In the summer of 2012, I repeated my spin on Bryan Caplan’s Ideological Turing Test. The standard Turing Test challenges programmers to see if they can write software that can imitate human conversation. Some people think this is a reasonable proxy for machine intelligence, but they should probably read more about Monte Carlo Markov chains. The Turing Test is a pretty interesting test of how we think humans talk, though. Programmers have to study it more deeply in order to simulate it.
So Caplan came up with his twist as a challenge to economist Paul Krugman (who had been quoted saying he understood libertarian economics and found them shallow). The Ideological Turing Test was meant to test how well you understood your opponents. Do you know their arguments and their thought processes well enough to pass for one of them?
Since I was mainly having fights about religion, I adapted it for atheists and Christians. First I write up a list of questions. Then each contestant writes two sets of answers: one honest, one as they think someone on the other side would answer. The commenters try to spot which are sincere and which are make-believe.
The first year’s contest was a lot of fun, but it turns out the questions (which focused a lot on standards of proof) rewarded Christians who wrote as ‘boring’ atheists. So this time around, the questions focused on trust, authority, and aesthetics, with weirder results. The links below will take you to all the relevant posts.
Atheist Round Entries – Here the atheists give their honest answers and the Christians hope their impersonations pass muster
Christian Round Entries – The roles are switched: Christians are sincere, atheists are shamming
Answer Key – Find out which entries were written by whom and check out short bios of the players
Atheist Round Winners – Which Christians convinced the atheist voters they were for real?
Christian Round Winners – And vice versa
MORE ANALYSIS! – The tag linked there will take you to better charts, contestants explaining their strategies (successful or not) and yet more to come.