Against political tests

We've all seen those internet political quizzes in which you fill out a bunch of questions and get mapped onto a chart. I already know where I stand, but I get a kick out of seeing how far off I get placed. Indeed, these tests always seem like they will place libertarians the least accurately.

But why is that? Libertarians are the least likely to want our personal preferences to become legislation. When the test says something like "Drug use is bad," a libertarian could answer either way and still be a libertarian. The test ought to say "Drug use should be illegal" and let you agree or disagree with that. (Some tests are better than others, but you get the drift.)

Every time I take one of these tests I run across questions like that. Sometimes the question is as personal as "X makes me mad." You even occasionally find "Homosexuality is wrong." Plenty of things make me mad, and plenty of things are wrong (homosexuality not among them), but why shouldn't people be free to persist in errors that only hurt themselves? Who cares if their behavior makes me mad, as long as it doesn't really tangibly affect me?

Despite these drawbacks, I've seen an encouraging broader trend: gone are the days of being pigeonholed into the 1-d conservative-progressive axis. Something like the Nolan chart is on almost all of the tests nowadays.

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The advocates and others

The advocates and others have given lots of people lots of nolan chart tests, and then basicly thown away the data. Say one of the questions is "machine guns should be legal", and of 1 million people 100,000 answer yes. Then there's a bill to legalize machine guns. We could have had a database of 100,000 names who agree, but we threw away the info.
A person can score a 10 on the nolan chart and still be an ally - it that item is their hot button. Operation politically homeless would identify lots of 100/100 libertarians, but then the person would have no interest in joining or donating, because they are, say, potheads or broke or already have a boyfriend thank you...
Richard Sincere, before defecting to the GOP, found some interesting correlations between nolan score, meyer-briggs, and birth order. But I don't know what they were - I didn't buy the report or whatever the catch was.
OKcupid is an online site where people take a lot of these tests, because they can be fun, and is a dating/friendster type networking site as well.
But I don't know if there's a way to mine the data to look for correlations.
I do know that Micha and I are the only people I know to have scored 160, of 160, on one of those libertarian purity tests.

This is

This is better.

http://www.baen.com/chapters/axes.htm

I know exactly what you

I know exactly what you mean, and I agree that these tests are little more than amusements. The problem is that when you get right down to it everyone's political views are unique at some level, so some coarse-graining is necessary in order to have a test that's of manageable length, which of course destroys information. Perhaps making the Nolan chart 3-D by introducing a pluralist/rationalist axis might help.

Seems like the majority of

Seems like the majority of the people in North America are Nazis anyway. It's funny how the people who ran wild in the '60s and '70s are now putting up barbed wire fences everywhere so we can't steal their shit or have any fun. Nazis, all of them.

I've often wondered if

I've often wondered if there's a way to build a large quiz that determines from the answers it gets what and how many axes it requires to best plot the results. It might be that there even is a linear spectrum through political beliefs if it takes a roundabout enough course through some eighty-dimensional space of particular issues and ideas.

I do know that Micha and I

I do know that Micha and I are the only people I know to have scored 160, of 160, on one of those libertarian purity tests.

Surely you haven't looked hard enough then.

It seems that 160 is the

It seems that 160 is the most common score. That isn't really surprising on a test that is advertised as a Libertarian Purity Test, rather than a general test of political preferences. Here are the results.