Goal met on the reader survey, now the data….

By Razib Khan | July 19, 2011 1:41 pm

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.

  • ColinC

    I think the question about liberalism on economic issues is going to generate some confusion in the results, hence the lack of a real bell curve. Economic liberalism academically means something different than it would mean to a non-academic or even to some America-focused academics.

    I see my self as an economic liberal, which is why I support free trade, relaxed regulation of markets (only to prevent theft, fraud, or actions harmful to the general welfare like polluting), ending subsidies and other non-tariff barriers, etc. However, my mom, who sees herself as liberal on economics, thinks pretty much everyone on Wall Street needs to be arrested for the “Great Recession”, believes free trade is harmful to poor workers in the states, and doesn’t care what a non-tariff barrier to trade is so long as unionized businesses are able to keep working.

    Edit: I’m also an INTP (Architect) so I’m prone to getting wrapped up into philosophical points.

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

    i’ve said this half a dozen times, but i’ll say it again: the direction of attitudes toward high taxes moves in the correct direction in the cross-tab. ergo, people understood what i was trying to get at, even if i lacked totally universal precision.

  • Paul

    Look at all the INT*s.

  • Konkvistador

    I would guess the change in political affiliation was due having more people from Discovery Blogs among your readership. Not surprising considering politically many other bloggers at Discover Magazine are quite firmly non-libertarian left.

    But here I am yapping my mouth, instead of looking at the data set and looking at the correlations between political positions and the different ways people found the blog. I’ll guess if I’m not beat to it by anyone else I’ll get to it when I have a bit of time.

  • Wara

    The perspectives here make sense. Universal clarity of questions is so difficult to achieve in a survey. I was a bit confused by the ‘supernatural’ question, for example. I do believe in God, but God is not something measurable in scientific terms (i.e. there isn’t a way to prove or disprove God’s existence scientifically). Therefore, I agreed that I believe in the ‘supernatural.’ This does NOT mean however, that I believe in ghosts, auras, poltergeists, or the like. Looking back, I wonder if I should have answered differently.

    The skewing towards Liberalism makes sense in light of the fact that the Discover leans left as do women politically. Both have had an impact on the Gene Expression blog readership. (I’m still in the Libertarian camp-just don’t forget about us please! We tend to feel isolated sometimes politically.)

    As for the confusion over an “economic liberal” I have a hunch that economically, it makes a big difference if one moves from a lower to higher socioeconomic class. My mom is a liberal, too ColinC. I am the oddball of the entire family politically but also the only one who gained economic success in this regard. Lots of my family members chalk up my converting because I changed economic groups, but my economic attitude actually changed long before I became relatively financially successful. I liked the idea of free trade and felt I’d been mislead when I finally learned about Hayek, Friedman and the lot. It was a big key in my realizing I didn’t have to stay put in my ‘class.’ I know I didn’t get here via financial “help” (unless you count my scholarship-but I like to think that was an investment. Scholarships aren’t usually awarded to poor people with no political clout unless they have shown an exceptionality which is potentially marketable) or pure luck. I acknowledge that everyone needs help (otherwise humans wouldn’t be social) but likewise, luck is of no use if you aren’t prepared to act on it.

    I do worry sometimes that, had I been born to a wealthy family but with the same “gifts,” I’d be a liberal for other reasons. My counterparts who grew up with ivy league degrees and wealth commonplace seem to “feel sorry” for the “less fortunate.” They are smart and their heart is in the right place but they haven’t really LIVED amongst the poor to see a perspective like mine. I only wish they could realize the untapped potential of some poor people who are actually far more trapped by economic policies which have kept us poor and blinded to our own potential for so long. There are more smart poor people than anyone knows. Some of ’em get the chance to become a doctor or engineer. Unfortunately, you don’t get too far economically if you become a doctor or engineer. You still aren’t ivy league rich but you are now in the highest tax bracket. You also realize that the wealthy people with whom you work in your profession don’t NEED the INCOME as much as you do. They’ll have a sizable inheiritance coming, not many ‘poor’ immediate or extended family, and can’t understand as you work tirelessly to help an extended, undereducated family who now regards you as “rich.” It’s tough to be in the middle.

    Off my soapbox, now. Sorry, I don’t talk too much unless I’m online. Sad but true.

    BTW, I am an INTJ. Yay for the “INT”s!

  • http://theunsilencedscience.blogspot.com/ nooffensebut

    I posted some plots of the associations with IQ on my new blog entry, “Smart People are Educated, Greedy, Sexist Bigots.”

  • http://www.usmc.org/7th/ skatr

    nooffensebut Says:

    “Could it be that Khan’s blog is a source of racism exposure, despite his own minority status and his readers’ professed liberal social beliefs?”

    I suppose it all depends on which “minority” you are talking about…
    How about Finns and Southern rednecks? :-)

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

    Looking back, I wonder if I should have answered differently.

    no. i’d put you in believing in the supernatural. though you check what you want.

  • RyanG

    The MBTI question was missing a crucial category: people who have gotten wildly varying results depending on the ratio of sleep to coffee that day, and think the whole thing is little more than a horoscope. On a scientific blog, I would expect that category to be fairly large.

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

    What you are talking about with reference to social mobility and social programs is not covered well by the social/economic axes (as described here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_compass), IMO. Of course, the survey respondents were free to interpret the questions however they wished…

    I also find it interesting that you seem to identify yourself as Libertarian, but also seem to support programs for helping lift people out of poverty. To me, this view is somewhat contrary to the standard Libertarian stance on economic policies (which is to minimize regulations). For example, I think the prototypical Libertarian would be against regulation of predatory payday loan companies, even though they prey on the poor and undereducated.

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

    I also find it interesting that you seem to identify yourself as Libertarian, but also seem to support programs for helping lift people out of poverty.

    For example, I think the prototypical Libertarian would be against regulation of predatory payday loan companies, even though they prey on the poor and undereducated.

    a utilitarian libertarian would argue that a free market lifts the most people out of poverty. in fact, libertarians who defended payday loans did so using pro-poor rationales. your framing of payday loan companies presupposes a premise about the nature of these firms which makes the libertarian argument anti-poor, but they don’t usually grant your premise to begin with (i do grant your premise btw, but i have a lower estimate of human rationality that most libertarians).

    rights/deontological libertarianism is a better fit to what your’e talking about.

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

    Thanks for clearing that up, Razib. I suspect that many people who identify as Libertarian are not clear on
    (1) what their assumptions about human rationality are
    (2)what policies might be derived logically from those assumptions, but which they would then disagree with.

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

    hao, most people are stupid, and almost everyone is incoherent. that being said, the good majority of libertarians are utilitarians, and most of them understand pragmatically that it makes sense to pitch your policies as beneficial to the least privileged (e.g., poor, minorities). for an example, see david boaz’s libertarianism: a primer. though perhaps you’re informed by more “rights” oriented libertarians, i don’t know (david’s obviously a utilitarian in that book, though he doesn’t promote it heavily).


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

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


See More


RSS Razib’s Pinboard

Edifying books

Collapse bottom bar