The Ideological Turing Test is a concept invented by American economist 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. The ideological Turing test is so named because of its similarity with the Turing test, a test whereby a machine is required to fool a neutral judge into thinking that it is human.
The idea was first mooted by Caplan in 2011 in response to Paul Krugman's claim that, in the context of US politics, liberals understand conservatives (and libertarians) better than conservatives (and libertarians) understand liberals. Borrowing the idea of the Turing test used to judge whether machines can pass themselves off as human, Caplan suggested the ideological Turing test as a way to impartially test Krugman's claim: whichever side understands the other better would perform better on an ideological Turing test. He also offered to take the test himself and offered to bet that libertarians could more easily pass themselves off as liberal than liberals could pass themselves off as libertarian.
Caplan's post was praised by Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy blog.
The Ideological Turing test is important because it lets us disambiguate two different cases:
1) my opponent does not agree with position X because he is too stupid / ignorant / confused to understand position X
2) my opponent does not agree with position X because he has considered it and found it wanting.
Today we've secretly replaced your regular Clark with Folger's Clark; let's see if you notice the difference.
Please ask me anything about politics, religion, culture, economics, the family, gay marriage, the Obama scandals, immigration, the Republican party, libertarians, etc. I will answer it as a mainstream liberal US Democrat. Then you may judge how well I do.
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