647 Comments
Mar 26·edited Mar 26

One of the questions on internet usage asks how old the person was when they first used social media. I have visited the websites of Facebook, Twitter, etc on occasion but I have never signed up or logged in (ie had an account) with any of them. I am unsure if this means I have "used" social media under your definition. If the answer is no, there doesn't seem to be a way to indicate that since one has to input a number greater than 0

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> How many hours a day do you spend online, other than for work? Count playing online games. Don't count offline games, TV, etc.

This question seems very ambiguous to me. If watching TV doesn't count, does watching Netflix count? Watching YouTube videos? Reading blogs? Wikipedia? Web serials?

I'm guessing the intention here is "digital social interactions"..?

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> litter, graffiti, literal broken windows, peeling paint, overgrown/dead plants, etc.

One of these things is not like the others, one of these things doesn't belong

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[Not important] This could be a deliberate design choice, but I don't like the 1-10 rating scale for Left v Right as it does not have a middle. I think best is -5 to 5, more clear / symmetric.

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For disorders: More than one option should be possible, since thinking you have a disorder and having a family member with it are not incompatible.

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>>How strictly did your parents limit your Internet use as a young child (eg age 7)?

would it be more productive to have an option called "i did not care at all for internet back then, so my parents didn't even think about it?" or would that fall into the category "there was no internet back then"?

also, the first social media usage question has "youtube (this time it blocks all videos, not just comments)" as a possible answer, instead of just "youtube".

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Similarly: How old were you when you first started using social media?

EG Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

There should be an option of I have never really used social media (my case).

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How long have you been reading ACX has no option between 1-2 years and since it was SSC! I'm not misremembering that ACX has been around for at least 4 years, am I?

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It's really easy to make a mistake in the "annual salary" question if you live in a country where income is usually expressed per-month. Stackoverflow surveys confirmed this, they got unusually weird results from Poland, Czech Republic etc, it turns out this was the reason. I literally thought about the Stackoverflow blog post on this when I saw the question, but then did all the calculations in my head in monthly amounts, converted and still almost made the mistake.

I suggest splitting the question into two, an income question and whether you're expressing as monthly or annually. This would complicate result processing but not by much, you can convert the results back to annual with a simple Excel formula.

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I am confused by what counts as social media. For facebook/instagram/tiktok/etc I never visit or only when absolutely forced. For twitter there's <5 accounts I occasionally visit, and I've never posted/liked/etc.

But I do watch youtube videos, subscribe, like, maybe comment once per month. Does this count as using social media? Feels like no to me, but "What social media do you use?" seems to think so.

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Mar 26·edited Mar 26

The mental health section isn't very specific on timeframes. I read it as current, major or persistent issues rather than historical ones. But it could be read different ways depending on how much you make mental health a part of your personality.

The US viewpoint doesn't quite fit with UK realities. The Tories are not really conservative any more. Socioeconomic class is based more around culture than money. A US detached house is probably equivalent to a UK terraced one. But yes that perhaps falls into nitpicky.

How happy are you with your paid subscription? I feel frustrated not to be able to say that it enriches my life by informing me of things I had not thought about. It doesn't so much change my views as provide me with things to have views about.

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How should a PhD student déclare their work status? I'm technically still a student but I don't have any classes, I have a salary and I mainly do research and teach so I feel my experience is closer to academics, although I don't feel confortable calling myself this either

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Mar 26·edited Mar 26

What is the difference of living in a "condo" or an "apartment" (up to 10 units resp. 10+units)? All right, I answered "apt. up to ten". Thus picking nits. But I am confused, honestly. Anyone knows?

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Income Status

I am disabled without benefits. Can’t seem to find my option and "post significant money-making" sounds a bit cynical.

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Mar 26·edited Mar 26

Some question are unclear. How do I rate my attractiveness? Should I rate it with respect to my age and sex? Should an average 20 years old girl rate herself more attractive than the same woman at the age of 60?

What is life satisfaction? Over what time horizon? Weeks, monthes, years? Same about many other question. There is no time horizon given, making a question unclear.

What is gender? This concept is so vague that I think I don't have gender identity.

> How old were you when you got your own smartphone?

What should I answer if I never had a smartphone? And what is "my own"? If it was given to my by work, and did not belong to me, does it count?

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For disorders, how should marriage and adoption be counted? I assume it's about genetic relatives, so if my wife or adopted child or step-mom has a condition, I should leave that off?

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I didn't think of Substack as a social medium, so I had to go back and revise an earlier answer. Does LiveJournal count? I've been active there since around 2002.

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penetration is a dumb counter for sex, unless you count penetrating a mouth as penetration.

This is gay side erasure and so I adopted a correct-er definition of sex to include oral.

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Let the nitpicking begin!

classic political spectrum? Eye roll.

>How have your politics changed in the past ten years

expressed as a movement left or right? Does this even make sense now?

>How would you describe your opinion on anthropogenic climate Change?

I would describe it as highly speculative and uncertain.

Immigration - a perfect world would have more openness, but wouldn’t need it. Easy to goof this up, so in the real world, no idea.

>How would you describe your opinion of the idea of "human biodiversity", eg the belief that races differ genetically in socially relevant ways?

Not familiar with this term, and the definition isn’t a lot of help. Maybe this is a polite way to ask if I am a racist? People differ in socially relevant ways, but what would this mean for races? Social norms should be different depending on the racial identity of those interacting?

>How strict are you / would you be with your child when they are 7?

Fortunately for me, my kids were not very interested in internet/social media until after becoming adults.

>God tells you beforehand that there will never be any major existential risk from AI, a

I have trouble with this sort of hypothetical. Basically, it is trying to get me to short-circuit my actual evidence gathering and make a judgement based on… something?

Rather than asking whether I would wave a magic wand that halted AI research, better to ask, would I feel relieved if some bizarre evidence were to appear indicating that self-improving AGI is simply impossible, to the point where even Yudkowsky is saying “okay, never mind.”? Hard to imagine. I still need to think it over. I would probably feel relieved to not have that on my list, but deeply conflicted about the true significance of waving that wand. We can stipulate whatever we want in the thought experiment, but that just makes it an empty exercise for me. To Remove all uncertainty is to remove all realism and relevance.

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No ID key option this year to make correlations with the prediction contest etc? I'm putting my ID key as my e-mail address, but it's not actually a valid e-mail address.

Missing option: "The internet existed when I was a young child [and, in my case, it was not even limited to just research centers], but my family didn't have an internet connection".

"How old were you when you got your own smartphone? IE a phone capable of browsing the Internet." This is a weird definition. In the 2000s there were many phones that were capable of some very basic web browsing, but wouldn't usually be considered smartphones. Even my 2003 Siemens A55 was capable of some very very basic web browsing, so was the original Motorola RAZR flip phone. I expect that many people will put when they got a "modern", touchscreen smartphone even if their previous dumpphones would count under your definition.

"End all social media": are small, independent forums and blogs also considered social media, or only huge sites like the ones listed?

"Do you believe in the supernatural? (ghosts, vital energy, spiritual beings, etc)" Ambiguous if God is included: the examples suggest no, the question itself suggests yes.

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founding

Some of the childhood Internet questions were awkwardly phrased for someone my age:

* At 7, the Internet did exist but my family wasn't on it.

* But we were on CompuServe, so I treated that as "the Internet" for the purpose of my responses.

* I answered that I was time-restricted, but that was mostly because we were billed by the hour.

* I said I started using social media at 11, by which I mean IRC and USENET.

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It should be known by anyone answering this that the question about joint hypermobility has potential use testing a hypothesis about prevalence in trans people, and therefore also potentially has use in detecting trans people non consensually.

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Well, you said "Is there a single person in the world who will genuinely be confused/upset with this wording?" so here goes...

This was mentioned last time. The gender question at the start. I can guarantee you there are many people who are upset with the way it's worded. As someone put it last time, "cisgender" is equivalent "heathen". Yes, it has a supposed neutral meaning as "non-transgender" or "non-Christian", but in practice it is asking you to implicitly endorse an ideology by agreeing to the description. And I don't think this is fair, and I don't think many people here would be happy with the question "are you a Christian or a heathen?"

Worse, even putting aside my emotion, I don't know how to accurately answer the question, without saying something I consider misleading or false. My own perception of myself is: I am not a "cisgender male", I have not chosen a male identity, or discovered a male identity. I am male, as a matter of entirely objective, external fact. That is my perception. I do not perceive that I have a gender, if that means something different from sex. I do not in any deliberate way "perform" or "identify" with a set of masculine characteristics, and I'd consider it dishonest and/or uncivilised if I did.

So I either have to be told my perceptions are false and to give an answer that feels misleading and dishonest, or I have to answer "other" and presumably mess up the survey results, since I don't think that's what you want.

I am really not trying to start a fight (though I'm sure I'll be accused of doing so). I really just wish there was a politically-neutral (and easily answerable) phrasing of this question, especially when every other question in your surveys is very meticulously so.

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1) I'm a "nominally full time" student and also self employed freelance and I'm absolutely incapable of deciding which of these is more important.

2) Why doesn't question on family religious background doesn't include atheism? I've observed fascinating differences between people who grew up non-religious vs those who had to "break out" of family religious coditioning.

3) How did I find ACT -- NO IDEA.

4) Agree with whoever said UK Tories are not socially traditionalist in a way even remotely comparable to GOP

5) PMS question doesn't allow for post menopausal or otherwise non menstruating women. I answered for when I was menstruating but it should be specified.

6) Children internet use question does not allow for "internet wasn't really a thing children would be capable of using when my child was 7".

7) Online hours Q doesn't specify if study, including non compulsory study (eg searching for papers and printing/reading them, watching videos listed as optional in your course content etc) counts as work or as "time online". I answered in the spirit of "largely voluntary AND I could easily stop without affecting other parts of my life" so not included required or elective study but it's removed half or more of my time online.

8) dead plants affect me because my garden is an absolute bomb site and I can't afford help with it but I answered in the spirit of combining them with litter and graffiti as mark of urban decay. I'd remove dead plants from that Q.

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Physical attractiveness: should I fill in how attractive I was when young, OR rate my attractiveness within my current age cohort, OR rate my attractiveness among all age groups from 15-99 year old?

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I think I read ACX because I work in AI safety, rather than the other way round.

So, I start out thinking AI safety is a computer security problem much like the others I've worked on ... and then discover it has a community. (Well, an apocalyptic religious cult).

And I clicked yes to the 'ban AI now, even if no existential risk' question.

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Technically speaking, the Internet did exist when I was a kid, but I didn't have access to it until university in '84 or so. And the Internet of those days was rather different to the thing we have now.

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The options for the origins of Covid were natural or lab leak. There’s another option - lab.

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Mar 26·edited Mar 26

Two further issues.

"How long have you been reading" seems to have been copied from the last survey. It goes from "1 to 2 years" to "since it was slate star codex" but it's now been more than three years since ACX started. So since I've been here since 2021, I can't give an accurate answer. (EDIT: Arghh sorry, I missed that this was already mentioned.)

On the political question: I'm really amazed these are missing: there's no option for Communitarian/Populist (e.g. like Christian Democratic parties in many European countries, or a certain segment of Trump voters: traditional values and a welfare state, or anti-immigration and anti-business), and there's no option for Centrist/Moderate. This seems to potentially exclude a *lot* of people. On the other hand, "Liberal" and "Social-Democratic" are almost the exact same thing, but to different degrees (and only on the economic dimension at that). And there are two tiny far-right movements that are probably almost indistinguishable to most people (at least as much as anarchism and communism are, if not much more). It just seems a very warped political possibility-space to me.

On the other hand, and to balance out my obsessive negativity: thank you for fixing up the YIMBY/NIMBY question. Last time it was something like "you think more, and more afforadable, housing is good" vs "you think more, and more affordable, housing is bad". This one's much better!

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If you were to ask anything more complex than cis/transgender, then you'ld get more objections and confused stares.

But, it could conceptualised as two dimensional, gender variance vs how much you care...

1. I identify with my assigned at birth sex and this is very important to me.

2. Like, I guess I'm fairly typical for my birth sex but ... whatever ... do people even have a gender?

3. I do not identify with my assigned at birth sex and this is very important to me.

4. Like, since you're asking, I guess I'm gender atypical, but I have no interest in hormones or sex reassignment surgery. I see no reason why I would want to do that.

(The descriptions are intended to be evocative examples, not what you'ld put on a survey question)

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> If you notice any problems, please ask yourself “Is this a real objection rather than a nitpick? [...]"

I feel personally attacked. :-)

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I never know what to put in the left/right spectrum, it entirely depends what you calibrate on. On the Swedish scale I'm probably a 6, but on the American scale it's more of a 3. I averaged it a bit and put 4, but I'm not happy about it.

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Your list of social media providers includes 'Option 9' which does not appear to be some kind of hipster provider I didn't know about but is probably an error where you meant to include another provider

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Kidney donation: I wanted an answer for 'I am interested but know I would be immediately rejected from the current process so haven't tried', I put 'not interested' but neither that or started the process was really correct.

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Eugenics: no room for nuance, I wanted an answer to express I would want some selection types banned (eg selecting against autism, probably most conditions that aren't immediate death or hideous suffering and might turn out to have diversity value) but others are clearly great (eg selecting against conditions incompatible with life).

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"Computers (practical: IT, programming, etc.)"

lumping together "IT" and "programming, etc" is both information-hiding and considered somewhat offensive by the second category. "your IT guy" is not the same job as "guy who writes load balancers at Netflix", but that same guy is not really an academic computer scientist either.

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"Have you thought about the Roman Empire in the past 24 hours?"

Coincidentally, I would have changed my answer if the day were different, or it asked about 48 hours, because of a computer game.

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I was missing an option to say crime positively impacts my life on the crime question, since I commit it minorly (buying not-very-illegal drugs online, parking illegally, etc) and it benefits me

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The covid masking question should've had an option for "wore one longer than most, will still wear one in certain circumstances (e.g. hospitalization rates go back up)."

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On the immigration question: “expand visa programs (more legal immigration) and less illegal immigration” is a common position, particularly in the US. It is hard to align that with the question as stated: should immigration be stricter/more open in your country.

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Very minor observation: Not everyone lives in a building. I'm a full-time RVer, for example, so I left it blank. Although I guess in some sense it is a detached single family home?

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Is your question social media usage made under the assumption that people first began browsing the internet using their smartphone? I got my first smartphone at age 14 but browsed the internet (including social media) before that. Also, do forum count as social media? I used those before i used major social media, but given the examples listed i assumed only major social media was meant.

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Noting that I think income levels, as well as views on immigration and school choice responses, will have very different meanings for non-Americans.

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Amusingly Scott didn't mention any of the older social media like BBSes and phpBB forums, even though he's definitely old enough to be aware of them. I assume that they are included in the questions.

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Mar 26·edited Mar 26

For "How old were you when you first started using social media", I've made the judgment call to count forums (BBS) as social media.

I was pretty surprised that they weren't mentioned at all, since they've dominated the early internet as the main social thing (alongside IRC and Usenet), and it's a question about childhood.

(I've also made the judgment call to not count coding video game AI as "working in AI capabilities", for purposes of this survey.)

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"Screens" questions were hard to do.

I rate myself as 2/5 addicted to the Internet. It's just too powerful and useful, even counting streaming sites/apps as "TV". But I use it when I need to or when I find it useful, not otherwise, and I practically don't use "social media" (and Substack, when one is merely reading blogs and sometimes commenting, doesn't count, even if you explicitly put it on the list). Yet I count myself as 12-14 hours in front of "screens", mainly because I live in front of a PC, and to me, work, play, productivity (including writing) and entertainment (including reading) comes from the same device. Cut my Internet connection, and my productivity falls, but I will log the same numbers of hours, if on different activities. Same for "online". I'm "online" when I'm sending whatsapp messages, and that can be casual chat, important communication or even work. I could do the same with voice over telephone and that, mysteriously, wouldn't count as "online"? And what if Wikipedia is the best general reference, Wordreference the best dictionary, and Duolingo is my Japanese teacher? Those are merely examples: I could cite several dozen services or sites merely among the ones that see daily use, or almost.

Also, the "The government is extremely competent and does a great job figuring out ...." questions, have been answered no, not because I distrust government interventions, even when competent and well-meaning (I do, but I swear I wasn't fighting the hypothetical), but because I don't need them. I eat healthy and spend online what time do I need, automatically. But I extremely strongly dislike being limited by outside authority. I would have liked to have some option to reflect this.

However, I would sign up for the "government forbids me going to social media", and it is not because I use them. On the contrary, I almost never do. But other people force me to, when they share/link to it (and it appears interesting). And it is always bad having to evade ads (or rather, anti-adblocker measures, I blocked ads long ago), clickbait and things-I-was-not-looking-for. Thus, if it were known that people can't go there, both bloggers and friends would be forced to publish/send me whatever they want be to see, instead of linking to those dens of perdition. I mean, links are fine, provided the whole post don't depend on them or there are full quotes or at least screenshots. But "go there to keep reading, I'll wait here for you to come back", THAT I hate

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"How much do the following problems negatively affect your life: crime"

The detailed description implies violent crimes (e.g. robbery, rape, murder - things you are afraid of) but one could also consider "white collar" crime. For example, my corrupt government affects my life in a very negative way, but I wouldn't say I'm a victim (am I?) nor am I physically afraid. Am I supposed to still say that crime affects my life?

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For the SAT, if you took it when it was scored 2400, do you just directly put the scores for reading and math, or use a converter (like https://blog.prepscholar.com/new-sat-conversion-chart-old-2400-to-new-1600)?

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For mental health conditions e.g. eating disorder, do you want to know if someone had this condition and recovered from it years ago? Maybe change the wording to "have/had" if so.

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Should "within two generations" be interpreted to include nephews/nieces?

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"What kind of building do you live in?" - I live in a small building (< 10 apartments) that is part of a huge complex of such buildings. I answered small because you said building but I wasn't sure that was what you wanted.

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Should "within two generations" be interpreted to included nephews/nieces--ChatGPT is noncommital on this question

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“What social media do you use?” currently has “option 9” listed as the 6th option.

I’m hoping that this is supposed to be Tumblr, as it seems like an oversight in a collection of mind-numbing social media sites otherwise. But I am not confident enough in that guess to select it.

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Usual gripe about the political affiliation one - I'm not an American Republican or UK Tory, but neither am I a (current) Democrat either, so I have to go with the nearest which is Social Democrat (but I am not socially liberal/multicultural). I would prefer if there was an "Other" option, if possible.

As for the supernatural, again I have trouble with that one. I believe in God but not in ghosts/spiritual forces or energies, or the New Age-y astrology Wicca thing. So how do I answer there? I had to go with "strongly believe" because I do believe in souls, the afterlife, God, etc. but on the other hand I'm not about to sign up for a workshop on crystal healing with my guardian angel fairy door maker.

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For the human biodiversity question there should be two questions covering both favorability and agreement so we can say strongly agree that it's true but still have a highly unfavorable opinion of most of the people that bring it up all the time.

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Would like a division between work days and free days for the internet-screen use. I'm on them for pretty much every free moment I have, which is six or seven hours on work days and 16 to 18 hours on free days.

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It's probably late to change this now, if you ever intend to, but for the mental health category, I'd suggest having an "I've been formally diagnosed but no longer believe I meet the criteria" category.

When I was younger (around middle school age IIRC,) I was diagnosed with OCD, and with anorexia. I don't believe I've shown the symptoms to meet the diagnostic criteria for OCD for nearly twenty years now, and the last time I displayed eating disorder tendencies was nearly that long ago. There might be a sense in which the disorders are still "there," but I don't think another psychiatrist would diagnose them in me independently now.

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On the risk of flaming up infamous parts of current cultural war I have an issue with the question "With what gender do you primarily identify?"

This question assumes that everyone has a 'gender identification' which *in the context of the current cultural war* is a controversial and nebulous idea. And notoriously fluid, from what I saw sex/gender distinction and what it means to 'be a given gender' have undergone a significant and sinusoidal evolution in the last 20 years. Answering on this question in any way tacitly adheres to the validity of the concept of universal gender identity, and by that forces to take a side in the war. Or at the very least it mixes under the "other" two completely different groups - people who *identify* as non-binary and people who don't identify as anything, because they contest the notion.

Similar problems pertain to the question about 'racial identification'.

The very idea everyone 'identifies' as some race from specifically American dictionary is an overreach for at least some international readers. This question to me might be even worse than about gender and it looks structurally equivalent to the following:

"What NFL team do you root for the most?

- Dallas Cowboys

- Philadelphia Eagles

- New England Patriots

- Kansas City Chiefs

- Other"

To be less dependent on assumptions taken straight from identity politics maybe there should be options 'i don't identify with any gender' and 'i don't identify with any of the above'?

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"If you notice any problems, please ask yourself “Is this a real objection rather than a nitpick? Is there a single person in the world who will genuinely be confused/upset with this wording?” - and if the answer is yes, comment here so I can fix it."

Yes, it is a nitpick, I will still post it because I am upset by it :D The list of relatives for the questions of "died from" includes self. Somehow, I think that dead people don't fill out the survey.

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Might be worth clarifying the AI questions. At the start of the survey you have a question about working in AI. I answered yes because by _many_ metrics I do. I have ML engineer in my title and I've been a data scientist for a long time.

I've worked on actual AI teams before! However, none of that was GenAI, besides playing around with APIs and building stuff on top.

Later on you ask about working on capabilities or safety. That's pretty focussed on recent GenAI / GAI.

That's what's so weird about the AI, it's whatever is at the bleeding edge. Once it becomes kinda understood and mainstream it's not AI anymore, it's ML.

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Here come the nitpicks!

* I picked "Academics (on the teaching side)" even though I'm not actually teaching any classes because my job doesn't otherwise differ from that of my colleagues who are.

* In order for answers to such questions to be mutually exhaustive one has to interpret "No, I don't want to" rather broadly (to include "I don't have the time" and similar) so I did, but the natural interpretation would be much stronger (like "I still wouldn't even if I had a lot more time on my hands") which wouldn't apply to me.

* Dammit, in the "better or worse" question I hadn't noticed the "combination of Slate Star Codex and Astral Codex Ten" part, so I only answered about the latter!

* In the "Immigration" question you really should specify whether you mean de jure or de facto -- it's not such a rare position to believe more people should be legally allowed but more effort should be spent on keeping everybody else out (or, in principle, vice versa -- which I can't remember anyone argue for about immigration but I have about e.g. recreational drugs).

* "Strongly in favor" and "pro-choice" aren't the same thing -- not many people think any women who otherwise wouldn't want to abort should be required to or even encouraged to, so "pro-choice" isn't actually the mirror image of "pro-life". Still, I took 1 and 5 to be the extreme of the Overton window as it actually exists.

* In the COVID fatigue question I guess by "never" you actually mean "any more often than before COVID"

* "a phone capable of browsing the Internet" I've had for quite some time, but for the first few years I did doing so was unreasonably expensive (roughly as much as browsing using an Italian SIM while in South Korea is nowadays) so in practice I hardly ever did -- I kinda answered with an average over possible reasonable interpretations of the question

* "using social media" -- I didn't count defunct ones which I only used occasionally, only still extant ones which I use regularly

* I interpreted "the Internet didn't exist" rather broadly -- there were ISPs for the general public back then, but in my country they required a rather expensive subscription so basically nobody used them.

* "Restriction on porn" -- I hardly use any anyway, so I would sign up if it paid me a penny a day and wouldn't sign up if I had to pay a penny a day. I picked "No", is this right?

* Only one of the three embryos we managed to get via IVF was euploid -- "number of chromosomes" does count as a polygenic test score, right? (I can't remember which of the last two options I picked anyway.)

* "traffic": I counted all negative externalities of widespread motor vehicle use (having to be mindful when carrying a baby stroller, knowing at least two people with immediate family killed in car accidents) -- was I supposed to only count getting from A to B in a car being much slower than if there were no other cars? If so, I would have answered rather differently (haha bicycle/subway/etc. go brrrrr!). (Keeping everything else constant, most ways of ameliorating the latter would make the former worse and vice versa.)

* "noise": the one that bothers me most is one I have never seen mentioned in such discussions (namely, church bells)

* "the group shapes, even a little, how you identify, how you look, how you think of yourself, or how others treat you" -- well, "French" does shape whether I capitalize the first letter of my surname, but no way am I going to count that. (My great-grandfather had grown up in Italy, and was required to otherwise Italianize his last name by OG Fascists in 1924. None of my other seven great-grandparents had anything to do with France.)

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I would suggest splitting the Protestant category in the "religion" tab into "Mainline" and "Evangelical". From the outside this may not look like a big difference - I am of a mainline background, and can tell you from having an evangelical girlfriend it makes *all* the difference in terms of many aspects of both practice and worldview.

I might also suggest on next year's survey re-evaluating the political questions. While the basic features of both "Neoreactionary" and "Alt-Right" political beliefs are still around, it has been quite a long time since I have seen anyone self-identify as either. There might be better labels to use for each, though I admit the idea space has yet to coalesce around a single name for each. Maybe "national populism/nationalist populism" for the latter has caught on?

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The question With what Gender do you primarily identify, should have two additional responses: Male, Female. Male (cisgender), Female (cisgender) is not the same as Male, Female. I am 100% traditional in my gender id.

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Re: internet use at age 7. How do I answer this if the Internet was available at the time but it was too expensive and my parents didn't want to pay for it? I think maybe 10% of my neighborhood had internet access at the time.

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There is a question about why I am not a paying subscriber, and the closest match (which I selected) is that the price is too high, but I think it is worth making clear that I think the price is fair, and me being broke is more of a me problem.

Also it feels weird to count YouTube as social media. I just watch stuff; there's no social component any more than there is on Netflix, and my account isn't tied to my real name even if I were in the habit of commenting.

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Well I got as far as calculating my bmi and the link took me away from the survey and it forgot all my answers. What am I supposed to do now, start over? Will that mess up the results by double counting answers or are answers not submitted til the end?

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On immigration I want significantly more legal immigration than the system currently allows, including faster processing, but I also want the elimination of all illegal immigration.

This is not an easy position to express on the survey.

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Just to qualify my answer to the last question, my son is currently in Italy for a school trip, so, yeah, I’ve thought about the Roman Empire a lot in the last few days: otherwise, I don’t think about it more than once a month or so : )

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The subtitle of this question is not matched with the question:

"If you said you succeeded in reaching jhana, about how many times have you entered jhanas? If you never succeeded, give the total amount of time you spend trying. If you did succeed, give the amount of time you had to try before succeeding."

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About the question "How long have you been reading ACX?" - it has an option of 1-2 years and then "Since it was Slate Star Codex". But Astral Codex Ten was started in 2021 according to Wikipedia, so I believe that there is an answer missing.

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The question about polygenic screening would benefit from an answer for "I'm morally opposed to IVF, but if you're going to deliberately create human embryos just to throw most of them in the garbage, I don't see why it's worse to choose the ones least likely to flourish as the ones to throw in the garbage." Or, just "I'm morally opposed to IVF," because if so the whole question of polygenic screening becomes irrelevant.

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Mar 26·edited Mar 26

The question about Covid origins is ambiguous. The options given are natural origins vs lab leak.

What if it was a virus that first occurred naturally in wild animals, was being studied but not modified at WIV, and escaped from that lab into the human population? Does that count as natural origins or lab leak?

It wasn't clear to me, since there also exist theories different from that one that would unambiguously count as either natural origins or lab leak.

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I'm noting this more because I think it's funny than as a real nitpick. In "Did anyone in your family die (as per your best guess) from COVID? Please answer regarding first and second degree relatives - ie self, brother, sister...", I suspect there won't be many responses where "self" applies.

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Can I suggest adding an option for ACT score next time? I never took the SAT.

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I clicked straight to the survey from the substack app and when I followed the link to the joint mobility test I couldn’t get back to the survey; did everyone who completed the survey do the smart thing and open it in a browser from the start? Scott, maybe you should include a note to be sure to do that? (I tried to copy-paste the joint mobility link to a browser, but my phone wasn’t having it for some reason).

Also I doubt I’m the only person who has no coherent answer for ‘where do you stand on the left to right political spectrum’ but Scott probably knows this and is making the forced choice to avoid too many quibblers who still fit somehow…

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The question “ If you have children, how do you plan to limit their Internet use at age 7?

If you already have children, describe what you did. If not, describe what you think you will most likely try.” presupposes that your children were exposed to the internet. My children were born in the 70’s. No internet exposure.

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"Women: do you get PMS symptoms that affect your mood?" I answered this as if it meant "do you, or when you used to menstruate, did you." But I encourage you to avoid the usages, all too common, that make us postmenstrual women invisible.

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When Product Markets Become Collective Traps: The Case of Social Media

https://www.nber.org/papers/w31771

Probably on your radar already but this paper provides a larger sample for your 'would you ban social media' question.

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In PART NINE: INCOME AND CHARITY there is no question about charity, only income.

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> Income

> What is your approximate ANNUL

I was confused by this typo (should be "annual"), and tried looking up some sort of abbreviation.

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How should sperm donors answer the "how many children do you have" question? Are you counting biological children regardless of social parentage?

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I answered "condo", but my condo is located in a high rise building (20+ floors). So I'm not sure if I answered correctly.

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Regarding mental illnesses: By "family" are you looking explicitly for biological relatives? Or would spouse, in-laws, etc. count as well? I assumed you're looking for hereditary connections and answered accordingly, but specificity would be helpful (in either case).

Regarding kidney donation: There was't really a category for "interested but ineligible"

Regarding restrictions on diet: I answered "no" because I shop (both in family and volunteer capacities) for people who would not be part of this program, so can't imagine it working acceptably. If you are interested just in whether respondants would be willing to precommit to constraining their individual consumption choices, my answer might have been different - maybe more caveats or explanation could make that clear if that's your intent?

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I was nearly done when the quiz reset to the start! I'll try it again . . .

Did you want to ask for the code from previous surveys? I saved mine.

immigration – fails to distinguish legal from illegal so can't be answered when they're different

"don't want" usually means "does want to avoid" rather than "have no interest in"

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Admitted nitpick: Women usually reach menopause somewhere between age 40 and 60. Do you want to know how PMS was when we still had cycles however long ago that was or do you want an opt out option?

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The question "restriction on your screen time" seems to describe a restriction on my internet usage, i.e. my tv/kobo/offline game screen time could be as high as I want under those circumstances.

I wouldn't mention it, but you do make the distinction above of how many hours you spend on screen time vs online, so it might give people the wrong idea, (that the government would be shutting off their TV after a few hours).

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Slight nitpick from a Danish person about the political affiliation. You say that the difference between american liberal/democrat and scandinavian socialdemocrat is regulation of markets.

Actually Scandinavian countries does not have much more regulation, despite their high level of redistribution, Denmark for example has a better Ease of Doing Bussiness score than the US.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ease_of_doing_business_index

Personally I am in favour of redistribution, including tax funded healthcare and tax funded universities, but also very much in favour of a generally free market in all other ways, a position I think I share with many scandinavian socialdemocrats. So perhaps there should be a way to decouple regulation from redistribution.

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'Substack' felt like a very noncentral example of a social media because its ~mostly just an extension of blogs, which are fine, and so imo made the social media question less evocative of opinions on the on-the-face-of-it question about "would you ban social media".

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Rated "traffic" at a 5, but its negative effects on me are almost entirely because of a) traffic noise, and b) the risk of motorists committing a crime by hitting me with their car - so it's semi-redundant with the surrounding questions.

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I had a bunch of quibbles while taking the survey but forgot to make a note of them. Remembered just now when I tapped the email link to take me over here to the substack. Oh yeah one was about the BMI not making as much sense for people who are very strong.

Yes, I checked the box on the survey for ADHD.

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Is "Option 9" some obscure social media site I haven't heard of and can't find on google, or did Scott accidentally leave a default option label when creating the form?

Or some third option, I guess. Measuring a lizardman constant?

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"Have you thought about the Roman Empire in the past 24 hours?"

It's Holy Week, when we commemorate Jesus being executed by order of the Roman governor. This answer is going to be somewhat higher than normal.

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I mentioned this on the SAT/IQ post, but it would be nice if you specified which SAT score you were interested in. Highest? Most recent? Earliest?

Many high schoolers, especially those interested in top tier Universities, will take the SAT multiple times and submit their application with the highest scores. I suspect people will tend to pick their highest scores when filling out surveys like this, because we're all a little vain.

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2 notes:

1. substack counts as social media...? i'm not counting it; i spend more than 10 minutes a week reading substack but i spend perhaps 5 minutes a month interacting with any of its social features (this comment is this month's quota)

2. there appears to be a typo of ANNUL (presumably ANNUAL)

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> How would you describe your opinion of social justice/anti-racism/"wokeness"?

I found this question difficult to answer; I'm in favor of social justice but against wokeness. I think they're rather different things; social justice is about noticing ways in which our society unfairly disadvantages certain people and trying to fix it, whereas wokeness is about making up pointlessly convoluted rules and getting very angry on social media as a form of status signaling.

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It would be cool if we could see a histogram of each question.

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"How many children do you have" is hard to answer, as a foster parent. Permanently? None. Long term? 1. On a given day? Up to 3.

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- Question on immigration is extremely ambiguous. Should separate into legal and illegal, as one can have nearly opposite opinions on them

- Question on AI existential risk: shouldn't it be also split in two? I consider AI high risk in a few years, but had to mark it low-moderate on your survey, because imho the world is now facing equally high and much more immediate risks.

- addiction to some drug "other than alcohol or tobacco"... and caffeiine :)

Sorry if I duplicated some other responses - I haven't had time to read all 300 of them

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I've never taken an IQ test, but I did take the SAT. However, I only remember my total score, not the verbal. This seems like it could be useful information to collect, but maybe my situation is uncommon.

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Scott is getting interested in embryo selection for IQ. Cool!

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Regarding questions like: "I don't have this condition and neither does anyone in my family"

... I assume this refers to blood relatives? Or do we include family by marriage?

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Regarding rating physical attractiveness? Do we control for our age? i.e. "A good looking 40 year old?" Or should a 40 year old woman give herself a lower rating than a 19 year old woman?

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I can't donate a kidney b/c I only have 1 kidney.

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Not sure if this is a nitpick or not, but on the free speech question, "hate speech/misinformation/etc" covers a lot of things in one bucket. For me, "vaccines cause autism" and "womyn should be able to have their own spaces" are very different categories of speech, independently of whether I agree with the statements or not.

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"What kind of building do you live in?

Detached single family house (alone or with family)

Group house (ie single family house but with roommates instead of a family)"

I have roommates AND family. I'm putting 'Group House.'

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Party registration and actual partisan affiliation are very different; the question should probably clarify which you want (as political scientists have shown you get very different results for each of these).

As an example, I'm technically registered as a Republican, which I did to cast a vote for Haley in the primaries; but I'd identify as a Democrat or Democratic-leaning independent.

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"How much do the following problems negatively affect your life: poor health"

My health? If I have to take care of an elderly relative, should that impact my answer? I'm going to assume the question refers to anyone with illness that I need to take care of or be concerned for.

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The "What social media do you use" question has an answer that's "option 9", which presumably should have been removed or filled in with another social medium.

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I hated how a bunch of questions included 3 or more examples, where I had strongly differing opinions based on which of the examples I considered. Like the one about non-coercive eugenics - pretty strongly against subsidizing 'elective' eugenics to select for IQ. However I could support some money for people who (IMHO) are less likely to be able to afforc contraception and in the best place to decide if they'd want their own children to have the same life experiences they've had.

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With regards to the question about diagnosis of PTSD:

Both of my Grandfathers fought in WW2. Other relatives who knew them then described to me changes in their personality before and after service, one becoming angry more of the time and the other more reserved/isolated. PTSD did not exist as a diagnosis at that time, but it seems reasonable to entertain the notion that war-time trauma had an impact on these changes.

I expect others have similar stories they could tell. I marked "no family history" for that question because, indeed, no one within two generations of me has had a diagnosis, but I'm not sure if the question captures what you meant it to.

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Not sure what your intent is, but the 'job' questions might be better as check boxes than radio buttons (select more than one). Many people have multiple jobs, or a paid job and a volunteer position. I picked the one I spend the most time doing, but not the one I would prefer to do if the pay wouldn't make me and my family homeless.

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A few minor comments if they help improve future polls!

1 - In Part 5, the intelligence section, you don't say people shouldn't put in anything if they do not have any IQ tests. (e.g., 'Leave blank if you have not taken any IQ tests or do not remember your last result')

2 - You call out SAT but a substantial percentage of people take the ACT. Perhaps worth noting, ACT is substantially more common in the Midwest which is also typically more Republican - there may be some interesting skew from that and overrreliance on SAT only. A quick Google showed 1.9m took the SAT in 2023, 1.4 took the ACT in 2023, I'm sure some set took both. It would be good to either add a field for ACT score or just let people put SAT or ACT in the same box because of scoring difficulties.

3 - 'Immigration' question feels like you will get muddy data. Partisan responses like 'illegal immigration should be more strictly mitigated' on the right and 'legal immigration should be less strict/more open to reduce # of illegals', seem likely to overrule the actual question. E.g., People might think illegal immigration should be more strictly treated but also people feel that legal immigration policies are too strict. Seems like extra muddy data which could be reduced by splitting into two topics (especially since this is such a big talking point right now).:

- Should illegal immigration/the border should be more strict?

- Should legal immigration practices (excluding illegal immigration/border control) be more strict?

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"Restriction on porn" is less meaningful without asking whether you currently consume porn. As someone who is uninterested in porn, being able to magically turn it off is all upside.

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The nitpicking *is* the most fun part of the survey. We being who we are, there will be a lot of "this did not convey enough nuance" but I do note that there are some changes in the questions this time round. It's extremely American-centric but again, have to accept that since the majority audience is USA. So even if we poor deprived non-Americans don't have a SAT or an ACT to our name, much less an IQ test result, we will just have to press our runny orphan noses up against the glass and gaze wistfully in at the warm, candle-lit, glittering array of things beyond our purses or grasp while the Americans laugh merrily and frolic within 😀

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I chuckled at the last question about the Roman Empire. I'm assuming it's related to the InstaTok meme and I look forward to whatever results you get out of it.

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"If you said you succeeded in reaching jhana, about how many times have you entered jhanas?

If you never succeeded, give the total amount of time you spend trying. If you did succeed, give the amount of time you had to try before succeeding."

I don't understand if the question is about the number of times I've SUCCESSFULLY reached jhana, or the number of times I've ATTEMPTED to do so before succeeding. The title and the subtitle don't match.

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For ethnicity, I put Canadian under Other. I much more strongly identify as Canadian than any of my more distant ancestry, and Ancestry .com is able to identify me as Canadian.

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I'm not sure what to select for the living arrangement question — I live in a college dormitory, so I thought the ">10 apartments" option was most accurate but still quite wrong, so I left the question blank.

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You have a section called "Income and Charity" but there are no questions about charity. I remember seeing such a question on previous surveys, so I assume it was left out by accident. That's too bad :(

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"Gender dysphoria" belongs under "mental health" rather than biological sex and sexual orientation.

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Not a nitpick, just a heads-up of weird answer interpretation from my side:

"Restriction on your diet" - just wanted to comment that I said 'No', not because I mind a restriction of my diet (it's already fairly restricted and I like to think that if I were to sign up for this, approximately nothing about my food intake would actually change), but because I'd be suspicious of hidden costs. I don't think this is 'fighting the hypothetical' - "government programs are rarely truly free" is a reasonable prior to have. I'd actually clicked 'Yes' originally, since I like the idea of supporting a program like this in theory and therefore signal-boosting its perceived usefulness for wider society, but figured ethically the right answer is 'No', since I shouldn't decide that for other people, and, well, costs.

This absolutely goes into the bucket of overthinking answers, and I am sorry. But once I'd had this thought I couldn't bring myself to change the answer.

(Contrast to the 'Restriction on your screen time'. I'm very comfortable with my internet usage (and I assume 'research for the books you're writing' classes as work even if it's not income related), but I'm pretty sure it would run afoul of metrics anyway, so my 'No' there is much more selfish. Also contrast the porn restriction, where I don't really consume any (though... I guess r/GoneWildAudio as of about month and change ago, though, which I assume counts? So this statement's no longer actually true, even if I identify with said statement), but worry quite a lot about the effects the removal of porn would have on society.)

"What social media do you use?" Needs a schlaugh.com option! (Kidding.)

Also, I skipped all the kids & internet questions, which I hope isn't too weird. The reason's pretty simple: I don't plan to have kids. Having a "don't care, because I don't plan to have kids" option might actually be good for people like me.

Thanks for doing the survey! Very curious about the results, as always.

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Mar 26·edited Mar 26

In the "Do you belong to any of these ethnic groups?" question, you leave out "Indian" (the country), though you have some of the countries surrounding it. Am I missing something or is this just an oversight? (I think it was like this last year too.)

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I'm interested in politics the way a mouse is interested in cats.

The "formal diagnosis of this condition" questions should have an option for "I had the condition, and got a formal diagnosis, and then the condition was fixed, so now the diagnosis is irrelevant". It probably says something about the state of mental health care that this wasn't an option.

Similarly, with Long CoViD, there didn't seem to be a clear way to say "I had lingering effects, which declined in severity until they went away completely, and this crosses the boundary for formal definitions of 'long covid' even though it is a very non-central example".

The Beighton’s score failed to specify how far apart our feet should be before touching our palms to the floor. Silly test, you deserve the answer you get.

For first social media use, I'm counting UNIX as social media. Plans, projects, fingering, ytalk, tracking IP addresses to see who's at home...

Condo vs. apartment is conflating ownership structure with physical layout.

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Re "have you thought about the Roman Empire in the last 24 hours", does the Holy Roman Empire count? What about re-reading an essay I wrote about re-creating it? ( https://pontifex.substack.com/p/european-defence-policy-how-europe )

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Couple of thoughts. I haven't read all 400 (!) comments, so some might be repeats. I had some of these thoughts in previous years but didn't comment them.

1. The blue-collar/white collar dichotomy doesn't really work for the other-jobs options (I had this problem last year, when I was working-primarily rather than studying-primarily, in a job that didn't fit either). Many service-sector jobs don't fit this dichotomy well.

2. I wanted to give an age range on "first smartphone", but it required an exact answer. I think a lot of people aren't sure about this. I had a similar problem for "social media", where I can't really put a firm age (I started participating in online forums as a kid).

3. I wasn't sure about a lot of the magic-wand questions and felt the need for some "elaborate on why you answered yes or no" textbox afterwards. This applied probably even stronger to the PGS questions, where I just kind of stared at them thinking "wow, I hate all these takes" -- I picked options (that seem hilarious in combination) that were wrong but gestured usefully at some things, and felt the unfilled need to expand on them in a textbox. (Note: this is *not* a request for an "other" option. I think adding an "other" option without adding long-response boxes would make things strictly worse.)

4. Building on that last one, there are too many "my special and unique situation is not accounted for" options. Yes, I know #3 and #4 sound like weird concerns to both have. It's the intersection of them -- there's a lot of "select any of these buttons or the button for your special and unique situation" and not enough "elaborate on why you responded with what you responded". The "I want to check that I'm not religious" button in the what-religion-are-you question has been a scourge of the surveys for as long as I've been aware they exist. I basically want to see more things like the "has the blog gotten worse" question, where a forced-choice with no snowflake option was followed by the opportunity to elaborate.

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For the "identity" questions, I gave up on my internal state, and just went with what an external observer would report. Colloquially, it's not what you want, but it gives you the answers you want.

Some of the questions used the word "prefer". There are many facets of reality which I would prefer to be different. Perhaps I am heterosexual but all things considered would prefer to be homosexual; what then? Or for something that people here might actually answer, perhaps I am mono but would prefer to be poly. Of course, this gets into transracialism, and from thence into very dangerous territory.

The "crime" question packs in some assumptions about what is considered "crime", and who does the considering. If I'm impacted by extraordinarily unethical behavior, which is not technically illegal at the moment in the geopolitical entity that has jurisdiction over my body, does that count?

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Mar 26·edited Mar 26

Penetration as a counter for sex is much weirder than just not specifying what you mean with sex. Now I'm unsure whether to count a lesbian relationship. Is that intended?

Another nitpick: I use the internet recreationally a LOT for research. I enjoy doing research. Not sure if this would be counted as limited or non-limited in the spirit of the question.

I would be fine with an intervention that disables mindless scrolling. But I still need reddit to do research on various hobby and life topics, so I wouldn't agree to the intervention.

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Politically speaking, I picked "US Democrat" on previous iterations of the survey as the political party that was the closest match to my views (though far from a perfect match). My views have not substantially changed, but the Democratic Party has changed significantly, and now I can no longer pick that option... so I'm kind of left without a compatible survey answer.

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For the mental health conditions I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, but don't have it now. So I selected the last option of I don't have it. You might want to add another option if this is information you are interested in capturing.

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The SAT got recentered a bit over the years. I don't think just asking for an SAT score without asking when it was taken is a good idea: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=sat+recentering

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For the relatives option for mental illness, I didn't know what the generations meant so I mentally counted grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles under familial mental illness. Maybe it's dumb to count grandparents under that because two generations means you + siblings and then your parents but I don't know why you wouldn't include grandparents in the measure as well. Grandparents didn't apply in this scenario for me, but that could be confusing and mess up the data.

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once again chemistry is omitted from the list of hard sciences, despite often being one of the largest departments in major universities

For the mental illness questions I would have preferred a "not currently diagnosed but have been in the past" option

For the polygenic question on physical/cognitive ability, I would have preferred a "against, but would use it if it wasn't banned" option

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Regarding the question of whether I've thought about Roman Empire, I'm >50% sure I did, so I answered yes, but I definitely had thought about the Roman Republic. Were it not >50% to begin with, does the Republic count?

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Mar 27·edited Mar 27

The physical attractiveness question needs an option for "how the hell would I know?"

I also don't know my weight, so I just have to guess at BMI

P.S. The survey took me 28 minutes, even though I was able to quickly just answer "no" to many of the questions. I think your time estimates are overly optimistic.

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I might recommend putting the "do you mind if I share your answers (anonymized)" question at the end of the survey -- I left it blank because I didn't know what the questions were, then forgot to go back and re-consider.

Probably not actual feedback: On the political topics: I wished there was a better way to indicate that I hold some but not all of the beliefs in the category. In particular, on free speech, I'm pro social media moderation (private companies! the internet was better when it was more spread out so different places could have different norms!) but also very pro free speech in general (do not want increased legal restrictions on speech). On HBD, it almost certainly exists but I don't think most people have any reason to care outside of medicine. I just tried to average my two answers to roughly the % of the set of beliefs that I agreed with, instead of indicating strength of agreement/disagreement. (Maybe that's the point of the scale?)

On IVF and polygenetic selection: serious question, has anyone done a proof of concept with a breed of dogs that has a clearly defined breed standard appearance that isn't otherwise medically harmful? (so like, labs, not bulldogs). Purebred dogs are typically less healthy than mutts and subject to more genetic diseases; if someone could use polygenetic screening to produce a line of healthy, "attractive" purebred dogs (instead of just accidentally selecting for some new genetic disease), that would be a pretty good proof of concept.

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"How would you describe your opinion of Donald Trump?"

Compared to what? Seriously. I despise the man, but he's the only game in town.

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"ANNUAL pretax personal income"

I *never* know how to answer that as a retired person. I have a small annuity, I get returns on investments, and I sell a little when needed, which leads to either gains or losses that show up in the pre-tax income. But I also always do Roth conversions as big as necessary to get my income up to just below the 35% bracket. Do I count that?

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> a government program (let's say funded by private actors so it wouldn't raise taxes)

Seems simpler/clearer for this to be an NGO? My answer changed significantly when I realised I was confused about the idea of a non-coercive government program, reread the question and realised these were privately funded.

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I assume others have already mentioned that it's awkward for the "race" question to be a radio button rather than checkboxes, especially if "multiracial" is not one of the options.

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As an American, I was offended by the presence of the metric system in the height section.

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Mar 27·edited Mar 27

> How would you describe your opinion of the the idea of "human biodiversity", eg the belief that races differ genetically in socially relevant ways?

"Favorable/Unfavorable" seems to be a very ambiguous answer. Am I supposed to be answering whether I believe that genetic racial differences exist? Or that they are a good thing/should be celebrated? Or that I am in favor of a view strongly associated with believing that they exist, i.e. that they are a bad thing?

ETA: also, nitpicking, but for the mental health section: Where's the options for "I have a formal diagnosis of this condition but I suspect the diagnosis is flawed (e.g. by mistaking one of the given conditions for another)", and "I don't have access to family history"? Honestly this section should have been checkboxes: "diagnosis?" "probably have it?" "verified absence in family history?" "verified presence in family history?".

Also, where's the libertarian-friendly form of the nanny state questions? "Suppose the government..." NO. "Don't figh--". NO IS A COMPLETE SENTENCE.

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founding

I suggest that the question on attractiveness ask people to rate themselves as attractive within their social - age group. Clearly younger people are probabilistically more attractive than older people. I don’t think you intended that confounder? Or maybe you did.

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I was a little confused by the options for "Did you have any lingering fatigue problems from COVID?". I skimmed the question and didn't really notice the "lingering" and took a while to understand that, despite fatigue being my main COVID (short COVID) symptom, "I got COVID, but never felt fatigued" was the option for me.

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It'd be great if you could add an option to add ACT scores as well.

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Life Effects:

"I improved the way I deal with a mental illness" is both too ambiguous (do other people's mental illnesses count?) and specific (does undiagnosed narcissism count?).

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The question about whether somebody in my family has died of COVID: do in-laws count? I took the absence of no in-law words (mother-in-law, sister-in-law, etc.) in the example list to mean "no" but I spent 20ish seconds waffling on whether I should select yes or no before I decided on "no." (Sister-in-law died of COVID).

This is probably a nitpick but it did pass the very low hurdle of "Is there a single person in the world who will genuinely be confused/upset with this wording?" because I was genuinely uncertain about it for a bit.

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founding

I thought attractiveness was being used as a surrogate for status and so would be age and socio relative. An attractive 60 year old woman in a room of her peers has high status.

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I am a student and have lots of annoying student nitpicks, plus a few others:

1. If there is a difference between our official home address and the place we live most of the year (e.g. because of college), what should we pick?

2. Does sexual orientation go by biological sex or by presentation/identity?

3. There should probably be an "other" option for work/major, I just picked the thing that was closest to mine.

4. Seconding other people's statement that there should be an option for "I used to have this condition but don't anymore."

5. Does having family members with a certain condition require formal diagnosis, and if not, what severity of behavior qualifies? For example, my grandma is quite preoccupied with her own and other people's weight, eats very little and encourages other family members, especially women, to do the same, and seems to be noticeably underweight, but she is in her eighties and still going strong. Would someone like this, or an equivalent for another disorder (say, someone who is consistently very sad and lethargic), count for the family members answer?

6. Polygenic selection should probably have some kind of "mixed feelings" option.

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The question about race is very america-centric. I doubt many europeans identify strongly with their skin colour. Rather, people identify themselves based on their country of origin.

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I was surprised to find only one instance of "the the" and it ended up not being important in any way

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Hey is the graphic for this post from GPT4? I'll bet it is, because it's got a typical hollow-head AI error in it: It's showing a place where someone is to answer yes or no, and they're answering both ways, but by putting a check in the *yes* box and an x in the *no* box. (And then toying with the idea of turning the x into a chex.). Reminds me of the time I asked the thing for an image of what a standing person would capture in a selfie if the took one of the parts of themselves they could see by holding the camera at eye level pointing down: Torso, legs and feet, the parts increasingly smaller and foreshortened as you get lower, right? It gave me a picture of somebody taking that selfie. And yet the image Scott chose *looks* really good, right? -- like a good-quality advertising image.

People are making little children's story books the same way, and selling them on Amazon. Betcha they look great and are as hollow-headed and hollow-hearted as this image. We're going to lose more IQ points from that sort of shit in the new generation than we would have gained by embryo-tweaking for inteligence.

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(Obligatory annoyed lesbian comment about defining sex as penetration)

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I think this is a real question and not a nitpick: do you mean "Physical attractiveness" relative to conventional western beauty standards, relative to the beauty standards of your own culture, or relative to your own 'type'?

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I would sign up to the Restriction on your screen time program if it only applied to work days.

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There is a section titled income/charity, that then has no questions about charity?

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All of the comments here about how to interpret questions & what to do about the ones that do not seem to cover one's own case -- its a wonderful demonstration of how impossible it is to come up with adequate categorization systems for any aspect of human life.

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It didn't give the option of saying I've never gotten a smartphone, so I left that one blank. Which is too bad, because I would have been curious to know how many people haven't ever gotten a smartphone.

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The "do you have this mental disorder" questions could maybe use an answer that says "I have family members who think they have this condition, but have not been formally diagnosed."

'Polygenic selection for cognitive traits' could use a "I would ban it for everyone, if I could, to prevent an IQ race, but otherwise I'd use the heck out of it", or some other "moral quandary" option.

Dreams: Take note that there's no way for me to express "my dreams often take place in the house I grew up in, and never in the house I've lived in as an adult, but also, my own children (who I had as an adult) show up in my dreams more often than people I knew as a kid".

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Mar 28·edited Mar 28

As an aside to the ding-dong over the eugenics/IVF questions in the survey, why "AI" meant something *very* different to me than it does in the context of paperclip maximisers:

AI = Artificial Insemination, not Artificial Intelligence (unless we're talking about the book and movie Demon Seed where the AI wanted and got a baby: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demon_Seed):

"Why should I use AI?

• If herd size is small it allows you to avoid the purchase cost and annual maintenance costs of a stock bull.

• AI offers access to a range of proven, genetically superior bulls of different breeds which produce faster- growing calves

• It allows the selective mating of cows/heifers to selected sires strong on particular traits, e.g. proven easy calving bulls on heifers and young cows.

• The production of quality replacement heifers

• AI removes the hazard of having a bull on the farm and the need for special housing.

• The risk of bull infertility is eliminated"

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I took the SAT, but that was 50 years ago. I know I did well, but I have no memory at all of what my actual scores were. I'm not the kind of person who remembers test scores for 50 years.

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founding

Wanted to chime in and say that I have also never owned a smartphone and left that question blank, and would prefer if the survey was able to disambiguate this from "not sure / left blank for other reason".

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1. I thought “country” was confusing. I assumed it meant nationality or country of origin, but then the next question asked Americans what state we live in, which made me question whether as an expat I was supposed to have listed my current country of residence.

2. A political option for “fiscal left, social conservative” other than ethnonationalist populism would’ve been nice.

3. By “Internet” I took you to mean “web” which we restrict very heavily with our kids, rather than, say, streaming a movie.

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Mar 29·edited Mar 29

> How strictly did your parents limit your Internet use as a young child (eg age 7)?

When I was 7, my family had Internet but my parents hadn't introduced me to it yet. They didn't have any rules about how I was allowed to use it, I just didn't know that it existed. Not sure which option this falls under.

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I really appreciate the addition of a "mixed" option to the family religious background question! In past years I was pretty confused about how to answer, and now I feel I can answer this accurately.

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The question about political views has a line from left to right. That can't represent the full gamut of political world-views, and in particular, by implication, lumps supporters of a small state and the free market with fascists. I was obliged to leave that question blank. A series of questions would be better, on the preferred size of a state, the duties of government, free trade versus protectionism, and so on.

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Survey for you fine people: what’s the deal with the whole ACX-EA-LessWrong-rationalist-e/acc network/movement? I just discovered this blog like 2 weeks ago and each rabbit hole I go down makes me feel more and more that I’ve stumbled upon a guerrilla intelligentsia that I’ve never heard of before.

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I was at it for over five minutes and now have to start again after I was redirected to the main post after using the currency transformation link.

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Mar 29·edited Mar 29

Nitpick about the career section: I'm in an assistant position at a school, and had no idea whether this was blue collar or white collar. I ended up putting blue collar because of the amount of physical labor and the low pay, but it really seems like childcare/education should rate as an option, or at least grey collar jobs (google says that teaching and childcare are both grey collar). I know another person who works in early childhood education who was also very confused about this question, and don't know which option they ended up choosing.

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on a lot of the policy positions, I found myself being like "well, I agree this is an issue, and I don't favor doing nothing, but my proposed solution isn't well-represented by either pole shown here"

eg climate change: more subsidies for good tech, not economically costly cutbacks or whatever

eg immigration: too much illegal immigration, not enough legal & employment-related immigration

eg free speech / hate/misinfo - more stuff like community notes, more collective ability to filter stuff

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Why might enough people be uncomfortable sharing why they've thought about the Roman Empire in the last 24 hours that it's specifically mentioned in the question?

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On the IQ question, I last took a formal test at the age of eight, five and a half decades ago. (I read the score upside down from a paper on the child psych's desk.) My answer should probably be decreased ten or more points for changes in population IQ since then, and a further standard deviation for not exercising my brain very much in the last two decades.

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I assume the «abortion» question is abortion legality — I am in favour of a government using «what would make you not choose abortion» surveys as an important input to social policies, for example, but also against criminal action against the woman for seeking abortion — ever. I basically guess that it has to be US-centric enough, so I should answer a different question than asked; it is somewhat confusing to me.

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This survey is missing a question that I would find most interesting.

Perhaps a single survey question for another day.

Do ACX readers lean more toward Arts and Letters, or more toward Science and Technology?

My guess is that readers are concerned with both to varying degrees.

Art/Letters [5] [4] [3] [2] [1] ---- Balance ---- [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] Science/Tech

This sort of thing:

Quality of writing vs reasoning and substantiation

Imaginative leaps vs technical know how

Personal expression vs methods of logic

Aesthetic concerns vs core concept

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"How old were you when you first started using social media?"

Does Makeoutclub count?

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Possibly a nitpick but maybe not: on the ethnicity section, "Malaysian" is generally considered a nationality, while "Malay" is an ethnicity. A large minority of Malaysians are not ethnic Malays.

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Re polygenic selection - I would ideally like more options, in that: combining the question to be about intelligence and appearance feels restrictive - my opinions vary quite a lot depending on the specific trait - could there be an option for this ?

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My prediction: although there are more males here than females, those females who are here, will be more ACX-ish (more Alexandrian?) than the males. (Admittedly, I base this on a mere two data points: The most prolific female commenters at Data Secrets Lox tend to be on the autism spectrum, and the recent post about polyamory mentioned that the women surveyed were more likely than the men to favor polyamory.)

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I think in the religious views section, there isn't really a view that fits perennialism. Maybe that should be an option? Don't know how obscure it is, I feel I had already heard of it before I got into it.

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I think there is a mistake on the "how many time did you enter jhana" description - it looks like a copy-paste-ish of the first paragraph of the previous question (it says "give the amount of time you had to try before succeeding", which doesn't make sense).

A question I had a hard time answering because of the phrasing: "If you said you tried to reach jhana, how long did you spend trying?" This doesn't account for where you start from, the answer will be very dependent on past meditation practice experience (especially concentration practice). I did experience it on my first 10 day jhana retreat but I had been practicing concentration meditation for years before, I just never really tried jhana. I answered in a few months, which I feel would be consistent with settling the mind enough to get to jhana for me after a long break in practice.

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For "Work Status ... For-profit work ... Non-profit work", how should someone employed by OpenAI or Mozilla respond?

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I felt confused by the "do you read the subreddit/Discord" question because I feel like I fall between "read it" and "don't want to read it". I definitely want to read more but I probably only see about 1% of the content when my wife points it out or during the 5 minutes a week I actually visit. If you're using the "read it" question as a proxy for "will you see announcements I post there in a reasonable timeframe" the answer is probably no; if you're using it as "do you literally ever look at the site" the answer is technically yes.

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I've been annoyed by "saving...draft saved" popups before but not specifically on Gmail, not sure why that one was singled out? Usually it's sites where the notification is more obnoxious that that, i.e. text that comes with its own helpful glowy rectangle popup. I think Gmail is subtle enough that I never noticed it before, or else forgot about it.

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Re: question about polygenic selection for cognitive/physical traits (e.g. IQ, height)

Those are very very different. IQ selection has positive externalities; height selection is not only a purely positional good treadmill, it leads to health problems—it's basically a prisoner's dilemma.

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On the mental health disorders, you should add an option for "I have a diagnosis but don't think I actually have it". There are plenty of people with an ADD diagnosis just to get their Adderall but who don't think they really have it, and there are plenty of people in denial of their diagnoses.

On the questions on how one would restrict their kid's Internet use, you assumed that everyone either already had kids or would have kids. No option given for people who will never have kids. But of course, the devotedly childless often have some of the strongest opinions on everything that parents do wrong, so I answered those questions anyway, with what I thought others should do, even though I won't ever have to deal with it (I assumed that was the right thing to do given no instruction or option for those who wouldn't ever have kids).

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Dreams : I wake up remembering a dream maybe once a year, so the questions aren't gonna be very relevant for me. I could have just not answered but ... apparently I'm one of those guys who needs a “option for those who need an option” button.

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This survey gets points for inclusivity! I like how Scott reminds us that thinking about the Byzantine Empire is still thinking about the Roman Empire.

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Hispanic is not a race. You can be black, indigenous, white, Asian, or some mix of these.

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I live in a single family row house. It isn't detached.

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Many of the questions touch subjects where my opinion developed away from that one-dimensional sub-space between both extremes. Therefore not participating. But maybe i am not the intended audience anyway: e.g. "Length of Time", i perceive the SSC/ACX switch as something recent but it is displayed as end-of-scale.

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I forgot i've had a youtube account since i was 10 years old, so i ended up answering the social media question with 13 instead of 10.

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For the question: "How happy are you with your paid subscription?"

One of the answers is, "Happy because I just subscribed to support the blog, and I am" but it never ends. I am genuinely confused about what it implies.

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As with all surveys like this, I wish for all questions there was an "other" option where you could give a very short text answer and the people operating the survey could decide what "bucket" I should fall into.

For example, I am a high school, college, and university dropout (with many cumulative years across them all). So my highest degree is none, yet I generally consider myself more well educated than the *vast* majority of humanity (including a significant portion of the subset that completed a PhD program) because I dedicate my life to continued learning self teach any subject of interest to me (which is many).

For questions like this I answer with technically correct, but I would feel better leaving such decision making up to the survey operator who can decide if this question is meant to represent accumulated knowledge or how closely one followed standard path through life. Both are interesting, but different questions wrapped into one.

Note: I merely use this question as an example, I had a similar problem on many questions in the survey. I even had trouble answering the "Profession" and "Country" questions which seem like they should be no-brainers. I worked in one field for ~20 years, now I do R&D in different field, run a company in 2 other fields, and do "hobby" work (with a team that I pay) in yet another. None make me any money of significance (for various intentional reasons) so I guess I'm retired from 20-year industry? Or maybe I work in non-profit on current passion project? But that doesn't at all capture my Profession or Work Status, and my residence, citizenship, and birth/upbringing country are all different.

The takeaway, I have high anxiety, but only while filling out these forms (also not an option). 😆

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You ask for BMI and height. Seems simpler to just ask for height and weight (and then you derive BMI on backend).

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Scott, you need to either to tell people to adjust their SAT scores taken before 1991 to the new scale (https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED563025.pdf), or to report their given score and tell you what year they took it so you can adjust the scores.

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For whatever reason, the survey did not allow me to enter my income. It kept saying something like "Must be a non-zero number". I tried several formats before skipping the question.

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I live in a semi-detached & chose the townhouse option, though I feel it might be closer to detached

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