[Turing 2012] Pencils Down, Masks Off

[Turing 2012] Pencils Down, Masks Off June 13, 2012

Later today, you’ll find out how well you did at spotting the fakers in the Atheist round (Christian round scores follow tomorrow), but now it’s time for the big reveal.  At the bottom of the post is a table sorted by entry number, so you can check your guesses more efficiently.  So, without further ado, let’s meet our lovely contestants:



Alan – Author of A7 and C13
I am an ordained pastor. I grew up in a mainline church but changed denominations over polity. I first experienced the holy through nature and growing relationships, youth group, on mission trips and international travel. I earned an engineering degree before seminary, but found seminary exceptionally engaging. I try to help others see God within, around and between.

Christian H – Author of A1 and C12
I am an Anglican-ish Canadian of Lutheran background. I am also a humanities MA student. A friend of mine once said that I have a “love affair with post-modernism,” which might be true, but I’ve recently coined the word “tentativist” to describe myself. I’m also a pretty interdisciplinary nerd.
Christian H blogs at The Thinking Grounds

Elliot – Author of A11 and C5
I was born the son of an Evangelical pastor, grew up attending a large non-denominational church in Chicago, attended Catholic schools pre-K through 12th grade, and spent my free time in high school reading Brian Greene, Morris Kline, Plato, and (especially) Kant. After a lot of time with Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Foucault, I entered the Catholic Church, by the grace of God and the ministry of Fr. Joseph Allen, OP.
Elliot blogs at The Paraphasic

Eve Tushnet – Author of A9 and C9
I was raised sort of atheist, sort of Reform Jewish. I was received into the Catholic Church my sophomore year of college, which was in 1998.
Eve Tushnet blogs in Patheos’s Catholic channel

Gilbert – Author of A5 and C6
Growing up, I started out as what Americans would call a Cafeteria Catholic. As I started thinking for myself I noted that world-view was full of contradictions. But instead of going atheist I doubled down and gradually turned into the reactionary Catholic I’m now. In secular Germany that makes me seem rather eccentric.
Gilbert blogs at The Last Conformer

Ruth – Author of A6 and C3
I am a female ordained minister in the United Church of Christ; I grew up United Methodist. I have always been active in church but had a crisis of faith while in college related to experiences at Nazi concentration camps. A rabbi sent me back to church on Easter.

Sweet Tea – Author of A3 and C11
Sweet Tea was raised conservative Mennonite, but has evolved through Reformed Presbyterianism, mainline Baptist thought, and lastly regular worship and study of Judaism to realize he truly believes with the Catholic Church.



Guy – Author of A8 and C4
Raised Anglican, I gradually turned atheist as I realised people actually believed the stories they told in church. I developed my own beliefs in ongoing discussions with a mixed bag of Christians, Muslims and other atheists in the school library. My interest in religion continues, in debates and church visits.

Jacob – Author of A12 and C1
I was a Christian for most of my life. In college, I realized I wasn’t seeing the evidence I should if Christianity was true, and rejected Christianity (slowly, over two years) in favor of Atheism. I’ve recently started investigating Christianity (and other world views) once again. So far, every world view I’ve come across (including my own) has huge flaws. For the moment, I’m somewhere between Atheist and Agnostic.
Jacob blogs at The Thoughtful Atheist

Matt – Author of A13 and C8
Matt is an atheist and de-converted Catholic. He holds no belief in the supernatural and promotes responsible skepticism, secularism, and the pursuit of broadly beneficial and applicable ethics. He gets on well with his family despite being the only atheist in the bunch. He wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be in third person.

Matt DeStefano – Author of A2 and C2
I grew up as a non-denominational Christian, and I was intent on becoming an apologist for the faith. I read Lewis, Tolkien, Chesterton and others voraciously, and read the Bible daily. The difficulties with my faith began in high school, when I encountered the evidence for evolution. While it was difficult to swallow taking Genesis metaphorically, I found the other doctrinal issues related to evolution especially difficult as well. This led me to question other parts of the Bible, and I realized how poor the evidence for my faith actually was.
Matt DeStephano blogs at Soul Sprawl

Neal – Author of A10 and C7
Currently happily married father of two, working and studying at an institute of higher education. Grew up Catholic, participating in charismatic renewal. Thinking through epistemology led me to question religion’s objective truth. Personal experience convinced me if religion was true, it was an artifact of my mind. Pragmatism pointed out that if it was in my mind, there wasn’t any point in “believing” it.

Shawn – Author of A4 and C10
I’m a 31 year old atheist social worker. I’m married to a lovely woman who is a Christian and we have 2 kids together. For most of my life I was a New-Agey nondualist, until February 2008 when I became an atheist. I’m a fierce advocate for the homeless and quite the geek.
Shawn blogs at Belief in People


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  • So by my fallible calculation and assuming the null hypothesis is that judging is essentially a coin-toss the p-values would be as follows:

    For non-contestants:
    #correct| p-value
    (-) | (%)
    7/13 | 50.00
    8/13 | 29.05
    9/13 | 13.34
    10/13 | 4.61
    11/13 | 1.12
    12/13 | 0.17
    13/13 | 0.01

    For contestants
    #correct| p-value
    (-) | (%)
    7/12 | 38.72
    8/12 | 19.38
    9/12 | 7.30
    10/12 | 1.93
    11/12 | 0.32
    12/12 | 0.02

    As for myself, I have 9/12 on the atheist round and 8/12 on the Christian round, both insignificant by the usual standard. Add to that the comments suggesting my entries probably bombed too and the first result is that I officially suck.

  • 9/13 and 10/13 … eh, I’ll take it. 🙂

    Gilbert, thanks for the quick stats. Your atheist entry tricked me the hardest, I marked it as very likely atheist.

    • leahlibresco

      You’re in good company in getting tricked by Gilbert.

  • deiseach

    Eight out of thirteen right on the Atheist round, eight out of thirteen right on the Christian round. At least I’m consistent 🙂

    The best fakers (for me) were the atheists who had been Christians and so could ‘talk the talk’ convincingly. I was much better at recognising the atheists who had little or no direct experience of being a believer when they tried to pull it off. Also, I think I did slightly better at recognising the Christians who were Catholics, which means I’m not nearly as familiar with non-Catholic Christianity as I should be.

    • The best fakers (for me) were the atheists who had been Christians and so could ‘talk the talk’ convincingly.

      …except for me, who apparently can’t make anybody think I actually believe anything 🙂

  • Iota

    I voted on some of the Christian responses only and forgot to even write them down (despite earlier experience I assumed I’d remember who I vote on and how – yeah, right…). But I do have to say this: Elliot, thumbs up for “Bernard of Clairvaux on the degrees of pride.”

    This was the only thing (out of all the mentioned) that I found so interesting and new to me (at the same time) I had to goggle and see what it’s about. And I remember thinking that if that prompt was written by an atheist, I’ll have to officially ask Leah for some sort of bonus award, as per this. 🙂

  • Thanks to Sweet Tea for making sure I wasn’t the ONLY person to write their bio in 3rd person.