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I have now reformatted the responses into a csv file. So you can do something boring like create a scatterplot with Excel, as above. Or, you can import into R and dig for more interesting patterns. Here is an updated to the PDF which shows you the simple non-crossed results.

Also, out of curiosity I separated respondents into geneticists vs. non-biologists (so I exclude biologists who are not geneticists from this analysis). First, here are the non-biologists on race:


And now the geneticists:

 

For what it’s worth, I agree with the 66% of geneticists. The sample size is small and biased, but still interesting nonetheless.

 

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Administration, Survey 
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A few weeks ago I mentioned that I wanted do another survey. I’ve done a fair number of reader surveys since the mid-2000s of my readership. So, for example, I know that you’re politically well balanced, except for social conservatives (who are very underrepresented). You are also extremely male, pale, well educated, atheistic, and prone to being virgins at a higher clip than your age might suggest. So I didn’t want to overload on demographic questions this time. Rather, I wanted to know about specific responses to specific controversial questions. So I titled it the “Brave New World Survey” this time, because of the focus on uncomfortable questions and the like.

Mostly, I’m tired of arguing with readers about what is, and isn’t, controversial. My readership has a lot of intellectual oddballs (probably because as an atheist brown conservative I am one). So I assume I’m sampling from the extreme end of the pool in terms of openness to heterodoxy, so we’ll see how it shakes out.

I haven’t used this survey software before, so take that as a warning. I put the survey as an iframe below the fold, but it didn’t work too well. So please go to the link here. It’s all one one page, so you should be able to complete it quickly (you can omit questions you want to omit).

When 100 responses come up, I’ll post a summary below the fold. I’ll do so with every hundred. Usually I make it to ~500 responses for this weblog. Also, I’ll try and figure out how to export it once I close the survey (personally information won’t be in the export, so don’t worry).

Update: If it didn’t work when you tried it earlier, try it now. I didn’t set it ‘live’ because I’m stupid.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Survey 
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A regular issue that comes up on this weblog is that many of my posts are difficult to understand. I am aware of this. Unfortunately a problem is that there is a wide variation in fluency in genetics knowledge among the readership. To get a better sense I have created a survey with 60+ questions. It may seem like a lot, but the questions go fast because there are only three answers to each, and you should immediately know how to respond. I will likely use these responses to guide me in future “refresher” posts and the like. The questions range from relatively simple to moderately abstruse. That’s by design. Thanks.

Note: The survey will not show up in the RSS, so please click through!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Survey 
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Just got this email, and I thought I would share with my readers:

I’m a biologist from Germany and together with 2 fellow biologists I’m currently working on a project that evaluates the sharing of raw data from DTC-genetic-testing companies like 23andme. I was genotyped myself and have already published the data set on GitHub and I there are other people who already did the same (i know the list of the SNPedia). But up to now these data sets are scattered all over the net and nearly none of them have attached phenotypic data.

What we are working on (and would like to see around) is a website that collects the genetic datasets as well as phenotypic data. This would make it much easier to find appropriate data and in the end – as long as there are enough users – it could become a resource for a kind of open source GWAS, similar to the idea behind the research 23andMe performs in it’s walled garden right now.

But publishing genetic and phenotypic data freely accessible on the net is still seldom seen and many people object the idea because of privacy concerns. We would like to know how many people in principle would like to participate in something like this and for what reasons they would like it (or not). So we created a small survey that asks those questions, which can be found at http://bit.ly/genotyping_survey

Cheers,
Bastian

// Bastian Greshake

I’ll be honest that I’m a lot more sanguine about release my genotype than entering my endophenotypes and what not in a public place. Genotypes give you probabilistic understanding, which you can gain in other ways. A lot of morphology is visible, and so there’s no privacy. But it’s a lot dicier when people want you to share how often you’ve taken anti-depressants. I think we’ll get to the stage where there will be less stigma and transparency will be the norm, but we’re not there yet….

(the survey took me less than 2 minutes, for what it’ worth)

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Genetics, Genomics, Personal Genomics, Survey 
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Heritability is a fraught topic. It comes up repeatedly on this weblog, but even long time readers can be confused as to its implications, as evidenced by the incorrect inferences made from their own understanding of the concept. The most common problem is that too often people think that heritability is just a scienced up version of the colloquial idea of some traits being “more genetic” or “less genetic.” It’s not that at all. Traits totally specified in their details by genetic pathways can be non-heritable. That’s because heritability looks at the association between parents and offspring on a trait and attempts to separate the population-wide proportion of the variation attributable to genes and not attributable to genes. When you have a genetically specified trait, like the number of human fingers, you have no real variation within the population to work with (with some rare exceptions). It doesn’t make sense to talk about the heritability of the number of fingers, because this is a fixed trait in the human species.

In contrast, height is a perfect trait to illustrate heritability. Unlike behavioral or cognitive traits its measurement is clear, distinct, and uncontroversial. Additionally, there’s a normal distribution of the trait. By that, I mean that there is a bell curve from tall to short, with a median at the peak of the distribution. Not only does height vary within the population, but it varies across populations, and it varies within families. When considering the heritability of height there’s a lot to grapple with and ponder for a relatively easy to measure characteristic.

Intuition will tell you that parents and offspring tend to correlate positively in terms of height, but the trait is imperfectly correlated. Comparisons between identical and fraternal twins can allow us to partition the rough effects of genes vs. non-genes on the trail value. Identical twins share ~100% of their genes, while fraternal twins share ~50% of their genes, so the correlation in trait value should diminish in proportion to the decreased genetic similarity and the effect of genes on the trait value. In plain language, if genes don’t account for any of the variation in the trait value then identical and fraternal twins should exhibit the same correlations on a trait. In contrast, if genes control almost all the variation on the trait value then identical twins should be rather close in value, while fraternal twins far less, because the twins in the second case differ a great deal genetically while they do not in the former case.

But even with a trait like height environment matters, more or less. Again, intuition tells you that if you starve a child during a critical period they may never attain their height as might be inferred from their genetic potential. Therefore heritability is informative in light of background conditions. In the developed world the heritability of height is ~0.80 to ~0.90, which means that 80-90% of the variation in height can be explained by variation in genes. This is not so in other regions of the world, where environmental variables such as nutritional stress loom larger. There is no fixed proportion by which height is “more genetic” or “more environmental.”

There’s much more that could be said. But much of it has been said, and by those better able to say more. So I’ll move to my value-add: what is the profile of those who know and don’t know what heritability is? In the survey I asked: “Do you know that narrow-sense heritability is the proportion of the phenotypic variance due to the additive genetic variance?” The terminology may seem opaque to some of you, but to those who knew what heritability was it wouldn’t be. ~33% of you out of ~550 (the survey is still live) recognized what narrow-sense heritability was by the definition I offered. I was frankly nicely surprised, since I know many of you skim for topics of particular interest to you rather than “deep dive” into quantitative genetics, which I don’t talk much about in depth in any case.

The results from the survey will be analyzed in three parts:

- In the first knowledge of heritability is a function of another variable. In other words below you a see table which shows that 34 percent of males recognized the definition of narrow-sense heritability and 29 percent of females did. The average is ~33 percent because 80 percent of respondents were male vs. 20 percent female. Remember that the proportion in the aggregate pool is ~33 percent.

- The second section focuses on the differences between people who know what narrow-sense heritability is, and those who do not. So in this case you have other factors as a function of heritability as a categorical variable.

- A final section examines some scatter plots of estimated height vs. IQ heritabilities. An interesting point to remember here is that many people who weren’t totally clear on what narrow-sense heritability was nevertheless offered up a heritability estimate, probably because they got the gist of what the value was.

Knows what “narrow-sense heritability” is
Male 34
Female 29
Some university 16
Bachelors 30
Masters 30
Advanced degree 53
Supports abortion on demand 32
Rejects abortion on demand 33
Accepts supernatural 25
Rejects supernatural 34
Mathematics background 34
Computer science background 30
Physical sciences background 27
Life sciences background 60
Psychology background 38
Economics background 37
Anthropology background 48
Other social sciences background 19
Philosophy background 36
Other humanities background 23
Law background 45
Medicine background 50
Has engaged in recreational genomics 47
Has not engaged in recreational genomics 28
Can program 34
Can not program 32
Is interested in transhumanism 29
Is not interested in transhumanism 34
Need to always be on guard against genetic determinism 35
Genetic determinism is a concern, but often overblown 34
We don’t have to be concerned about genetic determinism 34
Biological sex differences in behavior trivial 6
Biological sex differences in behavior very modest 29
Biological sex differences in behavior somewhat significant 32
Biological sex differences in behavior very significant 42
Biological race differences in behavior trivial 25
Biological race differences in behavior very modest 32
Biological race differences in behavior somewhat significant 41
Biological race differences in behavior very significant 40
Biological within population differences in behavior trivial 18
Biological within population differences in behavior very modest 27
Biological within population differences in behavior somewhat significant 39
Biological within population differences in behavior very significant 46
Biological across sibling differences in behavior trivial 21
Biological across sibling population differences in behavior very modest 30
Biological across sibling population differences in behavior somewhat significant 38
Biological across sibling population differences in behavior very significant 40
Has made a non-trivial edit to Wikipedia 38
Has not made a non-trivial edit to Wikipedia 30

In the plots below red = those who know what narrow-sense heritability is, and blue = those who do not.

Now let’s look at the scatter plot of height and IQ heritabilities, with shading proportional to the N within a bin.

The correlation between the two estimates is ~0.52, ~0.60 for those who know what narrow-sense heritability is, and ~0.47 for those who don’t. It’s clear that a lot of people who didn’t know the definition for heritability just guessed 0.50 for both traits (reasonable I think). Just to be clear, in developed nations the heritability for height is pretty well known to be in the ~0.80-0.90 range. That explains the peak there, especially for those who know what narrow-sense heritability is. For IQ there are a large range of numbers, from ~0.30 up to ~0.80.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Survey 
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I’ve been taking surveys of the readership of this weblog since 2004. Here is my last one, from the summer of 2010. Before I moved to Discover I also did one in the winter of 2010. Here’s a reader survey from the winter of 2009. Another from 2005.

I set up a survey with a new service this time. I did integrate some of the suggestions of commenters as well. One difference between this survey and previous ones is that I have a lot more free-form text boxes with numeric answers. So you give your specific age or income, instead of selecting from a category. The survey shouldn’t take more than ~5 minutes, as many of the questions are yes/no, or very simple, such as your highest education attained.

I’ll post the first results within 24 hours, and probably post the raw files at some point in the near future if you want to crunch them yourself. I set it up so it goes from banal demographic questions in the beginning to more detailed and somewhat esoteric queries by the end. None of the questions are mandatory.

You can complete the survey at this link: http://questionpro.com/t/ACQlIZK0wT.

Update: Might as well point you to the early results (the “open-ended” results aren’t there, I’ll have to format that for later).

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Survey 
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So that reader survey that I mentioned last week is done. I’m mostly interested in seeing the changes since I’ve moved to Discover from ScienceBlogs. I assume that the standard 85% male readership has shifted somewhat toward more balance, but I don’t know. Many of the basic demographic questions (sex, race, age, etc.) are the same, but I swapped out ones I usually ask with others. At this point I’m rather sure that a huge proportion of the readers of this weblog are introverted nerds, so I’m not going to ask about personality type and what not. I took some reader suggestions, so there are questions about what you read, as well what your somatotype is. I converted the political question to a 0 to 10 scale that I wouldn’t have to recode if I did a scatter plot, and also so that it’s a little more fine-grained.

As usual all questions are optional. I timed it and should take you 5 minutes max, though I guess I can’t account for lack of clarity in prose. If you don’t see your exact response, but want to respond, I think it is totally fine to give the closest equivalent.

To take the survey, click here. After you’re done it’ll bring you back to this website. You can review results here.

Below are percentage breakdowns of last winter’s survey by sex.

Female Male
How long have been reading Gene Expression(s) regularly?
No more than 4 weeks 9 3
1 to 6 months 19 12
6 months to 12 months 14 12
1 to 2 years 16 26
2 to 4 years 29 27
More than 4 years 13 21
What is your highest educational level attained?
Did not complete secondary school 1 1
Secondary school 0 1
Some post-secondary education, incomplete 6 8
Post secondary education, but not a university degree holder 9 8
University degree holder 32 31
Masters degree 18 18
Professional graduate degree (law, medicine, etc.) 6 12
Graduate degree (science, humanities, etc.) 28 21
What is your subjective socioeconomic status?
Lower class 1 5
Lower middle class 15 14
Middle class 54 43
Upper middle class 28 33
Upper class 1 5
What is your belief about the nature of God?
I believe in theistic God(s) 14 10
I believe in deistic God(s) 6 5
I believe in a Higher Power 8 6
I am skeptical of the existence of God(s) 14 24
I do not believe in the existence of God(s) 58 55
What is your racial identity?
European ancestry (white) 70 85
East Asian 2 2
South Asian 4 4
Southeast Asian 3 1
African ancestry (black) 1 1
Middle Eastern 4 2
Mixed 8 4
Other 8 2
Which of the following characterizes your general politics:
Far Left 4 3
Left 30 12
Center Left 19 18
Center 10 5
Center Right 11 11
Right 6 16
Far Right 1 4
Libertarian 16 25
Other 1 5
Do you consider yourself sympathetic to transhumanism?
No 28 38
Yes 19 16
No idea 18 19
Don’t care 35 27
Have you ever had sexual intercourse?
Yes 91 85
No 6 13
? 3 1
Personality type in terms of shyness you are:
Very extroverted 0 1
Extroverted 6 7
Somewhat extroverted 15 18
Somewhat introverted 48 39
Introverted 28 27
Very Introverted 3 8
Attitudes toward abortion:
Support abortion rights on demand 49 40
Support abortion rights, but with some constraints 37 43
Support ban on abortion, but with some exceptions 6 13
Support ban on abortion 8 4
Have you taken calculus?
Yes 82 82
No 18 18
Race is:
A social construct, not a biological reality 18 9
A biological reality, not a social construct 9 20
Both a social construct and a biological reality 73 72
IQ measures:
Something real which we refer to as intelligence 32 67
Ability to take a particular type of test 44 19
Who knows? 24 14
What is the heritability of IQ among groups in the West which are middle class and above?
Less than 0.3 6 4
0.3 to 0.5 23 19
0.5 to 0.7 43 47
More than 0.7 29 30
(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Survey 
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About six months ago I did a survey of the readership of my two Gene Expression blogs (before moving to Discover). The N was around 600. You can view the raw frequency results here. One of the issues which I was curious about: did the disciplinary background of readers have any major correlates with responses? So I created three categories from the data on disciplines:

-Science
-Social Science
-Not Science

Social science had its own section, but for science I amalgamated those who studies Math, Engineering, Natural Science and Medicine. The balance were under “Not science.”

Not Science Social Science Natural Science
How long have been reading Gene Expression(s) regularly?
No more than 4 weeks 5 5 5
1 to 6 months 12 13 14
6 months to 12 months 12 15 13
1 to 2 years 20 22 22
2 to 4 years 33 26 22
More than 4 years 18 19 20
What is your highest educational level attained?
Did not complete secondary school 1 0 0
Secondary school 0 0 0
Some post-secondary education, incomplete 5 1 1
Post secondary education, but not a university degree holder 4 2 1
University degree holder 38 33 37
Masters degree 20 22 20
Professional graduate degree (law, medicine, etc.) 20 12 11
Graduate degree (science, humanities, etc.) 13 29 30
What is your subjective socioeconomic status?
Lower class 5 3 3
Lower middle class 15 15 9
Middle class 42 43 47
Upper middle class 34 31 35
Upper class 4 7 5
What is your belief about the nature of God?
I believe in theistic God(s) 12 6 11
I believe in deistic God(s) 8 8 5
I believe in a Higher Power 5 5 6
I am skeptical of the existence of God(s) 24 23 22
I do not believe in the existence of God(s) 51 56 57
What is your racial identity?
European ancestry (white) 75 84 82
East Asian 3 5 2
South Asian 3 1 7
Southeast Asian 1 1 1
African ancestry (black) 2 2 1
Middle Eastern 2 1 2
Mixed 6 5 4
Other 9 3 1
What is your sex?
Male 84 86 87
Female 15 14 13
Other 1 0 1
Which of the following characterizes your general politics:
Far Left 5 6 1
Left 13 15 18
Center Left 16 18 21
Center 4 5 4
Center Right 9 6 11
Right 13 16 12
Far Right 3 6 3
Libertarian 21 22 25
Other 16 6 3
Do you consider yourself sympathetic to transhumanism?
No 22 25 12
Yes 32 33 40
No idea 29 28 29
Don’t care 17 14 20
Have you ever had sexual intercourse?
Yes 88 94 88
No 10 4 11
? 2 2 1
Personality type in terms of shyness you are:
Very extroverted 0 5 2
Extroverted 7 12 6
Somewhat extroverted 20 21 18
Somewhat introverted 38 36 41
Introverted 28 26 25
Very Introverted 6 5 8
Attitudes toward abortion:
Support abortion rights on demand 41 41 44
Support abortion rights, but with some constraints 39 39 41
Support ban on abortion, but with some exceptions 14 15 5
Support ban on abortion 6 5 10
Have you taken calculus?
Yes 73 81 97
No 27 19 3
Race is:
A social construct, not a biological reality 10 11 10
A biological reality, not a social construct 17 18 18
Both a social construct and a biological reality 74 71 72
IQ measures:
Something real which we refer to as intelligence 61 63 58
Ability to take a particular type of test 18 18 27
Who knows? 21 20 15
What is the heritability of IQ among groups in the West which are middle class and above?
Less than 0.3 6 3 4
0.3 to 0.5 20 21 22
0.5 to 0.7 44 54 43
More than 0.7 29 21 31

Turns out there’s no big difference, except for in calculus. A particular type of person must be attracted to the substance and style of this weblog (I suspect the biggest substantive difference between the readership and myself is that I’m on the extroverted side). I’ll probably post a survey for tomorrow, mostly to see how much Discover has changed my readership. But periodically I’ll also look at the results for previous surveys like this.

Note: Some of the results do not add to 100% because I rounded.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Reader Survey, Survey 
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Edmund Yong has rebooted the “Who are you?” meme. I’ll quote him:

So let’s do it again. In the comments below, tell me who you are, what your background is and what you do. What’s your interest in science and your involvement with it? How did you come to this blog, how long have you been reading, what do you think about it, and how could it be improved?

I will try and be a little less…abrasive…on this thread in relation to comments, so feel free to let your hair down and “de-lurk” :-)

That being said, I do take surveys of my readership periodically, so here are some of the demographic breakdowns which I have from a survey I took last winter….

-20% of the readership responded that they’d been reading GNXP for more than 4 years

-50% have at least a master’s degree (22% have doctorates, 11% professional advanced degrees)

-Nearly 50% of university degree holders who read GNXP have a background in science & engineering (science = natural science + mathematics)

-78% are atheists & agnostics

-60% have no religious identity

-70% live in the United States of America

-80% are of European ancestry

-86% are male

-35% are on the political Left, 30% on the Right, and 25% Libertarian

-60% have no children

-12% are virgins

-82% have taken calculus

The above includes both GNXP weblogs. The sample size is north of 600 (the omission rates varied by question).

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Survey 
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That time of the year. Please take the Gene Expression Survey. I’ll put up the analysis and the csv file next week. I have the usual questions, but also added a few more that might seem a bit weird. There are 30 questions total, and you don’t need to answer all of them, but as I said the more you answer the more data there’ll be. I did a trial run and it took less than 5 minutes; most people can answer a question about their sex or religious identity pretty quickly.

Update: You can view the results of the survey here.

(Republished from GNXP.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: 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 http://www.razib.com"