Recently, I was goaded mercilessly into taking an on-line American civics test on which, to my great and everlasting embarrassment, I missed 5 of 33 questions. In fact, I knew the answers to all of the questions, but instead of just answering with my first thought, I chose wrong answers based on what seemed like good, sound logic at the time. Yeah, that worked for me.

     Anyway, thinking about that test and how I over-thought it reminded me of a Cultural Literacy Test I was given a long time ago. A significantly updated version is reproduced here. Give it a shot and see how you do. Choose any five items. Enjoy.
Cultural Literacy Test

History: Describe the history of the papacy from its origins to the present day, concentrating especially, but not exclusively, on its social, political, economic, and philosophical impact on Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa. Be brief, concise, and specific. Do not discuss religion.

Medicine: You have been given a razor blade, a piece of gauze, and a bottle of scotch. Remove your appendix. Do not suture until your work has been inspected. You have fifteen minutes.

Public Speaking: Without pandering to fetishists, convince 250 San Francisco Democrats to sign a petition stating George W. Bush did not 'steal' the 2000 election. You have 30 minutes. Two points of extra credit will be awarded for speaking in any language except English or Spanish.

Biology: Create life. Estimate the difference in subsequent human culture if this form of life had been created 500 million years earlier, with special attention to its probable affect on either the English parliamentary system or Sharia in the Islamic Republic of Iran (choose only one).

Music: Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate and perform it with flute and drum. You will find a piano under your seat. Two points of extra credit will be awarded for including an appropriate choral accompaniment.

Psychology: Based on your knowledge of their works, evaluate the emotional stability and degree of adjustment and repressed frustrations of the following people: Alexander of Aphrodusuas, Ramses II, Gregory of Nice, and U.S. President William Clinton. Support your evaluation with quotes from each man's works and cite references. It is not necessary to translate.

Sociology: Enumerate and describe the sociological problems which might accompany the end of the world. Construct a thought-experiment to test your theory and record your results. Two points of extra credit will be awarded for correctly showing the relationship between Max Weber's theories and the relevant predictions of Nostradamus.

Management Science: Define Management. Define Science. How do they relate? Why? Create a generalized algorithm to optimize managerial decisions. Assuming a cloud-based, high-bandwidth, context-aware distributed network, using no less than 2.1 million dedicated 'idle-time' dual-core PCs to run your algorithm, design the communications interface and all necessary control programs. You may use a graphing calculator.

Ethics in Engineering: The disassembled parts of a high powered rifle and a bullet have been placed in a box under your desk along with an instruction manual printed in French. In ten minutes either a hungry Bengal tiger or a crazed Islamic jihadist will be admitted to the room. Take whatever action you feel appropriate. Be prepared to justify your answer.

Economics: Develop a realistic plan for refinancing and reducing the national debt. Trace the possible effects of your plan on the following: Cubism, the Donatist Controversy, the Bauhaus Movement, and the wave theory of light. Outline a method of preventing the effects. Criticize this method from all points of view.

Political Science: Within a framework focused on the documented global socioeconomic effects of the Boxer Rebellion, the Boer War, and the second Seminole War, and in light of the legal precedents applicable to both the Andersonville and Nuremburg war crimes trials, explain why it was necessary for the U.S. to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein. Compare and contrast your explanation with that of the then-U.S. President, while citing the similarity or differences between his opinions and those of any seven prior U.S. Presidents. Two points of extra credit will be awarded for correctly correlating your answer to the central philosophy of either the Iliad or the Odyssey, as differentiated by Thomas Cahill in Vol. IV of his Hinges of History series.

     BTW, I didn't mean I actually took the test, only that it was given to me, by whom I don't recall, nor in what format or medium. About 40% of what's there now is mine, the rest is not. I've tried without success to find it on the internet, so if anyone knows where the original came from, I'll be glad to cite the source. Otherwise, if you really like taking tests, try the cultural literacy tests on The Literacy Company website. They are decent and easy to take. I've done pretty well on the one's I've taken, except for the World Literature II.
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