Techie Illiteracy Quiz (and its converse)

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:

  1. Who was Napoleon, and what was his relation to the French Revolution?
  2. Who wrote “Paradise Lost”, and is it a poem, a novel, or a play?
  3. 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:

  1. Name or describe one of Newton’s Laws of Motion
  2. Who was Turing, and what was his relationship to cryptography?
  3. How does DNA replicate?

Welcome your thoughts…

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