Random AsidesSkepticism

Are you a red-hot skeptic?

Something that really bugs me about those mainstream women’s magazines are those quizzes which shovel every reader into a pigeonhole based on a numeric value ascertained by dumb questions. Usually along the lines of “are you good in bed?” or “is your career stalling?” they offer the unsuspecting a reader a summary and sage advice from someone who is presumably Hugh Hefner. Stereotypes are often true generally, but individually, rarely are. So to force us into a stereotype and, worse, make a judgement on it, based on a multiple choice quiz is a half-step from astrology and a quarter-step from pointless.

Which is precisely why it’s hilarious fun to make a skeptic one! What better way to parody dumbass quizzes while also acknowledging that they’re curiously fun to take? Without further ado, I present…

Are You a Red-Hot Skeptic?

1. Do you have a beard?

A: Yes, a full beard
B: Yes, a goatee or other small beard
C: No, but I used to have one
D: No, I have never had a beard

2. Do you think Phil Plait is hot?

A: Yes (I am a man)
B: Yes (I am a woman)
C: No (I am a man)
D: No (I am a woman)

3. Your colleague forwards an email that looks like an urban legend. Do you

A: Immediately check it on Snopes then hit ‘Reply To All’ with the link and a witty but biting comment?
B: Check it on Snopes and reply only to the colleague?
C: Google it for your own curiosity but say nothing.
D: Forward it to everyone you know with the comment “OMG!!! SCARY!!”.

4. Which of these books is your ideal holiday read?

A: Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World
B: Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
C: Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People
D: Sylvia Browne’s Contacting Your Spirit Guide 

5. Have you met Michael Shermer?

A: I am Michael Shermer
B: Yes I have met Michael Shermer
C: No I have not met Michael Shermer
D: Who is Michael Shermer?

6. Your friends regard you as

A: A know-it-all cynic who always bangs on about evidence and logical fallacies
B: A smartypants who likes to know the facts before deciding
C: A knowledgeable person who keeps their opinions to themselves until appropriate
D: Friends?

7. You are lying in bed and you feel an eerie chill. Do you

A: Call a glazier
B: Call the dog
C: Call a TV crew
D: Call your agent

8. You meet a man who claims he can speak to your dead relatives. Do you

A: arrange a double-blind test, an application to the Million Dollar Challenge, and close examination by Richard Wiseman
B: arrange a quick trip to the nearest shrink
C: arrange his face into a bloodier one
D: arrange a six-figure book deal with you as co-author

Scoring

Mostly A’s: Congratulations! You are a Red-Hot Skeptic. Your credentials are assured and you can take your place amongst such luminaries as That Guy Who Debunked That Thing, and Those People With That Useful Website.

Mostly B’s: You have work to do but can consider yourself a Simmering Skeptic. Spending more time reading Skepchick will warm you up in no time, as would wearing pants for once.

Mostly C’s: You’re a Lukewarm Skeptic, but your brain is in the right place. Try reading a few more of the skeptic classics and spend less time watching Doctor Who.

Mostly D’s: You are Sylvia Browne. And you lied on the beard question.

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51 Comments

  1. Oh, and I would like some kudos for my awesome Photoshopping skillz. Those flaming letters were not quick to make.

    NEW OFFER: I will make ‘your name in flame’ for the funniest comment on this article, as judged by me.

  2. I have to agree with Elles. That question almost made me have a meltdown. ;-)

    Mostly B’s. That may have to do more with the people I hang with than with me.

    And I reply to Urban Legend e-mails with a Snopes reference and a big “thank you,” because reading and collecting Urban Legends are one of my many hobbies. I don’t have to buy anything for this hobby, because the material all comes to me on its own. :-D

    Damn. I could have had one more if I could count the beard(s) growing out of my ears. :-(

  3. This poll is flawed!

    If a man thinks I am hot, he gets a boost toward being a red hot skeptic.

    If a *woman* thinks I’m hot, her results are skewed toward “simmering”. Unfair.

    Now, this is confused somewhat by having “D” representing a woman who *doesn’t* think I’m hot. However, I have to conclude that anyone in that category is denying the obvious evidence, so perhaps this part of the poll is correct.

    I have no clue what to make of “C”. Lacking evidence, I can only speculate, which is not scientific.

  4. Phil, I answered (C) to question 2. Don’t take this the wrong way, but maybe we could meet for drinks or something sometime to discuss my answer.

    On the beard issue, I’ve been a bit lax about the whole trimming thing lately, and am heading into Karl Marx/Charles Darwin territory. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

  5. Even with the instructions, there’s so many ways one could interpret the data. According to the instructions, I’m a Red-Hot Skeptic, but only because 50% of my answers were A. If I average my answers out, I’m 75% on the Red-Hot Skeptic end of the scale. If my scores were 50% A, 12.5% B, 25% C and 12.5%% D. This still seems like an unacceptable level, but I can’t grow a beard, do I fail?

    (I typed this while working, so hopefully it doesn’t sound retardedly filled with flaws)

  6. “6. Your friends regard you as;

    A: A know-it-all cynic who always bangs on about evidence and logical fallacies”

    Friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, pub landlord, local preist, local primary school headmistress, our mailman, Leeds City Council, our binmen, our butcher, our greengrocer……

  7. For some reason, I had originally read the title of this entry as “Are you a red head skeptic?” That test would have been easier, as it would have required only two questions. And you could chart your position in a two-dimensional graph: X axis for “redhead-not redhead”, and Y axis for “skeptic-not skeptic”.

  8. @Andrés Diplotti: If that were the case then I would win hands down.

    The friends question bothered me because though I do rant a fair bit about evidence and logical fallacies, my friends also tend to do the same. So I can’t even really answer that question. I guess if I include family into that list I would have to answer A.

    @Elles:
    Yeah, that didn’t make any sense to me either. I don’t like having to choose between the two. What if I would take both? I have an odd tendency to read multiple books over the course of a given time period, rarely sticking with one book or another.

    As to the beard thing, I suppose I’d have to go with C unless you count the fact that I haven’t shaved in 3 days.

  9. Immediately check it on Snopes then hit ‘Reply To All’ with the link and a witty but biting comment

    I am, perhaps, a little ashamed to admit that when I wrote down ‘A’ on the back of the receipt I was putting my answers on I thought ‘Oh my Flying Spaghetti Monster, I’m not the only one!

  10. Again speaking of Snopes, a co-worker used to forward me stupid emails and I would show him it on the Snopes. He never did believe what I showed him but he did stop forwarding me the stupid emails.

  11. Kinda wish gmail had a “Report Gullibility” button next to the “Report Spam” one. You press it and it parses through the email, looks up the most likely matching urban legend on snopes, emails that to every address in the email and subscribes all the forwarders to the snopes weekly newsletter.

  12. I’m thinking a couple of people either didn’t read the intro para (in which I said this sort of quiz is dumb and therefore it’s hilarious to parody).

    Mollishka: It’s a parody
    Everyone else taking it seriously: It’s a parody
    Everyone else: hee!

  13. @The Bad Astronomer: Ha! That’s because I’m playing to the hilarious and untrue stereotype that skeptics are mostly older, bearded straight single men. Therefore A is hard to achieve and requires XTREEM skepticness.

    Of course, the point of the quiz is to demonstrate how absurd it is to try and label anyone anything based on a few made-up questions, or that there is even such a thing as a true skeptic. There is no yardstick of skepticism by which those who wish to use the label should measure themselves, any more than there is one concept of what ‘good lover’ is that everyone can or should conform to.

  14. Do you have this kind of tests via SMS over there? The ads pop up all the time on Argentine TV, and boy are they annoying. “Are you good in bed? / Does she love you? / Is your partner cheating on you? SMS the word CONME and find out!” Sometimes I want to set up one of such tests: “Are you a moron?” Anyone who pays for the test gets the same answer: “Yes, you are a moron.”

  15. But seriously, forks… I would argue that my goatee is much sexier than when I attempted a full beard. Note the word “attempted”.

    And I agree that it’s more hot for a man to think Phil is hot than for a woman to think so, but may I ask your reasoning on that? You really just want to see the Homosecular Gaytheist hook up with the Bad Astronomer, don’t you? Rawr.

    And on holiday, I would read Demon Haunted World and the entirety of the Hitchhiker’s Guide series… so would I answer A and B?

  16. I scored “Simmering,” which I feel is unfair, for two significant reasons:

    #1, I will have you know that Phil Plait watches lots of Doctor Who.

    #2, my answer for #7 was “What the hell is a glazier?”

  17. 9. You encounter an Internet poll entitled “Are you a red-hot skeptic?”. Do you:

    A: Suspect the quizmeister of fishing for a hot date
    B: Post a smarmy remark on Pharyngula about skewed sampling and invite everybody to crash the poll
    C: Read the scoring system first and then engage in a little confirmation bias
    D: Take the poll and then worry about doing so badly

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