An Ideological Turing Test for Believers and Atheists

by Luke Muehlhauser on July 8, 2011 in General Atheism

Leah Libresco sent me the following interesting announcement:

Economist Brian Caplan designed an Ideological Turing Test to help people check their biases and blindspots.  To pass a standard Turing Test, a computer needs to be able to be able to imitate human conversation well enough to trick a human.  To pass an Ideological Turing Test, you need to imitate your ideological opponent well enough to be indistinguishable from one.  The goal is to make sure your internal conception of the other side that you’ve been attacking isn’t a straw man.

I’ve set up a competition of this form with a religious twist.  A slate of fifteen people (some atheist, some Christian) have spent the past week answering questions meant for atheists).  Now, I need judges to look through the entries and guess which were written sincere atheists and which by shamming Christians.  The whole process will be repeated next week with questions meant for Christians.  You can read more about the experiment here and you can start reading and evaluating the contestants here.  Graphs and statistics to follow!

Looks fun.

Previous post:

Next post:

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob July 8, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I scored it 9 Christians and 6 atheists.

  (Quote)

Ben A July 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Started taking the quiz but when I got to the radio button questions, the question seemed to be replaced by unclickable hyperlinks…

  (Quote)

Chris Hallquist July 8, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Here are my answers. Don’t look if you haven’t done the survey yet and don’t want to taint your results! I do this partly for my own benefit, so I can check my answers later.

Atheist: 3, 6, 7, 8, 12, 15
Lean Atheist: 2
Lean Christian: 1, 4, 9, 10, 11
Christian: 5, 13, 14

  (Quote)

Garren July 8, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Chris, I’m in ‘team’ agreement with you on six of the fifteen responses, with three of those being full matches (team and strength).

  (Quote)

tom July 9, 2011 at 2:00 am

Started taking the quiz but when I got to the radio button questions, the question seemed to be replaced by unclickable hyperlinks…

Copy and paste the address in parentheses for each subject in a new tab.

  (Quote)

AH July 9, 2011 at 3:55 am

I’m just wondering whether the results might be biased due to inherent differences between atheist logic and christian belief systems. Atheist logic would tend to be simple, consistent, sort-of easily explainable, so that even religious people would be able to correctly remember and reproduce it, even though they reject the arguments. Christian belief systems, on the other hand, might not be so consistent, easy to define / vague and thus harder to remember/understand so you can reproduce the reasons/arguments.

  (Quote)

Mike B. July 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm

That’s really interesting. I think a better test would be to allow people to do their research and then ask them questions in real time. It would provide more chances to uncover the true ideologies of the participants, and would also be an interesting exercise for the people defending views they didn’t agree with.

  (Quote)

Reginald Selkirk July 9, 2011 at 3:23 pm

AH: I’m just wondering whether the results might be biased due to inherent differences between atheist logic and christian belief systems…

I guess that’s the point of the quiz. I was impressed by the pseudo-atheist efforts, there was none of the simplistic, “I’m an atheist so I can be immoral without being punished by God” kind of crap that shows up so often in letters to the editor.

I thought the question on ethics was the most revealing.

  (Quote)

Kaelik July 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Yep, ethics questions seemed to be the most revealing, especially anything that started “I think everyone really has the same moral intuitions.” Yes, they could just be dumb atheists, but give me break.

  (Quote)

Reginald Selkirk July 10, 2011 at 9:18 am

And those who said things like, “I’m a pure Kantian.” There is no philosophical theory of morality, including theistic versions, which is without problems. Taking a pure theoretical approach to an empirical problem shows a naivety which I associate with someone not actually having lived that life.

  (Quote)

Leave a Comment