Wednesday, September 29, 2010

quiz stats

Like Dr. Vallicella, I got a 14 out of 15 on the religion quiz he took. Most of the questions were absurdly easy, but the ones that dealt with religion-and-politics or religion-and-history were harder for me to answer. I guessed on two of those questions, and apparently got one of them wrong (a history question).

Several weeks ago, I got a 15 out of 18 ("Very Good; You Are Definitely Talented") on the Traditional Architecture Quiz over at the always-entertaining All Look Same, a website that tests your ability to differentiate East Asian faces, art, architecture, etc. The architecture quiz shows traditional buildings like temples, pavilions, and so on, and you have to guess whether you're seeing something that's Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.

While I'm rather proud of my architecture quiz results, I know that I still have a great deal of trouble distinguishing different types of structures in Korea. Example: unless a photo provides certain obvious clues, it's often difficult for me to distinguish a building on Buddhist temple grounds from a building at a Confucian academy. If I see clues that lead me to believe I'm looking at a temple, this isn't so hard. But photos of a given building, taken at a distance and in a certain kind of light, usually leave me scratching my head and rushing to the caption to identify what I'm looking at.

And don't even ask me to distinguish different Buddhist denominations by their architecture. Most of my studies in Buddhism have tended to focus on the gross aspects of its ethical and metaphysical teachings, with a dash of history of thought. Were you to quiz me on specific Buddhist rituals or iconography, or on the finer points of, say, folkloric Korean Buddhism, I'd be useless to you. (And this, folks, is what distinguishes the MA student from the PhD student: knowing a lot broadly is nothing like knowing a lot both broadly and deeply.)

I can't say that I've been interested in many quizzes of late. If anything, I'm curious to retake two diagnostics that I've always enjoyed: the "Belief-O-Matic" profiler over at Beliefnet.com, and "The Political Compass," a diagnostic I take every couple of years to see whether my political views have evolved. (They seem not to. I always score as a centrist.)

ADDENDUM: Some may remember my old Star Trek Movie Quotes Trivia Quiz. It's still around if you're interested. Only for the geekiest of the geeky, though. You've been warned.


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17 comments:

Charles said...

Managed a 14 as well. Got the last one wrong: I had no idea when the First Great Awakening was, so I guessed, and got it wrong. Mostly everything else was fairly easy, though.

Kevin Kim said...

That's the one I got wrong, too. What do you think of the quiz's content, structure, and apparent method, and how those things square with the quiz's title?

Charles said...

What it immediately reminded me of was one of those citizenship quizzes. You know, the ones where they ask some of the really easy questions that are on citizenship tests (as opposed to the hard ones).

One thing that struck me about the quiz was that it seemed quite skewed toward Western religions. The questions on the Eastern religions were laughably easy, and then we get a corker at the end about the "First Great Awakening"? I mean, I suppose they felt justified in doing that since the target is the "average American," but it seems like such an approach would only hide (and thus perhaps reinforce) ignorance of religious traditions outside the experience of the "average American."

I keep using "average American" in quotes because, well, what does that even mean? What about all the Americans who are Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist? I'm sure they found the quiz laughable. I guess "average American" means "WASP."

Or maybe I'm just being too sensitive?

DirtCrashr said...

Charles is right, there was nothing on Buddhism's The Gateless Gate, and nothing on Hinduism's Mahabarata or even the Gita, and Islam only got a Holy month and a country despite the spread of that empire - and even Christianity was just a quick, semi-secular pass with no mention of the Eastern Orthodox church of Constantinople.

Kevin Kim said...

It's enough to make one want to design one's own religion quiz.

Nathan B. said...

Religion quiz: 15/15, yeah! Now beat that!

Nathan B. said...

By the way, I agree that the quiz was skewed towards Christianity. But the Great Awakening question for me was as easy as the others. Har-de-har-de-har! (I don't have much else to gloat about nowadays, so I guess this is my big chance--cheers, N.)

Kevin Kim said...

It seems to be an all-around "I beat Kevin" gloatfest both here and on other blogs. Sigh...

John said...

You answered 13 out of 15 questions correctly
for a score of 87%. That's one up for the atheists!!!!

Anonymous said...

fourteen out of fifteen for me with the same wrong answer - The Great Awakening - what?

I've planned as an adult to reread the Bible, and Nathan gave me advice, but I put it off and put it off and it is still something I want to do but haven't. and yet, I scored better than 93% of Americans. The questions were pretty general.

Nathan B. said...

Well, Kevin, I think we both have a pretty decent knowledge of the western religions. I know, though, that your knowledge of the eastern religions absolutely dwarfs mine, and if the quiz had been fairer and better, your score would have reflected your greater knowledge of the field as a whole. Apologies if I was over the top, N.

Elisson said...

I got 15/15 on that religion thing... which just goes to show you how meaningless Internet-based quizzes are.

Kevin Kim said...

Nathan, I don't doubt that you'd whup my ass when it comes to Western religions (and religious traditions of the First Nations, and Greek mythology...). Meanwhile, no worries-- I'm fine with your victory dance. Heh.

Anonymous said...

I got a 15/15 also. I agree that it was skewed towards Western religions. The questions for Eastern religions were extremely easy.

Nathan B. said...

Thanks, Kevin! I had forgotten to say that you'd also--if I may use your words--"whup my ass" on the theory of religious studies as a discipline, too. Anyway, it's always a treat--and usually an (intellectually) stimulating one--to read your blog. Keep it up!

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Ha! You guys think you're so smart? Well, I got 16 out of 15 right! You can't beat that with a stick!

Jeffery Hodges

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Nathan B. said...

I was waiting for Dr. Hodges to chime in, and I'm glad he did--that was worth a chuckle!