Nolan chart

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An example of the Nolan Chart.
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The Nolan chart is a two dimensional political map replacing, or maybe enhancing, the standard left-right model of the political spectrum. The original had the up-down axis represent "personal freedom" and the left-right axis represent "economic freedom." It was created by David Nolan,Wikipedia a founder of the Libertarian Party in the United States. The new version has the chart tilted to the side so that the up-down axis shows a Libertarian/Authoritarian or Libertarian/Statist axis. (There is considerable debate as to what the opposite of Libertarian should be. The original version used "populist," though a populist can be quite free.)

While the chart in itself is not fundamentally biased, the "World's Smallest Political Quiz" (put out by the libertarian Advocates for Self-Government) uses it in a skewed and extremely simplistic manner. The quiz has ten issues, things like "Government should not censor speech, press, media, or Internet" and "Let people control their own retirement; privatize Social Security", which are worded ambiguously enough that people will be more inclined to agree with the libertarian answer. uses a different set of questions, which are still slightly biased.

The Enhanced Precision Political Quiz is not as biased (but still sometimes offers ten different possibilities, none of which are appropriate for certain political viewpoints), and has reading suggestions at the end.

Fun with the World's Smallest Political Quiz[edit]

The Nolans' chart career was brief, but spawned an entertainingly misleading political quiz.

The selection of only ten issues and how they are worded can affect the outcome greatly. Take the first example from the World's Smallest Political Quiz, "Government should not censor speech, press, media, or Internet." Most people would be inclined to agree. Add this and you get a very different outcome: "Publishing kiddie porn is just fine. Anyone should be allowed to legally post others' credit card numbers to the Internet. There should be no censorship of libel and slander either." Doesn't sound so appealing anymore, does it? Note that even with a libertarian bias, it is unlikely that slander, libel, or thievery would be supported by the creators of this chart or quiz.

Yet look at another question, "Let people control their own retirement; privatize Social Security.", which sounds a lot better than "let your grandparents fend for themselves on coupons after a pension company scams them." This, however, might suffer the same problems as the first, that is, that the creators of the chart might not support such an extreme, even if the outcome is exactly that. Some of the largest problems inherent to right-wing ersatz libertarianism are encapsulated therein. They don't necessarily want gran-gran to die of starvation (though many, including party leadership, are actually perfectly fine with this), but their ideas would inevitably see gran-gran dead in a couple of months due to untreated illness, starvation, and exposure. Theirs is ultimately a socially Darwinian ideology.

The Enhanced Precision Political Quiz[edit]

The Enhanced Precision Political Quiz offers many possible answers, but there are answers it does not offer. For example:

  • it does not offer the possibility of punishing the major companies for abhorrent behaviour (q1)
  • it does not offer the possibility of punishing the banks or the CEOs thereof as a solution to the mortgage crisis (q3)
  • it does not offer the possibility to say children spend too much time in school, that there is too much competition, or that the schools do not foster creativity enough (q7)
  • it does not offer the possibility to keep laws against hard drugs but make them less harsh (q8)
  • it does not offer the possibility to require registration and background checks for all guns (q11)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]