'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fun with the Political Compass 

Via The Bone, those who run the Political Compass site placed the 2008 presidential candidates on the compass.

There is no rigorous methodology here so, at worst, it's an exercise in pseudoscience. Here's the story as I understand it: they have a test they use to place a test taker on the compass and claim to induce the answers to the test questions for public figures based on their public statements, etc. Ultimately -- to be skeptical -- it's sort of like political astrology but like astrology is entertaining. Here's the image in question:

I must say I've always thought the political compass has a nice design -- that is, the two properties they chose to measure on each of the two axiis, taken together, characterize an individual's political position rather well.

Here is the commentary on the above posted by its creators:

In response to many requests, not only from Americans, The Political Compass™ has charted the most prominent names in the 2007 US Primaries. They have been evaluated through scrutiny of public statements, manifestos, interviews and, crucially, voting records. Our apologies for those not included.
It is important to recognise that The Political Compass™ is a continuum rather than consisting of hard and fast quadrants. For example, Ron Paul on the social scale is actually closer to Dennis Kucinich than to many figures within his own party. But on the economic scale, they are, of course, far apart.
When examining the chart it is important to note that although most of the candidates seem quite different, in substance they occupy a relatively restricted area within the universal political spectrum. Democracies with a system of proportional representation give expression to a wider range of political views. While Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel are depicted on the extreme left in an American context, they would simply be mainstream social democrats within the wider political landscape of Europe. Similarly, Hillary Clinton is popularly perceived as a leftist in the United States while in any other western democracy her record is that of a moderate conservative.

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