The Imitation Game

IMGAME Research Proposal

IMGAME is the short identifier for a 5 year research project: 2011-2016 European Research Council Advanced Grant (269463 IMGAME) €2,260,083 `A new method for cross-cultural and cross-temporal comparison of societies’.

'Quantifying the Tacit: The Imitation Game and Social Fluency'.     Download IMGAME Research Proposal [161 KB]


IMGAME Progress

Cooperating Universities now comprise Palermo, Granada, Wroclaw, Budapest, Rotterdam, Cardiff, Uppsala, Aarhus. We intend to carry out early rehearsals in Maastricht and Pisa during June 2011 before starting the main studies in October 2011.

Local Organisers have been recruited at many of these universities and ethics agreements are well in hand.

We intend to carry out more experiments in certain locations than the 15 originally proposed. We will carry out many more runs in Cardiff as we try to establish the kind of sample size that will produce Identification Ratios sufficiently robust to change little over repeated investigations in the same place. This will now be a main aim of the early part of the fieldwork.


IMGAME Research

Here you can download documents explaining in more detail how the experiments work and there are also links to published papers as well as the less formal coverage we have received publications ranging from Nature to online blogs.

Documents and Information

The Imitation Game is run online using bespoke software created for us by Martin Hall at the University of Southampton. The documents listed below are based on handouts we have created for students using the method and give a general idea of what is involved.

  1. 'Quantifying the Tacit: The Imitation Game and Social Fluency'.     Sample Participant Information Sheets and Consent Forms [40 KB]
  2. 'Quantifying the Tacit: The Imitation Game and Social Fluency'.     Instructions for Imitation Game [361 KB]

Please note that you will need a username and password to use the software so please contact either Harry Collins or Rob Evans before trying to use it.

Published Paper/s

Collins, H M, Evans, R J, Ribeiro, R and Hall, M (2006) ‘Experiments with Interactional Expertise’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 37 (4): 656-74. Available online from:

'Quantifying the Tacit: The Imitation Game and Social Fluency'.     Draft Working Paper: Harry Collins and Robert Evans ‘Quantifying the Tacit: The Imitation Game and Social Fluency’ [176 KB]

Web Coverage and Other Links

The Imitation Game has been featured in an article in Nature. The main focus of the argument is Harry Collins’s ability to pass as a gravitational wave physicist but the article also refers to other work on expertise including that reported in the SHPS paper listed above. If you have on-line access to Nature, you can read the article by clicking on the reference below.

Giles, Jim (2006) ‘Sociologist fools physics judges’. Nature, Vol. 442 (6 July 2006), p. 8.

The Nature article also prompted a number of articles in online magazines and blogs. For more on these see:

The Imitation Game also gets a mention in an article by Matthew Reisz and published in the Times Higher Education Supplement on 7 December 2007 (pp. 18-19).


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