I'd like to try these questions out in my friend circles (anonymously). Although obviously the results would have to be delivered afterward, since initially there's no baseline.
74% of participants also think they dream less while sleeping than average.
79% of participants also think they have sex less often than average.
82% of participants also think they are a worse dancer than average.
79% of participants also think they are more privileged than average.
79% of participants also think they are smarter than average.
78% of participants also think they are less extroverted than average.
28% of participants also think they are less honest than average.
34% of participants also think they are less kind than average.
26% of participants also think they lie more than average.
31% of participants also think they had a worse childhood than average.
35% of participants also think they are more important than average.
29% of participants also think they are less progressive than average.
30% of participants also think they are less polite than average.
33% of participants also think they are worse at keeing secrets than average.
On top of that I think there might be selection bias going on.
Its like reading Choose your own adventure Goosebumps books and seeing how many other people chose that adventure
I agree it is still a heavily biased sample though.
In fact, if there was a third "within +-0.3 standard deviations of average" you would probably be unwise to pick it, simply because "below average" has a greater expected value due to covering more of the range of possibilities, even when it's only true 50 % of the time.
Besides, being forced to really try to sense which way one leans is informative!
You're talking about a site that currently measures with precision of 1 bit, in which case your probability of being average is basically 100% comparing to either extreme.
I wonder if and how things cluster around age, income, country of residence, etc.
What I'd really be interested in is a set of tags people can click as far as "which of these do you strongly identify with?" And then just have some broad categories that are ostensibly independent such as "investing", "politics", "exercise & fitness", "video or board games", "charity/volunteering", "night clubs/partying", "theater & the arts", "sci-fi or fantasy", "religion", "travelling/siteseeing", "meditation" ...
I'd assume most to be total noise but there may be a few interesting strong correlations that could inspire further study.
I saw better than average at maths around 68%... and that might be true for the kind of people who play this game. Dancing and sex might be the same story (didn't see those questions).
I reckon this is due to only watching apex males perform those acts. As opposed to maths where you probably remember your classmates struggling and were actually tested for your ability.
More likely than not you have more hands than an average human.
Take for example this question: "Are you smarter than average?" and (last time I checked) 72% think they are. Just imagine how the distribution looks like. By comparing this number to the IQ distribution (assuming correlation) which is a normal distribution, you could infer that either  a sizable portion of participants are wrong about how smart they are,  the sample size is too small, or  the people who've landed on the page are exceptionally smart!
 I have a "feeling" that this is the case!
 Maybe this can be taken into account with better statistical analysis.
 The assumption of participants coming mostly from HN, does not prove that this is the case.
I think a lot of HN would be surprised at what an IQ of 100 looks like.
"Do you believe the sites you frequent are visited by higher educated, more intelligent people than average"
Nervous shuffling of little green ghosts to the left.
I believe HN is mostly working age English speaking computer professionals - especially American software engineers
I believe that American software engineers are broadly educated to an above average level
> Do you have better music taste than average?
Of course I do. Logically everyone should evaluate their own taste in music to be better than average, since your own music taste determines what you think constitutes good music taste. Somehow, only about half of respondents selected that option, though. That's interesting.
But in general, I think this would skew towards people having the preference for their preference.
No, your own music taste determines what you think is good music. Taste is not about holding your own opinion higher than others', it's just about what you like or not.
I still find it weird that it's a 50/50 split though. Maybe a lot of people aren't thinking so much about whose taste is better, but whose is more refined? Like how people who aren't into wine might not take their own lived experience as seriously as the words of an experienced sommelier?
Granted, starting from this interpretation could easily lead people to interpret "good" as "refined"; I suppose that makes sense.
For example, 75% said they were more privileged when I looked, but if they are all coming from sites like this and have good jobs, that might be quite reasonable.
So while you could imagine a society where 80% of people believe they aren't religious at all, the United States at least does not appear anywhere near that number.
(You’re probably right anyways - there’s a reason I put ‘theoretically’ at the beginning of my first post)
It could also be that the (loose, intuitively approximated) mode on some level of granularity (the individual category perceived as most commonly seen) rather than the median is going to frequently be the intuitive yardstick for “average”, rather than median (mean of a ordinal categorical trait with no unique obvious reduction to an interval-level measure has no coherent definition, so its not really a candidate average.)
This also explains a number of political effects, especially once you start looking for it in other high time commitment social activities.
1. Averages and medians have no reasons to be similar or even close.
2. "Averages" do NOT behave the same way at all in high dimension than intuition suggests. If you answer 100 questions it is expected that you will be an extreme outlier on specific dimensions even if you are average "globally".
Not that the website argues otherwise mind you.
Two big outliers I saw was that apparently everyone thinks they have more common sense than average, and also more polite than average.
Not necessarily. For instance there's:
> 77% of participants think they give less to homeless people than average.
Say most people give $0 to homeless people, but 30% of people give some. In that case 77% giving less than average may be correct.
If we were betting on average leg ownership in the US I'd bet on slightly more than 2.
Those legs came from people which had at most two of them. They don't manufacture legs or whatever.
Or if you chop them ... does the rest of the body cease to exist?
But I suppose a live person can also own a bunch of torsos. The statement however only pertained to legs.
"Typical", "likely", (etc) are all fine, but to me, "average" strongly implies "mean."
As for the implication, a statement along the lines of "the average person" will almost always be interpreted as median, not mean. For example, Jeff Bezos lives in Medina, WA, a remarkably anagrammatic suburb for this demonstration. You can probably understand why saying "the average person in Medina has a net worth of $65,000,000" is both somewhat misleading and remarkably unhelpful for pretty much any purpose you'd want that information.
Two random examples from other tabs I had open: https://direct.mit.edu/neco/article/16/3/477/6879/Mean-Insta... or
https://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(13)00798-8 Mean and average are clearly the same thing, but only via context.
In fact, I'd say that "averagING" (as a verb) almost has to be the mean; I'd find it deceptive if it were mode-finding.
You're right that people often conflate the mean and median, but I think that's more to do with underestimating the very, very long tails of some distributions.
What was the point of that?
I certainly agree that people mix them up. If you ask someone to quickly estimate the average/mean of something, you are likely to get some other location measure, like the median or mode. Some of this might be a heuristic: it's easier to mentally estimate the middle/most common item than it is to keep a running sum, and for many distributions, you get a similar answer. Some of it might be due to fogginess over the definitions. And, of course, these other summary statistics are often closer to what people regard as a `typical' value, especially if there's a long tail, so it
On the other hand, suppose we had some data like this
X=[2, 2, 2, 4, 4, 8, 16]
I've worked with a lot of different people from different backgrounds, and I don't think anyone has ever used (unadorned) average to mean something other than the mean. Perhaps your experience is different.
Alright, this is rooted in a confusion between the normal use in statistics and the normal use in human speech.
Absolutely, average-without-qualifications means the mean, if we're going to be handed a list of actual numbers and expected to produce another number from them.
But especially for highly right-tailed distributions, when people talk about the average, they mean something more like the median, if there's a significant difference.
I would find it annoyingly pedantic if someone said the average net worth in Jeff Bezos' municipality was 60mm, if the median was closer to 0.75mm. If I was handing someone an Excel spreadsheet of tax returns, I would of course tell them that we needed the median. Or the mean but in this circumstance I wouldn't use the word 'average' because of the wide skew. If I did anyway, yeah I would probably get the mean back.
That's how average works in statistics, but not in common speech.
"be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others" - Robustness principle
It's good to be precise when communicating, but in most contexts you shouldn't expect it from others.
My claim, as an actual working scientist who encounters those words a lot, is that nobody really does, outside of "Well, actually the average can be the median or mode too...."-type statements.
I'd put describing the mode as "the average" on par with giving someone a tomato and zucchini salad while describing it as "mixed berries." Not technically wrong but....
 Well, slacking scientist at the moment, but...
For me it's different, I think I'm smarter than average 77% of the time.
There are areas I am in the 1 percentile, I think I can say without exaggeration. Those areas I seem to have insights in without effort, coupled with thousands of hours of focus.
But I experience a high cost of many things I do very very badly compared to almost EVERY SINGLE PERSON I know.
I am not alone in this assessment of myself. Friends & family all agree.
My many areas of remarkable incompetence, besides occasionally causing me great shame, make it very clear to me that everyone I know or meet has something to offer, at least to me!
If you asked people if they were smarter at everything than average what would they answer?
It would be interesting to see how often those who are actually less than average said they were more and vice versa.
EDIT: you can see the full list of questions and answers as well, and it’s more interesting than just what I wrote above.
That's interesting. Most of the other ones sit somewhere in the 40%-60%, but this is the only one I've seen where most people pick the "good" trait over the bad to such a high degree. I guess this says something about Hacker News.
For example, if you go to a gym, you are probably among the weakest in the room. Simply because the strongest are more likely to be those who go to the gym the most and therefore, the ones you are most likely to encounter.
If you hit the dance floor, the same happens, and as expected, most people think they are below average dancers. In fact, the worst dancers may not dance at all, so you can't compare yourself to them.
Maybe that's the point.
Good day !
Made me laugh. Obviously skewed demographics, but entertaining nonetheless.
> Do you have a better music taste than average?
What does this even mean? How can an opinion be averaged?
> Are your feet better looking than average?
Ok, I understand what they mean but I have no opinion on that, just generally not finding feet attractive and I can honestly say I have never considered the question before. I consider it for a few moments and realize I have no values that would allow me to formulate an opinion on it. So then I fall back to, would an average foot lover find my feet more or less attractive than average? I still have no idea. So then I fall back to a meta strategy, ok if I am going to answer questions stating my opinion when I have no opinion, what should I do? Alternate answers? Always answer that I am better? Always answer that I am worse? I understand that they are interested in what the distribution is going to be after people answer the questions so someone hedging is not giving helpful information.
I decided that my strategy was to leave the website. I was curious if anyone else found being presented with a binary choice for an estimate at a continuous random variable off putting. I would have been much more willing to give a confidence interval around some abstract mean.
Not all of the questions are equally qualitative. Some are "i give more money to the homeless than average". You could theoretically measure this.
The purpose is probably just to understand peoples perceptions of themselves. (For example), i think i have better than average taste in music... after all, i meet artists and spend my free time going though new albums to find the next needle in a haystack.
Well, this is your chance then, buy a domain name and set up your website, shows us how much better you can do it, or, you know, just shut up.
I personally found the site amusing and interesting, I'd love to come back and check the statistics once a lot of people have gone through it and the sample size becomes significant. Props to the authors for developing their idea and delivering it to the world in such a simple way that I only had to click a few times to play with it, for free :D.
From a cusiosity perspective, the aversion some people (including me) seem to have towards it makes me more curious if it suffers a strong selection bias. I tried a couple of questions but couldn't actually answer a single one. I was simply incapable of formulating an opinion on the question posed. I was even incapable of choosing one of the options simple to progress. That was what I found most amusing in it: my inability to answer a seemingly easy question.
Thanks for pointing it out.
(Your GP comment was the top subthread when I posted that, which is what made me think of it.)
There's a similar, ruder, expression in fashion communities: talk shit, post fit.
Sort of unrelated aside. I recently started working with a new company and team, in a new ecosystem. I’ve found it difficult to ramp up and get productive. But the thing I’ve found most difficult is getting familiar enough to provide meaningful review.
It can take me hours of exploration to fully understand what might intersect with single line code changes. Often I’ve come back with a minor change request, even simply for clarity.
Where it relates is obviously these things are critique, but even picking nits has been hard. Not that I’m even predisposed to do so, but I’m trying to get familiar and provide value.
It turns out that effort has indeed provided value, I’ve caught mistakes just by being thorough and leaving as few stones unturned as possible.
And it’s reinforced to me that criticism and nitpicking take a lot more effort than might be obvious. Sometimes it’s quickly available based on experience, but even then that’s based on prior effort. I’m not saying it’s always welcome or appropriate. But it’s surprising to me to hear people seemingly reflexively say it’s easy.
A whole discipline (QA) is dedicated to it, and integrated disciplines (TDD, property testing) are still suspect for many.
Again, not saying it’s welcome or appropriate here to criticize or nitpick. I’m holding my tongue on several bits of feedback I wanted to say upon using the thing. But I think it’s a disservice to both the effort and value of critique to frame it as effortless and implicitly valueless.
There is always room for feedback, but please make it constructive.
This is what I call selection bias.
Or in other words, it’s not contradicting if you’re in a 70% group of people who said some answer.
No, Average is any measure of central tendency, which include all of the median, mode, and the various means (harmonic, geometric, arithmetic,...), as well as some others.
The mode is the most broadly applicable, since (at least if you accept multiple values) it is well-defined on any, even merely categorical, data. The median requires ordinal data, and the various means tend to require at least interval-level measures (some of them require ratio-level measures.)
The arithmetic mean seems to be the most common grade school mathematics “average”, possibly because its the one that does the most to exercise basic arithmetic skills. But its rarely, when distinct from the median and mode, the most useful, and often doesn’t match the intuitive understanding of “average”.
Mean, mode or median. These are mathematically distinct figures and they can be extremely different numbers.
> In descriptive statistics, the mean may be confused with the median, mode or mid-range, as any of these may be called an "average" (more formally, a measure of central tendency). The mean of a set of observations is the arithmetic average of the values...
That doesn’t make the word salad sentence used later in the article— “the mean is the arithmetic average”(emphasis added)—make any sense. Were it “the average is the arithmetic mean” it would merely be wrong, but at least make sense (and it would be making the same incorrect point it was being cited to support), but flipping “mean” and “average” so it claims that the former is the “arithmetic” version of the latter goes beyond wrong into being a pile of words that are individually sensible but don’t mean anything, right or wrong, as assembled into a sentence.
"There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies and statistics" -- Mark Twain
"Imagine you are in a room with 100 strangers, Imagine they're similar to your peers and neighbours."
It's just a fun website... don't think too much about it.
For example, that 76% of takers think they are more privileged than average is probably an underestimate, not an overestimate as you would first believe...
Yeah, given my discussions about math with people in non-technical fields, I think this answer is very skewed.
When designing cockpits using the average dimensions of pilots the US Air Force found exactly 0 pilots who were average in all 10 dimensions. Even just using 3 dimensions only 3.5% were considered “average”. Take the average dimensions of a human hand and draw that hand. Almost nobody has the dimensions of that hand.
> For a multivariate normal distribution in high dimensions, nearly all the probability mass is concentrated in a thin shell some distance away from the origin.
> The friendship paradox is the phenomenon first observed by the sociologist Scott L. Feld in 1991 that most people have fewer friends than their friends have, on average. It can be explained as a form of sampling bias in which people with more friends are more likely to be in one's own friend group. Or, said another way, one is less likely to be friends with someone who has very few friends.
> In spite of its apparently paradoxical nature, the phenomenon is real, and can be explained as a consequence of the general mathematical properties of social networks. The mathematics behind this are directly related to the arithmetic-geometric mean inequality and the Cauchy–Schwarz inequality.
> In contradiction to this, most people believe that they have more friends than their friends have.
As to whether the typical HN user would answer "yes" if asked if they are more progressive than average, however, I do also suspect they would answer "yes."
That guideline is not there because we don't know how annoying HN comments can be, but because we do know. Reacting by adding snark or denunciation to the threads just makes things even worse.
The only response that really helps, in reaction to bad or unsubstantive or obvious comments, is to post good, substantive, non-obvious ones.
What does that... even mean?
That I do it more often? More often than my partner? More quickly? More sanitarily?
I never in my life thought washing dishes was something you could be better or worse at, any more than tying your shoes...
I'm guessing other people are confused as well and just answering randomly because it's the only question I've seen with a perfect 50% split.
As such, over the course of a few summers, I have watched 100s (18 meals/week, 10 weeks/ yr, 3 years) of discrete groups of people of varying ages "wash" dishes and can confirm that there is a wide range of dishwashing skills across the following criteria:
- cleanliness (what % of dishes had to be sent back for rewashing because they were too dirty for the sterilizer)
- speed (fast groups would be done in 20-25 minutes. Slow ones could take an hour+, mostly because they would spend time complaining or arguing rather than actually washing anything)
- how much of a mess was made (sink water splashed on the floor, mostly) during the cleaning progress
And our dishes were unbreakable, but if they hadn't been, I'm sure "breakage" would have been a metric too.
edit: this is also one of the easier questions to actually have a good sense of where you stand. I don't know how often most of my peers cry, for instance, but I do know how often I visit someone's house and they have dirty dishes lying around, or they leave dishes from a dinner party or get-together in the sink for the next morning, etc.
I think the problem with this question is, you either think you're better at washing dishes, like me, or you don't care, like my housemates (and possibly you). Who thinks they are worse at it?
Some people really can be worse at washing dishes. But I'm not sure how I'd define "good" or "average".
My gut immediate instinct says yes, for me.
It's hard to articulate this stuff. As humans, we're pattern matching machines. Try not to think too hard about it.
There were some questions where I'm very confident that I'm above/below average, and others where I basically have no idea, but I had to pick something.