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 TeasersGene Expression Blog
2011 Reader Survey

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We’re well north of 500 for the reader survey. Thanks to everyone who participated. I’ll let it run until Saturday morning and then close it. I figure if you aren’t reading the blog at least once a week right now you’re not a core reader anyway (yes, I know that people get busy!). But I did promise to release the raw results at some point. I’m doing so now. It’s in Google Docs.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Science • Tags: 2011 Reader Survey, Data Analysis, Reader Survey 
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A typical female GNXP reader?

We’ve moved north of 400 responses on the reader survey. I think the goal of an N of 500 is totally viable. In the past I’ve actually pushed it well north of 600 by leaving the survey open for a while. I know there are some people who drop in once a week or so, or don’t have time or inclination to participate initially. If you want to participate: just click here! It will take ~10 minutes, and no answer is mandatory.

There are already a few robust findings though. GNXP readers are well educated and smart. About 60-70 percent aver that they are irreligious, and 85 percent reject the existence of the supernatural. Over half have backgrounds in the natural sciences. None of this is too surprising. I’ve been taking surveys of the readership since 2004, and the main change has been in politics. Whereas in the mid-2000s libertarians were the largest contingent, now Left-liberals are, though there remains a sizable libertarian minority.

One of the most consistent findings on this weblog has been the sex ratio: the proportion of female core readership is on the order of ~15%. Since moving to Discover it looks like that ~20% is the new set point. This shouldn’t be too surprising…there are very few explicitly female handles in the comments. Though because of the male bias in the readership there’s obviously going to be a natural tendency toward assigning implicit male identity to anonymous or gender ambiguous commenters when a substantial number will be female. Currently the most prominent female in the comments is Michelle, who is a prominent science blogger in her own right (pictured above). The very fact that I could type the previous sentence is a commentary on the sex ratio imbalance!

A major reason I want to go north of 500 responses is that I can compare across two classes more easily. The smaller a sample size the greater the error. I’d be a lot more confident comparing those who believe in God vs. those who don’t if I had more respondents who actually believed. But now that I’m at nearly 100 female respondents I thought it would be interesting to compare across the two sexes in terms of similarities and differences.

First, let’s compare the cross-tabs of sex by other variables in a table. You see below the percentage of males and females who fall into a particular class. So below you can see that 73 percent of males support abortion on demand vs. 82 percent of females. While 36 percent of male respondents have made a non-trivial edit to Wikipedia, only 12 percent of female respondents have.

Variable Male Female
Upper class 4 1
Upper middle class 36 31
Middle Class 46 57
Lower middle class 12 16
Lower class 2 0
Less than secondary school 1 0
Secondary school 2 0
Some university without completion or higher education less than bachelors degree 17 19
Bachelors degree 27 34
Masters degree (or equivalent) 25 30
Advanced degree (professional degree or doctorate) 28 17
Yes to abortion on demand 73 82
Accepts the existence of supernatural 13 19
ESTJ – Overseer 2 3
ESFJ – Supporter 1 1
ISTJ – Examiner 10 10
ISFJ – Defender 0 1
ESTP – Persuader 1 1
ESFP – Entertainer 1 1
ISTP – Craftsman 3 9
ISFP – Artist 2 4
ENTJ – Chief 4 0
ENTP – Originator 10 1
INTJ – Strategist 29 28
INTP – Engineer 24 15
ENFJ – Mentor 3 0
ENFP – Advocate 2 1
INFJ – Confidant 2 13
INFP – Dreamer 7 7
Yes, has done recreational genomics 28 24
Conversant in programming language 56 35
Interested in transhumanism 50 36
Knows what narrow-sense heritability is 38 27
Have to be on guard against genetic determinism 6 7
Genetic determinism is a concern, but often overblown 50 67
Genetic determinism is not a concern 44 26
Biologically derived behavioral differences between the sexes trivial 3 14
Biologically derived behavioral differences between the sexes very modest 13 24
Biologically derived behavioral differences between the sexes somewhat significant 52 51
Biologically derived behavioral differences between the sexes very significant 33 11
Has made non-trivial edit to Wikipedia 36 12

Next I looked at the open ended questions. What’s the difference in sexual partners? I’m not going to give you a chart here because what you see isn’t too unexpected. Most people have less than 20 sexual partners, but a few people claim hundreds and even thousands of partners.

# of sex partners
Median Mean Standard Deviation
Male 4 15.5 68
Female 4 11.8 26
Limited to < 50 sex partners
Male 3 6 7.8
Female 4 7.44 9.7

The median and mean are different because the mean is much more sensitive to outliers than the median. You see that there are some really promiscuous males who are driving the average up. So I decided to limit the sample to a more realistic range (for mortals). Interestingly you now see that female readers have somewhat more sexual partners than males! There are some obvious interpretations of what’s going on here, but I’ll leave it to you guys.

Now let’s look at the political orientations. Specifically, political liberalism and economic liberalism (Left-liberalism, I confirmed that most readers understood my attempt with cross-tabs on taxes). In the charts below blue = male and red = female.

The differences are small. I’d expected a bigger difference on economic issues, but though males are more conservative, not especially so. I wanted to look at scatter plots, but the problem here is that there are only 10 discrete values on each dimension, so there’s going to be a lot of overlap. So below you see plots where positions on the coordinate map are shaded in relation to how many individuals match that social and economic liberalism combination.

Just so you know, some people left their sex undefined, so that’s why you see a match at 10 for economic liberalism and 0 for social liberalism on the non-sex differentiated plot, but not on the male and female ones. The readers of this weblog tend toward Left-liberalism, but not overwhelmingly so, with a large libertarian minority, and a non-trivial conservative one.

Next let’s look at how many years individuals have been reading Gene Expression. Here at the summary statistics:

Years read
Median Mean Standard Deviation
Male 3 3.2 2.4
Female 1 2.4 1.8

Males have been reading much longer. I’ve long noticed greater “churn” among the female readership. The proportion of females is the same, but they tend to always report reading for not as long. This can be explained by women coming and going more often. Here’s the density distribution with two curves, one for males and one for females:

Finally, is there a difference in self-reported IQs by sex? Not much:

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Science • Tags: 2011 Reader Survey, Blog, Reader Survey 
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Razib Khan
About Razib Khan

"I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. If you want to know more, see the links at"