7 Quick Takes (7/8/11)

7 Quick Takes (7/8/11) July 8, 2011


This week, I’ve been posting all the entries in my Ideological Turing Test Contest – a challenge for individual Christians and Atheists to see how well they understand each other.  This week, Christians are trying to imitate Atheists well enough to be indistinguishable from them.  Next week, the atheists will return the favor.  (All inspired by Bryan Caplan’s Ideological Turing Test.


For this contest to work, I need you all to vote on which of the answers you think were written by real atheists and which are the work of Christians trying to mimic them.  The voting page IS NOW LIVE.  Please forward the link to any friends who are interested in religion and come back next week to vote on the next round!


A large part of the reason I’m running this contest is because I think it’s essential, when we disagree, that we try and double check to make sure we’re disagreeing constructively.  The Turing Test is meant to catch people who have set themselves up in opposition to a straw man and are blind to the nuances and arguments of the other side.

As I wrote in my final Yale Daily News column, learning what my opponents thought well enough to be able to imitate them is the best lesson I learned in college (and it’s led me to change some long-held beliefs and get better at pitching people on the ones I’ve held on to.


Logistics for this contest having taken up a fair amount of my time, I’ll make the rest of these Quick Takes a quick potpourri of interesting links I’ve found on Reader or elsewhere lately.  First up, it’s not a self-indulgent Quick Takes post without some interesting science explanation, so here’s Engineer Guy explaining how fiber optics cables work by using a bucket, some antifreeze, and a laser.


I really enjoyed the Vanity Fair profile of Groupon.  Here’s a pull quote:

Michael Bloomberg was due to arrive any minute at the downtown-Chicago headquarters of the daily-deals Web site Groupon. Andrew Mason, the 30-year-old founder and chief executive of what Forbes deemed “the fastest growing company ever,” was standing in the company’s glass-paneled cafeteria on the sixth floor, chatting with employees and popping blueberries into his mouth. Next to him was Spice, a spotted pony with a poofy Groupon-green taffeta bow wrapped around his neck. Spice was a gift for Mayor Bloomberg…

He had originally planned to give the mayor a puppy, but decided that a pony would be even more memorable. “I mean, it’s such a heavy thing to gift someone,” he said, laughing. “I thought it would be funny to give it to somebody as busy as the mayor.”

He shrugged his shoulders. “Really, I don’t know how it ended up this way. Sometimes I put an idea out there. It’s like telephone, the game—it comes out the other side a pony in the cafeteria.”

Less than 20 minutes later I walked by the cafeteria and Spice was gone.

Moments before Bloomberg arrived, one of Mason’s employees had Googled “horse” and “Mayor Bloomberg.” He discovered that the mayor’s daughter had recently been in a riding accident.

Mason panicked. Worried that Spice would offend the mayor, he ordered somebody to hide the pony. Spice spent the duration of the mayor’s visit in a freight elevator.


Thanks to Tristyn of Eschatological Psychosis, I’ve been listening to the Wailin Jennys the whole time I’ve been writing these takes, so now you are, too.


In honor of today’s shuttle launch, here’s the story of how astronaut Buzz Aldrin took communion in space.

I hit upon that story while I was googling around, trying to find out if Catholic astronauts celebrated Mass or took the Eucharist up in a pyx when they were in space.  Buzz Aldrin is a Protestant, so I’m still wondering.



[Seven Quick Takes is a blog carnival run by Jen of Conversion Diary]

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  • Insane Clown Posse

    Fiber optic cables…how they work?