Semi-famous 10-question quiz
which purports to accurately describe your political position. Based on the ideas of David Nolan
, co-founder of the (American) Libertarian Party
, it reflects his beliefs that the idea of a political spectrum (passing from radical
for example) was inadequate to describe political beliefs, and that it was possible to define political positions more accurately in terms of amounts of liberty
favored in different contexts.
The quiz consists of ten statements, subdivided into two categories. Takers of the test are asked if they agree with the statements, and are directed to choose "yes", "no", or "maybe", the latter choice also standing in for "unsure", "sometimes", or other equivocal responses. The statements are as follows:
Each section is "scored" independently. Test takers are directed to allocate themselves 20 points in the respective category for every "yes" answer, 10 for every "maybe", and 0 for a "no". Your score in each category is supposed to indicate the relative amount of self-government you favor in that aspect of life. On the basis of these scores, they are assigned a location on a biaxial grid which reputes to represent their political persuasion. The grid is usually represented balanced on one corner, in a "diamond" position. As a reference, you may want to look at political diamond, which features a rough (and empty) depiction of something akin to the Nolan Chart. I'm unable to properly conceptualize it as ASCII art, so I will attempt to describe the grid.
(The Advocates for Self-Government feature it prominently on their website, www.self-gov.org, and I would recommend viewing it there.)
The "zero" of both axes are at the bottom of the "diamond". The grid's center is occupied by a box labeled Centrist. The remainder is divided into 4 sectors as if bisected by two lines at each "50" mark. Want to know where you would be? First, if your two scores added together total between 70 and 130 points, and the difference between your two scores is 30 or less points, you would be in the Centrist box. If not, you are in one of the following sectors:
- If both your scores are under 50, you are in the Authoritarian sector, at the bottom of the diamond.
- If your Personal score is above 50 but your Economic score is below 50, you are in the Liberal sector, at the left point of the diamond.
- If your Economic score is above 50 but your Personal score is below 50, you are in the Conservative sector, at the right point of the diamond.
- If both your scores are above 50, you are in the Libertarian sector, at the top of the diamond.
If one of your scores is exactly 50, you're on a border. Figure it out yourself.
Some critics complain of a Libertarian bias in the quiz. One alleged fault lies in the design of the chart - Libertarian is placed at the top of the chart, in opposition to Authoritarian. As "Liberal" and "Conservative" are often conceived of as opposites, this would make Libertarian the opposite of Authoritarian, and many people would wish to avoid self-identifying as Authoritarian, or might deliberately attempt to move away from "Authoritarian" (and thus towards "Libertarian") on one or both axes. And while some may criticize the placement of "Libertarian" at the top of the scale, this is necessary to preserve traditional association of "Liberal" with "left" and "Conservative" with "right".
Other criticisms have to do with the quiz itself, asserting that the statements are leading, and represent the planks of the Libertarian Party platform that an average person is most likely to sympathize with, ignoring controversial issues such as the abolition of welfare. Thus, any given person would be more likely to be assigned into the Libertarian sector than under an unbiased assessment, and to, post-quiz, identify with libertarianism and the Libertarian Party. These assertions have some truth to them: very often, "yes" is made to seem like the "good" answer, and the set of positions that would identify someone as a Liberal or Conservative are probably not the same that a self-proclaimed member of those groups would point to as the basis of their identification. However, one should keep in mind that the Quiz is in part designed as a political advertising tool, and is in any case less deceptive or misleading than push polling or similar tactics.
The quiz in its current form was created in 1987 by the Advocates for Self-Government, a "libertarian outreach organization", basing it off of David Nolan's 1971 "Nolan Chart", which introduced the concept of charting political positions on such a biaxial graph. The group distributes the quiz in a variety of formats, most popularly on a business card, and encourages local libertarian groups to use the quiz in membership drives, publicity efforts, or as part of "outreach" efforts on college campuses, at county fairs, and other public gatherings. The Advocates encourage people to freely reproduce and distribute the quiz.