Reader Survey

All present and accounted for!
Something fun for everybody: the reader survey! Come and tell us about yourself and learn what you only suspected about everybody else. It should only take 20 seconds or so.

This survey will remain up for the duration, accessible at this page or through the top menu bar (“Reader survey”). From time to time I’ll remind us of it.

Please, oh I beg you, please tell the truth, please only vote once, and please do vote on all the questions. Remember, all polls are valid representations of the sort of people who fill them out.

Reminder: the survey is anonymous. I am not NSA. I never use your emails or IPs and I delete all my logs after about a week. I keep various counts, though. We’re at about 70,000 views per month. Pretty good for the obscure subjects which are our focus.

If you have more to say, tips, suggestions, complaints and so forth, please leave them in the comments section.

Merry Christmas!

Update Thanks for the great response, all! Keep ’em comin’!

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  1. Jennifer Marohasy

    Thanks for your contribution to a more rational civilisation. cheers,

  2. An Engineer

    I’ve told many. Almost everyone I know about your site. Many are viewing but have not yet garnered the courage to comment. How does one critique or comment on a PhD in Statistics seems to be an impediment to commenting.

    But you are being read and you are making a difference.

  3. Gary

    Why did you leave the Life Sciences (Biological and Health/Medicine) out of the specialties list? Some of the greatest misuse of statistics occurs in these fields. And what about that bete noir, Climate Science?

  4. Chuck L

    Although sometimes (OK, often – have forgotten much of what I used to know), the technical discussions are over my head, you definitely have a knack of making complex subjects understandable even to laymen like me and I enjoy the varied subjects discussed here.

  5. Jason

    I resent being told to vote on a question that only has one choice. Especially when that choice is not reflective of my attitude towards advertising your comments to my friends and family (I do so frequently, and with class).

    Nevertheless, you said answer all questions, so I did. Never let it be said that I do not follow directions. For whatever that’s worth.

  6. Briggs


    Stupidity: I blew it. Everybody in medicine should choose science or, if they prefer, “Something else.” People can always leave comments below, too.

  7. DAV

    I was hoping there would be the opportunity for a synopsis, Here’s mine:

    I am an ant farmer who dabbles in statistics. My favorite regression is childhood. My favorite song in Vocalise by Rachmaninoff. Love its catchy lyrics.

    BTW: What category should a person who is neither a theist nor atheist pick?

  8. Scotian

    Did you get this proof read by a statistician first? 🙂

    I’m not sure that I know more about any physical science than any other category but I may know more about a particular physical science. There are not enough choices under belief. How long have you been reading is a strange wording and I am surprised that every one didn’t choose 3+. This is an example of the necessity of clear questions. Either that or you have some very young readers. As to the last question, here is my response:

    The number of views per month is interesting and I probably account for one thousand of those myself (listen to the above clip).

  9. Beowulf

    Hello I didn’t tell many folks because here in Appomattox Co. Va not many folks are interested in the philosophy of statistics. I went to an engineering college so we were taught statistics as a tool. Find the Fish kind of thing.

  10. MattS

    “Why haven’t you told all your friends and relatives about”

    How do you know I haven’t?

  11. Matt Lewis (@_scarymatt_)

    Ditto, MattS. I *have* told them. Briggs, when did you stop beating your wife, anyway?

  12. JH

    Where is my favorite response option of “other” or “other, please specify?” My specialty is potato soup.

  13. Briggs

    Matt Lewis,

    Who says I stopped?

  14. Michael Craig


    -Very few females. Perhaps they are smarter and recognize a waste of time (ie. CAGW issue).

    -Lots of +50yo. (I’m one)

    -Lots of engineers. (I’m one)

    I’d like to see a survey of +50yo engineers. I know I have my own paper napkin results.

  15. No sartorial questions? May I suggest:

    Do you or the man in your life own a pocket square?

    How about a decent hat?

    How about a Briggs-compliant suit?

    A tie is

    – a necessary sign of social adulthood; or
    – a sign you’re being kept down by the Man, man.

    You could also do a ‘check all that apply’ exercise:

    I could go straight from work without changing clothes and fit in just fine at:

    – a barbecue;
    – a skateboard park;
    – a Phish concert;
    – an ‘I {heart} Obamacare’ rally;
    – my best friend’s mother-in-law’s funeral;
    – the formal dinner at the exotic 5 star resort where this year’s climate change conference is being held;
    – an Oakland Raider’s game;

    and so on.

  16. Doug M

    Joseph Moore,
    I like where you are going…

    A tie should be worn:
    For important events
    Five days a week.
    Five days a week + Sunday morning.
    6 days a week.
    Saturday’s, too.

    How frequently do you shine your shoes?
    when they need it.
    once a month.
    every time you wear them.

    Which sort of hat should be worn for which occasion….

  17. Sheri

    First, I must say I got a real laugh out of the male/female ratio! When you said you had few female readers, I really wasn’t thinking of quite that low a ratio. Actually, that’s pretty much been the story of my life–in groups with one or two females and a dozen males. I’m not like other girls!

    Michael Craig–I missed the note on tackling CAGW as a waste of time. That could explain why my AGW blog takes up so much time?

    I have no friends and have disowned my family, but I do link to your blog as often as possible on my own blog and on blogs I read. When it’s relevant, of course!

    A number of comments here remind me of your piece on marketing surveys where one asks too many questions. Maybe you could make a monthly survey and cover some of the fashion questions at least.

  18. davebowne

    Isn’t there a third alternative to atheist and theist? It seems the uptake on the question is about 10% less than any other.

  19. MattS

    Joseph Moore,

    “A tie is”:

    Exceedingly uncomfortable.
    Serves no useful purpose.
    *Both of the above.

  20. MattS


    “Isn’t there a third alternative to atheist and theist?”

    Taken by the literal meanings of the words, no. Either you are a theist or you aren’t.

  21. Why haven’t you told all your friends and relatives about

    Ok… step 1. I’ll need some friends…

  22. Sylvain Allard

    Some question lack choices since I couldn’t recognized in any of the choices.

  23. Andrew Kennett

    Theist and atheist = no significant difference

  24. Thanks Dr. Briggs for all the wisdom you share.
    Like “Actually, Weather Is Climate”
    Merry Christmas!

  25. Dave Bowne

    MattS – My dictionary says a theist believes in at least one god and an atheist believes there are no gods.

    (!theist) atheist

    I can’t agree with either statement. I am certainly willing to believe that I am using a substandard dictionary. What definition of these two words encompasses all possible positions?

    BTW – the takeup on that question is still holding at 90%.

  26. Dave Bowne

    And more importantly, the theist or atheist question is a *perfect* example of how the world view of the poller influences the result of the poll.

    Many researchers would headline that theists outnumber atheists 2.13 to 1.

    Some might note that 10% failed to answer.

    Almost none will note that had there been three choices, it is unknown how many would have defected to the third choice.

    Even fewer would note that the uncertainty associated iwth the 2.13 to 1 result should be increased by the failure to include a third choice.

  27. Doug M

    Matt S,
    The tie isn’t uncomfortable, the shirt is what is uncomfortable.
    And you shirt is uncomfortable because you are buying shirts that are too small. Or, you bought shirts that fit and you neck has grown.

  28. Frank Scammell

    I’m writing about the survey choices, in particular, theist or atheist (believe in God or you don’t) although I suppose that it could apply to male or female, as well as others.M vs. F doesn’t bother me at all-I’m male. It would seem that you either believe or you don’t. But then you get to the problem- what is the yardstick? The world is filled with people that can’t even agree on what the yardstick is or should be- to say nothing of the fact that they can’t measure another person except with their own internal yardstick! (which most people will believe is wrong). Agnostic is my choice, but that probably has its failing too.Sort of like Virgin birth !

  29. Rob

    Although I was also stumped at first by the lack of a “life Science” option, I looked more closely at the question and it asked “What subject do you know more about than any other?” not what is your education or profession. Ergo, all of us life scientists get to think about what we know most about for a change (raising a family probably comes high on many over 50’s lists, regardless of profession). I just pity the poor physical scientists and statisticians who didn’t get to think of that!

    PS. As biochemist/geneticist I ashamedly had to admit that I know far more physical science than statistics – part of my reason fur lurking here on this site!

  30. Alan McIntire

    Every year, after Thanksgiving dinner, my family goes to a movie.
    This year, my daughter picked part II of ” The Hunger Games”, “Catching Fire”. She brought home the DVD for part 1 a few weeks earlier to get us up to speed on the plot.

    The plot for “Catching Fire” raised a mathematical red flag for me.
    There are 12 districts in the PANAM of this fictional future. Every year, 1 male and 1 female is selected from each district, for a total of 24 contestants.
    They fight it out in a free for all gladiatorial type contest, leaving 1 survivor each year. The protagonist in book 1 was a 16 year old girl, who survived the 73rd annual contest, and then started causing trouble and fomenting rebellion against the capitol . To stifle this rebellion, the dictatorial “President for Life” decided that in year 74, the contestants would NOT be selected from the teenage population at random, but would be selected from the winners of prior games. The result would hopefully, from the point of view of the president, be the death of the troublemaking protagonist. There were 59 living survivors of prior games at the time of the selection, and again 1 male and 1 female were selected from the prior winners in each of the 12 districts.

    I checked out the wikipedia link

    And figured that with 24 “boxes” (1 male and 1 female from each district),
    and with 59 prior survivors, the probability that at least 1 male and 1 female would be alive from each district would be, using the “choose” function in R,

    choose(58,23)/choose (82,23)
    [1] 6.636452e-05
    less than 7 in 100,000. In the movie, there WAS at least 1 male and 1 female prior winning contestant representing each district. Is my calculation correct? Was the movie result wildly unlikely?

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