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belief poll #2

This time I made sure that the lower end of the range is 0 rather than 1, to make it symmetric with the 10. I don't know why lj defaults to 1-10... I was lazy last time and just left it how they set it up.

I know different people mean different things by choosing different numbers, so to standardize try and do it this way: pick 10 if you are 95%-100% confident that the statement is true. Pick 0 if you are 0-5% confident (in other words, 95%-100% confident it's false). Pick 9 if you are 85%-95% confident it's true. Pick 5 if you are 45-55% confident it's true (in other words, you don't know). I'm going to take browascension's suggestion this time and say that if you're unfamiliar with the topic, just skip it rather than picking 5.

I tried to pick questions that I was a little more agnostic on this time... last time I had too many extreme responses, both from myself and from everyone, so hopefully this one will be more mixed.

Poll #1438874 belief poll #2

Many non-human animals can experience pain and suffering

Mean: 9.76 Median: 10 Std. Dev 0.69
0
0(0.0%)
1
0(0.0%)
2
0(0.0%)
3
0(0.0%)
4
0(0.0%)
5
0(0.0%)
6
0(0.0%)
7
1(2.9%)
8
2(5.9%)
9
1(2.9%)
10
30(88.2%)

Chimpanzees are conscious

Mean: 8.28 Median: 9 Std. Dev 1.89
0
0(0.0%)
1
0(0.0%)
2
0(0.0%)
3
2(6.9%)
4
0(0.0%)
5
0(0.0%)
6
1(3.4%)
7
6(20.7%)
8
4(13.8%)
9
6(20.7%)
10
10(34.5%)

It is morally wrong to hurt animals unnecessarily

Mean: 7.84 Median: 9 Std. Dev 2.50
0
1(3.1%)
1
0(0.0%)
2
1(3.1%)
3
1(3.1%)
4
0(0.0%)
5
2(6.2%)
6
2(6.2%)
7
3(9.4%)
8
5(15.6%)
9
7(21.9%)
10
10(31.2%)

There is value in preserving and sustaining earth's ecosystem, beyond the utility derived from it by humans

Mean: 7.42 Median: 9 Std. Dev 3.04
0
2(6.1%)
1
0(0.0%)
2
2(6.1%)
3
0(0.0%)
4
1(3.0%)
5
3(9.1%)
6
4(12.1%)
7
0(0.0%)
8
4(12.1%)
9
4(12.1%)
10
13(39.4%)

There is value in preserving and sustaining earth's ecosystem, beyond the utility derived from it by any animal

Mean: 6.30 Median: 7 Std. Dev 3.66
0
5(15.2%)
1
1(3.0%)
2
1(3.0%)
3
1(3.0%)
4
2(6.1%)
5
3(9.1%)
6
0(0.0%)
7
4(12.1%)
8
4(12.1%)
9
1(3.0%)
10
11(33.3%)

Modern IQ tests provide a meaningful measure of general intelligence

Mean: 5.76 Median: 7 Std. Dev 3.05
0
3(8.8%)
1
1(2.9%)
2
3(8.8%)
3
2(5.9%)
4
1(2.9%)
5
5(14.7%)
6
1(2.9%)
7
5(14.7%)
8
8(23.5%)
9
1(2.9%)
10
4(11.8%)

The reason why Ashkenazi Jews have the highest mean IQ scores of any known human population is genetic

Mean: 4.32 Median: 5 Std. Dev 2.99
0
5(16.1%)
1
3(9.7%)
2
3(9.7%)
3
1(3.2%)
4
1(3.2%)
5
6(19.4%)
6
4(12.9%)
7
4(12.9%)
8
1(3.2%)
9
2(6.5%)
10
1(3.2%)

There are predictable "trends" in the major stock markets because the price is based partially on the psychology of investors rather than on the true value of the stock

Mean: 6.84 Median: 7 Std. Dev 2.51
0
1(3.1%)
1
0(0.0%)
2
1(3.1%)
3
2(6.2%)
4
0(0.0%)
5
5(15.6%)
6
4(12.5%)
7
6(18.8%)
8
3(9.4%)
9
4(12.5%)
10
6(18.8%)

The reason why people with XX chromosomes score lower on average on standardized mathematical tests than people with XY chromosomes is primarily genetic

Mean: 2.85 Median: 3 Std. Dev 2.86
0
10(30.3%)
1
4(12.1%)
2
2(6.1%)
3
7(21.2%)
4
1(3.0%)
5
3(9.1%)
6
3(9.1%)
7
0(0.0%)
8
1(3.0%)
9
0(0.0%)
10
2(6.1%)

For the same calorie count, a low carb diet is healthier than a low fat diet

Mean: 4.19 Median: 5 Std. Dev 2.80
0
6(19.4%)
1
1(3.2%)
2
2(6.5%)
3
2(6.5%)
4
3(9.7%)
5
8(25.8%)
6
3(9.7%)
7
1(3.2%)
8
4(12.9%)
9
0(0.0%)
10
1(3.2%)

Tags:

Comments

( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Aug. 3rd, 2009 04:21 am (UTC)
I found it far easier to pick extremes in this one over your previous. Essentially, these questions seemed less ambiguous.
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Aug. 3rd, 2009 05:10 am (UTC)
Actually, upon reflection, it's not that I find these questions less ambiguous - it's more that I find them less contentious. ... Which is something worthy of reflecting on further. Cheers for the provocations! :D
spoonless
Aug. 3rd, 2009 06:57 am (UTC)
Hmmm, interesting. I picked them because they are all statements I've heard people expressing strong opinions about both ways (by different people)... so they all seem contentious in that sense to me.
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Aug. 3rd, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC)
I have found that people often express strong opinions rooted in ignorance. It often takes wisdom to be tentative.

Some elaboration on my responses may be helpful (or maybe not!).

You asked if chimpanzees are conscious and acknowledge that the question relates to the poll-taker's concept of consciousness. Although I'm no Daniel Dennet, I've done enough studies in consciousness to know that many view prokaryote/eukaryote cells as conscious (albeit of a qualitatively different variety from our own).

Then you ask whether it's "morally wrong to hurt animals unnecessarily". Obviously, the poll-taker's concept of morality factors in here, but whatever your take on morality, causing unnecessary suffering is generally wrong.

Personally, I think preserving the Earth's ecosystem has very little to do with utility.

The IQ questions might be contentious among some, but are decidedly less-so for me. As a teacher involved with screening "gifted" students, I recognize the ambiguity of 'g', and have seen IQ tests consistently fail. Further, the question of Ashkenazi Jews seems to insinuate a static g, but that's not a very well-supported perspective these days.

The stock market question was just an issue of awareness. If people think the price of stocks has anything to do with the 'value' of stocks, they're ignorant of how the stock market and crony capitalism works.

The XX/XY/math question was likewise an issue of awareness. Studies in Europe have shown females score higher on standardized mathematical tests. It's cultural and environmental, but there may be a genetic component somewhere in the background (and far less relevant).

Last, the calorie/fat/diet question holds less relevance to me.

Hopefully that helped clarify why I didn't find this particular set of questions as contentious as the last. :)
inferno0069
Aug. 5th, 2009 12:12 am (UTC)
Personally, I think preserving the Earth's ecosystem has very little to do with utility.

If that were true, then I believe it would not be possible for anyone to care about preserving the Earth's ecosystem. I think utility just has a much wider definition than many people realize. For example, I enjoy sunlight, so I derive more utility from an office with windows than one without at my workplace.
spoonless
Aug. 6th, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
Based on your comment here, I would have expected you to pick 0 for that question, but I just noticed that you picked 10.

Did you mean to pick 10, or was that a mistake? I just wrote a whole new post on this topic explaining my beliefs on the subject.
inferno0069
Aug. 6th, 2009 10:43 pm (UTC)
I picked 10 because I assign a non-zero probability to something outside the groups you list (i.e. animals) caring.
spoonless
Aug. 7th, 2009 06:34 am (UTC)
Ok, well I assign a non-zero probability to anything, including that. But as long as the probability you assigned was less than 5% you were supposed to pick 0. Only if you were at least 95% sure were you supposed to pick 10. ?
inferno0069
Aug. 7th, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC)
Ah. True. I think I don't really have a good idea what probability to assign, except that it's not 0, and I'd like to communicate that with my answer. When I filled it out, I guess I aimed high.
(Deleted comment)
spoonless
Aug. 3rd, 2009 07:17 am (UTC)

I need to know what the asker means by "conscious" here; it's a very slippery term and I don't feel comfortable assuming I know how to read it.

Personally, I think there are so many different meanings and interpretations for the word consciousness that we will never be able to settle on one precise meaning for it. So what the question is really asking is just if you're comfortable applying that term to chimpanzees... so part of what it's asking is what your definition of consciousness is.
spoonless
Aug. 3rd, 2009 07:19 am (UTC)
Oh, and regarding morals, I'm a non-cognitivist as well. When I hear someone say something is immoral, I always take it as a statement about what they like or dislike... albeit a particular kind of desire.
perspectivism
Aug. 3rd, 2009 11:43 pm (UTC)

I am amused that I answered an absolute extreme at every question I chose to answer this round! I was much more legitimately uncertain about the last batch (alien life out there in the stars, and all that). This round...the questions are either moral ones (depending a TON on what exactly you mean by the moral language)...or basically settled fact IMO. Sometimes I personally don't yet KNOW the settled fact (how weak EMH has to get to apply to various stock markets, e.g.; just not my field), but often I do and am amazed that my understanding (no, I won't say 'view' or such to feign humility) is not more widespread. I blame religion. Not literally religion in the narrow sense...but basically yeah.
perspectivism
Aug. 3rd, 2009 11:46 pm (UTC)

(hi, pazi, I have no idea who you are & had meant to reply to the main post. Mea culpa!)
shaktool
Aug. 3rd, 2009 07:00 am (UTC)
Serious question: What do you mean by "morally wrong" in question 3? I'm assuming you're not referring to a cosmic function?

For many of these I would be uncomfortable with responding with a number and leaving it at that. For example, I am at least 95% certain that IQ scores are a meaningful. Anything that produces statistically relevant discrepancies is meaningful. But they are hardly comprehensive, they are unreliable, and they are dangerous to extrapolate from.

And with the chromosome thing, of course having XX chromosomes is likely to put people at a disadvantage on math IQ test. Because IQ tests are administered in this universe, and this is a universe where having XX chromosomes makes you a woman and women are less likely to be encouraged to excel at taking math IQ tests, therefore having XX chromosomes reduces your probability of excelling at math IQ tests. I assume this is not quite what you're asking about, but there are many ways I could interpret the question. In fact, that particular question is sort of phrased as a truism. "The reason why people with different genetics score differently on IQ tests is because of genetics... well yeah, if there's a statistically relevant discrepancy between XX and XY people, then the XX and the XY probably has something to do with it."

Basically my answers would depend a lot on the precise phrasing of the question and on the definitions of words that I assume you are using.

I am tempted to respond using the numbers as a measurement of how confident I am that I interpreted your question correctly. :P

Perhaps ironically, the questions where I am not worried about interpreting the question correctly but I simply don't know the answer are the ones where the confidence metric makes the most sense to me. I don't know much about the stock market, but I'd be happy to hazard a guess somewhere between 0 and 10 for that one. Same for the calorie question. Most of the rest of my answers would be exactly 0 or 10, depending on the interpretation.
spoonless
Aug. 3rd, 2009 07:28 am (UTC)
I see your point regarding the chromosome question, there is a tautological interpretation of it. But I thought it fairly obvious what the right way to interpret it is. It's asking whether there is some gene or set of genes for IQ that are correlated with the XX/XY chromosome. If not, then the reasons are either just cultural, or perhaps have to do with some other non-genetic biological trait... if on the other hand, they are correlated, then there is a genetic reason for it. People have done many tests trying to isolate whether this is true... some claiming one set of results and some claiming the opposite results. Personally, I do not think the matter is settled yet, although I tend to hear more people who think it is definitely NOT genetic than people who think it definitely is.

Basically my answers would depend a lot on the precise phrasing of the question and on the definitions of words that I assume you are using.

Part of the fun is in letting people interpret the statements in whatever way seems most meaningful to themselves. So for example, the question about whether IQ measures intelligence depends on what your definition of intelligence is. It does not depend on what *my* definition of intelligence is, because what I'm asking by the question is "what's YOUR definition" :)
shaktool
Aug. 3rd, 2009 02:38 pm (UTC)
I don't doubt that there are conditions in which men and women have the same math scores. Are these conditions "neutral"? "Unbiased"? I don't think it's possible to raise a population to the age where they are able to take a math test and still call them unbiased. I don't think it makes sense to talk about the origin of the intelligence of a person as being distinct from their history.

I guess the answer that you're looking for is that I don't think there is any specific gene that evolution selected for encouraging or inhibiting math intelligence. And if there was, I don't see why it would be turned on for one sex and not the other. But we are complicated organisms, and our mathematical intelligence is the product of our complicated genes interacting with a complicated environment.
spoonless
Aug. 3rd, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)

I guess the answer that you're looking for is that I don't think there is any specific gene that evolution selected for encouraging or inhibiting math intelligence.

IQ has been shown to be highly hereditary. Surely it is not as simple as one specific gene, but I am highly confident (a 10 for sure) that there are some set of genes that affect mathematical intelligence. The question is whether they are correlated with the chromosomal sex and if so how strong of an effect this is compared to cultural conditioning or other factors.
perspectivism
Aug. 3rd, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)

people with XX chromosomes score lower on average on standardized mathematical tests than people with XY chromosomes

I don't know that they DO!

I DO know that the female of the species expresses signif lower VARIANCE on many many metrics, including this one. So, there are way less female math geniuses and total idiots.

Nature takes bigger gambles with males; we're born to be more risk-loving.
(Deleted comment)
perspectivism
Aug. 3rd, 2009 11:38 pm (UTC)

"CLEARLY"?!

I'm unaware of any standardized-ish MATH tests that don't cut off (fail to meaningfully test) the left X% of population...where X is larger than we like to believe. Every math test has signif selection effects.

But that doesn't even matter. Because what's INTERESTING re: math and verbal and musical and cooking and military intelligence w/r/t natural-born gender...isn't whether the MEANs or MEDIANs or MODEs differ by a couple points between the hormonal sexes. So what I take you to be REALLY polling about is the fact that men dominate near the visible top of essentially ALL fields (and, the more g-loaded or obsessive, the more dominant). (Nobody cares to compare the biggest losers at the bottom -- who are mostly men -- and mostly homeless, imprisoned or dead.) This interesting hegemony is explained ~entirely by the sexes' different standard deviations and skews in intelligences + the big personality dimensions. Which, in turn, is "CLEARLY" ;) nature playing at XY/XX asymmetric reproductive game theory...which you can practically prove from your armchair and then can confirm via various observations!
easwaran
Aug. 3rd, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
Two of the questions seemed to me to have plausibly false presuppositions. It seems to me that there probably is no such thing as general intelligence, which makes it hard to say whether or not IQ tests are a good measure of it. And the third to last question presupposes that there are some predictable trends in the stock market - as far as I know, this is pretty much false, though there are plenty of irrationalities in the stock market that are driven by features of human psychology that make these prices tend not to track the value of the stock.

Also, I wasn't sure what to say for the chimpanzee question.
spoonless
Aug. 3rd, 2009 10:47 pm (UTC)
If you think there is something false implied by the question, then you should judge it to be false (depending on how sure you are that the assumption is false).

For the general intelligence question, I did think of that as I was writing it down... but that was intended to be part of the question... if someone doesn't believe in general intelligence or doesn't believe that it can be measured then they should pick something low on the scale.

For the other one, all I was trying to ask is whether you believe the Efficient Market Hypothesis is true. My understanding is that most academics think it is (although not all) whereas a huge number of people outside of academia are convinced it is false... and there are lots of studies showing one results or the other, depending on who is doing the study.

Rather than just ask "is EMH true?" I figured I would try to write it out more specifically. The main issue is, as you say, whether there are trends. I decided to add the bit about psychology to make it more clear why someone would think there were trends... I realized as I was writing this that I could have left it off and it would have been essentially the same, but for some reason I thought it was interesting to put it on there. Now I kind of wish I had phrased it both ways, because my suspicion would be that including the motivation for believing in trends would increase the average score chosen by people, whereas if they are maximally rational it should decrease the average score. At any rate, the thing you read as the "implied assumption" was actually intended to be the main question.
spoonless
Aug. 3rd, 2009 11:35 pm (UTC)

all I was trying to ask is whether you believe the Efficient Market Hypothesis is true.

(whether you believe it is false, that is)
easwaran
Aug. 4th, 2009 12:56 am (UTC)
There's a bit of a distinction between a false presupposition and a false entailment or implication - if you had asked "have you stopped beating your wife?" I'm not sure where on the scale from 0 to 10 I would best answer. But yes, I think I answered both of those with fairly low numbers as a result of the presupposition I think is false. I tend to believe the EMH, at least in some weak forms. (I don't know if you read Crooked Timber, but John Quiggin there has recently had some good posts discussing stronger and weaker forms of it.)

Especially since it gives me sufficient reason not to bother with trying to play the market.
rws1st
Aug. 4th, 2009 08:05 am (UTC)
General Intelligence:
General Intelligence: Take the set of all possible problems (with all possible tool aids, and constraints (time), environments etc.). The GI of an agent is the subset of the set of all problems that the Agent can solve.

The does not easily turn into a numeric measure.
spoonless
Aug. 5th, 2009 05:55 am (UTC)
Re: General Intelligence:
Except that if you put a brand new problem they've never seen before in front of someone who scores high on g-loaded tests, they are more likely to be able to solve it than someone who scores low on such tests. I'm not saying IQ tests are all that accurate or that the resolution they claim to have is meaningful... but if you look at the extreme examples, like someone who's a 60 versus someone who's a 140, there is a pretty striking difference. That's why I chose an "8" for that question... I'm reasonably sure that it's measuring something that deserves to be called general intelligence, but not completely sure.
rws1st
Aug. 5th, 2009 06:33 am (UTC)
Re: General Intelligence:
We don't disagree about the abilities of standard IQ tests.

In the framework I presented think about it this way:

The set of all problems can be loosely thought about as existing in some space of some dimensionality.

So say some problems take a certain amount of short term memory, or speed of computation, or background knowledge or some such. The IQ tests try and find some boundaries in this space that predict the sub-set of problems that a agent can do.

Now there are limitations. There are certain important real world problems that might required persistent work for months to solve where the person doesn't lose focus or resolve. An IQ test may do poorly at predicting success in these types of problems. And so on for other dimensions that IQ tests don't measure.

But they do measure some important dimensions and so can be useful!
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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