Graphing Human Uniqueness

Nautilus readers vote on what they think makes humans special.

Throughout this issue, we’ve explored the question of whether humans are unique, and if so, in what ways. In one interactive piece, “The Vocabulary of Our Uniqueness,” we asked readers which words best described what makes us special. And here are the results.

Readers cast 1,234 votes for 56 different terms, which we have grouped together thematically (and subjectively). This is obviously not a rigorously precise survey, but it’s enough to give a general snapshot of how people think of the question.

The number one choice turned out to be “science,” which also included the terms “math” and “astronomy,” but not “technology” and “medicine,” which we grouped under “tools.” The science category received 144 votes, or 12 percent of the total. After that came culture, positive human relations (like “love” and “cooperation”), imagination, philosophy, and negative human relations (like “arrogance” and “war”). The full graph is below.

One thing that might be inferred from these results is that launching a new magazine on science, culture, and philosophy is a good way to address the things that make humans special, and may therefore be of great interest to them.

What do you make of the data?

Chart by Nicholas Garber