Ideological Turing Test Results–Sin makes me stupid!

So the answer key for Leah’s “Ideological Turing Test” has been revealed! Go there and click around.

This is a thing where atheists and Christians attempt to answer questions both from their own POV/beliefs and from the “other side.” The stated objective, per Leah, is to give “a nice way to see how well both sides understand how the other team thinks.” Participating was a fascinating experience… and I really dislike both of my answers, Catholic and atheist, although for different reasons.

Catholic first. I wrote this one first, and the difficulty I had writing it should have been a hint that I understood the whole exercise a lot less than I thought I did. It was really tough to answer questions about subjects so important to me without using the examples and language I would use ordinarily (because I didn’t want to make my real identity obvious). I initially had a whole paragraph which I realized was stupid and not what I actually believe! I asked Leah to scrap that, and sent her a different paragraph to replace it, but there’s still a lot of sloppy language and phrasing which is almost-but-not-quite. It feels fake to me. I don’t know that I actually disagree with anything I said, but I would have said it very differently, I think, without feeling the need to maintain a mask.

The problem with my atheist answers was more humiliating! Basically I was arrogant or vain. Instead of thinking, “This is the first time I’ve ever participated in something like this, and I had a really tough time writing something from my own perspective–maybe I should do something really basic and clear for the fake-atheist answers,” I decided to use the ITT to explore the tangle of submission/authority/trust/surrender from an imagined atheist perspective. This turned out to be well beyond my imaginative or philosophical capacities. I think starting with a question so close to the heart of my own faith was a huge mistake. I’m not entirely sure what a better approach would have been, but introspection after the fact helped me see that the approach I did take was colored by pride in my own intellectual and imaginative capacities.

Many voters seemed to agree! A lot of people accurately spotted that I was faking, there. Those who didn’t, if any (I can’t see the vote counts yet), or who expressed uncertainty in the comments, may have been responding to the fact that a lot of the personal details were real. The puzzle pieces were often authentic even though the picture they made up overall was fake. (More on this stuff later, she threatened.)

So what have we learned here? Apparently I’m bad at being myself, and even worse at being someone else! …I feel like I already knew that. But no, I do think this has been a good reminder of my limitations, and a reinforcement of my belief that humility usually produces better intellectual work than vanity.

I do really want to know why people thought I was a guy though!

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About Eve Tushnet