2011 Reader Survey: GNXXP vs. GNXYP edition

By Razib Khan | July 18, 2011 3:02 pm


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:

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Blog
  • http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/crude-matter/ EcoPhysioMichelle

    My subjective and entirely unscientific experience with nerds vs. the general population is that female nerds are more promiscuous than male nerds, whereas the reverse is true for the general population. I’m not surprised.

    I wasn’t surprised about bisexuals, either. Self-reported bisexuals tend to skew female.

  • http://deepeco.ucsd.edu/~hye Hao Ye

    The Myers-Briggs distribution looks pretty interesting, too. I’m unfamiliar with the research in this area, but there seems to be some suggestion that MBTI types are correlated with different average IQ. (Though the self-reported IQ distribution is obviously missing a few dfs that would be needed to explain the abnormal MBTI distribution…)

  • jlf

    I think I would agree with EPMichelle. Anecdotally, every male I have slept with save 1 has been a virgin.

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    One question had a detail that worried me. The question about income said “American dollars in numeric form, e.g. 30000″. This could lead to an anchoring effect moving the distribution closer to 30000. (I know, marginally related to this post in particular.)

  • mary

    I’m curious about people who self identify as upper class. Are there people who still think like this outside the House of Windsor? Or are we just talking about money?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #5, it’s all about the benjamins. i assume.

  • Solitha

    I’m the only ISFJ so far? I’m not sure if that makes me special, or a freak ;-)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #7, you’re looking at percentages. N = 4 for ISFJ.

  • Phil

    I’ve always wanted to see details about geographic mobility, ie. Still live where raised, moved for educational reasons, moved for financial reasons, moved for personal reasons, lived in other country, etc. I think maternal and second (and third etc etc) languages might be interesting too.

  • Paul G

    @ Hao Ye

    Interesting observation.

    Percentage of the sixteen personality types of Gene Expression readers. And a comparison to results of the following study (Table 5): http://psych.wisc.edu/henriques/papers/Sak.pdf

    TYPE G – N – G/N – R – R/G
    INTP 12 3.5 3.4 20.1 1.7
    INTJ 7.5 2.6 2.9 30.2 4.0
    INFP 10.4 3.9 2.7 6.2 0.6
    INFJ 4.8 1.8 2.7 4.5 0.9
    ENTP 11.4 4.9 2.3 7.6 0.7
    ENFP 15.5 7.6 2.0 2.0 0.1
    ENTJ 5.8 3.9 1.5 3.4 0.6
    ENFJ 4.6 3.6 1.3 3.1 0.7
    ISTJ 6.8 6.9 1.0 11 1.6
    ISTP 3.2 4.2 0.8 3.7 1.2
    ESTP 3.2 6.5 0.5 0.9 0.3
    ISFJ 2.7 6.8 0.4 1.1 0.4
    ISFP 2.2 5.4 0.4 2.3 1.0
    ESFP 2.6 9.4 0.3 0.9 0.3
    ESTJ 3.9 15 0.3 1.7 0.4
    ESFJ 3.3 14 0.2 1.4 0.4

    G = Gifted Group
    N = Norm Group
    R = Razib (GNXP)
    Sorted in descending order by –> G/N = Gifted sample %/Normative Group sample %
    R/G = GNXP Reader sample %/Gifted sample %

    GNXP (N=497)

    The M/F GNXP reader ratio may limit comparability.

  • http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/crude-matter/ EcoPhysioMichelle

    #7: I am ISFJ too. I checked the wrong box for that question.

  • Diego

    Razib, I realize you have smart readers, but do you think the self-reported IQ scores are a bit too high? How feasible would it be to include a sort of rough and ready Wonderlic Test in the next survey?

  • Clark

    Razib, out of curiosity what did you find most surprising in the survey (if anything)?

    I have to admit I was a bit surprised the IQ was so high. That’s a lot of people reporting 140+ IQs. I was rather surprised that there were so many economic moderates or even conservatives as well. Knowing how liberal Science Blogs is I expected some liberal bias but was surprised there wasn’t more. And I was surprised there was not as much math background — especially given the IQs.

  • Polynices

    Razib is linked from many HBD blogs (in their blogrolls if not actual articles) and those readers probably skew non-liberal so his readership will differ from the general Science Blogs folks.

    I’d like to see the sex partners numbers correlated with age (and duration of monogamous relationship, if any, not that you can easily collect that data). Since obviously younger folks have less time to accumulate partners and likewise people who have been married will have a shorter window of exposure for accumulating partners (leaving aside infidelity which would still make for a much lower rate of increase in total partners during “monogamous” time).

  • Justin Loe

    How about a survey on the number of people who use their real names as their handles? Obviously there’s a problem with verifying the survey results, but a pet peeve of mine is that people don’t use their real names. If someone posts something in a comment, shouldn’t it be preferred that they use their real names? That way, there’s more accountability. If you interact with someone in real life, you don’t use a pseudonym, you use your real name. Some argue that if you make a fool of yourself in a comment, your comment is preserved for eternity. If you make a fool of yourself when presenting an academic paper, that’s preserved too. I’ve made comments under pseudonyms in the past, so I’m not claiming to be entirely consistent in this belief, but it seems preferable, at least to me, to move in this direction. One more thought on privacy: another objection is that potential employers might google you posts and discover either (1) an opinion that they hold objectionable or (2) some type of post that they feel casts other doubts on one’s maturity or suitability. A counterargument is that if an employer is basing their decisions on such a limited appraisal of one’s personality, which is incompletely reflected by internet comments, then they’re probably not worth working for. EDIT: This comment seems to be a bit off-topic.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    I’d like to see the sex partners numbers correlated with age

    i already did that in an earlier post. r = .37 or something.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Razib, I realize you have smart readers, but do you think the self-reported IQ scores are a bit too high? How feasible would it be to include a sort of rough and ready Wonderlic Test in the next survey?

    i already outlined the reasons for a inflated distribution earlier. the problem with the wonderlic test is that it requires time, and there’s going to be a strong sample bias for people who already score well on these things to take the time out to show how awesome they are :-)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Razib, out of curiosity what did you find most surprising in the survey (if anything)?

    not as many virgins.

    re: politics, since i don’t offer up an explicitly left-wing environment (since i’m right-wing myself) i think that means there’s less “push” due to libertarinish readers getting bored of the slant. i also get linked from conservative publications like NRO now and then because of my known sympathies.

  • Justin Loe

    @Razib: One possibility would be for readers to send you a screenshot of their scanned SAT or GRE and use the low end conversion that doesn’t overestimate IQ: http://sq.4mg.com/IQ-SATchart.htm. It’s problematic for privacy, but it’s one possible approach.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    justin, still doesn’t fix the sample bias issue. people with high scores will jump through the hoops more often. what i could do is check the reported scores vs. educational attainment, and see what the gap is. i’d ideally correct for other demographic variables. i assume that my readers are smarter to the average person of their educational attainment, especially at the lower ends.

  • Justin Loe

    @Razib: Yes, you’re right. It’s likely also true that there’s a selection bias in terms of those who are willing to submit validated scores, either for privacy reasons or because they didn’t do well. It’ll just be a fair approximation, short of gathering a convention of the readers and submitting us all to standardized tests, with, of course, free beer.

  • http://www.usmc.org/7th/ skatr

    “use the low end conversion that doesn’t overestimate IQ:”

    Do the charts at that link use the old or the new (“re-centered” post 1994) scores? Bush and Gore are referenced at that site and both took the test under the older standard.

  • http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/crude-matter/ EcoPhysioMichelle

    edit: dupe.

  • http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/crude-matter/ EcoPhysioMichelle

    BRB, scanning my ACT scores for Razib. Do you require a copy of my birth certificate and a recent bank statement as well, or will my SSN and photo ID suffice? I mean, shit, you’ve already got my genome.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    i wish had your (and my) genome! i have your genotype :-)

  • http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/crude-matter/ EcoPhysioMichelle

    You know what I meant. I’m a bit distracted because I’m wading through galley correction hell. Point is, you should be able to verify my identity easily enough.

  • http://deepeco.ucsd.edu/~hye Hao Ye

    @ Paul G.
    Thanks for the link. I hadn’t stumbled across that one yet. And your numbers came out funny, no doubt due to font differences. I copy-pasted into a text editor with a monospace font and was able to see what you are getting. Quick question: Are the G group numbers from Sak? That study used gifted 8th graders, and I don’t know if MBTI is stable for pre-adolescent -> adult. (maybe it is?)

    @ Justin Loe
    Ah, but what about the bias of high IQ types towards tests with free beer as compensation? ;)

  • Justin Loe

    @Hao Ye: Actually, beer isn’t really a personal incentive. Probably chocolate cake or apple pie would be better incentives. If the convention were near the ocean, fishing or surfing would be good incentives as well. :)

    @skatr: I believe that website is applying a different index to old scores, since both Bush and Gore took the SAT in the 1960s. The other methods tend to inflate IQ. He also cites Charles Murray’s estimate of Bush’s IQ as comparable to his estimate using that table. In a few empircal examples that I can think of this table is more accurate than the other table on this site: http://www.iqcomparisonsite.com/oldSATIQ.aspx.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Probably chocolate cake or apple pie would be better incentives.

    a lot of the readers of this weblog avoid sugar :-)

  • http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/crude-matter/ EcoPhysioMichelle

    #28, the first website you posted (up in #19) more accurately predicts my IQ based on the nonverbal IQ tests I’ve taken, if GRE scores can be considered equivalent to SAT scores (never took the SAT).

    I, for one, would much rather have chocolate cake than beer or surfing. (Once a fat girl always a fat girl.)

  • Justin Loe

    @ecoPhysioMichelle: I believe there’s a more comprehensive test in development by Higgins and Peterson in which they add measures of executive function (D-PFCA) to a standard IQ battery and find that it accounts for more of the variance in academic and work performance: http://psych.utoronto.ca/users/peterson/pdf/2007%20Higgins%20DM%20Peterson%20JB%20Executive%20Function%20and%20Performance%20JPSP.pdf.

    Salient quote: “In Study 1, regression analysis demonstrated that D-PFCA predicts academic performance over and above IQ and SAT scores.”(p. 307, left column)
    I’m not sure when this might be released.

  • clark

    Out of curiosity what’s the relationship typically between adult IQ and youthful IQ? Honestly I’ve not taken an IQ test since 11th grade so I just put what I got then. (No – not trying to weasel into a higher IQ. I already have been around enough geniuses at Los Alamos to know I’m not one)

    BTW – regarding your explanation of IQ on the previous post. Seems to me that would explain “non-answers” but not necessarily the large number of really high numbers. Beyond just that a lot of very smart people read you. I wonder if, given the males, there’s IQ padding as well as sexual partner padding?

  • Miley Cyrax

    @clark, 32
    “Out of curiosity what’s the relationship typically between adult IQ and youthful IQ?”

    I don’t have a number off the top of my head, but lifetime IQ should be quite stable.

    “BTW – regarding your explanation of IQ on the previous post. Seems to me that would explain “non-answers” but not necessarily the large number of really high numbers. Beyond just that a lot of very smart people read you. I wonder if, given the males, there’s IQ padding as well as sexual partner padding?”

    I suspect even more IQ padding here for both males and females than male sexual partner padding, aside from the ones who replied with 150 and 200 partners, for I imagine more people among the readership here are wannabe intellectual stalwarts than wannabe Casanovas.

  • http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/crude-matter/ EcoPhysioMichelle

    Baby, there’s padding everywhere. Don’t kid yourself.

  • Justin Loe

    “Out of curiosity what’s the relationship typically between adult IQ and youthful IQ?”
    @clark One of the better longitudinal studies of IQ is the study based on a sample of 11,000 children who were tested in 1932, and then retested in about 2000 (ref: http://www.psych.umn.edu/courses/spring06/mcguem/psy8935/readings/deary2003.pdf).
    A reference in a BBC Horizons program suggested that the retest found a number of cases in which IQs increased by perhaps 15 points in comparison to the 1932 scores.

    It is unclear whether (1) those increases simply represent statistical fluctuations in the scores, or (2) whether some people actually did improve their performance. Obviously a finding of this type needs to be replicated. I have no idea whether it has been replicated or not.

  • http://www.usmc.org/7th/ skatr

    “I suspect even more IQ padding here for both males and females than male sexual partner padding, aside from the ones who replied with 150 and 200 partners”

    I don’t think 150 to 200 partners is at all unusual for someone who has reached middle age. Despite being informed of studies to the contrary, I remain astounded that the average number of partners for the men is only 4, absolutely astounded. It’s actually a bit pathetic really.

    As for IQ, sheer brainpower peaks at around 19 years of age. Many great achievements in math have occurred well before the mathematicians turned 30. Nominal IQs remain high because raw scores are normed to age.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #36, quality not quantity? a matter of philosophy :-)

  • http://www.usmc.org/7th/ skatr

    “quality not quantity? a matter of philosophy”

    Perhaps, but who cares about brains or looks if the lights are out? :-)

    Seriously though, if one doesn’t marry until they are in their thirties (as one normally shouldn’t) then surely the number of sexual partners a guy would have by then would number at least one or two dozen at the very least. The numbers in your survey make me even happier than I already am that I didn’t go to graduate school. LOL!!!

  • Justin Loe

    @skatr:
    “Rubia et al. (2000) reported increased prefrontal activation with age (9 adolescents aged 12-19 years compared to 8 adults aged 22-40 years).”
    Likewise, expert performance was maintained in these examples:
    ” A sufficient amount of weekly deliberate practice has been shown to allow expert pianists in their 50s and 60s to maintain their piano performances at a comparable level to that of young experts,”: ref:
    example: Horowitz, 1986, Moscow, age 83: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq7ncjhSqtk
    http://journals.lww.com/academicmedicine/Fulltext/2004/10001/Deliberate_Practice_and_the_Acquisition_and.22.aspx/

    There’s a list of examples of outstanding performance in mathematics past the age of 50 here: http://mathoverflow.net/questions/25630/major-mathematical-advances-past-age-fifty

  • Coemgen

    Regarding the large number of 140+ I.Q.’s: In addition to “rounding up”, perhaps many responders are using the GRE Verbal+Quantitative to I.Q. conversion. I googled GRE to I.Q. conversions and found that my GRE Verbal+Quantitative to I.Q. conversions yielded I.Q. scores that tend to be nearly 1 SD higher than expected.

    I found a website that maps GRE Verbal only scores to I.Q. and, for me, it is nearly “spot on”.

    The website http://carrefoursagesse.wordpress.com/2009/02/05/converting-gre-verbal-scores-to-iqs/ has a list of GRE Verbal only scores mapped to “IQ’s”. I’ve taken the GRE twice. My verbal scores were within 5 points of each other. The Carrefours conversions for my GRE Verbal scores are within a fraction of a point of my pre October 1980 U.S. Army GT score.

  • http://www.usmc.org/7th/ skatr

    Justin, being old myself I find your previous entry heartening. However nothing you posted contradicts my previous statements.

  • Liesel

    Oh Justin Loe, were you an “upper class” respondant? :)

    Some have mouths to feed so the employer “not worth working for” does not compute. I cleanned toilets in the past. I don’t know how low I’d go but I would take a petty boss over a lot of other working conditions.

    While I understand your desire for openness and defending one’s position publically, I also understand people closely guarding their privacy. Even if the boss would have to be unpleasant to refuse a job based on such things.

  • Justin Loe

    @Liesel: I’m not in that financial category, but I’ve found that successful academics and others can be just as reluctant to speak out, even given tenure or secure incomes. Security can lead to complacency and an unwillingness to challenge poor behavior of other professors or co-workers. I don’t necessarily see the class connection in many cases, though I’m not suggesting that everyone post as themselves. My preference is simply different.

    Place two people in the same circumstances: one will object to poor treatment and one will not.

    @Coemgen: that conversion doesn’t work either. I’ve known a few people who did well at the top end of the verbal and didn’t have those IQs. Standardized WAIS or SB-V is the best solution.

  • ackbark

    #38 “Perhaps, but who cares about brains or looks if the lights are out?”

    That’s like rationalizing sex with a hamster.

    I think Razib should put a caveat on the question about sex partners to the effect that ‘the people you see in porn are not your sex partners’.

  • http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/crude-matter/ EcoPhysioMichelle

    “I could have done THAT with a German Shepherd.”

  • Mercy

    @Mary are you American because I know silver spooners like David Cameron like to say they are middle class to the press, but I’ve always assumed they’d give a different answer if you cornered them at one of their hundred pound a plate dinners. And I think employer glosses to upper class pretty well.

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Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

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 http://www.razib.com

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