, most comfortable humans to ever exist. Lots and lots of other people are screwed based on luck. My luck is already confirmed so if I screw up from here that’s all on me.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        My luck is already confirmed so if I screw up from here that’s all on me.


        The regression to the mean will be that much harder.


  59. A1987dM says:

    Taken! Comments:

    * As a post-doc, I said “Academics (on the teaching side)” even though I’m not teaching any course in my current position.
    * In “Religious Change” I interpreted “atheist” as “atheist, agnostic or otherwise non-religious” otherwise the answers aren’t mutually exhaustive.
    * In “Subreddit”, “Discord” etc. I interpreted “don’t want” as “don’t want now” rather than “don’t want in the foreseeable future” otherwise the answers aren’t mutually exhaustive, but 1. the latter is how I’d naturally interpret such answers in isolation and 2. are you sure you don’t care about the difference between “I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I might later” and “I’m not interested”?
    * In “Political Disagreement I” and “II”, “might be right” and “seem pretty wrong” aren’t actually mutually exclusive! So I also based my answers on connotations, and that’s why I picked the second answer to the first question and vice versa even though that might sound nuts.
    * In “Political Disagreement III”, can’t I have “They play about an equally big role?”
    * In “The System”, can’t I have “is better that outright lawlessness but could do with a few major radical reforms”?
    * In “Immigration” do you mean legal immigration only or illegal immigration too? It’s possible to believe e.g. that more people should be legally allowed to immigrate but more effort should be put into stopping others. (My answer was the average between the two possible interpretations.)
    * In “Gay Marriage”, I pretended “legally recognized” meant “treated the same as straight marriage” — my actual position is that no marriage should be recognized by the law (i.e. the way the law treats a couple should depend on whether they live together and whether they have dependent children, not on whether they had an expensive ceremony in formal wear) — but if I had just voted “should not” I would sound like I think gay marriage shouldn’t be recognized but straight marriage should.

    • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

      Re: marriage — being roommates is not the same as committing to making some economic deciions jointly. A marriage without children is not fully externally observable, so some kind of legal contract could make sense.

      In the ideal world, the structure of such contracts could be made more flexible and more up to date with all the social changes of the last century. In the real world, recognition of foreign contracts w.r.t. making medical decisions is more complicated than international recognition of marriage…

      • 10240 says:

        The fact that marriage is valid in any jurisdiction despite differences in their marriage law is a risk factor, not a feature. You make a contract under one set of terms, and if you move to another country/state, you suddenly have signed a different set of terms that you may or may not find acceptable. Wrt. medical decision making, that should definitely be an explicit contract, rather than a power automatically delegated by marriage or kinship.

        • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

          Well, the world is a mess. This is not limited to any subset of questions.

          The marriage similarities are large enough (among vaguely similar countries) that an actually recognizable contract would be obviously better, but for many people the current state is still better than complete lack of trans-border recognition.

          My argument is that some kind of contracts makes sense in a single-country case, and multiple-country case is a mess which is just good enough to avoid widespread will to demolish it, and which happens to push out any actually good solutions.

    • wanderingimpromptu says:

      no marriage should be recognized by the law (i.e. the way the law treats a couple should depend on whether they live together and whether they have dependent children, not on whether they had an expensive ceremony in formal wear)

      Marriage is an extremely strong signal about how long a couple will stay together. The per-year break up rate for married couples is roughly 1-3% for couples who have been together 5 years or more. The per-year break up rate for unmarried couples of the same duration is 10-20%. That is a HUGE difference when compounded. (If you include couples of <5 years duration, the break up rate for married couples is still under 5%, and for unmarried couples it's 20-70%).


      It makes sense for stable family units to be treated differently under the law than unstable family units, and marriage is still the best way to predict whether a family unit is stable.

      • 10240 says:

        It makes sense for stable family units to be treated differently under the law than unstable family units

        Why? I don’t even see the need to have any kind of special legal treatment for family units. Just have certain benefits for couples having children.

      • Andrew Cady says:

        It makes sense for stable family units to be treated differently under the law than unstable family units, and marriage is still the best way to predict whether a family unit is stable.

        But how do you justify “predicting” instead of observing (which is the alternative suggested)?

        I mean, sure, marriage may predict who will still be together in 5 years, but when 5 years later comes along, you’re better off observing whether they’re still together, rather than just relying on the old prediction.

        • wanderingimpromptu says:

          Because you’re trying to evaluate whether the couple will be together in the future, not whether they’re together now.

          You can argue about whether the law should privilege couples based on whether they will be together in the future, and I have thoughts on that which I don’t have time to express right now. But I think that’s the intent: wanting to recognize that some pairs of people have structured their long-term decisions around each other, which has certain financial and personal implications.

          • Andrew Cady says:

            Because you’re trying to evaluate whether the couple will be together in the future, not whether they’re together now.

            The whole question is: why are you trying to do that?

            I don’t believe that “prediction” was ever intended or put forth as a rationale for legally recognizing marriage. The marriage is supposed to legally bind the couple — it is supposed to affect their incentives and future, not predict it.

            wanting to recognize that some pairs of people have structured their long-term decisions around each other, which has certain financial and personal implications

            You can directly observe whether long-term decisions relying on the commitment of the other were actually made or not. In particular, you can observe whether (1) children were born; (2) a career was abandoned; (3) a house was shared. These are the primary long-term implications.

    • Deiseach says:

      the way the law treats a couple should depend on whether they live together and whether they have dependent children, not on whether they had an expensive ceremony in formal wear

      But for secular/civil marriage, the big ceremony has nothing to do with it. You go to the court house or the council office or wherever, get the licence, have the registration, that’s it.

      People only do the big occasion because of tradition and because humans in the mass like parties.

      As for the living together/dependent children, there are people who carefully avoid all semblance of such because they don’t want to be on the hook for child support/it would affect their benefits if they were assumed to be living together taking care of their kids/there are those – mainly men right now – who argue very vehemently that just because a woman got pregnant, this does not mean that they should be trapped into taking responsibility for a child they never wanted or intended. Marriage has nothing to do with these cases, so how would you propose a law to deal with “yes Jim, you had a kid with Annie when you were living together, and now it doesn’t matter that you’ve broken up and never got married – that’s your kid and you are responsible for part of the care-taking and upbringing” where Jim does not want to know or be involved and would have preferred if Annie had got the abortion he offered to pay for?

      A government recognised legal bond of some kind at least enables coping with these situations, rather than the free-for-all at present where marriage, cohabitation, casual encounters, childbearing outside of marriage or a committed relationship, multiple relationships and fathering of children, and the like happen.

      • Toby Bartels says:

        I don’t know how it works in Ireland, but in the United States, the law handles all of this just fine, as long as the facts are not in dispute. If you father or birth a child, then you have, in theory, all of the rights and responsibilities of parenthood, regardless of marital status or whether you or the other parent want you to have them, unless you are found unfit.

        You can voluntarily give up your legal parenthood, but only if there is another potential parent willing to adopt. Conversely, you cannot adopt unless there is a natural parent willing to give up their rights (or who has been found unfit or who has died). Short of death or abuse, there are always legally two parents, in theory.

        If the facts are in dispute, then it’s more complicated, and then marriage plays a role in the default assumptions. Similarly if the facts are known but nobody has bothered to tell the courts (which is why I occasionally said ‘in theory’ above).

        (What I have said here is true in at least some States and possibly in all of them.)

  60. Matthew S. says:

    Why was pragmatism removed as a political option?

  61. littskad says:

    You should have to look at the brown card, the 8 card, and the 3 card. (The 3 card could have an even number on the other side, too.)

  62. mintrubber says:

    I failed the surgery riddle, although I suspect it’s because I have a bias towards expecting people to only have one parent.

  63. cabalamat says:

    It would be nice if the Moral Views question provided a short description of what each means:

    Moral Views
    With which of these moral philosophies do you MOST identify?
    Accept / lean toward consequentialism
    Accept / lean toward deontology
    Accept / lean toward virtue ethics
    Accept / lean toward natural law
    Accept / lean towards contractualism
    Other / No answer

    • I remember people said the same thing in the last survey. Take heed, Scott, for next time. You used some description for political categories, you could have added some definitions for these. I myself know I am a consequentialist, but obviously there are others who haven’t looked at these issues.

      • johan_larson says:

        Yes, that question assumes a great deal of knowledge of moral philosophy. The terms are vaguely familiar to me, but not so familiar I could confidently apply any of them to myself.

  64. rlms says:

    So, who’s the least autistic SSC reader? I got 16, can anyone beat that?

    • ohwhatisthis? says:

      I got 16…but dosen’t that test obviously show some critiques….or at the least, some obvious subtype stuff going on?

      It seems that 25 appears to be one of the cutoff scores for someone having an indication of autism/Aspergers or whatever.

      But a major critique I have is this

      There are 126 trillion 410 billion 606 million 437 thousand 752 different ways to reach that cutoff-score. (Its a combinatorics formula, the number of ways of choosing 25 out of 50 objects)

      With *quite* a few questions, such as
      I would rather go to a library than to a party.
      obviously being related to various aspects of introversion(rather than other qualities somewhat mentally associated with autism)

      And these questions
      ” I find it difficult to work out people’s intentions.”
      Obviously being subject to various psychological quirks that have some resemblance to the Donning Krueger effect. (Rest assured, every overconfident bozo is going to answer yes to that question)

      And this

      “I enjoy social occasions.”

      Sadly probably correlated to various social desirability factors, which has been a noted critique of the test in various psychological literature.

      It doesn’t appear you can simply tack on a simple descriptor of none-mild-moderate-severe. This is absolutely not equivalent to a mild-moderate-severe fever/fatigue model in medicine, even though it appears to be treated as such.

    • christhenottopher says:

      Got a 9 here, so got you beat handily. Though I’m pretty sure a even somewhat more extraverted person would even beat my score. There are enough SSC readers I’m sure there are a few life-of-the-party folks here scoring super low.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      12, but given that I grew up convinced I was at least “engineer”, I’m taking this as big proof that people can change. I to E as well, over 20 years.

  65. ManyCookies says:

    On the riddle (rot13):

    V nafjrerq “Gur ‘obl’ oebhtug va sbe rzretrapl fhetrel jnf gur qehax qevire”, vf gung na npprcgnoyr nafjre? Gubhtu zl irel svefg gubhtug jnf “Gur fhetrba jnf tnl”, juvpu vs guvf jnf npghnyyl na vzcyvpvg nffhzcgvba dhrfgvba gura V snvyrq vg pbzvpnyyl uneq.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      Lots of people feeling bad on this question, me included. I even looked up the numbers, and the stated answer is by far the most likely. I’m going with “my bad” here.

  66. johnjohn says:

    I especially enjoyed the survey survey and am looking forward to next years meta-survey where you’ll survey our views on survey surveys

  67. philipkd says:

    Interesting, this is my second time taking an OCEAN, and they differ. Took them 2 months apart. I am hungry, though:

  68. David says:

    I worry that using the current time as a random number generator is insufficient for the series of sexual harassment questions, because the correlations will be wrong. Someone with no history of sexual harassment will go through those questions at less than 10 seconds each, so they will be anticorrelated (if you hit a “1” on one question, you definitely won’t on the next). I hypothesize that someone who has history that they prefer not to share on one question is more likely to have a history they prefer not to share on the next, making it correlated. But at the very least it won’t be anti-correlated.

    In other words if you see someone with “Prefer Not To Share” on several of them in a row, it’s better-than-chance odds that those are real.

    I tried to wait at least 20 seconds between all pairs where I would naturally have been fine sharing, but I doubt everyone did.

    Recommend using something like this instead:

    • Nick says:

      Yeah, I deliberately lengthened the pause between each of those questions for about a minute so as not to introduce biases like that.

    • anonymousskimmer says:

      I explicitly didn’t fire up a seconds clock since I wanted to answer the questions.

      • Eep; I figured this would happen when I read the instructions, based on that it took me a while to understand, but just so you know, if this happens again, you’ll want to go along with it! 🙂

        From what I understand, the setup’s there not primarily for the sake of the person coming across that set of questions as an individual, but for the sake of the other people coming across the set of questions who prefer not to say, but who might be scared that it’ll be interpreted as the one or other answer. For example, it’s fairly natural to bias-read “prefer not to say whether I’ve sexually harrassed someone” as “have sexually harrassed someone and am embarrassed about it”.

        By ensuring that some of the “prefer not to say” answers are automatically bogus (i.e. making people that are happy to answer the question as yes or no (like you and me) pick “prefer not to say”), you’re stripping that answer of what it might be implicated to mean.

        So, if Scott uses this trick again, please play along. 🙂

        (I grant that a handful of people ignoring the instructions probably doesn’t harm the overall effect, though, but the instructions were unusual enough and unexplained enough that I have the suspicion a lot of people skipped them, thinking they didn’t need to play along.)

        …mind you, there’s also a chance I’m overthinking this and am being led astray by the wording in the survey. But I’m reasonably sure this was the intention.

  69. milesgrimes says:

    Why is the survey geared towards the old and new SAT? The last time I took the new SAT was in 7th grade; by the time undergraduate applications had rolled around, I took only the ACT (my new SAT score was consequently a translation from the ACT).

    • Incurian says:

      To add to this, I’ve never taken any SAT/ACT/IQ test, but I have taken the GRE and the LSAT. Don’t know how common a situation that is.

      • Deiseach says:

        I’ve never taken any of these tests, but if anyone likes, I can give my Leaving Certificate marks (these are from the days of the dinosaurs before there were any kind of fine distinction in the various grades and you just got a straight A, B, etc.) 🙂

  70. Irenist says:

    1. As others have said, some sort of “Christian Democrat” (“socially Pio Nono, fiscally Clement Attlee,” as writer Matthew Walther says) ought to be a political option.
    2. Relatedly, how does one answer the political spectrum question if one is, depending on the issue, both a left and a right wing extremist?
    3. The 10% charitable giving question lacked an option for “I intend to start giving 10% as soon as I can afford it, but still don’t intend to sign any pledge about it.”

    • theredsheep says:

      I was in a similar boat. I picked “conservative” even though I’m not, just because I felt like I should pick something, but I loathe the lot of them. I kind of like what I’ve heard of distributism, but find Chesterton’s style intolerable and don’t know how one would adapt it to today’s economy. A lot of those questions, my answer was “it depends what you mean by X, Y, and Z.” I have this problem with most surveys, though, so it’s not Scott’s fault in particular.

      • Nick says:

        I kind of like what I’ve heard of distributism, but find Chesterton’s style intolerable and don’t know how one would adapt it to today’s economy.

        The Distributist Review actually mysteriously started up again a few weeks ago. I haven’t read any of the new content yet, but it looks like it’s a few of the usual living authors, like Thomas Storck, and then a bunch of dead ones, like Dorothy Day and Fr. Vincent McNabb. Only one from Chesterton so far. 🙂

    • Toby Bartels says:

      On (2), I figured that I’m about 70% leftwing extremist and about 30% rightwing extremist, so I answered accordingly (either a 3 or a 7; I forget which way the scale ran).

    • Deiseach says:

      “socially Pio Nono, fiscally Clement Attlee”

      I’m more a Leo XIII kinda gal 😀

  71. Elizabeth says:

    The Blog Referrals and Post Referrals questions – “If you were referred here by another blog, please say which one. Otherwise, leave this blank.” / “If you were referred here by a link to a specific post, what post was it?” – don’t clearly refer to Slate Star Codex itself or the 2018 survey. I wasn’t sure how to answer.

    • markk116 says:

      I think it is safe to assume that it is the blog in general. Especially since the one requirement for the survey is having read one other post.

  72. Could you add Pescetarian to the Vegetarian options next year?

  73. jkcunningham says:

    On the two questions with similar “errors” (the Nazi question and the civil disobedience question), I noticed the same two errors others have commented on and left both blank because none of the answers seemed right. But given the amount of “tests within tests” Scott often conducts (e.g. repeated word tests), I kept wondering if there wasn’t something like that going on. I ran them by my wife who is not a reader of this blog. She saw nothing wrong with the first of the two, arguing that the peaceful Nazi’s were still violent by ideology, and so B&C was a correct answer. I am way more literal and couldn’t allow this so we were at an impasse on that one. But on the second she pointed out (she is an editor) that the conjunction “and” actually connected what could be two totally separate statements. “A government clerk participates in civil disobedience” is one statement and “refuses to marry gay people” is another not necessarily related statement. Since it is given to us as “truth” it makes A&C correct. She opined that perhaps the error in the first question was designed to make us suspicious of the second and the real test was whether or not we saw this. Probably working way to hard on this…

  74. zenmore says:

    The economic circumstances when growing up question doesn’t consider if people had changing or fluctuating circumstances, which can be common among those who immigrate. My family was pretty well off in China but fell on much harder times when we emigrated. I selected one of the choices anyhow, but would appreciate something to clarify questions of that kind.

    • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

      Yes, would be nice.

      I just skipped this question. Even without leaving the city this can fluctuate wildly, especially in «interesting times».

  75. Evan Þ says:

    I started the linked autism test, but then gave up because I don’t want to know the answer.

    Anyone else in this boat?

    • Bugmaster says:

      I took the autism test, and was disappointed, because most of its questions could be summed up as, “how autistic do you think you are ?”. It’s too prone to self-bias, IMO.

      • Toby Bartels says:

        I think that you get 5 extra points for making that objection. ;–)

        • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

          On the other hand, in another test with different wording of questions I just failed to percieve the opposed options as meaningful oppositions… How many points would I get for that?

          (Answer: doesn’t matter, because I couldn’t answer the old test anyway… in the current test I got 26)

      • Nearly Takuan says:

        On a lot of those questions I found myself thinking about how my partner (diagnosed autistic) would answer them, wondering whether my answer for myself was too non-autistic just because I do the neurotypical and emotional work for both of us whenever she shuts down (she does the same for me occasionally, but basically I know I talked to people and left the house way less before we met), wondering whether my answer was too autistic because of mirror neurons, and wondering whether I was over-correcting or overthinking.

        I think it’s a fairly well-known (and therefore I would hope adjusted-for) problem that tests framed as agree/disagree self-assessment are not that different from just asking “how much like X do you think you are?”. Implicit-bias style tests do more to mitigate that particular bias but may introduce some issues of their own.

        • wanderingimpromptu says:

          Agreed, I have a lot of problems with self-evaluation surveys. I often catch myself answering based on a very old cached self-identification, or answering aspirationally. Sometimes I get confused about whether a trait describes me and answer by comparing myself to people I know, but the people I know are definitely not a representative sample of the general population. Or I’ll compare myself to my idea of a “typical person,” which is some cobbled together mess from stereotypes and media. But I haven’t figured out a good way of answering a question like “Are you helpful” without resorting to one of these approaches.

          I liked the second gender survey much better bc the questions are much better defined.

          But maybe I’m a little biased bc a mild “undifferentiated” fits my self-perception much better than the strongly masculine result I got from the first (I’m a woman) 😛

    • As I was taking the test, I was thinking that only those with great attention to details would answer all the questions the way they intended. I kept forgetting which side was agree / disagree, and it was hard to tell what line I was on. I did score as slightly on the Autism scale, which might be right for me, but I doubt I answered everything as I meant to, so who knows what that means.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      There was an article I read a long time ago, from Slashdot. It said that between being a social person and a things person, over a lifetime it’s much better to born the latter. Because social skills you can actually learn, even if you have to fake it for a while, and it’s much more likely you’ll end up a good, well rounded successful person.

      I’m almost 40, and over the past 20 years I slowly turned from an introvert who didn’t understand the concept of “party” and was at least “very engineer” on the spectrum to an assertive extrovert with a 12/50 autism score.

      And there’s no faking involved – this year I chose to spend Christmas alone just for me time, and New Year’s Eve at a bar party where I’m likely to make new friends and hopefully meet ladies. I can legitimately swim in both ponds without effort, which is a lot more than I would have expected in my teens and 20s.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Because social skills you can actually learn, even if you have to fake it for a while, and it’s much more likely you’ll end up a good, well rounded successful person.

        And that’s BS. The people who are naturally social do well from day 1, continue to be successful through college, go into management, and become executives. After which they spend all day being told how great they are, and how important they are. If they need “things” people they hire them, pay them market rate (or, due to their better negotiation skills, a bit below), and make it quite clear to them that the “leadership” skills the executives have are far more important than the plebian technical skills the “things” people have, and tell them all about how they should be eternally grateful that the social people are around to make their work possible.

        There’s just no upside to being a “things” person compared to a “social” person, though it’s better than a “neither” person.

        • Andrew Cady says:

          Sounds like you’re doing something like comparing the top 0.1% of “people people” to the top 10% of “things people.” The average people person probably doesn’t have a college degree (the average person doesn’t) and therefore does not qualify for a management position. The average “things person” more likely works on cars (etc.) than programs computers.

          Your prototypical social person should not be in management, but (incidentally) should be female.

        • rlms says:

          If your definition of successful only includes executives and up, then I agree that it’s better to have 9/10 social skills and 1/10 technical than the converse. But I think it’s better to be 7,7 or 8,4 than 9,1 even with that definition of successful: look at how many billionaires studied engineering.

          However, I think most people have a different definition of successful. If you’re aiming for, say, 90th percentile income, I think you’re better of as a 2,8 than an 8,2.

        • The Nybbler says:

          At any given level, “people people” beat out “things people”. In any hierarchical organization, nearly all the “people people” will be above nearly all the “things people”. The military makes this 100% clear (almost all the officers being “people people”, with “leadership” being the explicit be-all and end-all), but corporate structures follow the same pattern. Lower-level “people people” become salespeople, lower-level “things people” become bolt-turners on an assembly line (until they get laid off). Income means something quite different, because “things people” have to pay cash money for everything. “People people” get access to a favor economy where they get things for free, and return the favors by exploiting the principal-agent problem.

          • Andrew Cady says:

            Nybbler, look at medical specialties for a counter-example to your claim; the “things-oriented” specialties make the most money.

            Also, we are really talking about two independent abilities here, and most of the top positions require competencies in both areas. I am pretty sure that an executive at a software company usually has to have some kind of objective competence in something other than schmoozing and I suspect that this may also be true of a high rank in the military. (The idea of the original claim was that you can obtain the two competencies at once more easily if you are more “thing-oriented” — not that only one competency is necessary.)

          • Bugmaster says:

            the “things-oriented” specialties make the most money.

            Yes, but I bet their people-oriented managers make significantly more.

          • People skills are not exclusive of systems skills. Good executives are drawn from the rare people who have a lot of both. Businesses are systems…systems made of people.

            People with good people skills and poor systems skills are liable to end up in modestly rewarded professions like nursing, teaching and customer service.

            Thing skills are at the lower end of the range of systems skills. PC repairers are less prestigious than coders, who are less prestigious than systems analysts and technical architects. The prestige increases with the level of abstraction.

          • rlms says:

            I don’t agree with your last paragraph. I think senior real (non-software) engineers are thingy not systemy.

        • Radu Floricica says:

          Look, I know it’s possible because I did it. I wasn’t a caricature of a nerd, but I did wear my glasses taped with scotch tape. Ok, so maybe I wasn’t far. And I’m not a social butterfly now, but I definitely am not just a things person any more.

          The argument I read (and now believe) was not that it’s inevitable or even easy – it’s that it’s _possible_. On the other hand, being a people person, it’s much much harder to learn things later in life. That, is close to impossible.

          I have a library full of psychology books. I delved deep into RedPill forums. Read from Dale Carnegie to Roy Baumeister. Made a lot of mistakes. It’s not easy – but it is possible.

          As for successful people, honestly, I can’t name a single billionaire who isn’t also at least senior-level in his field. From Warren Buffet to Bill Gates to Elon Musk to Peter Thiel… they’re all “things people” first.

          Management? Sure. But managers play with other people’s money, so you get a lot of fakes. People who play with their own money and win… no fakes there.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It’s not that social people can’t learn “things” later in life. It’s that it wouldn’t occur to them to try, because they don’t need to, because any thing they need done they can get someone to do it for them.

            Maybe things people can learn some social skills. Actually doing so is still like trying to run a marathon with razor blades in your shoes, and you’re still going to be outclassed by any natural social person.

      • Null42 says:

        A lot of what I was going to say has been said better already, but I’d add that this sounds like something the Slashdot guys (who are on an open source IT forum, after all) were going to say to make themselves feel better.

        People skills have knock-on positive effects in other aspects of life–you’ll have an easier time finding a partner, you’ll find better deals and jobs through people you know and so on. You’ll probably be happier due to the increased social interaction–hard as this may be for a lot of us to believe, above a certain social-skills level that actually is fun and rewarding.

        The only thing that’s confusing the issue is the very high salaries paid to a few things people during tech booms, and the fact that a few of the new billionaires have been techies–but for every Zuckerberg there’s a Carlos Slim who schmoozed his way up.

        EQ > SQ. Don’t let a few techie billionaires fool you.

        That’s a separate question from value to society, of course. How much money did Alexander Fleming make off penicillin, and how much did the companies making everything from penicillin G through piperacillin-tazobactam make? How many people did he save, and how many did the executives in charge of marketing the drugs save?

        • Radu Floricica says:

          Somebody said it very well above: businesses are systems. You can charm your way up the corporate ladder, no problem, but if you want to actually create value, you need both. There are very few niches where you can get by with only one of them.

          As for people skills being more useful, sure, they are, especially in the beginning. Who knows, I might have gotten laid in high-school. And I still haven’t figured out the love life well enough. But there is progress, huge progress, clear progress. And surprisingly… it comes just like any other endeavor: with work, and knowledge, and willingness to accept the truth.

          I think the last part is underestimated quite a lot. Speaking of love life: I had a lot of failures in the past I couldn’t explain. Guess what: I was fat. Not obese, just… soft and unattractive. It’s a nice lie that personality matters, but I had to have the knowledge, the willingness to accept it, and the willpower to put in the work. Is it a “people skill”? Depends on your definition, but it sure as hell gives me a boost in everything people related.

          Sometimes things are like that.

          • The Nybbler says:

            And surprisingly… it comes just like any other endeavor: with work, and knowledge, and willingness to accept the truth.

            And the truth is, if you’re a good things-oriented person with lousy social skills, the best you can expect is to work your entire life at the bottom level of a corporate hierarchy to make a decent living for yourself, while you watch the social-oriented people in the same organization make and spend ten times what you do, and retire early and rich. And your choices are to accept this, or to withdraw your support at the cost of having no living yourself.

        • rlms says:

          Carlos Slim studied civil engineering.

    • Winter Shaker says:

      I got 25 out of 50, which it said was ‘not autistic’, but it either didn’t say, or I didn’t notice where it said, what the cutoff was. Then reading through the comments, it is apparently 26, and there are questions where I might have given a different answer on a different day…

  76. Garrett says:

    Did you get IRB approval for this study?

  77. youzicha says:

    I would like to complain about the question categorizing the family income as “Poor, Below average/working-to-lower-middle class, Around average/middle class, Above average/upper middle class, Rich”.

    First, socio-economic class and income are seperate concepts. But in any case, the mapping seems off. Per wikipedia, the American working class are people without college degrees, which is something like 60% of the population. So the average person is working class. Upper-middle class is things like managers and people with postgraduate degrees; also per wikipedia it’s about 15% of the population, so saying that being above average makes you upper-middle class is also wrong.

    • apollocarmb says:

      Income determines socio-economic status so the question is s fine.

    • baconbacon says:

      So Bill Gates is (or was at one point) working class?

      • It’s a loose definition, so no. (Well, he could have been working-class at one point if he had a working-class background, but judging from his Wikipedia biography it sounds like his background was more middle class. Either way, I think most people would agree that founding a successful business is one way to qualify as middle class, besides getting a college degree; it’s just a path taken by a much smaller proportion of people, so “working-class = without college degree” works as a generalization.)

    • fion says:

      I agree with you. My family was definitely better off than average, but they weren’t upper-middle class. I think I put that one anyway.

  78. Emily says:

    I didn’t do all the tests when I took this. Now I want to do them. Can I do the survey again, put my string in, and just answer those questions that I didn’t answer before?

  79. SteveReilly says:

    Is there some trick for finding the circles in the optical illusion? I find that one absolutely baffling.

    • Randy M says:

      I found them in the lower right first, and they became harder to see as I then shifted my gaze in the opposite direction.

    • Baeraad says:

      Funny thing? The first time I glanced at that picture, I could swear I saw circles. Then I read the text and learned that I was supposed to look for circles, and when I looked back, the circles were gone and I couldn’t bring them back no matter what I did.

    • Nick says:

      This was the only optical illusion where it’s really easy for me to switch back and forth at will. The dancer I can with effort and the masks I can’t ever seem to; it’s just ordained one way or the other each time.

      • mintrubber says:

        I can switch the masks if I am very tired / running on low sleep. In this state I’m rubbish at riddles though.

    • I finally figured it out.

      Gur pvepyrf ner sbezrq ol gur ubevmbagny yvarf frcnengvat gur iregvpny yvarf bs fdhner cnaryf, juvpu pbagenfg jvgu gur fheebhaqvat iregvpny yvarf.

    • Bobby Shaftoe says:

      I had the opposite experience, where I immediately saw the image as a grid of circles. I had to spend some time to be able to see the image as consisting of something other than circles.

    • MissFortune says:

      Often I get mileage out of unfocusing my eyes, looking somewhere else and then refocusing them. I’m not sure how many others are able to relax their focus but if you can try that.

    • Even with the descriptions in this thread, I could not see them.

      Had to look up a solution online. Now cannot unsee.

      If anyone needs a solution like I did, here’s the link that helped me out:

      • Doctor Mist says:

        Thank you!

        I didn’t really think Scott and the whole SSC community was punking me, but it was beginning to be the most plausible explanation.

        It reminded me of when I first ran across random-dot stereograms, in Games Magazine, I took it to be a joke, not uncommon for Games, but then my wife and brother-in-law insisted that they saw images. Irritated the hell out of me.

        • I didn’t really think Scott and the whole SSC community was punking me, but it was beginning to be the most plausible explanation.

          Hah! This made me laugh… because it exactly describes my feelings about this illusion before I started hunting for solutions on the internet. 🙂 (Or rather, “Is this a meme I’m not clued in on?”, but close enough!)

          Glad I could help!

        • ohwhatisthis? says:

          Oh,that absolutely happens as some weird personality test too, putting on fake optical illusion as control questions.

          But since not everyone can see them, it supports, on some level, scp cognito-hazards that only effect 1-3rd of the population on a random basis

          I wonder if this says anything interesting about subliminal images in movies 😲.

        • A1987dM says:

          I didn’t really think Scott and the whole SSC community was punking me, but it was beginning to be the most plausible explanation.

          That’s what I first thought about people who said that The Dress was yellow and white, BTW.

  80. Baeraad says:

    Well, this was educational, because I had to look up the difference between “consequentialism,” “deontology” and “virtue ethics.”

    By my limited and new-found understanding of them, I would say I subscribe mostly to virtue ethics, for the record. Yeah, I know, I know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and all that – but I’m pretty sure that hell is where we’re all going anyway, so we might as well take the nice, paved road there instead of stumbling through the wilderness. 😉

    • TK-421 says:

      I’ve always hated that aphorism. The road to heaven is paved with good intentions too, it’s just better maintained.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      Yessss. And I REALLY wanted to answer “Consequentialism of course, but day to day deontology, because who can judge all the ramifications all the time?”. Ended up with the first because it’s the foundation (and I dislike rules), but it’s still an invalid answer if you count 99% of applicable instances.

      Process is something like: you make a set of rules (or you validate external rules) using consequentialism, and then you follow the fucking rules because you’re a stupid monkey who doesn’t know better, and you at least know that.

      • Incurian says:

        That’s not extremely dissimilar from my interpretation of natural law.

      • Baeraad says:

        Well, yeah, I think anyone who genuinely follows one principle all the time (as opposed to believing themself to be following a principle all the time, but actually rationalising all sorts of forays into other principles as being actually part of the one principle “if you just look at it the right way”) would have to be a bit crazy. What sort of person actually pushes a fat guy onto a train track to save five people further down the line? Or tells the Nazis that there are Jews hidden in the basement because the alternative would be lying? The philosophical equivalent to a scary religious fanatic, I’d say.

  81. Zeno of Citium says:

    Curious as to other people’s answers on this: I thought the longest on two questions. One was “what’s your favorite SSC post”, because there’s a lot of them and I had to compare a few favorites. The other was the placebo question, where I considered the relative merits of 3 and 5 for longer than was strictly necessary.

    • Baeraad says:

      I didn’t even have to think about that one. My favourite SSC post is the one that brought me here in the first place: “Beware The Man Of One Study.” 🙂

    • Randy M says:

      Not sure if it would be my favorite if I reread the blog, but “We who by slow decay” is again the first to come to mind.
      As for the placebo, I was leaning towards 3, then I thought maybe that would indicate to him that he should weight lower my other middle-of-the-road answers and went with 4, I think.

      • baconbacon says:

        I also chose 4, but I don’t think it had an effect (speculative).

        • Nick says:

          I chose 4 as well. I guessed when I chose it that it would be a lot more popular than the others, for the same reason that everyone picks C on a multiple choice quiz when they don’t know what to pick.

      • Deiseach says:

        On the placebo, I closed my eyes, wiggled the cursor about at random and then picked whichever number it landed closest to, which turned out to be 4.

    • Toby Bartels says:

      I knew that the favourite post would take forever to answer, so I skipped it. For the placebo question, I used the last second digit on the clock, since I already had that up for the sexual harassment questions. So these both took very little time for me in the end.

    • liskantope says:

      I happily chose “Right Is The New Left”, but I remember that in a previous SSC survey I chose (with some misgivings) “Niceness, Community, and Civilization” because in the moment I’d forgotten about “Right Is The New Left”.

    • zenmore says:

      I put in the category : Stuff I’ll Regret Writing. Pretty much every one of those posts is great because of the way they challenge the thinking in the liberal sphere.

      • 10240 says:

        Does Scott, in the spirit of his prediction calibrations, keep track of how many of them he actually regrets writing? 🙂

    • Skeptical Wolf says:

      I went with The Spirit of the First Amendment because it concludes with the best summation I’ve encountered of one of my most closely held political beliefs. Many SSC posts have given me things to think about, but few of them have also helped me explain my ideas to others.

      Regarding the placebo question, I am part of the good and noble team 4.

  82. phoenixy says:

    I thought the gender classification tests were a bit odd. The first one is a bunch of ambiguous adjectives that seems incredibly prone to people just answering however they think they are “supposed” to answer rather than in any way that correlates with personality. The second one I liked a lot more, given that it was a set of objective factual statements where I could give an answer that I was confident in, although a few of them (“I take stairs two at a time”, “I jump around when excited”) seemed to correlate at least as much with gendered physical characteristics [height and flat-chestedness] as gendered psychological ones. But interestingly I got pretty much the same scores on both.

    • Nick says:

      Yeah, I really didn’t like the one that was just a bunch of adjectives. That one gave me a much weaker signal than the other one—I was scarcely masculine and halfway to feminine, while on the one with factual statements I was “average” masculine and “low” feminine, which sounds a little more right. 102 M and 76 F on the adjectives one, 36% M and 22% F on the factual statements one.

    • A Kind Of Dog-Octopus says:

      I was kind of surprised to see that I got identical scores for male and female and thought it was a fluke. (47) But then, I got the same thing on the second test (103.) But it feels about right on reflection. I feel like in general these sorts of test work better than it seems like they should.

    • Toby Bartels says:

      Then maybe it says something about me that I scored especially feminine on the one that you think measures more how I think I ought to be rather than how I objectively am (where I scored pretty neutral, as I usually do on these tests).

    • Deiseach says:

      The BEM test is really culturally and chronologically bound, because it does have all these assumptions and is plainly not calibrated for misanthropes like me.

      So scoring low on all the warm fuzzy pink’n’girly questions leads it to classify me as “You are a RATIONAL-BRAIN therefore MALE, not an EMOTIONAL-HEART therefore FEMALE”. Nope, I’m just a very grumpy person who does not like other people and isn’t fulfilling the expectations of “women do the emotional labour in relationships like remembering birthdays”.

      I think it would be interesting to use the same questions but recalibrate the “this is the stereotype of gender roles” reasoning to take into account the changes over the years since 1971. I do think that would change the results people get, if “affectionate”, “understanding”, “warn” were re-wired to “not female gender stereotypes”.

      • Bugmaster says:

        I could be wrong, but by “you are male” they probably mean something like, “human behaviors are bimodally distributed; each mode is strongly correlated with a specific set of chromosomes; your behavior is closest to the mode that correlates to XY”. This is not entirely the same as saying “you like puppies therefore you are a woman”.

      • Aapje says:

        FYI, masculine is not the same as male and feminine not the same as female.

    • Bugmaster says:

      Yeah that is my issue with most of these tests; they seem too easy to game, deliberately or inadvertently.

      • Nick says:

        An interesting exercise would be to ask folks to try to get the lowest or highest score possible on the given test (e.g. “Go for 100% masculine and 0% feminine” or “Go for 50 autism points”). Tests where folks do more poorly at that are perhaps less easily gamed. I can certainly see value in administering a test that’s less easily gamed too—I’d be more confident in the result, for one.

    • Rebecca Friedman says:

      Huh – I assumed “jump around when excited” would be coded feminine, because I do a version of it that I code as very feminine (not gonna describe more, but preeeeetty sure I’m coding correctly). But that should negatively correlate with flat-chestedness, shouldn’t it? So was it actually not coded feminine, or am I missing something…?

      (No argument on the stairs.)

      • nimim.k.m. says:

        Huh – I assumed “jump around when excited” would be coded feminine, because I do a version of it that I code as very feminine (not gonna describe more, but preeeeetty sure I’m coding correctly). But that should negatively correlate with flat-chestedness, shouldn’t it? So was it actually not coded feminine, or am I missing something…?

        I agree, I believe “jump around when excited” is coded stereotypically feminine instead of masculine, especially in teenagers and adults, though most strongly I’d code it as “things that children do”. However, that kind of outward, emotional behavior is clearly not considered very manly, so I’d expect that men who are predisposed to display that kind of reaction would tend to tone it down.

  83. no one special says:

    Crashed my browser at 90% of the way through. Grr.

    Many questions need a “No, because akrasia” answer. Like, I judge this to be the correct moral action, but have failed to do it because ugh.

    The Surgeon riddle needs to use the phrase “ynql qbpgbe” in the answer, in order to truly get that ’70s feel.

    • A1987dM says:

      ynql qbpgbe

      That sounds like it means a tlarpbybtvfg to me, not just a qbpgbe who happens to be a ynql… Is that just me?

  84. Toby Bartels says:

    I usually come out pretty much in the middle on gender classification tests, which fits in nicely with my neutral gender identity (but not at all with my masculine presentation). So I was surprised to come out strongly leaning towards one gender (female) on one test (the first), although I came out neutral as usual on the other.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      I ended up testing slightly female on the first test, and decisively male on the second test. I think the first test has fewer questions weighted towards interests and more questions weighted towards docility. I am a non-confrontational guy, but I have traditional masculine interests, and I am not particularly compassionate/empathetic (just not interested in starting fights).

      • Randy M says:

        Agree that the two tests were quite distinct.

        • Since he had two such tests, I hope that means he’ll do a correlation. I agree that they asked about different things, which is probably why I came out 92% masculine on the first one, and almost even on the second one. IT kind of teaches me not to take such tests seriously.

    • liskantope says:

      On the first gender test I came out 25% male and 75% female, which shouldn’t surprise me too much, I guess (though I’m cis male). It was nice to get such simple proportions in my result.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      The second test gives a bit more moderate results. On the first I was “extremely masculine”, while on the second the difference was there, but less extreme.

      I’m curious if anybody got reverse results.

  85. tragburn says:

    Found the Marriage Category question frustrating, as to me B+C is the most obviously similar pairing – two situations with a country where homosexuality is legal is way more similar than the other pairings where homosexuality’s legality is not the same.

    • Deiseach says:

      You could look at it the other way – two situations where someone is breaking an unjust law are more similar than two situations where there is a law in one but not the other.

  86. Randy M says:

    The linked Autism test made me chuckle when I got to question 4: I frequently get so strongly absorbed in one thing that I lose sight of other things.”
    I’m taking an autism test, linked from a survey on a blog, while at work. I guess so, huh?

  87. Deiseach says:

    Took the survey this morning at work and had great fun, though I think I might as well have given name, rank and serial number because my responses are going to drop any pretence at anonymity.

    (Look, I’m just very touchy on the subject of nationality recently because of Events, and due to that I am sensitive about THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND IS NOT THE SAME THING AS THE UNITED KINGDOM, ALL RIGHT? YOU GET THAT? SURE? BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE DON’T!)

    A fair few questions I had to leave blank as I had no way of answering them (no, IQ tests are not a normal thing over here, generally the only way a school child would get one is when accessing the National Educational Psychological Service when being assessed for intellectual/learning disabilities) and some of them had no options that I could pick as near enough to my position (honestly, an “I don’t know/not applicable” option would be great).

    EDIT: I did like the little twist on “what percentile AMONGST THOSE TAKING THIS SURVEY do you estimate your IQ?” Had that been “amongst the population at large”, I’ve have gone for “average” but compared to those on here? Definitely down in the “congratulations, you can tie your shoelaces, what an achievement!” set 🙂

    I realise that this survey is going to be heavily biased towards American mores so I should shut my European cheese-eating surrender monkey cakehole about it or not take it, so I don’t mind too much – except when I’m forced to lump myself in with the Tories (UK) and Republicans (US). (Kindly wait a moment for my fury to dissipate. The Tories. The feckin’ Tories, the party of Thatcher, Cameron and the current shower of incompetents). Can you not throw in an oul’ Christian Democrat option for those of us who are neither “yah baby let it all hang out” on the one hand nor “screw the poor” on the other?

    The family psychology questions were tough – the options seemed to boil down to “absolutely, here’s the commitment orders for all my nutty relatives” or “we have been models of psychological hygiene going back to the Ark”. Not really much there for “nothing formal but I have my suspicions/we don’t talk about this kind of problem in the family so I have no idea if Odd Uncle George has ever been formally diagnosed”.

    The gender survey things were great fun altogether – I got “you’re a man, Deiseach” on both of these, which is what I would have expected; most surveys of this type I take tend to have me skewing a lot more male than female. I find this hilarious because (a) I don’t have gender dysphoria and (b) “you think like a man” is not necessarily so, this strongly presumes women will be all pink’n’fluffy and I don’t believe that to be the case. The BEM one is very clearly of its time with the social stereotypes it uses, and that takes us nicely to the Surgeon Question which I’ve seen before so I knew the answer. Yes, children, back in the dim and distant days of the 70s, it would have been automatically assumed that a surgeon was male, which is where the riddle comes in 🙂

    The racial categories – again, very heavily biased to American attitudes and classifications, which is frustrating for the non-Americans but what can we do, people? Demand an option for a thousand years of Angelfolc blood coursing through my veins? Hardly likely, so we’ll just have to lump it!

    The the “the the” keeps catching me out.

    Political disagreement – not much nuance between “everything is tickety-boo” and “Hulk smash!”

    All in all, though, a fun experiment that passed an hour very enjoyably for me and I look forward to seeing what kind of malcontents, freaks, misfits and curmudgeons we turn out to be once the results are all in!

    • Nick says:

      Don’t worry, you can keep your answers private and then only Scott sees them. I’m sure I’m terribly obvious too.

      The first gender survey gave me “casually masculine,” which description I love. I’m amused that the autism survey thinks I’m autistic (27 out of 50, where the cutoff is 26), since our recently banned friend made me feel like the most neurotypical guy in the world. Bizarrely, on the Big Five personality test I scored 9th percentile on agreeableness, which I find downright hilarious. SSC, do you find me suspicious and antagonistic? How about argumentative and untrustworthy? 😀

      ETA: Seconding a wish for a “Christian Democrats” option too. Traditional values, good social safety net, middling to high taxes—does that sound like a fair description?

      • Fossegrimen says:

        I scored 0th percentile for agreeableness and I’ll admit I’m bad, but 0? Seriously?

        • aNeopuritan says:

          We agree on something! (2, actually: the 0 and finding it puzzling.)

          • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

            I have a zero and I am not that surprised.

            I think agreeableness is about something emotional; if it is hard to get anything that looks like normal human emotions, this trait goes to zero…

        • Toby Bartels says:

          It’s a percentile, so this just means that 99 out of 100 people are more agreeable than you (or possibly 199 out of 200 people, depending on how they’re rounding, but it’s probably not that precise anyway), not that you have no agreeableness whatsoever.

        • Deiseach says:

          I see I will have to fight off the challengers for my “Most Curmudgeonly Misanthrope On SSC” crown 😉

          I too am one of the Zeroth Percentile Disagreeables. What I found unusual was the Intellect/Imagination scoring, which is the Openness to Experience one – it says “People who score low tend to be traditional and conventional” which is me, so I would have expected to score much lower than I actually did – I seem to be around “average” for Openness to Experience (I’m going to call it that rather than Intellect/Imagination since I don’t think this is what is being measured) where I would have expected to score below that, but of course this result depends on the kind of people who take this test and all their results. We could simply be a bunch of conventional traditionalists!

        • The Nybbler says:

          I also scored zero so f— you all.

        • Bugmaster says:

          I got a 2, and now I’m jealous. Clearly, I’ve got a lot more work to do before I can become the living avatar of hate, as is my destiny.

          • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

            See, that’s your problem. Hate is human, so at least some humans can satisfy at least some of their specifically-human communication wishes by interacting with you.

            The road to zero goes through embracing the ice-coldness and apathy and lack of care for normal humans.

      • Deiseach says:

        The first gender survey gave me “casually masculine,” which description I love.

        Sounds like a description for next Spring’s fashion trend!

      • SamGamgee says:

        I scored 9th percentile in agreeableness, too. I admit that I don’t see myself as quite that hostile, but then I scored high on the autism test so maybe other people really do see me as a jerk or a cold fish.

      • SamGamgee says:

        I’m “casually feminine” in the first test and “undifferentiated” in the second. I think the high femininity score was an artifact of my autism and general nerdiness and “undifferentiated” is more accurate. Gender roles are just part of the general social knowledge that we aspies don’t get very well.

      • Mellow Irony says:

        I wonder if there’s just some sort of bug or weird distortion in that specific site’s Agreeableness category. I too was surprised by my 11th percentile. But a different survey by OutOfService ( put me at the 76th percentile for Agreeableness, a whopping 65-point difference. OpenPsychometrics (the SSC survey link) also put me at 27 points more Emotionally Stable than OutOfService did. On the other three traits, the surveys agreed to within 6 points.

        • Nick says:

          Hmm. I hope Scott does a control group from Mechanical Turk again, so we can see if the Agreeableness thing is uniquely SSC or the fault of the test or what.

      • johan_larson says:

        I had the same score on the autism test (27/50), which means I have some autistic traits, and I think it’s a reasonable assessment. I’m socially clumsy, very much a loner, and more comfortable with routine than novelty.

      • Derannimer says:

        Thirding a wish for “Christian Democrats.” It’s not *that* exotic a political stance, particularly when alt-right is an option. I mean there’s at least three of us already.

    • S_J says:

      When I was younger, I would occasionally check “Other” and fill in “Human” on any form that asked my Race.

      More recently, I’ve resigned myself to Whiteness on such forms.

      My ancestry is mostly from England. Indeed, I have a genealogy in North America that reaches back to the 1640s in New England. I have people say I look Irish…maybe its the red hair and blue eyes.

      Would I have been dismissed as one of them crazy Irish-who-need-not-apply-for-a-job, if I lived in the United States a century ago? I sometimes wonder. Though I suspect that carrying an Anglo surname, and not speaking in a just-got-off-the-boat accent, would have kept me from being classed as a Mick.

      But that means that Irish existed as a racial/social minority who received discrimination at that time.

      Now, Irish are White, except on St. Paddy’s Day.

      • Evan Þ says:

        When I was younger, I would occasionally check “Other” and fill in “Human” on any form that asked my Race.

        Me too! And I still do that sometimes, when the forms are Official enough to irk me that they’re asking the question at all.

      • Betty Cook says:

        I did that too, the last US census I filled out. They have a constitutional mandate to count us for voting purposes, not to require us to answer personal questions.

        …I was surprised I scored as low as 30 on agreeableness. Maybe there is a reason for that.

      • Garrett says:

        I’d point out that all human lineage can be traced back to Africa. So *everybody* counts as African-American.

    • Incurian says:

      Regarding your uniqueness, I was reading these comments bottom-up, and was scrolling to top of this comment (fast enough that I could barely skim the words) I thought “this looks like a Deiseach.”

    • christhenottopher says:

      As an American with ancestry going back to close to the origins of English settlement in the modern US (1620 crazy theocratic heretic pilgrims FTW!) I not only reject your attempt to acknowledge SSC’s global audience but demand doubling down on the American centricness! Next survey you don’t get asked where you’re from but instead I want this:

      “Which Albion’s Seed group is your ancestry primarily made of?
      2)Cavaliers (or their non-Borderer indentured servants)
      5)Two or more equal mix of the above
      6)Barbarous non-English-ancestry Americans
      7)I don’t count because FREEDOM does not flow through my veins”

      If we’re going to be American centric, I say go all the way on it!

      • Toby Bartels says:

        their non-Borderer indentured servants

        Does this include enslaved Africans?

        • christhenottopher says:

          I was mostly conceiving them in the same category as the uncivilized Irish, Germans, or Chinese in that non-English category…but early North American slavery wasn’t a very formalized affair so some of the early ones might have been treated like indentured servants soooo, sure why not?

      • Deiseach says:

        If we’re going to be American centric, I say go all the way on it!

        “How many guns do you own?

        (1) 0-5
        (2) 10-20
        (3) Not enough!


        (1) Born in the USA!
        (2) First!
        (3) HELL YEAH!

        Do you:

        (1) Stand for the National Anthem
        (2) Take a knee for the National Anthem
        (3) Hire the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a professional pyrotechnics outfit, and an historically accurate authentic replica of the Betsy Ross Original Flag complete with animatronic Washington Crossing The Delaware for the National Anthem?”

      • John Richards says:

        In my case, actual puritans. I can trace my ancestry back to that pillar of the Salem community Rebecca Nurse herself.

    • Null42 says:

      Yeah, I always wondered why Christian Democrat/populist/antilibertarian/distributist/’socially conservative, economically liberal’ gets so little love. Rationalists lean libertarian on average, I guess, but you can be ‘alt-right’ (who theoretically should be sending Scott nasty frog memes just because of his ancestry from what I see) but not a Christian Democrat?

    • Null42 says:


      What, 800 years of oppression made you sensitive? Makes sense to me… The Irish were trying to kick out the Brits for centuries, and only finally did it about 100 years ago. Of course they don’t want to be thought to be part of the UK.

      • Deiseach says:

        It wasn’t so much the Eight Hundred Years as the recent displays of staggering ignorance, arrogance and entitlement by both the person in the street and professional politicians of our neighbouring island over the Brexit negotiations and the question of a hard or soft border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

        Honestly, listening to the TV interviews and reading some of the online comments had me wanting to belt out the Wolfe Tones’ Greatest Hits, in particular this one.

        I don’t like Fine Gael (the party in power) or the current Taoiseach, but I have to admit they comported themselves well and represented the nation in a good manner when dealing with the crap from next door.

        • Null42 says:

          Can you fill in this stupid American? From Googling, looks like the current Taoiseach of Ireland (which of course is still in the EU) doesn’t want a hard border with Northern Ireland, which is still part of the UK and hence leaving the EU, but then of course you could sneak goods from England to the EU (going England–>Scotland–>N. Ireland–>Ireland–>France etc.) without paying the tariffs that are supposed to arise…but I’m sure there’s more to it than that.

          • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

            I would expect this to happen on a small scale. On larger scale, one would eventually need to file tax reports and show the acquisition of goods as expenses; some creative accounting would be needed, and Ireland will be pressured by EU not to make this creative accounting easy.

            You can look up what happens with Russia’s import bans on some EU goods: Belarus has no matching restrictions, and the Russia-Belarus border is transparent both in practice and officially by a treaty, but the markup for direct smuggling is quite significant (compared with the old customs-tariff times) and the amount of fully-relabeled quasi-«Made in Belarus» shipments is relatiely low.

            And note that Russian economy has more gray schemes than EU economy.

    • SamGamgee says:

      I assume, since you were doing the survey on company time, that you scored low on Conscientiousness. 😀

      Sorry, couldn’t resist.

      • Deiseach says:

        Ha! I was doing it in my “first person in to unlock the doors, unset the alarm, and turn on the lights and heating, first hour kicking back having a cup of tea and checking my emails before anyone else is in” work time, akshually! 😀

    • SamGamgee says:

      I totally fell into the surgeon gender stereotyping trap but I remembered that I had seen this question before and it came to me. I think I’m very affected from watching medical TV shows, which really seem to uphold that stereotype.

  88. aNeopuritan says:

    I listed my state as “Rio Grande do Sul” because I, of course, am an American; may you have a flood of “Chihuahua”, and “Corrientes”, and “Zulia”, and so on (maybe even “Ontario” 🙂 ). Also, “Hispanic”, because that question is stupid (“not your fault”). I don’t get a “profit” from my work; I get a barely-livable “wage” (expected to go further down in the near-future) and some asshole gets the profit; you should distinguish between “wage-slave”, “working alone”, and “employer“; I find it funny how “academic” is somehow different from any other corporate drone. “People without university degrees needn’t pretend they have professions”. Is *anyone* besides Scott qualified to answer their IQ percentile *at SSC*? I did notice I listed 2 “blogs”, of which one isn’t a blog (Radio War Nerd, Ecosophia; don’t make me decide between those, which I am of course advertising now).

    The list of political affiliations sucks, and reflects first gross US biases, then gross SSC biases. I mean, Death Eating appears at all, *distinguished* from “alt-Right”, which the Front National has nothing to do with; Anarch(o-Commun)ism absent; (if Anarchism were present, “Statist”) Leftists can only be “Sweden Yes!” or miss Tovarish Stalin (BTW, ask Friedman (*any* of them, it seems): has Right-Libertarianism ever been tried? If yes, what were the results?) – no “Leftism without religion or multiculturalism”, a.k.a. Unionism, a.k.a. a lot of Obama-Trump; Fascism not offered, with Singapore, China, and recently-past (but see: Bolsonaro 2018!) Latin America as examples; no form of theocracy or literal tribalism offered; likely more (one might say: “Right-Libertarianism appears at all”).

    The questions on minimum wage and feminism definitely need some form of distinction between countries – my opnion on “feminism” in Norway has nothing to do with my opinion on “feminism” in Congo-Kinshasa (and honestly, both my and your country are *internally* divided in such a way); possibly, that on UBI too. On charity, I think there should be a distinction between “no 10% to spare”, “don’t want to donate 10%”, and “do donate 10%, but without pledge” (I lied on picking the latter, because the first didn’t exist). What’s the question of birth *day* doing? I’ve been sexually harassed, in that, if this question is taken at face value, just about *everyone* has – do you disagree, or did you forget, or were you afraid, of asking about degree? What does the overt placebo do? The darndest thing happened: “aNeopuritan” was generated randomly! I think’d have gotten the surgeon answer instantly if I were in all ways like me except native Anglophone – in Portuguese, a generic surgeon is *grammatically* male (but I did answer literally, “had to think a little”). You definitely should ask “Have you seen ‘the the’ before?”. Does ADH1 fail to distinguish between criticism from self and others on purpose? Any particular reason for Big 5 instead of HEXACO? I look forward to seeing how many other people got 0% femininity and agreeableness.

    Thanks for everything, I look forward to being a monthly paying customer on Patreon (possibly even better: Liberapay).

    • Toby Bartels says:

      Yeah, I could have sworn that there was more variety (and less USA-centricity) in political questions on an earlier survey. (Or maybe it was a Less Wrong survey, but didn’t Scott run those too?)

    • Deiseach says:

      I don’t get a “profit” from my work

      To be fair, I think the misconstrual may be on your part; I took it that Scott was differentiating between “for-profit” work (that is, you are working for a wage in a business, company, shop or other employment which is in private industry and owned by a person or people who make a profit out of it) and “non-profit” such as public sector, charities, and other (e.g. I work in a non-profit because although I’m paid a wage, the service provided is funded by the health department and does not charge fees to the users; we’re not a business, we’re a service provider).

      What’s the question of birth *day* doing?

      Well damn it, I screwed that one up; used the last digit of my birth YEAR not the DAY (i.e. read it as “birthday” not “birth day”). That’ll teach me to read too fast and gallop through the questions!

      • Murphy says:

        I work in a university… it’s not ruthlessly profit focused but it’s also not like it’s a charity.

        I’m not even sure what happens with excess money. It could be dropped back into the uni.I don’t think we have stockholders but I can’t rule out that perhaps some deal from 1506 means some of that money going to some nobles estate.

        birth *day* I believe may be for separating people into semi random groups. If the people born on days ending in 9 are very different from people born on days ending in 7 something may be wrong with your data.

    • Anon. says:

      Obviously DE has no connection to A-R, simply their attitudes to nationalism make them fundamentally incompatible…

      What do you see as the differences between A-R and FN? AFAIK there’s a lot of connections between the European New Right and the A-R people in the US. And the way I see it, their goals seem to be more or less the same: socialism-for-whites-only.

      • 10240 says:

        One problem is it’s unclear what the term alt-right means. To some it’s the extreme fringe of neo-nazis, antisemites and white supremacists, to others it’s a broader category also including nationalists, the likes of Breitbart and Trump fans — strongly right wing, but far from nazi. My impression is the Western European far right is closer to the latter.

        • Null42 says:

          I get the sense the Breitbart option is now referred to as ‘alt-lite’ or ‘New Right’, whereas ‘alt-right’ means neo-nazis, antisemites, and white supremacists. ‘Alt-right’ has been used to mean ‘conservatives not happy with neoconservatism’, but since Hillary’s speech now basically means ‘racialist or Nazi’. In short, Richard Spencer and Andrew Anglin ran off with it (though this isn’t really unfair, as Spencer was the first to use the term).

          Western European far right…both exist actually. Germany for example has the AfD, which is more or less a Breitbart party (nativist and nationalist), and NDP (actual Nazi nostalgia–they use the colors and the symbols that haven’t been outlawed). Having more than two parties means you can have a wider range of opinions than just ‘far left to far right’, which I kind of like. I feel the West’s swung a *little* too far in the globalist-internationalist-elite-libertarian direction and some correction is necessary (though Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing, only cares about his rich buddies, and is likely to make matters worse.)

    • Telminha says:

      I wish there were a “Latino” option.

    • Obelix says:

      The list of political affiliations sucks, and reflects first gross US biases, then gross SSC biases.

      Agreed, and unlike what Toby Bartels said, I had the same problem with the last SSC survey. I’m a centre-left to centrist Quebec nationalist, so my choice was somewhere between Liberal and Social democratic (I ended up choosing Liberal), but the “socially permissive multiculturalism” in both choices is wrong for me. I think using several axes (definitely more than two) for the political affiliation would work better, for example market vs. command economy, authoritarianism vs. libertarianism, nationalism vs. globalism, probably more axes as well.

  89. Murphy says:

    Still no academic (research) option.

    Also needs an “all of the above” for Political Disagreement I

    They might be right about some things. I can’t be sure of my position. Sometimes they make understandable mistakes and are probably mostly decent people though sometimes their mistakes seem incomprehensible and a minority genuinely are inexcusably stupid or downright evil.

    Disagreement II sort of needs an ” they have different precepts than me, I don’t agree with those precepts and indeed some of those precepts I consider outright evil but I can also see that if I genuinely believed those precepts then there would be a moral imperative to behave very similarly to how they behave such that they’re trying to be good people within the framework of the precepts they believe”

    re: Surgeon Riddle : Bs pbhefr gur fhetrba vf gur snguref tnl uhfonaq! Orpnhfr ynqvrf bs pbhefr pbhyq arire or fhetrbaf. V zrna jung pbhyq gurl rira onynapr fhetvpny vzcyrzragf ba juvyr gurl’er abg ubyqvat gurz!

    • Deiseach says:

      Yeah, I needed a “sometimes they make mistakes which I can understand them making, given the faulty premises from which they are starting, but they’re not all decent and probably a lot of them are nasty” option.

      But all surveys lack a degree of nuance because otherwise they’d be a mile long and take a year to complete!

    • Mellow Irony says:

      I eventually decided that “academic (on the teaching side)” should be interpreted as “academic, not student”—i.e., professor-ish, but including researchers who don’t teach. Not sure where postdocs would fall.

    • ze2 says:

      I wanted to put both “They might be right about some things, I can’t be sure of my position” and “Inexcusably stupid or downright evil” for Political Disagreement I and II, though I settled on the first one.

  90. Grek says:

    For the religious questions, I put Atheist (Spiritual), Buddhist and No Change. But I only recently adopted Buddhism (formerly non-spiritual Atheist) and am not sure if I chose correctly on the survey.

    • Dragor says:

      Would you care to eloborate further on this? I also recently adopted Buddhism, though I was previously somewhat Buddhist before a ten year period of atheism.

  91. 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

    Skpped a few questions because the scale is orthogonal to any scale I could perceive as relevant.

    For example, in the gay marriage question I cannot make myself believe that an illegal marriage registration is binding to any other state clerk (and a single protesting clerk when something _is_ legal could be or not be easy to route around)…

    • Dan says:

      Yeah, this. If the state doesn’t recognize gay marriage, then the clerk in (A) is just filing invalid paperwork in a way that doesn’t really help or hurt anyone, other than by wasting their time. Whereas in (C) they are actually preventing people from getting married when the law says they should be allowed to.

      A better pro-gay civil disobedience example might be: a teacher discusses homosexuality in class, in violation of a state “no promo homo” law.

    • anonymousskimmer says:


  92. TheWackademic says:

    Survey for SSC commenters:

    1) Did you catch the error in the Wason selection task?

    2) Do you believe that this error was deliberately introduced by Scott?

  93. bean says:

    Why the focus on Adderal among ADD meds? I’ve never taken it, but my Ritalin/Concerta use is now old enough to vote. (All it wants to vote for is a policy where people who have taken the stuff long enough without abusing it can get 90-day prescriptions in Oklahoma.) I filled in the boxes to reflect this.

    • Izaak says:

      I left those boxes blank, but I too take Ritalin semi-regularly. I’ve never had Adderall.

      • Gazeboist says:

        As far as I can tell from a quick check they have almost identical effects (Ritalin might not be passed to nursing babies?). My guess would be treat at least Adderall and Ritalin as basically the same drug for purposes of those questions.

  94. Anon. says:

    Yet another year without noncognitivism in the religious views choices…

    How moral should I rate myself as if I’m amoral?

    • 10240 says:

      Yet another year without noncognitivism in the religious views choices…

      You mean moral views?
      Actually (based on what I gather from wikipedia) it also makes sense to distinguish amorality/moral nihilism and emotivism (“I feel good/bad about it” with no deeper or more objective meaning). I’m somewhere between the two. And while admitted nihilism is relatively rare, I suspect that emotivism is pretty close to the views of many people who haven’t given much thought to moral questions.

      How moral should I rate myself as if I’m amoral?

      I skipped that one for the same reason.

      • Anon. says:

        >You mean moral views?


        • 10240 says:

          Ah, makes sense. Moral non-cognitivism is missing, too, though.

        • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

          Hmmm. So that’s how it is called. Fortunately, my views are more complicated just enough to be able to call my self a kind of extreme agnostic.

          I mean, I agree with noncognitivism in the treatment of typical religious beliefs, but I cannot exclude that some people can achieve false religious beliefs, and then things like simulation argument leave me agnostic about intelligences outside our flow of time that could theoretically intervene if something really interesting to them would need only a small nudge to happen.

  95. akarlin says:

    A few notes:

    1. I am atheist but religiously identify as Christian (Orthodox). Much like Golda Meir (“I believe in the Jewish people, and they believe in God”) and Alexander Lukashenko (“I am an atheist, but an Orthodox atheist”).

    2. I don’t and have never denied AGW, but do not believe any action should be taken on it. I want clathrate collapse and Tropical Hyperborea.

    3. Vegetarianism: “No, but I try to eat less meat / offset the meat I eat, for moral reasons” closest, but in reality, I eat as much fish and chicken as I want, less beef, and really try to avoid pork, on the basis that the degree of consciousness (and capacity for suffering) seems to be linked to intelligence.

    • aNeopuritan says:

      1) how is “atheist Russian Nationalist” not enough? (True, you weren’t asked about Nationalism.) Even setting aside the mere “theism” question, I haven’t noticed you having any actual Orthodox sensibilities.
      2) see “Russian Nationalist”. So, you *want* to have to fight for your land in the future?
      3) how about trying some insects?

      • A1987dM says:

        So, you *want* to have to fight for your land in the future?

        Well, in the Tropical Hyperborea scenario much of currently-inhospitable Siberia would become pretty nice, so Russians will have to fight for land much less. (OTOH Indians will be screwed, but who cares about them, right?)

      • akarlin says:

        So, you *want* to have to fight for your land in the future?

        The atom can do the fighting. Russia has 20,000 tactical nukes.

        My political program also involves mass IQ augmentation + population explosion through artificial wombs, which will populate the north Eurasian landmass with billions of superior beings who will launch the technological singularity (if DeepMind or the Chinese don’t get there first).

        Regardless – competition in the struggle for survival is the only and ultimate value, may the best Civilization win and be the one to carry the word of the God-Emperor of Machinekind into the infinite darkness above.

        • sqqs says:

          Oh boy, Russian in the comments and, sure enough, Darwinism, hail the Emperor, nuclear war, full package.

          Disclaimer: am Russian myself but carry along the principles of rationality and pacifism for the future when 99% of contemporary Russians die in the stupid wars for their shitty emperors.

    • sloppydopp says:

      3. Given that it takes around 200 chickens to yield the same amount of meat as a single cow, you might want to rethink your calculus. Here’s one attempt at quantifying it (while also attempting to adjust for sentience levels).

  96. b_jonas says:

    The question about lily pads on the lake is clearly a trick question, but I can’t tell what answer I was supposed to enter in it. Should I just leave it empty?

    The autism spectrum test says “I am fascinated by dates”. I can’t figure out what “dates” is trying to mean there. I can think of at least three different interpretation, as in, calendar dates, dates to meet people romantically, or the fruit. Is this just a failure of my understanding of English, or is it deliberately ambiguous?

    • apollocarmb says:

      How is the lily pad a trick question?

      • b_jonas says:

        > In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake? _____ days

        If the patch doubles each day for 48 days, then either the patch would have to be impossibly tiny now to call a “patch of lily pads”, or in 48 days it would have to grow bigger than any lake on Earth.

        • apollocarmb says:

          I looked it up and it says the answer is 47. I guess it depends on what you consider a “patch” to be.

        • fion says:

          Haha, that’s a fun point. It didn’t occur to me to think about the actual numbers. But Who say’s we’re on Earth? Who says the lilies are normal-sized ones? The only correct answer is 47, so I wouldn’t call it a trick question. It just requires you to imagine an improbable situation.

          • Nick says:

            But Who say’s we’re on Earth?

            The Pond of Babel?

          • aNeopuritan says:

            There’s research pointing to a fact that WEIRD people answer according to whatever hypotheticals are posited, while non-WEIRDs tend to give “patently wrong” answers that involve fixating on something that “makes more sense” than what’s posited.

        • Toby Bartels says:

          Wikipedia says that the smallest water lily has a diameter of as small as 1 cm, so if the original patch consisted of a single lily pad, then it would be about 100 miles across (a diameter of sqrt(2^48) cm) after 48 days.

          • David Speyer says:

            So, roughly the size of Lake Erie, or one of a dozen or so other lakes. But water lillies can only grow in water shallow enough to root in the bottom; it is unlikely that any lake has enough surface area at that depth.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Wikipedia says that the smallest water lily has a diameter of as small as 1 cm

            That’s full grown. Presumably they start out smaller.

        • joop says:

          I considered that too but just assumed they were some sort of lilies that are soooooooo small that it’s possible.

        • Bugmaster says:

          How is it going to do that ? It can’t spread over land.

        • markk116 says:

          Largest lake on earth is the Caspian Sea, with an area of 3.709 km^2. If we halve this area 48 times we are left with an area of about 1300 mm^2 (a square about 1.4 inch aside) or about 1.2 times the size of the human retina.

      • Nick says:

        The “trick” is that you’re tempted, before thinking about it, to say 24 because 24 is half of 48, but the real answer, once you think about it, is 47.

        • chiral says:

          The first time I heard this I answered 1, and I kind of stand by that answer.

          It takes one day to cover the second half of the lake. In the first 47 days it only increases from [very small amount] to 50%; less than half.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            “The patch” is defined as what it was on day 1. The meaning of “the patch” doesn’t change from this definition just because the lillies expand.

    • aNeopuritan says:

      The lily pad question isn’t a trick question, it’s to detect innumerates (read: nearly everyone everywhere except SSC-like places) who think they’re qualified to answer.

    • Dan says:

      Given that it’s an autism spectrum test, it must mean “dates” as in calendar dates, but I had exactly the same thought (and wondered if there was going to be a follow-up question either in the test itself or back on Scott’s survey asking if the ambiguity had bothered you :-))

  97. fion says:

    I wasn’t really happy with the political affiliation question. I am arguably a Marxist in the sense of largely agreeing with Marx’s analysis of capitalism, but my opinion based on that is that the best way to move forward from here is “heavily-regulated market economy, cradle-to-grave social safety net, socially permissive multiculturalism”. I answered social-democrat to that question, partly because of the silly “example” for Marxism.

    I also disagree with your characterisation of the pre-Corbyn UK Labour Party, which I would probably consider social-democratic for most of its life (unlike the Liberal Democratic party, which is probably a better fit for your “Liberal” category, and a better analogue of the US Democratic party).

    However, I understand that this is an impossible question to ask perfectly and I think you’ve done quite well. This isn’t really a criticism; I just wanted to complain. 😛

    • orangecat says:

      I also couldn’t pick a good answer. And from what I can tell my politics are similar to Scott’s, so I’m wondering what he would have answered. Libertarian isn’t right because I think there’s a significant difference between “low” and “minimal/no” taxes and regulation, and I prefer the former. Conservative isn’t right because of “traditional values”. Liberal isn’t right because of “multiculturalism” which I associate with identity politics, and while I want a nonzero welfare state it’s probably much smaller than what most liberals would prefer.

    • SamChevre says:

      I also couldn’t pick a good answer. (Ended up going with “Conservative”.) I’m an old-style libertarianish conservative (think Bill Buckley), who thinks freedom of association is central, some forms of redistribution are not that problematic, and subsidiarity is the best way to preserve liberty. The modern American Libertarian Party is entirely willing to ignore freedom of association and subsidiarity–it’s not usefully libertarian.

    • Immanentizing Eschatons says:

      I was similarly conflicted over political label, for similar reasons (I ended up picking social democrat)

  98. Ricardo Villalobos says:

    In the “Watson” test, I believe we might want the assumption that if one face has numbers the opposite has colors? Is that deliberately left out? Certainly it seems implied.

    • CatCube says:

      It isn’t implied or necessary to the problem. The truth or falsity of the statement can be tested even if there’s not numbers and colors on opposite sides. If you flip over the “8” and find a number, then the proposition is false. Similarly, if you were to flip over the “3” and found a number, the proposition could still be true, since it doesn’t say anything about what’s on the other side of odd numbers–a number on the other side is valid.

  99. Hjnz3TwfRH says:

    The Wason question is flawed because it leaves out the condition that each card has a color on one side and a number on the other side. As worded, it’s possible, e.g., that the 3 has an even number on the other side.

    • Toby Bartels says:

      Right, the correct answer to the question as worded (spoiler alert) is that you need to check every card except the one that’s already known to have a red side. I answered as if we’re supposed to assume that each card has a number on one side and a colour on the other, since that allowed one of the given answers to be correct, so probably the question should state that explicitly.

    • clocksandflowers says:

      Yeah, seems like the implicit assumption should be articulated.

    • Jesse Huebsch says:

      If I remember right it was equivalent to “if even then red”, which does not make it “if red then even”.
      Also note – distinguishing red from brown can be problematic for some, and even though it is not necessary for the logic in this question, it is distracting.

    • I did not answer that question because I thought the right answer was just to turn over the 8 card, and that wasn’t an option. Reading the other comments, there seems to be lots of disagreement. I wonder if it was just the way the question was asked was ambiguous. If you turned over the 8 you’d know if even numbers had red backs, and it didn’t seem to me that turning over the other cards would tell you the same.

      • Nick says:

        But if you turned over the brown card and found an even number you’d know even numbers didn’t necessarily have red backs, which means it needs checking too.

      • Nornagest says:

        You need to turn over the brown card, to see if a card with an even number can have a brown back, and you also need to turn over the 8 card, to see if the even card we know about has a red back. You don’t need to turn over the red card (it doesn’t matter if it’s even or not), and you don’t need to turn over the odd card (the statement says nothing about what color backs odd cards have).

      • Toby Bartels says:

        Reading the other comments, there seems to be lots of disagreement.

        I don’t agree.

      • Deiseach says:

        If you turned over the 8 you’d know if even numbers had red backs

        But you don’t. You don’t know if the card with number 3 has a red or brown back, and you don’t know if the card with a brown back has an odd or even number. You need to turn over at least two cards, and the way to check is turn over one with a visible number and one with a visible colour.

        Which number and which colour is what the argument is about 🙂

        • @Deiseach: (Upfront: There’s a good chance you might not need this clarified, but maybe it helps someone else.) The thing is, no one cares what the back colour of the number 3 is, because it’s not even, and we haven’t made any claims about odd numbers at all. Generally, stuff we don’t care about are:

          1. if an odd card has a red or brown back.

          2. if a red-back card is even or odd. (We might assume it is more likely to be even, but as we know, nothing mandates that odd cards cannot have red backs.)

          We do care about:

          1. if a brown-back card is even. This would violate even -> red back.

          2. if an even card has a brown back. This would also violate even -> red back.

          Therefore you need to check both the card 8 and the brown-backed card. The other two are irrelevant (as thread-OP mentioned, this is assuming coloured backs – hypothetically card 3 could also have a number on the other side, and if that number is even, it would violate the hypothesis).

          • I don’t remember exactly what the question asked. I know I considered turning over both the 8 and the brown card, but I rejected that. As I recall, my thinking was as follows: There’s no way way we know for sure with those four cards, because I assume the universe of cards was more than those four. But if I turn over the 8, then I would seem to have my answer whether even cards had a red back, assuming it was representative. Turning over the brown card will only tell you the theory was wrong if it was even. If it was odd, you wouldn’t know any more than before.

    • Otzi Ozbjorn says:

      The Wasson question doesn’t leave out that condition:

      Four cards each have a number on one side and a color on the other.

  100. mudita says:

    Two remarks regarding the questions about religion:

    I’m really unsure what spiritual means and whether it applies to me. I tried googling, but that wasn’t very helpful either, people don’t seem to agree about the meaning of the word at all. Let’s take for example Wikipedia:

    “According to some scholars, what both religion and spirituality have in common is a sense of the supernatural, while others see supernatural thought unnecessary for spirituality.”

    And another thing: To me it seems a bit strange to assume that my family would have one common religious background, especially if you split the Christian categories. For example at least in Germany it’s quite common that Protestant and Catholic people marry.

    Thanks for the survey and especially for bringing the Gender Role tests to my attention, that has been very interesting.

  101. fawz says:

    > Do you donate to the SSC Patreon?

    How about the possible answer , “No, but I want to donate via another platform like Lliberapay”

    Political Disagreement I:

    I’m missing an option like “I don’t think most people have a real political stance so it’s hard to say that they seem right or wrong”.

    The current economic and political system…

    You can choose between “good but fine-tuning” and “fundamentally bad”. How about “Good parts and very bad parts”? Ie, a middle-thing?

    How would you describe your opinion on minimum wage ?

    Might want a clarifying note that says “in your country”.

    • aNeopuritan says:

      Thanks for pointing out Liberapay. About your experience with it: tell me more.

    • Baeraad says:

      I just sort of assumed that there was an invisible clarifying note that said “in America, because screw your non-important non-American country.” In fact, I assume that a lot of the time. :p

      But it’s true, my answer for my own country woud have been that we don’t have or need minimum wage laws, because we’ve got a healthy balance between labour unions and employer interest organisations that serve the same purpose much more effectively.

      • Toby Bartels says:

        What country is that, if you don’t mind saying?

        • Baeraad says:


          And if I may bang the patriotic drum a bit further, I do think that “the Swedish Model” (a phrase thrown around a lot come election time, with every politician claiming that they’re trying to look out for it :p ) is a surprisingly elegant and functional solution. Americans are always complaining about the government getting into their business – well, this is how you make sure it doesn’t, by making it so that it’s not needed, because you can get together and work out your own collective solutions through civilised discussion between the concerned parties without the need for clueless technocrats to get involved.

  102. tentor says:

    Some notes:

    For family background, I missed the “no one in my family ever practiced any religion (afaik)” option.

    I had to completely skip the IQ questions, maybe include an online IQ test in section 3?

    Regarding the harassment questions, I checked the seconds only once and then answered all 4 questions according to the result. I’m not sure if this was right or if I should have checked the time again for each question.

    For the the Sundown question, my preferred answer would have been “This test is getting old”.
    Question Dancer 2 was a nice trick, but I read only the first two words of each answer so you could have snuck anything in there without me noticing.

    • Siah Sargus says:

      Because online IQ tests are totally valid as a standard and will totally make the already improbably high stated IQ here seem much more valid.

      • Houshalter says:

        Online IQ tests give results that are lower than the actual IQ, not higher. This is because higher IQ people are more likely to want to test their intelligence with online tests. Which skews the average up.

    • Mustard Tiger says:

      I agree, I think it would be a good idea to ask for both – what is your professionally tested IQ, if you have one. Then ask what is your “online” IQ (or average thereof). Might be interesting to see how much they differ for those who have taken both kinds of tests.

      • Toby Bartels says:

        If we’re going to do that, then it should be a specific online IQ test (like the other tests in the last part). I’d like to see how these scores compare to professional ones when the latter are known. (Language-independent tests like Raven’s matrices are available free online.)

  103. apollocarmb says:

    The “how do you view extremists?” and “how do you view terrorism?” questions are problematic.

    I view Stalinits very differently to how I view Fascists. As for the second question you never defined what terrorism is.

    I would definetly be in favour of certain things that are labeled terrorism by reactionaries but I wouldn’t view ISIS style terrorism preferably.

  104. cDave says:

    I think the UK and US have very different Overton Windows, so the alignment question doesn’t quite work.
    US ……………………. UK
    Republican Party …… Far Right
    Democratic Party ….. Conservative Party
    Far Left ……………… New Labour

    • Rachael says:

      That is the equivalence the survey draws, isn’t it?

      • cDave says:

        No, the survey shows:
        US ……………………. UK
        Republican Party …… Conservative Party
        Democratic Party ….. New Labour

    • Futhington says:

      I think you’re either supposed to answer relative to your local overton window (in which case they occupy similar spaces on the political spectrum) or, and my favoured explanation, the perception of US politics as somehow way, way more right-wing than the UKs is a bit overblown and we’re not that different.

      • gemmaem says:

        Yeah, I assumed by the wording that we were intended to use our local Overton window. It made my answer a lot kinder to my opponents than it otherwise might have been.

      • toastengineer says:

        Yeah, the Republican party as the media that makes it overseas portrays them is an accurate portrayal of the very far right side of the Overton window. Most Republicans I talk to support redistribution so long as its not called redistribution and so long as it’s only to the very poorest (they like the phrase “safety net.”)

    • fion says:

      I agree with the gist of what you’re saying, but I don’t think agree with US[Far Left]=UK[New Labour]. Bernie Sanders is in the Democratic party, but is well to the left of Tony Blair.

      Similarly, I don’t think the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg are to the left of the Republican Party.

      I mean, at the end of the day all four parties are big tents. Republicans overlap with Tories and also with people to the right of the Tories. Democrats overlap with Tories and Labour. Labour overlaps with Democrats and those to their left.

      • Janet says:

        Actually, Bernie isn’t in the Democratic party, he’s an independent. It wasn’t 100% clear whether he ever actually joined the party before he started running for a spot on their ticket, which was an issue early in the campaign. After Trump was elected, he re-affirmed that he’s an independent and is planning to run as an independent for Senate in 2018.

        So yes, taking Bernie at his word, he’s to the left of the Democratic Party.

        • fion says:

          Thanks for the correction. I have to admit a lack of knowledge about the sub-politics of the US parties, but I still suspect there are Democrats to the left of Tony Blair.

          (Although I realise my point is a very weak one, because Tony Blair is pretty much the most right-wing of the Labour Party, and I’m not even certain that the left-wing of the Democratic party is to the left of him…)

          • Deiseach says:

            I would definitely say Tony Blair with the construction of New Labour was moving to the sort of liberal but not traditionally left in the mould of the Democratic Party, and since ‘Thatcherism-Lite’ was a vote-winning strategy he did move more to the right.

            So I’d classify him as centrist-right, slightly (but only very slightly) more to the right of the bulk of the Democrats, whose most leftward official party members are centrist-left (their more progressive supporters in Da Yute whom they try coaxing out to vote for them are a lot more to the left but probably not official party members, and the really lefties seem to regard them with contempt).

            I think Hillary Clinton moved in a Blair direction, e.g. his enthusiasm to follow the US lead on the Iraq war finding a parallel in her hawkishness and enthusiasm for the Libyan action, so again I’d judge her as centrist-right of her party. The Democrats as a whole are more like the Lib-Dems, with the same tension between the social liberals and the classical liberals, except the social liberals had the upper hand on the socially permissive policies like gay marriage etc. and on increased public spending.

          • Yosarian2 says:

            I think you’re blurring foreign and domestic politics in a way that’s not helpful here. There’s a long tradition in the U.S. of Democrats who are economically left while being fir an aggressive foreign policy. LBJ probably moved us farther to the left than any President we’ve had on economic issues and racial equality, but he also started the Vietnam war.

            Basically, while Hillary’s foreign policy may have been aggressive, her domestic policy was pretty left on most issues. And that’s not unusual.

    • rlms says:

      I think political parties are to a large extent incomparable between countries, because the coalitions that form them are different, and the status quo is different in each. For instance, it would be misleading draw conclusions from the fact that replacing the NHS with the US’s system would be a very right-wing* thing in the UK but it is not just the extreme right of the US that supports its current system, because the status quo differs. If you looked at proposals to e.g. nationalise utility companies or privatise schools, the groups on each side would be more similar in terms of their position within their countries.

      If I had try to make correspondences, I think this is what I’d say:
      The Republican party has some factions (evangelicals, gun rights folk) that don’t have equivalences in the UK. The general libertarian faction has a small representation in the tories, Lib Dems and UKIP. The mainstream conservative faction largely corresponds to the tories and UKIP slightly.

      The centrist Democrats correspond to centrist tories/Labour. The liberal (in the traditional sense) ones correspond to Lib Dems and some people in Labour. The “socialist” ones correspond to the middle/left faction in Labour if we are restricted to English parties; but if you disregard the nationalist part they are probably closer to the SNP.

      In terms of individual politicians, Trump would be UKIP (but couldn’t really arise in the British system) or an unholy hybrid of Farage and George Galloway if we match populist for populist; Hillary Clinton is extremely similar to May; Obama is maybe a less religious Blair who succeeded Gordon Brown rather than John Smith; Ron Paul is Douglas Carswell/Daniel Hannan; Bernie Sanders plays the role of Jeremy Corbyn in some ways but is closer in policies to Harriet Harman or someone.

      *for a certain flavour of right: it could be proposed by libertarian tories or UKIPers but not e.g. the BNP

      • fion says:

        I think that’s well put. Especially your caveats.

      • Deiseach says:

        Hillary Clinton is extremely similar to May

        Mmmm – as said above, I see Hillary Clinton as much more like Tony Blair. I don’t much see the resemblance with Theresa May, who up until the collapse of the Tories post-the shock referendum result had been tootling along in decent obscurity (unlike Hillary who had been tootling her own trumpet ever since the Clintons got out of Arkansas). I’m sure I can’t have been the only one, during the Days of the Long Knives over the leadership succession, to say “Who the hell is Theresa May?”

        I don’t have a good grasp on May’s current policies, mainly because they are still dealing with the huge steaming lump of ordure that is Brexit and they don’t seem to have any policies. I think she might be genuinely (slightly) socially conservative, definitely fiscally conservative but the main impression I get is of a very watered-down wannabe Thatcher (then again, most of the post-Thatcher prime ministers have tried to be that as well, including the tough on crime and the causes of crime).

        Plainly she must be tough to have survived and to have risen like this, but I don’t have a read on what she really believes or stands for. Maybe she and Hillary are alike, it’s just that Hillary’s ambition is way more visible and a larger part of her character.

        • rlms says:

          I wouldn’t say May was obscure before her premiership; home secretary is a pretty prominent role (at least from a British perspective)!

          The similarities I see are these. They became Prime Minister/almost-President more by cannily playing their respective parties’ internal politics than bold policies or charisma (neither of them have particularly clear positions on anything, and I think they are both slightly awkward public speakers in a similar way). But to the extent that they actually do have policies, they are both in favour of gay marriage now but opposed it in the past; both have used fairly left-wing economic rhetoric without seeming to mean it particularly; and they are both moderately hawkish.

          I agree that she’s more similar to Tony Blair in terms of self-promotion, but I think that’s less a specific similarity between those two and more to do with the fact that Blair is/was very American in that respect. I think the same similarity exists between him and most American politicians.

          • Deiseach says:

            Well, those are good points. I think that even as Home Secretary Theresa May was more like John Major (the grey mediocrity type of characterisation) than anything else, I honestly cannot think of anything especially outstanding to make her stick in my mind.

            And when the whole Gove backstabbing Boris over the leadership was playing out, I did think her name was more thrown in as the usual kind of “one or two no-hopers so the real runners can disguise their machinations” situation you see in leadership contests; that she actually won through was a whopping surprise. Perhaps she really is a cunning manipulator behind the facade of “slightly awkward public speaker” but I have no real idea; as I said, the entire Brexit mess right now is making it very hard to see what any of them really think or intend.

            But at least the real prize of Brexit has been achieved – in 2019 the Brits will once again have the iconic blue passport! Victory!

            (This is either very, very clever or “head, meet desk” kind of announcement, I have no idea which).

    • Skeptical Wolf says:

      cDave, would you please provide some more information on why you hold this opinion? I’ve heard similar things stated several times (usually by Americans on the left to criticize those to the right of their position). I’m legitimately curious how true this is, but haven’t seen much evidence for or against it.

      • 10240 says:

        As a Hungarian right-libertarian (by American terms), in my opinion it really depends on the issue we consider. The American style of hardcore Christian conservatism doesn’t really exist in most of Europe. Neither really does the American brand of individualist sentiment of libertarians and many Republicans, but my impression is that in practice this individualism is long gone in America too. On economy, America stands out with its lack of state healthcare and its expensive universities, but overall government spending is actually not that much lower than in Europe.
        On the other hand, on identity politics issues (such as affirmative action, political correctness, sexual harassment lawsuits) America seems to be ridiculously off-the-charts far-left when viewed from large parts of Europe (except the Nordics, not sure about the UK). I’d say the European Overton window is also slightly to the right of America, particularly after the recent refugee wave. That many American cities openly sabotage the enforcement of the immigration laws of the country and provide government services to illegal immigrants, or that Trump’s proposal to deport all illegal immigrants was commonly described as an extreme position, is imho evidence of how left-wing America is on this issue (or was until recently at least).

        I suspect that the differences between the US and Europe on issues where the US is more right-wing are better known (on both sides of the Atlantic) than where it’s more left-wing. When I started to get better informed about Western politics, it was quite a shock to discover that on some issues my opinions that make me a left-aligned liberal in Hungary would be strongly right-wing in America or parts of Western Europe. Note that I’m far from perfectly informed on either the UK or the US, and that I mostly compared the US with Europe in general, rather than with the UK. The UK is perhaps closer to the US on identity politics, but I don’t think it goes quite as far. Also note I’m not cDave.

        • Loriot says:

          I suspect that the difference in views on immigration stems from the different situations. In the US, most illegal immigrants have been living in the country for a decade or more and are defacto Americans. In many cases, they were brought to the country as young children and don’t have any real connection to Mexico. The 12 million illegal immigrants living in the US aren’t refugees so much as Americans who happen to have been born in another country. Providing services is just a matter of practicality.

          Apart from that, deporting everyone is simply impossible as a matter of logistics. That would involve deporting more people than the entire population of Hungary.

          • johan_larson says:

            The 12 million illegal immigrants living in the US aren’t refugees so much as Americans who happen to have been born in another country. Providing services is just a matter of practicality.

            Apart from that, deporting everyone is simply impossible as a matter of logistics.

            The US immigration bureaucracy is quite capable of processing roughly 1 million legal immigrants every year. US cops perform roughly 10 million arrests per year, and the prison system holds more than 2 million people at any one time.

            Based on these numbers it seems quite reasonable, as a first cut at the numbers, to estimate that the US could deport 1 million illegals per year, even with reasonable due process. At that rate it would take 12 years to deport all of them, which is a tractable number.

            Deporting all the illegals is a big job, not an impossible one. It’s just a matter of money and logistics, and of course the political will to make it happen.

          • Aapje says:


            It becomes harder when there are fewer of them and those left will increasingly be those who are more adept at avoiding being arrested, so the number of illegal immigrants being deported should go down over time, even if a lot of effort keeps being put in.

            Also, you’d always have new ones…

          • johan_larson says:


            The second-order effects are difficult to predict. On the one hand, I would expect that some people, seeing they are truly unwelcome and face larger legal risks than they had anticipated, would just leave on their own. On the other hand, others would hide and hunker down and refine their false identities, and so would be more difficult to deport. It’s hard to say which of these two effects would predominate.

            In any case, trying to deport 12 million people one by one wouldn’t be my preferred approach to getting rid of the illegals. I would deport some of them, to be sure, but I think it would be more useful to change the laws around employment paperwork to make it effectively impossible to get an above-board job without legal residency. I would also crack down on the unofficial hire-an-illegal labour bazaars that exist around hardware stores and similar establishments in the south and west of the US. Ultimately most of these illegals are economic migrants and if you make it hard enough for them to earn a living, they’ll go home.

            In any case, I’m not offering a detailed plan for how to get rid of the illegals. I don’t have that. I’m simply arguing that the task is realistically feasible for the national government of a nation of more than 300 million people.

          • Questioner says:

            “In the US, most illegal immigrants have been living in the country for a decade or more and are defacto Americans”

            No, they’re not. They’re Mexicans who happen to work in the US, while sending money back to their families not in the US.

            MEChA, La Raza, etc. et. al. are not “US American” organizations in any meaningful sense of the word.

            “In many cases, they were brought to the country as young children and don’t have any real connection to Mexico.”

            Care to provide some proof for that claim? “Young children” < 6 – 8, and no, that's not anywhere near a majority of illegal immigrants in the US.

          • Questioner says:

            @Loriot and @Aapje

            1: A good start would be deporting everyone who signed up for the DACA, and all their family members

            2: Then you find every single people who goes to a rally and says they’re in America illegally, and deport them

            3: Force every business to use eVerify, and aggressively follow up on any answers that are indicative of illegal status

            4: And yes, all this gets the low hanging fruit, first. But it also cuts down on the support structure for the remaining illegals, which makes hiding harder for the ones who are left

            5: Finally: getting rid of 80 – 90% of the illegal immigrants in the US would be a major win for the Americans who no longer have to compete with them in job market. You don’t have to achieve perfection in order to make things better

          • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

            @Questioner if you want to reduce lower-end labour market pressure, make illegal imployment punishable by significant fines towards both the government and the employees. Creating a risk that illegal employees will surrender to DHS to get the rest of what you would have paid to legal minimal-wage employees should reduce the demand quite a bit.

          • Loriot says:


            Finally: getting rid of 80 – 90% of the illegal immigrants in the US would be a major win for the Americans who no longer have to compete with them in job market.

            That’s the classic lump of labor fallacy. The actual effects on the labor market of having more people is hard to predict. As a thought experiment, suppose you rolled a d20 for every single person in the US and expelled everyone who rolled a 1, regardless of citizenship status. Would that have a positive effect on the labor market? I think not.

          • Toby Bartels says:

            Re Questioner :

            Of course, this is only to be expected from some parts of the political spectrum. What gets me is that there are even people who call themselves libertarians who espouse this programme! (I don’t know if Questioner is one, but they may be found at, among other places.) Somewhere in the comments to this post is a self-described anarchist who seems to want to endorse the outcome if perhaps not the method.

            No, my comment isn’t a valid argument for anything. (From my perspective, the suggested actions contribute directly to a negative term in my utility function, and I’d need to see the evidence that it increases other people’s freedom more than it decreases those of the people (Americans and others) that it targets.) Just smh about anti-immigrant libertarians, I guess.

          • Toby Bartels says:

            @ Loriot (parent to this comment, not the latter comment):

            While I probably agree with you on policy, I think that you’re overstating the facts here. This is a good description of some illegal immigrants, and it’s important that the USA has a sizable contingent of people in this situation. But only a minority have been here for decades. The DREAM Act and DACA are focused mostly on people like these, which is why even Trump is making statements of support for them (not that I trust him, but we’ll see what happens).

          • A1987dM says:

            5: Finally: getting rid of 80 – 90% of the illegal immigrants in the US would be a major win for the Americans who no longer have to compete with them in job market.

            But the extra money Americans would be paid wouldn’t come from thin air, it would come from customers in the form of higher prices, so it’s not obvious the overall effect on purchasing power would be positive. IOW you’re committing the broken window fallacy where the product of work by illegal immigrants is the window.

        • watsonbladd says:

          US politics is far more regionalize then the politics of most European states, so small pockets will have wildly different policies. European states also have far more comprehensive welfare states, so the use of identity politics to stay in power is less developed.

          US politics also has far weaker parties then in Europe. Individual politicians are elected to represent geographic districts. Even though the Republicans didn’t want Trump they were powerless to stop him. This means policies have far less of a coherent political coalition behind them. Put this together with the power of states and cities, and you get ample opportunity to influence policy contrary to how the national government moves.

          • Questioner says:

            While the Republican establishment didn’t want Trump, they didn’t want Cruz even more. Post New Hampshire is was pretty obvious that it was going to be either Cruz or Trump. Search for “Cruz is worse than Trump”, to see how the GOP responded to that.

            For that matter, you’ll find a lot of Democrats supporting Trump back then, too.

        • ze2 says:

          This similar to my experience living in another EU country.

      • cDave says:

        “cDave, would you please provide some more information on why you hold this opinion?”

        The Tories always say that the NHS will be safe in their hands, and that they’ll crack down on benefit cheats but support legitimate claimants, and at least pretend to care about supporting the less fortunate, whereas the Republican’s seem to be marketing themselves as cutting Government support for everything possible, to give the rich tax breaks, to encourage spending.

  105. Adam Berman says:

    You didn’t clarify if people should revise their answers on the Truth vs Beauty question; was it mostly just a set-up for the following question? I’d be keen to know what SSCers think on that one (and especially how it breaks down given answers to other questions), though I suspect it weighs heavily towards Truth?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      That was a placebo question I was just using as a setup for the next one.

      • Thisbe says:

        Delurking apparently just to note that this was one of several questions where I would never have noticed the reversal. I read the question, decided I needed to pick the middle one, and picked the middle one. There was no reason to look at which end of the likert scale was which. Consider discarding “reversal” questions for which the respondent also answered “4” on the TB question.

      • jasonium says:

        I answered correctly (that is, I noticed which end was which and answered as I intended to answer), but I didn’t find it remarkable that the flip happened, so I answered that I didn’t “notice” the change from previous questions.

  106. Adam Berman says:

    Political Disagreement III lacks an option for relativists (i.e., those who disagree with me aren’t wrong).

    • Nathan Taylor (praxtime) says:

      I struggled with answer political disagreement III as well. If you take an in-group/out-group view of political disagreement, it’s hard to categorize this as either an intellectual or moral failure. It’s a bit of both. I wanted to answer a failure of imagination in that your out group may be reasonable within their own norms and beliefs. I left it blank.

      • alef says:

        For me, political Disagreement I and II were as difficult. They seem to presuppose that disagreement is about who is factually correct – as if there’s a right answer out there somewhere and disagreements (when not due to evil) are a matter of who is making a “mistake”? This framework might not be silly in a few cases (e.g. perhaps questions about global warming) but in general seems so very off that I couldn’t even choose a ‘least bad’ answer.

  107. Rachael says:

    Intriguing, as always.

    Slight quibble on the question about income and stage of life: there’s no option for “temporary lowered income, earned more in the past, hope to earn more in the future”, like someone working part-time due to parenting, other caring responsibilities, or personal illness, or someone working a low-paid job to make ends meet during a period of unemployment in their main field. I’m a stay-at-home parent with a part-time job, and I ticked retirement as the closest option.

    The diagnosis questions don’t have an option for “a doctor thinks I have this but I don’t think I do” (which is the case for me and depression). Also, if you think you have it but aren’t diagnosed, and also a close family member has a confirmed diagnosis (which is the case for me and autism), which of those two radio buttons do you tick? I went for “think you have it” because it was higher up the list, which seemed to correlate with importance, even though the family member’s diagnosis is a more objective and concrete thing. Would it be better to have checkboxes where you can tick both?

    Re religion, I’m glad to see the question about conversion. One of my quibbles in previous years is that the religious background question doesn’t distinguish between “I’m religion X because I was brought up that way” and “I was brought up atheist and converted to religion X, which happens to be the religion of my distant ancestors”. The adult conversion question goes some way towards fixing that, although it doesn’t help in the case of teenage converts.

    Lastly, I used to be able to reverse the spinning dancer illusion but can’t any more. Is that common? Does it correlate with general cognitive decline? (I don’t think I’m as intelligent as I was before I had kids.)

    • Alejandro says:

      Same thing about the dancer, used to be able to do it without too much difficulty (last time was the previous SSC survey I think) but this time couldn’t do it no matter how much I tried.

    • Mrs. Reily says:

      Agree; had a little trouble deciding how to answer that one. I am also a stay at home parent and my own income is zero, household income (to which I have free and unrestricted access and make 90% of the management decisions regarding) is significantly more than that. I ultimately went with listing my household income because I wanted to honestly answer the charity questions and one wouldn’t make sense without the other.

    • I also could not reverse the spinning dancer, even though I could do it last year.

    • Doctor Mist says:

      I tried to get it to reverse, failed, shifted my gaze to click No, and then noticed that it had reversed. So I tried to restore it to the original, failed, and shifted my gaze to click Yes anyway, and noticed that it had reversed again. Then I tried to get it to reverse on demand by shifting my gaze, and failed consistently. Still, I chose Yes because I had actually seen it both ways. I don’t know if that’s what was desired.

  108. medvssa says:

    Another note, the race thing… I understand these are some sort of official categories in the US, but it really hurts my brain. I’m from Spain and as “white” as people get, but then I have to choose between “White (non-Hispanic)” and “Hispanic”. Er. So I suppose white means scandinavian or germanic and so I chose hispanic (it’d also be silly if people from Spain are not hispanic, but they made *some* native americans hispanic by virtue of killing half of them and mixing with the rest). And what is an Italian, genetically indistinguishable from me, supposed to answer?

    • Adam Berman says:

      European-Heritage residents of Spain are not conventionally considered “Hispanic” by the US categories. Yes, it’s dumb.

      The answer I would want from you if I was Czar Of The Slate Star Codex Survey would be “White (Non-Hispanic)” despite the vague absurdity of it all.

      The man was not made for the category, nor the category the man in this case.

      • Futhington says:

        It seems like the better answer here would be to do what, for instance, the actual US census does: ask about Hispanic separately from actual race. So are you White/Black/Asian etc. and a separate question of “do you consider yourself to have Hispanic heritage?”

        That’d let you filter out the people from Spain(also Portugal) via the country question and then let you conclude how many south americans you actually have, as well as a their racial demographics.

      • Yosarian2 says:

        Huh. I’ve always assumed that someone from Spain is Hispanic under US categories. Never heard it the other way.

        Edit: one definition I see online is that Hispanic is based on language, while Latino means “comes from Latin America”. So someone from Spain is Hispanic but not Latino, while someone from Brazil is Latino but not Hispanic (since Brazilians speak Portuguese.)

    • Toby Bartels says:

      As a racial category, what we call ‘Hispanic’ really means Mexican (or Central American) Mestizo. But because we are largely ignorant of the racial classifications of other countries, we have the vague idea that everybody from south of the border, from Evita Perón to Pelé to Subcomandante Marcos, is sort of Hispanic. (Also, we’re sure that Arabs and South Asians aren’t White, but we don’t know what the hell they are instead.)

      • toastengineer says:

        (Also, we’re sure that Arabs and South Asians aren’t White, but we don’t know what the hell they are instead.)

        Muslim, of course!

    • A1987dM says:

      The “official” definition is “Spanish-speaking ancestry”, the colloquial one is “sizeable Amerindian admixture”. So a Spaniard is Hispanic according to the former but not the latter and a Brazilian vice versa. (On Less Wrong surveys usually Spaniards and Brazilians have split more or less equally on that question.)

  109. a real dog says:

    I do have a depression diagnosis, but I seem to be recovering pretty well in recent years. This looks a bit awkward with high life satisfaction etc, maybe provide an option of “yes and I got better”?

    • Steve Winwood says:

      Yeah, I was surprised there wasn’t an option for “diagnosed in the past but no longer have it” or something similar. I just put “no” on those items, since empirically I no longer fit the criteria, but in the context of asking about family members etc. a past diagnosis does seem like relevant information.

      • Tarpitz says:

        Indeed. I was addicted to alcohol. I drank over 200 units a week. I went months without sobering up. I dropped out of Oxford. I got a diagnosis and a (useless) prescription. I was completely sober for about a year, and I got withdrawal symptoms. This was all ten years ago. I currently drink, but I’m clearly not addicted, am functional and have a career that’s increasingly going pretty well. What does that count as? How do I count my grandfather, who never touched a drop in my lifetime or for decades beforehand, but whose explanation of this to his daughter in law when she asked was that eventually he stopped being able to get drunk any more, so what was the point?

  110. Wendsay says:

    For next time, would it be possible to add an option for GRE scores in the SAT/IQ section? Asking because my SAT scores are lower than everything else percentile-wise and I have pride, dammit!

    • Gobbobobble says:

      Also, why do intelligence surveys always include the SAT but no one ever remembers the ACT

      • achenx says:

        Yeah, I took the ACT instead of the SAT as well.

        From what I’ve heard, I think the ACT has more “knowledge” questions vs just “reasoning”? Though I guess the SAT had/has the infamous vocabulary knowledge questions.

        I don’t know. I thought the ACT correlated pretty well with the SAT among those who take both, so I would think it’d still be a valid measure to the extent anything is.

        Also on that topic.. for what reason do people take professionally-administered IQ tests?

        • Houshalter says:

          “Knowledge” correlates with g. Vocabulary tests are actually the most g loaded parts of IQ tests. It’s just not “culturally neutral”.

      • bean says:

        Because they’re written by people on the coasts, who can’t be bothered to remember that the center of the country does anything but make their flights take longer. (I kid. Mostly.)
        I actually put in my converted ACT score, because I don’t remember what I got on the SAT.

    • jnp says:

      Also, since this seems like the thread for SAT related amendments, it would be interesting on the next iteration to ask for scores on the separate portions, i.e. Verbal score, Math score, and whatever the third section is now on the 2400 scale (Writing?).

      My Verbal vs. Math scores were reasonably distinct, and I’d be interested to see other people’s results as well as the tendency across this population.

    • Skeptical Wolf says:

      I second the request to include GRE scores. For people who have taken it, it’s probably more relevant than the SAT (since it happens later). Also, I believe MENSA takes it as one of their accepted tests.

      Can anyone recommend a good place to get a professionally administered IQ test?

    • JulieK says:

      I still remember my SAT scores, but not what I got on the GRE.

  111. sarth says:

    Made a wordpress account just to comment:

    1- please recheck both of your “which scenario is more like the other” a&b or a&c etc I believe you have a typo in question two and possibly meant different letters in question one. Or else I missed the whole point.

    2 – there should be a way to select “no answer” … why? Because if I accidentally tap a radio button there’s no way to un-tap it. So on a couple of things I just left a response I wasn’t comfortable with because I couldn’t make it go away.

    • NotDarkLord says:

      Seconded, needs a way to un-tap a radio button. Especially for the ones where it was “if you didn’t answer the previous, leave it blank” – accidentally clicked one, no way to undo it.

  112. Sniffnoy says:

    That was way more than 10 minutes per section.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I timed myself taking it and was less than ten minutes. I added a bit on because I already knew the questions, but maybe I added too little. How long did it take you?

      • Sniffnoy says:

        I don’t know; I’m terrible at timing things because I rarely do things all in one go. Like, I did a bunch of other thing inbetween parts of that survey, so the time between start and finish was at least an hour, but that’s not a very useful measurement. Still even all the way through in one go I doubt I could have done that in 10 minutes per section. At least one individual question took several minutes, namely the favorite post question.

        • Toby Bartels says:

          I thought for maybe 15 seconds whether I could think of a favorite post, and decided that I’d have to look through the archives to decide, so I skipped it, since otherwise it would have taken me hours if not days.

      • Aapje says:

        @Scott Alexander

        I don’t think that having the creator self-take it is a valid way to test the duration, because it merely counts the mechanical element (pressing the buttons), not the mental effort of coming up with the answers.

        In general, it seems wise to test a survey with a small group because it will also catch the major errors.

      • Chevron says:

        My data point is it took about 50 minutes for all 3 sections.

      • milesgrimes says:

        The longest time-sink was the third section, as it required results from outside sites.

      • Skeptical Wolf says:

        I answered every question, taking approximately 70 minutes. I didn’t check the clock when I went from section 1 to section 2, but I hit the last of the “check the seconds before you answer” questions at about 40 minutes in.

        I may have a tendency to overanalyze questions like this.

      • toastengineer says:

        From experience as a game designer: that “bit” should be a factor of around 5 (_after_ you control by, e.g. coming up with unique solutions\answers you’ve never produced before.) I don’t really have any solid guesses as to why.

      • wintermute92 says:

        Part 1 was roughly 20 min, part 2 was roughly 5 min, part 3 was roughly 15 min. I think you’ve underestimated how much time “wedging my life into Scott’s answer set” will take many people, since you presumably wrote it with a clear sense of what you meant for each question.

    • Laplace says:

      Agreed. It took me 100 minutes for the first section and 160 for the whole thing, and I skipped the personality type test at the end.

  113. MissFortune says:

    I had a bit of a giggle at some of the dichotomies.

    Some examples, whether the system is basically fine or needs smashing, I mean surely there’s a real opinion you can hold which is something like “not so fundamentally flawed that smashing would produce something useful but sufficiently flawed that gradual small adjustment will pave the way to large reform”. Which one is the better fit there?

    Also at the gender test question. Like natural disasters would be exciting, you would feel excitement. It would be terrible, but your heart would race, you would sweat, curse, cry, scream. All of these things are expressions of excitement. Did it mean exciting in the sense that Christmas as a child is exciting? As in something to be anticipated and relished?

    • Benedict Ide says:

      Yeah, the “The System” question was kind of weird- after post after post on Moloch and incentive failures, we’re supposed to still take for granted that there’s a System that’s either worthy of praise, or could or should be meaningfully smashed? More than “this is fine” or “smash the System”, I felt “clean up the Mess”. I think I picked the second option, as closest to that? But I honestly forget my answer.

    • Yaleocon says:

      Re: the system. My honest take is probably something like “irreparably broken and doomed to decline,” which there wasn’t an option for. Probably a minority opinion either way though, so whatever.

    • gemmaem says:

      Oof, I was really frustrated by that question. Which system? The whole world? I mean, bits of it work. In America, “The System” is easily conflated with “The American Political System”, which is a bit messed up if you ask me, but honestly I think New Zealand’s system is pretty good, so do I answer for my local system, or what?

      I did not answer, FWIW.

  114. phisheep says:

    Couple of thoughts:

    Religious background was hard to answer. Devout Catholics on one side and weird spiritualists on the other side.

    I was uncomfortable with the political spectrum thing equating Republicans with Tories. Over here I’m a centrist Conservative, but over there I’d be slap bang in the middle of the Democratic party.

    I found that first gender role question really interesting. Scored 47M/69F, but I’m convinced that this would have been sharply different had I taken the test ten years ago – the difference being that then I was working in a big hierarchical global 80% male organisation, while now I’m in a small business where all the staff (bar me) and 95% of the customers are female. I’m curious just how much of this is context-dependent – whether it reflects just who you are surrounded by.

  115. Fossegrimen says:

    Nazi option should possibly be “A and C, because people resort to violence.” and not “B and C, because people resort to violence.” or is there some hidden violence in B?

    • gbear605 says:

      My reading of the question agrees with yours.

    • Glenn says:

      Yes, came here to say this as well. Not sure how to answer this question, so I’m leaving it blank; presumably it’s going to have to be scrapped due to ambiguity unless Scott fixes it quickly. (I assume I can’t refresh to see if he’s fixed it without losing my answers.)

      EDIT: “Marriage Category” also has a problem, the final ‘illegal’ should be ‘legal’. Also the question is sort of weirdly worded in how it equivocates between the legality of homosexuality and gay marriage.

      SON OF EDIT: —redacted—

      GRANDSON OF EDIT: On all the instruments / puzzles / tricks that some of us have seen before, I feel like there probably ought to be an “I have seen this before, do not count me” option… there was one such option but not on all of them (e.g. the CRT questions.)

      • medvssa says:

        I noticed the same and I answered assuming these were typos. I didn’t want to believe they were trick questions.
        For the “I have seen this before” type… well, I remember what I thought the first time I saw/heard of it so I answered that (even in the one occasion I could have answered “seen it before”).

        (delurking for this? *facepalm*)

    • Nornagest says:

      Same. I picked “people resort to violence”, because that seems less ambiguous.

    • isaacg says:

      The next question, marriage category, also seems wrong. It says: “In a country where homosexuality is illegal, a government clerk participates in civil disobedience and refuses to marry gay people.” By my reading, this should say that homosexuality is legal, not illegal. Otherwise, it’s not disobedience.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Yeah, honestly it probably says some really interesting things about me that I constantly get this kind of thing wrong.

      • aNeopuritan says:

        Tell me more.

      • Nick says:

        I think everyone does, because I’ve made this sort of mistake too, and I remember Ozy had a comment on their blog once that they always screw this sort of thing up and it’s literally the worst writing tic to have.

    • Bugmaster says:

      Yeah I got confused by the Nazis as well.

    • Alejandro says:

      The most obvisous answer for me on the Nazi question was the missing option B and C, becuse in both cases the Nazis would get a (relatively) favorable media coverage, at least compared to A.

  116. JulieK says:

    The first section seemed to take a lot longer than 10 minutes.

    • gbear605 says:

      All three sections took me ~35 minutes, which is about what Scott estimates. I’m not sure if one section took longer than another though.

    • Rachael says:

      I agree. Sections 1 and 2 took me about 45 minutes between them, because some of the questions took a lot of thought and introspection. I skipped section 3 because it involved taking several external tests and looked like it would take over an hour by itself.

      I guess it’s possible Scott has randomised it so that some of us get longer sections than others.

    • Aapje says:


      My experience is that nearly all such estimates are a lie and based on immediately coming up with the answer. Of course, the actual time taken presumably differs greatly, so the reasonable solution would be either a (wide) range or a minimum.

    • johan_larson says:

      I didn’t time myself, but section 1 felt like it took forever.

    • Bugmaster says:

      FWIW it took about 10 minutes for me…

    • Doctor Mist says:

      Scott should have asked what time it was for the first question, so I would have to notice. I had no idea how long the first section took.

  117. SolveIt says:

    Many of the political questions really need a “I don’t know/no opinion” option. I make it a point not to have too strong opinions on policy because I know I don’t know shit.

  118. Upthorn says:

    Failed to notice “I’ve seen this before, don’t count me” option on surgeon riddle, checked “I got this instantly.” instead.

  119. dspeyer says:

    I think my H-E perception answer was corrupted by the fact that I scroll in little bits. So I literally saw a bunch of Es before most of the H was on my screen. I doubt I’m the only one.

    • medvssa says:

      +1, I did answer E.

    • Bobby Shaftoe says:

      I had the same experience. I put down that I say the “E”s first, but in retrospect it may have been better not to answer.

    • secret_tunnel says:

      Yup, I thought the same thing.

    • Bugmaster says:

      I too scroll in little bits, but I saw both, since I just kept on scrolling.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Thanks. I’ve changed it as of 12:30 AM my time. Note to myself to delete the 344 answers before then as contaminated.

      • joop says:

        Regardless, my answer was E because the internet was being wonky and took a second to load the whole picture, so I saw some E’s before I could see the rest. I guess it just fails unless you’ve got an instant loading.

        • Dan says:

          I saw the little pic in my browsers tab, where the Es are not discernible because the icon is too small, before the larger pic loaded. I didnt answer since this tainted my perception, but I wanted to add my fail to the list…

      • aNeopuritan says:

        Ask those people to re-answer, because you’ll be deleting a *non-random* sample?

        • cactus head says:

          It would cause bias if the response (“H” vs “E”) is related to being one of the first 344 people who answered. If it’s not related, which I think is the case, then the data are missing at random.

        • secret_tunnel says:

          I do wonder if the speed at which someone responds to this survey correlates with anything.

          • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

            My experience suggests that it should correlate with being ready to give up on questions where no options make much sense for me.

      • knockoffnikolai says:

        Due to internet speed, the picture did not finish loading for me before I saw my first E.

    • b_jonas says:

      The Sundown question had a similar problem for me that’d be more difficult to fix: I saw the first answer before I could even notice what’s written on the sundown.

    • Scott says:

      For me (after Scott’s change to an image) it was that the image took up my whole screen and doesn’t look much like an H without white space surrounding it. I feel like that the answers to tahat are much more a factor of scale rather than any detail/big picture divide in the viewer.

    • 10240 says:

      I looked at the answers for the first “THE THE” question before I looked at the picture.
      As for the second “the the” question (related to a previous answer), I didn’t even attempt to read the answers, just glanced at a few words in them (“I could … change …”).

  120. suntzuanime says:

    I failed the “figure out what part of this is supposed to be a riddle” part of the Surgeon Riddle. I guess that counts as “getting it instantly”, but I was staring at it for a while trying to figure out if maybe you’d left something out or what.

    • Toby Bartels says:

      Yeah, the only thing that strikes me as a riddle is why a surgeon can’t operate on their own son. I mean, doesn’t a person normally have more than one parent? Now, if you make *two* parents dead, then you’re getting somewhere, even though the answer still seems obvious. (But to be fair, I’m definitely one of those people who’d heard the riddle before, so maybe what’s obvious to me now wouldn’t be if I saw it fresh.)

      • Grek says:

        Surgeons are disallowed from operating on their own family members for medical ethics reasons.

        • Toby Bartels says:

          OK, but that’s vague enough that that doesn’t really tell me anything. What’s the ethical problem? Are we worried that a related surgeon will do *too* good a job? And in an emergency situation like this, do we have time to bother with that?

          • Placid Platypus says:

            I think the idea is that being too emotionally invested in the outcome could hurt performance? Not sure if there’s any empirical basis for that though.

          • temujin9 says:

            We’re worried that emotional attachment makes them too close to the problem to do their job correctly.

            We’re also worried about (in other less-contrived scenarios) family members colluding to defraud the medical system, either of insurance payments (“I totally did this super-expensive surgery on my wife, pay me”) or medications (“here’s a prescription for several thousand Oxycodone, bro”).

          • Grek says:

            1. If the surgeon has too strong of an emotional connection with the patient, their performance may be negatively impacted by stress and grief. Imagine the surgeon forgetting a step during a surgery simply because they were too focused on their inner turmoil.

            2. If the surgeon has powerful non-professional reasons to want a patient treated, they may unfairly prioritize treatment of that one patient above others. Imagine the surgeon using their professional influence to get a relative in their care bumped up on the recipient list for a new kidney.

            3. If the surgery fails in a way that leads to the patient resenting the surgeon, or the surgeon blaming themselves for the failure, those negative impacts are magnified when the patient is a close relative of the patient. Imagine a surgeon being divorced by their spouse after an otherwise routine surgery under sedation gave said spouse brain damage.

            4. If the surgeon is related to the patient, it is possible that they may benefit from the patient’s death. Imagine a surgeon ‘accidentally’ nicking the artery of a grandparent who will leave them money in their will.

      • aNeopuritan says:

        “What’s keeping people from having more than 2 parents?”

        • Toby Bartels says:

          Right, that’s the obvious answer if two parents are dead. But at least it feels like a riddle to me that way, even if an easy one.

        • temujin9 says:

          This riddle worked a bit better before the split household, remarriage, and gay marriage all became common.

          • Deiseach says:

            Nowadays it would be “I can’t operate on him, he’s my boyfriend’s ex-husband’s step-son by his new marriage’s half-sibling!” 😉

    • keranih says:

      Once upon a time I might have labelled this question as a muggle detector.

      Now I wonder that I have grown so old that I clearly don’t understand how Kids These Days see the world.

      • Deiseach says:

        Now I wonder that I have grown so old that I clearly don’t understand how Kids These Days see the world.

        It shows how great an upheaval of social mores has taken place within Living Memory and it should (but I doubt it will) get the Kids These Days in their twenties to stop thinking of older people still holding attitudes of Bygone Days as being deliberately and consciously evil (“you racist sexist homophobic transphobic Nazi!”) – no, it’s just that this was how we grew up and our minds were formed.

        If you find it impossible to understand what the riddle in the Surgeon Riddle is, then that’s how your mind has been formed under the views you grew up with. Imagine what it would be like in twenty to thirty years when the Kids of Those Days might ask “But why would a human be carrying out an operation? That makes no sense!” and ease off on the contempt for the dinosaurs who don’t share the Obviously Right, True and Correct way of thinking that you have.

  121. For the mental-illness responses of, “I have family members (within two generations) with this condition,” is a formal diagnosis required for them? I don’t think this is all that important, but I did notice the ambiguity.

    (And for those who don’t know, Vim has a built-in ROT13 encoder/decoder [:help rot13].)

    • perrinwalker says:

      I live in eternal (sincere) admiration of people for whom it’s simpler to use the built-in Vim ROT13 encoder, than to press ctrl-c, then google ROT13, click twice, then press ctrl-v.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        Thanks. (I pretty much always have a vim window open, so it’s an obvious go-to.)

        Keystroke inventory for me with vim (on Windows) is Alt-Tab, Alt-E p, g?j, so it actually is slightly easier.

        • rlms says:

          I think Vimium (O to use vomnibar to open something in a new tab, ro to get, down, enter, Cmd-V) is probably quicker than vim.

      • The Nybbler says:

        I use “tr ‘A-Za-z’ ‘N-ZA-Mn-za-m'” in a terminal window. When I remember I put this in as an alias as ‘rot13’.

    • Berna says:

      I use the d3coder addin for Chrome 🙂

    • phil says:

      Is a wife considered a family member within 2 generations?

      • David Speyer says:

        Also, these questions have radio buttons, implying the answers are exclusive. If I suspect I have a condition, and a family member has a formal diagnosis, which takes priority?

      • Alethenous says:

        No – I think the purpose of those questions is to track heritability, and though a wife is family in the colloquial sense she (hopefully) isn’t a genetic relative.

    • S_J says:

      Almost by instinct, I suspect emacs has a widget for ROT13.

      Buy why are you copy/pasting from a browser into Vim? It’s more work than a browser plug-in, and as much work as using my own ROT13-script that can be run from the command-line.

      (To decrement from my own geek points: I don’t have a ROT13-script that I can run from the command-line. But I’d like to see how hard it would be to create one.)

      • liate says:

        There’s also a rot13 decoder contained in the bsd-games group of stuff; don’t know how to get it on macos, but it’s pretty easy on any linux distro.

      • klfwip says:

        echo ‘rot13 string’ | tr ‘A-Za-z’ ‘N-ZA-Mn-za-m’
        would do the trick on unix-like systems.

        • S_J says:

          You’re right.

          However, that barfs on any string that contains punctuation, if the punctuation character is a meta-character in your shell.

          I took a sample from this page, but had to remove the parantheses, as well as the apostrophe. Or edit the string manually, to insert backslash-operaters in front of the meta-characters.

          That actually makes it very hard for command-line work, whether a simple command like that or a shell/python/whatever-else script.

          Curses…looks like I’m stuck with Vim or Emacs, if I want a non-browser-plugin option.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          It’s worse than what S_J says: copying and pasting into a terminal is a security hole. You should use a command that reads the clipboard, like xclip. But you have to install it first. (Mac: pbcopy/pbpaste; Windows: clip/paste.)

        • chridd says:

          tr A-Za-z N-ZA-Mn-za-m
          and then press enter and paste the text, then meta-characters and newlines won’t be an issue. Press Ctrl-D or Ctrl-C to exit.

          (I’m lazy and just do tr a-z n-za-m and hope that I can figure out the capital letters from the rest of the text.)

      • 6jfvkd8lu7cc says:

        Browsers are flashy things with APIs that change from time to time; editors matching your dispositions are the tools to trust.

      • markk116 says:

        Reading about the vim stuff above I decided to do exactly that, it only required you have python installed.

        import codecs
        while True:(codecs.encode(input("Enter Text: "), 'rot_13'))

        I saved this as “”, and saved it where my command prompt opens, “C:\Users\NAME\.
        Works like a charm:

    • Evan Þ says:

      I noticed a similar ambiguity last year too.

      (I answered as if “yes, I really suspect my relative has this condition” was enough.)

    • sophiegrouchy says:

      I had a problem with this, because it requires guessing on other people’s diagnoses. Also, I didn’t know if I was supposed to count uncles or whatnot. (I just did parents and grandparents, and said seems most likely diagnosis X, but it’s not like they would tell me if so.) I disliked that I couldn’t say that *I* wasn’t diagnosed with x without ALSO having to guess on other people’s diagnoses.

      • Deiseach says:

        Yeah, I found it hard to choose an option when it’s not clearly “No, nobody I know about” or “Yes, my grandfather was diagnosed with Wibbling Earlobes” but it’s a case of “All I ever heard was that Cousin Sally was ‘seeing a doctor for her nerves’ so I don’t know what she had, or the diagnosis” or “Not that I know of, but given family stories I have strong suspicions”.

  122. gbear605 says:

    What should we say if our response to the Surgeon Riddle was correct but different than the answer?

    (My ROT13 answer: Gur fhetrba vf nyfb gur obl’f sngure (gjb tnl znyr cneragf) naq gur obl vf nqbcgrq.)

    • Aapje says:

      When Cthulhu invalidates riddles…

    • Adam Berman says:

      I’d guess “no” because it feels like a kind of “implicit bias/sexism” test question.

      On the other hand, given the gender bias in jobs like surgeon, I wonder if there actually are more women surgeons than gay-male surgeons, and by what margin (surely lower than in the general population!)

    • paleobias says:

      Haha I had the exact same response. Revealing my progressive aspirations, but tragic bias/sexism.

      • toastengineer says:

        I contend that I failed not because I’m a secret sexist, but because I forgot that mothers exist.

    • Grek says:

      This was also my answer.

    • Andrew says:

      Yeah I also came up with that, but I marked myself as wrong because while technically correct, I failed the spirit of the question.

    • Squirrel of Doom says:

      I had seen it a long time ago¹, but back then I immediately got it, so I claimed a solve now.

      ¹ Before gay marriage could confuse matters

    • Jack V says:

      Yeah. I heard the riddle ages ago when I was a child, but I can’t remember what I thought at the time. I mostly take it as positive that there’s now more possible answers than there were! 🙂

    • Creutzer says:

      Oh boy, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who got that solution.

      … and very surprised to hear that surgery is only 59% male!

    • BoppreH says:

      My excuse is that my mother language is very gendered. It’s literally impossible to talk about “the surgeon” without revealing gender, so this is a weak spot for me. When someone talks about an unidentified friend, I can feel the mental taxation; it’s like a part of my brain doesn’t have enough information to do its job, and it’s growing desperate.

  123. gbear605 says:

    Do you consider persistent depressive disorder to be depression for this survey, or only major depressive disorder?

    (For that matter, on surveys in general that ask about depression, does persistent depressive disorder count as depression?)

    • Scott Alexander says:


    • Subb4k says:

      I’m surprised by the results of the big five test form me. I tested as very high extroversion (where I considered myself somewhat of an introvert) and very low on conscientiousness (I guess I am disorganised but I also like to think of myself as someone who is reliable).
      Is the test linked considered accurate in general? Should I rethink my model of myself, or is it more likely that both of these results are a fluke? (The other three seem reasonable to me, and the results of the autism test and both gender tests fall within reasonable expectations.).