Preregistration Of Investigations For The 2019 SSC Survey

This post is about the 2019 SSC Survey. If you’ve read at least one blog post here before, please take the survey if you haven’t already. Please don’t read on until you’ve taken it, since this post could bias your results.

1. Can we confirm or disconfirm different corn-eating profiles of algebraists vs. analysts?

2. Can we replicate the study showing that people who eat more beef jerky are more likely to be hospitalized for bipolar mania?

3. Are there differences in side effects among SSRIs? (to be limited to people taking an SSRI one month or more, will be looked at both effect by effect, and with a lumped-together side effect index where each mild effect counts as 1 point and each severe effect as 3 points)

4. Is there a difference in people’s efficacy ratings for SSRIs (SSRI Effectiveness, SSRI Overall) depending on whether the person was taking the SSRI for depression vs. for anxiety?

5. What percent of people coming off SSRIs experience discontinuation symptoms? Are there differences among different agents? (main analysis to be limited to people who were taking an SSRI at least a few months, discontinued with a gradual taper lasting at least a few weeks, and were not cross-tapering onto any other psychiatric medication).

6. Are people more likely to attribute success to hard work/talent rather than luck if they are from a higher childhood social class? What about a higher current social class? What about if they have moved upward throughout their lifetime?

7. Are people less likely to support psychiatric commitment if they have been committed themselves? What about if they have a frequently-committed psychiatric issue (schizophrenia, bipolar, borderline, eating disorder)? Are they more likely to support commitment if they have a family member with those conditions, but don’t have it themselves?

8. Is there any support for the idea of life history strategies? (does early age of sexual debut and/or high number of sexual partners correlate with regular drug use, with leaving school earlier, and higher risk-taking? What about with being more likely to ask a partner out early or have nonconsensual sex? What about with various psychiatric disorders?)

9. Do paternal and maternal age correlate with risk of the psychiatric disorders? What about with the various self-ratings? What about with SAT score?

10. The question about labeling vegetarian foods (ie can a burger made of pea protein call itself a “burger”) seems to get at questions of essentialism vs. pragmatism in the same way as controversies about transgender. Do people who support essentialist labeling of food also support essentialist gender positions? What if we control for political identification? What if we exclude trans people and vegetarians (who probably care about this for personal reasons)?

11. Can we replicate the claim that people who had a younger sibling born during a supposed critical window for sexual imprinting (I think between 1 and 2 years old, but I will have to double check) are more exposed to baby-related issues during that window and so are more likely to have baby-related fetishes (lactation and diaper)?

12. Using the same definitions of STEM/nerdy/male vs. interpersonal/creative/female occupations as last time (see Figure 7 here), is there a difference between these groups in the rate at which people perceive gender bias?

13. How does imposter syndrome vary by gender, field, and gender * field?

14. Do schizophrenics (and their families) smoke more? Do autistics (and their families) smoke less?

15. Are schizophrenics (and their families) more likely to be able to tickle themselves than others? What about autistics (and their families)? What about people who have used lots of psychedelics?

16. Is tendency to prefer great literature to sci-fi/fantasy mediated by ability to perceive and appreciate complex emotion? (correlate difference in sci-fi enjoyment – literature enjoyment to autism, family autism. On a hunch, I am also going to correlate this with trustworthiness, which I think can be affected by a sort of paranoia which correlates with high-bandwidth-social-reading, and with ability to tickle self).

17. Do people with ADHD habituate to stimuli more or less quickly? This is a tough one, since there’s a common-sense argument for less (being more distractable suggests less able to drown out external stimula). But I have also heard people suggest they habituate more quickly, which is why they get bored so quickly, and why they so easily get distracted from what they’re doing. In retrospect, the question I asked (about habituation to a dripping faucet and other similar noises) is not ideal for this, but I’ll do what I can with it.

18. Do the birth order effects discovered in the last survey disappear if there’s a sufficient age gap between someone and their next youngest sibling, or remain equally strong? If I have enough sample size, I’ll limit this to families of exactly two people, then do an analysis like this one split for people with higher-than-median age gaps vs. people with lower-than-median age gaps. Birth order differences vanishing with high age gaps suggests they may be due to nurture (eg parents too busy parenting another kid to pay attention to you); remaining with high age gaps suggests potentially due to nature (eg maternal antigens or something).

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198 Responses to Preregistration Of Investigations For The 2019 SSC Survey

  1. Sniffnoy says:

    12. Using the same definitions of STEM/nerdy/male vs. interpersonal/creative/female occupations as last time (see Figure 7 here), is there a difference between these groups in the rate at which people perceive gender bias?

    Claim: This is a bad distinction, because really “STEM/nerdy” corresponds to genderless, and “interpersonal” (appropriately interpreted) corresponds to strongly-gendered-in-either-direction. 😛

    • ze2 says:

      That would be my intuition too, because stereotypically nerds aren’t interested in traditionally male things like sports. There is the “brogrammer” stereotype, but I think that’s somewhat unique to Silicon Valley — it’s really a stereotype about tech entrepreneurs and the competitive culture they create, not about technical people.

      • Nornagest says:

        The only brogrammers I’ve ever actually met lived in Portland (and worked at a place that was described to me as a “drinking company with a software problem”. When I visited, I couldn’t get out of the building without taking a shot of Cambodian snake whisky, so I don’t doubt it).

      • Strawman says:

        I understand the intuitions behind that objection, but I nonetheless think the distinction Scott uses is correct (in the sense that it’s a good map of a lot of (most?) other people’s maps – I’m neither claiming that it does nor that it doesn’t fit the territory).
        To make an admittedly lazy and simplistic generalisation about other people’s at least somewhat lazy and simplistic generalisations: both jocks (much brawn, little brains or emotions) and nerds (much brains, little brawn or emotions) are male stereotypes/archetypes/other types of type, just two different and mutually exclusive ones.
        Related: the higher percentage of men in STEM fields compared to [pretty much anything else that requires a university degree], the higher percentage of men with autism, the “extreme male brain” theory of autism, that godawful and inexplicably popular alleged “sitcom” about (what appears to be a Vogon’s impression of) those stereotypically “nerdy” men and a stereotypically “feminine” woman.
        More succinctly: men are both from Vulcan and Qo’nos, women are from… whatever planet counselor Troi is from, I guess? I’m not that much of a trekkie.

        Now what really is confusing is that Netzah (corresponding planet: Venus), is on the right, male, side of the Sephirot whereas both Geburah (Mars), and Hod (the sephira of language, logic, intellect, planet: Mercury) are on the left, female side, because… one must approach the Godhead through union with the Other? As the macrocosm mirrors the microcosm, we are actually viewing a mirror image of the Sephirot (and this somehow resolves that confusion)? Really I’m even less of a kabbalist than a trekkie.

  2. Reasoner says:


    Some of these are just about investigating a possible interaction between X and Y without hypothesizing the sign of any interaction (positive vs negative correlation). I think a pre-registration is better when you also offer a guess about the sign, along with your associated confidence, and reasons you think the sign might be that way. If you are able to correctly predict the sign, we can be more confident there is a real effect, because both your honest prior judgement and the data both point in the same direction. Alternatively, if you have a strong hunch about the sign of the effect, but the data gives us the opposite sign, then we should be less confident.

    A failure mode you’re guarding against by doing this: Suppose you’re investigating an interaction between X and Y, and you find a positive correlation, and you’re like “Oh, that makes sense due to factors A and B”. But you don’t realize that if you’d found a negative correlation, you’d be like “Oh, that makes sense due to factors C and D”. Pre-registering reasons why you think the sign might be positive or negative keeps you honest. (If you want to go above and beyond, I guess you could even spend a timed 60s thinking of reasons why each interaction should be positive, and then another 60s thinking of reasons why it should be negative.)

    This Coursera course even recommends pre-registering one-sided statistical tests in order to improve the power of your studies. The guy who runs the course agrees that one-sided tests can be abused by p-hackers, but he thinks they are fine if you pre-register them. I’m inclined to agree, although it’s a bit difficult to articulate why… the class could be seen as an exercise in shoehorning Bayesian intuitions into the standard hypothesis testing framework. (To be far to the frequentists, I think the Bayesian crowd does underrate the value of null hypothesis testing. It really is the tool you need sometimes.)

    Also, it’s good for others who have intuitions about the results of these analyses to post them in the comment thread now, for the same reason that you’re doing this preregistration. The goal is to subvert the human tendency towards hindsight bias by harvesting uncontaminated prior knowledge

    • sclmlw says:

      I’m inclined to agree, although it’s a bit difficult to articulate why…

      This is probably all stuff you know, but for those who struggle to “articulate why” pre-registration is important, I want to help make this intuitive:

      In Fisherian statistics, the oft-discussed p-value is the probability something like the result you’re observing would occur by chance. This is derived from the statistical test you’re using, whether it’s a t-test, ANOVA, etc. The test you use strongly depends on the assumptions you’re making about the input data (and whether those assumptions are correct). For example, your data might be a continuous Gaussian distribution, or it might be discontinuous or not normally distributed, etc.

      But I’d say one of the biggest places where we see statistical errors is in doing the wrong test because you’re assuming you are only comparing two factors when in reality you’re comparing more than two factors. Just like all the other data identification issues, the number of factors you’re comparing changes the statistical test. If I’m comparing twenty possible outcomes, and I do a one-sided t-test of each outcome versus the control, I just severely under-estimated the probability (p-value) of that result happening by chance. Why? Because a t-test that returns a p=0.05 is saying there’s a 5% probability of getting this by chance, or alternately, “if you looked at twenty similar events like this at random, you would expect one of them to return this result; there’s a 1 in 20 chance this test is randomly returning a ‘positive’ result.” But you just ran that test 20 times. If you got one “significant” result from that t-test, you should not be surprised, since your own statistical test told you that’s what you would get from running it so many times.

      That part is easy for people to understand. What’s hard for people to get their head around for some reason is the intuition that when you look at your data after you generate your hypothesis you’re implicitly adding additional factors to your comparison. Say you do an ANOVA, based on the four factors you’re comparing. Something pops out and you think, “I’ve got a statistically meaningful result that is valid because the p-value says this would be unlikely due to random chance, and I accounted for the fact that there are multiple (four) factors by using the correct statistical test!”

      Not so fast. You’ve compared more than just four factors. All your inputs (even those that you don’t realize are inputs) add to the number of different factors in your analysis, and all your outputs (including those you don’t realize are output) do the same. As the saying goes, “you can’t find your hypothesis in your results”, because to do so is to abuse statistics by making implicit assumptions that aren’t reflected in the statistical tests you’re using to analyze your data. It’s simply too easy – given the known tendency of the human brain to make up stories about causation – to make up a plausible-sounding but wrong hypothesis after you get your garbage results.

      Let me give you a real-world example. When my wife was pregnant with our first child she took Zofran for nausea. It worked great. For our second child, she had debilitating morning sickness again, so she went to her doctor for some more Zofran. “Hold on a minute.” She was told. “New research suggests that might cause birth defects.” Really? So I went to PubMed to see how high the risk was. Here’s what I found:

      A research paper was investigating the hypothesis that Zofran might cause teratomas. Nope. But in that same paper they reported a ‘statistically significant increase’ in a different pregnancy problem when pregnant women took Zofran. This wasn’t part of their original hypothesis, it’s just an observation they picked out when looking at all the data.

      I thought, “This is not evidence that Zofran causes that problem, but it should generate a hypothesis at least.” What happens when you do another study testing that hypothesis specifically? Follow-up studies failed to replicate the finding. I was convinced it was just a statistical artifact, but physicians aren’t necessarily that discerning so it became difficult to get for pregnant women based on this spurious finding.

      Why, though, should the subsequent investigations into the issue be more definitive than that first one that identified it? The follow-up studies were literally the same as the first study, with the only difference being that the authors explicitly stated their hypothesis before starting the study. Shouldn’t we consider the first study to give as much weight as the follow-up studies? Or maybe not as much weight, but at least some weight?

      No. You see, if you’re running a clinical trial, as part of that trial you do a physical exam of both the babies and the mothers. You’re also measuring vital signs, doing blood panels, etc. You have a huge number of variables you’re trying to sort through. You simultaneously asked about dozens of possible skin conditions, neurological issues, hypertension, lung/breathing issues, immunological conditions, etc. You have so many possible variables among which to choose from that a statistical test powered to give you a positive result by chance only one in 1,000 times will likely spit out at least one positive result even if there’s nothing there. (That’s just how probability works, if you flip a coin enough times, you’ll eventually get heads 20 times in a row by chance. Add enough variables, and you’ll find a spurious correlation where nothing meaningful exists.) Looking at the data afterward, you can easily pick which one of the results gets you the strong correlation. But you’d be hard-pressed to identify which one before the results come in.

      Incidentally, I intentionally didn’t mention the specific issue brought up by that original teratoma paper. To illustrate how difficult it is to guess the problem beforehand, try guessing right now (if you’re not already familiar with this issue) what they found.

      That’s what pre-registration does. It forces you to state explicitly, “I think the specific set of circumstances that will give a statistically-significant result are these:” which is akin to picking ahead of time which of the thousands of possible combinations will give you a random positive result by chance. It’s highly unlikely that you’d be able to do so accidentally, so if you get a positive result you’re much more confident that you’re looking at something real. Especially if that result is replicated.

      In this case, they guessed teratomas and they were wrong. Had they guessed heart murmurs, they would have been right for the data set they used to publish that paper. But then that result failed to replicate in the next study, because subsequent researchers found no heart murmur differences. So we can safely conclude this was all due to random chance.

      Incidentally, did you guess heart murmurs?

      • Deiseach says:

        Follow-up studies failed to replicate the finding. I was convinced it was just a statistical artifact, but physicians aren’t necessarily that discerning so it became difficult to get for pregnant women based on this spurious finding.

        I imagine that Thalidomide also has a large effect here, nobody wants to take the risk again and anything that sounds like “can cause problems during pregnancy” is going to be dumped just in case anything happens and the parents sue the pants off the doctor etc.

        • sclmlw says:

          You’re probably right, but it’s still not good science. One exploratory result that fails to replicate multiple times in studies actually designed to show that effect should be abandoned.

          The point of sharing the story was because there’s this intuition people have that is wrong. If one study showed something in the exploratory analysis, why isn’t that just as good as a study specifically designed to test that hypothesis? The mechanics of the trial are literally exactly the same in both cases, so why is one considered evidence while the other is only considered hypothesis generation?

          The reason is because you screw up the statistics by finding your hypothesis after looking at your results. And unless you understand that important nuance, no matter how much training you have you’ll still come to really wrong conclusions trying to interpret the results.

          “Evidence-based medicine” doesn’t work very well if you don’t understand how to interpret the evidence. And in my experience in grad school, statistics was not given the focus it deserved, given its central role in research. Lots of people I graduated with still don’t understand statistics very well, in my opinion, and the research showing how shoddy academic research is suggests that’s a widespread phenomenon.

          Just because you can run a t-test or an ANOVA doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing. There’s a difference between being able to plug numbers into a computer program that executes an equation you once had to memorize, and understanding what the math is doing and what assumptions it’s based on. People think they understand statistics when they’re looking at data. But studies of statistical literacy suggest that most people don’t understand the subject much at all.

          • Statismagician says:

            +1. What did you study in grad school, if you don’t mind answering? I’m always curious to know what other fields are doing in re: statistical training.

          • sclmlw says:

            Immunology. But the statistics courses were the same throughout the college of medicine. Regardless, nobody was doing proper blinding, good controls, pre-registering experimental claims, well-powered experimental groups, etc.

            Later study of real statistics taught me better. But it still makes me cringe when I think how much nothing seems to have changed in the field of academic biomedical basic lab research. It’s not exactly surprising why so many fields are seeing a replication crisis.

          • Just because you can run a t-test or an ANOVA doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing.

            My father’s comment on a computer program for exploratory statistics—not generating test results but looking for patterns—was that it was the first program he had seen with which someone untrained in statistics would do more good than harm.

          • Robert Beckman says:

            This is then ore of the problem though – people who know enough statistics to do the math, but not enough science to understand how to use it, or not enough business to know what it means.

            In my field – healthcare fraud detection – I’ve had too many people with letters after their names come show me a model with fancy math, that when I interrogate them about it really turn into simple variable weighting’s that could just be done algebraically. This isn’t to say that there isn’t some good statistics in use, just that soo much of it is voodoo that doesn’t really mean anything.

            Example: hospitalization claims for patients with sepsis tend to also have a lot of other diagnoses….. but so do erroneous sepsis diagnoses….. so of course I’ve seen PhDs come show me that a high number of diagnoses correlates with erroneous billing, because they don’t understand that sepsis itself correlates with very sick people, and very sick correlates well with lots of diagnoses.

      • Freddie deBoer says:

        This all seems really sharp to me, but I must report that I’m imagining my stats prof at Purdue going cross eyed over your definition of p value.

        • Reasoner says:

          Maybe sclmlw’s comment could benefit from being more careful to distinguish between [the probability we should assign to this result being spurious] and [the probability of us observing a spurious result in a universe where the null hypothesis is true]. It’s the difference between p(Zofran does not cause heart murmurs|observed data) and p(observed data|Zofran does not cause heart murmurs).

          BTW, I’m not sure anyone really knows how to “do science right” at this point. If anyone does, it’s probably Andrew Gelman, and when someone asked him how to evaluate research, he said “That’s a tough one.” I personally don’t yet see a point of diminishing returns to additional statistics geekery, and I’m skeptical of people who think they’ve got it all figured out.

          • sclmlw says:

            I understand that my definition of p-value is off. I was trying to make the description accessible to people who understand the statistics just enough to get themselves into trouble, so I could explain why. I judged that introduction of the null-hypothesis concept was counter-productive to my goal, and that oversimplifying was worth the sacrifice.

            Feel free to judge me for making that call.

          • Aapje says:


            Instead of “doing things right,” I would suggest ‘doing things better.’

            There is a lot of room for improvement.

      • Reasoner says:

        Hm, I’m not fully persuaded. Like, if we look at it from a Bayesian perspective, we’ve got our prior probability (under complete ignorance) that Zofran causes heart murmurs, and then we’ve got the likelihood of the observed result for the first study under both the null and the alternative hypotheses, and the likelihood of the observed result for the second study under both the null and alternative hypotheses. These are all the terms I need to do a Bayesian update, right? In algebraic terms, how do you propose Bayes’ theorem be adjusted to account for the effect you’re describing?

        Here’s one way of adjusting our computations. Instead of asking about the probability that Zofran causes heart murmurs, let’s consider the probability that Zofran causes any kind of malady that pregnant women want to avoid. As we add more statistical tests, the odds that our data supports the existence of any particular malady caused by Zofran goes up, even under the null hypothesis where Zofran is harmless. So then we change our question to, does the evidence for the maximally bad malady substantially exceed the evidence we would expect to observe under the null hypothesis where Zofran is harmless?

        BTW, I find ginger really helps me with nausea, maybe that will help your wife.

        • sclmlw says:

          I think you’re conflating Fischerian and Bayesian statistical models and it’s producing some unhelpful results. Bayes essentially asks, “How should I update my priors based on the new evidence?” And don’t get me wrong, I love Bayesian statistical thinking, and I’m happy it is making such a huge comeback. But it doesn’t help us much here when we separate it from the Fischerian analysis.

          That’s because with Bayesian thinking we have to have ‘new evidence’ with which to update our model. The fundamental observation we should be making from that first Zofran study isn’t, “we have new evidence that Zofran may cause heart murmurs.”

          We don’t have evidence, we have a fishing expedition from a massive combination of data that will frequently produce a positive result by mere chance. Do the Bayesian math on that, and you end up pretty close to where you started. “How should I update my prior, given I got an observed distribution that should produce this kind of variance by random chance?” Bayes doesn’t put you far from where Fischer does in this instance.

          Why? Because there is a difference between pre-registered claims and fishing expeditions. Pre-registered claims have to be spot on to show a positive result in a well-powered study. Fishing expeditions constantly spit out new hypotheses for us to test, because they aren’t held to the same standard that we hold for actual evidence.

          The point isn’t that the first Zofran study was ‘weaker’ evidence. The point was that it wasn’t evidence at all! It was an observation sufficient to generate a hypothesis. And this is the difference – and the nuance – that makes it so hard for people to articulate and understand why pre-registration of claims is so important. If you don’t pre-register, you’re still just making random observations the rest of us are free to ignore.

          Because you can always find some spurious correlation if you keep p-hacking long enough. That doesn’t mean we should incorporate that correlation into our models – whether Bayesian or Fischerian.

          There is a qualitative difference between these two approaches to analyzing data (pre-registration versus p-hacking fishing expeditions), and therefore they produce different kinds of information. That’s why you have to be careful when reading in the scientific literature; sometimes you can’t tell when someone is working off of the 18th hypothesis because the other 17 didn’t fit the data well enough to get published. But sometimes you can, like in the Zofran case. And when you see that, you don’t ignore the result as ‘inferior data’, you recognize it as the hypothesis-generating tool that it is and you immediately ask, “what happened when they actually tested the hypothesis?”

          In the case of Zofran they came up with nothing. Across multiple studies. That should be enough to reject such a weak hypothesis for all practical purposes.

          BTW, thanks for the advice! … but this happened some time ago. My son is now two, so the nausea issue is moot.

        • SaiNushi says:

          Ginger is part of the recipe for a homemade plan-b… so I doubt it’s a good thing for pregnant women to take during the first trimester, when the nausea is usually worst.

  3. Statismagician says:

    My predictions: (&note, future self, these are things you said:)

    1: This SSC-reader corn-eating* subsample will favor analysts, somewhat strongly.
    2: We will not replicate the BPD/beef jerky study, or at least will not among the non-vegetarian subpopulation.
    3: Strongly, yes there are differences in SSRI side effects; no strong prediction of what those might be based on.
    4: Yes, there are differences in SSRI efficacy depending on use for depression vs. anxiety, somewhat strongly.
    5: Insufficient experience to make a prediction.
    6: Very strongly yes to ‘increased attribution of hard work as opposed to luck re: economic success’ for higher childhood social classes and for ‘self-made men’. I predict this will be less strong for people who rose in social class late in childhood/adolesence. I am cheating a bit, having read [the abstracts of] several studies which also found this.
    7: Prior psychiatric commitment history will not be significantly associated with support for mandatory psychiatric commitment.
    8: This set of questions will not be statistically-usefully accessible.
    9: Yes, parental age (weakly: maternal more than paternal) correlates with increased risk of psychiatric disorders. Self-ratings do at least 3 mutually-incompatible things. SAT scores are inversely correlated, but not when controlling for childhood SES.
    10. I suspect statistically-insignificant anticorrelation of e.g. vegan food labeling opinions and transgender naming opinions, on the criteria given by Scott.
    11. Strongly suspect that this is not the case. Meta-assessment is weaker than all previous claims, though.
    12. Slightly suspect statistically-non-significant increase in minority/female representation.
    13. Suspect increased prevalence by female gender; Simpson’s Paradox by field; and ? by gender*field.
    14. Absolutely no idea; intrigued to learn more.
    15. Controlling for ‘degree of personal schizophrenia,’ yes, schizophrenics/family members can tickle themselves more readily. I expect the more schizophrenic to be more auto-tickle-able, etc.
    16. I weakly suspect this will not work, broadly because this set of measures doesn’t measure what we’d like it to, on any level.
    17. I abstain, having no useful data.
    18. I weakly suspect that no, birth order effects are not significantly dependent on age gaps.

    *Let it be assumed I’m talking about the SSC and topic-relevant subpopulation from hereon out.

    edit: spelling.

    • Deiseach says:

      2: We will not replicate the BPD/beef jerky study, or at least will not among the non-vegetarian subpopulation.

      Is that “nitrate-cured foodstuffs” in general, or specifically beef jerky? If the latter, I’d be fascinated to know why beef jerky but not salami or cooked ham.

      11. Strongly suspect that this is not the case. Meta-assessment is weaker than all previous claims, though.

      Google, if you’re going WTF? over my search history, blame SSC (kindly insert pious ejaculations of “Jesus, Mary and Joseph” after every subsequent sentence from here on in). Having read one “Psychology Today” article from 2013 on the topic, it seems nobody really knows what the heck is going on. Given that Daddies/littles is a thing, I strongly suspect that this has way more to do with Dominance/submission spectrum of sexuality, in that regressal to babyhood is the ultimate submission and seeking of caretaking and disavowal of responsibility and adult capabilities, and it need not be primarily sexual (as BDSM relationships/preferences need not be primarily sexual).

      (This is not a topic I ever considered I would need to have an opinion on, but there you go).

      • Statismagician says:

        Per here it appears to be all “nitrated dry cured meats;” I have no idea how differentially different kinds of cured meats are nitrated, possibly beef jerky is more usually than salami, etc.? I’m skeptical about the study because it didn’t assess dosage at all (quoth the study: “Data were not collected regarding the amount of food consumed or the timing of consumption”) and my very strong prior for this class of finding is always ‘this is a statistical error/artifact/anomaly and will be contradicted next month.’

        I know what you mean – my search weirdness always goes up when there’s a new SSC post. I’m less principled than you on this one; my prior for this class of childhood / sex thing findings is simply ‘probably nonsense’ so I just went with that; it’s a strong prior, but not a specifically-evaluated one.

        • Deiseach says:

          “Data were not collected regarding the amount of food consumed or the timing of consumption”

          Oh, for flip’s sake. Then all they have going on is “wet streets cause rain”: before Joe was first diagnosed, he consumed a packet of beef jerky. That’s the kind of basic thing I’d expect them to measure: how much jerky does the average out-patient consume? You might as well argue oranges, white bread or decaff coffee are to blame!

          I’m less principled than you on this one

          Eh, it’s not principle so much as “Dammit, now you’ve piqued my curiosity and it’ll annoy me unless I look it up” 🙂

        • Ozy Frantz says:

          Kinky people were often recognizably kinky in childhood. (“Hey, everyone, we should do the game where you tie me up and then tickle me! That’s the BEST GAME.”) So either it’s something in childhood or it’s genetic, and the latter seems pretty implausible, given the existence of latex fetishes (well, outside of Mesoamerica, I guess).

          • tailcalled says:

            Could the genetic aspect not be more indirect? Suppose there’s a network of genes that somehow encode a set of patterns that have to show up together to be aroused. If there’s then a mutation in these genes, perhaps the patterns get altered in a way that just happens to be triggered by latex. (This probably isn’t the exact way it works, but I have no idea how genes affect psychology, so I wouldn’t be able to tell what the exact way is.)

  4. atreic says:

    Thank you for this! Trying to puzzle out why you asked the beef jerky question was really irritating, I can stop now 🙂 Also, I am deeply intrigued by the corn, and hope it replicated.

    I still think the risk of bias from posting this before you close the survey is too great though, I’d have been tempted to wait until afterwards.

    • Rachael says:

      It’s hard because if he posts it too soon it could bias people’s answers, but if he posts it too late then he could be accused of making the predictions based on the data that’s come in so far. Posting it now, partway through the survey, seems to incur both risks…
      I guess the solution would be to write the article before posting the survey questions, hash it, post the hash along with the questions, and then post the full prediction article after the survey closes.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        I realize this isn’t great security. My real reason is so I can post another “HEY THERE’S A SURVEY GOING ON, HERE’S THE LINK, TAKE IT NOW” post without it being too obvious or boring.

        • John Thomas says:

          It worked.

        • ze2 says:

          Yep, my reaction was “Welp, my not having taken the survey is preventing me from reading a blog post, guess I have to take it now.”. Whereas before this post there was no reason not to put off taking it.

        • Thegnskald says:

          So the real reason ISN’T so you can see what differences there are, if any, between the people who took the survey before you explained the questions, and after?

      • Rana Dexsin says:

        Yeah, I’m a fan of cryptographic precommitments myself, but you have to be careful with formats if you do that. (On other sites I might also be concerned about alienating some of the audience, but here I wouldn’t bother.)

        • albatross11 says:

          If you’re planning to do a randomization step in your analysis, you can precommit to that, too. Use a randomness beacon. The one I linked to (run by NIST, and apparently not shut down yet) generates a new random number once per minute. You can commit today to seeding your PRNG with the output value at midnight Jan 10. Once the output value comes out, you run your program using that value as the seed for your PRNG, and anyone can tell that you didn’t (say) try a bunch of seeds until you got your test to give you a good result.

  5. Rachael says:

    ” Birth order differences vanishing with high age gaps suggests they may be due to nurture (eg parents too busy parenting another kid to pay attention to you); remaining with high age gaps suggests potentially due to nature (eg maternal antigens or something).”

    I’m not remotely a biologist, but I think vanishing with high age gaps could still be biological, via depleting some kind of nutrients from the mother’s body which are gradually restored?
    Presumably if that’s the mechanism, there would be a smooth trend, with the smallest age gaps causing the biggest effects and very large age gaps causing no noticeable effect; whereas if it’s nurture-related, the relationship could be more uneven, with the biggest effects happening at age gaps corresponding to a key developmental window, which could be two years or three years just as likely as nine months.

    • Garrett says:

      Related issue (because immunology makes my head hurt): Could an antigen response also decrease with time? We know this happens with some vaccines as well as frequently with food allergies.

    • Deiseach says:

      I wonder if the vanishing with large age gaps might also have to do with the younger sibling(s) being products of second marriages? First marriage/partnership ends in divorce or break-up, kid(s) of that relationship are older, second time round the woman in the new relationship wants a baby so that there may be a substantial age gap between the children of the man (or vice versa, it happens that women leaving their partners and going into new relationships also tend to have new babies with the new partner).

      So in effect you’re looking at two families, where the new child is the first/only child of the new second family, not one family where you have the first child being five-ten years older and the second/more siblings falling into the birth order pattern. That is, you’re now comparing two ‘first children’.

      • Statismagician says:

        Interesting; do you happen to have a source for these correlations? I wouldn’t have expected an association but on reflection several of my acquaintances’ families fit the pattern you describe.

        EDIT: also, I wonder if there’s an association with relatively low or high income; my intuition is that this would be less common on the middle than on either extreme.

        • Deiseach says:

          do you happen to have a source for these correlations?

          Alas, the only source I have is “pulled it out of the air” because it seemed to me to be not an unreasonable assumption. I wonder if sociologists have studied this, surely they have? I would imagine they must have some sets of data for “large families all the children of same parents” and “new families of second marriages” to break down “age gaps between children and birth order effects”.

          And if they don’t and anyone wants to study it, go right ahead!

          • Statismagician says:

            If I get a spare day or two I might, actually; there are a couple large public datasets which might have useful variables (BRFSS and Add Health, if anybody else wants to have a look).

          • Statismagician says:

            Okay, yes, Add Health has variables for all the demographic stuff as well as academics, employment, and political affiliation, plus ~a bazillion other things. Can’t directly assess the Big Five stuff (there’s been some work on trying to turn the survey data into proxy metrics, but that’s way more work than I want to do) or IQ, but plenty of correlates should be available.

            Anything else I should see if I can look at? The codebook explorer is here if anybody wants to take a look.

  6. Aladin says:

    Per 10, somewhat related, somewhat not:

    With regards to other gender categories besides Male, Female, and transgender, well, what does that actually mean to people? Does 2% of the population really find themselves unable to categorize one way or another, or is it, they consider themselves either Male or Female but violate some gender norms and base their definition around gender norms so they put other?

    Would, for example, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, if they were alive today, when answering such a survey put down other for their gender catagory? Even if for all intents and purposes, they are both men? Does that pose a problem for anyone trying to get meaningful data from the answer to the question?

    As far as essentialist vs pragmatist, well, wouldn’t transgender men and women consider themselves as belonging to a essentialist group? As in, transgender women for example having a psychological condition that makes them consider themselves as women, which is why the whole conversation is around whether they have the right to participate in activities that are reserved for women in society. Furthermore, isn’t the idea behind gender conformation surgery fundamentally essentialist? Do I have that right?

    • tailcalled says:

      Re. nonbinaries:

      They typically have some degree of gender dysphoria (or some other form of desire to not be seen as their assigned sex) but not to the degree where they fully transition genders (which would be a very invasive approach). This gender dysphoria can originate from the same sorts of sources as it does for binary trans people (which is sometimes strong gender nonconformity but usually other factors). It’s not clear whether there are also other things that might lead to the gender dysphoria nonbinaries feel; certainly it sometimes seems like their dysphoria can’t be accounted for using the conventional factors we use to model dysphoria.

      And obviously there are outliers that this model doesn’t apply to. Nonbinaries, being defined by what they’re not (“binary”), are a very heterogenous group.

      • Aladin says:

        But when people answer “other” on a given survey, are they doing that because they consider themselves nonbinary or because they don’t completely conform to gender norms? Is there meaningful difference between the two?

        Idk, it seems to me that conformity to gender norms should not be as big a factor as it often is, and any definition of gender based mostly on norms is a misogynistic and harmful definition. If a man wears women’s clothing, why should that man now call himself anything other than a man, unless he actually feels that he is a woman? See: People like eddie izzard.

        But then there is the issue of what nonbinary actually means formally, and I guess your response helps, but … its weird right? Not trying to demean anyone with that, so sorry if it comes off that way, but it’s just, how do you define that? A cultural definition of gender is (imo) inappropriate, because then, for example, a transgender women isnt an “actual” women, she (he under this model) is just a man violating gender norms, which is precisely the model trans people want to eliminate. And it also brings up issues of, well, culture changes place to place. Do we have an different definition for each culture?

        And its not as though the mens bathroom has any relevance to what clothing you wear.

        But a biological model is also not good? So its arbitrary. A person may claim that *insert pronoun here* is nonbinary because *pronoun* doesnt consider pronoun to be a man or women, but really, under what basis do *pronoun* make that decision?

        • tailcalled says:

          They do it because they consider themselves nonbinary, and they often consider themselves nonbinary due to the gender dysphoria and sometimes also due to taking some steps (which are often far smaller than those binary trans people take) to partially transition (which they do because of the gender dysphoria, or similar). So it all comes back to the gender dysphoria, except this gender dysphoria can come from multiple different factors.

          I think you are putting too much weight on the “conformity to gender norms” aspect. It is usually not the gender nonconformity that leads to gender dysphoria, but instead the gender dysphoria (or factors behind it) that lead to the gender nonconformity. (Of course, there’s exceptions…)

          Trans/NB people usually frame things in terms of the idea of an innate gender identity. This idea is probably very questionable. For example, identities are inherently social; an “innate national identity” wouldn’t make sense, and neither does an innate gender identity. (Something like “innate sex-atypical behavior that leads to social friction and as a result a GNC social identity” is more realistic, and it does happen sometimes as a cause of gender dysphoria, but it’s doesn’t describe most trans people.) There’s attempts to rescue the concept by saying that “identity” is mostly a metaphor and they’re really referring to what essentially amounts to some sort of “innate gender drive”, if you will. I’m not super impressed with this line of approaches, but it’s probably the simplest way to understand the way trans people usually model these things: “Everyone has an innate gender identity which causes them to desire to be physically male and enact male gender roles, desire to be physically female and enact female gender roles, or a mix of the two.” When they then refer to “gender”, they are referring to this innate gender drive, and those who identify as nonbinary do so because they have a desire for an androgynous body and roles.

          There may be cases where their desire to have physical traits associated with the opposite sex is a result of gender nonconformity. For example, a very masculine unfeminine lesbian with a bad relationship to feminist/lesbian communities is not going to be benefitting much from being female in any conceivable way, while she’s going to have plenty of downsides with it, and so she might start wishing that she wasn’t female, and this could sometimes lead to a nonbinary (or even trans) identity. This is probably not the most common way to come to a nonbinary identity, though. You mentioned Eddie Izzard, who I’d say is probably autogynephilic. For an autogynephile, the desire to have a female body doesn’t come from friction with society, but instead with, y’know, the autogynephilia. Similarly, autoandrophilia is probably a common cause of AFAB NB identities. It’s questionable that any other causes than GNC homosexuality and autogyne/autoandrophilia are relevant for binary trans people, but less clear for NBs.

          So, formally, a nonbinary person is a person with some desire to have either opposite or mixed sex characteristics and gender roles but who hasn’t transitioned all the way to the opposite gender role of their assigned one and who considers themselves nonbinary. (Plenty of people with some such desire don’t identify as nonbinary and are therefore not usually considered nonbinary.) The desire for different sex characteristics can be linked to gender nonconformity, but probably usually isn’t.

          • SaiNushi says:

            My understanding of Eddie Izzard, was that he described himself as a man who likes to wear women’s clothing. Which would make him not a transgender person at all. (Which is why I’m using him for Eddie Izzard).

          • tailcalled says:

            Eddie Izzard has identified in a number of different ways. Some of them (e.g. “a complete boy plus half a girl”) seem to be similar to how some NBs describe themselves, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he might (at least sometimes) pick nonbinary if asked.

    • indigo says:

      Don’t forget that besides people finding themselves at odds with societal gender roles and norms, a substantial portion of the population is also intersex in one way or another. To just pick out one example, about 1 in 500 newborns who are assigned male have XXY sex chromosomes:

      Being at odds with gender roles and norms is of course more common and relevant, but it’s worth remembering that there is a segment of the population for whom “biological sex” does not neatly fall into the canonical binary.

      (By the way, a common shorthand for “nonbinary (person)” is “enby”. Less of a mouthful, and commonly used for self-identification.)

      • tailcalled says:

        Klinesfelter syndrome boys (one of he more common forms of intersex, and the example you mentioned) essentially always identify binarily as male, though. There isn’t really much intersex/trans correlation to speak of (none unless you count GNC homosexuality as intersex because the brain is intersex, but even then this is not the etiology for most trans people).

      • Aladin says:

        Fair enough, but I guess for most purposes one can treat sex as a binary concept. Obviously there are always exceptions, but for example, XXY people are assigned Male and most of them develop as a Male would, so it is entirely appropriate to designate their “sex” as Male. I believe that the body randomly chooses one of the X chromosomes to “turn off” just as it does for women generally.

        I guess people who consider themselves to be significantly intersex may also consider themselves enby, but based on the survey results, and this may be wrong, but most people who consider themselves enby have a sex that fits one of Male or Female.

    • bullseye says:

      People are going to interpret the question differently. There are probably people with identical situations who answer differently. But I’d expect that most people who answer “other” actually do identify as neither male nor female.

    • Lignisse says:

      As far as essentialist vs pragmatist, well, wouldn’t transgender men and women consider themselves as belonging to a essentialist group?

      I think some do (and I think it’s encouraged politically to do so) but I’m a trans woman and not essentialist at all, so it’s at least possible. I have autogynephilia, which is to say that I feel a strong (largely but not entirely sexual) attraction to the idea of being a woman (interpreted functionally, in the usual way that you might note that someone is a woman without committing yourself to essentialism). Calling autogynephilia a condition feels slightly wrong because to me that word connotes that it causes distress, while in fact I find a lot of happiness and meaning in it, but I know others for whom those connotations are applicable so it’s hard to quibble too much. Likewise for surgery: I’m sure some have essentialist reasons for it, but I got surgery so that I could participate in sex in the way that I enjoy the most, and now I do, and all is right with the world.

      In summary, it’s not necessary to be essentialist to be trans (and it doesn’t even seem to be a good idea, pragmatically speaking, judging from the difference in happiness I observe among trans women who do and don’t hold essentialist views).

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        Thanks, this shows me that Scott phrased the questions on being sexually turned on picturing oneself as an attractive woman or man wrong.

        As a heterosexual XY-man I find visualizing myself in an attractive woman’s body sexually stimulating, but this is because when I do visualize myself this way I am visualizing “my” body from a third-person perspective (or at minimum through a mirror, or looking down and touching), and am thus turned on.

        I have zero interest in the “attractive” male body, as I’m heterosexual.

    • SaiNushi says:

      Non-binary is a huge category that refers to all kinds of people.

      I am gender-fluid. Physically, I am female. Usually, I don’t much care about my gender. When I do, it’s about 50/50 for whether I feel male or female. When I feel male, it’s rather odd. My mind avoids noticing my body, because my body feels wrong. If my mind does notice my body, then it feels very very wrong. The muscles are wrong. The shape is wrong. The voice is wrong. When I am more male than female, I tend to exhibit slightly autistic traits. Both sides enjoy mathematics, programming, problem solving, and crafting. My male side is more obsessive and perfectionist than my female side. My female side is more social and more confident than my male side. My male side is more likely to take things literally when they’re supposed to be metaphorical or sarcastic. My female side is more likely to flit from topic to topic. My taste in clothing has more to do with my emotions than my gender, so you wouldn’t be able to tell which is which that way.

  7. Emperor Aristidus says:

    The question about labeling vegetarian foods (ie can a burger made of pea protein call itself a “burger”) seems to get at questions of essentialism vs. pragmatism in the same way as controversies about transgender.

    I am unconvinced by the correlation. I can see why one would think that — but consider people (like me) who were convinced on the transgender issue by the Categories Were Made For Man post. I accept that it’s a net positive to refer to transgender people as their perceived gender rather than their physical one. But pea-based “burgers” don’t particularly care what you call them, last I checked. And it’s more useful to have different words to describe what are two different (though similar) dishes than to awkwardly lump them together in a single one à la Eargrayish.

    ((Note: I don’t feel particularly strongly about the specific burger example due to also personally disliking the neologism burger to begin with, as I am one of those people who know what the city of Hamburg is and why hamburgers are called that, and therefore find it about as unnatural as if you, say, started using “Man-Catholics” to refer to “Roman Catholics” even if they were female. But I know this is a losing battle.))

    • Rachael says:

      I’m also unconvinced. I didn’t see the burger question as being about essentialism, because I don’t think of a burger as being necessarily made of beef: there are also chicken burgers, veggie burgers, bean burgers, etc. In the absence of any qualifier I would assume a “burger” was beef by default, but more like in the way that I would assume a dessert pie (enclosed by pastry) was apple by default, and wouldn’t have any objection to a cherry or rhubarb pie.
      If some people think a burger has to be beef and some people don’t, that’s probably a matter of dialect rather than essentialist philosophy.
      As for mayo, I’m less sure, but that one probably comes down to foodie opinions or something.

    • Deiseach says:

      I am one of those people who know what the city of Hamburg is and why hamburgers are called that

      I’d generally be with you on that, but the battle has been lost since people started referring to “beef burgers” (because a hamburger is not made out of ham), so we may as well give in on veggie burger, bean burger, chicken burger, etc.

      Now that “burger” has been split off on its own, it refers more to the particular shape and cooking style of the foodstuff (i.e. minced material possibly combined with spices and breadcrumbs, shaped into a round, and cooked by frying, then served in a bread bun with or without salad vegetables, condiments) than the major ingredient (meat of some kind).

      • Emperor Aristidus says:

        Companion, the battle is lost in your land… but across the ocean, here in France, the battle yet rages. Ours is a land where yon word “burger” is still considered slang, a land where there is hope — slim, yes, but carpe diem!

      • Uribe says:

        The battle isn’t lost if it turns out some people are really bothered by terms like veggie burger despite its popularity.

        A trend that really bothers me to the point I annoy others with my protests in restaurants is referring to meats as “protein”. Not sure if that makes me an essentialist or a pedant. Or are pedants necessarily essentialists?

    • Maxander says:

      I’ll add my vote to the skepticism of question 10, for two additional reasons;

      – Deciding to call people by their self-perceived gender isn’t necessarily a pragmatist stance; it is entirely consistent with an essentialist view where people have two separate and unrelated kinds of relevant “essence”; namely, gender (social role) and sex (biological configuration.) (I can sort of imagine burgers having two kinds of “essence” in the same sense (burger-ness and meat-ness?) but that seems like much more of a stretch, and seems to not be the intent of the hypothesis.)

      – Even accepting a generally pragmatist viewpoint, we may not accept that humans have the responsibility to be “packaged” in a maximally explanatory fashion, in the way that we require foods to be unambiguously packaged.

      Edit; grammar. Also, apologies if my understanding of essentialism/pragmatism is rusty.

    • as I am one of those people who know what the city of Hamburg is and why hamburgers are called that

      I know what the city of Hamburg is but, so far as I can tell by a little googling, there are a variety of theories for why the hamburger is called that.

      So tell us.

      • Emperor Aristidus says:

        Oh, I’m no great culinary scholar with a brand new theory of why whoever really invented the darned thing decided to name their hot sandwich after a major German town. I simply mean that it has always been obvious to me that its name is meant to mean “from Hamburg” (for whatever reason).

  8. Kuiperdolin says:

    I hope you take into account that in many (most?) non-US countries beef jerky is a rarity (I must have seen it twice, sold as an expensive novelty both times).

    • Aapje says:

      Indeed, last time I went to the US, I actually bought some for a Dutch person, who requested it.

  9. belvarine says:

    Do people who support essentialist labeling of food also support essentialist gender positions? What if we control for political identification?

    Eagerly awaiting the post that claims right wingers (who tend to favor deregulation) don’t actually hate transgender people, because if they did, then they’d insist on rules forbidding the “mislabeling” of food products just like they insist on rules forbidding the “mislabeling” of gender.

    • tailcalled says:

      Prediction: Allowing vegan substitutes to be labelled with the same as the foods they’re trying to mimic is a pro-vegan position, and pro-veganism is associated with being left-wing, so because political principles aren’t real and most politics is just tribalism, right-wingers are going to be more likely than left-wingers to insist on rules for labelling vegan substitutes.

      • Ozy Frantz says:

        I suspect that’s true in general but it’s important to note that Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, is one of the strongest advocates for allowing Just Mayo to be labeled “mayonnaise.”

        • Aapje says:

          It’s because he is against the mandatory levy on eggs that goes to the American Egg Board and because he believes that the board used federal power and resources to go after Just Mayo, which he considers anti-competitive.

          Lee seems to be very, very much in favor of small government and anti-regulation, even being consistent in this when it harms his ‘tribe.’

          • Mr. Doolittle says:

            Being anti-vegan is not a Conservative or Republican position. It’s an incidental connection due to the perceived abundance of vegans almost entirely on the left. A more accurate statement might be that Conservatives are agnostic in regards to veganism, and mildly frustrated by vegan political agitations. I very much doubt the frustration is anything specific about veganism, and a whole lot to do with how those views are expressed politically (restrictions on meat, anti-meat-farming, etc.).

            A strong Conservative position towards anti-regulation seems to easily out-weigh the more neutral stance on veganism. Mike Lee is far closer to mainstream Republican on this issue than it appears you are giving them credit.

    • Garrett says:

      Interesting thought, though a possible co-founder:
      People in the agricultural space tend towards being conservative/Republican. And people in any business are prone to rent-seeking. Therefore, it’s possible that any such claims arise out of a desire to keep substitutes (bean burger instead of beef burger, etc.) more distinct and thus less “substitute-y” in order to preserve financial benefits. See, eg., history of mandating that margarine be dyed whacky colors, lawsuits over almond milk, etc.

    • Placid Platypus says:

      That seems backwards to me? If they object to “mislabelling” trans people but not to “mislabelling” food, that seems like evidence that they do hate trans people rather than having consistent principles about proper categorization.

  10. jgr314 says:

    Unfortunately, you missed the more important dichotomy in methods of eating corn on the cob: “clean” vs “messy.” The “clean” technique involves removing the entire kernel so that the resulting cob looks like the right side in this picture: Clean cob.
    The “messy” technique (aka “wrong”) involves biting through the skin of the endosperm, leaving pieces of the kernels attached to the cob. Here is a picture that show the consequences of this technique: Disaster cob. Adding to the indignity, that picture shows a cob that was subject to random biting (*gasp*) and not just messy technique. One hopes it was the victim of a wild animal attack and that no human was actually eating corn that way.

    • Jaskologist says:

      Have you got any explanations on what it even means to eat your corn “in spirals?” What I’m picturing just sounds like madness; you’d be turning the corn constantly.

      • jgr314 says:

        I think you’re picturing it correctly. Of course, topologists have split allegiance between algebra and analysis, so prefer to eat torroidal corn cobs for which either eating pattern is the same (up to symmetry).

      • Rachael says:

        Eating it in rows sounds like madness; you’d be moving it horizontally constantly!

        More seriously: to eat the whole thing you have to move (either the corn or your head) the same total distance. You can do every bite across a row, and then rotate vertically to the next row, or you can do every bite around a vertical ring, and then move across to the next ring.
        It’s like if you needed to do something to each cell in a spreadsheet: you could do it by columns or by rows, but each would take the same amount of time, and it wouldn’t make sense to say “doing it in columns sounds like madness; you’d be pressing the down arrow constantly.”

        • Jaskologist says:

          Your description makes me think I was not picturing it correctly. Eating in columns makes sense to me. Eating in “spirals” makes me picture someone taking a bite in the middle, then a little to the right, then a little down and to the left, then the left, then up and left, and so on in every widening circles. I don’t know what they’d do at the edges.

          • Rana Dexsin says:

            I interpret “spiral” as “helix”; bite at the edge, then a little up and right, and keep going until you hit the other edge. Thus, a combination of the “rotate up” and “move right” approaches.

      • drunkfish says:

        If I’m understanding correctly, the “Clean cob” linked in jgr314’s comment was produced by eating via spiraling (I’m not positive because I eat in rows like a sane person).

      • b_jonas says:

        I am a diagnosed algebraist, but I grew up among analysts in my sensitive period, so I understand a bit of their language, thus I had no trouble understanding what eating corn in “spirals” means.

    • bullseye says:

      I eat it in rows, but I had no idea it was possible to eat it cleanly.

      • Jaskologist says:

        Eating it cleanly requires a second pass, but is quite easily done.

        • C_B says:

          You can do it pretty well first-pass by sliding your upper incisors into the gap behind the most-recently-exposed row of kernels and pulling them toward yourself, rather than biting. Of course, you still have to bite a few rows the old-fashioned way in order to get access to the side of the first row of kernels.

          Source: Am compulsive corn-eater.

          • jgr314 says:

            Alternatively, you can also use your lower incisors! Presumably, this difference in preferred method lines up with some other preference between technical subfields (source: obvious!). So, do you favor organic or inorganic chemistry?

        • Garrett says:

          How do you avoid getting all of the corn shell bits stuck in your teeth.

    • The Nybbler says:

      This is of course completely backwards, because if you try to eat the entire kernel you end up eating way too much hard stuff. The stuff you leave on the cob using the “messy” technique is of marginal edibility.

      • Evan Þ says:

        I completely agree. I tried the “messy” technique a few times as a kid but decided not to keep it up because I didn’t like eating so much tough and tasteless stuff.

  11. Jeffery Mewtamer says:

    Google isn’t helping, so would anyone mind explaining essentialism vs pragmatism in layman’s terms?

    Anyways, I couldn’t take the survey because Google Forms is an inaccessible hunk of junk, but I’m fine with burger being used as a generic term for sandwiches consisting of round patties on a round bun or the patties themselves and prefixed with what the patties are made of. Admittedly, before I learned that patties made of ground beef was credited to the City of Hamburg, young me found it weird that hamburgers were made of beef rather than pork and that no one could explain why we called them “ham” burgers when they contain no ham.

    That said, this is the first time I’ve heard the term chicken burger, and I’ve always hear the more generic chicken sandwich used, perhaps chicken patty sandwich to distinguish those done in a more burger style from those with actual chicken fillet or bits of chopped chicken as the meat. I do love deer burgers, and I’ve had a really good black bean burger before.

    Also, I thought miracle whip was just a brand of mayo. Then again, I’m not a fan of mayo, much preferring mustard.

    As for the corn thing, I eat in rows, but I’m not sure I understand the algebra vs analyst distinction. Then again, I’m a computer scientist rather than a dedicated mathematician, and I’d probably identify my favorite branches of math as geometry and number theory. Also, where do people who cut their corn off the cob to then eat it with a fork or spoon fall in?

    And now I find myself wishing I had thought to mention do you eat x food with a fork or spoon in the pre-survey thread, as it seems like the kind of trivial preference that might be connected to something more important in some weird way that this survey seems to love.

    • Rachael says:

      Maybe chicken burger is more of a UK term. To me, it’s the standard term for things like this:

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        As that image isn’t very accessible, it appears to be a slice of chicken meat covered in breadcrumb batter.

    • jgr314 says:

      Because you cited number theory (and geometry is, arguably, a toss-up), I claim you for… Team Algebra! You are now authorized to
      (1) make puns involving the words “group” “ring” “field” “Galois” and “homomorphism”
      (2) Nod sagely when one of your colleague’s programs break down and say “ah, your kernel went to zero?”
      (3) get a tattoo of a commutative diagram, preferably involving an exact sequence. The Snake Lemma page is a good source if you don’t already have a personal favorite.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      Essentialism – the view that [words/concepts/categories/groupings] apply to things because of the properties they have in a vacuum.

      Pragmatism – the view that humans ought to apply words/concepts/categories/groupings] to things either because they fulfil or in order to fulfil a particular function. Yes, the “because” and “in order to” are very different philosophically. The first is still somewhat Platonist (like the essentialist position), but the second is distinctly nominalist.

    • b_jonas says:

      Question for next year’s survey: if a nitrate-cured beef food product isn’t a good present for a friend with bipolar mania, should we still allow it to be labeled as “beef jerky”?

  12. switchnode says:

    10. The question about labeling vegetarian foods (ie can a burger made of pea protein call itself a “burger”) seems to get at questions of essentialism vs. pragmatism in the same way as controversies about transgender.

    I don’t think you’ll get anything out of this at all (tailcalled’s prediction aside). I didn’t have a strong opinion on this (and almost skipped the question because both answers were worded too strongly), but eventually chose the “essentialist” option for the pragmatic reason that it would be more useful for people with dietary restrictions. I’d be surprised if I were the only one.

  13. eremetic says:

    Sorry, I thoroughly misunderstood the corn/math questions on the survey until reading the blog post just now – I thought that “rows” meant what is meant by “spirals”, and that “spirals” meant a bizarre meandering pattern.

    Count one for the Lizardman portion, I guess

  14. Caf1815 says:

    I was stumped by number 6. I’d have categorized talent as part of luck, not of hard work, so I answered 3, although I think success is maybe 90% talent (i.e., luck), and 10% work, although neither will get you there on its own. For info, my parents were on the upper end of upper middle class.

    • zmpster says:

      I had the same thought, though selected the “talent” option because it seemed more specific than general “luck”. But I think “talent” is 90-95% luck, so it was a confusing wording of the question.

    • googolplexbyte says:

      I don’t get how you put % on it. What if I think each unit of hard work is a lottery ticket for success?

      Some people get lottery tickets with great odds so they can work for just one and hit it big.

      Some people get lottery tickets with terrible odds so they can work every hour of their lives gather many and never hit it big.

      Is that 100% luck because even those with the best odds can get a bad draw, or is it 100% work because even those with the worst odds can approach 100% of success by working for enough chances.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        I know I can be primed to answer certain ways on the “hard work” versus “luck” scenario, and your points matter a lot, too.

        My current short-form answer is that luck determines what kinds of opportunities you get, but lots of people squander or ignore those opportunities because it’s too much bother.

  15. Hoopyfreud says:

    The question about labeling vegetarian foods (ie can a burger made of pea protein call itself a “burger”) seems to get at questions of essentialism vs. pragmatism in the same way as controversies about transgender. Do people who support essentialist labeling of food also support essentialist gender positions? What if we control for political identification? What if we exclude trans people and vegetarians (who probably care about this for personal reasons)?

    I suspect that this will depend greatly on how one defines “essence.” Remember that there are gender-essentialist transgender advocates and form-essentialist philosophers of food.

    I don’t count myself in either camp – I think ideas of gender are very arbitrary and that a pop-tart is a sandwich – but I also think this question doesn’t capture the philosophical essentialism you’re looking for.

    • Deiseach says:

      Meat versus veggie burgers has a theological connotation! The accidents (shape, method of production) remain the same, the essence (meat or plant based) is changed! 🙂

      I never thought I’d be thinking of transubstantiation in relation to burgers, but that’s Catholicism for you 😀

      • Hoopyfreud says:

        Remind me – is the Catholic church compatibilist on the question of whether communion wafers are bread or Jesus’s flesh, or is that heretical?

        • Deiseach says:

          Define that out for me a little bit more; if we’re talking Lutheran consubstantiation (that is, the unbeliever eats only bread, the spiritual blessing is reserved for the believer) and that the Real Presence only occurs in the context of the Eucharistic Meal and that afterwards the bread is just bread, then no. Luther comes down more on the side of Mystery as in the Eastern Church, and I’d agree there because the Eucharistic Mystery is a great Mystery, but the theological usage is just different enough that the misunderstanding grates upon the nerves of sceptics and others who then go “Typical religion, when they can’t give a reasonable explanation they fall back on ‘you just have to take it on faith’ humbug!”

          Aquinas’ definition isn’t the whole of it, but it is an attempt at the (Western) tradition of reason and stating the doctrine within the metaphysics of the day.

          It’s a complex and complicated topic which has caused debate, dispute and dissension:

          In order to forestall at the very outset, the unworthy notion, that in the Eucharist we receive merely the Body and merely the Blood of Christ but not Christ in His entirety, the Council of Trent defined the Real Presence to be such as to include with Christ’s Body and His Soul and Divinity as well.

          • Lambert says:

            The Last Supper was after the old covenant was dissolved, right?
            Because I somehow doubt Jesus is kosher.

          • Aapje says:

            Perhaps Jesus liked to chew cud and had cloven hooves?

            They got rid of the body so we can’t check.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Lambert, I can see an argument the other way, but I think most Christians would say “no, it was one day or four days before.”

          • Non-gaussian says:

            In Article 7 of the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, the Lutheran position on the Lord Supper is stated in part as follows:

            Therefore all the ancient Christian teachers expressly, and in full accord with the entire holy Christian Church, teach, according to these words of the institution of Christ and the explanation of St. Paul, that the body of Christ is not only received spiritually by faith, which occurs also outside of [the use of] the Sacrament, but also orally, not only by believing and godly, but also by unworthy, unbelieving, false, and wicked Christians.

            It is definitely not the Lutheran position that “the unbeliever eats only bread.” Of course, it is not a spiritual blessing for an unbeliever to partake of the sacrament, but rather a curse (See 1 Cor. 11:27).

  16. Skeptical Wolf says:

    16. Is tendency to prefer great literature to sci-fi/fantasy mediated by ability to perceive and appreciate complex emotion? (correlate difference in sci-fi enjoyment – literature enjoyment to autism, family autism. On a hunch, I am also going to correlate this with trustworthiness, which I think can be affected by a sort of paranoia which correlates with high-bandwidth-social-reading, and with ability to tickle self).

    Can anyone talk a bit about where this comes from? I’ve encountered the idea that classic literature portrays its characters and themes with greater depth/complexity before, but it’s usually been in the context of status-signalling by people who read classics instead of genre fiction. I didn’t expect to encounter it here.

    From personal experience, every book that I’d characterize as rewarding ‘the ability to perceive and appreciate complex emotion’ has been in the sci-fi/fantasy genre (but I read more sci-fi/fantasy than classic literature, so this is entirely consistent with a lack of correlation). For example, Charles Dickens has generally seemed roughly comparable to Jim Butcher – both are prolific writers who tell enjoyable stories while leaning heavily on recognizable archetypes for their characterization. I have not encountered any literary fiction with the same depth of characterization as Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man (sci-fi) or Rachel Aaron’s The Legend of Eli Monpress (fantasy).

    I’d like to offer a counter-theory here, but I’m finding it very difficult to formulate one that doesn’t sound like I’m making sweeping value judgments about genres and their readers, which is very far from my intent. So instead I’ll just close with the question “Have I just been reading the wrong ‘great’ literature?” so we can smoothly abort this discussion to book recommendations if it gets too contentious.

    • Protagoras says:

      The answer to your question is yes. Your opinion of Dickens is actually shared by a decent number of experts on the literary classics. And I suppose that puts me under some obligation to get the recommendations going; Dostoyevsky and Jane Austen are two very different examples on the long list of authors more psychologically profound than Dickens. I should add that I am not myself inclined to be dismissive of genre fiction; excellent examples of that exist as well.

      • Skeptical Wolf says:

        My intention was not to focus on Dickens, he was just a convenient example that I could think of a good genre fiction analogue for. I have also enjoyed almost everything I’ve read by both authors. Perhaps my thesis is better stated as: “The median depths of characterization in literary fiction, fantasy, and sci-fi seem to be so close to each other that genre is a very poor predictor of whether a book requires/rewards the ability to understand and appreciate complex emotions.” That matches my personal experience, and that of most people I talk about books with, but is incompatible with the hypothesis Scott is proposing to investigate with the survey. Consequently, I’m exploring the idea that my opinion of literary fiction may be incorrectly low due to some combination of sampling bias, selection bias, and motivated reasoning. And I’m looking for evidence for/against that idea that might give me a reason to adjust my opinion on this.

        Thanks for the response and the recommendations. I don’t suppose you have a favorite translator to recommend for Dostoyevsky?

    • Garrett says:

      Two thoughts:
      1) People tend to revere those who *created* the forms we now use and take for granted. Queue the joke about Hamlet being just a bunch of cliches strung together by a moldy old plot. It’s quite possible for something to be drastically better (for some definition of better) in a field than what came before, and have the current writers have absorbed that so much that compared to each other there isn’t much difference.

      2) Comparing the okay-ish work from the past 50 years against the best work from the previous 400 years is a bit lop-sided. This is offset by changes in technology which have allowed more things to be produced more recently. It’s also allowed poorer buyers into the market, thus adjusting the market in whatever way wealth impacts tastes in writing.

  17. John Thomas says:

    I’m wondering how reliable it is to consider caffeine as a drug. Some people (me included) are not affected by caffeine at all (something about having two genes to metabolize caffeine instead of the single one most people have). Not that I haven’t tried to use caffeine to stay awake, though… so maybe just the fact that someone has tried caffeine means they at least haven’t avoided it on principle, regardless of whether it had any effect.

    On another random note, I’m not sure what the purpose is for asking about BMI, but it’s not a very useful metric of fitness for people who are actually fit. When I was an active athlete I had a BMI over 30 with a body fat of 11%, so BMI said I was obese while body fat said I was dangerously thin… But I realize there aren’t any other generally accessible metrics for identifying fitness level (since few people have measured their body fat percentage recently), so it may just be the best of several less-than-optimal metrics.

    • Statismagician says:

      Straight BMI is indeed useless for people who are significantly more physically fit than the median American, but by definition most Americans are closer to being as physically fit as the median American than not (and heavily weighted more towards the lesser extreme than the greater*). It works okay-ish for the general population and, unlike the better metrics, doesn’t require a bioimpedence scanner to collect.

      Source: had this exact problem through middle school-college, am now a biostatistician.

      *That is, there are a lot more obese people than there are people with enough muscle mass to screw up the BMI calculation.

  18. Deiseach says:

    8. Is there any support for the idea of life history strategies? (does early age of sexual debut and/or high number of sexual partners correlate with regular drug use, with leaving school earlier, and higher risk-taking? What about with being more likely to ask a partner out early or have nonconsensual sex? What about with various psychiatric disorders?)

    I’d say yes, but my answer is biased by all the people I dealt with/encounted in that category being people ending up using social services for one reason or another; I suppose it’s possible there are successful people who left school early, had sex early, had/have a laundry list of partners, use drugs regularly, take risks and get on well – well, actually, the “drugs/sex/risk taking” sounds very like 80s financial circles where money was being made hand over fist so perhaps in industries/businesses where high risk correlates with huge rewards (finance, movie industry) that correlates?

    10. The question about labeling vegetarian foods (ie can a burger made of pea protein call itself a “burger”) seems to get at questions of essentialism vs. pragmatism in the same way as controversies about transgender. Do people who support essentialist labeling of food also support essentialist gender positions? What if we control for political identification? What if we exclude trans people and vegetarians (who probably care about this for personal reasons)?

    Well damn, that’s an interesting question to ask. I’ll have to think about that one, given that I’d tend towards essentialist gender positions but also think a veggie burger can call itself a burger (just, y’know, label the ingredients so people who want veggie burgers can tell it’s a veggie not meat burger).

    11. Can we replicate the claim that people who had a younger sibling born during a supposed critical window for sexual imprinting (I think between 1 and 2 years old, but I will have to double check) are more exposed to baby-related issues during that window and so are more likely to have baby-related fetishes (lactation and diaper)?

    What the hell? Look, given that for the majority of human history people were having a lot of siblings born within a year/two years after themselves, and that there are still countries in the world where this is not uncommon, I think this is definitely what you’d call a “First World Problem”. Otherwise there would have been an explosion of infantilism fetishes and Freud would definitely have mentioned it (Vienna of the time sounds the place where this kind of thing would be common) alongside with incest, claims of child molestation and the rest of his cases. I’d say it’s more to do with it being relatively uncommon for large families (where large seems to mean “four kids at least, maybe more”) nowadays in the West plus openness about sexuality where someone could pick up a fixation like that.

    • John Schilling says:

      I’d say yes, but my answer is biased by all the people I dealt with/encounted in that category being people ending up using social services for one reason or another;

      Unfortunately, the sample size of Scott’s survey will probably be insufficient to reliably measure the correlation between “Has interacted professionally with Deiseach” and “Life is really fucked up in multiple interesting ways”. As always, remember that even the highest correlation values do not imply causality.

      • Deiseach says:

        Well that is the problem, John Schilling: I haven’t met any of the high-functioning otherwise stable ‘does drugs/has multiple partners/jumps out of planes for a hobby’ folks!

        • tossrock says:

          They’re so common they’ve actually become a bit of a stock character in Bay Area social milieus.

          • Nornagest says:

            …in the Bay Area, yeah, but the Bay Area is incredibly weird in so many ways that this doesn’t even make the top ten.

          • Deiseach says:

            More seriously, this is what colours people’s responses to social/culture war questions.

            “Should hard drugs be legalised?”

            (a) I know Bay Area Bruce who regularly does the finest lines of Colombian Marching Powder, and he runs his own start-up making ethically sourced cardigans for orphaned goats in Tanzania that just attracted another fifteen million in VC funding, so heck yeah!

            (b) I work in local government providing services to Council Estate Chris who has a fucked-up life because he regularly does whatever he can lay his hands on, so heck no!

      • Mr. Doolittle says:

        While very true and well-said, very few people are convinced that their personal lived experience is wrong in this kind of situation.

        Numerous examples of the direct correlation being measured.
        Zero counterexamples in personal experience.
        Causation is a clear and understandable path.

        To be convincing, a counterargument is going to have a big uphill battle in these kinds of situations. That certainly doesn’t make the observation correct, but a bare rebuttal of the strength of the evidence is not going to change minds.

        • albatross11 says:

          “Nixon can’t have won–nobody I know voted for him!”

          • Mr. Doolittle says:

            In that case, the convincing counter-argument is that Nixon did win. My point is not that it would have been accurate to say Nixon was going to lose (prior to election). Instead, that for the group of people who knew zero Nixon supporters, the fact that their sample was unscientific would be unconvincing to them, absent other evidence.

  19. benjdenny says:

    I feel like the burger question was deliberately written in a dishonest way to force a desired result. For context, the questions were:

    Some companies make vegetarian versions of common animal-based foods and call them by the name of the food they are replacing, like “the Beyond Burger” and “Just Mayonnaise”. Meat companies argue this is false advertising, and that instead of calling their products “burger” or “mayonnaise” they should have to say things like “burger-style patty” or “pea-protein-based dip” or something else that makes it clear there is no beef or egg involved. How do you feel about this?

    “Burger” and “mayo” are categories referring to how something looks and tastes; any product that tries to look and taste like these things should be called that whether or not it involves beef or eggs

    “Burger” and “mayo” are universally understood to mean a meat patty and an egg-based dip; any vegetarian product that does not inform consumers that it is an attempt to imitate these things, rather than the thing itself, is guilty of false advertising

    And your interpretation of what this would tell you is:

    10. The question about labeling vegetarian foods (ie can a burger made of pea protein call itself a “burger”) seems to get at questions of essentialism vs. pragmatism in the same way as controversies about transgender. Do people who support essentialist labeling of food also support essentialist gender positions? What if we control for political identification? What if we exclude trans people and vegetarians (who probably care about this for personal reasons)?

    The fundamentals are fucked to confounding hell here; the question you are saying this answers isn’t the question being asked. The actual equivilent question asked, assuming we completely ignore the entire practical culture around various trans controversies is this:

    If you went into the store, and saw a product made out of pea protein that claimed to be a hamburger, would you consider it a hamburger even though it wasn’t made of meat because it was shaped like a hamburger, had some of the same components (bread, ‘fixins) and company would prefer you to think of it that way?

    There’s a big difference here – it’s the difference between supporting a ban on trans people referring to themselves by preferred pronouns, and actually holding the belief that those pronouns are accurate. It’s especially different because false advertising would demand the government step in and tell the burger company that it isn’t allowed to call itself a burger. A person could very well be fine with a trans man saying he was a man a person could be not fine with that, but against government intervention telling him he couldn’t for free speech or small government reasons.

    Since the question as presented parses out to “Do you basically believe the government should step in and tell trans people they are legally disallowed from telling people they think of themselves as a non-birth gender while fully acknowledging their actual birth gender”, it’s completely ineffective at answering the question you are applying it to, which comes out as something like “Do you personally believe that all things that are sortof like burgers are burgers?”.

    Your results are hopelessly broken here without going any further, but lets take a look at the questions being asked if we factor in the actual situation on the ground, culturally and legally, around the issue:

    If you walked into a store and saw a product that said “100% beef hamburger” and the actual product could be made of beef or could also contain no beef, would this be a problem, considering the product looked like it was made of beef? What if it tasted like beef, too, and was indistinguishable from beef? What if you had a religious prohibition against or immense distaste for pea protein?

    Considering you don’t have to eat the burger, what if the burger company wanted the government to put a stamp on the box that said “100% beef, just like they said!”. Would that be OK? Would it be OK if the government banned supermarkets from putting it in different shelf space than actual beef hamburgers?

    What if this product existed, was allowed to claim 100% beef, had the government stamp confirming that, had government regulations in place demanding that it be sold intermixed with actual beef hamburger products, AND society would penalize you for personally considering it to be a non-beef product? What if saying “I don’t consider this to be beef, but I want it to be able to make the claim. I won’t eat it or consider it beef, but I am OK with it being on store shelves” was enough to get an internet mob to fire you from your job if they noticed you said it?

    My interpretations of the questions above might not be 100% flawless (and probably isn’t), but that doesn’t change the part where your presentation is patently dishonest. If you are going to include a “gotcha” question like this (which I’m fine with) there should at least be some responsibility to make sure the questions are equivalent. As it stands, you are set to gleefully claim that any person who doesn’t support the government prohibiting corporate use of burger on burgerish products (any even slightly libertarian, small government, or free speech person) who also doesn’t think that trans women are “real” women is a hypocrite. This is you manipulating things to get a desired result instead of an accurate one.

    • Deiseach says:

      “Burger” and “mayo” are universally understood to mean a meat patty and an egg-based dip

      I think of mayonnaise mainly as olive oil and egg and vinegar, not as primarily egg-based, and besides I was raised on salad cream not mayonnaise or Miracle Whip.

    • SaiNushi says:

      My whole issue with this line of questioning, is that when labeling food, allergies have to be taken into account. The only person at risk of death due to a trans person being called female when their body is male, is the trans person themselves (if a male-specific health crisis comes up). But not making it clear that this burger contains soy protein will kill someone with a soy allergy.

      I don’t care if you call your bean patty a “bean burger”. I care if you say it’s 100% beef when it’s not. “Beyond Burger” implies that there’s something about it that makes it not a regular hamburger, so that’s okay, because it will make me look into the ingredients. “Just Mayonnaise” implies that this is regular Mayonnaise, nothing different about it. That’s not okay.

      I think I might have skipped this question, because the two examples gave me different results.

      • benjdenny says:

        So here’s my problem with what Scott did in terms of your rejection:

        So say someone agrees with you 100% on what you just posted (“I said no, because it’s dangerous, not because I disagree that this could be an acceptable mayonnaise for a person who was not allergic”). Say that same person also thinks that trans women are women and should be treated as such, even to the point of 1984 government thought control or something similarly intense.

        Scott indicated in his post that he’s going to use this data to imply that this person is a hypocrite. He’s claiming that the question that implies Thing X implies Thing Y instead, and using that to make a point. And to the extent small government people coorelate more highly with people who don’t accept trans people as their chosen gender (probably more than most other broad groups) it looks like this is specifically targeted at people Scott mostly disagrees with on governmental and gender issues. It’s dishonest, and looks very purposefully so.

    • 10240 says:

      The question wasn’t about a company using the term “burger” on the product, but doing so in a way that it’s not clear to the customer that it’s not a meat product. Libertarians and free speech advocates don’t tend to support deception.

      • benjdenny says:


        That’s sort of the problem I’m pointing out. The question does have tones of what you are talking about – he’s saying “Is this false advertising?” which, if it was, would demand a bunch of legal action and government involvement.

        A bunch of people who don’t personally consider soy-burgers to be burgers might still say “no” on that question, for a number of political/personal rights reasons. The people who did so would predominantly be on the right politically, and more likely to reject the concept that a trans-woman is a woman.

        So what Scott has built here is something that’s very likely to give him a bunch of right-leaning people who say “I don’t want government intervention on burger-naming. I also don’t consider trans-women to be real women”. What he indicated above in his pre-registration is that he’s going to interpret that as “Anything that is sort of like a burger is a burger, but not everything that is sort of like a woman is a woman, even if it’s closer to being a woman than the burger was to a burger”.

        So my problem here is that Scott built something pre-destined to give him certain results that indicate thing A, and then announced he’s going to use those results to claim thing B, where thing B is a result that lets him call people he disagrees with hypocrites. He’s stacked the deck in his favor.

        • 10240 says:

          I see no indication that Scott is trying to call anyone a hypocrite.
          In any case, I expect people sympathetic to vegetarians to be more likely to have no issue with the burger labeling, and they tend to be left wing.

          • benjdenny says:

            On the first paragraph:

            Scott, by his description, plans to say “They believe this thing, but do not believe another thing that the same principle would logically make them believe; this indicates an inconsistency in their stated motives for belief”. If you can’t see how that’s designed specifically as a “gotcha!” then I’m not going to spend the effort trying to convince you.

            On the second paragraph:

            Yes, sure, but being on the left wing would also make them more likely by far to accept that trans people actually are their chosen gender. That’s uninteresting, gets mentioned in passing, and is then ignored; there’s no gotcha, because the inaccurate way Scott has decided to read the data then says “They think burger-like things are burgers; they think woman-like things are women, no inconsistency here. What matters to that data is the density of burger/not-chosen-gender and not-burger/chosen gender replies.

            The reason I was talking about the right/libertarian tendencies specifically is that you’d typically expect “don’t believe trans-woman is woman” to cluster on the right. You’d also expect to see a lot of “extra” burger-shaped-things-are-burger people, because Scott’s question has a hidden “do you want the government to command people to stop selling this product, or control their speech?” in it.

            If Scott wanted non-confounded results, he could have left out the “false advertising” angle entirely and asked “If a food item is identical to a burger in every way but the meatless pea-protein patty, which ends up tasting quite a bit like meat, is it still a burger even though it isn’t meat?”.

            That still throws some false-positives. Some people have burger filed into “thing I can’t eat” for religious reasons, or because they have food allergies, so won’t consider the pea protein burger a burger because they can eat it. But the two or three practicing Hindus who read the blog aren’t going to skew the stats in a particular direction, and allergies (probably) aren’t that coorelated with political stances.

            If Scott broke his own survey on accident for this question, he mysteriously did it in a way that would pretty much only make people on the right look like they were lying about their motives or hadn’t thought about them.

            I don’t know what the odds are that he randomly and unintentionally built a survey question that allows his stated analytical strategy to let him claim people who disagree with him on trans issues were only doing so because they were liars or stupid (at the minimum acting contrary to previously held principles at the cost of a disliked group), but the odds seem pretty long.

          • 10240 says:


            Scott, by his description, plans to say “They believe this thing, but do not believe another thing that the same principle would logically make them believe; this indicates an inconsistency in their stated motives for belief”.

            Which description, and why do you think it means he plans to say that (which, I agree, wouldn’t be correct)? Based on point 10, I’d expect his idea to simply be that it would be interesting if there was a correlation between the “essentialist” positions on the two issues (as it would point to the existence of general essentialist vs pragmatist attitudes), nothing more. It would be uncharacteristic of him to accuse people of hypocrisy over something this flimsy. He understands (though disagrees with) the “birth sex matters” position quite well, having hold it himself at some point.

            Though, as others have mentioned the designation of the “birth sex matters” position as the essentialist one is confounded by the fact that the “innate mental gender matters” position is also essentialist in a different way. Indeed, his “categories were made for man” article is just as valid an argument against the “self-identification is the only acceptable definition” transsexual position as against the “birth sex is the only acceptable definition” position.

          • benjdenny says:


            This is going to devolve to an argument about semantics pretty quickly, but I think in a practical sense you are intentionally or unintentionally making this argument:

            1. Scott will not actually say hypocrite. Since this is true, he’s not accusing people of being hypocrites.

            2. Scott used to be a birth gender essentialist, so it’s unlikely he would call people who hold that view hypocrites.

            2. is immediately nonsense; former members of X calling that thing hypocritical or harshly judging it in other ways is as close to an internet constant as you could get. Go scroll down reddit’s r/exchristian or any similar forum and there’s hundreds of them in the mix.

            I also disagree with (1.), obviously. Here’s a short list of why:

            1. You can be impolite while using polite words. To me, going “Well, look at this interesting bit of stats I found! People say they believe pea protein burgers that are identical to burgers otherwise are still burgers, but don’t believe post-op trans people to be their new gender!”, to the extent it points out hypocrisy, is calling people hypocrites. The only difference between that and going “Hey, look at this group of hypocrites I found!” and then saying the same thing as before is that your new statement is a little more effective with a slightly wider group.

            2. The only interesting result here is if a single group has conflicting views re: burgers/trans people. Unless the super-unlikely event happens that more people on the left are committed to meat-statement-integrity in a pro-meat way (or more people on the left don’t accept gender identity) that only happens in one group: People on the right who answer “keep them on the shelves” but also don’t think trans people are their chosen gender.

            Since the question seems clear to me to be constructed to hunt out one inconsistency that you’d only expect(see: hope) you could point out in one single group, I’m even less likely to believe him.

            3. I also have a much, much harsher standard for Scott here than I would if the questions were wrote appropriately. Scott is no stranger to small government/libertarian types. He knows what a question that confounds the results looks like. Knowing that, he said something that paraphrases to this:

            Some companies make a mayo-like product without eggs, or a burger with a meat substitute; they call them “mayo” and “burgers”. The labels on these products make it clear what they are made of, otherwise.

            Other companies are lobbying the government to restrict the speech rights of those companies. Should the government step in and tell a business what it can and can’t say it’s product is in a clear “gray area” case where the worst harm someone could come to is in a single instance buying a product they don’t like much? b

            That’s what those questions disproportionately are to people on the right. It’s the left that is obsessed with food and product labels(prop 65, graphic cigarette labels) in the first place, while the right has been more-or-less mum on the subject for decades. To the extent these questions “catch” anybody they shouldn’t, they catch people on the right. They are aimed.

            If Scott had designed questions that actually could reliably detect the actual inconsistency he’s claiming, not only would I be softer on claims he wasn’t calling them hypocrites, I wouldn’t care in the slightest if he did in the first place. He decided to either A. Not spend the effort it took to notice an obvious confounder or B. Spend extra effort to include language that included it, on purpose.

            Regard less of whether it’s A. or B. above, I absolutely refuse to be soft on him when he then takes the confounded data, draws a unflattering conclusion about it and that conclusion squarely hits an ideological enemy. I don’t believe it’s unintentional, but even if it was it’s the “I just didn’t feel like not running red lights while drunk” type of unintentional that’s still absolutely responsible for the deaths in the car crash.

  20. McClain says:

    Re: veggie burgers and trans people — interesting analogy. I suspect the “essentialist” position often stems from the desire not to be tricked, or not to get something you don’t want by mistake. Someone who wants a “real” burger (beef) is going to be aggravated if they get home from the store and realize they mistakenly bought an ambiguously labeled package of veggie burgers. Even worse if you ordered a regular cheeseburger, but bite into some nasty patty made of beans and mushrooms because the jerk serving it to you wants to see if you notice or not. Likewise, the average guy probably has some qualms about “treating people as 100% female just because they want to be treated that way” for almost identical reasons: he wants to have sex with people who were born female, and definitely wants to avoid having sex with people who have transitioned to being female.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      Yes, this.

      I tried a bite of Impossible Burger because I was curious about how it tasted, and being able to put almond milk in my coffee was a big factor in being able to get through my keto diet without stabbing anyone. I’ve also been extremely pissed off when I bought a bag of vegan cheese with a misleading label.

      If I want or need food made without animal products like a vegetarian burger or almond milk, I want to be able to quickly find it in a store without needing to consult a dictionary. By the same token, if I want or need food made with animal products like a burger or milk I don’t want to have to sort out a bunch of decoy food first. Just label things in plain English so that people can make their own decisions on what to eat.

      I suppose this applies to trans better than I thought. Don’t mislead people or use weird neologisms nobody understands. Let people know upfront what they’re getting; the people who are interested will be glad to know and the people who aren’t interested won’t waste their or your time.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        If I want or need food made without animal products like a vegetarian burger or almond milk, I want to be able to quickly find it in a store without needing to consult a dictionary.

        Other than in restaurants (where I was bit the other way around), is it at all difficult to sort out what’s a vegan burger and what’s a meat burger? They’re in completely different sections of the store, or for the frozen ones in completely different sections of the freezers.

        This only makes sense to me in stores you’ve never been in before, in which case you’re probably looking at the signage anyway.

        Yes, I can see this mixup happening with dairy substitutes, as the vegan and non-vegan ones are sometimes stored together, but that’s about it.

        • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

          In the grocery stores near me they’re literally right next to each other on the same shelves.

  21. fluffykitten55 says:

    I found the survey a little confusing. IIRC a few times you ask about frequency of ‘going on dates’ as some proxy for romantic engagement, but the two seem to be quite uncorrelated, as not all people use ‘dating’ as a mechanism for finding sex and/or romantic partners.

    I think I have been on maybe 2 or 3 ‘dates’ in my life (involving arranging to go to some restaurant or similar with someone I was romantically interested in but not already ‘going out’ with) but have rarely been single. Sooner or later a friend or associate has sex with me at or after a party or similar, and then I usually end up in a relationship with them if they are fun or interesting. I would be quite terrified going on a ‘date’ with someone I have not slept with, as it would feel like going for a job interview.

    A fair few of my friends have a similar approach, though perhaps we are not in your target demographic.

    • Statismagician says:

      My impression is that dating in the sense it’s usually meant really only happens in the set of people who get sitcoms made about them (young professionals living in a large city where they did not grow up), and then not uniformly; everybody else uses broadly this method of forming relationships.

      • albatross11 says:

        Don’t you go out on dates with your girlfriend/wife?

        • Statismagician says:

          I was using fluffykitten’s definition, which I think is the central sense of ‘dating’ and ‘date’; a night out with my girlfriend seems to be a different sort of thing. Not a hill I particularly care to die on, though – perhaps I should have said ‘first date?’

      • quanta413 says:

        everybody else uses broadly this method of forming relationships.

        Really? I haven’t gone on many dates but my relationships often started with dates. None of my relationships started by having sex with someone at or after a party.

        What I find interesting is how someone might like going to parties but be terrified of dates. I’m the opposite. I like dealing with people one on one and the few dates I went on ranged from ok to very enjoyable. I don’t like typical parties and usually find them obnoxious and/or stressful.

        • fluffykitten55 says:

          I would find a ‘first date’ very stressful as noted above- it feels like a job interview – your date is going to be fishing for info and judging you, and at the end of it you might fail the cut or they might just be a ‘take it slow person’ in which case you have to do the same stressful and often expensive thing all over again.

          In comparison at a party or other social event there are many people so you never face getting stuck with any one person who is boring, and while you are still getting assessed/judged it is not the main aim of the activity and you are thus mostly not aware of it. In my experience you can just talk about things you are interested in, and then with some decent probability someone will show sexual interest in you, so long as you stay around late enough and people are taking enough intoxicants.

          In many cases people seem to pick me up without myself even realising it – near the end of the party someone will be like – ‘are you okay, do you need somewhere to stay’ or ‘we should go to my place and drink more’ – half the time they are (only) offering a spare room or booze but half the time they also ask for a ‘cuddle’ or something with look in their eye which suggests you should take their pants off.

          • quanta413 says:

            I would find a ‘first date’ very stressful as noted above- it feels like a job interview – your date is going to be fishing for info and judging you, and at the end of it you might fail the cut or they might just be a ‘take it slow person’ in which case you have to do the same stressful and often expensive thing all over again.

            I don’t love every aspect of this, but I mostly don’t mind it. Broadly speaking (not just dates), getting to know people one-on-one is enjoyable for me. People are so much more prone to bullshit when multiple people are listening in my experience. For me the most stressful part was asking for a date. Although the fear of rejection was always way worse than rejection itself.

            In comparison at a party or other social event there are many people so you never face getting stuck with any one person who is boring, and while you are still getting assessed/judged it is not the main aim of the activity and you are thus mostly not aware of it. In my experience you can just talk about things you are interested in, and then with some decent probability someone will show sexual interest in you, so long as you stay around late enough and people are taking enough intoxicants.

            Not my experience of parties. But I don’t share as many interests with most people as is probably typical. I usually have a hard time hearing anyone, and intoxicated people tend to be dumber than their less intoxicated selves. Generally, I think groups tend to favor a different sort of person than smaller interactions and that sort of person is not me.

            I feel a little bit squicked out by the thought of “enough intoxicants”. I know it has that effect, but it’s not really what I want.

          • fluffykitten55 says:

            I worry that trying to talk about ‘interesting things’ on a date either leads to you boring someone, and/or looking like you are bragging/trying to impress them.

            In comparison talking about the same thing to someone else who is interested in it at some social event may well impress bystanders or people who join the conversation, but that is a welcome side-effect, not the aim of the discussion.

      • RobJ says:

        My experience of dating (which is restricted to my college years in the late 90s-early 00s) started in a somewhat similar way, hooking up with someone at a party (although rarely as far as sex). But this was always followed by asking them out an actual date (after one or two of which they would tell me they decided to get back together with their ex-boyfriend).

        I think this method works best for those like myself who don’t have the nerve to ask anyone out without extremely clear signs of interest. Maybe that fits a lot of people here. The other method was a friend just telling me to ask out someone that had told them they were interested in me.

        My friends who were more outgoing often dated in a more normal way, though.

      • Basil Elton says:

        >young professionals living in a large city where they did not grow up

        I admit I did not realize the true meaning of the phrase “filtration bubble” until now. In my entire life I can count a grand total of 5 people (other than parents) who do not fall into this category now and with whom I’ve had any kind of personal relationships ever.

    • SaiNushi says:

      Agreed. I’ve been on… I think two dates in my entire life. I’ve been with my current partner for going on 12 years. Both dates were with him, despite having had another partner for 2 years before him.

  22. JPNunez says:

    I am just glad there weren’t any questions about noticing the the repeating in paragraphs.

    • Nornagest says:

      That’s probably the first syntactically valid reduplicated “the” that I’ve ever seen.

      • Tatterdemalion says:

        You’re not a fan of post-punk or Matt Johnson?

      • silver_swift says:

        Don’t have one for ‘the’, but you can duplicate ‘and’ quite easily:

        Wouldn’t the sentence “I want to put a hyphen between the words Fish and And and And and Chips in my Fish-And-Chips sign” have been clearer if quotation marks had been placed before Fish, and between Fish and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and Chips, as well as after Chips?

  23. Nabil ad Dajjal says:

    10. The question about labeling vegetarian foods (ie can a burger made of pea protein call itself a “burger”) seems to get at questions of essentialism vs. pragmatism in the same way as controversies about transgender. Do people who support essentialist labeling of food also support essentialist gender positions? What if we control for political identification? What if we exclude trans people and vegetarians (who probably care about this for personal reasons)?

    Ah, that explains why the question about food labeling didn’t make any sense.

    I put “none of the above” because the two other answers totally missed the point. Food labels are important because they let people know what they’re buying.

    I don’t want goat milk to be labeled “milk” because then I have to scrutinize the ingredients of every carton of milk to make sure that I buy cow’s milk. But I also don’t want it to say “goat beverage” because then I have no earthly idea what a goat beverage is. Label goat milk as “goat milk” so that people can actually understand what they’re buying.

    I’ve accidentally bought vegan cheese before due to misleading labels; the stuff was disgusting and not what I intended to buy. Vegans should be free to make alternatives to normal food as long as they’re not trying to trick omnivores into eating them.

    • Steve? says:

      This is exactly how I felt, which is why I put “Other”.

      Unfortunately I don’t think it is easy to make a one-size-fits-all rule for labeling. The goal should be to find the balance between minimizing confusion and allowing flexibility in branding. Something labeled “Almond Milk” in my mind is pretty clear, most people would know that it refers to a nut-based milk replacement beverage. Something like “Just Mayo” is more complicated because “Just” can be read as being related to justice or as being related to purity. In that case I’d support some sort of disclaimer on the front of the package that it isn’t something traditionally considered mayonnaise.

  24. fortybot says:

    > Can we confirm or disconfirm different corn-eating profiles of algebraists vs. analysts?

    Ah, so that’s what that was all about. I’m just a bit disappointed that you didn’t put any options for the logicians among us.

    > In retrospect, the question I asked (about habituation to a dripping faucet and other similar noises) is not ideal for this, but I’ll do what I can with it.

    I think this was actually a particularly bad choice. I find it easy to ignore most unpatterned stimuli, such as outdoor sounds (birds, crickets, or frogs for example), people talking, or uniform mechanical sounds (like fans or the sound of driving). However, repetitive patterned stimuli are much more difficult to ignore and bother me a lot. I really hate the sound of dripping faucets or undesirable music. I find it extremely difficult to habituate to those sorts of sounds.

  25. Aging Loser says:

    Lord of the Rings is the greatest English-language novel of the 20th Century (maybe the greatest period, but I wouldn’t know). Greater than anything Henry James, Thomas Hardy (those two guys are sort of 20th century, right?), Joyce, Woolf, Faulkner, Murdoch, Pynchon, Bellow, Updike wrote. Philip K Dick is the greatest English-language writer of the 20th Century, by far, but Lord of the Rings is the greatest single novel. Tolkien and Dick are both more sublime and more psychologically sensitive than any of the writers on a typical “great 20th Century novelists” list. Sam in LOR and J. R. Isidore in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? are realer and deeper than any other novelist’s characters.

    • Skeptical Wolf says:

      How representative of Dick’s novel work is The Man in the High Castle? I’ve only read short stories by him so far, but I’m currently reading my way through the entire list of Hugo winning novels and coming up rapidly on that one. Do you think it serves as a representative sample of his longer work?

      • Hoopyfreud says:

        Less frenetic and slower than typical, I’d say. I’d recommend A Scanner Darkly over it.

  26. TimG says:

    For (6) I felt like there should have been an option like “by choice.” What I mean is that not everyone wantsto be financially successful. Or maybe a better way of saying it is: some people are willing to sacrifice morefor financial success.

    Looking at people I am close to: this seems to have some correlation with gender. Men that I know are willing to give up more to make more. Women I know, less so.

    • 10240 says:

      That could be described as “working hard for financial success”. As you said, people who care less about financial success are less likely to work hard for it. That said, it could be unfair to just describe it as “hard work”, as they may still be working hard in some profession they prefer to high-earning ones (or in the house).

  27. SaiNushi says:

    I feel like my answers should be thrown out…
    -My current occupation is entertainment, but my degree is Mathematics, and I’m learning programming to switch to that, which throws off my data in relation to fields.
    -I was adopted out of foster care at 13, so my early-childhood siblings are not the same as my later siblings, and I really didn’t know how to tell which siblings if any should be included in the “which ones had influence on you”. Like, there is a brother only 1.5 years younger than me, but I didn’t meet him till I was 7, so that throws of the data in relation to the baby thing.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      Weird responses that don’t make a lot of sense are important in order to inform the uncertainty. Otherwise you get a bunch of too-strong correlations.

  28. Pingback: Rational Feed – deluks917

  29. Palamedes says:

    In the future, I would like questions about siblings to better clarify what is meant by the term. I have half siblings and an adopted sibling and I’m never sure if I should include them on these surveys. In light of question 18 I feel like my answers might be misleading.

    • Nornagest says:

      If a question about siblings appears in a survey for this blog it’s probably being used to inform questions about heredity, so unless it explicitly states otherwise I’d assume full genetic siblings.

  30. googolplexbyte says:

    I predict a much larger gender pay gap between people who work in female-dominated workplaces vs. male-dominated workplaces than there is between men and women.

    • Mr. Doolittle says:

      That might be true, but I bet not for the reason that you intend. Male-dominated industries seem to be closer to the wings of the distribution. You get more programmers, people in finance, etc. which are high paid, but you also get far more manual laborers and very poorly paid professions. Because SSC is very heavily weighted away from manual labor, that side of the distribution is essentially gone. That will weight any such effects heavily towards the remaining male-dominated fields.

      If you could remove all part time workers from the sample, you would get a similar effect for the women. I have no idea if the women on SSC tend to be more full time or part time, so I have no prediction there.

      • Nornagest says:

        Manual labor usually pays pretty well compared to e.g. generic service-sector work. It’s also more dangerous, though, and in the modern era usually harder to get.

        • Mr. Doolittle says:

          What do you have in mind as “generic service-sector work”? Retail employees do tend to make less than manual laborers, if that’s your metric, but it’s not as much different as you might think (~$10 verses ~$15 for manual labor). Considering the fact that manual laborers work harder and work more hours, it’s not surprising that they would make more. Retail seems to be about the bottom, though there are a group of professions hanging out near there.

          Agreed about more dangerous and harder to get.

          In regards to the discussion, I would bet there are more low-level service employees on SSC than low-level laborers, but I would also bet that they are both statistically underrepresented here.

          • Nornagest says:

            Retail, yes. $15 an hour for low-end manual labor is about what I’d expect from what I’ve seen, but half again what you’re making in retail is nothing to sneeze at, and the high end is much higher — if you’re good at most manual labor jobs, you can turn that into a career in a way that you just can’t with retail.

          • Mr. Doolittle says:

            You can check out the general laborer stats at Glassdoor and see for yourself that their prospects narrow tremendously after about $16/hour. After that, they have to get certifications and skills – same as a retail laborer who wants to be a nurse or an administrative assistant.

            It’s a bit in-depth for here to get into a discussion about which side has it easier, but safe to say that both manual laborers and
            “generic” service workers have a pretty hard ceiling right above their heads.

          • Nornagest says:

            Gated by certifications, yes, but there is a path upward there that isn’t available for retail. If you’re doing general maintenance work at $15 an hour, you can get an HVAC certification and make quite a bit more, but still be doing some of the same stuff and working for the same company or small set of companies; they might even have a plan for prodding people along that path. If you’re a burger-flipper at McDonald’s at $10 an hour, you might eventually become an assistant manager at $12 or $14, but if you want to make more than that you need to change careers entirely. That’s a much higher bar to clear.

          • Mr. Doolittle says:

            I’ll agree that there are fewer options for retail employees than for manual laborers, but I disagree about how far apart the relative ease is. Retail employees can get into office management, retail management (not just assistant level), logistics/storeroom, purchasing, and can often bridge a path into general office positions, low level Accounting, etc. That’s without any real certifications (partly because there aren’t very many certifications to get at that level, which does support your argument), but that also makes it easier to jump straight into the next level position. I’ve known a fair number of service workers who became office workers and moved up from there.

            Part of the reason that I think manual laborers have an easier transition is that they are more often men, need to and are willing to work full time, and have the expectation of pushing to make more money. Part of the reason retail employees don’t do these things is literally the opposite – women who leave to take care of children and can’t work more than part time, etc. If someone in retail really wants to push themselves into a better position, and are willing to work as hard as a general laborer who wants to get into HVAC, then their path might not be much more difficult at all. I’m agnostic about whether it’s inherently easier for someone to take the HVAC route, but that’s going to depend on a couple dozen qualifiers, such as what city, what abilities the person has, etc.

            ETA: The path to “HVAC” is more well-worn because more people have had to do it, but I don’t know that it’s actually easier. We might just know of more examples because of the man/woman dichotomy in society.

  31. Uribe says:

    I took the survey last year but find myself not wanting to this year. I think it’s because after seeing the high mean IQs of the survey-takers, I feel like a dummy who doesn’t belong here. If others feel this way…

    My pre-registered prediction is that the mean IQ of the sample will increase from last year. (If that survey question still exists.)

    • The Nybbler says:

      Who takes an adult IQ test if they think they have an average or low IQ?

      • Basil Elton says:

        Btw, is there some way to take an official test without leaving your home? Yes Scott explicitly says that internet tests are not OK so it seems to be problematic but maybe there’s some workaround? Like, carefully selecting some recommended provider and a test suitable for my demographics, and being really really honest about timing etc. (By official I mean that I and anyone trusting me will know the results are representative, not that it’s accepted anywhere as a proof of anything)

    • Tim van Beek says:

      Don’t take this too seriously. I am sure that you, for example, are actually much smarter than your IQ.

      • Aapje says:

        I know that, like everyone, I’m better than average for sure.

        Except for my math skills, perhaps…

    • 10240 says:

      The survey is anonymous. This post, however, was not anonymous, and based on it we already know (?) that you are dumb as a rock compared to most people here. (Though consider that smarter people are more likely to have taken an IQ test.) What’s the point of posting it here, but not taking an anonymous survey?

      • Uribe says:

        This is a question for the psychologists.

      • Mr. Doolittle says:

        One possible reason – to not connect some or all of your other answers to your lower intelligence. For instance, if you political affiliation is X, and the survey results find that X people are dumber, then that’s a loss for your “team.”

  32. eliokim says:

    I am a mathematician, working in geometric analysis and i indeed eat corn in a spiral (and find the thought of eating it linearly repulsive). I did not know anything about the observation when compleating the survey, but now i wonder what questions in it addressed the algebraic/analytic distinction.

    • Tim van Beek says:

      Speaking of which: Where does the idea, that a preference for analysis over algebra or vice versa could indicate anything, come from?

      I mean, both are pure math. I know a lot of jokes that pair pure and applied mathematicians (like in “a pure mathematician, an applied mathematician and a physicist/engineer whatever enter a bar”).

      I don’t know any that start with “an analyst and an algebraist enter a bar” or something.

      Seems to be like crawling versus butterfly.

      • Kaj Sotala says:

        AFAIK, from the blog post that Scott linked to when mentioning the hypothesis.

        Back when I was in grad school there was a department lunch with corn on the cob. Partway through the meal one of the analysts looked around the room and remarked, “That’s odd, all of the analysts are eating corn one way and the algebraists are eating corn another!” Everyone looked around. In fact everyone was eating the corn in one of two ways. One way was to munch over the length of the corn in a straight line, back up, turn slightly, and do another row across. Kind of like how an old typewriter goes. The other way was to go around in a spiral. All of the analysts were eating in spirals, and the algebraists in rows.

        There were a number of mathematicians present whose fields of study didn’t make it clear whether they were on the analysis or algebra side of things. We went around and asked, and in every case the way they ate corn matched their preference. Since then I’ve made a point of amusing myself by asking mathematicians I meet whether they prefer algebra or analysis, and then predicting which way they will eat corn. I’m probably up to 40 or so by now, and in every case but one I’ve been able to correctly predict how they eat corn. The one exception was a logician who claimed to be exactly on the fence between the two. When I explained the corn thing to him he looked surprised, and said that he had an unusual way of eating corn. He went in loose spirals! In other words he truly was a perfect combination of algebra and analysis!

        If you have even a passing familiarity of probability, it is clear that despite how unbelievable it initially is that the type of mathematics you prefer is connected to how you eat corn, it is pretty much certain that there actually is a very strong connection. If you believe, as I do, that this difference is connected to how we think about other things, then there must be some odd connection between how we like to understand the world and how we eat corn. Why is another matter.

  33. Vermillion says:

    One question remains; How are you adjusting your p-values for multiple hypotheses?

    • Aapje says:

      Since he more or less preregistered his hypotheses, he can calculate them separately.

      A common problem is that many hypotheses are examined and then condensed into a single p-value, when there actually should have been multiple p-values.

      • Bucky says:

        This is kind of true in the sense that if Scott selects p>0.05 then each test which meets this criteria has evidence which is 19 times more likely if the alternative hypothesis is true.

        In a more important sense, though, correcting for multiple hypothesis testing is still important as there are about 50 preregistered p-values (study 8 has about 20 on its own). If the criteria p>0.05 is used then we expect 2.5 null hypotheses to be rejected purely by chance. If we want to have a less than 0.05 chance of having any incorrectly rejected null hypotheses we would require p>0.001.

  34. jeff daniels says:

    Scott, you should consider adding some kind of option other than “younger” or “older” siblings for those of us who only have a twin 🙂 I put down 1 “younger sister” and just reported the age gap between us as 0 if you’re thinking that might be junk data. Good luck with the survey!

  35. Michael Cohen says:

    I prefer algebra and eat in rows ✅ but my sister picks off each kernel separately and my dad cuts the kernels off and eats them with a fork. I wonder if they do math so ridiculously

  36. Eigengrau says:

    The corn thing has got to be bullshit, right? I say this not only because I’m a row-eater who prefers analysis, but also because it’s super obvious that the way you eat corn is learned as a child, by observing those around you. My family were row-eaters (and not mathematicians). I also remember cartoons like this where the characters eat corn in that particular way.

    • Bucky says:

      Firstly, I really, really, really hope the corn thing is true!

      Ironically one of the main things that makes me doubt it is that apparently it has never failed in 40 attempts. That suggests that mathematicians’ corn eating method is correlated with their field of study 98% of the time. I can’t get on board with that kind of effect size – surely there has to be some random fluctuation somewhere!

    • MeepMorp says:

      I don’t know, I’m a row-corn-eating algebraist with a spiral-corn-eating analyst mother and a spiral-corn-eating non-mathematician father. I have no idea why I decided to eat my corn in rows instead. Maybe I saw it in a movie or on TV, like you mentioned. What’s the base rate of row-corn-eating versus spiral-corn-eating? Does it change noticeably with age or spike for ages corresponding to a certain TV show airing?

      (Anecdotally, 4/6 sufficiently mathy people I’ve asked about this fit the pattern, which is much less impressive than 40/40.)

  37. MeepMorp says:

    Re birth order effects: Any chance we’re just reading too much into the fact that people who were born earlier have had more of a chance to do things in their lives? They’ve had more time to notice and read more blogs and go to more meetups, more leadership opportunities, and more chances to nurse and pursue ambitions. The previous year’s post dismisses this idea by simply saying that the average age gap between siblings was only 1 or 2 years. But at a young age (<25ish?) this can still make a big difference, especially considering that a lot of this blog's readership probably spends a lot of that time transitioning between school and the outside world.

    If this is the case, I would expect birth order effects with larger gaps to be stronger. I would also expect the birth order / effects relationship to be weaker or nonexistent once removing the confounding factor of age.

  38. melB says:

    I thought about mentioning this after I took the survey, but I figured the corn item was just a throwaway question to see if we were paying attention. But I can no longer be silent—there is only one way to eat corn on the cob. ONLY ONE.

    And that is to politely ask your hostess for a sharp paring knife and cut it off the cob. Corn on the cob is sticky and gets between your teeth.

    FWIW, I thought algebra was kinda fun and I did well in geometry but found it slow because my proofs were always roughly three times as long as they needed to be. Beyond that my memory is foggy, but algebra is probably the last math class I enjoyed.

    • Johannes D says:

      And that is to politely ask your hostess for a sharp paring knife and cut it off the cob. Corn on the cob is sticky and gets between your teeth.

      Agreed! Using a knife is also the only civilized way to eat apples and pears.

  39. ec429 says:

    Regarding the burgers, I interpreted the question very differently to how Scott apparently intended: it wasn’t at all clear to me from the wording that the pea-burger was supposed to be, shall we say, observationally equivalent to one made from meat. I interpreted it, rather, as “should some tasteless grey goopy thing that vegetarians claim is virtuous be allowed to be sold in packaging that misrepresents it as meat, by calling it a ‘burger’ without qualification and relying on the buyer’s willingness to make assumptions about what that implies?” That, of course, has nothing to do with “essentialism”; if you can make a burger with the right taste, mouthfeel, nutrition etc., then the only way in which I care about how you made it is whether you violated anyone’s rights (e.g. were any of the ingredients stolen? did you receive a subsidy from a government that collects taxes without consent?), but if all I know about your burger is “it’s made of peas and not cows”, I have a rebuttable presumption, based on population statistics, that it won’t meat my culinary criteria. (It’s interesting that when we translate this last point to people, it suddenly becomes inadmissible; I am willing to dismiss what I know about population statistics when interacting with, say, a black person, but a perfect Bayesian reasoner wouldn’t. I have yet to see a principled argument showing the Bayesian reasoner to be wrong, and this bothers me.)

    Incidentally, some comments above have suggested that libertarians should not object to misleading labelling, on the grounds that governments have regulated labelling and thus anything that attempts to prevent misleading labelling must surely be statist. I would like to remind those people that in an an-cap utopia, fraud is still illegal, and that in at least the English legal system, the reasonable-man test applies. IANAL, but AIUI if a buyer, having done the amount of diligence a reasonable man would think due, would be misled, then the labelling is fraudulent. (Well, there’s probably also a requirement for mens rea on the part of the seller, but this comment is getting too long already.)