I took the Pew Quiz just to check my views with my party affiliation — you never know, maybe I’m actually a Republican deep down inside, and I’ve been voting incorrectly for the past few decades. It was disappointing.


Hey, is that arrow labeled “YOU” a few pixels shy of the left edge of the scale? And is the average member of the Democratic party actually what I would consider a horrible conservative?


  1. Matrim says

    I’m about the same, and I take great offense that it labels me a Democrat. I’m way more liberal than those schmucks.

  2. Mark Dowd says

    Fuck, how can you even tell the difference between a Liberal Democrat and a Reactionary Authoritarian “Conservative” Republican at that distance?

    I seriously wonder what questions a “Lib Dem” would answer differently and still call themselves liberal. Welfare? Feminism? Racism? Progressive taxation? Environmentalism?

  3. wzrd1 says

    First, 11 questions to ascertain a very broad range of viewpoints, frequently with loaded questions.
    So, it comes up that I’m slightly less liberal than PZ (I even knew which question “lowered” the score and could make the evaluation read whatever I wanted it to read.

    Frankly, anything with less than 100 questions only gives PR value, not anything actually analytical and certainly not worth more than predictable reaffirmation for those uncertain as to who they’re voting for tomorrow.

  4. frog says

    Mark Dowd@2:

    My hope would be folks overthinking the questions, so they might answer things like permitting abortion in “most” cases instead of all (“Abortion at 8 months? Horrible!”), and merely “favoring” marriage equality instead of “strongly favoring” it (presumably because they don’t mind it but are straight and don’t feel a personal commitment to it).

    And to be honest, I’m not sure which way liberals would go on the question of whether the US makes things better or worse by intervening around the globe. Our military interventions are mostly quagmires, but maybe on the whole do some good if trying to stop a genocide. Economic sanctions can be used to leverage human rights benefits, but there’s a certain amount of nannying there that seems distasteful. Does “providing humanitarian aid after a natural disaster” fit into this question? I would not be surprised if this one in particular slams right up the 50/50 divide, if only because how one answers depends largely on what one is thinking the question means.

  5. Raucous Indignation says

    Yep, all the way left on a scale that measures only simple things. There were what maybe one, two at most, questions that would’ve moved me to the right? And all the questions are posed as opinion. Which of course is misleading, because almost all of those questions actually could be rephrased as questions of facts which have correct and incorrect answers. Seriously, you think maybe Pew is trolling FTB?

  6. Gregory Greenwood says

    Another disquieting little reminder of just how far Rightward the Overton Window has shifted over the last couple of decades – most ‘mainstream’ political parties don’t show much divergence form the Religious Right’s position (or the bug-nuts posturing of Trump and Co. in the US, or Farage and his band of merry idiots in the UK), leaving any actual progressives so far into the blue we essentially fall off the end of their little scale, with no nuance whatsoever between different flavours of Leftwing thought.

  7. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    hello there, PZ; fancy meeting you in exactly the same place on that spectrum where I ended up.
    Didn’t even have to struggle with any of those questions to figure out which PZ would have made. Each one, to me, was bloody obvious; not just which would get me at the far leftmost point on that spectrum, but which were the most reasonable answers.
    I agree with 7, it seemed like a very biased set of questions.

  8. jtdavi3 says

    One of my colleagues told me he quit taking these quizzes because they kept telling him he had liberal/democrat viewpoints. He just said he was always going to vote republican regardless. I wanted to shake him and say “doesn’t that tell you something?!?!”

  9. cartomancer says

    The thing that really irritates me is the way that these sorts of things, and political discourse in general, tends to treat political beliefs as either a binary red/blue divide or a one-dimensional continuum. I suppose it’s because the voting systems tend to produce results that way, and it’s easier to fit into tribalistic team mentalities.

    Most egregious, in my mind, is the fact that basic equality issues tend to be cast as left/right political issues. They really aren’t. Whether gay people can get married, whether black people are safe from police brutality, whether women earn as much as men and are believed when they report sexual assaults, whether trans people are treated as human beings – none of these things has anything to do with what economic system you favour or how friendly you are to corporate power. In fact it annoys me that in 2016 these things are even issues at all. They should be the basic ground-level minimums for civilized societies.

    But there’s a national dimension here too. UK politics is further to the left than US politics. Our Tory party is basically where your Democrats are, and our Labour party is finally throwing off the yoke of the Blairite neoliberal centrists to reassert genuine left-wing ideals. French politics is further left still, German politics to the left of them and Dutch and Scandinavian politics further left again. Then you get to Russia and it goes back to repressive right-wing nastiness.

  10. Siobhan says

    And is the average member of the Democratic party actually what I would consider a horrible conservative?

    Hillary is slightly more conservative than Canada’s Conservatives, depending on who you ask.

    So, possibly.

    (Of course in this election I’d vote for a fence post if it could plausibly defeat Trump, so…)

  11. petesh says

    I cannot imagine how to get all the way left by answering this questionnaire; maybe it’s a trick and Real True Leftists just say No? Also, yes, the av. mem. Dem. is indeed conservative, though not necessarily horrible. I’m going to vote for several of them tomorrow, starting at the top of the ticket. HRC wants to conserve the advances we’ve made, and just maybe nudge the ball a bit in my direction.

  12. says

    My first try had me all the way left which seemed appropriate. My second try I went with generally conservative answers but favoured marriage equality (but not strongly), replied that abortion was fine in some cases, and had no opinion on diversity, but I still ended up far right.

    It’s almost like there’s no nuance in an 11 question questionnaire where most of the questions have two answers…

  13. starfleetdude says

    As a first approximation, the Pew quiz does a fair job of sorting out what your political affinities are. I came down as a liberal Democrat, which is where I see myself politically. What seems to be throwing a few people off is how some questions ask you to chose which answer your most inclined to pick, rather than the answer they may most like to give themselves. I think Pew’s approach mirrors what actual politicians do when they poll voters to see what the general opinion is on a given issue, to give them a sense of where the herd of voters are, which is more useful for them to know.

  14. says

    Interesting, though not particularly surprising, that the “average Republican” is noticeably farther to the right of the average score than the “average Democrat” is to the left. Also, did anyone else feel like many of the questions were subtly biased? The environmental question in particular struck me as oddly worded; the first answer was something like “the gov’t has gone too far in its efforts to protect the environment,” so naturally I expected the alternative to be “the gov’t has not gone far enough” Instead, it was “We should do whatever it takes to protect the environment [emphasis mine],” which has a bit of an ominous ring to it. It’s as if they’re implying that if you think our current environmental policies are inadequate, then you must be willing to do anything up to and including deliberate mass depopulation.

  15. wzrd1 says

    What was interesting is, every response that I gave would give me a strong far left liberal “ranking”, save one on abortion, where my real choice wasn’t represented.
    What does evidence based science have to say, not some bullshit policy that’s written by the medically ignorant misleadership in D.C.?

    Case in point, there is indeed a procedure that is occasionally, rarely performed, that is precisely as Dumb Donald described as an abortion. That it isn’t an abortion isn’t very relevant for some, fact free and all. The procedure is performed when fetal tissue is resorbed after fetal death, but the bones would remain intact and pose a serious risk of uterine perforation.
    Obviously, one does not abort a dead fetus, as anything delivered is by definition, stillborn. One doesn’t abort the papyrus fetus if there is risk of fetal bone perforation of the uterus, one removes the bones and evacuates the remnant instead.

    But, playing politics with one of the most tragic events of a woman’s life is the norm now, calling her names and questioning her honor and values, when she’s lost an advanced pregnancy is acceptable, when previously, we were civilized enough to not further traumatize her.*
    That crap makes me want to trip those SOB’s with my cane.

    *Having a wife become pregnant 16 times and only having two live births does tend to color my views. Especially as one of those pregnancies ended in the abortion of an ectopic pregnancy that was entering the second trimester.

  16. Rich Woods says

    @Chris Phillips #14:

    That’s likely because of the limitations of the simple left-right scale. It’s lacking a dimension (well, possibly more than one, but a two-dimensional outcome is a lot clearer than any other). Try this test, if you’ve got five minutes to spare:


  17. consciousness razor says


    What was interesting is, every response that I gave would give me a strong far left liberal “ranking”, save one on abortion, where my real choice wasn’t represented.

    All cases could be legal, none could be, most could be legal, or most could be illegal. That covers all possibilities, so yours must be represented by one of those.

    No clue why you weren’t willing to say abortion should always be legal.

    What does evidence based science have to say, not some bullshit policy that’s written by the medically ignorant misleadership in D.C.?

    How would evidence-based science say what should be legal or illegal, which would under all circumstances be policy written by leadership in D.C.?

    If evidence-based science did say something definite, however that would work, the result would be one of the following: 1, 0, 0.5 and not 1, as fractions of cases which are legal. That is what it would say the medically ignorant misleadership’s “bullshit” decision should be.

    Are you saying you don’t know what it says? Are you not sure if it says anything? Are you not sure if you should listen to whatever it might say? Are you not answering the question?

  18. consciousness razor says

    Sorry, I think HTML ate my greater than and less than symbols. Let me just write it this way:

    one of the following: 1, 0, between 0.5 and 0, between 0.5 and 1, as fractions of cases which are legal.”

  19. fledanow says

    Well, I fall right off the edge of that survey’s idea of liberal, but then, I’m a leftish Canadian.

  20. consciousness razor says

    It could also be that exactly half should be legal, no more or less, but that option was too stupid for me to notice I had neglected it. If anybody would seriously want to give that answer, fuck you.

  21. wzrd1 says

    Now, that study gave a better spread of questions, which can allow greater exploration of one’s spectrum of views.
    Economic Left/Right: -9.88
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.03

    Granted, I pushed some responses more conservative, just to see if I was correct in some guesswork.

  22. says

    All but two of those questions were pretty easy for me to answer, not much nuance needed, as far I saw. I came in one off from the leftiest end. The corporate profit question was the one that bumped me back from the edge. I had to ponder that one for a moment. If it had specifically targeted the mega-corps, my answer would have been different.

  23. marcoli says

    I came out not as liberal as you, but I am pretty gosh darn liberal.
    What is also interesting is to click on the other tabs to show how different groups distribute on this scale. Most people are near the middle, and most young people are are the D side, while older people are on the R side. So that bodes well for the future. Wish they were farther to the left, though…

  24. consciousness razor says

    Most people are near the middle

    Those points are averages for the groups, so they have to be in the middle of the more extreme points where individuals may find themselves. You could shuffle people around in lots of ways, and their averages would still be where they are. However many younger people (e.g.) are left of the point for their group, there is a balanced set of them to the right of it (even possibly the extreme right edge).

  25. jrkrideau says

    @ 22 fledanow

     I’m a leftish Canadian.
    Steven Harper would be a left-wing socialist in US terms.

  26. says

    I’m pretty far left, no surprise. I like to experiment on quizzes like this and take it repeatedly, changing just one answer each time and seeing how it effects it. I started to, but I just don’t have the time to go through them all. I did find that the third question seemed to affect the result a little more than the second, though.

  27. chigau (ever-elliptical) says

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  28. chigau (ever-elliptical) says

    are because I have never managed the
    non breaking line space
    on the iPad
    or anywhere, really

  29. Saganite, a haunter of demons says

    Well, that was a pretty simplistic questionnaire. Apart from, what, two questions or so, everything was extremely obviously slanted and lacking nuance. And yet I still managed to be more right-wing by a few pixels than you, PZ. Huh.

  30. janiceintoronto says

    I came out on the farthest left place on the scale.

    But then, I’m Canadian. Socialist. Gay. Atheist. The perfect Canadian, that’s me.

  31. ikanreed says

    I discovered it asked simple binary questions that left no room for nuance, and phrased themselves in a way that specifically thumbs its nose at meaningful understanding.

    “Do corporations make too much profit or the right amount?” is a stupid meaningless question. Profit is fine, good even. The share of the revenue going to owners versus workers is abhorrent and immoral, but the profit itself is not a bad thing. But the phrasing of that question just completely glosses over what’s actually being contested.

  32. Hakan Koseoglu says

    ikanreed: When the corporations are making profit but not paying any taxes, the answer is yes. For example when Google makes over 22b in profits but pays only a couple of millions of tax in Ireland for its operations in Europe, it’s a farce.