Archive for January 28th, 2009
Welcome to the Skepticism Review and Education Program (SREP). SREP is designed to deliver an unparalleled educational program to all those individuals interested in the myriad aspects of skepticism, critical thinking, and the use of reason as a guide through life. It is available for all members of the skeptical community and for anyone who wants to gain a more detailed understanding of this important subject. The following questions are based on submissions from a number of experts on skepticism. Answers will be provided upon completion of the exam.
If you are perhaps unsure if you have come to the right testing facility, please read the following two discussions on the true nature of skepticism by Seth Manapio from Whiskey Before Breakfast…The Blog and Sam Ogden from Space City Skeptics: “Again with the Definitions” and “What is Skepticism?“.
1. Which of the following spells from Magicks of the World is most effective?
A. Seduce a Professional of Choice Sex Spell
B. The Mysterious Shrinking Wallet Spell
C. Vegas Victory Money Spell
D. Break Them Up Love Spell
Submitted by Lord Runolfr from The Saga of Runolfr.
2. What is the most effective means of handling an internet troll?
A. Shouting “Hey, isn’t that the third Billy Goat Gruff behind you!”
B. Staying completely still in the hopes that they will wander off, because troll vision is based on movement
C. Calmly and rationally countering their flawed arguments if only for the benefit of other readers
Submitted by Perky Skeptic from The Perky Skeptic.
3. Which of the following is not a method commonly used by practitioners of alternative medicine to achieve legitimacy in the eyes of healthcare consumers?
B. Circumventing peer review
D. Use of therapies that actually work
Submitted by PalMD from the white coat underground.
4. In addition to home decorating, the ancient Chinese science of Feng Shui can also be applied to which of the following aspects of daily life?
C. Internal Organ placement (1)
D. Day trading
Submitted by Bing from Happy Jihad’s House of Pancakes.
C. Not since last night’s probing
D. jIH ghaj ghoS Daq chargh lIj qo’! (2)
Submitted by Yoo from Stochastic Scribbles.
6. Which of the following best supports the theory of human klugery rather than intelligent design?
A. Klugery? Isn’t that some kind of sport involving downhill sled races?
B. No fossil record evidence of a monkey giving birth to a human
C. The human mind
D. Something about a banana (3)
Submitted by Greta Christina from Greta Christina’s Blog.
7. When debating conspiracy theorists, what response are you least likely to hear?
A. “That evidence was manufactured.”
B. “The conspirators are exceptionally good at secrecy and at hiding evidence of the truth.”
C. “The media are in on the conspiracy!”
D. “Has anyone seen my copy of Skeptical Inquirer?”
Submitted by Greta Christina from Greta Christina’s Blog.
8. The term “evidence” is used properly in which of the following statements?
A. You don’t have any evidence that catnip won’t treat my child’s fever
B. There is little convincing evidence that echinacea is effective in preventing the common cold
C. A lack of evidence from scientific studies that licorice root is effective in treating asthma means that there is evidence that it doesn’t work
D. There is no strong evidence either way for the use of milk thistle to increase a mother’s supply of breastmilk
Submitted by Andrew from the evolving mind.
9. Brother XII, an infamous early 20th centurly cult leader, was known by what other title?
A. Edward Arthur Wilson
B. The Egyptian god Osiris
D. All of the above
Submitted by Dr. Vitelli from Providentia.
10. Which of the following is not a weakness in the concept of evolutionary psychology?
A. Many aspects of human behavior, such as addiction, are not necessarily heritable but a result of social enfluence
B. Similarities between identical twins may be based on the intrauterine environment as well as genetic effects
C. It has yet to explain the origin of life or that extra rib
D. Ignoring the potential role of so-called “junk DNA” on gene expression
Submitted by Gadfly from Socratic Gadfly.
11. Which of the following criteria is not important when evaluating the methodological quality of research on the psychological effects of induced abortion.
A. Use of an appropriate comparison group
B. Whether or not it has been featured on a segment of Oprah
C. Controlling for preexisting mental health status
D. Use of valid mental health measures
Submitted by Rense Nieuwenhuis from Curving Normality.
12. Which of the following responses to continued increases in the rates of measles infections in the UK would be most effective?
A. Graphic billboards that display the potential sequelae of vaccine-preventable illnesses
B. A public flogging of Andrew Wakefield
C. An ad campaign featuring the Spice Girls
D. A new Saturday morning cartoon called Jabby’s Playhouse featuring Jabby, an anthropomorphic talking hypodermic needle filled with rainbows and lollypops
Submitted by Dr. Aust from Dr. Aust’s Spleen.
13. According to a speaker during the recently held lecture meeting on Weird Science at the London CFI, twelve percent of UK students except as fact what pseudoscience supported belief?
A. Astral projection
C. Young Earth Creationism (YEC)
D. Bowler caps
Submitted by Martin Freedman from No Double Standards.
14. Which of the following is a Darwin quote is being used as propaganda by the Discovery Institute to support the push for Academic Freedom in high schools and universities?
A. “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.”
B. “If people came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys? And furthermore, why are there no monkey people swinging to work on power lines, which are something you don’t know about yet but trust me on this one folks.”
C. “I…..really…..believe that…..natural selection…..is…..wrong…..”
D. B and C
Submitted by Jack from Homologous Legs.
A. Yes, secondary to feline tidal waves
B. Yes, Joe Rogan told me that they do and he knows more about the moon than anyone
D. No, but only because they are distracted by the large saucer of milk in the sky (4)
Submitted by Kylie Sturgess from PodBlack Cat.
16. Which of the following claims regarding autism epidemiology has recently been credulously publicized by the mainstream media?
A. The genetic influence on autism is a multifactorial
B. Autism is a condition of developmental delay, not of developmental stasis
C. Autism is caused by an imbalance of body humours and/or adrenal fatigue
D. Increases in the reported rates of new autism cases are secondary to an environmental exposure and not to increased awareness or diagnostic drift
Submitted by Michelle Dawson from The Autism Crisis.
17. Which of the following is not an example of an effective use of one’s psychic powers?
A. Failing to see that your client actually committed the crime you are helping to solve
B. Sensing that your client’s dead grandmother had a name starting with an A, C, D, G, K, M, P, R, T, or W (5)
C. Predicting that reality television is a dying genre
D. All of the above
Submitted by Skeptico from Skeptico (6).
Answer Key: 1. B 2. C 3. D 4. A 5. A 6. C 7. D 8. B 9. D 1 0. C 11. B 12. A 13. C 14. A 15. C 16. D 17. D
1-2 wrong: Excellent. You’ve mastered the SREP. Go and share your preternatural Randiesque critical thinking skills to the world by writing a blog or starting up a local skeptics club.
3-4 wrong: Pretty good but maybe you didn’t read all of the posts. Even Novella was wrong once, I think. Try again and I bet you’ll do much better.
5-7 wrong: Not so good. You should immediately go back to the beginning and reread every post. You were perhaps distracted or drunk. Rebecca Watson is that you?
8-10 wrong: That’s pretty bad. Wake up! You’ve been sleep reading again, probably because of all those homeopathic sleeping pills you took. Now go back to sleep and try again later.
11-13 wrong: Terrible. Did you even read the posts? Try clicking on the highlighted words and then read what pops up.
14-17 wrong: Amazing. You’ve done so poorly it can’t be by explained simple stupidity. There must be a more sinister force at play here. At last, proof of the paranormal!
(1) Should only be attempted by Mehmet Oz
(2) “I have come to conquer your world!” in Klingon
(3) The atheist’s worst nightmare by Ray Comfort
(4) Kitten’s First Full Moon is a classic 2005 Caldecott Medal winner and one of my daughter’s favorites
(5) Or Z
(6) Not Skeptiko
The next edition of the Skeptics’ Circle will be hosted by A and Z over at It’s The Thought That Counts in two weeks.