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Reader Survey

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I’ve been doing reader surveys for a while, so I figured now was about time. For the demographic questions I tried to mimic the GSS more than usual. It’s two pages and 40 questions, but it should be pretty quick (it’s not a quiz, you shouldn’t have to think).

Here is the link to the survey.

There will be instant result updates, but after a few days I will post a link to the raw results on this blog post (I’ve turned off IP collecting by the way). Usually I get 300-400 responses, so I assume that’s the “core” readership. It’s been stable for a long while now.

You can use this as an “unlurk” thread if you want.

Update: You can check the results as they get updated. I will put the raw results link up when there are more people who submit….

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IMG_20141111_213014407Over the years I’ve realized that since I regularly verbally bludgeon readers people think I’m a severe and overly serious person. Apparently the headshot which I have on Twitter also seems a bit dickish (it was taken in Florence in 2010). To compensate for that I had a friend take this picture of me recently. I’m smiling. So I’m capable of that.

Second, it’s been a while since I posted a reader survey. I’ve been doing them every few years since 2005. I expect that since I moved to Unz Review there has been some change in the readership, but I also have the same people who have been following me across platforms (speaking of this issue, just subscribe to my total content feed).

Here is this the link for this year’s survey, There are 33 questions. Many of them pretty quick (e.g., age, sex, number of children). I’ll be posting an update, and the raw data (csv format) later.

Finally, old reader survey posts.

Update: Nearly 300 responses in. Past experience tells me that the numbers won’t go much more than 500, and that will take a long time. I’ve put the results so far in csv and excel format. I’ll keep the file name the same as I generate updated reports. No big surprises so far, as the respondents pretty much fit the profile of earlier results. Only major surprises to me are the high support levels for maintaining blue collar wages through government intervention, and, the overwhelming acceptance (~75%) of anthropogenic climate change given the somewhat libertarian bias of the readers.

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There are now over 400 responses to the survey. Here is a link to the responses in CSV format. If you import this into R, an extra parameter in regards to encoding may be necessary:

responses=read.csv("responses.csv",sep="t",header=TRUE,fileEncoding = "UCS-2LE")

I decided to separate the respondents into two categories, biologists and non-scientists (therefore, excluding other types of scientists from further analysis). You can see the filtered responses for biologists and non-scientists yourself. Below are some comments on interesting differences.

Non-scientists Biologists
Completed Doctorate 57 19
Completed University 23 38
Feminist 36 46
Important to prenatala screen? 83 75
Abort if 90% chance Down syndrome? 79 83
Abort if 90% chance 80 IQ? 58 54
GMO should be labeled 45 39
Drink every day 16 30
Never drink 13 3
Non-environmental race differences in personality 64 54
Non-environmental race differences in intelligence 69 57
Non-environmental sex differences in personality 85 77
Non-environmental sex differences in intelligence 58 39
Overpopulation is a major problem we are neglecting 28 44
Believe in policy responses to fertility differences across groups 33 13
Gattaca is unrealistic 28 41
Blogs read regularly
Bad Astronomy 26 24
Cosmic Variance 19 15
Loom 22 32
Ed Yong 24 47
Pharyngula 16 24
Why Evolution is True 15 28
Marginal Revolution 36 18
Kevin Drum 11 3
Instapundit 14 6
Steve Sailer 48 26
Matt Yglesias 17 10
DailyKos 7 7
RedState 2 3
Sandwalk 4 15
John Hawks 43 43
Dienekes 47 40
Panda’s Thumb 8 3

It makes sense that people who say they’re biologists tend to be very well educated. One thing not evident explicitly in the table is that the biologists who read this weblog tend to be more conventionally Left-liberal in their views, and I think that explains some of the differences in response to questions such as feminism. More interesting to me is that my non-scientist readers seem to exhibit a more strongly hereditarian viewpoint, or accept the predictive power of genetics to a greater extent, than the biologists! You can chalk some of this up to ideology, but when you look at the Gattaca question I think you are getting to the heart of a major issue: biologists, and geneticists in particular, understand the limitations of genetic inference. This does not mean that one accepts a “blank slate” perspective. On the contrary, almost all of my readers accept individual differences in intelligence and personality being genetically mediated (I omitted that result there was so much unanimity). But, there does need to be some subtly in how we interpret the interplay between genes and environment. As Jim Manzi would say, this is an area with “high causal density.” The world of Gattaca is really more about social engineering than genetic engineering, and the former is much more difficult than the latter.

A minor admission of surprise, in a good way, is that it seems the overwhelming majority of my readers do accept non-environmental differences in personality between the sexes. Obviously someone who reads this weblog is not representative of the general population, but as you may know I have been moderately pessimistic about acknowledgement of non-reproductive biological differences of the sexes in the current intellectual/political climate (where in some quarters such acknowledgement is ipso facto admission of being sexist). These results update my assessment in this domain somewhat, though to be sure I stated the question in a very broad and general manner which would be difficult for many to disagree with.

Finally, it seems that biologists and non-scientists read blogs a fair amount, but their selection differs somewhat. In particular, biologists seem to be reading blogs by…well, biologists (e.g., Larry Moran, Jerry Coyne). Not too surprising. The main exception is Panda’s Thumb. But the reality is that many biologists have only a marginal interest in the ‘controversy’ of evolution, so I don’t think that this exception is very telling.

• Category: Science • Tags: Administration, Reader Survey 
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I can’t send you to a direct link, so here are the results. Some of the results need to be crunched by me unfortunately. But here’s a sample (yes, I didn’t do much more than the basic R density plot).

• Category: Science • Tags: Administration, Reader Survey 
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It has been brought to my attention that Discover Magazine has a reader survey as well. Here’s the first page:


All responses to this survey will remain completely confidential and will be studied and interpreted only in combination with all other responses received.

As a thank you for participating, you will have an opportunity to enter into a drawing to win one of ten $50 Amazon Gift cards.

During the survey, please answer each question and avoid hitting your Web browser’s Back button.

For a copy of the sweepstakes rules, click on the link rules page.

For a copy of the Internet privacy policy, click on the link privacy policy.

It took me <2 minutes to complete.

• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, 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.

• 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:

• Category: Science • Tags: 2011 Reader Survey, Blog, Reader Survey 
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My sample size for the reader survey is now ~200. I’m aiming for ~500. If you are a regular reader of this weblog, please consider filling out the survey. The software is telling me that the average reader is taking about ~10 minutes. All questions are optional, so you can quickly skip over confusing ones or those which you don’t want to divulge.

The results so far are here. At least for the questions which weren’t open ended. I added a lot of open ended numeric questions so that I could run some scatterplots and more natural statistics (i.e., I don’t have to convert categorical responses into numerics and so forth).

To give a taste for the kind of stuff I’m running on the nerd-heavy data set I thought I would explore how # of sexual partners relates to age and IQ. First, let me admit that I assume that the IQ distribution of the readership here is somewhat artificially shifted upward (to the right of the distribution). Those with higher IQs are more likely to know their IQs. And whether unconsciously or consciously individuals will almost certainly self-report results which are drawn from the higher range of their results distribution. Additionally, since the readers are ~85% male there’s an expectation that there’ll be a slight padding of the # of sexual partners. But since I’m really curious about correlations I’ll assume that these biases are independent across the two result sets.

Below are some simple summary statistics, density distribution plots and scatterplots. Also some information on the virgins for those who are curious.

Age: median: 34, mean: 37, standard deviation: 13.

# of sexual partners: median: 4, mean: 8, standard deviation: 21.

IQ: median: 135, mean: 133, standard deviation: 11.

The people with 200 sexual partners are ridiculous, so I yanked those few outliers out of the data set (I’m not judging, I’m just saying that the promiscuous readers tend to make the charts hard to read).

# of sexual partners & IQ: correlation ~0.03

# of sexual partners & Age: correlation ~0.37

I was curious if there was a relationship between IQ and # of sexual partners controlling for age, so I ran a partial correlation. There wasn’t. The correlation was -0.03 with a p-value of 0.71. So amongst the readers of this weblog there isn’t a relationship between # of sexual partners and intelligence (sorry Geoffrey Miller!). Of course the distribution of IQs is not natural. The lowest reported values were 100, which is the American population average. The median of the distribution would come in at exactly the 99th percentile. This is almost certainly too high, but I doubt the median is much lower than the 90th percentile.

Finally, the virgins. Here are there ages & IQs:

Age & IQ of virgins
Age IQ
69 130
38 130
37 100
30 137
29 135
28 156
25 125
25 145
25 140
24 135
23 131
21 130
20 160
20 110
20 135
19 142
18 140

Finally, if there are specific statistical questions you want explored, ask here. I can’t guarantee I’ll look at it, but I might.

• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Reader Survey 
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Since the reader survey is topping out in response, I though I’d report some of the results. Since I’ve been doing these surveys my readership has exhibited a few patterns, and I was curious as to any changes since moving to Discover. Not too much has shifted. Instead of 15% female, as was the case for years, the readers are now 25% female. It looks like ~10% of the readers know this website only through Discover. Feel free to browse the results yourself.

I think the most interesting aspect for many is the political diversity. Generally the readership is split between Left liberals and libertarians. Though there are a small number of conventional conservatives, it is very rare to find those who are socially conservative and fiscally liberal. These “populists” tend not to be as intelligent as the other combinations, and so I suspect that’s why they’re not well represented on the web, among my readership, or the political elite of the United States in general (for what it’s worth, I’ve been moving in a more populist direction over the years, starting from a libertarian stance).

First, a few summary statistics. I asked readers their index of liberalism, with 0 being as conservative as possible, 10 as liberal, and 5 in the middle. I asked on two dimensions, social and economic.


Median – 8
Mean -7.4
Standard Deviation – 2.48


Median – 5
Mean -5.01
Standard Deviation – 2.74

The correlation between social and economic liberalism was 0.37. Here is a chart which illustrates the different distributions:


I’ve smoothed a bit, but it’s clear that while there’s several modes in the economic liberalism distribution, there’s a strong liberal slant on social issues. Not that surprising. But I wanted to look at the combinations, so I created some bubble plots. The size of the circle is proportional to the weight of the particular political combination within the set (or subset).

First, the whole data set.


You see four quadrants. The plural majority of readers are liberal, followed by libertarians, then conservatives, then populists. Remove the centrists (those who selected 5 on either social or economic responses) and summing up the numbers in the quadrants, here are the percentages:

Liberals – 40%

Libertarian – 28%

Conservative – 11%

Populist – 3%

(the rest are in the borderline zones)

Now let’s look at the subsamples and how that impacts distribution.


Female readers tend to be more liberal.

I’ll just leave you with the rest of the bubble charts with minimal comment. But if you want to know something about the data, ask in the comments. Doing the analysis isn’t usually that hard, but I don’t know what people want to know (virgins are young, but not different than the rest of the readership).

• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Reader 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:

-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.

• Category: Science • Tags: Blog, Reader Survey, Survey 
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"