So you've all heard of Turing tests, but what's probably more important is Field Turing Tests - similar to the distinction between experimental and field tests elsewhere.
A Turing test is useful because it gives you a sense of whether the other person really comprehends what they're arguing with. That's helpful in assessing the quality of the process by which they form arguments, etc.
But it doesn't necessarily mean that they're good interacting with people in the marketplace of ideas. For that, you need a field Turing test. Out in the wild, do people present the ideas they disagree with in a way that would convince someone from the other side.
This just comes to mind as a result of (what I hope is the end of) a long set of diffuse interactions with Don Boudreaux over monopsony. My concluding thought has been "my God I hope nobody just reads Café Hayek and doesn't read this blog to understand what I think about this issue". There's been some really awful misrepresentation from Don.
I've had similar fears in the last few months about my immigration work - I hope people don't just read stuff at Brookings, ITIF, or from Vivek Wadhwa on our immigration work. If they do they're going to completely miss the point.
The way around that is to be well engaged and a self-promoter of course. I've been in dialogue with people at Brookings and ITIF (Vivek infuriates me too much to talk with, although ITIF has been almost as bad - perhaps that's wrong of me). I've published at EPI, EconLib, and Cato on the issue which I think is very helpful.
But then there are good actors too - people you never have to worry about. David Henderson and Bryan Caplan always represent the other side pretty accurately. Any quibbles with their accounts would be idiosyncratic - not systematic. Bob Murphy is usually great, although I find some of his Krugman posts not just cases I disagree with, but very odd in their reading of Krugman (but we can bracket those off for the sake of this argument). Ryan Murphy and Jonathan Catalan are always great at this among us junior bloggers.
Those are the obvious ones on the libertarian side of things. Cochrane and Williamson are usually quite good on this count too. Horwitz can be OK on more analytical pieces but pretty bad on polemical pieces. This is a huge weak point for Boettke who I think is best read for his brilliant expositions and deep knowledge of his own side. Russ is in the same boat as Don.
Who do you think is especially good at this or especially bad at this on either side?
I think I'm pretty good. I provide accounts of the other side that I know they don't like (for example, the whole point about libertarianism vs. propertarianism and the idea that "liberty movement" is pure euphemism), but I hope I'm clear that this is my take on their position and not the position they are under the impression that they hold. Perhaps making that distinction clear is all that a successful performance in a field Turing test requires.
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