Intellectual Turing Test Results: Silver Medal


So in Ozy’s Intellectual Turing Test, in which anti-social justice folk tried to pass themselves off as social justice folk, and vice-versa, I’m pleased to report I came in second, with 75% of readers believing I was anti-SJ. (In the comments of that link, there’s a little debate between me and a few other folks about gamergate.)

You can read my second place anti-social-justice entry here, if you’re curious, and my pro-social-justice entry here. Curiously, I tied for “most likely to be fake” among the SJ entries by SJ writers, but that may have been because I was in a hurry and wrote too briefly.

Daniel’s winning anti-SJ entry, which 85% believed was genuine anti-SJ, is here. Toggle’s pro-SJ entry, which an amazing 95% of people took to be genuine pro-SJ, is here.

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16 Responses to Intellectual Turing Test Results: Silver Medal

  1. 1
    Jason Shiga says:

    I’m curious what your strategy was for writing an anti-SJ essay. Did you try to make what you thought would be the most convincing anti-SJ case for you? Or was it more like trying to mimic the anti-SJ arguments that you’ve heard?

  2. 2
    Tamme says:

    @Jason Shiga: Is there such a thing as a convincing anti-SJ case?

  3. 3
    nobody.really says:

    Cool–I’m so proud of our budding Trumpinista!

    But there’s a title typo: It’s a Turing Test, not a TURNING Test.

  4. 4
    Elusis says:

    Did I read the overall results correctly? pro-SJ people pretty consistently managed to write convincing anti-SJ essays (all but one scored over 50% saying they were authentically anti-SJ) but anti-SJ people did not mange to write convincing pro-SJ (all but one scored under 50% saying they were sincere)?

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    Incidentally, I was unsatisfied with my initial “anti-sj” post and sent Ozy a revised version, but Ozy posted my original version. But since it’s a bit unsatisfying to write something and never have it posted, here’s my revised version:

    Anti-SJ Version (revised)

    1. What discourse norms do you tend to follow? Why? Do you think everyone else should follow them, and why?

    I make a point of being polite; I want to keep lines of communication open, because people who disagree with me can be really valuable. Someone who is skeptical of my conclusions will try harder to poke holes in my logic and might point out something I’ve missed.

    There are limits, though. If someone’s just attacking me, or is making genuinely ridiculous demands on me or on society in general, I’m willing to defend myself, or to just cut off conversation.

    I do think the world would be a better place if everyone voluntarily followed the same norms I do; but of course I wouldn’t force anyone to adopt my norms.

    2. What is the true reason, deep down, that you believe what you believe? What piece of evidence, test, or line of reasoning would convince you that you’re wrong about your ideology?

    My family immigrated to the US from a communist bloc country when I was young. (I’m dating myself, I know.) I think that experience, and hearing the experiences of my family members, has made me especially attuned to the value of liberty. Social Justice, by attacking people who don’t march in lockstep with SJ beliefs, effectively limits people’s liberty. When people see a teenage fan artist bullied into a suicide attempt by SJWs because she drew a fat character as thin, that inevitably has a chilling effect on speech.

    Short of divine intervention[*], I can’t think of anything that would convince me that my foundational belief in liberty is wrong. But I’m open to changing my mind about less foundational things. For example, studies have convincingly shown that the wage gap is largely a result of women have different career preferences than men (for instance, valuing part-time work more highly, or being less willing to take physically risky jobs), and not sexist employers. But if new research proves that all those other studies was faked, while new, better research consistently shows that the wage gap is mostly caused by sexist employers, then I’d change my mind.

    [*] I’m an atheist, but divine intervention could presumably change my mind on that point, as well.

    3. Explain Gamergate.

    I believe the roots of Gamergate go deeper than “The Zoe Post.”

    SJWs have taken over a lot of culture – not with armed force, but with social pressure and unfair accusations of racism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia, intended[**] to make all but the most stubborn dissenters give in or be branded a bigot. In the case of gaming, this was shown in reviews that paid more attention to social justice issues than to if the gameplay was actually good. It was shown in awards given to undeserving, uninteresting games because they checked off the right social justice boxes. And it showed in people – not just fans but also game designers – being afraid of setting off a social justice mob just because a pose was “too sexy” or a game’s characters were not the SJ-approved race or color.

    There were other issues, of course – I suspect there really are ethical problems with gaming journalism (as there are in most areas of journalism). But even more than that, SJW overreach and mob tactics have pushed a lot of people until they’re ready to push back. The result, eventually, was GamerGate. (And, in science fiction, Sad Puppies. And in mainstream politics, to a degree, the result was Donald Trump.)

    [**] I don’t think all SJWs have conscious bad intentions – on the contrary, it’s clear many SJWs mean well. But it’s also clear that many SJWs, and in particular some of the loudest voices, use accusations of bigotry as a way of shutting down disagreement.

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    Elusis – I think you’re basically right, but read the scores a bit wrong. (Or I have).

    It seems to me that, based on this admittedly tiny sample size, pro-sj people are better at faking anti-sj than vice versa.

    Only 3/8 of the anti-SJ writers were able to pass as pro-SJ for at least 50% of readers, while 8/9 pro-SJ writers were able to pass as anti-SJ for at least 50% of readers.

    Put another way, the average score of anti-SJs trying to pass as pro-SJ was 48.6%, or 45.5% if we drop the lowest and highest scores. The average score of pro-SJs trying to pass as anti-SJ was 61.6%, or 65% if we drop lowest and highest.

  7. 7
    Ampersand says:

    I posted my comment about the average scores to the comments at Thing of Things, where Aapje responded:

    It has been argued that these are not mirrored, as anti-SJ has a far greater variety.

    Imagine doing a challenge of communist vs anti-communist. Impersonating the communist would require a fairly specific viewpoint and most communists and anti-communists would be pretty familiar with the pro-commie arguments, as communism is a topic that they rally around. So faking it is fairly hard, as relatively minor mistakes could trip people up.

    In contrast, the anti-communists can be social-democrat, anarchist, monarchist, etc. A social-democrat who feels strongly about anti-communism might not actually know much about monarchism. So a relatively sloppy monarchist argument might still seem real to most anti-communists.

    So I think that the results are fairly logical and shouldn’t be used to infer too much.

    I would also argue that it is relatively easy for rationalist SJs to write an anti-SJ piece, as they appear to be outliers in the SJ movement, so they could often simply criticize mainstream SJ(W) honestly and then be fairly believable, if they tweak that a little (leave out pro-SJ jargon and/or use anti-SJ jargon). Various writers have said that they used this method.

    I’d really like to see a similar experiment with people in the vein of David Futrelle and Milo. I’d expect them to be much worse at faking the opposition (and perhaps also at writing a believable argument for their own side).

  8. 8
    Lirael says:

    I’m also curious what your strategy was for the anti-SJ* post, Amp. I have some idea of how I would come up with it if I were writing it – I’d use the things that I believed in times of my life where I didn’t agree with some of the positions that I hold now, and borrow some of my sister’s arguments – but I don’t know if what you did is similar.

    *I hate that “SJ” and “anti-SJ” have become the names for what appear to be very specific Internet communities with an interest in certain topics. That’s a whole other rant, though.

  9. 9
    desipis says:

    Interesting little competition. It’d be interesting to see people rebut the arguments they made in their opposite-of-self entries.

    I wonder how it’d go if, instead of responding to prompts, people had their pro-SJ personality have a debate against their anti-SJ personality, and people had to guess which side they really were.

  10. 10
    Ampersand says:

    It’d be interesting to see people rebut the arguments they made in their opposite-of-self entries.

    A rebuttal to my fake anti-SJW comments on Gamergate (originally posted in Ozy’s comments).

    I wrote, “SJWs have been taking over a lot of culture – not with armed force, but with social pressure and unfair accusations of racism and misogyny (and other kinds of bigotry), designed to make all but the most stubborn opponents give in.”

    This argument fails to consider that some critiques of games and other works for misogyny, racism, and other kinds of bigotry can be fair. The implication is that all such criticisms 1) are “accusations,” and 2) are “unfair”; that’s not true.

    This is problematic because even relatively mild and politely stated feminism criticisms of games – such as Anita Sarkeesian’s – were interpreted by Gamergaters as unfair attacks, attempted censorship, and unacceptable. It’s hard to avoid concluding that many GGers consider any feminist criticism of games at all unacceptable.

    This argument also attributes malice to those who make the criticisms – the criticisms are assumed to be “designed” to silence opponents, rather than being sincere.

    “In the case of gaming, this was shown in unfair reviews that paid more attention to social justice issues than to if the gameplay was actually, you know, good.”

    It’s not “unfair” for a review to consider social justice issues. Reviewers can consider whatever they want. If a reviewer wasn’t bothered by the gameplay but was bothered by the sexism, why is it wrong for them to write that?

    “It showed in awards giving to undeserving, uninteresting games because they checked off the right social justice boxes.”

    This is something the Sad Puppies and Gamergaters have in common: a belief that their view of what works are “undeserving, uninteresting” is objective, and if awards are given to what they deem bad work, it must be for corrupt and unfair reasons – rather than because people’s tastes differ.

    “And it showed in people – not just fans but also game designers – being afraid of setting off a social justice mob just because a pose was “too sexy” or a game’s avatars were not the SJ-approved race or color.”

    This argument alludes to the Overwatch controversy, in which a character’s victory pose was changed in response to criticism that the pose was too sexy in a way that was not only inappropriate but out of character. But there was no “social justice mob”; someone made a polite criticism on a forum the game creators created for exactly that purpose. The game designers agreed that the pose seemed out of character and changed it to a different pin-up style pose.

    And yet, I saw GGer after GGer discuss it as if the Overwatch pose change was unforgivable censorship accomplished with mob hatred.

    “But even more than that, SJW overreach, and people resenting SJW mob tactics, had pushed a lot of people until they were ready to push back.”

    I don’t deny that sometimes SJ inspired folks act in repugnant ways. But so do anti-SJW folks (such as the Sad Puppy movement to get Irene Gallo fired for an uncivil comment Gallo wrote in personal Facebood comments). Treating this as a uniquely SJ problem, rather than a problem with any large, passionate group on social media, is partisan and incorrect.

  11. 11
    Ampersand says:

    I’m also curious what your strategy was for the anti-SJ* post, Amp.

    My strategy was to create a character based on Cathy Young. I wasn’t literally replicating Cathy Young, obviously, but I was trying to imagine “how would a Cathy-Young-like character respond to these questions?”

  12. 12
    Elusis says:

    I don’t read Ozy’s blog regularly, though it’s in my feed reader, and I’ve largely given up reading comments most places. Still, I’m a little baffled why there isn’t more interest there (from Ozy if no one else) in the “who faked it more convincingly overall” results? Isn’t that the whole point of a “Turing test”? And the charge leveled from one “side” to the other most often – “you guys don’t even try to understand things from our perspective”? Rebutted with “we do understand you; you’re just wrong”?

    I mean, owning my pro-SJ bias here, but I expected pro-SJ people to do better as a group at mimicking anti-SJ perspectives, and they did.

  13. 13
    AcademicLurker says:


    I suspect it’s because SJ culture is a more or less coherent thing, with its own special language and ideas and unspoken assumptions. So someone from outside might easily mess up something without realizing it.

    “Anti-SJ” isn’t a coherent thing. There are a thousand reasons that people consider themselves anti-SJ, from people who are basically on board with all of the SJ goals but can’t stomach the pervasive snark, purity policing and pile-ons, all the way to full blown alt-right Nazis. So I would expect that anti-SJ would be intrinsically easier to fake.

  14. 14
    Ben Lehman says:

    Everyone thinks that their enemies are unified and their allies are diverse, squabbling weirdos.

    This doesn’t make it true.

  15. 15
    David Simon says:

    I’d like to see this done again with a broader selection of SJer and anti-SJer participants and judges. Ozy’s community intersects a lot with the rationalist community, and that influence was noticeable in a lot of the entries.

  16. 16
    Ampersand says:

    I’d like to see that too – but that requires a community in which both SJ and anti-SJ folks are present in significant numbers, and willing to deal with each other respectfully. I’m having trouble thinking of a community like that outside of Ozy’s blog.