My Political Compass Score

I’m almost done with my article. Should be done later today and then I should be blogging by Friday while traveling to DC (assuming the wi-fi works and I don’t need a nap).

In the meantime, something fun to chew on, at a reader’s suggestion I retook the “Political Compass” test and thought I’d share its assessment of my values:

Economic Left/Right: -8.00
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.92

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • http://anythingbuttheist.blogspot.com Bret

    I score in the far bottom left myself.

    Results on my blog.

    I guess that means I don’t give a fuck, but I think my government should.

  • spencerkingman

    I’m glad that our conversation lead you to post this. I really appreciated seeing what you scored.

    Here’s mine:
    http://politicalcompass.org/printablegraph?ec=-8.88&soc=-7.85

  • Pen

    Hey, that’s a cool game. Plotting my score on the international chart, it turns out I’m an extreme communist believing in a highly regulated society, while also being an uncompromising anarchist believing in dismantling government to do my own thing. All I need now is to be a Christo-Muslim atheist and I’ll be just like Barack Obama!

  • mcbender

    Interesting, here’s mine:

    http://politicalcompass.org/printablegraph?ec=-6.12&soc=-6.41

    I’m not sure how reliable I think the test is, honestly. Or maybe it’s my perception of myself that’s off…

  • Dave X

    Try the chart comparing yourself to the 2012 candidates:

    http://politicalcompass.org/charts/crowdgraphpng.php?showform=&Rick+Santorum=7%2C8.5%2C-115&Newt+Gingrich=8%2C7.5&Mitt+Romney=7%2C6.5%2C7%2C10&Ron+Paul=9%2C-1%2C10%2C10&Barack+Obama=6%2C6%2C-118%2C10&You=-8.00,-4.92

    It is interesting to think of what would be at the corner near the candidates: (+10,+10) would be a perfect corporation-person.

    • Midnight Rambler

      I’d like to know how on earth they came up with that, because it’s patently ridiculous. I answered it the way I’d expect Obama to based on what he says and has done (not easy given how silly some of the questions are), and he comes out left -4.50, libertarian -3.90. That was including saying that civil liberties haven’t been infringed too much (practically the only question that dealt directly with libertarian/authoritarian ideas, aside from marijuana).

      Reading the page on it, it sounds like they just placed dots on the graph based on where they thought the various candidates should go. Their time would have been better spent coming up with a better test.

    • Midnight Rambler

      It also includes this laughable statement:

      As outrageous as it may appear, civil libertarians and human rights supporters would have actually fared better under a Republican administration. Had a Bush or McCain presidency continued Guantanamo and introduced the NDAA, the Democratic Party would have howled from the rooftops. Under a Democratic administration, these far-reaching developments have received scant opposition and a disgraceful absence of mainstream media coverage.

      Sounds like it was created by Naderites who slept through the entire Bush years.

  • HumanisticJones

    Whenever I take the Political Compass test I always end up near the bottom left corner…

    So does this mean that FTB counts as an anarcho-syndicalist commune?

    • http://www.yagottamoo.com Matt Meeks

      Yes. Who’s turn is it to be executive officer this week?

    • John Horstman

      It is if we make it one…

  • http://aceofsevens.wordpress.com Ace of Sevens

    I think these tests are always a sham,especially when you compare politicians (as determined by policy proposals) to you (as determined by what amounts to a personality assessment).

  • Robert B.

    Economic Left/Right: -5.38
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.51

    And holy cow, that comparison with the presidential candidates is depressing. Apparently I’m several times more libertarian than Ron Paul? And the fact that Obama is so close to the mainstream Republicans is scary, though I probably wouldn’t think so if I wasn’t so far away from all of them.

    I don’t suppose something like this has been run as a large-scale poll? It would be interesting to see where America’s mean is on each axis.

    • John Horstman

      Well, you’re more classically-liberal than Ron Paul (who, for example, supports government bans on abortion, and is a partially-closeted racist and misogynist); ‘Libertarianism’ in the USA isn’t actually that socially liberal, it’s more pro-privilege for White male Christians.

  • John Horstman

    Hmm, I think there are a couple of issues with assumed motivations and framing for some of the responses. I answered a couple of questions in the same way that someone with whom I strongly disagree about the issue in question might answer because I reject pretty much all essentialism/naturalism when it comes social/cultural phenomena. Then again, maybe I’m projecting – I’m guessing agreeing with (paraphrasing) “People who have the ability to work but won’t shouldn’t expect to be supported by the public,” bumps one toward the ‘right’ side economically, despite the fact that this is a fundamental tenet of economic collectivism; it’s pro-privilege ‘free-marketers’ who think people should be rewarded for contributing nothing useful to society, if The Market values the way in which they’re avoiding doing useful work or any work (as with capital gains – simply ‘owning’ something does nothing, but people can make money off of the mere fact of ownership of capital), but perhaps the PC designer actually recognizes this.

    Also, the questions are all pretty mainstream. The pornography question, for example, specifies adults; the abortion question specifies an exception for risk to the woman (and uses the inaccurate and loaded term “mother” – the woman seeking an abortion is only a mother if she has children i.e. people have been born after gestating inside of her – being pregnant doesn’t make one a mother any more than being enrolled in college classes makes one a degree-holder). There are no questions about the basic premise that ‘ownership’ should exist at all, no questions about whether killing people is justified when not in self defense, no questions about instituting theocracies, no questions about according children full human rights or no rights (the ones about obedience and discipline beat around the bush), no questions about additional rights/protections for non-human animals, no questions about whether one thinks slavery or other forms of explicit exploitation are good or bad, etc. The box they’ve drawn doesn’t push the bounds of the truly radical in any direction.

    Anyway, I score -8.38 political and -6.26 social.

    • Robert B.

      Mm. And I wasn’t totally fond of the response menu. There were a couple questions where I wanted to put “Null response – no data” but I couldn’t. Like, “With some criminals, there’s no point in attempting rehabilitation.” Why the hell are you asking me? Go run a sociology study. I ended up putting “disagree,” since I figure, in the absence of data, go ahead and be as permissive and optimistic as is practical, and that is itself an indication of my political views.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gojaejin jeremygoard

      Among many annoyingly ambiguous statements and (as Robert B. pointed out) questions that are fundamentally empirical and not open to my “opinion”, the worst one for me was “Some people are naturally unlucky.” My guess is that that’s supposed to measure whether I tend to attribute virtues to people who end up rich and vices to people who end up poor. I don’t, so I guess I should agree with the statement, but for the word “naturally”. Luck is a concept for the infinity of factors that one can’t (or can’t be expected to) be aware of in a particular situation. What the hell would “natural luck” as a personal attribute even mean?

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      yeah that one bothered me for the same reason, Jeremy.

  • left0ver1under

    That “political spectrum” is a US-only definition of it, not the way most of the world views the range of politics.

    http://postimage.org/image/nd4pbz2a3/

    What passes for “liberal” in the US would be considered conservative in most countries. Obama would be right of centre in the image on the link, about a third of the way from “centre” to “far right”.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

    Excellent replies, everyone. When I posted this last night I was a bit tired and delirious. In the morning I was thinking, I really should say something about how my economic views, which are completely compatible with many aspects of free markets, should not paint me as being nearly as far to the left as possible.

    As John Hortsman’s comment above indicates, there should be some positions which are decisively communistic, some which are more radically libertarian outside of contemporary conventions of permissibility, and, of course, some views which are unequivocally fascistic, etc. to give a fairer overall sense of positioning.

    But, it is interesting (and troubling) that given what is apparently taken to be the bounds of conceivable positions for reasonable people in America today, I’m cast as a far leftist for wanting basic regulation of corporations out of concerns for other social goods and a basic safety net that ensures equality of opportunities and civilized treatment of the poor.

  • Gabbeh

    Economic Left/Right: -6.00
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.92

    It’s a party in the bottom left around here!

  • Sri

    The bottom left also gets the best music, I believe.
    http://politicalcompass.org/music

  • julian

    I remember being a lot more authoritarian last I took this and my views haven’t changed that much (outside of issues relating to feminism.) Maybe it’s the phrasing…

    Ah well, bottom left.

    Economic Left/Right: -6.62
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.64

    Pretty much where everyone else is at. Guess I’m going with the flow.

  • Reverend PJ

    Economic Left/Right: -8.75
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.92
    http://www.politicalcompass.org/printablegraph?ec=-8.75&soc=-8.92

    I suppose I’ve never been one to take a moderate position.

  • unbound

    Took the test and ended up with this score. However, my thoughts while taking the test is that more than 1/2 the questions really needed discussion. Trying to select the simplistic answers just screamed to me that the authors of the questions might be viewing the world as much more black-and-white than it really is…

  • anon atheist

    I ended up with -0.12 on the economic scale which considering the scores mentioned here and what people say kind of confirms my prejudice that most atheists in the movement don’t know the first thing about the economy.

    • julian

      You got all that from that short quiz? I am impressed.

  • im

    I don’t like it. It equates authoritarianism with other, more unsavory ideas.

    • Robert B.

      More unsavory political ideas than authoritarianism? What would those be, exactly? Has someone proposed a federal Department of Kicking People In The Crotch For No Reason?

    • ik

      Not everybody believes in democracy and large numbers of inalienable rights. In fact, some might argue that an authoritarian government is the best way to protect people’s rights. The quiz assumes that right wing (=) authoritarian.

  • http://www.secularcafe.org/index.php davidb

    I’ve done the test a couple of times, and while I forget the exact scores I do remember that I was towards the centre of the sensible quadrant, that is to say the bottom left.

    The sys admin of my favourite discussion board has done a lot of work on political compass scores over the years, across a number of discussion boards.

    http://homepage.mac.com/lpetrich/Politics/Compass/DensityPlots.html

    The difference between freethought discussion boards and most others is remarkable, as is the similarity between Stormfront, Rapture Ready, and Ummah.com (Muslim).

    Christian Forums is pretty close to the freethought ones, though, according to his stats.

    David B

    • Robert B.

      If that’s where Stormfront is, I’m having a hard time believing that Obama is really way up there in the top right. Or Romney, for that matter. As people have mentioned, there’s probably something borked with the way they assign scores to politicians.

  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    This quiz asks a set of leading questions to tempt you to proclaim yourself a libertarian. The big trick is that if you answer yes to each question, you are a macho SELF GOVERNOR: there is an unspoken sneer to those who would answer anything else. It is an ideological litmus test.

    The most obvious criticism of this quiz is that it tries to graph the range of politics onto only 2 axes, as if they were the only two that mattered, rather than the two libertarians want the most change in. For example, if socialists were to create such a test, they would use a different set of axes.

    The second obvious criticism is typical of polls taken to show false levels of support: the questions are worded to elicit the desired response. This is called framing bias. The problem is the “but”s that are filtered out by the question format.

    Many libertarians use this as an “outreach” (read: evangelism) tool. By making it easy to get high scores on both axes, subjects can be told that they are already a libertarian and just didn’t know it. It’s the same sort of suckering that cold readers and other frauds use.

  • PocketWocket

    My thought is that “Multinational companies are unethically exploiting the plant genetic resources of developing countries” is a really confusing statement. Does this translate to “GMOs are evil”?

    • PocketWocket

      Or perhaps “Monsanto is evil for feeding people GMOs”? Or “Monsanto is evil for monopolizing the crop market”?


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