Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

How Liberal Are You?

Not the greatest litmus test, but kinda fun and interesting. I’m more conservative than I thought. I was sure I’d get “Raving Atheist Baby-Eating Level Liberal”……..

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Social Issues: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Comments

  1. #1 chet snicker
    December 6, 2006

    50% on fiscal issues? looks like you’re a rightist neo-liberal huh?

  2. #2 darius
    December 6, 2006

    Ugh, I can’t even get halfway through that quiz. Most of the questions don’t have any answer I’m even partially comfortable with.

  3. #3 Kristjan Wager
    December 6, 2006

    Overall: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
    Social Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
    Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
    Fiscal Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
    Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
    Defense and Crime: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

    Most of the questions were pretty bad.

  4. #4 Dave Munger
    December 6, 2006

    I agree with Darius (though I finished the quiz out of curiosity). I’d rather see more “middle ground.” If I have to choose left – right, I’m typically more comfortable with the far left, but basically I’m in the middle.

  5. #5 John Giotta
    December 6, 2006

    The wording of the test seems a bit biased. As if you’re weighing the authors opinions and not your own.
    For example, on social security “Can easily be fixed by making the rich and employers pay more”. Its not even an intelligent option, more like conservative talking point.

  6. #6 Shelley Batts
    December 6, 2006

    I think you guys are taking it a bit too seriously. Yeah the test sucks, its just kinda a fun way to kill time. I wonder if there’s a really a *good* liberal v. conservative test? It would be difficult to make it pithy and fair…..

  7. #7 darius
    December 6, 2006

    I wasn’t taking it seriously, I just couldn’t pick answers that I even remotely agreed with.

    Realistically, the left-right scale doesn’t really work anyway (since a large percentage of the population is liberal economically and conservative socially, or vice versa). Actually part of this is because the “classical” definitions of liberal and conservative have been dropped, and the meanings of the terms have changed somewhat.

    There’s the self-described “World’s Smallest Political Quiz at http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html. It incorporates the concept of social vs. economic liberalism / conservatism.

  8. #8 Alon Levy
    December 6, 2006

    Darius, that quiz is designed to make everyone look like a libertarian, just like Political Compass is built to make individuals look more libertarian-socialist than governments and politicians. It’s a standard radical tactic: use trivial statements to make your ideology seem perfectly reasonable, and then pull a bait-and-switch and advocate insane policies.

  9. #9 darius
    December 7, 2006

    I disagree about the quiz’s design. First of all, historically speaking (since the quiz has been around since the 1970s) it does not make everyone look like a libertarian (more like 20% of people).

    Second, you may notice it is in fact quite different than the Political Compass, which asks esoteric philosophical questions with the most neutral answers being agree or disagree, and has questions worded in a way that most reasonable people would agree (“It is regrettable that many personal fortunes are made by people who simply manipulate money and contribute nothing to their society.”) The world’s smallest political quiz (with apparently the world’s longest quiz title) asks questions about issues, not philosophy, with — at least to me — little to no bias in the wording.

    I wrote a bunch more, but since this is Shelley’s blog, not mine, I decided to not post it. I will say briefly, though, that maybe you didn’t read the quiz thoroughly if you think the more radical libertarian philosophies are not mentioned. Look again at questions 1-4 and 7-10, you may notice that nobody who truly follows either the Democratic or Republican agends could in honesty answer yes to all of those.

  10. #10 Mike
    December 7, 2006

    I prefer the Political Compass, myself. Apart from anything else, they give you four options (Strongly disagree, disagree, agree and strongly agree), and the questions are a bit better

  11. #11 Kristjan Wager
    December 7, 2006

    The world’s smallest political quiz (with apparently the world’s longest quiz title) asks questions about issues, not philosophy, with — at least to me — little to no bias in the wording.

    Not only is there some bias, there is certainly uncertainty. Let’s go forth one by one:

    Government should not censor speech, press, media or Internet

    Hmmmm…. Does this include child porn? Making threaths? Libel? Censor carry such a negative bias, doesn’t it?

    Military service should be voluntary. There should be no draft

    Are we talking now? In all future? During WWII? If the later, I feel that a draft could be justified, but as the world looks right now, I think military service should be voluentary, though it’s not a hot buttons issue for me (as long as war duty is voluntary).
    However, voluntary is such a nice positively sounded word.

    There should be no laws regarding sex for consenting adults

    Please define “consenting adults.” Does a mentally retarded, but physical adult eprson count? If yes, why only adults, and not everybody?
    While consenting is not heavily biased, it has a nice positive sound to it.

    Repeal laws prohibiting adult possession and use of drugs

    All drugs? What type of possession are we talking about? Are we talking about the dealer with 50kg crack? Or are we talking enough only for private use? Should crack really be considered at the same level as marihuana?
    Fairly neutral in sound, this sentence.

    There should be no National ID card

    Are passports national ID cards? If no, why not? If yes, wouldn’t this mean that a no, is a yes for open borders?
    Quite neutral in sound as well.

    End “corporate welfare.” No government handouts to business

    Does this include government contractors? Research projects funded by the state? What exactly is “government handouts”?
    Corporate welfare and government handouts certainly sounds like something we want to stop though, doesn’t it?

    End government barriers to international free trade

    Is this related to the drugs mentioned above? or the lack of passports? Again, not a very precise statement is it? What “government barriers”? Barriers are bad though, we all know that.

    Let people control their own retirement; privatize Social Security

    Can people also control the bond market and inflation to ensure that their money is worth something when they want to retire?
    Control is bad when other do it to you and your things, but it’s good when you get to do it over your own life and things. Privatize sounds postive or negative, depending upon the listener.

    Replace government welfare with private charity

    Sounds interesting – how is this going to be done, in practical terms? For example, will the surplus charity from the people in the richer parts of the country go to the people in the poorer parts of the country? Or is it going to be up to private people or organizations to decide who gets the charity? If the first, then how is it different from a tax-based system, if the later, then it’s not a replacement, but a dismandling of welfare, with the hope that private charities somehow will pick it up.

    When the relatively small (compared to the economy) foreign aid given by the US is brought up, it is often countered by somebody mentioning that US citizens gives a lot in private donnations, and thus the US as a whole gives more than it would appear. Unfortunately, the simple fact is, that the total of the US foreign aid and private charity is well below the norm for western countries, bot when messured per capita and in comparision to the GNP.

    In other words, dismandling welfare, and letting private charity take over doesn’t seem to work. So the question makes some kind of false equivalent between the two systems.

    Government welfare has a negative ring to it these days, though welfare sounds nice, as does charity. Let’s make this a neutral statement.

    Cut taxes and government spending by 50% or more

    Do we get to choose what spending is cut? I ask, because in all surveys I’ve seen on the issue, while people readily agree to cut taxes (in the US at least, not necessarily so outside the US), when asked to take say which programs they want to cut, they often end up not cutting much.
    Spending is bad, but can be fun – not done by the government though.

  12. #12 darius
    December 8, 2006

    You can’t ask a question without words. The words you object to are necessary.

    Censor — this is what’s being done, and the policy that many people object to. What would you prefer? “The government shouldn’t selectively force removal of items that it deems offensive?” In any case, child porn is not illegal because of decency laws, it’s illegal because of child endangerment laws. Libel is a tort issue, and is punishable because of damage. Threats are similarly covered. None of those have to do with censorship.

    Voluntary — that’s what is meant… what term would you prefer? It is either voluntary or it is not. I’m not sure there is a better term out there for this, maybe choice? Would that really change it that much?

    Drugs — Yes, it refers to all drugs. That is exactly what the question asks. Maybe it could say “all drugs” as opposed to just “drugs”, but common English usage implies the term “all” if specific ones are not mentioned. People who think the government should prohibit crack use would answer “no.” Incidentally, by the way, your question about the crack dealer is somewhat irrelevant — if crack were legal, then there wouldn’t be the same kind of crack dealers there are now; you would make your purchases at a store.

    Consenting adults — this is referring specifically to the myriad of laws in this country regarding the illegality of gay sex, oral sex, anal sex. Consenting means they have to be able to give consent (i.e. if someone is mentally handicapped to the point where they do not understand what consent is, no, they would not be consenting). Generally children below a certain age are considered incapable of consent, because they do not truly understand the consequences.

    Passports are not generally considered to be a national ID card because you are not required by law to obtain one (unless you travel out of country). There have been proposals for many years to have a mandatory national ID card, this is what is being referred to.

    Corporate welfare, government handouts — remember how the government gave billions of dollars to airlines after 9/11? That’s a government handout. Basically what this means is that if a business is not profitable, the government should not keep it afloat by giving it free money. The only profitable airline at the time was Southwest. There is a serious problem if your business will go bankrupt if no sales are made for a period of two weeks. There are other businesses that receive subsidies, tax breaks, etc. on a regular basis.

    Control / privatize — again, this is simply what it means. You’re right in one thing: people look at it differently. Which is why they would answer this (and any other question) differently, depending on their viewpoint. This is how the quiz works.

    Government welfare — the word government is included because it is the specific type of welfare that is being questioned. Do you honestly think anyone taking the quiz is thinking, “Gee, I want to end government welfare, but let’s keep the welfare checks that come to people’s mailboxes as if by magic”? Anyway, whether or not private charity can replace government welfare is part of the question; if you don’t think it can, then answer no to the question.

    spending — are you serious? What would you prefer? “Cut taxes and government giving out money for services and goods by 50% or more”? The word spending does not create a bias here. The answer to your question is that most likely all programs will need to face cuts. The reason the 50% is included is because while most people will agree to cut spending, they will balk (as you said) at cutting much. This is actually one of the questions that was put in specifically to distinguish between libertarian-thinking people and other groups, as most democrats and republicans will not agree to such an extreme number.

    Anyway, I don’t see any terms that you’ve included that indicate a bias. A biased question would be one that is difficult to answer in a way other than what the asker desires. Let me give you an example of how a couple of those questions could be made to have a libertarian bias:
    “I believe in free speech”
    “I believe the government spends too much on things that are unnecessary”

    Or, they could be biased in another direction:
    “More needs to be done to protect children from obscene programming”
    “I think that cutting government spending too much would be a mistake”

    The way the questions are worded currently allows you to answer according to what you believe about the issues. That’s what a political placement quiz should do.

    And in other news, I’d like to apologize to Shelley for the long comment. I probably shouldn’t have gotten into this to begin with.

  13. #13 Kristjan Wager
    December 8, 2006

    Obviously you can’t see why some people think that the quiz’s wording is biased and filled with uncertaincy, but you fail to understand many of my objections.
    For example, censoring is something to do – it doesn’t describe the motive behind it, so to say that something is made illegal not because of “decency laws” but because of “child endangerment laws” doesn’t make any difference. It’s still censored (and with good reason in my book).

    Passports are not generally considered to be a national ID card because you are not required by law to obtain one (unless you travel out of country).

    Ah. My mistake. I thought it might be a quiz aimed towards all people, not just people living in the US.

    Since I live in a country that actually has a national ID card, I could mention that they are not something you are required by law to obtain. Instead, they are issued by the state. There is a difference between those two things.

    And passports are, as a matter of fact, national ID cards – as you yourself explained, people need them to travel, and in some countries you are required to carry either passports or other national ID cards.

  14. #14 Alon Levy
    December 8, 2006

    It’s not just the phrasing. The choice of issues on each of the two quizzes is designed to make you look like you agree with its authors. For example, two economic questions out of five are about welfare, which is no longer a controversial issue in the US, while none is about health care or education.

  15. #15 darius
    December 9, 2006

    Kristjan, I don’t misunderstand your objections, I disagree with them. For instance, with the censorship thing — the fact that they’re covered by different laws is indeed relevant. For instance, currently in the US it is not illegal for adult married people to have vaginal intercourse (yet; give Bush some time). However, it is illegal to broadcast it on television. That is censorship. In contrast, it is illegal for a 65-year-old-man to have sex with an 8-year-old-boy. Broadcasting such an act would be illegal because the act itself is illegal, not because of censorship.

    As far as passports, they are only required, at this point, if you travel. I’m not sure if this is something you don’t realize (no insult intended; you are from a different country and I realize this is something many people don’t know), but the majority of US citizens never (not even once in their life) travel outside the US. Some people still view a national ID card as a relevant topic, because they see it as the government’s way of keeping track of people and leading to a future police state. I don’t happen to agree, but there are in fact quite a large number of people in the US who feel that way.

  16. #16 Alon Levy
    December 9, 2006

    Some people still view a national ID card as a relevant topic

    Only if they’re British, in which case they rail against mandatory ID cards issued by a government that has already put surveillance cameras at every public place in the country.

    In the US, ID cards are a fringe issue. A five-question quiz that tried to accurately gauge American public opinion would have one question about each of the following: abortion, SSM, the Patriot Act, Iraq, and illegal immigration (legal immigration – e.g. H1-B quotas – isn’t a big issue).

  17. #17 darius
    December 9, 2006

    If you think nobody in the US cares about national ID cards, it’s because you don’t know any better. There are still a large number of people in Virginia (mainly lawyers, lobbyists, politicians) who won’t use their social security number to prove who they are because it was promised when they were issued originally that they wouldn’t become a national ID.

    The goal of the quiz is not to gauge public opinion, though, it’s to help ascertain political leanings from opinions on basic issues. Getting into more specific issues like the ones you mentioned (though two of them, same-sex marriage and Iraq, are covered by # 3 and # 2 on the personal issues, respectively) can lead to problems because some issues, like abortion and immigration, have wide bases of opinions independent of other issues and therefore aren’t a good test of general political leanings.

  18. #18 Alon Levy
    December 9, 2006

    What? Question #2 asks about a draft, not about Iraq. Rangel supports only the former; it was mainstream in the US until about 2005 to support only the latter. And question #3 asks about sodomy laws, which are way less popular than SSM bans. The predictive power of #2 on Iraq is zero, while this of #3 on SSM is fairly low.

  19. #19 Kristjan Wager
    December 10, 2006

    As far as passports, they are only required, at this point, if you travel.

    If you are an American. Some countries requires that yopu carry a passport or a similar national ID card.

    There is nothing in the quiz that states that it’s aimed only towards Americans.

    For instance, with the censorship thing — the fact that they’re covered by different laws is indeed relevant. For instance, currently in the US it is not illegal for adult married people to have vaginal intercourse (yet; give Bush some time). However, it is illegal to broadcast it on television. That is censorship. In contrast, it is illegal for a 65-year-old-man to have sex with an 8-year-old-boy. Broadcasting such an act would be illegal because the act itself is illegal, not because of censorship.

    Actually, if you look into the laws, you’ll find that the actual sex is covered by a different law than the broadcasting (and any following redistribution). Not only that, in some US states, it’s actually legal to have sex with people under the age of which it’s legal to broadcast the act.
    So, I don’t think that your argument holds.

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