In lieu of seven quick takes today, I want to start hammering out logistics for the ideological turing test challege mentioned yesterday. (Visitors from the Quick Takes blog carnival, click the link to get up to speed and feel free to email me or post a comment if you’d like to be a guestblogger). In brief, the goal is to test how well you understand the arguments and beliefs of the people you disagree with trying to see if you can sum up their position as they would. Do understand an atheist so well you could pass for one in an argument?
I originally thought it might be me versus one Christian, but, since a number of people have told me they’re interested, so feel free to email me and sign up. I won’t tell you how many Christians and how many atheists are in until after the fact, so you can’t use it as a guide when making your guesses. I’m not capping people entering for now, but if I get too many responses, I’ll try and put individual bloggers in touch with each other to run their own matches.
Here’s the fun part. I need your help to design a good test. Trying to run a live chat is too logistically crazy, so I think the best plan is to have competitors write essays or answer a slate of questions (and I’m leaning toward the latter. Here’s my current idea: we make a list of 3-5 questions for Christians and 3-5 questions for atheists and all participants in the experiment answer both sets within the appropriate framework. Remember, the goal will be both to argue the side you believe well and to accurately impersonate a person on the other side.
I’ll take suggestions for questions for either side in the comment section (and this post may be a good place to look for inspiration). Here are a couple question ideas off the top of my head:
- Why are you a Christian?/Why are you an atheist?
- What’s the hardest truth your beliefs have led you to?
- (For Christians) What do you find uniquely compelling about Christianity, as opposed to other religions?
Origially I thought I might recruit a panel of atheist and Christian bloggers, but I don’t know how feasible that is and, as a statistics geek, I hate small sample sizes. My current thought is to ask some of the bloggers I know to send their readers over to take a survey on what they thought (while providing a little demographic data on their own beliefs so I can run crosstabs.
I’ll certainly tabulate guesses across everyone who answers, but I’ll also see which atheists were most convincingly Christians to Christians only and which Christians were best at sounding like atheists to atheists. We’ll see how different those numbers are.
Good plan? Other suggestions?
I’ll come up with something to give away to the Most Atheist Christian (the writer who manages most convincingly to argue like an atheist) and the Most Christian Atheist, but, for now, they’re TBA.