Political Compass

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Political Compass

Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Thu Aug 26, 2010 2:32 am

http://www.politicalcompass.org/

IMO, this is a very good test, for many reasons. The biggest reason I like it is that it provides very good rationale for why the political spectrum is not merely the one-dimensional "Left/Right" that our (US) two dysfunctional political parties want you to believe. Rather, it includes another dimension (Up/Down) between Authoritarianism and Libertariansim.

As for my result, I came out pretty much exactly where I thought:

I am 0.83 units to the right of center (just touching the center line) and
-1.85 units below the level line towards Libertarian.

Where do you fall?
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Re: Political Compass

Postby Access Denied » Fri Aug 27, 2010 4:50 am

I think it's clearly biased... towards the left. Which would explain why you ended up in the middle... :)

They “address” this and other obvious flaws in the FAQ… just like a politician would. To wit…

http://www.politicalcompass.org/faq

In some cases none of the four possible responses reflected my attitude

One expert in the field suggested that we restrict the responses to simply 'agree' and 'disagree'. But how many do you need? Ten? Twenty? If you choose the one that most nearly reflects your feeling, you'll get an accurate reading...even if it niggles.

AD: Classic straw man, how about just one more option? None of the above… the true moderate position.

You should have a "don't know" option

This makes it too easy for people to duck difficult issues. By forcing people to take a positive or negative stance, the propositions make people really evaluate their feelings. Often people find they wanted to select 'don't know' mainly because they'd never really thought about the idea.

AD: Don’t insult my intelligence and spare me the false dilemma… not everything is black or white and sometimes there are no easy answers… in which case not making a choice based on an artificially limited set of options is arguably wiser than making a possibly wrong one prematurely. Unintended consequences and all that… the road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions.

Or, as the band (not the idiot) Rush put it…

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose freewill



But hey, if taking a test makes you feel better about the decisions you’re making for others, who am I to take that away from you? :)
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Re: Political Compass

Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Fri Aug 27, 2010 4:37 pm

Clearly, they need to add a third axis to the political spectrum just to capture AD's pedantism. I believe we would call that the cynicism dimension. :wink:

No need to post your X-Y scores. Your reply makes it very clear you ain't nowhere near the center. :) What is surprising is that, your trashing of their model (which they admit to the problems with), without pointing to or creating one that does a better job, would seem to put you all the way down in the Libertarian camp on their vertical axis... and I never considered you much of a Libertarian.

But I agree, it is always easier and more comfortable to be the critic than to be the creator. I do it too!
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Re: Political Compass

Postby Access Denied » Sat Aug 28, 2010 7:19 pm

Fair enough, try this one then and let me know what you think...

Electoral Compass USA
http://www.electoralcompass.com/

It put me close to the center in the SW quadrant (with a fairly large ellipse indicating a high standard deviation… my answers are “inconsistent” and “differ mutually” according to the FAQ) just a little to towards the "Economic Left" (no doubt because of my position on healthcare) and a little down towards "Social Conservative - Traditional" (because I’m still “clinging” to my guns but not my religion? lol) and it actually said I was closer to McCain than Obama on the issues. Go figure...

Note Wikipedia has this to say about the “Political Compass” site you linked to…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_compass

The Politicalcompass.org website does not reveal the people behind it beyond the fact that it seems to be based in the UK. According to the New York Times, the site is the work of Wayne Brittenden, a political journalist.[1] According to Tom Utley, writing in the Daily Telegraph, the site is connected to One World Action, a charity founded by Glenys Kinnock, and to Kinnock herself.[6] An early version of the site was published on One World Action's web server.[7]

The website does not explain its scoring system in detail and some writers have criticised its validity while others have treated it more as a form of entertainment than a rigorous analysis.[8][6][9][4]

The site I linked to above seems more relevant to the issues currently being debated here in the US… albeit circa preelection. Note also that it includes “neutral” and “no opinion” options like any survey that wants be considered the least bit scientific should have…

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Re: Political Compass

Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:53 pm

Access Denied wrote:Fair enough, try this one then and let me know what you think...

Electoral Compass USA
http://www.electoralcompass.com/


Very good. Now, are you willing to be fair and point out the (obvious) problems with this version of the political compass? (Or should I do that?) I accept that the one I offered does not have a "neutral" or a "no opinion" vote in its test. Fair point. But I am not sure why where the test comes from matters in assessing one's political bent, especially since political compass is not trying to narrowly fit someone into a "USA political landscape" (hint: That is one of the most obvious problems of the electoral compass "test"). I would assume that you would agree that a human's political stance can be (and should be) assessed outside any political implementation within which they may live (forcibly or otherwise)?

So there you go. You now have an opportunity to show you are a centrist with balanced criticism of the site you offered. I hope you don't mess it up. :)

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Re: Political Compass

Postby Access Denied » Mon Aug 30, 2010 7:01 am

Ray, you do realize the “Political Compass” you linked to puts you (roughly)…

Left/Right Axis
1 unit away from Biden
1.5 units away from Obama
5 units away from Palin
6 units away from McCain

Libertarian/Authoritarian Axis
4 units away from Biden
5 units away from Obama
8 units away from McCain
10 units away from Palin

Who knew you have a LOT more in common with Obama and the Left than you do with the Right?

Does Rush Limbaugh and Fox News know about this? :D

I think you better explain to me the “obvious problems” in the version I linked to because I’m not seeing it…

I agree it refelcts our (too) "narrow" political landscape however you sided with McCain/Palin and the Right on every issue we debated here during the election and after. Seems to me either you were being deliberately contrarian or you have to admit that whoever’s behind the “Political Compass” has as a hidden agenda or bias "programmed in" that doesn’t accurately reflect your political views.
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Re: Political Compass

Postby ryguy » Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:05 pm

You Can Call Me Ray wrote:But I agree, it is always easier and more comfortable to be the critic than to be the creator.


Damn...that's a really good quote, Ray. I'm going to steal that, although I will give you credit. :-)
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Re: Political Compass

Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Tue Aug 31, 2010 3:45 pm

Access Denied wrote:Ray, you do realize the “Political Compass” you linked to puts you (roughly)…

Left/Right Axis
1 unit away from Biden
1.5 units away from Obama
5 units away from Palin
6 units away from McCain

Libertarian/Authoritarian Axis
4 units away from Biden
5 units away from Obama
8 units away from McCain
10 units away from Palin


Extremely sloppy, AND misleading, AD. But rest assured, I know you will never admit it. Instead, let me point out the things you choose to not point out about these assessments you cite above:

1) The people in question never took the "political compass" test. Or at least, if they did, they did not release their results to politicalcompass.org. Evidence:

http://www.politicalcompass.org/uselection2008

This chart was constructed on the basis of the speeches, public statements and , crucially, the voting records of each of the candidates. During the election campaign, we'll be tweaking their positions as, inevitably, some of them change. We'll also be adding other charts as the campaign continues.


Hence, these charts represent someone else's interpretations of how these people would answer the questions of the test, and thus are, at best, projections of where they MAY fall on the political compass. But you didn't seem to think that was important to report in your citation, I guess?

2) In just the two charts they show on the above page, for two different time periods during the 2008 campaign, we see fairly significant shifts on the plot, especially for McCain. And Barack Obama and Joe Biden seem to swap positions on the authoritarian/libertarian scale. Evidence:

For those who are interested, we include here our earlier chart showing most of the candidates from the Primaries. Observant readers will notice shifts in the positions of Biden, Obama and McCain.


And this exposes the major problem that is embedded in the site you linked to, primarily with the set of questions related to photos of the major political figures from the US 2008 presidential campaign. Politicians are slimy people that are invariably difficult to pin down, because of the fact that they want to position themselves as all things to all people. And this responds to your point:

I think you better explain to me the “obvious problems” in the version I linked to because I’m not seeing it…


The point of a "political compass" test should be to estimate your political stance without regard to the machinations of political personalities that try to make themselves "all things to all people." Hence, the serious flaw in the test you cited is that this test clearly attempts to "pigeonhole" the test taker into a "Republican" or "Democrat" box. There is really no way you can deny this (although I know you well enough to know you will try) when they blatantly are asking questions about how you feel about those candidates, what their intelligence level is, etc. A political compass test should NOT be a "beauty contest" or a "popularity contest" about someone else. It should be a means to assess you, the test taker. As such, I answered every single one of those questions with "no opinion", which makes them pretty much useless (as they should be).

Furthermore, to more fully point out the problems, even if you look at the questions that preceded the "political popularity contest" questions, you will notice that every single one of those questions were merely "hot button" issues raised by the two parties during the course of that campaign. In other words, once again, they are trying to test your "sidedness" with respect to a biased set of questions that were basically formed by the two political parties as their "defining issues" for the campaign. Bias, bias, bias. Bad, bad, bad.

As a result of how I answered the questions at the site you suggested (with copious use of the "no opinon" and "neutral" options), my position on the chart is statistically the same as on the political compass (even though the vertical axis is defined differently). I still am just barely right of the vertical line, and about 2 units below the horizontal line. Given the biased nature of your test, that would tell me that I am not easily taken-in by party machinations of how they present their "defining issues". IOW, I see it for what it is, and ignore it.

Who knew you have a LOT more in common with Obama and the Left than you do with the Right?


And yet, I am still on the OPPOSITE side of the Authoritarian/Libertarian divide from all of them. This tends to say more about politicians than it might say about me. Moreover, because the political compass is NOT trying to pigeonhole testers into the US Repub/Dem boxes, I view it is a more true assessment of inherent political leanings because of the very fact that ALL of the most popular US politicians show up on the right side of the vertical line. I think there is little argument that, on the whole as a country, even the liberal politicians know they cannot win a majority by appearing to be the far-left wacky people that are Kucinich, Nader, and McKinney.

Proof of this can be seen by simply looking at the charts for the UK 2010 General Election:

http://www.politicalcompass.org/ukparties2010

Now, contrary to the "crowding" of the upper-right quadrant in the USA 2008 chart, here we see a more balanced left-right spread. And we know this to be true of the UK, and Europe in general... there are more people and politicians therein that espouse a truly left-leaning philosophy. Something the savvy left politicians in the USA know they cannot get away with exhibiting, so they craft theior political image to try and match the people they need votes from.

I agree it refelcts our (too) "narrow" political landscape however you sided with McCain/Palin and the Right on every issue we debated here during the election and after.


And again, this is a remnant of how the two political parties lay out their issues. Within the context of "the issues" as framed by the two parties (no other party can even get a foothold), I am primarily going to side with the Repubs(on most, but not ALL issues as you say), because I see the arguments of the Dems as "more fundamentally flawed" than the Repubs. It is relative to the game that they have setup.

To make my point differently: Did you ever ask me about my opinion on stem cell research and/or abortion? No. These were not "framing issues" laid out by the parties as part of their strategy. Why? Because they are not polarizing enough! Repubs KNOW that part of their base actually supports stem cell research... probably a heck of a lot more of their base supports this than supports the right to have an abortion. And yet, there are people who espouse right-leaning views for economic purposes and DO NOT subscribe to the Repub's religious-dominated view on the abortion issue.

or you have to admit that whoever’s behind the “Political Compass” has as a hidden agenda or bias "programmed in" that doesn’t accurately reflect your political views.


Baloney. I think I have pointed out above just where the real bias lives... and it is on the site/test that you suggested. Once the questions are formed as specifically related to Party Personalities, and the "framing issues" that the Partys themselves put forward on their campaign platforms, it is hard to deny the bias actually exists on the site you suggested.

But again, I know you will never admit it...even though it is as plain as day!
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Re: Political Compass

Postby Access Denied » Wed Sep 01, 2010 5:14 am

Nice rebuttal Ray, however...

You Can Call Me Ray wrote:Hence, these charts represent someone else's interpretations of how these people would answer the questions of the test, and thus are, at best, projections of where they MAY fall on the political compass.

My point exactly, the whole thing is an interpretation of left/right, authoritarian/libertarian from the perspective of someone far removed (for better or worse) from the political climate here in the US…

That doesn’t make it necessarily “better” or “wrong”… it’s just different, and as such, I don’t find it particularly relevant or particularly helpful, sorry.

It is interesting though and I thank you for posting it.

You Can Call Me Ray wrote:In other words, once again, they are trying to test your "sidedness" with respect to a biased set of questions that were basically formed by the two political parties as their "defining issues" for the campaign. Bias, bias, bias. Bad, bad, bad.

I disagree, I think it’s a (not the most) helpful (nor the only) tool for gauging where someone stands on the issues as defined by, and in relation to, the candidates/parties during our last presidential election. It’s not “biased” in the sense that the creators of the tool didn’t pick the issues and positions… they are what they are and it is what it is for better or worse.

That said, I agree our current two party systems, as practiced by career politicians, doesn’t serve to form a representative government that’s accountable to, or responsive to, the people… as I believe our founding fathers intended. Apathy rules the day I’m afraid. Far too many are content to vote (or argue lol) based solely on which side of the left/right paradigm they’ve knowingly or unwittingly allowed themselves to become firmly entrenched in…

Anyone know where to find the reset button? :(
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