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Just as it’s easy to write computer code that would badly fail a Turing test, it’s easy for humans to fail an ideological Turing test.  All you have to do is express your own thinking.  For instance, here’s Brad DeLong:

I have never met a believer in Nozickianism who can [successfully explain Nozickian political philosophy], and I expect never to do so…if any Nozickian believer ever grasps the structure of the argument well enough to successfully explain it, they thereby cease to be a Nozickian believer. Nozickian believers are thus, in a sense, incapable of passing the Turing Test.

This is a failure of the ideological Turing test, since it’s obvious to any observer from this writing that its author is indeed not a Nozickian.  Indeed, DeLong is expressing his liberal interpretation of Nozick.  Which is a fine thing to do.  But it’s not something that Nozickians would ever do, (unless they were trying to pass the ideological Turing test for Nozickians).

DeLong is arguing that an opposing view, if understood the way he understands it, is wrong.  This is not a way to win the ideological Turing test; it merely begs the question of whether DeLong actually understands the opposing view correctly.  There are other thinkers who understand Nozick differently and, unsurprisingly, they have different interpretations of the merits of Nozickian.  The point of the ideological Turing test is not for thinkers with opposing views to angrily point fingers at each other and say “You’re wrong!” “No, you’re wrong!”  The point is for thinkers to try to show that they can express opposing views in a favorable light, such that a neutral observer would think the arguer supported these views.

Meanwhile, I’m pretty unimpressed by Bryan Caplan–who initially proposed the ideological Turing test–backtracking:

If someone wanted to make me fail an ideological Turing Test, what kinds of questions would they ask? … Questions that explicitly solicit arguments.  I’m apt to get carried away, and forget that these implicitly test whether you understand what people take for granted.  Even if I keep this fact in mind, it’s hard to strike a believably intermediate stance.

My prediction remains that Caplan would fail an ideological Turing test quite miserably. as would most thinkers with strong views.  Here he’s saying that while he can state liberal viewpoints, he can’t defend them the way a liberal would.  Or, in other words, he doesn’t think about liberalism the same way a liberal does, and couldn’t convince observers that he does.

Which is fine.  It’s okay that Brian Caplan is a libertarian and Paul Krugman is a liberal, that David Gordon likes Nozick and that Brad DeLong does not.  Ideological diversity is a good thing.  What’s not fine is for Caplan or Krugman or anyone else to get up on a high horse and claim that they understand their opposition better than their opposition understands them.  Rather, they need to recognize that their views are theories, based on their own (highly limited) perception of the world, that their theories clash, and that in order for them to improve their and our understanding of their world, they need to talk to each other.

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