Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Mad Scientist Quiz

It's Skeptics in the Pub night here in Vancouver and (as is all too typical) there isn't really much planned other than your basic socializing and rumination.

Once before when a night like this happened (mere days before Mr. Darwin's 200th) I made and printed a hand-out quiz. No one was marked, no-one was expected to out-do the other. It was just for fun and perhaps as an ice breaker.

I've made another this month. You guessed it - the Mad Scientist Quiz.

Here's the preamble that appears on the outside of the pamphlet I made:

One of the consistently galling things about pop-culture that raises the hackles of scientists and skeptics is the clich├ęd characterization of the ‘mad scientist.’
Most scientists are not mad. This is true.
But, the laws of large numbers dictates that there would have to be some...
Here is a brief quiz about some of the crazy things that respected scientists past and present have done and or said.
Some mad things were the result of the ignorance of the time; others were simply a matter the person being so prolific that some of their ideas had to fall through the cracks; some are crazy politics as opposed to bad science.
In any case... despite what we want to believe as critical thinkers... even the most brilliant amongst us are susceptible to bits and pieces of utter insanity.

Here are the questions:

1) Oliver Sachs gives himself a birthday present every year based upon a theme. His 77th birthday is next year, what will he receive?
2) Who made the decidedly unscientific admission; “I do not depend on figures at all. I try an experiment and reason out the result, somehow, by methods which I could not explain”?
3) Who stuck a darning needle in his own eye to see what effect it would have?
4) Charles Darwin’s last published paper featured a theory on flying ___________.
5) Which astronomer sued Apple for associating him with Cold Fusion and Piltdown Man?
6) What ‘mad scientist’ often tied to pseudoscientific claims has been played on screen by: Stacy Keach, Rade Serbedzija, Michael J. Pollard, and even local Vancouver actor Dmitry Chepovetsky?
7) Whose cookbook (actual, not figurative) is “the most dangerous cookbook in science”?
8) Who first came to fame under the name of one Richard Saunders?
9) Whose controversial statements include these: “Stupidity is a disease and the really stupid bottom 10% of people should be cured”; “Whenever you interview fat people, you feel bad, because you know you’re not going to hire them”?
10) Rene Descartes theorized that what organ was “the seat of the soul”?

I've got hints too which I'll post following the day's actual post that I'll be writing up in a minute or ten and then tomorrow I'll post the answers.

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