Political Dichotomy Assessment: Introduction
The Political Dichotomy Assessment is my attempt to create a proper alternative to other ideological testing methods such as the Political Compass and 8Values.
- FAQ for the test: gives a detailed overview of the methodology
- GitLab repo, feel free to add commits and report bugs here
- Mastodon, if you need to contact me directly
The main goals of this project are:
- Develop a system that is able to categorize and break up the realm of political discussion according to a consistent, yet thorough set of rules.
- Create a test that is able to accurately, yet easily narrow down the information to what interests them.
- Provide basic information and introductory reading material to encourage readers and test-takers to explore further on their own.
- Demonstrate that political beliefs are qualitatively rather than quantitatively distinguished.
In more abstract terms, the project's purpose is to create a more constructive picture of our Overton window in a fashion that encourages people to learn about these topics in more detail.
Why is this project necessary?
This might seem like a petty or insignificant project, however, our understanding of politics and the discussions we've had throughout history reflects on our understanding of the world as a whole.
To be more specific: the figureheads we rely on for information, pop politics discourages learning rather than encouraging it.
Instead of pushing people to dig further into concepts utilizing primary sources, each source of information instead invalidates all other sources except itself. Because of this, people often struggle with identifying exactly what they believe in at the core; if you aren't able to understand what you're opposing or supporting, then you won't be able to understand why either.
We see a large amount of people remain unsure of what they believe, and these people will often seek out online tests in the hopes that they can better understand themselves.
The issue is, these tests often times fail to solve the problem, often times making the problem worse. These tests don't just act as a fun score, but also reflect how we as a society understand politics.
I'll make my criticism of these tests brief so we can move on:
The traditional left-right spectrum ends up falling short because “left-wing” and “right-wing” are relative terms. When I say relative, I refer both to the era/society, but also to the person making the assessment. In other words, because there's no universal standard of “left” and “right”, the distinction is ultimately useless.
The political compass is an evolution on this, but it runs into its own set of issues too. The distinction between left/right and libertarian/authoritarian still remain incredibly contextual and vague: there's more than one reason you may answer a question a certain way, but your “Yes/No” answer doesn't reflect that.
8Values attempts to fix this by adding more axes, but all it does is kick the can down the road. The scores tell me nothing about what I believe apart from a set of numbers with no real-world application and the questions still remain contextual.
All of these view politics in a quantitative fashion as opposed to a qualitative one; ideas are treated as if they are related by their intensity on one side of the scale or the other. It ends up putting a limit on what we are able to conceive and grasp about our world.
It's why I've gone to extra care to put in carefully curated references and make the learning aspect as constructive as possible. There's an unimaginably large amount of conflicting material for someone new to politics, and what this test serves to do is curate that to the point of curing that sense of overwhelming paralysis, giving people a jumping off point to learn in a constructive fashion.
What does this assessment do differently?
Some of the main things that distinguishes this assessment from others is the following:
A multi-tabular method is used as opposed to a scoring one; this ensures that we're not just getting an approximation, but rather instead an exact result with applicable meaning.
The exactness of results allows for more precise definitions and linking to reading materials.
Because a lot the development is done by hand, it's able to be a lot more precise and researched as opposed to having the imprecision of an automatically generated test.
How far along is the development?
The test has been around three years in the works, going through numerous revisions and changes, but still keeping the same core methodology. Currently, the test portion is non-functional and outdated, as I've begun working backwards, from the result pages to the canopy questions. So far, I'm hoping to finish it by the end of 2021, but that's far from a guarantee.
If you'd like to see the progress I've made on the test, check out the project timeline.