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My Political Compass Score:

I retook the Political Compass questionnaire tonight, and scored fairly libertarian: 7.38 on the economic left/right axis, and -2.92 on the social libertarian/authoritarian axis.

Like others, I have problems with the test. Among other things, some of the questions seem to presume that if one holds that a given practice or activity is immoral or unethical, it is appropriate for the state to intervene. Yet I reject this view. There are activities, both economic and social, that I believe to be wrong, yet should remain perfectly legal. Therefore, I question the relevance of questions about one's moral views in a test that purports to measure one's political views.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. My Political Compass Score:
  2. Another political compass test:
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
The ultimate flaw with the test is the assumption that one's place on the economic axis has no bearing on one's authoritarian bent. Hence it is possible to be a libertarian socialist. The World's Smallest Political Quiz properly defines both the economic and noneconomic scales in terms of statism vs. liberty.
1.11.2007 12:08am
Pseudo-Polymath (mail) (www):
Trackback didn't seem to work. I've linked and remarked on this here.
1.11.2007 12:50am
Jeremy T:
I was surprised that the test puts me at +3 and +3 for both scales.

I consider myself to be strongly libertarian. One of the problems I had with the test is that it associates opposition to abortion with authoritarianism.

But plenty of libertarians are pro-life, and they aren't any less libertarian for it. If one views a fetus as a human being deserving of rights, one is generally pro-life. The question of whether a fetus is a person deserving of rights is not a question answered by the political philosophy of libertarianism.

The question about consenting adults in bedrooms is problematic too. I think the state obviously should prevent adult brothers and sisters from having sex. So apparently being anti-incest makes you an authoritarian.
1.11.2007 2:11am
E:
With all due respect, Jeremy T., it seems that that's one of the things it got right.

If you'd like to argue that brothers and sisters shouldn't be able to reproduce, that's another story entirely. But simply having sex? You're an evil authortarian who hates liberty and freedom if you're trying to ban it.
1.11.2007 2:43am
E:
I should clarify that the ad-hominem portion of my comment was a joke.

However, it's still a fair point - what's not authortarian about disallowing incest?
1.11.2007 2:44am
NicholasV (mail) (www):
I'm attempting to answer the survey, I'm curious where it will place me.. but I find it really difficult to answer questions where either I am totally against both of the possible answers, or where I think the question is based on a flawed premise.

I also don't like the fact that I can't answer "neutral" to any questions.

For example.. "Our race has many superior qualities, compared with other races."

What is our race? I'm from a mixed background. Are they asking me whether mongrels are superior to non-mongrels? I don't even really consider myself to be part of some race. Does "white" count as a race, anyway?

Another example... "No one chooses his or her country of birth, so it's foolish to be proud of it." What if there are other reasons to be proud of it? I agree it's slightly but not totally foolish to be proud of it ONLY because it is where you were born - but what if there are other reasons? Maybe it's just poorly worded. (BTW despite it being a "sin" I think pride can have some positive effects, so I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing even if the reasons behind it are weak.. but that doesn't make the question any easier to answer).

Another example... "Military action that defies international law is sometimes justified." Shouldn't they first ask me whether I think "international law" really exists? This question seemed to be based on the premise that it does, but who gets to define what international law is? Who enforces it? The same people who are "breaking" it? That makes the question very hard to answer.


I really wonder what kind of person or group came up with these questions.


Anyway for what it's worth, I answered all the questions as best I could and got 0/-3.33 for Libertarian. That's where I would have put myself anyway. So I guess it sort of works, although this is only one data point.
1.11.2007 6:46am
anonVCfan:
I also have very, very serious objections to the methods of these quizzes. I took the which Muppet are you quiz, and the which canon of statutory interpretation are you quiz, and I just don't think I can ever take another internet quiz again. My confidence has been shattered. I always assumed that these things were designed by social scientists working with computer scientists, and using algorithms designed to probe the core of my being with a nuanced understanding of politics, morality, and Muppets.

After several bad experiences, I have to conclude that the only criterion in place for posting a quiz on the internet is having web space and a working knowledge of how to make a website. I'm flabbergasted, to say the least.
1.11.2007 6:58am
FantasiaWHT:
Big problem I have with this quiz in particular is that many times I felt that the reason I strongly agreed or disagreed with a statement was unrelated with whatever it was they were trying to measure. There are more than one reasons to agree/disagree with many of those statements that don't always mean the same thing. I wound up dead center economic and slightly authoritarian, and I would not agree with that at all.
1.11.2007 8:20am
liberty (mail) (www):
Yes, I like the World's Smallest quiz. I come out perfect libertarian (100% agreement).
1.11.2007 8:33am
Fingerprint File (mail):
I'm Gandhi apparently. -1.75/-5.44 More liberal each day. Thank you law school.
1.11.2007 9:01am
JB:
The World's Smallest Political Quiz also has problems, namely going to extremes and not distinguishing between ideal and practical outcomes (i.e, I'm not in favor of cutting the government by 50% because I think that's impractical as a 1-line statement of policy to implement right away, but the test seemed to think that that meant I wouldn't be happy even if there was a practical way to get there).
1.11.2007 9:17am
Jeremy T:

However, it's still a fair point - what's not authortarian about disallowing incest?


This nation was founded upon the principle that some truths are self-evident. That's as far as I'm willing to go in the debate.
1.11.2007 10:16am
JB:
EDIT: "Would you like it better if government were 50% smaller?" is different from "Would you vote to see government shrink 50% tomorrow, if you had the chance?" Retaken with a different spin on the questions, it produced results more in line with my self-definition.
1.11.2007 10:34am
LeftLeaningVolokhReader:
Based on the results, it seems like a pretty accurate description of Prof. Adler.
1.11.2007 10:43am
liberty (mail) (www):
It only says "Cut taxes and government spending by 50% or more" - are you in favor or not? It doesn't say that it would happen overnight or whether it would be easily implemented on any given timeline.

It is to distinguish between those who think that government should expand to offer more services, those who think its perfect as is, and those who ultimately would like to see it shrink by 50% or more.
1.11.2007 10:58am
JosephSlater (mail):
With the huge grain of salt that AnonVCfan so amusingly notes we should take this with, it turns out I'm a left-libertarian on the original test, and a liberal on the "World's smallest political quiz." Now I'm off to see what muppet I am.
1.11.2007 11:10am
Spartacus (www):
"Jeremy T:

However, it's still a fair point - what's not authortarian about disallowing incest?



This nation was founded upon the principle that some truths are self-evident. That's as far as I'm willing to go in the debate."

I didn't notice incewst mentioned in the Preamble to the Declaration fo Independence. You can shut yourself off from debate on the issue if you want (though you raised it), but, although I'm uncertain how I feel about the issue, I don't see why it is "self-evident" that incest is so wrong that it should be prohibited by law, which means, punishable by force--that is always the question I ask when considering whether a law is just; whetehr I woudl support throwing someone in jail (eitehr for breaking the law, or failing to pay the fine) for doing it. Some adult brother and sister having sex with each other--I honestly couldn't care less what they do. Now, if it were my kids, I'd care, but I wouldnt' want them locked up. So what is so self evident about this?
1.11.2007 11:18am
David Chesler (mail) (www):
What others have said. Too many "always" or "never" with which I have to strongly disagree. Was the personal racial superiority right after generic national pride a push question? Which axis, and how, did that impact?
I'm tired of seeing Madonna in her underwear, and Brittany out of hers -- but that's just my opinion, not something I'd enforce on others.

Lots of questions on the early pages about corporations, many of which were irrelevant to policy. (Is privatizing [excuse me, privatising] the Commons a regulation?)

Shouldn't there be at least three axes? One for fiscal (that was their right/left I think), one for authoritarian (and I always pass the World's Smallest Quiz), and another for tastes, measuring that I have become an old fart even faster than merely standing my ground while time moves forward would suggest.

In any case, I scored 3.63 - 1.90i (and I'm usually a 1965 Mustang, a Gingerbread house, I prefer pickles to cucumbers, tastes great to less filling, and Charybdis to Scylla.)
1.11.2007 11:30am
Spitzer:
One could argue that "social liberals" (see this chart's X axis) have their own tastes and preferences, and actually exhibit little tolerance for behaviors outside their "accepted" range. It is one thing to say that one believes, e.g., abortion to be a free choice, but it is entirely different to say that one tolerates or approves of ALL behaviors. Therefore this chart defines "authoritarians" not as people who like to exercise authority over others - or to have authority exercised over them - but as people who prefer a particular range of behaviors while actively disapproving behaviors outside the preferred range - this is the same as the definition of social liberals and, thus, the chart depicts a set of policy preferences (with names attached according to the whims of the day) rather than a deeper philosophy of government's role in the community.
1.11.2007 12:48pm
Elliot Reed:
Or consider ordinary syntactic ambiguity. Consider "It is a waste of time to try to rehabilitate some criminals." Does that mean "there are some criminals who it's a waste of time to try to rehabilitate" or "trying to rehabilitate criminals is a waste of time" (since any rehabilitation program involves trying to rehabilitate some criminals)? In other words, is it asking me whether I think everyone can be rehabilitated or whether I support trying to rehabilitate anyone? I support the general idea of rehabilitation but I'm quite sure it would have been a waste of time to try to rehabilitate, say, Saddam Hussein. Do I pick 'support' or 'oppose'?
1.11.2007 1:10pm
David W Drake (mail):
I agree with Elliott Reed--too many compound questions, misleading premises, etc. made it hard to fit myself into the quiz. I scored just about in the center. Right on the horizontal axis in the authoritarian/libertarian, and just slightly right on the economic axis. But that's probably because, based on a close reading of the questions and my confusion about how I would characterize my views (e.g., the question about "my race"), my answers were almost random.
1.11.2007 1:59pm
shawn (mail):
Therefore, I question the relevance of questions about one's moral views in a test that purports to measure one's political views.

This position is prescriptive--a person's morals should not affect their political views.

But the quibble with the test can be seen as a strength. People's political views are very much affected by their morals, whether they should be or not.
1.11.2007 3:06pm
Ken Arromdee:
However, it's still a fair point - what's not authortarian about disallowing incest?

The author's obvious intent was to give different scores to people who want to ban homosexuality, bondage, extramarital sex, etc. and people who don't. The question clearly doesn't measure what the author wants it to measure.

The fact that what it does measure is still authoritarian doesn't change this, since the author wouldn't weigh all forms of authoritarianism equally in producing the final result.
1.11.2007 4:00pm
John M. Perkins (mail):
While I disliked the style of questions, particularly the lack of a middle choice, they are interesting behaviorial questions, if unacceptible cognitive questions.

More fun are all the self-proclaimed libertarians who have different scores than other self-proclaimed libertarians. Can all y'all blame it on the questions if all y'all answered the same questions? Can the different difficulties interpreting the questions justify the different plottings?

It's a rough tool, but one that may teach all y'all the subjective skills of distinguishing and analyzing instead of running that mythical libertarian horse on all four of its legs.
1.11.2007 4:39pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
More fun are all the self-proclaimed libertarians who have different scores than other self-proclaimed libertarians. Can all y'all blame it on the questions if all y'all answered the same questions?

Q. Orange is my favorite color.
Strongly disagree: -3 on the vertical axis
Disagree: -1 on the vertical axis
Agree: +1 on the vertical axis
Strongly agree: +3 on the vertical axis

Q. It takes longer to go to New York than to take by train.
Strongly disagree: ....

And then consider the questions where can be parsed differently.
1.11.2007 5:16pm
jps:

This nation was founded upon the principle that some truths are self-evident. That's as far as I'm willing to go in the debate.


I think you missed the boat on the difference between authoritarianism and libertarianism. A libertarian and an authoritarian can very easily believe that the same things are right and wrong - it's the extent of the government's role in enforcing social mores that they disagree on. But from your comment, it would almost appear that you think libertarians necessarily believe that incest is morally OK.
1.11.2007 7:02pm
Shelby (mail):
However, it's still a fair point - what's not authortarian about disallowing incest?

This nation was founded upon the principle that some truths are self-evident. That's as far as I'm willing to go in the debate.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are ... Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

If you'll concede that "all men" means "all human beings," without limitation as to siblinghood, isn't incest a human right? At least, if engaged in in the pursuit of happiness? Or am I only able to ask this because I lack a sibling of the appropriate sex?
1.11.2007 7:51pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
Perhaps the question should be phrased like this: Does government prohibition of incest create more ngative consequences than governnment indifference toward incest?
1.12.2007 12:08am
Ken Arromdee:
Perhaps the question should be phrased like this: Does government prohibition of incest create more ngative consequences than governnment indifference toward incest?

Give me a break. The author wrote that question to ask about "privacy of one's home" sexual practices that are actually the source of controversy today. The fact that it's worded so as to include incest is simply a mistake; it wasn't meant to be about incest, and any rephrasing should eliminate the incest angle completly, not emphasize it.
1.12.2007 12:50am
Frater Plotter:
By and large, I agree with the goals of the test and the position it places me: 4.38 by -6.97 -- in the "right-wing libertarian" quadrant, but much further towards anarchism than towards the right wing. That area is inhabited by no listed politicians. According to their chart, it's more or less diametrically opposed to Robert Mugabe. I'm comfortable there; I think that describes my position pretty well.

Why am I comfortable there? Because to me, libertarianism is all about resistance to evil ... where "evil" is best understood as domination over others. A corrupt racist communist dictator like Mugabe is, to me, just an exaggerated parody of the way all governments tend to behave anyhow. Why are there no politicians in my sector? Because people like me are profoundly anti-political; that is, opposed to the use of domination to accomplish goals.
1.12.2007 2:12am