Further to our report about AI and blogging in yesterday’s roundup, I decided to try my hand at writing a post using ChatGPT. I started off with Pastafarians and the exchanges went like this:
ChatGPT: “Pastafarians are members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a parody religion that emerged in 2005 in response to the teaching of intelligent design in American public schools. Pastafarians believe that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe and that pirates are “absolute divine beings.” They also often wear colanders on their heads and use humor and satire as a way to promote their beliefs. The church is not recognized as a legitimate religion by most governments, but its followers have been successful in some instances at getting their religious headgear recognized as legitimate religious headwear in official ID photos and other legal contexts.”
Me: “Pastafarians recent court cases”
ChatGPT: In recent years, there have been a number of court cases involving Pastafarians and their religious headwear. Some of these cases have been successful in recognizing the religious headgear, while others have not.
In 2016, a New Jersey judge ruled that a Pastafarian’s religious headwear (a colander) must be included in his driver’s license photo.
In 2018, a court in Poland ruled that a Pastafarian’s religious headwear (a colander) must be included in his ID photo, making him the first person in Poland to have a religious headgear in their ID
In 2019, an Austrian court ruled that a Pastafarian’s religious headwear (colander) must be included in her driver’s license photo.
In 2020, a court in Germany ruled that a Pastafarian’s religious headwear (colander) must be included in his ID photo
In 2021, a court in the Netherlands ruled that a Pastafarian’s religious headwear (colander) must be included in his ID photo
Not all the cases have been successful though, in 2020, a court in Russia ruled that a Pastafarian’s religious headwear (colander) could not be included in his ID photo, stating that the headwear is not an integral part of the religion.
Overall, it seems like the legal recognition of Pastafarianism and their religious headwear as legitimate is still a developing issue, and the outcome of these cases may vary depending on the specific country and court.
Me: “Pastafarians European Court of Human Rights” (bearing in mind that it was very unlikely that De Wilde v The Netherlands  ECHR No 9476/19 would be in the ChatGPT database).
ChatGPT: There have not been any cases involving Pastafarians and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) that I am aware of. The ECtHR is a court established by the European Convention on Human Rights to hear cases brought by individuals, organizations, and other entities that claim to be the victims of a violation of the Convention by one of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. Pastafarianism is not a widely recognized religion in Europe, and cases involving the religion have primarily been dealt with in national courts. The outcome of these cases have varied depending on the country and court, some courts have recognized the headwear as religious and other courts have not.
It is worth noting that the ECtHR has dealt with cases involving religious headwear before. Some of these cases have dealt with headscarves worn by Muslim women, and the court has generally held that states have a wide margin of appreciation when it comes to regulating religious dress, but they must do so in a way that is proportionate to the aim they are pursuing and that does not discriminate against one particular religion or belief.
I then changed tack – I was careful to choose a case decided before 2022, because Chat GPT only includes material up to the end of 2021:
Me: “What do you know about Polat v Austria?” (a case in July 2021 which I noted at the time, here).
ChatGPT: Polat v Austria is a case that was heard before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in 2019. The applicant, a female Austrian citizen and a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, also known as a Pastafarian, claimed that her rights under Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated when the Austrian authorities refused to allow her to wear a colander on her head in her driving licence photo.
The applicant argued that she had a genuine belief in the tenets of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and that the colander was an important symbol of her religion. The Austrian authorities argued that the colander was not a religious symbol and that the applicant’s beliefs were not serious.
The Court held that there had been no violation of the applicant’s rights under Article 9 of the Convention and stated that the authorities had not interfered with the applicant’s freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The court also held that there had been no violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Convention in conjunction with Article 9, as the authorities had not treated the applicant differently from others in a similar situation.
It is important to note that the ECtHR has a wide margin of appreciation when it comes to religious matters and the decision of the Court to not find a violation of the Convention rights was based on the fact that the Court did not consider the applicant’s beliefs as serious, also the Court considered that the authorities had not treated the applicant differently from others in a similar situation.
Me: “No: Polat v Austria  ECHR 658 was about the refusal by Ms Polat and her husband, Turkish Muslims, of consent to a post-mortem being carried out on their son, who was born prematurely and who died two days after birth.”
ChatGPT: I apologize for any confusion, you are correct. Polat v Austria is a case that was heard before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in 2021, but it dealt with a different subject matter than what I described in my previous answer. The case of Polat v Austria  ECHR 658 was about the refusal by Ms Polat and her husband, Turkish Muslims, of consent to a post-mortem being carried out on their son, who was born prematurely and who died two days after birth. They argued that the post-mortem examination would be contrary to their religious beliefs and that the authorities should have respected their wishes. The court found that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court found that the authorities had failed to strike a fair balance between the interests of the parents and the public interest, and that they had not adequately protected the parents’ rights to respect for their religious and cultural beliefs.
Overall, I was quite impressed but it’s clear that one needs to be very careful how one constructs one’s questions and perhaps I should have deleted the previous conversation and started afresh. But it looks as if we’ll be writing stuff the old-fashioned way at least for the immediate future.
Oh Nina! What have I done?
Interesting that its revised description of Polat v Austria repeated your question in its description. Perhaps that’s how it learns…
Indeed: I wondered that as well. But it does point up that in order to use AI effectively, you need to be very careful about what questions you pose.