Answers to “Ideological Turing Test”

tl;dr: definitions 3, 5, 7, and 9 are among the answers Barry Arrington says ”…demonstrate no more than a superficial understanding of, and a contempt for, ID”; all the others are from advocates of intelligent design.

I include my own deleted answer (#5) among those Arrington dismisses, since Arrington must have seen it before he made his ‘superficial and contemptuous’ comment.

No one got them all right, for example various commenters thought that answers from Michael Behe, vjtorley, Stephen Meyer, and were from critics of intelligent design. And that, of course, is the point. Arrington dismisses as superficial and contemptuous definitions that are pretty much the same as those offered by fellows of the Discovery Institute. In fact (and I’m surprised no one pointed this out), two of them ARE the same: #2, from the Discovery Institute website, is word for word identical to #7, one of the answers Arrington says is wrong. So according to Arrington, the Discovery Institute’s own definition of intelligent design fails his test. I’d love to point that out, but of course I’ve been banned.

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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:


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.

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You can’t meet Barry Arrington’s challenge, because he won’t let you

Barry Arrington posed a challenge to critics of intelligent design:

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 “Ideological Turing Test” to which he refers is attributed to Bryan Caplan:

The Ideological Turing Test is a concept invented by Bryan Caplan to test whether a political or ideological partisan correctly understands the arguments of his or her intellectual adversaries. The partisan is invited to answer questions or write an essay posing as his opposite number; if neutral judges cannot tell the difference between the partisan’s answers and the answers of the opposite number, the candidate is judged to correctly understand the opposing side. [link in the original]

As I’ve mentioned before, I try to present my opponents’ arguments honestly, so I felt pretty up to the challenge:


Screenshot from at 1:04 pm EST.

Either Arrington doesn’t want his narrative spoiled, or he doesn’t want to be reminded of what he’s said in the past, because he deleted my comment:

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It’s not evolution, just adaptation

…”evolve” is not the correct term. The microbes adapted. – Cornelius Hunter

We heard several accusations during the recent Presidential campaign that one or the other candidate, or an interviewer, had taken a quote out of context. Of course, every quote is taken out of context. That’s what a quote is; otherwise it’s just the whole speech, or interview, or whatever. The important question is whether or not it’s taken out of context in a way that changes its meaning.

One thing I don’t do, and never have done, on this blog is intentionally misrepresent other people’s positions.  The quote above, from a recent post by Cornelius Hunter on Evolution News and Views, means just what it says. He really is arguing that microbial adaptation observed in Lenski-style experiments is not evolution.

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Behe’s bait and switch: on the falsifiability of intelligent design

Michael Behe. Image from Uncommon Descent.

Michael Behe. Image from Uncommon Descent.

In a post on Evolution News and Views, Michael Behe sidesteps criticisms that intelligent design is not scientific with a bit of verbal judo. By conflating falsification of particular claims with falsification of intelligent design in general, he seems to back his critics into a rhetorical corner:

Now, one can’t have it both ways. One can’t say both that ID is unfalsifiable (or untestable) and that there is evidence against it. Either it is unfalsifiable and floats serenely beyond experimental reproach, or it can be criticized on the basis of our observations and is therefore testable. The fact that critical reviewers advance scientific arguments against ID (whether successfully or not) shows that intelligent design is indeed falsifiable.

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Proxima b is a challenge to materialism, according to David Klinghoffer

David Klinghoffer, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, thinks the discovery of a relatively close, relatively Earth-like planet presents a challenge not only to evolutionary theory (Klinghoffer thinks every new discovery presents a challenge to evolutionary theory), but to any materialist worldview (“Put Up or Shut Up for Evolution? Nearest ‘Habitable’ Planet Found Orbiting Proxima Centauri“):

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Teach lies to schoolchildren, because it used to be easy to cross the border

Photo by John Minchillo.

Photo by John Minchillo, downloaded from New Scientist.

Someone over at Uncommon Descent is unhappy with a New Scientist article criticizing Ken Ham’s Ark Park, an explicitly creationist-themed attraction dedicated to Biblical literalism. In the New Scientist article (“School field trips to creationist Ark? Sink that idea right now“), Josh Rosenau argues that teaching school children that the Earth is 6,000 years old, and that a vengeful creator committed genocide by drowning against his creation, is a bad idea.

Uncommon Descent objects, in a post that reveals more about its (unnamed) author than it presents any coherent argument (“New Scientist stomps on Noah’s Ark“) [PG-13 below the fold]:

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Pointing out a lie makes me a “fascist apologist”

Over at Discover Institute blog Uncommon Descent, I pointed out that the central claim of Barry Arrington’s post “Further to ‘When You Scratch a Progressive, You Will Find a Fascist Underneath’” is a lie. In response, Arrington calls me and several other commenters “fascist apologists.”

In the original article, Arrington takes issue with the proposals advanced by the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee:

The Democrats’ platform committee says they have a “Final Draft To Advance Progressive Democratic Values.”

Among those progressive values, criminalizing scientific dissent. A plank calling for criminal prosecution of anyone who dissent’s from “the scientific reality of climate change” was adopted with unanimous consent. Progressives do not tolerate dissent even from calling for the persecution of dissenters. [emphasis in the original]

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