Gene Expression Brave New World Survey

By Razib Khan | September 18, 2012 9:35 pm

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.

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  • Chad

    Tried the poll link, said that it was either not “live” or I didn’t have access. My apologies if I jumped the gun and its not ready yet.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    thanks. i had to make it “go live” after publishing it. try again.

  • Chad

    Works

  • http://dispatchesfromturtleisland.blogspot.com ohwilleke

    FWIW, there are a few questions where I struggled with definitional issues (i.e. what the survey was asking).

    For example, the question on race differences pertains to “average” differences, while the question on sex differences omits the word “average” and I wondered if this difference in wording was intended to be significant (I concluded it was not).

    Likewise, the word “intelligence” where it appeared, I interpreted as meaning standard psychologically measured unidimensional “IQ” (or perhaps a “g” factor) in this context, even though the term is sometimes used in the sense that there might be multiple intelligences so that people with the same IQ could still have differences in intelligence due to having a different mix of intelligences.

    I only saw trailers for the movie Gattica, and that was years ago, so I relied solely on the description of it attached to the movie reference. The question of modification also begs the question of “for what” – as in the case of abortion questions, fine details can be pretty relevant. Similarly, in a short answer format, I would have provided answers that weren’t a good fit to any of the choices to many of the questions.

    A number of questions that weren’t there but I had expected both in terms of demographics and attitudes to modification of, fall under the general rubric of neurodiversity — sexual orientation, gender identity, high functioning autism spectrum disorders, psychopathy, mental health conditions. The possibility of individual choice unbalancing everything from gender balance to personality balance in the general population is a big one.

    Still, interesting questions. After the survey is done it would worth devoting an open thread to discussing them on the merits as opposed to merely seeing what readers think about them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/doclonglegs Andrew Selvarasa

    Done! And thank you for including the question on non-human animal sentience and pain!

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #4, this survey allows me to edit questions after posting. i just did to clarify.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    18 respondents, and all males!

  • elbowspeak

    Regarding the question about prenatal screening for downs syndrome. My understanding is that with amnio, the accuracy is ~98-99%. I would accept that, but not 90% because better accuracy is available.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #8, good point. it’s still an interesting question at the .90 threshold.

  • http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/ Education Realist

    I had trouble with a few of the questions. Biggest was the feminist question. I no longer consider myself a feminist, but I certainly support equal rights for women. They aren’t the same thing any more.

    It might be helpful if you defined feminism–equal rights for women or support for NOW.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    first female respondents came in. i’m not going to check until ~100 now :-)

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #10, re: definition. if i get into that game it doesn’t end (e.g., radical fem, liberal fem, indiv. fem, equity fem, etc.). about 25% of american women accept the term feminist. so i’m curious how many of the females on this weblog will.

  • http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/ Education Realist

    Well, I can’t remember what I answered now. If it doesn’t say “no”, you should change it. (g) Because if that’s what you’re asking, I’m not.

  • Åse

    I Clicked Feminist, but I really consider myself an on-an-off feminist (so, yeah, I see your point – xkcd has a good cartoon on that!)

    And, with the 90% accuracy questions (prenatal screening). I thought the first was possible and not the second… (that is, a 90% accuracy for extra chromosomes seems more plausible than 90% for low IQ, plus, you know, the bayesian reasoning…. sorry. Spend too much time thinking about what formulations does to the individual interpretation, and reading too much Gigerenzer…)

    So, how many non-virgin chicks by now?

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    vygynz tend 2 b male :-)

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    because of when i pushed this post live there are a lot of europeans posting. i didn’t ask nationality, so i don’t know for sure. but that’s the only explanation for how many center-to-right people have positive attitudes toward the environmentalist/green stance. that just wouldn’t happen with american conservatives.

  • lyllyth

    HA! I hope I skewed your results, if not your perceptions.
    All pale male atheists my asherah.

  • jaakkeli

    Have you yet decided which race Finns should pick?

  • Miguel Madeira

    “Intelligence (I.Q.) ”

    There is a problem in the options for this question: there is lacking the option that I suppose that is the “mainstream” in the non-scientifical circles – “IQ is real and determined largely by environmental influence” (or, like a commenter in my weblog wrote “the brain is like a muscle who becomes strong if exercized”)

  • Grey

    Some thoughts on the questions

    I find it difficult to answer environment vs genes questions as i think it’s mostly genes but i also think a lot of the genetics is determined over generations by an (at least potentially) very plastic cultural environment e.g. marriage system, so environment effecting things through genes rather than environment effecting things directly. I think this is important because i think a lot of people’s reaction to the genes answer is because they see genes as something fixed and unfixable so they’d rather pretend it doesn’t exist.

    I left the two abortion questions unanswered. My initial reaction was to put “no” but in reality i don’t know what i’d have done in those two situations.

    I didn’t know what Gattica was but guessed it was Brave New World-ish. I’m in favor of decreasing variance without reducing the average i.e. lifting the bottom. I’m not in favor of the elite increasing the gap for their own benefit so i think i put yes but the real answer would be “it depends.”

  • S.J. Esposito

    A few of these questions had me really ‘grinding gears.’ Good survey; interested to see how the results shake out.

    I do wonder: do you think you know some ‘regulars’ well enough to peg who they are by the answers to this survey alone?

  • Judith

    Very nice survey questions – had me laughing out loud a few times.

    The feminist question had me a bit uneasy for the same reason as the other commenters above.

    Including a nationality indication may inform some of the answers quite interestingly. For instance, I am white but from South Africa, so some of my opinions (like abortion and the IQ genes/environment issue) are informed by the context of a developing country.

    Also thanks for taking care to clarify your questions and setting out a much wider range op options to choose from than what is typical in such surveys.

  • Vincent Vizachero

    The racial questions were hard to parse for me. I take the position that race is a social construct, which created a dilemma in answering the “non-environmental average racial differences” question.

    I chose to answer those affirmatively as if the question were worded “non-environmental average geographic differences” or “non-environmental average population differences” instead.

    This may make your job of parsing the interactive effect of the race-related responses challenging.

    Still, nice survey. I look forward to seeing the aggregation.

  • marcel

    Some of these questions imply an opinion that is more fixed rather than one that changes situationally.

    I am middle aged, have all the children (both in their 20s) that I expect to have. So I put the same number for desire and have. Twenty years ago, my wife and I wanted 1 or 2 more, but (I suspect) largely because of her age, that did not work out. One pregnancy “did not work out” because prenatal testing suggested massive neural tube defects and we concluded that with 2 young children already, a child with these problems would take too much care and attention from the 2 we already had. Nevertheless, we sorely wanted a child and if we had not already had 2, it’s possible that we would have let the pregnancy go to term.

    It is recollection of this experience that led me to answer yes to prenatal screening for Downs, No for intelligence. However, if it were standard to screen and abort for intelligence, than this would have profound effects on the life of any child who fell below the 80 IQ level (also lead to changes in both the mean and SD used to norm the score), and I might well reconsider. Reminds one of Goodhart’s law.

    Similarly for the incest question: I would have different answers for, say, middle aged adults, esp. those (most likely) past reproductive age and for young adults and teens of legal age. I imagine this level of distinction/parsing is more detail than you are interested in but it is worth keeping in mind when understanding the limits of the Qs & As.

    Also, because I don’t consider economists or statisticians to be scientists, esp. not as meant in the survey, I did not fill in any of the bubbles for the question “Are you… (a scientist)?”

  • http://bluetenlese.wordpress.com M. Möhling

    > MBTI
    I didn’t answer that, as I couldn’t decide on a trustworthy online test in reasonable time. Can anyone recommend one?

    > center-to-right people hav[ing] positive attitudes
    > toward the environmentalist/green stance.
    > that just wouldn’t happen with american conservatives.
    European center-to-right greenoclast here.

  • Eurologist

    “European center-to-right greenoclast here.”

    Or, European center-to-(slightly)-right approximates US Democrats in many ways.

  • Amanda S

    I also left the incest question out. I don’t think that closely related people should be having children together. However I know that, in practice, laws criminalising incestuous relations between adults would affect people who are separated from the biological kin by adoption or by being born through donor gamete programs and who meet their kin as adults. If society really cares about discouraging close kin incest, then the first measure needed is the banning of anonymous sperm, egg or embryo donation and of closed adoption.

  • http://delicious.com/robertford Darkseid

    I got an 85%! that’s pretty good, right? I got my gender and the abortion ones wrong…pretty easy quiz, th0

  • Dm

    The Gattaca Fright question may be a real mixed bag. Some people might be frightened because they are superstitiously afraid of frankenmonsters, others solely because of ethical / religious views which are largely uninformed by the gory details of the sciences, and still others for scientific and/or medical experience reasons ( knowing how often the tenor of medical thought changes over time, how frequently we recall medical devices, how the stat significance of the results turns out to be lower than first seen in the discovery data sets, how ill-equipped are the human minds both to convey and to grasp probabilities, and how hard it is to quantitate pleiotropic gene side effects and gene-gene / gene-environment interactions)

  • pconroy

    I thought that the survey was straight forward for the most part, and I breezed through it.

    The only question that caused me to ponder a little was the Incest one. Although I’m personally against it, should their really be a law prohibiting it, as I’m very much in favor of personal liberty?!

    In the end I came down in favor of a law prohibiting it, as it could have very negative consequences for the gene pool, if this practice were common.

    I realize that this kind of answer has implications for views on Homosexuals and even banning sugary drinks etc. Where I am in favor of allowing Homosexuals to marry, and in favor of banning sugary drinks.

  • Sandgroper

    @27 – You got your gender wrong?

  • http://rxnm.wordpress.com miko

    Some were hard to answer for semantic reasons… like the previous discussions we’ve had on the various and conflicting definitions of “race.”

    “Feminist” is interesting because there really is no agreed upon definition in any context.

  • Simone Simonini

    I thought the liberal-conservative questions were a little vague. I chose to answer using the Republican-Democrat Conservative-Liberal paradigm, but I usually think of my free-market beliefs as liberal or neo-liberal.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    but I usually think of my free-market beliefs as liberal or neo-liberal.

    which is why i put left/right.

    there is no way i can see to link to responses, but i will cut & paste the text here for those which have them (some of them i have to compute later)

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Male

    87% 135
    Female

    13% 21
    Other

    0% 0
    Total responses: 156

    Please select your race:

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    White European

    84% 130
    East Asian

    3% 4
    Black African

    1% 2
    South Asian

    5% 7
    Middle Eastern

    2% 3
    Native American

    1% 1
    Oceanian

    0% 0
    Other (e.g., mixed)

    5% 8
    Total responses: 155
    Edit this item»
    Would you marry outside of your race?

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Yes

    90% 140
    No

    10% 16
    Total responses: 156
    Edit this item»
    Are you a virgin? (defined as sexual intercourse or equivalent)

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Yes

    8% 12
    No

    92% 142
    Total responses: 154
    Edit this item»
    Do you believe in god(s) (supernatural agents, divine forces, etc.)

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Yes

    13% 20
    No

    87% 134
    Total responses: 154
    Edit this item»
    Highest level of education completed

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Elementary

    1% 1
    Secondary

    3% 4
    Junior college

    11% 17
    University

    32% 51
    Masters (or equivalent)

    18% 28
    Doctorate or professional (or equivalent, for example law)

    36% 57
    Total responses: 158
    Edit this item»
    Indicate your social values/politics

    Variable Responses
    Show 159 responses to this question »
    Edit this item»
    Indicate your economic values/politics

    Variable Responses
    Show 159 responses to this question »
    Edit this item»
    Do you consider yourself a feminist?

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Yes

    35% 55
    No

    65% 102
    Total responses: 157
    Edit this item»
    Enter your Myers-Briggs personality (e.g., I am ENTJ -Razib)

    Variable Responses
    Show 110 responses to this question »
    Edit this item»
    Have you used methylphenidate (Ritalin), modafinil (Provigil), or other drugs non-medically in order to stimulate focus, clarity, or memory?

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Yes

    10% 15
    No

    90% 142
    Total responses: 157
    Edit this item»
    Are you….

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    A scientist

    92% 60
    A biologist

    43% 28
    A geneticist

    26% 17
    Total responses: 65
    Edit this item»
    Your attitude toward abortion in the first trimester is:

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Support right to abortion with no restrictions

    57% 89
    Support right to abortion with minimal restrictions (e.g., waiting period, consultation)

    25% 38
    Believe in moderate restrictions on abortion (e.g., approval of medical professional, etc.)

    10% 15
    Restrict abortion except in cases of rape, incest, mother’s life in danger

    3% 5
    Restrict abortion except in case of danger to mother’s life

    3% 5
    Restrict abortion in all cases

    2% 3
    Total responses: 155
    Edit this item»
    You and your wife/husband are planning on having your first child. Is it important to do a prenatal screen for diseases?

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Yes

    78% 122
    No

    22% 34
    Total responses: 156
    Edit this item»
    Prenatal screening shows a 90% chance of Down Syndrome. Would you choose to abort?

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Yes

    84% 128
    No

    16% 25
    Total responses: 153
    Edit this item»
    Prenatal screening shows there is a 90% (I.Q.) chance of an IQ of 80. Would you choose to abort?

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Yes

    62% 94
    No

    38% 58
    Total responses: 152
    Edit this item»
    A population’s variation in intelligence (I.Q.) in the developed world is a function of

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Their environment

    1% 2
    Their genes

    3% 4
    Their environment and their genes

    44% 70
    More their environment than their genes

    9% 14
    More their genes than their environment

    43% 69
    Total responses: 159
    Edit this item»
    Intelligence (I.Q.)

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Is just a measure of cultural fluency (i.e., there are no smart people, just well educated ones)

    1% 2
    Is a measure of cultural fluency and innate aptitudes

    54% 86
    Is mostly a measure of innate aptitudes

    45% 71
    Total responses: 159
    Edit this item»
    Do you believe that foods should be labeled to indicate that they have been genetically engineered or contain ingredients that have been genetically engineered?

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Yes

    45% 71
    No

    55% 86
    Total responses: 157
    Edit this item»
    Are some non-human animals sentient and capable of feeling pain?

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Yes

    94% 146
    No

    6% 10
    Total responses: 156
    Edit this item»
    *About* how often do you drink alcohol?

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Every day

    18% 28
    Every week

    30% 48
    Every month

    9% 14
    On occasion

    17% 27
    Once a year

    1% 1
    Very rarely

    11% 18
    Never

    14% 23
    Total responses: 159
    Edit this item»
    Do you smoke?

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Yes

    10% 15
    No

    90% 142
    Total responses: 157
    Edit this item»
    You believe that race is….

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Purely a social construct

    3% 5
    Mostly a social construct, with some tenuous phylogenetic validity

    17% 27
    Equally a social construct and a phylogenetic reality with some scientific utility

    48% 77
    Mostly a phylogenetic reality, which reflects human subspecies

    31% 50
    Total responses: 159
    Edit this item»
    You believe that there are non-environmental average racial differences in

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Disease susceptibility

    97% 150
    Height

    87% 135
    Personality

    56% 87
    Intelligence

    60% 93
    Total responses: 155
    Edit this item»
    You believe that there are average non-environmental sex differences in

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Disease susceptibility

    90% 140
    Height

    94% 145
    Personality

    81% 126
    Intelligence

    48% 75
    Total responses: 155
    Edit this item»
    You believe that there are non-environmental individual differences in

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Disease susceptibility

    95% 145
    Height

    97% 148
    Personality

    90% 137
    Intelligence

    90% 137
    Total responses: 152
    Edit this item»
    Your attitude toward the environmental/”Green” movement is

    Variable Responses
    Show 159 responses to this question »
    Edit this item»
    Overpopulation of the planet earth is

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Not a problem

    10% 16
    Only a small problem

    13% 20
    A problem, though a soluble one

    41% 64
    A major problem which we are neglecting

    34% 53
    The earth is very overpopulated, and we are beyond the point of no return

    3% 4
    Total responses: 157
    Edit this item»
    In terms of population control you

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Oppose it. Overpopulation is not a problem

    12% 18
    Oppose it. It is not ethical to regulate the number of children people have

    12% 18
    Support noncoercive population control methods (e.g., tax incentives and moral suasion)

    52% 79
    Support policies aimed at control population proactively, but not coercively (e.g., tax penalty for children)

    21% 31
    Support coercive policies (e.g., mandatory sterilization after an individual has two children)

    3% 5
    Total responses: 151
    Edit this item»
    In regards to the type of people who have many children and those who do not you are

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Unconcerned

    20% 32
    Only a little worried about fertility differences between groups

    22% 35
    Moderately worried

    18% 28
    Very worried, but do not support any policy resonse

    10% 16
    Worried, and support a policy response (e.g., Singapore’s financial incentives for college educated women to have children)

    30% 47
    Total responses: 158
    Edit this item»
    A Gattaca-like world where genetic enhancement is common place in the near future is

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Unrealistic

    31% 48
    Plausible, and frightening

    24% 37
    Plausible, and a positive development

    44% 68
    Total responses: 153
    Edit this item»
    If genetic enhancement becomes a low risk procedure would you support subsidies or public funding for those unable to afford it for themselves?

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Yes

    60% 90
    No

    40% 61
    Total responses: 151
    Edit this item»
    Barring existential threats like the knowledge to build nuclear bombs for $50 using materials from your hardware store, might it be important to suppress truths for social and ethical reasons in some cases?

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Yes

    8% 12
    No

    92% 140
    Total responses: 152
    Edit this item»
    Should adult first degree biological relatives be allowed to enter into consensual sexual relationships?

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    It should be legal and socially accepted

    5% 8
    It should be legal, but not socially accepted

    34% 52
    It should be illegal, and not socially accepted

    50% 77
    It should be legal in cases of siblings, but not parent-child

    12% 18
    It should be legal in cases of parent-child, but not siblings

    0% 0
    Total responses: 155
    Edit this item»
    Has material you have encountered on this weblog disturbed you?

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Never

    64% 101
    In the past, but not now

    3% 5
    Rarely

    21% 33
    Sometimes

    6% 10
    Often

    1% 1
    Always

    0% 0
    Only now after reading some of these survey items

    4% 7
    Total responses: 157
    Edit this item»
    Check all blogs you read regularly

    Response Chart Frequency Count
    Bad Astronomy

    25% 38
    Cosmic Variance

    23% 34
    The Loom

    26% 39
    Not Exactly Rocket Science

    35% 52
    Pharyngula

    16% 24
    Why Evolution Is True

    11% 16
    Marginal Revolution

    31% 47
    Kevin Drum

    9% 13
    Instapundit

    15% 22
    Steve Sailer

    43% 64
    Matthew Yglesias

    15% 23
    DailyKos

    7% 10
    RedState

    2% 3
    Sandwalk

    5% 7
    John Hawks

    45% 67
    Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog

    51% 76
    Panda’s Thumb

    9% 13
    Total responses: 150

  • Sandgroper

    @29 – Excluding the issue of parents allowing their children to drink excessive quantities of sugary drinks – if people truly had to pay for the consequences of their own actions, would you still favour banning sugary drinks?

    Every time I think about wanting to ban something, I think about how successful prohibition was. The low cost version when I was a kid was cordial.

    Can anyone explain to me why same-sex marriage is perceived to be any kind of threat to ‘traditional’ marriage? Because I’m damned if I can see it.

  • Sandgroper

    @32 – I just took it at its simplest face value to mean ‘support gender equality’. If that was wrong, then maybe I gave the wrong answer.

  • Schrödinger’s Hat

    @36 – I had trouble with the feminist question until it occurred to me that I don’t self-identify as feminist. ‘Support gender equality’ is pretty much the default in America/Western Europe these days. The fact that first-wave feminism isn’t really considered feminism anymore speaks to its triumph.

  • Karl Zimmerman

    The overpopulation question was difficult for me. In theory, I consider it an issue, but in practice, demographic transition is taking care of things just fine. Rising living standards contribute much more to growth of demand for natural resources than mere additions of new people – especially when those people tend to be in dirt-poor countries where they consume a fraction of what a westerner does. In the longer run, reduced population is likely to be more of an economic drag in developed countries, as it’s hard to have a growing economy without a growing population. I guess I’m in the minority for taking this view.

    I’m surprised that the viewpoint on gender/racial differences is so strong on this website. AFAIK, there is no evidence of personality differences between racial groups, and I’m unsure (if we’re talking about broad continental groups, and not individual nations, which is a different thing), how you’d even begin to suggest such things would be initiated and maintained on a continental-wide basis by selection. I could say the same thing about gender and intelligence, as I’m not aware of any preponderance of evidence which shows one gender as having a higher IQ than another (although one gender or another may be slightly better at particular cognitive skills, like spatial sense or detailed memory).

  • http://delicious.com/robertford Darkseid

    Karl – i think there is some evidence for personality differences between races. this david dobbs piece:
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/09/the-depression-map-genes-culture-serotonin-and-a-side-of-pathogens/
    makes me think in the future it will be more clear that there is but i could be wrong. others may know of more. i’m also pretty sure men avg. a couple of IQ pts. higher and have a longer tail than women. there are way way more genius men (and more on the bad end as well.) finally, you don’t think the planet would be better off with about 5 billion fewer humans? i think Mother Nature wouldn’t mind:) no one asked China to have 1.5 billion humans – i don’t care if they don’t consume much, they still collectively account for a huge amount of carbon emissions, etc. it’s not like more consuming less is somehow better than fewer consuming more.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #38, if i said “mean IQ” specifically i bet the numbers for sex would be different. i realized that after seeing the results. they might be talking about types of intelligence, or distribution.

  • AG

    @18

    lol

  • pconroy

    @18, Jaakkeli

    Finns would be Mixed Race ;)

  • Onur

    Finns would be Mixed Race

    According to the latest genetic measurements, Finns are about 25% Mongoloid. But I don’t think that is enough to call them racial hybrids. They are still Caucasoids.

  • pconroy

    @38, Karl,

    Seriously?!

    Overpopulation leads to resource depletion and then war! In many parts of the Non-Western world, women are forced into marrying as teens and pumping out 10 or more kids – of which maybe 7 survive to adulthood. This is a disaster, caused by Western interference – medicine, food relief – and is leading to a Demographic time-bomb. The US should insist on contraception in return for food aid.

    An example of personality difference between races would be East Asians are often more hard-working and conscientious than the other major races.

  • pconroy

    @35,

    The ban on sugary drinks, as proposed in New York, is NOT an outright ban, just on selling or making available the largest varieties, like 32 oz or 64 oz. People can still buy more of the smaller volume ones.

  • http://delicious.com/robertford Darkseid

    so far TEN people actually said that there are not even *some* animals that are sentient and can feel pain? are people just clicking on any box they see first? i can’t even guess how dumb you’d have to be to say that.

  • Karl Zimmerman

    44 –

    AFAIK, the global population is projected to peak at somewhere around 10 billion before beginning to fall. Most of the world (with the big exception of Africa and portions of the Middle East) has either transitioned demographically or is on the cusp of doing so within a few decades.

    Presuming that SSA is is capable of being developed to at least modern Asian/Latin American living standards (which I realize some HBD folks here probably think is impossible), family sizes should begin dropping rapidly, as they have everywhere else.

    As I said though, the rising living standards in China are, at the moment, a bigger threat to the global ecology than increased population in Africa. I don’t take a “deep ecologist” viewpoint, but I do think we might be approaching a point where we’ll need to talk about sustainable rates of growth, and distribution of growth, rather than merely unimpeded economic growth inevitably causing all boats to rise.

    On your other point, my understanding is conscientiousness is one of the “big five” which seems to be mostly non-genetic. So I wouldn’t attribute group “work ethic” to racial differences either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/doclonglegs Andrew Selvarasa

    @46. I know, it’s odd. But when I think back to when I was growing up Anglican, I remember quite a few people in the congregation claiming that animals do not have souls, are the ‘robots’ that Descartes explained, and that is why we were given dominion over them.

  • pconroy

    @Razib,

    I would have liked to see more blogs listed in the blogs question – as I’m a regular reader of only one of those mentioned, while I think there are a whole plethora of related blogs that many people read – that’s just a partially informed hunch though.

    Also, it’s interesting to see the results of this question:
    “You believe that there are non-environmental average racial differences in…”

    Which concerns multifactorial traits – that arise due to the interaction of many genes – and how the vast majority can accept this when height is concerned, but less so when personality is concerned and almost 50/50 when IQ is concerned. Just goes to show the power that some outmoded concepts/memes/shibboleths still command… making their believers irrational – dare I say it ;)

    BTW, I got a kick out of, this question:
    “Has material you have encountered on this weblog disturbed you?”

    and openly LOL’ed… I reckon I don’t have much in common with the type of person who would find posts here to be disturbing…

  • John B.

    I noticed that some of the questions were of the “would you” sort but there were no follow-up questions of the “did you” sort. Some of your audience is now old enough to make gathering that data possible.

    E.g., I wanted three or four children and had two; we did do genetic counselling and prenatal testing of our children and my wife and I had prepared our responses should we have gotten a Downs or spinal bifida result.

  • pconroy

    @50 John,

    When I was in my 20’s and 30’s I wanted to have 3 children, in my 40’s I wanted to have 4 children. I’m now almost 50 and most likely won’t have more than the 3 children I currently have.

    So I answered 3 for each part of this question, as I met my earlier target for the number of kids I wanted.

    My eldest daughter told me last year that she’d like to have 1 child, and I responded that I’d like her to have 5 children. Recently she said sh’d like to have 3 children, just like me…

  • BDoyle

    Razib said: “that’s the only explanation for how many center-to-right people have positive attitudes toward the environmentalist/green stance. that just wouldn’t happen with american conservatives.”

    Maybe you just have some independent thinkers on board. There is almost certainly an innate tendency for liberals and conservatives to form a coherent ideology, but there is also contingency. A certain position gets folded into an ideology because it did, at some point. If you step back and look at it from the perspective of a Martian, is there any really obvious reason why liberals would embrace environmental issues more than conservatives?

  • Onur

    Recently she said sh’d like to have 3 children, just like me…

    A wise decision she made. I think people who can afford to raise many children efficiently should have more children than who cannot. That would bring about a more balanced and livable world.

  • Anthony

    For next time:

    On the “your race” question, more options would be nice – perhaps after each racial group, ask “are you 0% <5% 5%-10% 10%-30% 30%-45% about50% 55%-80% 80%-90%, 90%-95% 96%-99% 100% this race".

    Then ask "Have you had your genome sequenced by a service like 23andme y/n?" and "Are your answers to the race question above based on your genome results, known family history, suspected family history, other speculation."

    I answered "no" to the feminism question, because I do not identify as a feminist, nor do I support most of the political goals of people who call themselves part of the feminist movement. Were I in another country with the same set of political beliefs, I might be a feminist. I answered "yes" to the sex-differences-in-IQ question, because based on what I've read, mean IQ seems to be about the same, but the standard deviation seems to be smaller for women.

    The incest question didn't have quite the answer I wanted – I think the U.S. would be ok if adult brother-sister incest (and homosexual sibling incest) were legal, provided it remained socially disapproved, but I do think that parent-child incest, even as adults, should remain illegal. There are other societies where it's probably necessary for sibling incest to be specifically illegal, not just socially disapproved. For that matter, the states where cousin marriage is legal don't seem to be worse off than those where it is illegal, but the best one big thing we could have done in Iraq would be to ban first and second cousin marriage, and make it stick for 10 – 20 years.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #52, fair point about heterodox thinkers and this weblog.

  • Jason Malloy

    The most surprising result, to me, is that 50% of respondents think consensual adult incest should be illegal, and 95% think it requires social policing.

    I would’ve assumed a blog with this many libertarian and liberal readers, and so few social conservatives, would have had at least a plurality of absolutists on the issue of consensual adult sexuality.

    And while this might be the consensual sex hypothetical with the highest “ick factor”, I don’t even think its one of the higher candidates for regulation. There are so many psychological barriers to this kind of behavior that it is vanishingly rare, outside of unusual circumstances like adopted away children who later meet up with their blood relatives. So it’s not like, e.g., polygamy, which might require social disapproval precisely because it’s a common human behavior that might plausibly spread and have wide-ranging social effects.

    That’s why social shaming (or laws against) single moms or deadbeat dads make much more sense than laws against the fraction of tragic adults who find themselves in some improbable relationship with a dad they didn’t meet until they were 26.

  • Miguel Madeira

    “If you step back and look at it from the perspective of a Martian, is there any really obvious reason why liberals would embrace environmental issues more than conservatives?”

    Specially because, until the 1960s, it was probably the opposite (at least in Portugal, there was a traditional association between environmentalism and the monarchist movement).

  • Grey

    “there is no evidence of personality differences between racial groups”

    http://neuroanthropology.net/2010/07/10/we-agree-its-weird-but-is-it-weird-enough/

    “and I’m unsure (if we’re talking about broad continental groups, and not individual nations, which is a different thing), how you’d even begin to suggest such things would be initiated and maintained on a continental-wide basis by selection”

    A race, even if it gets very fuzzy around the edges, is a population that share a certain amount of evolutionary history in common. They share that history mostly as a product of physical geography. Some of that evolutionary history and i’d say the dominant part since agriculture is cultural. For example the Chinese develop a relatively very wealthy nation and have a culture that includes an exam-based promotion system. The countries surrounding China note the wealth and copy a version of the exam culture through the long-range version of elite emulation and that exam culture produces the selection pressure.

    Although it’s cultural selection it’s still passed on through genetics because if passing the exams give the parents a reproductive advantage then the traits that help the parents pass the exams get passed on to their kids.

    So yes the correlation won’t be by race exactly it will be by nations / regions who adopted a particular cultural selection pressure who in pre-modern times will have a tendency to be in the same geographic region as their race – who are their race because they’re in the same geographic region.

    Or put another way, until modern times the same physical geographic “bowls” that created races / nations / tribes greatly influenced the spread of cultural ideas also.

  • http://dispatchesfromturtleisland.blogspot.com ohwilleke

    “The most surprising result, to me, is that 50% of respondents think consensual adult incest should be illegal, and 95% think it requires social policing.

    I would’ve assumed a blog with this many libertarian and liberal readers, and so few social conservatives, would have had at least a plurality of absolutists on the issue of consensual adult sexuality.”

    One argument for that approach is the intuition (right or wrong) that empirically, adult incest that is truly voluntary is so rare relative to all instances of incest (but proof of non-consent may be so hard to marshal), that the utility of dispensing with the exercise of proofing lack of consent is so great and the number of false positives that are punished when there was nothing morally wrong happening is so rare, that the benefits of categorical condemnation outweigh the detriments. The reasoning is similar to a blanket ban on prison guards having sex with the inmates that they guard.

    Escape valves like “living in the closet”, prosecutorial discretion, non-reporting of genuinely untroubling cases, the pardon power, and merciful punishments in less culpable cases can also mitigate the harm in the rare false positive cases.

    The accuracy of the criminal justice process relative to factual guilt or innocence has been empirically estimated in the range of 1% to 10%. If 98% of categorical adult incest cases are non-consensual and 2% are consensual, and the error rate of jurors is 5%, then 4.9% of cases are producing wrongful acquittals, while 0.1% of cases are producing wrongful convictions if a categorical rule is not used, while in the categorical case there are 0% wrongful aquittals and 2% wrongful convictions. So, the number of wrong results falls from 5% to 2%.

    If one also has an empirical intuition that wrongful acquittals are highly likely to produce new victims, the balancing act isn’t easy, particularly if the escape valves save some of the erroneous 2% and those individuals had fair warning of the risks that they were taking.

    For example, the proportion of parent-child incest cases resulting in prosecutions, where the intuition of empirical rarity of actual consent is particularly great, is almost surely much greater than the proportion of sibling incest cases resulting in prosecutions where clarity of intiution about the empirical lack of consent may be less clear when the siblings are close in age, which are very rare. Some of that, almost surely, reflects exercises of discretion by police and prosecutors.

    Maybe increasing wrongful convictions twenty-fold isn’t worth 60% greater accuracy. But, the number of “morally innocent” people convicted by a categorical incest regime is surely smaller by far than the number of “morally innocent” people convicted by prohibitions on sex between adolescent minors and much older adults or the prohibitions on sex between people who are in positions of trust with respect to each other, based on presumptions about incapacity to consent in those situations.

  • Anthony

    Miguel @57 – in the U.S., it’s because environmental regulation generally comes out as increased regulation of business, which traditionally breaks left.

    Jason @56 – once again, the question isn’t detailed enough. My ideal incest law would allow ignorance of the relationship to be a defense, since one of the bigger issues regarding parent-child incest is the abuse of power in a family relationship, and people who don’t know they have that relationship don’t have that power relationship to abuse. That’s also why I’m less strongly opposed to brother-sister incest – there’s less likely to have been an abusive power relationship behind it. However, keeping a social sanction will hopefully discourage such relationship abuse from happening.

    But Razib didn’t ask about the details of such a law, just whether we’d support one.

  • jaakkeli

    52, BDoyle: “If you step back and look at it from the perspective of a Martian, is there any really obvious reason why liberals would embrace environmental issues more than conservatives?”

    Yes, if you agree as a starting point that people who own things like land or livestock tend to be conservative. Regulations limiting their use will tend to devalue their properties or hit their income.

    It used to be the other way around. My grandfather was a (Finnish) conservative politician in the 1950s and 1960s and he was a national champion in fighting for pollution regulations against left-wing opposition. My family owned a lot of land back then and much of it was ruined in value by factories dumping waste straight into lakes and rivers. The big polluters used to be heavy industry employing left-wing voters so the left had a natural reason to be opposed to regulations desired by (solidly right-wing) landowners.

    Now that heavy industry has been on decline in the West for decades and there’s a new class of urban professionals and government employees voting for green/left parties the left has done a complete flip-flop on environmentalism. In the anglosphere it’s obscured but in continental multiparty systems it’s often very obvious, lots of countries have had a so-called “extreme right” party appear out of what used to be the working class left-wing base and that’s always the anti-green party. My family’s traditional conservative party mostly relates to greens with mutual indifference while the new “working class right-wing” party and the greens amuse the rest of us with the great culture war.

  • RedZenGenoist

    @Razib: cool poll!

    I like some questions better than others. Exact questions like the ones on Downs and Abortion are good. I think some of the others are bad, and will get noisy and stupid results, as #52 pointed out, and you agree.

    For example, in the comments, you have endless agonizing about “are you a feminist”. But you might have comparative clarity if the question was “do you believe in equal rights for women”, because the latter is a real and clear question. It’s the difference between scoring IQ, and scoring an essay on interpersonal relationships in a Confucian context…

  • Sandgroper

    @45 – Yeah, I realised that, and it is notable that New York is the only jurisdiction in America that has achieved some (admittedly small, but still) recent success in reversing the trend of increasing obesity in American children. More power to them.

    It’s maybe not so much of a ‘ban’ as a marketing issue. I don’t have any problem with that. I reckon one of the best bits of marketing ever was the ‘happy meal’, complete with plastic toy.

    @51 – My daughter has always said and still says she was glad she was an only child (she always had plenty of little pals to play with, and the best part was being able to send them home again when she wished to have some peace and quiet), but has also always said she wants ‘some children’. She’s vague on the exact number, just ‘some’. Slightly oddly, she occasionally talks about ‘my children’ as if in her mind they somehow already exist in future time. It’s kind of notable because she has always been a ‘tom boy’ and has only fairly recently even suffered things like wearing a dress and a piece of jewellery when she goes out to something fairly formal – make-up is still totally out of the question. Even more slightly strange is that she now has not one but four male sycophants of various ethnic mixes who run around doing things for her and provide her with personal bodyguard services. She also thoroughly detests modern Feminists in their various current forms, but will punch the lights out of any bastard foolish enough to suggest that the genders are not ‘equal but different’.

  • http://noseenohearnospeak.blogspot.com AndrewV

    @ #34, Check all blogs you read regularly

    I have a suggestion for the next time, you could try to discern how much influence the authors have on the people who read the various topics on the blogs.

    For example I read Vox Day but hardly ever agree with the author, and generally skip the comments.

    However with Pharyngula, I almost never read the articles, but skip directly to the hilariously entertaining comments.

  • http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/ Education Realist

    “But you might have comparative clarity if the question was “do you believe in equal rights for women”, because the latter is a real and clear question.”

    Yeah, but that’s not what he wanted to know. I mean, who doesn’t believe in that? So what he was really looking for was people who described themselves as feminists, which meant buying into the crap.

  • Coemgen

    Feelin’ kinda guilty: I ticked off atheist on the survey but, so often I say to myself “Jesus Christ Almighty” and, “one in the eyes of god” has great meaning to me. What kind of atheist am I?

    Well, at least I haven’t (yet) been vaporized by any of the lightning bolts I’ve summoned from the deity.

    There are a lot of “I’s” in my comment. Please forgive my indulgence.

  • RedZenGenoist

    #65: “Yeah, but that’s not what he wanted to know. I mean, who doesn’t believe in that? So what he was really looking for was people who described themselves as feminists, which meant buying into the crap.”

    He’s not going to get an answer to the question he thinks he’s asking. Look at all the comments above – people agonizing about how to answer the question, giving very noisy answers.

    I myself answered that I am a feminist, because I fulfill the literal definition, not because I agree with militant, misanthropic man-women (“buy into the crap”, as you say). So, the poll question is going to get a signal of almost pure noise, with fools reading 35% “yes” as “buying into the crap”, and sane people reading 35% “yes” as “could mean almost anything, but almost certainly not buying into the crap”.

    Comment #10 by that intelligent fellow Education Realist gets what I’m saying, you should talk to him. ;-)

  • RedZenGenoist

    @Razib: in fact, how about you exploit the swarm of minds at your fingertips, and ask the readers to design some poll questions for you in an open thread next time? Smart though you are, the swarm of us is smarter.

  • Chad

    My answers:

    Male 27

    White European

    Want 2 (maybe 3) kids

    Have 0 kids

    I would marry outside my race

    Not a virgin

    Believe in God

    PhD

    Social values/politics (I think I put ~25)

    Economic values/politics (I think I put ~20)

    Dont consider myself a feminist (by this I mean that I do not identify with feminist philosophy, I support equality).

    Meyers-Briggs INTP

    Have not used drugs to focus (love my caffeine).

    Am a:

    Scientist
    Biologist
    Geneticist

    Restrict abortion except in cases of rape, incest, mother’s life in danger-Yes, I am one of those

    I do not think it is important to do prenatal screening. I will not abort for health reasons, so the reasons for prenatal screening seem a bit limited to me.

    Will not abort in the case of Down’s

    Will not abort based on predicted IQ

    I think a population’s variation in a developed nation is more due to Genetic factors (I actually answered this incorrectly, when I read it I for some reason assumed “developing nation” not “developed” you might want to alter that if you can find/match up my answers Razib).

    I.Q. I think measures more innate abilities (maybe I answered innate and culture, I’ve had a couple of beers and trying to remember my answers from early in the morning).

    GMO Food should not be labled

    Some animals are sentient and feel pain

    I drink some alcohol almost every day or other day

    I don’t smoke (maybe a cigar every few months…)

    Race is equally a social construct and a phylogenetic reality with some scientific utility

    I think it is clear there is genetic basis for racial differences in height and disease. Personality…..seems unlikely. Intelligence….there are possibilities, but I think the evidence is sparse….mostly because this is such a politically incorrect issue.

    Clear genetic differences in height, disease, and personality between sexes. Intelligence, seems unlikely.

    Between individuals, yes to all four.

    I’m skeptical hostile towards environmentalism/Greens. I believe in conservation and sustainability, not environmentalism. I associate environmentalism with the more a semi-religious belief on the left, whereas conservation is a more practically based approach that seeks to work with people rather than see people as the enemy.

    Overpopulation is a solvable problem.

    I hate government regulation of behavior. I am unconcerned with higher reproductive rates amongst some people. If you have a problem with it, then have more kids, don’t interfere with others.

    I think Gattaca is a good movie, completely unrealistic

    Do not suppress facts.

    If brothers and sisters want to get it on, I do have a problem with the government regulating it. Socially it should be completely unacceptable, but let communities regulate themselves, no need for the government.

    Nothing you have said disturbs me Razib. Even if I disagree. I spent 8 years in the military (active and reserves) you would have to say some really screwed up crap to disturb me.

  • ackbark

    Just looked at it again to be sure of the wording of this, but didn’t change my answer.

    On the question,

    Should adult first degree biological relatives be allowed to enter into consensual sexual relationships?

    I answered ‘It should be legal, but not socially accepted’, because I was thinking only of siblings, and I did not check ‘It should be legal in cases of siblings, but not parent-child’ because it did not mention whether it should or should not be socially accepted, where I would think it should not be.

    Also, there ought to be questions about drug legalization, and whether political opinion is a product of genes or environment, whether it may be there is a greater effect of one or the other on a particular political view: are conservatives or liberals more genetically deterministic or environmentally influenced? Is there a genetic influence in the degree of mellowing or altering of political opinion in life?

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    and ask the readers to design some poll questions for you in an open thread next time?

    i’ve asked before. and used them before. some of these questions are from readers in an open thread.

  • http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/ Education Realist

    #67–We agree about the value of Education Realist’s post #10!

    Actually, we also agree about the question.

    A cleaner question might have been to ask readers to approve/disapprove of NOW and leave “feminism” or “equal rights for women” out of it completely.

  • Sandgroper

    37. Schrödinger’s Hat – yeah, some triumph.

    In civil engineering, Muslim females are more equitably represented in Malaysia than total women are in any of America, Western Europe or Australia.

  • Jason Malloy

    Also 43% in support of GM labeling is a lot lower than the general population, but still surprisingly high.

  • Isabel

    Glad you used my feminist question – the responses make it clearer than ever why women avoid the blog!

  • Sandgroper

    BTW, NOW means something in America, but nowhere else. If the question had been “Do you support NOW”, after looking it up I would have said “No”.

    @75 – I’m with @62 – if you can’t make yourself clear, your problem.

    I’m probably one of few here who has actually done something real for gender equality in civil engineering, with very real and immediate outcomes. If you’ve done something real as well, great. If you haven’t, if all you have done is sit around talking or sloganising, I suggest you quit the snark.

    If that comment gets me banned, fine.

  • Simone Simonini

    @75: The poll found 40% of readers consider themselves feminists! Most polls I’ve seen show <30% of American women consider themselves feminists.

  • Isabel

    Apologies, by responses I meant comments. (case in point #76). Should have stated that clearly. However, the actual survey responses to the abortion question were also revealing.

    “Most polls I’ve seen show <30% of American women consider themselves feminists."

    You are right that the ubiquitous negative stereotypes have had an impact. Even on people who when further questioned agree completely with feminists and have benefited hugely from the actions of feminists.

    I haven’t seen them, but I suspect polls of women who otherwise fit the profile of a reader of the blog (intelligence, education-wise) would give very different results. At any rate I have never met any women in academia who wanted to restrict abortion rights or who wouldn’t consider herself a feminist.

    Also, you left out my cannabis question Razib! Too bad. And I agree with the commenter above who wanted to see opinions about prohibition. I meant to suggest that also. This is the biggest social problem facing the US, and people from all political persuasions should be vocally against prohibition, especially cannabis prohibition. 800K people a year arrested, mostly young and non-white? People peeing in a cup so employers can see what they do on their off hours? Etc. Absolutely no logical justification for cannabis prohibition. And no one even notices, it's barely even mentioned.

  • pconroy

    @78, Isabel,

    I’m all for EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY for women and everyone else.

    But most of the hardcore, shrieking feminists of today are not after that at all – they are after EQUALITY OF OUTCOME

    Two very, very different things!!

    The first is IMO laudable and represents the original feminists, while the latter is pure, unadulterated Marxism, and these kind of people should – in an enlightened society – face the harshest of punishments under the law…

    An example of the latter are those people who think “womyn” should have as many or more Fields Medals for Math as men do – and anything short of that is proof that women are discriminated against mightily. Even though women have a lower sd on IQ than men and on average have lower Visual-Spatial ability – the kind required for high level Math. By and large, it’s precisely those women that can’t do Math or understand Stats that protest the loudest about discrimination. These are Equalists – shun them.

    Just for the record, my father’s sister was a Math prodigy, the daughter of a former girlfriend is a Math prodigy and I personally know a few female Math PhD, who are very high IQ and have very high Visual-Spatial ability.

    My father’s sister, grew up on a farm in rural Ireland and was head-hunted by Lever Brothers and flown to London for an interview with them – which she got – all expenses paid. That would be the equivalent of Goldman Sachs or DE Shaw flying you to New York from a Third World country today. Of course, this was in the early 1950’s way before Feminism was in vogue…

  • Isabel

    “….most of the hardcore, shrieking feminists of today…”

    You must be one of the Steve Sailer readers :) What was that figure-42%? Yikes.

    I saw that he was recently blaming feminists for sports doping. What next??

    Don’t worry pconroy! I’m not like those *Bad* feminists you and Sailer apparently love to hate. I’m a good feminist; I never shriek. Pretty hardcore though :) :)

    btw what did you think of this?

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2012/09/19/scientists-your-gender-bias-is-showing/

    This is the kind of thing all the feminists I know or have ever encountered are concerned about. Don’t know anything about your maths medals example, but it is suspicious that you see this as a typical example. Of course difference in outcome follows from difference in opportunity, yet you seem very confident that you know when difference in opportunity is the problem and when it isn’t. I am suspicious of people who have that level of confidence and impatience with those who feel otherwise, especially when they clearly have no way of really knowing. Have all those women you know never experienced sexism? That isn’t what I hear on the blogs from women in math and physics.

  • pconroy

    @80, Isabel,

    No, I’m not a regular reader of Sailer – though I do read an article there about once a month.

    Many of Sailer’s posts follow on, or are a kind of commentary for the masses, from posts on other blogs I read – which are more hardcore.

    My “Maths Medals example” was what caused Larry Summers to lose his job. He pointing out to the obvious – to all numerate folks, that is – and the Feminists couldn’t handle it and successfully lobbied to have him fired. An example that harkens to Galileo’s troubles with the Catholic Church… oh how times have NOT changed!

    My aunt example was that great companies hire great talent whenever they can, regardless of where they find it – and most likely have done so for a long time before Feminism, and a long time after Feminism is but a distant memory.*

    I didn’t read that article you linked, as that’s not generally a blog I read – from a very quick perusal – mainly Fig 2, which is highly distorted for affect – I call cod’s wallop on the piece!

    * The reason being is that there is a negative correlation between being Feminist and bearing children…

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    Also, you left out my cannabis question Razib! Too bad. And I agree with the commenter above who wanted to see opinions about prohibition. I meant to suggest that also. This is the biggest social problem facing the US, and people from all political persuasions should be vocally against prohibition, especially cannabis prohibition. 800K people a year arrested, mostly young and non-white? People peeing in a cup so employers can see what they do on their off hours? Etc. Absolutely no logical justification for cannabis prohibition. And no one even notices, it’s barely even mentioned.

    i’ve asked about drug prohibition. most support full legalization. liberal + libertarian supermajority.

  • http://shinbounomatsuri.wordpress.com Spike Gomes

    74:
    I voted yes to GMO labeling not because I’m against GMO. I think it’s mostly towards the greater good and argue vociferously against those who want to ban it (it’s a pretty big controversy in my state, and the ecological mystics are winning it). However I’m all about folks being able to make informed decisions about what they want to support/consume. If someone thinks GMO is bad, they ought to be able to not buy the stuff without having to to google everything they pick up at the grocery store.

    Granted, this may be because I have an intolerance to any sort of sugar alcohol and so many manufacturers bury it deep in the ingredients under a chemical compound name other than “sorbitol” or “xylotol” that I have a bit of sympathy for the whole lack of clear labeling.

  • Jason Malloy

    If someone thinks GMO is bad, they ought to be able to not buy the stuff without having to to google everything they pick up at the grocery store.

    No, the justification for mandated labeling needs to rely on meaningful evidence of harm. Otherwise there is no consumer protection. If consumers are simply curious or have their own private concerns, then of course it makes better sense to let them do their own research. (Not that this would be too onerous as competing brands can easily rope in these individuals through voluntarily labeling: No Genetically Modified Ingredients).

    Are there real benefits to labeling? Not really. But is there a real possibility of harm? Yes! The very act of labeling implies the product is harmful and incentivises alarmed consumer reactions that may well smother the profitability of the technology.

  • Isabel

    @81 “I read – which are more hardcore.”

    in what sense?

    “My “Maths Medals example” was what caused Larry Summers to lose his job. He”

    his speech got a lot of publicity but I just did a google search to confirm my suspicion that it wasn’t the cause, and the first three sources (the Harvard Crimson, wikipedia and one other) were all pretty adamant that that event was just a catalyst, or an excuse that his *many* detractors were happy to take advantage of. So again, feminists are looking bad for something that wasn’t their fault. :(

    “Fig 2, which is highly distorted for affect – I call cod’s wallop on the piece!”

    Haha nice expression, but you must admit that an almost $4K average difference in salary, with a low paid employee, is a pretty big difference.

    “i’ve asked about drug prohibition. most support full legalization. liberal + libertarian supermajority.”

    Oh, okay, thanks. But still would be nice to know about cannabis use. That’s a surprising amount of alcohol use for a population of introverts. no?

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    That’s a surprising amount of alcohol use for a population of introverts. no?

    uh, have you been to finland? :-)

  • http://noseenohearnospeak.blogspot.com AndrewV

    @ #80 Isabel and pconroy

    The question is why?

    Both male and female scientists rated the female applicants lower.

    I strongly suspect it is related to sterotypes that both hold in common. But then my views on the subject are pretty much hertodox among the usual suspects.

    These views are on the order of “you can lead a horse to water, but you can not make it drink” and from that perspective, I doubt that we will see anything but marginal gains in the number of women in science, no matter what resources are expended.

  • Spike Gomes

    84:

    You could possibly see it that way, but forcible labeling of energy drinks to show how children and pregnant woman shouldn’t drink them hasn’t killed that industry. I tend to think of it as a “compromise” solution. The frankenfood nuts can go to whole foods and be sure the purity of their scrawny vegan bodies is not compromised, and us normal folks will buy the cheaper GMO stuff, not die en masse like the fanatics think we will, and it becomes a non-issue over time. Trying to go at it from the libertarian angle just doesn’t go over well because this ain’t a rational issue. Toss the more moderate doubters a bone and let the frothers froth and let price point do it’s job for the majority of Americans who do not give a crap either way.

    Moreover it could be interpreted as a good thing in the long run from a liability standpoint. While it’s definitely not destructive, and a positive way of getting better yields, hardier crops and more productivity at a lower cost investment, I’m not completely convinced that there is zero chance of allergenic potential down the line for some GMO developed products. Some of those histamine triggers are pretty obscure.

  • Sandgroper

    @80 – So does that confirm that my response “Yeah – some triumph” to 37: “‘Support gender equality’ is pretty much the default in America/Western Europe these days” was correct – that it is all just talk, and it is not really happening?

    It certainly seems that way from the article linked from Sean Carroll’s blog. And it has nothing to do with leading horses or lack of ability, it has to do with fundamental entrenched gender bias among academic scientists in America, both male and female.

    So the American ‘default’ is just hot air, right?

  • Isabel

    @Sandgroper: I am not sure I understand your comment; “all just talk” in academia, or from feminists? Or American society in general?? I don’t think equality has been achieved, and I do think a lot of people are just paying lip service. But a lot of sexism is unintentional; there is a lot of untangling still to do. So people may be sincere, but unconsciously sexist, reflected in the study results.

    But if you are implying that feminists have gone astray/lost their way in their focus (or maybe I am mixing you up with someone else?) I simply think there is more work to do, but there has been a lot of progress. And not enough generations have passed to be sure that women have reached their limits of achievement, even *if* things were not as that article shows. Meanwhile there are some crazy feminists out there, but that is irrelevant. So in any case I wouldn’t say it’s a done deal OR just hot air. Again, I may have totally misunderstood your comment, if so sorry!

    “it has to do with fundamental entrenched gender bias”

    by fundamental do you mean “unchangeable”?

    A couple of people have emphasized on the thread that both men and women are being sexist toward women, so just to make it clear, I am not surprised by this at all, and agree that it is often the case and actually expected that many women would feel invested in the status quo for various reasons.

  • Sandgroper

    @90 – I’m not sniping at you, and I’m not several different people, but I’m prepared to believe that I am confusing – in the survey I voted “yes” to the question “are you a feminist” on the understanding that the question basically meant “do you actively support gender equality?” (i.e. not just say so in polite company, but walk the talk). (I also voted yes for abortion on demand, incidentally).

    I mean American society generally – sorry, but I do have to say “American society” because it is clear to me from actual data in my own field of civil engineering that there is a lot of variation nationally on this; and one of the somewhat surprising things is that some of the countries which might consider themselves the most “advanced” or “liberated” are actually not doing nearly as well as some others who they might be inclined to deliver condescending lectures to – I gave the example of Muslim female engineers in Malaysia, but I could equally have quoted Hong Kong or China generally.

    Of course I recognise that advances have been made. I understand that women are even allowed to vote in elections these days. That is not really the point – what concerns me is that Schrödinger’s Hat (who I would say from my reading of past comments is *not* an idiot) clearly thinks that gender equality is a done deal – a triumph. My observation of America, Australia and some other western democracies is that it is not a done deal at all – people pay lip service to gender equality all the time, but the reality is that deeply entrenched gender biases remain, in both men and women. By ‘deeply entrenched’, I don’t know if they are unchangeable or not, just that I mean they are surely proving difficult to change in some countries in terms of equitable participation in some professions which should be gender neutral (i.e. there is no reason why men and women cannot practice these professions equally, given that they are of equal ability and application).

    The evidence I have is that they should not be unchangeable, because I have seen change occurring among Chinese women within my own professional lifetime, and have even been instrumental in achieving some of that change – it’s one of the things I am actually rather proud of, particularly as female colleagues have gone out of their way to thank me for doing some things to give female engineers a fairer deal – one very bright and capable young female engineer even said “We will never forget you”, which really meant a lot to me.

    What I don’t know is whether, for cultural or other reasons, this change has been achievable only among Chinese and some other Asian engineers (there is also the fairly recent example of the taboo in Japan against female construction workers working in tunneling finally being swept away), who have been just quietly getting on and doing it, with pretty encouraging outcomes (e.g. 50% of students who now enrol in civil engineering programs in Hong Kong universities are female, which is fairly reflective of their academic achievement and the fact that girls now see no reason not to consider a career in civil engineering as a perfectly viable option for them), and there is something fundamental that continues to prevent this level of female participation being achieved in countries like the USA and Australia.

    That is what I am driving at, and that is why I wanted to know what definition of “feminist” was being used for the purpose of the survey (I know there is a dictionary definition), because I suspect that maybe it matters – few if any people will argue with the principle of gender equality, at least publicly, but that is not what the results of this survey show – given that the readers of this blog are a pretty smart bunch, I suspect that relates to interpretation of what it means to be a “feminist”.

    I have to declare a vested interest – I have a daughter who aspires to becoming a scientist. She and I both believe in *true* meritocracy (as I believe Paull Conroy does), and I would obviously be deeply ticked off if she had to face career limitations simply because she happened to be born female. Likewise, she would detest getting any *favours* just because she is female.

  • Isabel

    @91 Thanks for the explanation. I didn’t think you were several people though lol. I was confused about why you said you didn’t support NOW. Haven’t heard of them in years but after looking them up seems kosher to me.

    I don’t know what the deal with the US is, but you are right. There is more hostility to women and feminists I think, and to both men and women straying from traditional sex roles; for example mocking men who do things that are “gay” here vs Europe (think of macho Italian men who hug, cry, and enjoy opera for contrast) and less tolerance of women who aren’t conventionally feminine, eg in politics or media, who are quick to be judged “men-women” or lesbians. Speaking of which we are way behind the curve in politics also.

    ” I have a daughter who aspires to becoming a scientist. ”

    Depends which branch your daughter wants to go into. I feel much more accepted as just a normal, fellow scientist in biology but in my previous (non-science) career in a male-dominated field it pretty much sucked. And it hasn’t gotten better for women since I left. If there had been anything like an AA program I would have taken advantage- it is hardly a “favor” in that case.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    and less tolerance of women who aren’t conventionally feminine

    please recall there is a great deal of intra-european heterogeneity. italy != sweden. on issues of concern to american feminists i would argue only scandinavia beats the USA.

  • Sandgroper

    I don’t like the look of NOW because they appear to conflate everything. I’m surprised they left out ‘fat people’. Plus I’m instantly turned off by anyone who uses the term ‘ableist’.

    Yes, she’s in Biology – not because it’s more female-friendly, just because she’s good at it and it’s what she’s most interested in. She did easily well enough in Math and Physics to have done Engineering. She’s a real hard-liner on AA, just doesn’t believe in it (but then she is half-Chinese and has come through the highly competitive Hong Kong school system, which is like a meat grinder). In any case, she’s attending university in Australia and there is no AA there except for indigenous people in certain fields like Medicine. If they had AA, on the numbers, except in a few highly male-dominant fields like Engineering and Agricultural Science it would have to be for white Australian males, who make up the majority of the total population anyway.

    Australians pride themselves on being very ‘advanced’ and ‘liberated’, but at her (my old) university, the first year intake in Civil Engineering is 12% female (as opposed now to Hong Kong, which is 50%, with no AA). Not completely OT, I did a few simple numbers based on cases reported to police – whole population, if you are a female living in Australia, your average annual risk of being sexually assaulted in 10E-1. That’s 1 in 10 every year. Which means if you are a young and reasonably attractive female, your average annual risk is approaching unity. 16% of female university students in Australia report that they have been raped while at university. 1 in 6. The Australian Union of Students has made a report on it to the federal government, who have shrugged and done nothing. My daughter has avoided it so far by having a phalanx of Singaporean guys in the student college where she lives who have done their national military service and are happy to serve as her Pretorian Guard, plus the college employs security guards who patrol at night with German Shepherd attack dogs. But she has still copped plenty of verbal harassment – physical threats, phone calls and stuff. She intends to leave Australia permanently as soon as she graduates, and frankly, who could blame her? Last year two Indian students were randomly assaulted around the campus – a girl was stabbed in the back (literally) and a guy was beaten unconscious and dumped in the river, for doing nothing, just walking around and being brown.

    Contrast Biology with Civil Engineering – in my daughter’s first year intake, 60% were female, and by third year, most of the males have failed and gone, there’s only a handful left – and they are inclined to behave themselves, just to survive or else. I don’t think any of that handful are white Australian anyway.

  • Isabel

    Okay, point taken, Razib.

    Sandgroper, I think AA is useful for getting a foothold in *some* fields. Just to get in the running. I doubt it helps very often after that point anyway. As I am “accepted as a normal, fellow scientist” in biology I am comfortable competing in this field; it becomes a difficult but exciting challenge. So no AA is necessary. Not all is rosy, the percentages drop during postdoc years, but things are good in my subfield. I don’t think we need AA if there is progress at least.

    But in other fields there are such barriers, that seem so “entrenched” as you put it, and it takes so much distracting effort and vigilance to be accepted as an equal player and where there is constant energy-sapping negativity related to all this crap… I am not going to take an absolute position! But I admire your daughter for doing so. while noting that she is also still young and optimistic :)

  • Sandgroper

    Yep.

  • pconroy

    @93 Razib,

    on issues of concern to american feminists i would argue only scandinavia beats the USA.

    Just remember that to be a White male in Sweden is to live in hell – ask any hetero Swedish guy – you get no respect, you can be arrested in kindergarten for sexual abuse of another toddler by merely kissing them!

    It’s outrageous, it’s immoral… it needs to end…

  • pconroy

    @95, Isabel,

    As regards helping a girl get a foothold, I doubt it.

    Years ago I knew this girl – 1/2 Puerto Rican/1/2 Indian – and she had grown up in a working class slum, but was the top pupil in her class. She was headed for a State school in New York, but was advised to apply for an Affirmative Action spot at Harvard. She got into Harvard and felt completely out of place, there was no one else like her in her classes and she couldn’t make friends. Her grades initially good, began to slip and she dropped out before her Freshman year was over.

    IMO, she would probably have excelled at a state school, but the competition was too great and the social distance between her and her peers too great for her to properly integrate into Harvard, and so she failed. She then decided to never attend college again, as it “just wasn’t her thing” – and worked in a lowly hotel job.

    I feel AA caused her downfall, and without it she would have done fine!

  • pconroy

    @91 Sandgroper,

    I have to declare a vested interest – I have a daughter who aspires to becoming a scientist. She and I both believe in *true* meritocracy (as I believe Paull Conroy does)

    Yes, I do.

    My 9 yo daughter is considered “gifted” and has gotten straight A’s in all subjects, in all 4 marking periods, for 3 years running. Her Math scores are usually 100%. She is very mature intellectually for her age, and her favorite thing we did last summer was visiting the “Lower East Side Tenament Museum” – http://www.tenement.org/ – and she takes a great interest in such things as the Arab Spring and so forth. I’m sure she will have a choice of careers ahead of her. This last year she has stated she wanted to be a model, lead singer, teacher, doctor, artist, billionaire and so on. More recently she wants to be an architect…

    I encourage her to try everything, do everything, be everything, but to put some priority on starting a family early, so she doesn’t get tripped up by her Biological Clock later on…

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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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