There are few ideas I hate more than determinism, that human beings have no agency, no capacity to change their circumstances, that we are dealt different cards and there’s nothing we can do but accept our lot. I think my disdain for determinism comes from the fact that it seems to run counter to not only the values I was raised with, but also the values of the West, particularly America, and to Christianity. My father had to earn everything he had by working, he worked his way up to be successful at his job so he could provide a good life for his family, and he’s never let me forget that. What he’s taught me is that ultimately what we have is our choice. In the West, and especially in America, we have championed the concept of meritocracy. We believe that your success or failure should rest on your shoulders, and that men have the right to determine and shape their own lives. Now of course this is an ideal and some degree of circumstance, nepotism, and corruption will always exist, but the level in which the capability and potential of the individual is help up, is something unique to the west, and I say it is a much better idea to push than the idea that our fates are all predetermined. Lastly, determinism is inherently at odds with Christianity. In Christianity, both the fall of mankind from grace, and his ultimate salvation are choices. Mankind was given a choice in Eden to obey or disobey God, and we chose to disobey him. Now with Christ’s death and resurrection we have the choice to accept or reject his offer of salvation. Perhaps this is why there is such hostility towards Calvinism, the Christian sect which believes that only certain people are predestined to be saved. Now all of this being said, do I believe that people are born into or find themselves in circumstances beyond their control? Yes, but ultimately we choose what to do with our own lives and I don’t think we appreciate the gift of free will nearly enough.
So what does any of this have to do with Astrology or the political compass test? Well, to me they both seem to require belief in determinism to work. When insecure, new age, white women look to astrology, they are looking for some outside force to tell them who they are and what will happen in their life. In astrology, the position of the planets can tell you how successful you will be in work, love, etc. the alignment of the stars at your birth will tell you what kind of personality you have. You’re birth sign says you’re a jealous person, therefore you must act jealous and you can do nothing to change it. The situation of Venus says you will not find love this month so you don’t ask the person you’re attracted to out. Not only do I find this whole practice absurd, but I find it immoral because its tricking people into thinking that their personality is set and they have to be a certain way and that they have no free will.
In a lot of ways I think the political compass and personality tests do the same thing as astrology, except they tend to attract a lot of insecure, autistic, pretentious activist types. They want the answers they put into a multiple choice quiz with questions such as “its natural for children to keep secrets from their parents” to tell them what they are supposed to believe about politics, and where they fall onto a chart that’s become so infamous there are endless memes making fun of it. But some of these people are so insecure they will put a picture of where they fall onto their Twitter and YouTube profiles. Do you know how pathetic that is? Your whole world, the image of yourself that you want projected to everyone is where that stupid red dot is on that stupid chart. That chart by the way is wildly inaccurate. If you are like me and are extremely conservative when it comes to social issues, but extremely liberal when it comes to foreign policy, the chart says I’m a moderate.
But the personality tests are even worse. Again, based on your choice of predetermined answers to pre-determined (ironic isn’t it) questions on a test that only takes an hour to fill out, that’s supposed to tell you what kind of person you are. You think that your entire life experience, your unique, one of a kind life can be calculated in one hour based on some standardized questions? And that Your personality can be accurately boiled down to a chart and four letter?. And then you think that these four letters mean so much you put it on your twitter profile to broadcast to the world that you took a stupid online test.
But what really confuses me about all of this is what is supposed to be the point of taking these tests? They aren’t able to tell you about various political positions or personality traits because for it to be accurate you already have to know what you believe. They can’t accurately place you on the political spectrum because the Overton window is constantly shifting, and they don’t seem to give you any meaningful advice. Because advice is about what you ought to do. But I suspect that, much like the astrologists, the people who take these tests don’t want a conversation about what they ought to do or ought to believe because that involves learning and using that information that you learned and making an informed choice. Instead they seem to want someone else to tell them who they are, what they are like, and what they believe. They want their life path, voting decisions, and relationship advice to be predetermined for them. Which, if you need an online rest to tell you this, seems to me like the sign of a very insecure person.
I’ve taken a lot of these tests, often multiple times, and they always come up with a different answer. I’ve never felt like, after taking these tests that I’ve actually learned anything, I feel like I;ve wasted my time. I don’t care that an online quiz said that my political beliefs and personality amount to a red dot and four letters, and neither should anyone else. I think human beings are far more complicated than that. More importantly though, the problem with these tests is that they, like astrology require you to give up your free will for it to mean anything. In order for these tests to influence your life it means you have to believe that not only are they totally accurate, but that the personality and beliefs they say you hold is who you are and that you have no power to change it, and that you ought to live your life the way these tests say that you live it. And if you take it again and find, you are now different, then that sort of defeats the whole point of these tests doesn’t it?
Let me give some advice, which is more than these tests will ever do. Educate yourself on issues and then make an informed choice as to what you believe about them, experience life, and interact with other people and let that show you what your personality is like, and after that, make choices about how you live your life. I think human beings are worth more than where they fall onto a chart, or what four letters they have been assigned. You have free will, use it.