June 11, 2009

Try this at home - your political compass

If you've ever wanted to plot your political leanings, there's a website that allows you to answer a few questions in under 10 minutes and it will plot your political leaning between liberal and conservative, and between authoritarian and libertarian.

Try it out for fun. The link is HERE.

However, a word of caution. You are your own best political thermometer. I wouldn't take their results too seriously because the underlying weighting and result interpretation seems to be somewhat subjective. The reason I suspect that can be explained in the following two graphs.

Here's one for some Historical figures;

While Stalin and Hitler look about right, I'm quite sure they never actually took this quiz. Therefore, someone has mapped their positions via an analysis of their results. It might be good for comparative purposes for people, but to portray them as accurate mappings is not exactly reasonable. Furthermore, I'd like to see the scoring that put Margaret Thatcher where she is on that graph. It seems a bit heavy towards the authoritarian side.

The reason I question these is not to quibble with specific results but rather to question the political bent of the creator(s) and the methodologies of interpreting the results.

Here's an even better example;

According to the graph every Republican is to the right of every Democrat (Mike Gravel, being an odd outlier). There's no surprise there. But here's where I take issue with this scoring;

1. Every conservative seems to score as more authoritarian than their liberal counterparts. That's VERY odd considering conservatives argue for smaller government, more individual liberty and more personal responsibility. Further, looking at the politics of President Obama since coming into office, he certainly has run an interventionist, and heavy handed government. Yet by this graph we are supposed to believe not only that all Democrats are less authoritarian than all Republicans but that Obama was one of the least authoritarian-minded of the Democrats. Not credible.

2. Every Democrat candidate was to the right of center except for Kucinich? Also not credible. . Sure, they are less left than Stalin, but to the right of center? It just doesn't compute. Liberals are sure to look to something like this for validation that they really are centrist, but it doesn't work if the tool they are using has an inherent bias built into it. Which brings me back to the question of how Stalin was scored and how different is that from the Obama score.

You might be thinking I scored badly and am upset with my personal result. To the contrary, I'm almost okay with it and here it is for your consideration;

According to this I'm on par with Fred Thompson in terms of the left-right scale. I find that assessment somewhat plausible, but out of that list of candidates I would have chosen Newt Gingrich to represent me. As for the libertarian leaning, I'm sure I was on the right side of the line there, but I'd definitely have expected to be a little bit further towards the bottom of the chart. Still, it was fun to try.

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