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Oct 13, 2007

Humanities Egghead Test by Laura Cubbison

Just like it happened last month, a post from Barry at EnRevanche (and a followup comment by Doc at TheyRodeOn) sends me to the stacks for another reading-oriented blog at the Archer Pelican. 

Barry's latest post reminded me of the Humanities Egghead Test which I remember laughing at in the mid-90s after receiving it once or twice by email. 

Imagine my surprise that something I remembered as brilliant and interesting in the early days of the internet was UNFINDABLE (by me) on the web (search terms: humanities egghead "allegory of the cave" 1 12 books black coffee shop glasses).  Fortunately, I thought to look in the Newsgroups and was rewarded not only with the test, but also with what appears to be its original 19 September 1994 posting by author Laura Cubbison (then a grad student, now teaching at Radford University).

I give you the whole thing, below.  And I hope that my little effort will get the Humanities Egghead Test back in action and web-findable as it always should have been.


After T-bone posted the scientific nerd test, I started thinking about a test
for eggheads (humanities geeks).  Some of the questions on his test work for
eggheads too, so I kept them in.  I wrote most of the questions myself, and
T-bone contributed a few more.  Once I finished it, I figured up my score as 55.

I actually wrote this before the coffee house sketch on MST3K, but I did add
two questions inspired by the sketch.


                             --EGGHEAD TEST--

     For each of the following questions which you answer 'yes,'
      add one point to your score.  Your total at the end is your
      percentage of eggheadedness

1)Have you ever gone to a coffee house?
2)Have you ever talked about being and nothingness?
3)Have you ever been to a Pinter play?
4)Do you know who Pinter is?
5)Have you ever done #2 continuously for more than four hours?
6)At a coffee house?
7)Do you wear glasses?
8)Are your glasses shaped like John Lennon's?
9)Is your vision worse than 20/40?
10)Worse than 20/80?
11)Are you legally blind?
12)Have you ever taught freshmen?
13)Have you ever answered a question in lecture after a moment of silence?
14)Have you ever corrected a professor?
15)Have you ever refused to answer a hypothetical question?
16)Have you ever had to sit in a circle in a classroom?
17)Do you save your lecture notes in file folders?
18)Do you never sell back your textbooks?
19)Do you own a black turtleneck shirt?
20)Have you ever used a microfilm reader?
21)Have you ever used a microfiche reader?
22)Have you ever used gopher to retrieve James Joyce's _Ulysses_ for a research
23)Is your weight less than your IQ?
24)Have you ever done #2 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the same
25)Have you ever done #2 past 4 a.m.?
26)Have you ever done #2 with someone of the opposite sex?
27)Have you ever done #2 for money?
28)Do you have own a copy of Thomas Pynchon's _Gravity's Rainbow_?
29)Have you read _Gravity's Rainbow_?
30)Did you understand _Gravity's Rainbow_?
31)Without Cliff's Notes?
32)Do you have a copy of the Riverside Shakespeare?
33)Do you have straight hair of all one length?
34)Does it fall in your face?
35)Do you admit to being a white male oppressor?
36)Do you express your rage against white male oppressors?
37)Can you define deconstructionism?
38)Do you know the Allegory of the Cave?
39)Do you know the words that follow "To be or not to be"?
40)Do you have them on a t-shirt?
41)Have you ever quoted Nietzsche?
42)Do you know who wrote _Waiting for Godot_?
43)Have you seen _Waiting for Godot_ in the theater?
44)Do you own more than $500 in books?
45)More than $1000?
46)More than $2500?
47)Do you stack your books in the corner of the room?
48)Have you ever seen a Merchant/Ivory film?
49)After you read the book?
50)Did you cry?
51)Did you fail the math portion of the GRE?
52)Have you ever done homework on a Friday night?
53)Have you ever pulled an all-nighter?
54)Have you ever written a short story?
55)Have you ever written poetry?
56)Done #55 in the last three months?
57)Done #55 in the last three weeks?
58)Have you ever memorized a poem?
59)Are your pants rolled up because they're too long?
60)Do you wear sandals?
61)Have you read _The Canterbury Tales_?
62)In middle English?
63)Have you ever attended a Shakespeare in the Park production?
64)Have you ever seen a Shakespeare play in a theater?
65)Have you ever entered a writing contest?
66)Did you win?
67)Can you identify Jacques Derrida?
68)Have you ever read anything by Derrida?
69)By Michel Foucault?
70)Have you ever used a colon in the title of a research paper?
71)Have you ever applied literary criticism to a television show?
72)Have you ever used inter-library loan?
73)Have you ever had to justify your field of study to your parents?
74)Have you ever used the word "hermeneutics" in a conversation?
75)Do you view participation in extracurricular activities as a violation of
your non-conformity?
76)Do you dress exactly like your non-conformist friends?
77)Do you know more than 1 modern language?
78)More than 2?
79)Do you know an ancient language no longer spoken?
80)Have you ever made a literary joke?
81)Did no one get it?
82)Have you ever attended a conference?
83)Did you read a paper?
84)Did you attend all the presentations?
85)Did you ask a question?
86)Have you ever used the word "verisimilitude"?
87)Can you count in Roman numerals?
88)Have you ever had a book review published?
89)In a newspaper?
90)Have you ever MSTed a textbook?
91)Have you ever attended a RenFest?
92)Do you pronounce "Sorbonne" like an American or a Frenchman?
93)Have you ever bought bottled water?
94)Have you ever drunk Perrier?
95)Is Guinness Stout the only beer you drink?
96)Did you major in philosophy or literature?
97)Have you ever read Beowulf?
98)In Old English?
99) Have you ever bought Let's Go Europe?
100)Do you apologize for the existence of Western Civilization?

I hope you enjoy.  (Oh, and 42, by the way.)

10:13 PM in Misc.Blog 2007, Quotables | Permalink


29 for me. I'm a little embarrassed not to be more of an egghead.

Posted by: Lisa | Oct 13, 2007 11:20:09 PM

This is probably the funniest thing I've ever written. The sad thing is that if I have an offline copy, it's probably on a floppy disk in an elderly version of Word Perfect and completely unreadable. Did you find it on alt.tv.mst3k or rec.arts.tv.mst3k? Actually the 1994 date is probably why you couldn't find it on the regular web. I didn't have a website of my own at the time, but I was posting a lot to Usenet.

My score was 55 back then. Now that I have tenure, it's at 70. Sadly, my weight is no longer less than my IQ. That's the peril of middle-aged spread.

Posted by: Laurie | Oct 14, 2007 12:46:54 AM

Yeah! A comment from Laurie! (To regular readers -- I should confess that I wrote to let her know about the post.)

I found it on rec.arts.tv.mst3k. (What was MST3K's coffee shop thing, by the way?)

I guess that makes some sense about the 1994 date making it less likely for a web-home. I had been figuring that anything funny enough to hit email in 1994 would still be circulating by the time people started putting EVERYTHING on the web (in 1995?) but maybe not.

Google my last name and you'll see some odd stuff on usenet, too. It's weird to see my old email addys. And cringe-inducing to think of how my colleagues must have rolled their eyes every time they heard me firing up the modem in my cubicle. "There goes Phil, wasting time on the internet again." Yeah, well now they do it to.

Posted by: Phil | Oct 14, 2007 1:47:31 AM

The coffee house thing was a skit during the Creeping Terror episode about pretentious coffee house poseurs. It first aired in September 1994.

Usenet was such a great space in the mid '90s. Now it is a few islands of actual discussion surrounded by spam. Since I discovered anime in 2000, I've been hanging out mostly in rec.arts.anime.misc.

Posted by: Laurie | Oct 14, 2007 11:22:52 AM

Only 35... I was always more of a math/science geek.

Posted by: Celeste | Oct 14, 2007 12:56:35 PM

I'd like to see Laurie update it. I can't decide which way to feel about my 65--too high or too low? Would have been a 66, but I prefer Mackeson Triple Stout to Guinness. I think the real egghead would be the person who can answer "No" to #92, as that would imply they pronounce the word like neither an American nor a Frenchman, and know it. ;-) I get to answer yes because I only know how I pronounce it, and couldn't really tell you which of those two choices it is, but surely it's one or the other. Thanks for the fun, Phil. Prior to this week, I had thought my daughters' generation invented the internet quiz on MySpace. Nothing new under the sun . . . Doc

Posted by: Doc | Oct 14, 2007 4:44:31 PM

Doc: Nothing new under the sun . . .microsystem server.

Celeste: on question #79, did you give yourself a point for FORTRAN or COBOL? ;-)

Celeste/Lisa: all is context, isn't it? I suspect that anything over a 10 would make you an egghead in the eyes of most Americans. We're not a country full of people who invest time in thinking about literature or philosophy (though we are investing more money in coffee, these days).

One of my aunts who lives in Asheville thinks that the idea of hanging out in "coffee shop" is just a bit odd. I think she'd score a 5 on this test: 3 pts. for eyeglasses and 2 for bottled water, and yes on Perrier only because her brother (my uncle) is gay and occasionally shops for family gatherings.

I remember back to ~1979 when he brought a few bottles of Perrier back from France - we all wondered what the hell it was, and I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to have more than two sips of that strange tasting stuff. Times have changed. Tonight I had an "agua mineral" at one of our local taquerias. It was just the thing.

Posted by: Phil | Oct 14, 2007 8:54:11 PM

Oh, and Celeste -- here's for you:

Geek Test 3.1 http://www.innergeek.us/geek-test.html

(27.61341% for me)

Posted by: Phil | Oct 14, 2007 9:29:32 PM

I did my bit. 44

Thanks for posting it!


Posted by: Leta | Oct 15, 2007 2:11:30 PM

Folks: click on Leta's link, above, if only to read the "About" statement at her blog.

Posted by: Phil | Oct 15, 2007 2:51:55 PM

I got 47, but only if I answered it for myself of 10-15 years ago. Now it would be lower since I no longer own a black turtleneck, finally threw away my college notebooks a few years ago, etc.

Question 51 makes me wonder: why would doing poorly in math make one more of an egghead?

Posted by: Sarah | Oct 16, 2007 4:40:45 PM

"Question 51 makes me wonder: why would doing poorly in math make one more of an egghead?" More of a "humanities egghead", I reckon. Though you could argue that point, too.

Ooh -- Beauty and the Geek is on TV. Gotta run!

Posted by: Phil | Oct 16, 2007 8:54:40 PM

sorry we missed you Sunday! We had just left for dinner with parents, would have loved for you to join us. Hopefully soon......

Posted by: Lisa | Oct 17, 2007 6:36:25 PM

57. 58 if you can replace "gopher" with "google." I think you should get some kind of Ancient Geek points just for knowing what gopher is.

Heh... that's got me thinking...
Can you define the following terms:

terminal emulation

Someone help me out here with some more...

And finally, that reminds me of something my friend Chris said about "cybercafes" in the 1990s. Most of them had "good coffee and bad terminal emulation." heh.

Posted by: Michael | Oct 23, 2007 11:48:30 PM

Alright - am I the only person who snickered at
'Have you ever done #2 for four hours?' and 'Have you ever done #2 for money?'.

I guess that makes me not an egg-head but possibly a doody-head.

Posted by: Marianne | Oct 31, 2007 11:47:23 AM

What I love about Marianne is that she would have snickered at the doody-questions even if she weren't mother to an adolescent boy.

Posted by: Phil | Oct 31, 2007 12:24:10 PM

Michael -- WOW, you are much more humanities geeky than I thought. Rockin'.

Re: your list of terms. I think that no one's responded because they're way too easy half of the 10-or-so people who read this blog, and completely foreign to the other half.

Posted by: Phil | Oct 31, 2007 12:29:56 PM

Differently eggheadedy:

I just met another person named Cubbison, and that got me to thinking about name-frequencies, and then I wasted a bunch of time at the US Census Bureau, and, and, and… according to my calculations and US Census data, there are fewer than 1,500 Cubbisons in the US.

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