Reader Survey, summer 2010

By Razib Khan | July 26, 2010 3:51 am

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.

How long have been reading Gene Expression(s) regularly?
No more than 4 weeks93
1 to 6 months1912
6 months to 12 months1412
1 to 2 years1626
2 to 4 years2927
More than 4 years1321
What is your highest educational level attained?
Did not complete secondary school11
Secondary school01
Some post-secondary education, incomplete68
Post secondary education, but not a university degree holder98
University degree holder3231
Masters degree1818
Professional graduate degree (law, medicine, etc.)612
Graduate degree (science, humanities, etc.)2821
What is your subjective socioeconomic status?
Lower class15
Lower middle class1514
Middle class5443
Upper middle class2833
Upper class15
What is your belief about the nature of God?
I believe in theistic God(s)1410
I believe in deistic God(s)65
I believe in a Higher Power86
I am skeptical of the existence of God(s)1424
I do not believe in the existence of God(s)5855
What is your racial identity?
European ancestry (white)7085
East Asian22
South Asian44
Southeast Asian31
African ancestry (black)11
Middle Eastern42
Which of the following characterizes your general politics:
Far Left43
Center Left1918
Center Right1111
Far Right14
Do you consider yourself sympathetic to transhumanism?
No idea1819
Don’t care3527
Have you ever had sexual intercourse?
Personality type in terms of shyness you are:
Very extroverted01
Somewhat extroverted1518
Somewhat introverted4839
Very Introverted38
Attitudes toward abortion:
Support abortion rights on demand4940
Support abortion rights, but with some constraints3743
Support ban on abortion, but with some exceptions613
Support ban on abortion84
Have you taken calculus?
Race is:
A social construct, not a biological reality189
A biological reality, not a social construct920
Both a social construct and a biological reality7372
IQ measures:
Something real which we refer to as intelligence3267
Ability to take a particular type of test4419
Who knows?2414
What is the heritability of IQ among groups in the West which are middle class and above?
Less than 0.364
0.3 to 0.52319
0.5 to 0.74347
More than 0.72930

Comments (31)

  1. Regarding the questions about heritability and Hardy-Weinberg, you could potentially get more people saying that they know what they are than is actually the case. There’s a fair bit of evidence that hindsight bias causes people to claim that they knew statements that are actually false. In the future it might make sense to throw on a control question involving something that’s a complete nonsense equation and asking people if they’ve seen it before or know what it is.

  2. chezjake

    New survey is interesting. Since scientists often read languages better than they speak them, perhaps a future survey could ask “How many languages can you read without frequently consulting a dictionary?” I only fluently speak English, but I can read journal articles in 5 other languages.

  3. JohnV

    Joshua I totally sat there briefly contemplating if he had just made up some equation and thrown it on there for that purpose :p

  4. Jason Malloy

    Only two brown readers???

    All that missionary work on Sepia Mutiny for what, Z?

  5. I think those are percentages, Jason.

  6. sorry jason, michelle is right 🙂 btw, you can view the results here:

    one word: VIRGINS!!!

  7. Jason Malloy

    OK, but then we’re still talking 1% brown. Given the education of the readership, this means browns are now underrepresented as gnxp readers. Didn’t it used to be like 10%?

    I would’ve been interested to know what fraction of the white readership is ethnically Jewish, but I didn’t think of it the other day.

  8. you’re right. that must be a typo.

  9. Jason Malloy

    Here’s the 2007 reader poll:

    Black 2% 8
    White 79% 273
    East Asian 4% 14
    South Asian 7% 24
    Middle Eastern 1% 5
    Mixed 6%

    Behold the Portlandization of GNXP!

  10. higher % of ScienceBlogs ppl by early 2010. whiter readership.

  11. Introverted, highly educated virgins no less.

  12. Actually I felt a bit bad about my answer to the sexual partners question, until I realized you had one reader in the 50-100 range and one in 101+. I really think they’re lying. There’s no way anyone has that much free time.

  13. Introverted, highly educated virgins no less.

    that’s always been true.

    re: the “sluts”, i know of gay men and college athletes who may have been into the 100s by their early 20s. though i’m a bit cautious about that because a lot of the “notches” may not have gone on to full-blown sexual intercourse.

    for someone who reads and has an active life of the mind i suspect it’s hard to imagine how bestial more typical humans can behave. i get the impression that there’s first-order sensory input and deprivation signals are the only apps running on their brain-OS.

  14. I don’t think that having an “active life of the mind” and being a slut are inherently mutually exclusive, although it might make you slow down and think just enough to keep you from topping triple digits.

  15. Also wrt numbers inflation because of it not reaching full-blown intercourse, sometimes it can be hard to pin down what “counts” as intercourse, especially when we’re talking about gay sex. It’s a little easier to quantify with guys, but nobody really knows what lesbian sex is, lesbians included.

    For example, if manual stimulation counts for lesbians (for a lot of lesbians I know, this is their primary method of having sex), why wouldn’t it count for a heterosexual couple? Depending on how you choose to define it, my number could go way down or way up in multiple ways.

  16. lol. hadn’t thought of that michelle re: lesbian sex. i guess i believe that that question needs to be “graded on a curve.”

  17. In the question about ones major you don’t allow for multidisciplinary work. (i.e. I was majoring in physics, math, and philosophy – although I just answered physics)

  18. clark, yeah, that was pointed out to me AFTER the fact. in the future i’ll make it checkboxable; retarded mistake.

  19. Jason Malloy

    “For example, if manual stimulation counts for lesbians (for a lot of lesbians I know, this is their primary method of having sex), why wouldn’t it count for a heterosexual couple?”

    For the most part, anal/handjob/oral “virgins” are a non-issue because these behaviors quickly transition into vaginal sex. But most people do experience first vaginal sex as an exceptional life-history stage, because it carries a unique psychological significance. Homosexuals no doubt have an analogous experience — most likely whatever seems closest to heterosexual intercourse (i.e. anal sex for gay men or rubbing genitals together for lesbians). I’m sure there is a high amount of agreement among homosexuals about the first experiences they qualified as sex.

  20. Right now, more than 20% of the respondents are virgins. I wonder at which age threshold this limit is reached in the general population. In the sample, right now there are more virgins than there are people below the age of 26.

    This is two weeks too late but at least when it comes to the next survey, adding a statistics question of some sort might not be a bad idea. I know from personal experience that some people who’ve taken multivariable calculus still hardly know how to interpret the results of a simple OLS-estimation. In terms of ‘how much of the technical stuff do my readers get’, a statistics question might provide valuable insights.

    (added: Just reread the survey results. I couldn’t help noticing that you put anthropology in the social sciences category as one of the examples. It’s worth noticing that there are international differences as to which branches of science particular fields belong to: At least in Denmark, anthropology is not part of the social sciences, it’s part of the humanities)

  21. “rubbing genitals together for lesbians”

    It is pretty obvious to me that you’ve never been a lesbian, Jason, so I won’t hold that against you. 😉 The mechanics involved in actually trying to do that is… well… not impossible, but it is difficult enough to coordinate to definitely take you out of the moment.

    The closest thing to heterosexual sex is obviously the use of a strap-on of some kind, but I would not say that it is the be-all, end-all of lesbian sex, since many lesbians don’t like it and never do it, but you couldn’t say that they weren’t having sex. It’s really very hard to describe.

    I’m honestly not trying to dyke out all over Razib’s blog comments (I’m not even a lesbian anymore anyway), this is just an issue I find very interesting on a personal level. I like seeing what people consider ‘normal’ or ‘standard’ sex and exposing them to the gray areas. 🙂

  22. well michelle, it’s been educational 🙂

  23. It is interesting. Kind of like what constitutes cheating on a spouse. To me guys who go to strip clubs are not that much different from guys engaging in full sex. It’s cheating. Not to get Clintonesque but I think most would agree with me. For “before marriage” it’s a bit blurrier probably because either people are going to have full sex or else they feel guilty and are going to justify it as much as a married cheater. With gay sex of various types it’s probably a mix of these two attitudes. For those fine with being gay they’ll just call it sex because there’s no stigma. Much like a heterosexual with no stigma to premarital sex. For those who feel guilty about it or who don’t want to be known as gay they’ll tend to deny it was sex. So for instance girls doing things at a party with an other girl primarily to tease guys. It’s not much different from full sex from one perspective but it is from their perspective. I’ve had friends pretty emphatic that they weren’t gay even though it seemed to me Michelle’s point is they were doing most of what lesbians were doing.

    All of which just shows how complex attitudes towards sex are among humans. It’s more about labels than it is about actions. Of course I have to admit the question about the number partners was kind of odd and probably for many people does get complex quickly. I know lots of guys with dozens if not over a hundred “partners” but whom would say they only had sex with maybe 5 women.

  24. Jason Malloy


    That’s an interesting input, but tribadism is a much more typical practice among lesbians than you suggest. Although manual stimulation is the most universal behavior.

    I did not mean to suggest that homosexuals “mimic” heterosexuals, but rather that they share their mental template for what constitutes more and less sexually intimate behavior. I don’t consider penetration with an object more intimate (or closer to heterosexual sex) than manual sex.

  25. Actually, this whole conversation makes me think of the ‘scissoring’ episode on South park.

  26. michelle, yeah. i did think the same thing from the beginning.

  27. The sexual partner matter isn’t an issue of how into sex people are. It is a measure of how monogamous people are. For example, someone who is married and has sex once a week would have had sex some 200 times or so in 4 years. In that same span, someone who is having the same amount of sex could have 200 partners. This isn’t a metric of how “bestial” people are.

  28. well, lots of people are obviously asexual too 🙂


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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