Foolishness since 2007

Foolishness since 2007
Foolishness since 2007

Saturday, December 1, 2018

How Do You See The World - A Survey

By taking a few minutes to answer 10 questions, you will find out how you see the world.

In order to make a choice, think of a politician or pundit or just a friend with whom you usually agree on politics (you can think of more than one such person). Choose the letter that best matches how you imagine this person or persons would respond to the question. Be sure to write down your answer.

1. Late in 2012, in Newtown Connecticut, about two dozen school children were murdered in a shooting incident. What this indicates is 
a) the need for teachers to be empowered and armed to fight back 
b) the need for society to exert more control over the mentally ill 
c) the need to reduce the power of the gun lobby 

2. In the latter half of 2012, UN Ambassador Susan Rice went on news programs as an Administration spokesperson and described the deaths of Americans at the Libyan consulate in Benghazi as resulting from a protest demonstration. The media should have assigned more significance to the fact that 
a) Islamic militants were to blame for the murders 
b) Politicians were seeking to assign or deflect blame 
c) Susan Rice is a female African-American 

3. In the 1940s, ordinary Germans participated in atrocities against Jews. This shows us 
a) The dangers of a totalitarian system of government 
b) The dangers of a collapse of moral values when a country's institutions have failed 
c) The dangers of anti-Semitism 

4. When the issue of changing the tax code comes up, what question is most important? 
a) how will the change affect the reward that people get for hard work and thrift? 
b) does the government spend money more wisely than individuals? 
c) how will the change affect inequality? 

5. What is notable about the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is that 
a) Israelis share American values much more than do Palestinians 
b) Palestinians are an oppressed people 
c) The government of Israel, Arab governments, the governments of other nations, and the UN are all at fault.

6. In 1992, a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found a high rejection rate for mortgage applications by African-Americans. What explains this? 
a) racial discrimination 
b) African-Americans were more likely to have poor credit histories or insufficient incomes to qualify for mortgages 
c) the officials who directed the study had an agenda 

7. The wave of mortgage defaults known as the “sub-prime crisis” was caused by mortgage loans that were 
a) given to unqualified and undeserving borrowers 
b) government-induced 
c) predatory 

8. A large number of unwed mothers with low income reflects 
a) lack of economic opportunities, education, and access to birth control
b) cultural decay, which over-values sexual gratification and undervalues marital responsibility 
c) incentives built into our tax and welfare system 

9. Since 9/ 11, Presidents have employed controversial powers, such as warrantless surveillance and targeted killing. What do you think of the use of these powers? 
a) Because Islamist terrorism is such a difficult and dangerous problem, I support the use of these powers to protect the American people. 
b) I am totally against the use of these powers. 
c) I am not sure about these powers, but I definitely trust the Obama-Biden administration to use them more judiciously than the Bush-Cheney administration. 

Before we score the quiz and interpret your score, please answer one more question. Remember, the answer is not how you would respond. Instead, have in mind someone who agrees with you on many political issues. Which of the following paragraphs best describes how this person feels?

The Basic Question 
X) My heroes are people who have stood up for the underprivileged. The people I cannot stand are people who do not seem to care about the oppression of working people, minorities, and women. 

Y) My heroes are people who have stood up for Western values. The people I cannot stand are the people who do not seem to mind the assault on the moral virtues and traditions that are the foundation for our civilization. 

Z) My heroes are people who have stood up for the individual's right to his or her own choices. The people I cannot stand are people who want the government to impose their value system on everyone. 

Your Dominant Heuristic My hypothesis is that your answer to the basic question will be correlated with your other answers. The basic question tries to get at what I call your dominant heuristic. When people speak the language of your dominant heuristic, they easily earn credibility with you. When people use a different language, they have more difficulty earning credibility. 

The first dominant heuristic is the one I associate with progressives (henceforth Ps). Ps, who are likely to respond X to the basic question, are most comfortable with language that frames political issues in terms of oppressors and oppressed. 

The second dominant heuristic is one I associate with conservatives (henceforth Cs). Cs, who are likely to respond Y to the basic question, are most comfortable with language that frames political issues in terms of civilization and barbarism. 

The third dominant heuristic is one I associate with libertarians (henceforth Ls). Ls, who are likely to respond Z to the basic question, are most comfortable with language that frames political issues in terms of freedom and coercion. 

In short, my hypothesis is that someone who picked X on the basic question will tend to give corresponding progressive answers to the other nine questions. Someone who picked Y will tend to give conservative answers. Someone who picked Z will tend to pick libertarian answers. 

Now, go back and score your quiz to find out how many Ps, Cs, and Ls you picked. Match your answers as indicated below. 

Give yourself one P for each of the following: 1c, 2c, 3c, 4c, 5b, 6a, 7c, 8a, 9c. 

Give yourself one C for each of the following: 1b, 2a, 3b, 4a, 5a, 6b, 7a, 8b, 9a. 

Give yourself one L for each of the following: 1a, 2b, 3a, 4b, 5c, 6c, 7b, 8c, 9b

1. I propose that the three dominant heuristics (oppressor-oppressed, civilization-barbarism, freedom-coercion) are useful in a descriptive sense. I call this the three-axis model. These heuristics do not necessarily describe how people arrive at their opinions. However, the heuristics do predict the language that they are likely to use in conveying their opinions. 

2. I am not saying that the ideologies of progressivism, conservativism, and libertarianism can be boiled down to just these three heuristics. Each of these ideological tendencies is, in fact, complex and multi-faceted. 

3. I believe that for politically-engaged Americans today, ideology has become a powerful marker of identity. Ps, Cs, and Ls are now rivalrous, hostile tribes. As such, they have developed linguistic differences and negative stereotypes of one another, which the three-axis model can help to articulate. Within a tribe, political language is used to reassure others of one's loyalty to the tribe, to lift one's status within the tribe, and to whip up hostility against other tribes. 

4. Turning from the descriptive to the prescriptive, I believe that linguistic differences and negative stereotypes are dangerous. I believe that each of us can reason more constructively if we recognize that we tend to be overly responsive to our preferred language. I believe that we can reduce our level of political anger by better understanding the other languages. You can still carry the belief that you are right, and you do not need to split differences or compromise. However, you should be less inclined to demonize people who speak different political languages.

Thomas Sowell, A Conflict of Visions, 2002. His thesis is that progressives have an unconstrained vision while conservatives hold a constrained vision. The unconstrained vision is that those in the progressive camp have sufficient wisdom and knowledge to carry out policies that would lead to great human betterment. On the other side are those who profit from the status quo or are who are blinded by prejudice and misinformation. If the opposition can be overcome, a glorious vision can be realized. 

The constrained vision is that humans are not perfectible. Moreover, those who would implement schemes for betterment are themselves afflicted with human character flaws. Furthermore, they lack the necessary wisdom and knowledge to prescribe choices for others. From this conservative perspective on the limits of human potential, the progressive project can only end in tragedy.

The conservative view is that social problems reflect constraints. The progressive view is that social problems reflect the failure of good to overcome evil in the political sphere. Another aspect of the unconstrained vision is that there is what Sowell calls a “surrogate decision-maker.” That is, there is an expert, willingly chosen by the people, who can make the right choices. Conservatives do not believe that there is such an expert. I would say that libertarians are even more adamant on this point. For libertarians, people are experts at making their own choices and bumbling fools when making choices for others.


  1. Interesting exercise but without many surprises for me - 6 C's, 3 L's, no P's. However, upon review of answers that I was somewhat "split" on; it could have gone 4 C's, 5 L's, still no P's.

    1. I was not surprised by the scale my answers put me on. What I learned was that the P's beliefs are just as deeply held. Makes it near impossible to discuss some issues when the other guy sees everything on the oppressor/oppressed scale. But knowing where his head and believing he is not an idiot perhaps I can reason with him.

  2. I’m more deplorable than I thought. I scored all C’s.
    Don’t know if that’s good or bad. I know I’m greatly influenced by my surroundings and the people that inhabit them as well as where I’ve worked before I retired.
    To think I once participated in the takeover of the Columbia university campus back in 1969.
    Boy have I changed.

    1. I think I had an L. About surroundings, so very true. If you always worked for the government or a school, it would remarkable that you were conservative. You know why government workers never look out the windows before lunch? They would have nothing to do in the afternoons. We know a couple that live in San Francisco. Great folks, but libs of course. How could they be different? A deep blue city in a blue state. She worked in Customs all her life. Meaning she spent most of her days sitting at a desk with an occasional walk though a warehouse. One of my tests for holding high office would be that you have signed a pay check sometime in your life.

      Be sure to think how you can try to reason with a P now that you know they are on the oppressor/oppressed scale.

  3. I find it almost impossible now to reason with or even to have any sort of conversation with a P.
    I’m surrounded by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez types.
    Not two minutes goes by in any discussion and I’m called racist, homophobic, anti-semantic, islamaphobic or whatever other phobic is in flavor these days. However true some of those accusations may be it’s still difficult to reason with the P types. It always results in an extremely loud shouting match.

    You want a government workers joke?

    How does a city employee wink at you?
    He, she or it “opens” one eye.

    See I tried to be politically correct.


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