Political Quiz Dimensions

The thread about political quizzes will disappear into the archives as soon as I post this, so it’s a good idea to make a separate post about good political quiz design. Ideally, a political quiz should be:

1. Neutral, in the sense that the questions are not worded in a way that exhibits bias of any kind. Words that mean nothing but have strong connotations, like “freedom” and “equality,” should be avoided.

2. Straightforward, in the sense that it should make as few assumptions as possible about the policies underlying each question. For example, a question like “The only social responsibility of a corporation is to deliver a profit to its shareholders” is problematic, because the standard left-wing conception of corporations is as entities that exist only to deliver a profit; the difference between it and the right-wing conception is in whether it’s appropriate for the government to impose restrictions on corporations meant to make socially unfavorable actions unprofitable (e.g. egregious fines for pollution).

3. Relevant, in that the issues discussed should be important to a large number of people and play a role in the evolution of social movements. Normally, if an issue isn’t hot enough to cause a non-fringe group to schism, or to be the main defining plank of a political party, it shouldn’t be on the quiz.

It’s just as important to ask which issue groups – what I call sub-headings in the other post – should be discussed. I think it’s a good idea to break down each of the two standard dimensions into several sub-headings, and then recombine them to form a composite social score and a composite economic score. I have more concrete ideas about social issues than about economics, mostly since economic issues can be relevant to economists but not to the general population, or vice versa.

On social issues, I think a good classification of sub-headings is civil liberties, support for democracy, foreign policy, religious values, and minority rights. Civil liberties are mostly about non-minority issues, like free speech and eavesdropping; minority rights are mostly about issues without an explicit secular/religious dimension, like immigration and race but not gay rights or even feminism.

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