A fair “Ideological Turing Test”


Barry Arrington wants to pretend that critics of intelligent design don’t understand intelligent design, and so he set up an “Ideological Turing Test,” a challenge to correctly define an opponent’s position:

So, here is my challenge to our opponents: Do you understand ID well enough to pass the Ideological Turing Test? If you think you do, prove it by giving a one paragraph summary of ID in the comments below.

The problem is that Arrington himself is the judge, and he has a pretty good idea which of his readers are critics of intelligent design:

screenshot-2016-12-01-08-20-27

As Fordgreen points out,

It’s an interesting exercise, but shouldn’t the responses be anonymous for this to work correctly? Isn’t that how a real Turing test would be conducted?

So let’s give it a try. Arrington says that the answers given by critics of intelligent design”…demonstrate no more than a superficial understanding of, and a contempt for, ID.” See if you can distinguish which of the following definitions of intelligent design are superficial and contemptuous straw men and which are the real definitions given by advocates of intelligent design. I suggest really trying it; write down your guesses, or post them in the comments (honor system here, no googling or visiting Arrington’s post, please). I’ll post the answers tomorrow.

1. “Intelligent design is a scientific theory that argues that the best explanation for some natural phenomena is an intelligence cause, especially when we find certain types of information and complexity in nature which in our experience are caused by intelligence.”

2. “The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

3. “Intelligent Design suggests that some aspects of the natural world are best explained as coming about through design. The arguments for this view are largely based on the improbability of other mechanisms (e.g. evolution) producing the world we observe. Most current research in ID is based on calculating these improbabilities (usually using information theory).”

4. “By “intelligent design” I mean to imply design beyond the simple laws of nature. That is, taking the laws of nature as given, are there other reasons for concluding that life and its component systems have been intentionally arranged, just as there are reasons beyond the laws of nature for concluding a mousetrap was designed?”

5. “Intelligent design is the proposition that some features of the natural world, especially of living things, are best explained by the influence of an intelligent agent (in some accounts, the agent in question is supernatural).”

6. “Intelligent design maintains that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than unguided natural processes.”

7. “The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

8. “Intelligent Design is the search for circumstantial empirical evidence indicating that either Nature itself, or certain patterns in Nature, can be best explained scientifically as the product of an intelligent agent (or agents).”

9. “Intelligent design advocates argue that some features of the natural world are best explained by the action of some intelligence, rather than natural and/or undirected forces. In biology this goal is usually pursued by demonstrating that biological systems (including particular proteins, other gene products and interactions among these molecules) could not have have been generated by the biological processes known to generate and filter genetic diversity.”

10. “Intelligent Design holds that the universe and its living things are not simply the product of random chance; an intelligent cause is behind their existence.”

11. “…the idea that certain features of the natural world are better explained as the product of a guiding transcendent intelligence than as the result of unguided natural processes.”

Update: the answers are here.

Comments

    • Matthew Herron says

      Right on 3 and 9; 5 and 7 were also from commenters. 1 and 4 were from Casey Luskin and Michael Behe, respectively. Still, pretty good overall!

  1. Tom Brekke says

    1- IDer
    2- IDer
    3- Critic
    4- IDer
    5- Critic
    6- IDer
    7- IDer
    8- Critic
    9- Critic
    10-IDer
    11- Critic

    Looking back, I think I made most of these calls based on two things: eloquence and understanding of evolution.
    For instance, #2 and #10 seem to show some misunderstanding of evolution. So I assumed this must have come from a IDer. I assumed that someone who understands evolution, even when describing the opposing side’s viewpoint, wouldn’t mis-represent their own side.
    Secondly, and perhaps because of my own cirtical standpoint, I assumed that the more eloquent statements must come from critics. Examples of this are #5, #9, and #11 which are all well-presented so I guessed from critics, compared with #4 which sounds very grandiose and woo-ish and I think must be an IDer.
    There are also a couple that seem pretty disparaging towards ID (#3, and #8) and so I assumed these must have come from critics. If I am actually correct on these two, I wonder if the authors of these fully understood the objective of the excercise.

    • Matthew Herron says

      Perfect up to #7, which I should really give you, since it’s identical to #2. 8 and 11, though, are from vjtorley on Uncommon Descent and Stephen Meyer on Evolution News and Views, respectively. Good show!

  2. lorn says

    It dawns on me that while a test acceptable to ID proponents is unlikely there is a simple, potentially one-question test to identify people who lean toward ID:

    When presented with a mystery to which no answer is immediately obvious do you automatically include supernatural causality and metaphysical engineering in the short list of contemplated explanations?

    Shorter version:
    When a sock comes up missing does the possibility of divine/demonic intervention, gnomes, trans-dimensional gateways and the rapture of underclothing seem likely and deserving of serious consideration?

  3. says

    As Tom Brekke, I’m basing my evaluation mainly on the phrasing. After all, the various definitions say basically the same thing.

    Advocates:
    1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11

    Critics:
    3, 5, 8, 9

    • Matthew Herron says

      After all, the various definitions say basically the same thing.

      Pretty much, yeah. You came the closest, missing only #7, which is sort of a trick question, and #8, which is from vjtorley on Uncommon Descent.

  4. Dunc says

    What, exactly, would “more than a superficial understanding of [..] ID” look like? I mean, it’s a pretty superficial idea.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    … critics of intelligent design”…demonstrate no more than a superficial understanding of, and a contempt for, ID.”

    Those who have more than a superficial understanding of ID, and more than a superficial understanding of actual science, have little choice but contempt for ID [okay, pity in certain cases].

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