Gilbert of The Last Conformer was one of the two all-around winners of this year’s Ideological Turing Test, and now he’s got two posts up laying out his approach to passing for an atheist and winkling out impersonators in both rounds. I really enjoy the behind the scenes looks everyone is giving us with these follow-up essays. So, without further ado:
My strategy was a compromise. From my honest answers I subtracted the parts that wouldn’t fly and then filled the large gaps in with average atheist ideas. For example, I didn’t think I could sell a socially conservative atheist so I made my atheist somewhat leftist. I also made him slightly Yudkowskian, but I didn’t go all in on that because I didn’t want too much of a stereotype. Effectively my atheist doesn’t have much of a coherent philosophy and I papered that over with pragmatism and distaste for abstract speculation. This isn’t so far from standard Internet atheism. Think of atheists assuring us how they are “good without gods” but mostly being totally disinterested in explaining the theoretical side of that. It’s totally un-me though, one of the things I really value in Catholicism is consistency.
It’s worthwhile to pay attention to what the contestants care about. So it can be revealing if contestants give the right answers to the wrong questions. In retrospect this is where my own atheist entry sucked. I lead in with a thinly veiled reference to the atheist canard of belief-in-belief. And then I end my answer to the second question with “Moral progress actually happened by stepping past unquestionable authorities.” It’s not that many Internet atheists would disagree with that; these two bullshit ideas are actually quite popular with them. But they are also quite extraneous to the main line of my atheist’s argument. If he was real, the atheist I portrayed would have had more important ideas to communicate on a budget of 600 words. But they are things that annoy me, so they are important features of my image of atheism. Effectively that made me sound more bigoted than the real atheists. This didn’t harm me on the main results (Though the reckoning may yet come on the so-far unrevealed attractiveness scores), but if people had thought of that heuristic it would have been fairly easy to figure me out.