Talk:Essay:Quantifying Openmindedness

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Not a suitable criterion

I don't think that "a genuine willingness to accept something as possibly being true" is a suitable criterion. It doesn't take into account the difference between the following two scenarios:

  • A person who has never considered the evidence. For example, I would be close-minded to say that Noah could not have fitted all the animals on the ark if I didn't know how big the ark was and how many animals would have qualified.
  • A person who has considered the available evidence and has formed a considered opinion. For example, I would be not be close-minded to say that evolution is impossible if I had studied information theory and knew how it negated the possibility.

A better definition might be "a genuine willingness to consider the evidence before rejecting an idea".

Philip J. Rayment 04:17, 7 May 2007 (EDT)

Excellent! I've made the change. God bless you.--Aschlafly 12:31, 7 May 2007 (EDT)

Thanks! I'm glad you appreciated it.
However, I believe that it now renders your examples tests invalid. You can't test for a willingness to consider the evidence by asking someone if they accept the possibility of something. If they've already considered the possibility and have concluded that it is impossible, they have been open minded on it, but would still "fail" the test.
Philip J. Rayment 22:45, 8 May 2007 (EDT)
We can ask subjects a mixture of new ideas and ones they've already heard. It can be two questions:

1. Have you seriously considered the evidence for this idea? 2. If no, then would you? 3. If yes, then describe what evidence you looked at.

--Aschlafly 23:02, 8 May 2007 (EDT)

Would saying that something is absolutely the case be just as bad as impossible that something is the case? Are people who believe without equivocation that (say...) trickle down economics works just as close minded those who believe that without equivocation that it does not? I would assert that there are people who are just as close minded about the possibility the examples that you gave as there are people who are close minded about the impossibility of the examples. --Mtur 23:08, 8 May 2007 (EDT)
But look at the definition of openmindedness, "a genuine willingness to consider the evidence before rejecting an idea." That's the difference.--Aschlafly 23:47, 8 May 2007 (EDT)
You've got the Shroud of Turin as an example. What is your stance on that? What evidence have you considered? If presented with evidence to the contrary, are you willing to change your mind? The last two questions are potentially critical ones. This is not something that someone can eaisly say "your OMQ is such and such based on this test." What about situations where there is not 'evidence' to be considered? There are a multitude of social issues out there that people feel quite strongly upon with very little open mindedness on either side. One extreme difficulty with this test is that the questions can very easily be weighted to one political view or another to make it look like the other side are a bunch of close minded fools. --Mtur 23:59, 8 May 2007 (EDT)
No, I think the three questions are simple and straightforward. We can elaborate a bit as follows:

Have you seriously considered the evidence for this idea?

1a. If no, then is that because you have never heard of it?
1aa. If if you have never heard of it, then will you seriously consider the evidence?
1ab. If you have heard of it, but have never seriously considered the evidence, then on this question you lose a point for lack of openmindedness.
2b. If yes, then how much time have you spent reviewing the evidence? What evidence did you look at?
2ba. If less than 1 hour, then you lose a point for lack of openmindedness.
2bb. If more than 1 hour, then you gain a point for openmindedness.

(the time period may vary depending on the complexity of the topic).--Aschlafly 00:15, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

Now that's getting much closer to a suitable test. I'm glad you put that last point in; before I read it, my reaction was, "but one hour may not always be appropriate".
Another thought that needs developing: There are lots of things that I won't spend the time considering, simply because I don't have the time. But in those cases, I try not to criticise the idea because I haven't properly considered it. Philip J. Rayment 05:52, 9 May 2007 (EDT)
Good point. I'll incorporate all these concepts now.--Aschlafly 10:12, 9 May 2007 (EDT)
I have a question about your 1ab point. If for example, someone says no, they haven't seriously considered the evidence for the Shroud of Turin, but have heard of it, how does that make them less open minded? What if to that person the topic is just not found to be very interesting, and they prefer to spend time researching topics that are more interesting to them? --Colest 10:23, 9 May 2007 (EDT)
OK, in that case the follow-up question should be whether the person forms an opinion for himself about this topic without looking at the evidence. If the answer is yes, then that is quintessential closemindedness. I'll update the content page based on your excellent point.--Aschlafly 10:26, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

Something else I think you have to consider with this kind of test is that it is easy to misrepresent yourself on it. I believe "openmindedness" to be a trait which most people would deem to be a good trait. Therefore going into this exam, people will want the outcome to give them a more favorable score so it is heavily reliant on the test takers being 100% accurate in their responses. Whereas with an IQ test, you are asked questions with definitive answers where you either know the answer, or you don't. --Colest 10:33, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

Good point, but asking about specific amounts of time spent considering the evidence would seem to minimize the problem you describe. If further precautions are warranted, then follow-up questions about when, where, what, how could be asked concerning reviewing evidence. In fact, I'll add that now.--Aschlafly 10:52, 9 May 2007 (EDT)
Colest, you've done a better job then I could've explaining why I'm dubious (but not shut-off to the idea) about this test. If it is subjective enough that a person can misrepresent himself, are we really quantifying anything with this score? That political compass thing that some CPers advertise their scores from is neat and all, but I'd never try to use the number in any meaningful way.
If this is just a conversation starter then cool, but from the other endeavors Andy is involved in that sounds a little trivial to me. Aziraphale 20:32, 2 July 2007 (EDT) <- pursuing the trivial...

Example Questions and Topics

I see a couple of problems with the topics section of this essay. The first concern is a minor one. You have, as an example, “For example, did our subject think that President Ronald Reagan's exhortation, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this [Berlin] wall!" was an impossibility?” But, properly, speaking, it is not a statement that can be examined as a possibility (or impossibility) , since imperatives are neither true nor false. A better way to word this question would be, “When President Regan told Mr. Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, did you think that it was impossible for the Berlin Wall to be torn down?” Of course, this is not an especially good measure in the present, since, most people will report that they thought it was possible (even if they did not at the time, as people tend to misremember their past, to bring their past in line with there present reality).

The second problem I see is that the questions, as they now stand will clearly skew the results toward Conservatives being more open-minded—questions asking whether conservatives are open to liberal ideas should be included to make sure that the data is not inadvertently slanted. For example, “Did our subject think, or still think, that his/her understanding of the Bible may be wrong?” “Did our subject think, or still think, that evolution is possible?” “Did our subject think, or still think, that human behavior could warm the global climate?” and “Did our subject think, or still think, that homosexuality could be a natural behavior?”--Reginod 11:26, 9 May 2007 (EDT)

You rewording of the Reagan is longer, but fine. I'll change it per your comment.
I think we should add liberal-oriented questions. But your examples do not focus on a belief in impossibility, which is the essential element here. Perhaps you'd like to refine some liberal questions that ask about impossibility, for me to add?--Aschlafly 20:00, 9 May 2007 (EDT)
I’ll take a second stab at it:
“Does our subject think that it is impossible that evolution could have occurred?”
“Does our subject think that it is impossible that he/she could be mistaken about the truth of the Bible?” (I rather like this one as it cuts both ways, a believer is (implicitly) being asked if he/she thinks that atheism or some other religion could possibly be true, while a non-believer is asked if he/she thinks Christianity could be true.)
“Does our subject think that it is impossible that homosexuality is a natural behavior?”
“Does our subject think that it is impossible that the global climate is currently warming as a result of human behavior?”
How do those look to you? --Reginod 23:04, 9 May 2007 (EDT)
Those questions look fine to me. Some further refinements to limit them to facts might be helpful. But basically they look OK, and I'll add them.--Aschlafly 00:09, 10 May 2007 (EDT)
Couldn't this method of quantifying openmindedness be manipulated to receive any set of desired results? For example, if I was to ask "does our subject think that it is impossible for God to exist", then I could automatically chalk up one closed-mindedness point from anybody who is a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. There are bound to be many questions like this, no? --Hojimachongtalk 17:43, 13 May 2007 (EDT)
For all queries for 'do you believe it is imposssible that x' there should be a matching 'do you believe that it is possible that not x'. X then merely has to cover all ideological issue. You could even have some a priori ones as control questions. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Lookamoose (talk)

Curious About...

So, there's a conversation on the Main Page that directs to this essay; it's an interesting read. However, the poster is asked "By the way, what's your score on Essay:Quantifying Openmindedness?" I thought I'd be better able to follow the conversation if I found out my own score. Am I missing a link or something? I don't see any way that I can derive a score.

I have to admit, at the risk of sounding close-minded, I'm dubious about coming up with a useful measurement. That said, here I am, checking out the source. I'll even give it more than an hour. Aziraphale 10:41, 2 July 2007 (EDT) <-An open mind and a closed parentheses

I suspect your real objection is to trying at all. Six questions are posted. What's your score on those six?--Aschlafly 10:49, 2 July 2007 (EDT)
*blink* Andy, you and I have actually agreed on things on the front page. I know we're not of one mind on a lot of things (and I really do worry about isolating rather than engaging, but I know you'd disagree on that characterization), and I know you're too busy to remember who's who all the time (and I'm a pretty minor poster, I know), but an aggressive stance seems unwarranted.
Anyway, here are my answers:
1) No, but to be fair I wasn't particularly engaged in national and world affairs back then so I shouldn't get too much credit for that.
Evidence issue - maybe I'm favoring myself, but I choose not to deduct a point for failing to look at the evidence when it wasn't a conscious decision; I barely noticed the event taking place.
2) I never thought it was impossible. I have no advanced scientific knowledge so it would be ludicrous for me to assume that a technology is or is not possible. It actually sounds simple to me, but I've been told that it's harder than it looks.
Evidence issue - if I'm reading the essay correctly, I lose a point for having heard of the issue but not investigating the evidence, even though I agree it's possible. Is that correct?
3) Sure it can be authentic. There's a lot stranger things in the world than that.
Evidence issue - Same as #2. I accept the possibility but haven't looked into it. Do I lose a point?
4) I don't think the speed of light changing over time is impossible. I also don't know the arguments for or against it.
Evidence issue - same as #3.
5) I don't think it's impossible, but of course as I mentioned before I'm dubious. If you're interested in the conversation I'll tell you why, but you haven't asked and I won't assume.
Evidence issue - well, I'm working on it right now, so this would be incomplete.
6) Depends on how far you want to split hairs here. If you mean the evolution vs. creation debate, I absolutely accept the possibility that we were Created. If you mean ANY evolution whatsoever... well, I guess I live by "never say never" but we're talking about a very low level of accepting the possibility.
Evidence issue - Not to split hairs again, but on the one hand I've clocked in many hours going to church, reading books, and browsing sites like this one. On the other hand, I'm not particularly interested in the evolution debate, so I haven't tried to digest all of the arguments. So... point? No point? Again, I accept the premise, so it seems kind of moot.
So, my raw score for accepting the ideas presented is either 5 or 6, depending on how you score #6. Depending on how you adjust for the follow-up questions, my score ranges from 1 to 7 (and possibly 8 depending on how long this goes on).
Aziraphale 11:36, 2 July 2007 (EDT) <- my mind is open, but there's a bouncer

Definition

I see Andy "removed claims that no scientists or significant groups support". Perhaps "openmindness" should be redefined as a genuine willingness to consider the evidence for an idea that scientists and significant groups support before rejecting the idea. RSchlafly 21:12, 2 July 2007 (EDT)

Insert "some" before scientists and "or" rather than "and", which would be consistent with the quote above, and I wouldn't object to that modified definition: a genuine willingness to consider the evidence for an idea that some scientists or significant groups support--Aschlafly 21:22, 2 July 2007 (EDT)
Define it any way you want. But as it is, your questions don't really match your definition. RSchlafly 03:01, 3 July 2007 (EDT)

new question

We need a question in this essay that asks the user if they believe it is possible that God doesn't exist. This question drives to the heart of open-mindedness. Please do not remove it without legitimate discussion. --AntnyGonzo 19:34, 25 July 2007 (EDT)

No, Gonzo...YOU will ask the author of the essay first if you can alter it. As far as I'm concerned, you have no authorization to alter an essay of any kind. Karajou 19:36, 25 July 2007 (EDT)
And why do we need such a question?
FYI, the question you pose runs entirely counter to the thrust of the essay. An essay is not an ordinary article. It is an original work. As such, it is for the author of that original work to decide whether to include anything or not.
Publish your question here, by all means--and be prepared to take criticism as to the appropriateness of the question.
But you do not unilaterally change the essayist's work. If you are serious about whether being open-minded means deciding that God need not exist, write your own essay. But don't go ruining someone else's.--TerryHTalk 19:38, 25 July 2007 (EDT)
The user has been indef blocked, anyway. AManInBlack 19:39, 25 July 2007 (EDT)
So he has. But I'll let my comment stand anyway, as a warning to anyone who might feel the slightest temptation to repeat his bad example.--TerryHTalk 19:41, 25 July 2007 (EDT)
Gonzo's demand was we talk about his "alteration" on the talk page only, rather than him bring it up on the talk page, ar ask the author if he could change it first. Karajou 19:43, 25 July 2007 (EDT)
The essay started with the request comments or improvements welcome [1]. JohnMalin 19:50, 25 July 2007 (EDT)
Yes it did, but since it's an essay, those comments or improvements needed to be posted and disgussed on the talk page. Gonzo was more willing to shoot first and aks questions later. Karajou 19:55, 25 July 2007 (EDT)

Ok, well I'm interested in the discussion that was so poorly started. I don't really care if the question is about the existence of God, since that's probably a lightning rod of argument, but with the possible exception of the last question about the precision of Newtonian gravity, and I don't understand it so I say "possible", all of those questions clearly drive at "ok, lib, you really think you're open-minded?"

I believe that the Essay would benefit from example questions like "Is it possible that President Bush knowingly presented misleading evidence to the nation, rather than by mistake?" or "Do you think that it is impossible that, through mistranslation or any other reason, the age of the Earth is misunderstood by Young Earth Creationists?" Aziraphale 20:07, 25 July 2007 (EDT) <-ponderously...

I'm open to adding liberal questions. I deleted an earlier attempt to do this because the questions referred to crackpot theories for which there is neither scientific nor public support, like claiming that humans were populated by UFOs from outer space.
I don't have any problem with the questions posed by Aziraphale above as part of a test of open-mindedness.--Aschlafly 20:42, 25 July 2007 (EDT)

Unclear questions

Interesting idea, I answered the questions. However there are two questions that are not completely clear: 8, "Do you think that there must be a material explanation for remarkable homing and migration behavior of birds and butterflies?" Material is unclear. Of course there is some physical ability that they have that allows them to home, so do you mean "naturalistic" instead, as in shaped without God?

11, "Do you think that it is possible that evolution did not occur?" I take it you mean universal common descent, so perhaps it should read "...that the theory of evolution is false?" Evolution is a vague term and it encompasses speciation and descent with modification, which are accepted by virtually everyone. AddisonDM 13:23, 29 May 2009 (EDT)

Your point about question 8 is interesting, but I don't see how use of the term "naturalistic" improves it. Everyone understands what "material explanation" means, but "naturalistic" is far from clear. The question is whether the homing must be guided by something material, such as magnetism, or can it be guided by non-material phenomena, such as intelligent design that might allow for abstract programming features or divine guidance or another mechanism that transcends materialism.
As to question 11, I think the term "evolution" is widely understood to have the meaning that Darwin used for it. I realize that some have attempted to change its meaning to salvage the concept, such as redefining evolution to be any change, but I'm reluctant to use jargon like "universal common descent" rather than commonly understood terminology. Perhaps a footnote could explain further, which you're welcome to add!--Andy Schlafly 18:31, 29 May 2009 (EDT)

Unjustified Edit?

Regarding Question Two ("# Have you ever admitted that something you accepted for over a decade is, in fact, completely false? "), I reversed the question to "Have you ever realized that something you accepted for over a decade was, in fact, completely false?" and it was reverted as an unjustified edit. I did this because a yes means closed-minded, while accepting and admitting that you have changed your mind on one of your long-term beliefs is more openminded. It´s the same question, but phrased differently so it doesn´t corrupt the taker´s score. MaryC 17:43, 12 June 2009 (EDT)

You're right about the need to reverse the question to avoid corrupting the score. Thank you. I've made that change. But the reason for the reversion is that you conditioned the question on a realization. It is the closed mind that refuses to attain that realization, so that condition had to be reverted.
Thanks for your insightful edit and comment.--Andy Schlafly 19:23, 12 June 2009 (EDT)

Just my answers, for fun!

1. No, of course not.

2. A decade ago, I was 13... so, no

3. Who would? I'VE never been to jail, unlike basically every celebrity I can name.

4. What's that town in Montana with MANDATORY gun ownership, and ZERO crime?

5. I was 11 months old.

6. I thought SDI was demonstrated to work - haven't we shot down satellites? Haven't the Chinese, as well?

7. I think it is unlikely, not impossible. I've researched it a bit.

8. I think there must be an explanation, material or not.

9. No, but I think if it was there would be evidence, possibly evidence we have yet to find.

10. You can obviously measure it - take a man like Lee Strobel, compare to Richard Dawkins... there ya go!

11. It is possible, yes.

12. Actually, yes, I do think this is impossible. Very simply, because the power of 2 wasn't arrived at by experimentation or observation, but by pure hard logic. Additionally, in Newtonian gravity, it is 2 - that is part of what defines Newtonian gravity. If it wasn't 2, then we wouldn't be talking about Newtonian gravity anymore.

13. A lot of what I was taught was definitely false.

14. There may be elements of Catholicism which are false, but on the whole, I'm pretty committed to it.

I just did this for fun, don't go jumping down my throat for anything! JacobB 19:40, 1 October 2009 (EDT)

You're open-minded. Congratulations! (I altered two of the questions since you responded.)

Test Answers

1. No. And I don't resist admitting the idea that a liberal, libertarian or etc., education is far more effective than a conservative education.

2. No. I have done this more than once throughout my life with religious and political philosophies.

3. No. Just as any value system has the possibility of harming different people, whether it's Hollywood values, so-called family values, religious values, secular values, etc.

4. No. The crime rate is affected by many variables, and using a simplistic statistic like gun ownership to predict causation for overall crime rates is nonsense. For example, private gun ownership or a lack thereof will not affect tax cheats.

5. No. People and societies have overcome barriers like the Berlin Wall many times before.

6. No. SDI was never impossible, yet much of the technology was not practical at the time. Even today some of the technology is still in the concept or development stage.

7. No. But there is very little evidence that shows the shroud was not painted by an artist. That is why many people accept the Shroud on faith.

8. No. But there is plenty of natural evidence that birds use landmarks and natural direction finding to navigate.

9. No. The speed of light in a vacuum may have been different in the past, for example, just after the Big Bang. But there is no convincing evidence that I know of that demonstrates the speed of light has changed over the past millennia.

10. No. But using a biased simplistic test is not the way to go about it.

11. No. There may be another explanation for life on Earth besides evolution, but the convincing evidence is not there according to 99% of the world's biologists.

12. No. There is a difference between 2 and 2.00000001, but why make things more difficult than what they already are? In other words, my 20 mile trip to work would be 25 thousands of an inch longer or shorter if we used such maddening precision.

13. No. No one person or organization is correct all the time. I have known for years some of what I was taught in class was false and I suspect the teachers knew it was because they were required to teach the material.

According to Conservapedia standards, I am a very open-minded person. --MichaelJB 12:47, 2 October 2009 (EDT)

You may well be open-minded. Ronald Reagan and other former liberals must have been open-minded or they never would have become conservatives. The famous atheist Anthony Flew must have been open-minded or else he never would have found faith late in life.--Andy Schlafly 15:16, 2 October 2009 (EDT)

Another question

"If it were proved to your satisfaction that some idea you've been using to bolster a political argument was false, would you keep using that idea in your argument?" --Ed Poor Talk 09:12, 27 December 2009 (EST)

More questions

I added a couple of questions. Previously it was only able to discern liberal closed minded people. However being open minded means also being open minded to liberal ideas because only this way you can debunk them. Therefor it's important to have liberal questions in order to make this a better test.Marnick 13:35, 25 February 2010 (EST)

A thought

I tried this test, because I think is an interesting idea. Six "yes," twelve "no." But some of these questions were confusing to me. I know your website is for mostly Americans who understand these things, but would it not be better to have more general questions? The questions about specific political issues may be hard for people who do not follow American politics. Thank you.--Wuhao1911 00:47, 27 February 2010 (EST)

Thanks for your suggestion, but could you be a bit more specific? I glanced at the questions and they do seem to be general in nature.
Also, I wonder about the last one, which you added. It's rare to find someone who thinks a democracy is impossible for a people. Democracy may be incompatible with other forms of government, such as a theocracy.--Andy Schlafly 08:38, 27 February 2010 (EST)
Most of them are general but I had troubled with 6, 7 and 8. I had to look up the Shroud of Turin, and I am not so familiar with Mr. Reagan's specific policies. As for my question, it was a thought based on what I have heard from some people. Some people think that a certain culture can be incompatable with liberty. Of course, I do not believe this. If liberty is natural state of people, then all people can enjoy it. I will accept your judgment on my question, though.--Wuhao1911 11:03, 27 February 2010 (EST)
The Shroud of Turin (question 8) has nothing to do with America. The Berlin Wall (question 6) was, of course, in Berlin and not America. SDI/Star Wars (question 7) is well-known in Europe also, because some of the defenses would be put there, but I agree it may be unfamiliar to those on other continents. I don't think these questions change the overall score significantly for those who might be unfamiliar with them. But thanks for your suggestions.--Andy Schlafly 12:51, 27 February 2010 (EST)

Most of the questions seem to ask "do you think it's possible," not "do you think it's true," which is very important. I don't buy that the Shroud of Turin is any more than a fraud (along with the rest of the relics Rome likes to peddle), but I wouldn't say it's impossible. The only one I'm inclined to say "yes" for is SDI - it's probably impossible to get it functional with today's technology, but give it a few years and we'll see, and I have to go with N/A for the Berlin Wall question, not having existed at the time. DouglasA 13:22, 27 February 2010 (EST)

You're right in explaining how this is a test of open-mindedness, not a test of knowledge or opinions.--Andy Schlafly 13:31, 27 February 2010 (EST)
Very well, this makes sense to me. Good luck on this project.--Wuhao1911 14:45, 27 February 2010 (EST)

Link to article

This essay is very interesting! I am curious about the score one can achieve: is 'maximum' open-mindedness really a good thing? I have seen many talented people led astray by liberal philosophy during their studies, some going as far as to forsake their religion. In a liberal environment, open-mindedness would then be less useful than faith. On the question on the laws of motion, I have recently come across an article which may interest conservapedian editors: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-03/spinning-disc-could-test-modified-newtonian-physics-and-kill-dark-matter-explanation Regards, --TSpencer 11:31, 7 March 2010 (EST)

Excellent link! I've even put your story on the Main Page.
You're point about "open-mindedness" potentially leading people astray is a valid one but only to the extent they are selectively open-minded and mostly closed-minded. On balance I think it is the closed-mindedness that is a problem, and Paul himself described this 2000 years in Romans (Translated), as I just learned this weekend as part of my translation efforts. Feel free to join that effort!--Andy Schlafly 13:51, 7 March 2010 (EST)

"Resist admitting"

I'm trying to take this test, but it confuses me a little bit. Where it says "Do you resist admitting (...)", does this mean that you are close minded in case you have considered and/or studied the "(...)", and have come to the conclusion that you disagree with it? I think that, in that case, you do not resist admitting anything, because a person never feels an urge to admit something he genuinely disagrees with. Am I correct? -Mal Peeters (talk) 09:20, 9 August 2010 (EDT)

Only 4 out of 20 questions use the phrase "resist admitting," and each time what follows is something that is undeniably true, but for which a close-minded person would resist admitting that it is true. I assume that no one taking the test would deny something that is undeniably true, but there are many close-minded people who would resist admitting the truth of the statements.
If someone does deny the truth of what follows in those four statements, then of course that person should receive a point for doing so. That person would "resist admitting" as the question asks. Others who do not deny the truth of the statement but resist admitting it should receive a point also.--Andy Schlafly 10:24, 9 August 2010 (EDT)
Point 1 is one I can not agree with, because I do not know much about it. I live in Belgium, and I would classify my education as liberal nor conservative, because I feel that the best of both sides was present in my education. When I search for information about it, I only find heavily biased information, such as that of Conservapedia (biased from a conservative view) and Wikipedia (biased from a non-conservative view). I think you can understand that it's hard to find credibility in sources who do everything to discredit each other. Therefore, I honestly have no idea whether conservative education is better or not. -Mal Peeters (talk) 14:13, 9 August 2010 (EDT)
I find it very odd to use the phrase "undeniably true" in the context of trying to develop an open-mindedness test. I should like to discuss how this relates to the following question:
"1. Do you resist admitting the possibility that a conservative approach to education is far more effective for students than a liberal one?"
Sure, I have a certain amount of latent resistance to that statement, having received a fairly liberal education, with which I am quite satisfied. However I could not categorically say that a conservative approach would not have been better. Personally I think that a mixed approach, with some of the good elements of both educational styles would probably be better than either in isolation. So by the standards of this test I get a closed-minded point for my answer. At the same time, a strongly conservative person who dogmatically believes that the superiority of a conservative education is an “undeniable truth” will get a point towards the open mindedness score. This seems like a totally unbalanced way of testing open mindedness.
It feels that like the same theme runs through most of the questions, questions which basically exempt strong conservatives from any danger of having to answer “yes”.
I think the idea of a test like this is an interesting one, but in my opinion it has a long way to go.
Having said all that, I just had a look around at some other "open-mindedness" tests and I must admit that the ones with a liberal slant are just as biased, but that doesn't make it ok.--BASE10 10:58, 26 April 2011 (EDT)
I just find it amusing that this is supposed to be an "open mindedness test," but the creator of the test is nowhere near open minded as evidenced by his statement that the statements following the phrase "resist admitting" are "undeniably true." An open mindedness test is not effective when made but someone who is not open minded.

Gay marriage and the Olympic Games

What does gay marriage have to do with the Olympics? Kamiwashinda 19:27, 15 April 2011 (EDT)

Yes, I thought that was a bit of an odd question. --BASE10 11:04, 26 April 2011 (EDT)

Am I wrong, or could socialism actually help a country on the Olympics? Without people shopping their own labor in the free market, you could track promising athletes and force them into training to win Olympic events, instead of letting them go professional to pursue their own careers, or even chose the amateur events they personally love. China had great success in the most recent Olympics doing just that, to the detriment of their people but to the ill-gotten glory of their country. But I would never trade America's freedom for a little Olympic success. I'm glad the American athletes representing our country in the Olympics made the free choice to do so(3/20 "yes" answers by the way)KingHanksley 00:56, 25 May 2011 (EDT)

You are absolutely right King, though the practice may be morally wrong. I don't think gay marriage has anything to do with the Olympics, many other countries don't have the same attitude about gay marriage as the U.S. does.

Berlin Wall question

I think there should be an alternative question for those who weren't born yet, or weren't old enough to have any what it was/to care about it. Maybe add an alternative that addresses the same idea, but is more relevant to today? Such as 'Do you think it is impossible that Cuba will become a democracy?' - JamesCA 21:06, 16 August 2011 (EDT)

How about adding it as an alternative question on the same line, without erasing the original? The advantages of the original question is that it is historical, not speculative.--Andy Schlafly 21:19, 16 August 2011 (EDT)
That is what I meant, wasn't as clear as it could've been, but that is what I meant. - JamesCA 02:16, 17 August 2011 (EDT)
And another possibility - "Do you think it is impossible that North Korea and South Korea will reunite into a single country, without being the result of one invading the other?" - JamesCA 09:06, 2 December 2011 (EST)

Objectivity

Wouldn't it be better to ask more objective questions ? For example by replacing

  • Do you think that evolution must have occurred?

by

  • Do you think that evolution or creation must have occurred? --ARamis
The first question is meaningful, because if someone thinks that evolution must have occurred then he is closed-minded to what the evidence may show to the contrary. That question does address the degree of openmindedness. The second question doesn't seem to disclose any information: lots of closedminded and openminded people would answer "yes", and the question does not distinguish between the two mindsets.--Andy Schlafly 17:12, 5 September 2011 (EDT)
Even if there is strong evidence to support Creation, you can never be 100% sure and I believe it is a sign of open-mindedness to acknowledge the fact that there may be another answer, unlikely as this may be. --ARamis 17:17, 5 September 2011 (EDT)
I see your point, but the revised question does not differentiate between those who are closedminded in their belief in evolution, and those who are openminded.--Andy Schlafly 17:27, 5 September 2011 (EDT)
Then what about this: If there was an absolute proof that either evolution or creation is true, would you change your mind ?--ARamis 17:42, 5 September 2011 (EDT)
I would suggest altering that to say "Is it impossible for there to be absolute proof of evolution, and is it impossible for there to be absolute proof of creation?" (With 1 yes and 1 no counting as yes for the essay)That way people can't go 'sure, I'd believe evolution if there was absolute proof. But it isn't so there can't be absolute proof' - JamesCA 19:09, 5 September 2011 (EDT)

Equivalent?

Many of the questions in the test can be rewritten in a reversed form. I am interested to hear people’s views on whether they believe these opposite questions could be substituted for the current ones without affecting the validity of the test. If you feel that these reversed questions would affect validity, then how can they be valid in their current form either? If you don't think it would affect validity, then why not make the test a mixture of conservative and liberal slanted questions?

Two examples

1. Do you resist admitting the possibility that a liberal approach to education is far more effective for students than a conservative one?
12. Do you think that evolution must not have occurred?

Answers from a liberal Atheist

1. It depends on your definitions of "conservative" and "liberal." But generally, any approach to education can be effective at some things and ineffective at others. So no. This question is a bit oddly phrased, though, as the words "resist admitting" assume that the following proposition is true and if someone believes the opposite, they are wrong.

2. Of course not. That would be stupid and annoying.

3. If something I accepted for over a decade was proven to be false, yes, I would drop it. Same as the first question.

4. That depends on what you mean by "Hollywood Values." However, generally, any value system can prove to be harmful. Yes, even the one pushed by this site. In real life, everything is not black and white. That is only in movies. And books.

5. Of course not. It could very well be the case. That is an objective fact, and therefore I can not have an opinion on it.

6. I am a bit to young for this question to understand what it is referring to, but obviously a wall can be torn down with applied force and lots of heavy machinery.

7. Again, to young to know what that is.

8. Nothing is impossible. It also depends on what you mean by "authentic." If you mean the claim that the shroud comes from the time it is claimed to have come from, than possibly. if you mean some sort of religious thing, than no, probably not. Nothing is impossible, but many things are improbable.

9. This is an odd question. It is also an objective fact, and I can not have an opinion on it. I am also not knowledgeable enough to answer it.

10. Not at all. Again objective fact, and again I'm not knowledgeable enough.

11. Not necessarily. But I'm not a fan of these types of tests. I don't actually believe the IQ test measures "intelligence" because that word can be used to indicate many things, not just how much information you've crammed into your brain.

12. "Evolution" must have occurred, yes, because it is occurring all the time. We've even made it occur. The evidence is to staggering not to believe it happened and continues to happen. You mean the "common descent" theory, however, and the beginning of life is an objective fact. I can not have an opinion on it, and I am not knowledgeable enough to answer the "common descent" part.

13. I honestly have no idea what that is, and I'm definitely not knowledgeable enough for it.

14. Of course there are things taught in school that are completely false, but the teachers may not know that. I, myself, was taught in elementary school the George Washington story, about him cutting down the cherry tree. I went to a religious school also, so I was taught many myths from the Bible and I was taught that all of the evidence for evolution was fabricated in a big conspiracy. The teachers honestly believed these things. Thus, I do think that there are things taught in schools that are completely false, but I don't think the teachers know that, because they believe everything they teach.
15. That, of course, depends on what theories you are talking about. It also depends on what you mean by the "progress" of science. Is science trying to reach some goal? I was under the impression that science exists for the exploration of the world and how it works.

16. Socialism and same-sex marriage have absolutely nothing to do with the Olympics. So this question makes no sense.

17. Just because someone is an "expert" does not mean they know everything about their topic. It just means that they know a lot more about their topic than the average person. So, of course, "experts" do not have all the answers. However, I would be inclined to go to one if I had a question about their particular field of study, because they would be more knowledgeable about their topic than I would. As for the "best of the public" idea, the idea is extremely vague. However, yes, of course, there are people who are knowledgeable about things that are not experts. Just because someone hasn't gone to school or doesn't have a degree, it doesn't make them not smart. However, I would trust an "expert" more than I would trust some random guy on the street because I assume they know more about their topic than any random person.

18. This question is vague and depends largely on what is meant by "read the Bible." It also depends on the definition of reading something. If you think that reading requires you to have read the entire text than no. If you think that reading something requires you to have read any part of the text than yes. However, there really isn't a reason to read the Bible "regularly," any more than there is a reason to read the Koran regularly or the Odyssey regularly.

19. This is an objective fact, so I can't have an opinion on it, and I am not knowledgeable enough to answer it.

So according to Conservapedia, this liberal atheist is open-minded. However, I would like to say that some of the questions are asked in such a way that they assume their proposition to be automatically true and every other proposition to be false. This is the case with phrases like: "Do you resist admitting" or "Do you deny." —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Iammeiamme (talk)

Your conclusion about Conservapedia does not follow. Some of your answers, even when they are a correct "no", are diluted by qualifications to such an extent that they would not receive full credit. Moreover, there is nothing defective about wording like "Do you resist admitting the possibility that ..." (question 1).--Andy Schlafly 00:27, 25 November 2011 (EST)
The qualifications are needed because many of these questions are to vague for a yes or no answer. My answers are quite simply skeptical. I answer with a skeptical and logical mindset. The words "Do you resist admitting" imply that the following statement is absolutely true. Infact, you admitted as much further up. By saying that a proposition is absolutely true, you are not being open-minded. Open-mindedness requires that you might possibly be wrong. That is even a large part of this questionnaire. By having questions that are not open-minded, the open-mindedness test becomes invalid.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Iammeiamme (talk)
Your first 5 out of the 19 questions would get full credit, but after that many of the answers would not. Your answers to 9 and 12, for example, would not get credit. Your answer to question 14 would not receive credit because of its statement that teachers in school "believe everything they teach." Surely some school teachers sometimes teach things they do not believe, such as aspects of evolution (only about 10% of the public believe it as taught in school).--Andy Schlafly 10:27, 25 November 2011 (EST)
Why not 9 and 12? Or many of the others? You are correct, and I was incorrect, that there are times when teachers teach things they don't believe to be true. However, I would say for the most part, they do teach things they believe to be true. What is your source for that last assertion -"only about 10% of the public believe it as taught in school"-?

The Questions Slanted Liberally

Just for fun:
1. Do you resist admitting the possibility that a liberal approach to education is far more effective for students than a conservative one?
2. If it were proved to your satisfaction that some idea you've been using to bolster a political argument was false, would you keep using that idea in your argument?
3. Do you resist admitting that something you accepted for over a decade is, in fact, completely false?
4. Do you resist the possibility that conservative values result in significant harm for those who believe in them, and to innocent bystanders?
5. Do you think it is impossible that decreased gun ownership reduces the rate of crime?
6. When President Ronald Reagan told Mr. Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, did you think that it was possible for the Berlin Wall to be torn down?
7. Did you think, or still think, that the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars") is possible?
8. Do you think that it is impossible that the Shroud of Turin is inauthentic?
9. Do you think that there must be a purely religious-based explanation (such as creationism) for remarkable homing and migration behavior of birds and butterflies?
10. Do you think that it is impossible for the speed of light to have stayed the same in the past?
11. Do you think that it is possible to measure openmindedness?
12. Do you think that evolution must not have occurred?
13. Do you think that is possible for the power of 2 in Newtonian gravity, whereby the gravitational force is proportional to 1/r2, to be more precise with an exponent that is slightly different from 2, such as a gravitational force proportional to 1/r2.00000001?
14. Do you believe that some things taught to you in school are completely false, and even known to be false by some responsible for the material?
15. Do you believe that some widely required theories of science may actually impede the progress of science?
16. Do you believe that the imposition of socialism and same-sex marriage on a nation could harm its competitiveness at international events like the Olympics?
17. Do you refuse to consider the possibility that "experts" may have the answers, and that the best of the public may not have valuable insights to which experts are blind?
18. Do you think that people should read the Bible regularly?
19. Do you believe that because the Earth's orbit and rotation are what they are now, they are not guaranteed to remain stable for billions of years?
Same qualifications as the conservative biased version. What is your score?

Answers from an ex-creationist

Do you resist admitting the possibility that a conservative approach to education is far more effective for students than a liberal one?

No, there are a number of approaches to education. Any of them could work, experimentation is key. However, I'm not sure the methods of education are necessarily conservative or liberal, different methods have different merits and some appeal more to certain ideologies certainly, but you can't really brand any system of education as being inherently conservative or liberal.

If it were proved to your satisfaction that some idea you've been using to bolster a political argument was false, would you keep using that idea in your argument?

No, no rational person, liberal or conservative, would. Though biologically we are programmed to resist change, I would hope I am open-minded enough to accept change.

Do you resist admitting that something you accepted for over a decade is, in fact, completely false?

No, appeals to tradition are meaningless.

Do you resist the possibility that Hollywood values result in significant harm for those who believe in them, and to innocent bystanders?

Hollywood values by the definition presented are personal choices that people are free to make. I personally believe they are harmful, but I do not believe you can impose your will on someone else on the matter.

Do you think it is impossible that increased gun ownership reduces the rate of crime?

That's an incredibly vague question. Increased gun ownership leads to greater guns amongst criminals. I think that guns should come with training of the level required of military personel and police officers, and that they should be controlled so as to keep them in proper hands. Do I think its impossible? No, but it's not conducive.

When President Ronald Reagan told Mr. Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, did you think that it was impossible for the Berlin Wall to be torn down?

Wasn't alive, can't comment

Did you think, or still think, that the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars") is impossible?

No, technology is developing at a rapid rate, it's just a matter of time.

'Do you think that it is impossible that the Shroud of Turin is authentic?

Not impossible, but incredibly unlikely, the evidence against (fibers, design) is pretty damning

Do you think that there must be a purely material-based explanation (such as magnetism) for remarkable homing and migration behavior of birds and butterflies?

If by material-based you mean without God, then yes.

Do you think that it is impossible for the speed of light to have been different in the past?

Most likely, yes.

Do you think that it is impossible to measure openmindedness?

No, but this quiz almost certainly doesn't appear to be a good method.

Do you think that evolution [2] must have occurred?

It has happened, it is happened, it's a continual process that has happened since the beginning of life.

Do you think that is impossible for the power of 2 in Newtonian gravity, whereby the gravitational force is proportional to 1/r2, to be more precise with an exponent that is slightly different from 2, such as a gravitational force proportional to 1/r2.00000001?

I do not know enough about the situation to comment properly.

Do you resist admitting that some things taught to you in school are completely false, and even known to be false by some responsible for the material?

No, I admit that a lot of what I was taught about God and his existence and his role in the creation of the world.

Do you deny that some widely required theories of science, such as the theory of evolution, may actually impede the progress of science?[3]

Yes, the theory of evolution is a powerful tool and its role in describing biological processes is incredible.

Do you deny that the imposition of socialism and same-sex marriage on a nation could harm its competitiveness at international events like the Olympics?

Yes, such an imposition is preposterous.

Do you refuse to consider the possibility that "experts" may not have all the answers, and that the best of the public may have valuable insights to which experts are blind?

Again a very vague and loaded question. Certainly the more perspectives on a subject, the more insight, but more often than not, credible experts have training and knowledge that the "best of the public" does not (for instance, Lisa Rudley and the autism and vaccine nonsense)

Do you think that if you read parts of the Bible years ago as a child, you can claim to "have read the Bible" and that you have no reason to read it regularly now?

No, certainly it should be studied for its historical significance.

Do you believe that because the Earth's orbit and rotation are what they are now, they are guaranteed to remain stable for billions of years?

No, there is no reason that other anomaly, such as another stronger body of gravity, altering the course of the bodies in question. Jacobsladder 15:41, 28 December 2011 (EST)

New Question about Korea

I don't see how this question tests open-mindedness: "Do you think it is impossible that North Korea and South Korea will reunite into a single country, without being the result of one invading the other?)"--Andy Schlafly 22:59, 4 January 2012 (EST)

Given the current very unfriendly relationship between the two countries, it seems unlikely that the relationship will improve to a point where the two countries will reunite. Additionally, with North Korea slowly becoming more proficient with nuclear weapons, they are becoming more of a threat to the rest of the world, which makes it more likely that another country will have to take a forceful hand with their attitude towards North Korea. The point is, it is unlikely that they will reunite peacefully into a single country. And whether someone thinks that just because an event is unlikely doesn't make it impossible, is a test of openmindedness. - JamesCA 09:18, 1 February 2012 (EST)

A comment on #2 and problems with #20

Firstly, with 2, using an argument you know to be flawed can, in certain situations, be useful. On the rare occasion, I have used it when my purpose is to teach them/make them think more. I would use the flawed argument, knowing the flaws in it, and try to help them find the flaws in the argument. However, in that case I was trying to make them think, rather than convince them I was right.

And with #20, firstly, possible grammar problem, you're comparing one person to two people, so can someone who knows the intricacies of grammar check to make sure it's right, caus it just sounds weird. But more importantly, that question is a test of closed-mindedness, not openmindedness. Firstly, by giving no additional information about any of them, it suggests that if you do not think that a woman who is: straight, a radical Muslim intent on destroying America, a serial killer and abuser of children... is a better mother than a woman who: is gay, attends Church every Sunday, volunteers at a homeless shelter, is charitable and treats everyone and all animals with kindness... then you are closedminded. This interpretation is perfectly allowable under the current form of the question.

Secondly, by effectively suggesting that ALL straight woman are better mothers than ALL gay woman, the question is a test of closedmindedness. Regardless of which you believe is more likely to be a better mother, it is closedminded to think that it is impossible for a gay woman to be a good mother. Openmindedness is about two things: accepting that what you believe, may be wrong, and being willing to change your mind about an issue. This question doesn't address the second (which is fine), however it rejects the first and suggests that if you don't agree with the statement, then you are wrong, because the statement is unquestionable and IS NOT WRONG.

I strongly suggest either changing the question to reflect a test of openmindedness, or removing it entirely. - JamesCA 09:43, 1 February 2012 (EST)

Does this test measure open-mindedness?

This questionnaire appears geared towards making "liberals" fail it rather than establishing relative levels of open-mindedness. Consider the first question,

"Do you resist admitting the possibility that a conservative approach to education is far more effective for students than a liberal one?"

Equally, you could pose the question

"Do you resist admitting the possibility that a liberal approach to education is far more effective for students than a conservative one?"

and in both cases say that a 'yes' means closed-mindedness and an 'no' means open-mindedness.

If you had a set of questions like that second one (e.g. "Do you think it is impossible that increased gun ownership increases the rate of crime?" instead of decreases, "Do you think that it is impossible that the Shroud of Turin is fake?" instead of authentic) you would have a questionnaire that does not find conservatives to be open-minded, but the reverse, that conservatives are closed-minded. --Thal 11:21, 17 June 2012 (EDT)

The questions could be reversed, but most conservatives would pass it. For example, most conservatives would answer "no" to your question "Do you think that it is impossible that the Shroud of Turin is fake?" while most liberals would answer "yes" to the reverse question, "Do you think that it is impossible that the Shroud of Turin is authentic?"--Andy Schlafly 11:35, 17 June 2012 (EDT)
How about if the questions were, "Do you think that it is impossible that there is no god?", "Do you think that evolution cannot be true?", "Do you think that it is impossible that the theory of relativity is true?", "Do you think that homosexuality cannot be allowed in society?" Wouldn't a conservative answer "yes" to them, and therefore be 'closed-minded'?
If I am missing the point of all this (maybe a conservative would answer "no" to those questions?), then I'm happy to learn, but what this questionnaire seems to be is a list of things conservatives believe in, and if you do not agree it says you are closed-minded, rather than merely, "not a conservative". --Thal 11:54, 17 June 2012 (EDT)

Extremely poor design

As someone who actually has training and education in research methodology, survey design, statistics, and data analysis I find this test of "quantifying" open-mindedness insulting to the profession. The author of this test obviously has little to no understanding of proper survey design. At best, I would say that if this test quantifies anything, it's the open-mindedness towards Conservative ideals of Conservapedia's regular visitors. Question #2 is the only question I would accept as a decent measure of actual open-mindedness.

(My use of the terms "error" and "bias" are used strictly in the statistical/research design sense)

Just a sample of the errors include: A) Biased questions: This test, as another person has mentioned, is designed to make Conservatives appear more open-minded than liberals. If I were to develop a test in direct opposition to this test I would have questions such as, "Do you think it's impossible that Jesus never existed?" or "Do you resist accepting that God doesn't exist?" and so on.....using the same "yes/No" format we can assume that questions such as these would make "Liberals" appear more open-minded (as long as answers are honest).

B) The fact that the author has told us in advance what he considers to be the "correct answers" (I'll use this term since it's obvious that the measure of open-mindedness reflects only conservative ideals). This fact increases greatly the response bias....which means additional survey error to muddle through to find any truth in the analysis of the data.

C)Closed-ended questions that require respondents to provide answers as though they were responding to open-ended questions. Basically, the individual questions are so poorly designed, convoluted, and imbued with biased assumptions that the test becomes even less quantitative and more qualitative as respondents feel necessary to explain their yes/no answers which fail to address the questions sufficiently.

D)Even if the questions truly were quantitative in nature, the obvious sampling bias pretty much makes this test useless outside of Conservapedia.

E)The use of absolute terms such as "Impossible", despite attempts to define it, lead to even more error and bias. Even grade school children are taught to watch out for these types of terms on multiple choice exams ("always" and "never").

F) I'll finish with this although I could go on: This measurement does a very poor job of defining actual open-mindedness. IF you look at the questions and ask yourself, "Do these questions accurately reflect true open-mindedness in its most general sense?" the honest answer is no. Open-mindedness, in this test, reflects only an openness to specific conservative/literal creationist ideals.

Using some of the questions provided, a better design would include questions such as (and these are a bit off the cuff so I will not say these are perfect, perfecting questions like this requires trial and error):

  1. 3) Do you find it difficult to admit when a long held belief is proven wrong? (which can replace a majority of the questions)
  2. 14) Do you find it difficult to admit that what you are taught in school may not be accurate?
  3. 17A) Do you find it difficult to question the validity of expert opinion on subjects you are not familiar with?
  4. 17B) Do you find it difficult to accept the insights of non-experts/laymen on subjects you are not familiar with?

Towards the end of the following research are a set of questions which I feel do a far better job at measuring true open-mindedness. Notice the variation in how questions are asked, enabling a wider interpretation of what open-mindedness means. Also notice how much more sophisticated the statistical analysis is over the simplistic method used on the test provided by Conservapedia which relies on simply adding up yes and no answers without even the most basic weighting method. http://www.psyc.jmu.edu/assessment/research/pdfs/APS_AOT_Final_Marsh&Pastor.pdf

Willingham 10:33, 18 June 2012 (EDT)

A response to the recent main page answers

This is in response to the answers posted by JerryD on the main page, and Andy's scoring of them.

1. Do you resist admitting the possibility that a conservative approach to education is far more effective for students than a liberal one?

J - I’m not exactly sure what conservative and liberal approaches to education are, and if the rest of this site is any indication I’d suspect your definition of “liberal education” will be a combination of rather cherry-picked examples of the worst elements along with some strawmen. Besides that, I don’t know how I can resist admitting some ill-defined terms, but if the overall question is “is it possible that a conservative approach to education is better than a liberal one” I’d answer, possibly, sure, depending on the definitions.
A - OK, one point of credit given.
Me - Due to the uncertainty of what is meant by a liberal or conservative education, a score of 0/0.

2. If it were proved to your satisfaction that some idea you've been using to bolster a political argument was false, would you keep using that idea in your argument?

J - No.
A - Good. One more point.
Me - One point.

3. Do you resist admitting that something you accepted for over a decade is, in fact, completely false?

J - I think everyone ‘’resists’’ changing their long held views. We wouldn’t hold them very strongly if we didn’t. Few people turn on a dime on things they’ve thought for years. If I were convinced about it, after studying the evidence, I would accept that the belief in question is false.
A - Half-point credit, in light of the equivocation.
Me - Full point. Resisting changing one's opinion is necessary to have opinions which last for more than 10 seconds. He does suggest that having held the opinion for 10 years wouldn't affect whether he changes his mind or not, the evidence would change his mind.

4. Do you resist the possibility that Hollywood values result in significant harm for those who believe in them, and to innocent bystanders?

J - “Hollywood values” isn’t exactly well-defined either. If you’re going to define Hollywood by its worst aspects, such as drug use (which exists in every city in the country), then sure. We all know drugs can be quite harmful. Does that make watching a typical Hollywood blockbuster harmful? No. Although most are basically crummy movies these days, but that’s subjective and irrelevant.
A - No credit here. Hollywood values is worse in many ways than what is typical in many cities.
Me - Without Hollywood values defined, 0/0

5. Do you think it is impossible that increased gun ownership reduces the rate of crime?

J - It’s possible, and I believe there have been studies that have shown some evidence for this. There’s also evidence against it, if you look at foreign countries with less gun ownership and less crime. If I had to guess I’d say widespread gun ownership might lead to a modest decrease in things like muggings and robberies, but a modest increase in murder and accidental firearm deaths.
A - Credit is given because you say it is possible. Note that the rate of accidential firearm deaths is very small.
Me - Full point.

6. When President Ronald Reagan told Mr. Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, did you think that it was impossible for the Berlin Wall to be torn down? (Or for those who were not born/not old enough to have an opinion - Do you think it is impossible that North Korea and South Korea will reunite into a single country, without being the result of one invading the other?)

J - The wall was made of steel and cement, of course it could be torn down. No sane person could think otherwise. At some point in the future its demise was inevitable. Did Reagan cause the wall to be torn down? I’ve seen no evidence for it. Certainly not directly, anyway.
A - Zero credit because the point of the question is whether it would be politically possible, not physically possible.
Me - He seems to have missed the point of the question. No reason to penalise that. 0/0

7. Did you think, or still think, that the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars") is impossible?

J - Again, there’s very little that is impossible. SDI was theoretically possible. Was it practical though? From what I know of it, probably not. It was never implemented for a reason.
A - Zero credit. Lots of things are impossible. The question is not limited to what is "theoretically possible."
Me - I see nothing wrong with his answer, however because I don't understand Andy's objection, will give 0/0 instead of 1/1.

8. Do you think that it is impossible that the Shroud of Turin is authentic?

J - Possible, but very unlikely.
A - Half credit due to the "very unlikely" statement.
Me - Full point. Nothing wrong with thinking something is possible but unlikely. Really, if he was asked to give a percentage of how likely it is to be authentic, any answer except 0% and 100% should be enough to grant a point.

9. Do you think that there must be a purely material-based explanation (such as magnetism) for remarkable homing and migration behavior of birds and butterflies?

J - I think it is by far the most likely scenario.
A - Half credit.
Me - Full point. Same reason as above.

10. Do you think that it is impossible for the speed of light to have been different in the past?

J - My understanding of the laws of physics seems to indicate this is more or less impossible. It’s possible the laws are wrong, I suppose, and there seems to be zero evidence that this is the case. But, no, I guess it falls a bit short of impossible.
A - Full credit.
Me - Full point.

11. Do you think that it is impossible to measure openmindedness?

J - It would be very difficult to in any real accurate and specific way. This test is quite biased. I think it can measured in a vague way.
A - Half credit - "measured in a vague way"?? Either it can be measured, or it can't.
Me - Half point. Stating that it would be very difficult to measure in any real accurate or specific way, and then saying that it can be measured in a vague way is enough for me to interpret it as saying it's impossible to measure in a quantitative way.

12. Do you think that evolution must have occurred?

J - All evidence points to it, so I’d say it has occurred, but it’s not impossible it didn’t.
A - Full credit because you say it is "not impossible."
Me - Full point.

13. Do you think that is impossible for the power of 2 in Newtonian gravity, whereby the gravitational force is proportional to 1/r2, to be more precise with an exponent that is slightly different from 2, such as a gravitational force proportional to 1/r2.00000001?

J - I have to admit I know nothing about this, and there is very little in the universe that is 100% impossible, so sure, it’s possible.
A - Full credit.
Me - Full point.

14. Do you resist admitting that some things taught to you in school are completely false, and even known to be false by some responsible for the material?

J - No. I realize my teachers didn’t always get everything right. They’re human, like the rest of us.
A - Zero credit. The question asks about teaching known falsehoods. That's not an issue of being "human, like the rest of us."
Me - 0/0. Missed the point of the question

15. Do you deny that some widely required theories of science, such as the theory of evolution, may actually impede the progress of science?

J - I’d like to see evidence that they do before condemning them. Overall I’d say they do more good than harm, if that’s the question.
A - Zero credit.
Me - No point. Although I'm not confident in my interpretation of his answer. Nothing wrong in wanting to see evidence before condemning a specific theory. I think he means that all theories do more good in progressing science than harm in progressing science.

16. Do you deny that the imposition of socialism and same-sex marriage on a nation could harm its competitiveness at international events like the Olympics?

J - I fail to see how they could. Given some evidence for this hypothesis I could conceivably change my mind, but there seems very little relation between the two subjects, so I can’t envision how one would measurably affect the other.
A - Zero credit.
Me - Full point. Says he could change his mind if presented with evidence. Nothing wrong with not seeing how one would affect the other. He doesn't say it is impossible, just that he doesn't personally see how it is possible.

17. Do you refuse to consider the possibility that "experts" may not have all the answers, and that the best of the public may have valuable insights to which experts are blind?

J - Oh not at all. Experts don’t always get everything right. They can’t, as different experts often have different views on the same subject, and they can’t both be right. A legitimate expert, however, will be in a better position to have the answer on a relevant subject than a non-expert. The best of the public is an intriguing idea that has merit, but deciding who “the best” of the public is is no easy task. I haven’t yet observed them on this site.
A - Full credit.
Me - Full point. But with hesitation. He focuses on who is more likely to be right, rather than whether the best of the public can offer ideas or insights which are useful.

18. Do you think that if you read parts of the Bible years ago as a child, you can claim to "have read the Bible" and that you have no reason to read it regularly now?

J - This seems more of a semantic argument than anything else. Are only people who’ve read the Bible cover to cover (including all the boring lists of laws and who begat whoms) able to really say they’ve read the Bible? The reason to read it regularly is if you want to, or you want a better knowledge of what it says. Those who want to have a reason to read it, those who don’t, don’t.
A - Zero credit.
Me - No point. Suggests that wanting a better knowledge of what the Bible says is the only reason non-Christians read the Bible. The Bible can offer interesting and useful ideas or thoughts to non-Christians, which he seems to suggest is impossible. I may be reading more into his response than is reasonable though.

19. Do you believe that because the Earth's orbit and rotation are what they are now, they are guaranteed to remain stable for billions of years?

J - I don’t think the universe issues guarantees. I believe the laws of physics do indicate the relatively stable orbit, though not necessarily unchanging.
A - Zero credit. Earth's orbit is unstable.
Me - Full point. By using the word "relatively", he basically says that over extreme lengths of time, it may not be stable, but for time-scales of interest to us, it is stable. The question doesn't make the distinction between long-term, and short-term, stability.

Andy gave a score of 9. I give a score of 11.5/13, which is 88%. - JamesCA 10:39, 19 June 2012 (EDT)

my answers :)

1. No.

2. No.

3. Yeah probably at first, human nature isn't it? but once I realised that I was wrong I would accept that.

4. Not really sure what these are, but judging by the state of the lives of loads of people who work in Hollywood I would think that they do.

5. No I don't think it's impossible. Unlikely and rather counter-intuitive, but not impossible.

6. I wasn't born at the time, and as I grew up in an entirely different political landscape I don't think I could really know what I would have thought. Probably yes, but I don't know.

7. Too long ago, and I'm not from America. From the little I know about it I think that it may have been possible, but impractically expensive? I really don't know.

8. Not impossible, but very unlikely.

9. Not quite sure what is meant by 'purely material-based' here. I think there is a material explanation, but I don't see how that makes it less miraculous or impressive, especially seeing as how in many species the young birds on their first migration will leave slightly later by themselves, and make the journey relying entirely on instinct and some form of navigation.

10. I don't really know much about this one. I suppose it's possible.

11. I think it is possible to measure, though not in a very precise way. (I don't think this test is great though, too political).

12. No.

13. Don't know anything about this one.

14. I was home-schooled, so that's my mum you're talking about :) No I don't think that happens. Call me naive but I think that all the information taught in schools is believed by those responsible. (probably not true for all countries though.)

15. No not really. If evolution for instance turns out to be false then that will have impeded the progress of science i suppose.

16. Yes I do, I really can't see the connection.

17. No. On the whole I would go with the expert opinion though.

18. No. It's important to read the bible. (I don't think this question has much to do with open-mindedness though)

19. I wouldn't say guaranteed, no.

Of the sixteen that I knew anything about I answered 'no' 12 and a half times or maybe 12 times, and 'yes' about three times. I don't know how I would mark the ones I didn't know anything about. Interesting test, though I don't think all the questions are particularly relevant.Cmurphynz 02:01, 25 June 2012 (EDT)

More answers

Here are my (JudyJ) answers to this test. I have added a few new questions, and expanded on a few others. These changes are in italics. The numbering is the same as in the original.

  • 1. Do you resist admitting the possibility that a conservative approach to education is far more effective for students than a liberal one?
  • 1a. Do you resist admitting the possibility that a liberal approach to education is far more effective for students than a conservative one?
I don't accept either of these premises in their absolute form. Each side has something to contribute.
  • 2. If it were proven to your satisfaction that some idea you've been using to bolster a political argument was false, would you keep using that idea in your argument?
Of course not.
  • 3. Do you resist admitting that something you accepted for over a decade is, in fact, completely false?
Of course not.
  • 4. Do you resist the possibility that Hollywood values result in significant harm for those who believe in them, and to innocent bystanders?
Assuming that, by "Hollywood values", you mean drug use, scandalous behavior, and a belief that the rules apply only to other people, of course such things harm the individuals involved and other people. People in show business are often associated with these attitudes, but they can be found everywhere.
  • 5. Do you think it is impossible that increased gun ownership reduces the rate of crime?
  • 5a. Do you think it is impossible that decreased gun ownership reduces the rate of crime?
  • 5b. Do you think it is impossible that there is no significant correlation between gun ownership and crime rates?
Crime rates depend on many many things, as a study of historical crime rate statistics shows. If have seen comparisons of crime rates and gun ownership rates for a number of countries, and there is no conclusion that one can draw in either direction.
  • 6. When President Ronald Reagan told Mr. Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, would you have thought that it was politically impossible for the Berlin Wall to be torn down?
Given that this is an event that actually happened, it isn't a good test of openmindedness. See my new question about Korea at the end.
It's really a question of whether it would have been feasible. It is possible, but may well not have been economically reasonable.
  • 8. Do you think that it is impossible that the Shroud of Turin is authentic?
I don't know.
  • 9. Do you think that there must be a purely material-based explanation (such as magnetism) for remarkable homing and migration behavior of birds and butterflies?
I don't know, though my scientific sensibilities suggest that a scientific explanation will be found. This question appears to by attempting to elicit a response similar to the "intelligent design" position that some people take on biological evolution. I don't take such a position.
  • 10. Do you think that it is impossible for the speed of light to have been different in the past?
It could have been, but it's confounded by things like the expansion of the universe. Same meter sticks? Same clocks? What does that even mean? We do know, from spectral lines of distant stars, that the properties of the universe have not changed significantly in its "recent" (say, 10 billion years) history.
  • 11. Do you think that it is impossible to measure openmindedness?
I have no idea, really. I'm just going along with the hypothesis.
  • 12. Do you think that evolution must have occurred?
Yes. To avoid filling this page with too much text, I have written an extensive essay on the subject on my user page.
  • 13. Do you think that is impossible for the power of 2 in Newtonian gravity, whereby the gravitational force is proportional to 1/r2, to be more precise with an exponent that is slightly different from 2, such as a gravitational force proportional to 1/r2.00000001?
This question is a little more complicated than meets the eye, since Newton's law was stated to be inverse square, so any deviation would not be Newton's law. Restating that as "would Newton's law, as modified to have an exponent of 2.00000001 (or whatever) better explain the universe? It would not. This theory was advanced by Asaph Hall and Simon Newcomb, with exponent 2.0000001574, in the late 19th century, to explain the anomalous precession of the perihelion of Mercury. It fails for the Moon and the other planets, and was discarded shortly thereafter. I am not so openminded as to accept that it might nevertheless by correct.
  • 14. Do you resist admitting that some things taught to you in school are completely false, and even known to be false by some responsible for the material?
Absolutely not. I could tell you some doozies from my 2nd grade teacher, and from my 8th grade science teacher. I do not know whether those teachers actually believed what they were saying.
  • 15. Do you deny that some widely required theories of science, such as the theory of evolution, may actually impede the progress of science?[1]
It occasionally happens that some theories harm overall scientific knowledge. The Ptolemaic universe, "cold fusion", and various proposals relating to biology, medicine, genetics, and geology come to mind. But the problems seem to get straightened out by further study.
  • 16. Do you deny that the imposition of socialism and same-sex marriage on a nation could harm its competitiveness at international events like the Olympics?
I know of no reason to believe there could be any correlation.
  • 17. Do you refuse to consider the possibility that "experts" may not have all the answers, and that the best of the public may have valuable insights to which experts are blind?
Of course not.
  • 18. Do you think that if you read parts of the Bible years ago as a child, you can claim to "have read the Bible" and that you have no reason to read it regularly now?
This seems to be a question of how one interprets the semantic meaning of "have read ...", rather than one of openmindedness about any factual matter. I believe that saying that one "has read" something should mean that one has read it in its entirety, or nearly so. In that sense, I have not read the Bible, though I have read many parts of it, on my own and in various Bible study classes in college and in my church.
  • 19. Do you believe that because the Earth's orbit and rotation are what they are now, they are guaranteed to remain stable for billions of years?
Of course there are no guarantees; another star could totally disrupt the Solar system in then next few million years, but we have (at present) no way of predicting such things. I am aware that Young Earth Creationists sometime make exaggerated claims about the instability of the Earth's orbit, apparently in order to advance a claim that the orbit could not have been stable for more than a few thousand years. So I'll say that there is extremely good reason to believe that it has been stable for a few billion years, and will continue to be stable for a few billion more years. There is compelling geological and biological evidence that the Earth has been at roughly the same distance from a star with roughly the luminosity of the Sun for, say, 3 billion years. Also, extremely precise computer simulations[2] over a period of a few hundred million years into the future show that, while the Lyupanov time scale is only a few million years, the overall instability is quite small over that time frame.

Here are a few questions that I have added. The one about Korea was added and discussed on the talk page, but was removed. I believe it is a better question than the one about the Berlin wall, because it refers to a situation whose outcome we do not know.

  • 20. Do you deny the possibility that North and South Korea will someday be united, without a war?
Absolutely not.
  • 21a. Do you deny the possibility that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe?
Absolutely not.
  • 21b. Do you deny the possibility that no intelligent life exists anywhere else in the universe?
Absolutely not.
  • 22a. Do you deny the possibility that special and general relativity are a substantially correct explanation for how the universe works at non-microscopic (not quantum scale) levels?
Absolutely not.
  • 22b. Do you deny the possibility that relativity is not a correct explanation?
I believe that future developments will eventually supplant the 20th century notion of special and general relativity. But I totally accept it as the correct scientific paradigm for its time, just as Newtonian mechanics was the correct scientific paradigm for its time.

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