Many years ago when I was just starting out in Silicon Valley, I dreamed up a “Techie Illiteracy Quiz” to rub my fellow engineers’ noses in how little they knew about the humanities.
It had 3 questions:
- Who was Napoleon, and what was his relation to the French Revolution?
- Who wrote “Paradise Lost”, and is it a poem, a novel, or a play?
- Name one philosopher and one of his or her beliefs
History, literature, philosophy.
Techies didn’t do well on this quiz. They did best on Question 3 because of philosophers like Bertrand Russell whom some of them knew from his propositional calculus side.
I was surprised that most techies knew nothing of Napoleon or John Milton.
Recently I told this story to a friend, and he said, “well maybe there should be a ‘non-techie innumeracy’ quiz to level the playing field.”
Question is, what would be in such a quiz?
I’m thinking math/physics, computer science, life science, although that may just reflect my areas of greater experience (I don’t know much about geology, chemistry, materials science (if that’s even a separate science)).
Well, here’s a draft:
- Name or describe one of Newton’s Laws of Motion
- Who was Turing, and what was his relationship to cryptography?
- How does DNA replicate?
Welcome your thoughts…