Tuesday, August 31, 2004
I took the same 75-question political survey that Ann did. I ended up a good deal farther "left" than Ann and more "pragmatic" than her or any of the political figures for whom ratings are provided. I'm rated as the almost exact ideological opposite to Hitler, which I feel is a good way to start the day.
The survey itself has its amateurish moments; for example, "It is only acceptable to use proportionate force to defend your property from criminals." Does this mean: (a) that the only time it is legitimate to use proportionate force is to defend your property from criminals [the syntactically cleanest interpretation, but seemingly substantively unlikely]; (b) it is not acceptable to use anything more than proportionate force to defend your property from criminals; (c) it is justified (as when people say "it is only right to...") to use proportionate force to defend your property from criminals; or something else; or (d) something else. I couldn't figure it out, so I had to select "No opinion."
The survey also asks various questions in a genre of attitude item which annoy me, as I think they differentiate people on the dimension of how literally-yet-imaginatively* they choose to read survey items. Maybe the worst example of this on the survey was: "There is no such thing as an immoral sexual act between consenting adults." Obviously, most of the general population would disagree to this item right away. But, for those who would be inclined to agree when they contemplated the most obvious examples of acts-between-consenting-adults-that-others-might-regard-as-immoral, the question is asking whether you can think of any circumstance where you would make a negative moral judgement about a sexual coupling in which the two parties are consenting. Then it becomes like a parlor game in which you can imagine various scenarios--involving, e.g., all different kinds of betrayals and seeming exploitations-of-situations--where you can then ask, "Come on, what about this? Surely you think this is immoral?"
* Technical/academic aside: More specifically, I would call this differentiation in the extent to which respondents cognitively elaborate survey items.