16 July, 2003: Lies, damned lies, and politics

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The politicalcompass.org political survey site goes through phases of popularity. Unfortunately, the politicalcompass people don't explain their methods and they have attracted considerable suspicion, mostly regarding what some see as a `libertarian' agenda. Of course, their failure to explain their methods and data leaves them entirely open to any amount of criticism.

I want to have a go at doing this properly. That means assembling a set of questions, and then analysing the results statistically once enough data have been gathered to do this meaningfully. As you can probably guess, I'm about to ask you to do some work for me without any immediate reward.

The survey is at http://politics.beasts.org/scripts/survey; it consists at present of 64 statements to which you respond on a simple disagree strongly / disagree / no opinion / agree / agree strongly scale. (Actually, for calibration purposes, slightly more than 64 statements will be put to you.) The survey will take about five minutes of your time.

(You can also read a list of the statements, but please take the survey first, and some more blurb on the survey itself which partly repeats what I say here.)

Unfortunately we don't yet have enough data to give meaningful results, so once you complete the survey you won't get any immediate feedback. But you can bookmark the results page you reach, and check back later when there's enough data to compile useful results.

I'd be very interested to hear any feedback, in particular if you think that there's an area of opinion which the questions don't address. A name better than `Political Survey' would be good, too. (I heard somebody on the radio talking about the notion of a `political GPS', but I think that's probably too geeky to use as a name.)

Copyright (c) 2003 Chris Lightfoot; available under a Creative Commons License.