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Bah! Humbug!

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Okay.  This is an entirely new page, and I have no idea what that means.  I’m using it because what follows here is very long, and I thought it might be a better idea to set it off in some way.

What follows is The Literacy Quiz, something I give to my students every time as a sort of extra credit project.  My best classes average about a 40 out of one 100.  My worst average about 9.5.

Note:  all the items are things that are mentioned in their textbooks but not explained, so that they can’t actually understand the course reading if they don’t know these things, or most of them.

Also not:  there is exactly one right answer to each of these except 92, which requires several together to be right.  And the degree signs  NEVER  come out on the ones–well, you’ll see them.

Have fun, if you have nothing else to do.




1) Islamabad

a) a slang term meaning “Muslims are terrorists”

b) the capital of Afghanistan

c) the Muslim scriptures

d) the capital of Pakistan

e) a 1977 movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford about an Arab uprising

during WWI.

2) Joseph Stalin

a) American silent movie star from the 1920s who won an Oscar for the film

Matakavarib) German industrialist who founded the automobile industry in Western Europe

c) British novelist, 1895-1942, author of Lady Chatterley’s Loverd) Australian explorer, first to go around the world in a hot air balloon in 1992

e) Russian Communist leader, head of the government of the USSR in WWII

3) “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation,

conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

a) the opening words to the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln, 1863

b) the opening words to Orlando Furioso, by Ariosto, 1516

c) the opening words to Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert, 1857

d) the opening lines to The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1879

e) the opening lines to On Walden Pond, by Henry David Thoreau, 1854

4) Robert Gates

a) the US Attorney General

b) the US Secretary of Defense

c) the US Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

d) with Paul Allen, the founder of Microsoft

e) the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff

5) Winston Churchill

a) Prime Minister of Great Britain in WWII

b) Swiss novelist, author of Last Year in Marienbad, 1929

c) French chef who invented the dessert Charlotte Russe, 1779

d) US state department official convicted of spying for the Soviet Union, 1954

e) U of Colorado professor who called victims of 9/11 “little Eichmanns,” 2005

6) “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if

a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as

well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell

tolls. It tolls for thee.”

a) from John Donne’s Meditation 17, 1624

b) from For Whom The Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway, 1940

c) from The Gospel According to St. Mark, in the New Testament, King James Version

d) from George Washington’s Farewell Address, 1792

e) from William Shakespeare’s Autobiography, 1602

7) Lisbon

a) the site of the summer Olympic Games, 1972

b) the capital of Portugal

c) the capital of Idaho

d) the place where Wellington defeated Napoleon, 1815

e) the volcano that erupted outside Palermo, Italy, in 1984

8) categorical imperative

a) a principle in physics, discovered by Max Planck, that says that light travels only in

straight lines

b) a principle in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant that says we must always act as if

what we do could be set as a moral rule for all people

c) a tactic in rhetoric that requires the speaker to make a bold, unconditional statement

without modification or compromise

d) a logical fallacy, meaning to assume the truth of your conclusion

e) a principle in law that says that murderers must never be released on bail pending trial

9) Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

a) the first woman to win a seat in the British Parliament, 1925

b) the author of Little Women, 1866

c) the author of Frankenstein, 1831

d) the woman who first proposed the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution,


e) the inventor of Liquid Paper, 1958

10) the tortoise and the hare

a) a fable, the moral of which is “slow and steady wins the race”

b) the ingredients of a Brazilian speciality dish called Fejuada Completa

c) Caroline Kennedy’s pets while she was growing up in the White House, 1961-1963

d) painting by Pablo Picasso, 1939

e) two of the twelve signs in astrology

11) December 7, 1941

a) the day the US Civil War began

b) the day the Bolsheviks took over Russia and deposed the Tsar

c) the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and brought the US into WWII

d) the day the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan

e) the day Jonas Salk released the first effective polio vaccine

12) “In the future, everyone will be world famous for fifteen minutes.”

a) a quote from the artist Andy Warhol, 1968

b) a quote from Gertrude Stein, 1929

c) a quote from Steven Spielberg, 1992

d) a quote from Jerry Seinfeld, 1999

e) a quote from Leonard Bernstein, 1957

13) the Great Chain of Being

a) also known as the “food chain,” explains how big fish eat smaller fish which eat

smaller fish

b) a concept in Medieval theology that says that all creatures, from the smallest and most

insignificant to God himself, are connected in a single hierarchy of least to most

powerful and important

c) a concept in Hinduism, also called “reincarnation,” that says that after we die we are

reborn as anything from human to insect, depending on how good we have been

in life

d) the title of the first Be-In in San Francisco, May 24th, 1968

e) a technical term in poetry that refers to poems meant to reproduce specific sounds when read out loud, like The Bells, by Edgar Allan Poe.

14) Athens

a) the capital of Rome

b) the capital of Greece

c) the largest city in India

d) the site of an earthquake in 2005 that killed 15,000 people

e) the city where the Dalai Lama lives

15) John Roberts

a) the Prime Minister of Great Britain

b) the mayor of New York City

c) the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

d) the man, a Democrat, who represents Waterbury in the US House of Representatives

e) the Commandant of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, Poland, 1942-1945

16) the second law of thermodynamics

a) a principle in physics that says that order can never come out of disorder

b) a principle in chemistry that says that, in closed systems, energy tends to become evenly

distributed throughout the system

c) a principle in chemistry that says heat will always rise and cold will always sink in an

enclosed space

d) a principle in biology that says that there some living structures, like the eye, are too

complex to be explained by evolution

e) a principle in mathematics that says it is not possible to find the square root f a negative


17) April 9, 1865

a) the day the treaty of Appomattox was signed, ending the US Civil War

b) the day the Arch Duke Ferdinand was assassinated, beginning World War I

c) the day President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth

d) the day Marie Antoinette was guillotined by the leaders of the French Revolution

e) the day Queen Elizabeth II of England was born

18) Vienna

a) a city in Italy with canals instead of streets between the buildings

b) a kind of sandwich cookie with vanilla filling

c) the capital of Austria

d) a kind of sausage

e) the city on the island of Sicily where pizza was first made

19) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The

same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was

not any thing made which was made.”

a) the opening words of Genesisb) the opening words of The Gospel According to Saint Johnc) the opening words of Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan, 1628-1688

d) the opening words of The First Communion Catechism, 1909

e) the opening words of the Bhagavad Gita20) Charles Darwin

a) founder of the modern theory of evolution and author of The Origin of Species, 1809-1882

b) founder of the modern theory of evolution and coiner of the phrase “survival of the

fittest,” 1809-1882

c) British atheist social critic and evolutionist, 1809-1882

d) Church of English clergyman who first proposed the theory now known as “intelligent

design,” 1809-1882

e) British naturalist who discovered genes and genetics, 1809-1882

21) The Great Society

a) the official motto of the state of California

b) the name given to the first economic plan launched by the People’s Republic of

China under Mao Tse Tung, 1955-1960

c) the title of a book by Tom Brokaw about America during the World War II, 2002

d) John F. Kennedy’s campaign theme in the 1960 US Presidential election

e) a collection of programs in Lyndon Johnson’s administration meant to end poverty

in America, 1964-1969


22) July 4, 1776

a) the battle of Lexington and Concord begins the American Revolution

b) the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain is signed in Philadelphia

c) Betsy Ross sews the first American flag

d) the Constitution of the United States becomes the law of the new nation

e) George Washington defeats General Cornwallis at Yorktown

23) “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

a) a line from the United States Constitution

b) a line from The Gospel According to Saint Markc) a line from the Holy Korand) a line from The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Frederich Engels

e) a line from Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations24) the Bastille

a) a prison in Paris that was destroyed by a mob of the poor and destitute on July 14, 1789, thereby starting the French Revolution

b) the theater in Paris where Charlotte Corday murdered the Marquis de Sade on

December 24th, 1814

c) the industrial area of France, in the Alsace-Lorraine, where all heavy industry in the

country is headquartered

d) a torture device used during the Renaissance by the Spanish Inquisition, 1478-1834,

in which a specially constructed iron glove was used to hold the victim’s thumb

to the back of his hand while he was being questioned

e) the official home of the Presidents of France, analogous to the White House in the US

25) Neil Armstrong

a) notorious bank robber of the 1930s in the American West, he is most famous for

holding the record for the largest number of banks ever successfully robbed by

one person

b) an American astronaut who became the first human being to walk on the moon on

July 20th, 1969

c) the only man in the history of Major League Baseball to pitch three no-hitter World

Series in a row, 1922-1981

d) the inventor of the Frisbee, 1917-1965

e) a South African surgeon who performed the first open heart transplant operation on

Louis Washkansky in Cape Town in December, 1967

26) Vladimir Lenin

a) National Security Adviser in President Jimmy Carter’s administration, 1976-1980

b) Chemist at the Mars Corporation who invented the special chocolate formula that melts in your mouth, not in your hand, 1942

c) leader of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and first premier of the USSR, 1870-1924

d) the actor who played the monster in the original screen adaptation of Frankenstein,


e) leader of a band of hippies-turned-pseudo-revolutionaries who committed five murders

in four days in Southern California in 1969, including the murder of Sharon Tate,

actress-wife of radical film director Roman Polanski

27) Oedipus complex

a) a concept in Freudian psychology that holds that all male children subconsciously

desire to murder their fathers and marry their mothers

b) the name given by local residents to the specially-built athlete housing complex during

the 2004 Olympic games in Greece

c) the informal name given by the United States army to what is actually being hidden at

Area 51

d) a principle in mathematics that determines the allowable parameters of the field in

which points may be plotted on a graph

e) British punk rock band whose members were fined $1.5 million for eviscerating a

live Thompson’s gazelle on stage at Madison Square Garden during a

performance in 1983

28) Rosebud

a) the name of Frank Zappa’s youngest daughter, born 1982

b) the name of the estate where Lizzie Borden lived with her father and stepmother when

they were killed on August 4, 1892

c) the first and last word in the movie Citizen Kaned) the description commonly used of women’s lips considered sexually appealing, in the

New York slang of 1864

e) the name of Queen Victoria’s favorite pet Pomeranian dog

29) the New Deal

a) the name given to Ronald Reagan’s reform of the federal income tax system in 1981

b) the name given to Bill Clinton’s reform of the federal welfare system in 1996

c) the name given to the amendment that allowed a federal income tax in 1913

d) the name given to the 19th Amendment, allowing women the right to vote in federal


e) the name given to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s programs meant to end the Great

Depression between 1933 and 1942

30) October 29, 1929

a) the day Martin Luther King was assassinated

b) the day the Wright Brothers flew the first plane at Kitty Hawk

c) the day Agatha Christie published the first Hercule Poirot mystery novel

d) the day the New York stock market crashed, setting off the Great Depression

e) the day Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII

31) “This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

a) said by Hamlet to Ophelia in William Shakespeare’s Hamletb) said by Banquo’s ghost to Lady MacBeth in William Shakespeare’s MacBethc) said by Polonius to Laertes in William Shakespeare’s Hamletd) said by Friar Laurence to Juliet in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliete) said by Marc Antony to Brutus in William Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar32) natural selection

a) the fundamental principle of evolution, usually expressed as “survival of the fittest”

b) the fundamental principle of evolution, which says that those organisms will survive

which are best adapted to their environments or best able to adapt to changes in

their environment

c) the fundamental principle of evolution, which says that all life arises randomly and by


d) the fundamental principle of evolution, which says that the universe began as a

small ball of matter that exploded in the Big Bang

e) with survival of the fittest, one of the two fundamental principles of evolution


33) Adolf Hitler

a) head of the Nazi Party and leader of Germany, 1914-1918

b) head of the Nazi Party and leader of Germany, 1919-1929

c) head of the Nazi Party and leader of Germany, 1933-1945

d) head of the Nazi Party and leader of Germany, 1949-1954

e) head of the Nazi Party and leader of Germany, 1956-1959

34) the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

a) a principle in physics which states that it is not possible to know the location and

velocity of a particle at the same time

b) a principle in philosophy which says that the observer always affects what he observes,

so that it is not possible to be entirely objective about anything

c) a principle in chemistry which states that there is no reality, but only our perceptions

of reality

d) a principle in political science that says that no matter how many times you count the

votes in an election, you will always make at least some errors, so the final count

with never be entirely certain

e) a principle in art criticism which says that the meaning of a painting changes depending

on who is viewing it


35) Mao Tse-Tung

a) the last emperor of China, 1789-1844

b) the leader of the Chinese nationalist forces in World War II

c) the leader of the Chinese Communist forces in WWII, and the first premier of the

People’s Republic of China

d) a Chinese philosopher whose central teaching was that all morality derives from

the veneration of our ancestors, 1172-1204

e) the foreign affairs minister in the People’s Republic of China today

36) Tokyo

a) the city where the United States dropped the second atomic bomb, August 9, 1945

b) the capital of Japan

c) the largest city on the island of Malta

d) the name of the largest active volcano in Asia

e) the capital of China

37) The Divine Comedy

a) the subtitle of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrewb) the name of Bette Midler’s 2001 road tour

c) a long poem by Dante, circa 1300, made up of the Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradisiod) the title of The Birdcage when it was released to theaters in Europe

e) the name of the play that was being performed at Ford’s theater in Washington, D.C.

on the night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated there

38) Plato

a) a form of child’s modeling clay that comes in various colors and is nontoxic if

accidentally ingested

b) a philosopher, the student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle, he wrote The Republic 

c) the owner of the club Plato’s Retreat, shut down by the NYC police because of drug

and sex offenses in 1984

d) the author of A Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759

e) Roman Emperor at the time of the birth and death of Jesus Christ in Palestine

39) Byron, Keats and Shelley

a) the names of the three men who played Sherlock Holmes in the movies, Byron in the

1920s, Keats in the 1930s and 1940s, Shelley in the 1960s

b) the names of the three men who played drums for the Rolling Stones before the Stones

made their first record album

c) the names of the British Romantic poets of the 19th century, who dominated the movement in poetry away from Enlightenment rationalism and towards emotional expressiveness

d) the names of the three men beheaded by Henry VIII of England under suspicion of

having had affairs with his wife, Anne Boleyn

e) the names of the first three women to cast votes in a Presidential election, in Wisconsin

during the election of Abraham Lincoln


40) “In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds!”

a) a quotation from Genesis in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible

b) the first words in the Hindu scripture called the Upanishadsc) a quotation from the Egyptian Book of the Dead 

e) the words used to open every session of the United States Supreme Court

41) The Hague

a) the seat of government of the Netherlands

b) the formal title of the hereditary ruler of Belize

c) the name of the building housing CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia

d) the city where the headquarters of the United Nations is located

e) the name of the flu-like communicative illness that killed 250 about a cruise ship in

1986, and another 422 at a convention in Philadelphia later that year

42) James Madison

a) founder of Madison, Connecticut and fifth President of the United States, 1751-1836

b) Father of the Constitution and fourth President of the US, 1751-1836

c) first commander of West Point and second President of the US, 1751-1836

d) one of the authors of the Federalist Papers and eighth President of the US, 1751-1836

e) aide-de-camp to General George Washington and third President of the US, 1751-1836


43) December 11, 1620

a) the day the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock

b) the day Galileo announced his discovery that the earth is round

c) the day the Visigoths sacked the city of Rome and ended the Roman Empire

d) the day Confucius was born

e) the day Queen Victoria became Empress of All India

44) “Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.”

a) the sentence handed down to Kenneth Lay when he was convicted of fraud and insider

trading in the Enron case

b) what Judge Sirica said to Nixon White House staffers Dean and Haldeman after they

pled guilty to obstruction of justice after the Watergate burglaries

c) what the judge said to Scott Petersen when he was convicted of murdering his wife


d) what the prosecutor said to Michael Jackson when he was arrested on child molestation

charges for the second time

e) a card in the board game Monopoly

45) Nicolo Machiavelli

a) the birth name of Pope Alexander VI, 1431-1503

b) the author of the epic poem Orlando Furioso, 1474-1533

c) the author of The Prince, 1513

d) the leader of one of NYC’s Italian crime families on whom the character of the

Godfather was based, 1895-1951

e) leading fascist and second-in-command to Benito Mussolini in WWII

46) 100 C/212 F

a) the temperature at which the human body burns

b) the temperature at which water boils

c) the temperature at which gold melts

d) the temperature at which lava erupts from a volcano

e) the temperature at which roasted turkey is safe to eat

47) Manifest Destiny

a) in Hinduism, the fate of the soul when it passes through death into reincarnation

b) in Christian theology, the name given to the predetermined course of the earthly life of

Jesus Christ from birth to the cross

c) in Chinese philosophy, the right of the Emperor to rule under the Mandate of Heaven

d) in American politics, the doctrine that the United States and only the United States has

the right to expand in North America

e) in native American religion, the belief that each person is born with a unique purpose

which he must fulfill in life in order to achieve happiness in the afterlife

48) Frederick Engels

a) the author, with Karl Marx, of The Communist Manifestob) Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda in World War II

c) Austrian novelist, winner of the Nobel Prize, author of Death in Veniced) English poet laureate of the Victorian era, known for his poems celebrating the

British empire

e) the first Prime Minister of the modern State of Israel, 1949

49) Bogota

a) the largest city in Mexico

b) the capital city of Guatemala

c) Russia’s only warm-water port

d) the capital city of Colombia

e) the highest mountain in the Andes range

50) “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free

exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the

people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

a) the first article in the People’s Freedoms section of the Constitution of the Union of

Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)

b) the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States

c) the final words of the Declaration of Independence

d) the decision of the US Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison, 1803

e) the final words of President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech, 1961

51) The Fox and the Grapes

a) play by William Shakespeare about three men marooned on a seeming island

paradise, 1597

b) Restaurant in New York City where John Lennon was dining just before he was shot,

December, 1979

c) a children’s story from which the term “sour grapes” comes, a fox, unable to reach a

bunch of grapes high in a bush, walks away saying they’re “probably sour anyway”

d) Pub in London where Henry VIII met his fourth wife, Jane Seymour

e) Vin Diesel’s first movie, it was so bad he bought up all the available copies and the

rights to exhibit it and removed it from circulation

52) Tiu, Wodin, Thor and Freya

a) the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, from the Book of Revelation in the Bible

b) the names of the four Beatles in Japanese

c) the four Norse Gods for whom days of the week are named

d) parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, from the Paul Simon song “Scarborough Fair,” in


e) George W. Bush’s four favorite horses at the ranch in Crawford

53) Teheran

a) the town in Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden is supposed to be hiding

b) the town in Iraq where sixteen of the nineteen terrorists who took part in the 9/11

attacks were from

c) the town in Saudi Arabia where all Muslims must make a pilgrimage once in their


d) the capital city of Iran

e) the capital city of Iraq

54) Greenwich Mean Time

a) the time measured on an imaginary line running from pole to pole through Greenwich,

England, from which all the time zones on earth are determined

b) a slang term originating at Greenwich High School in Greenwich, Connecticut, to

describe the yearly hazing of freshmen

c) the name given to “bitch sessions” held at Folk City in Greenwich Village, NYC, after

auditions, when performers are criticized to their faces about their singing, guitar

playing and choice of folk music

d) the common term for Happy Hour in the pubs of Greenwich, New South Wales,


e) the code name given by the Commander, Allied Forces Europe, to the exact date and

time of the D-Day invasion, originating in Greenwich, England

55) November 22, 1963

a) the day Martin Luther King was assassinated

b) the day Thurgood Marshall became the first African-American to sit on the Supreme


c) the day Michael Jackson was born

d) the day on which Martin Luther King’s March on Washington began

e) the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated

56) Bruce Wayne

a) the Prime Minister of Great Britian

b) the senior Senator from New York

c) the secret identity of Batman

d) the American husband of Holland’s Queen Beatrice

e) the drummer for the Dave Clark Five

57) “When April with her showers sweet

Has pierced the drought of March to the root, and all

The veins are bathed in liquor of such power

As brings about the engendering of the flower,

When also Zephyrus with his sweet breath

Exhales an air in every grove and heath

Upon the tender shoots, and the young sun

His half-course in the sign of Ram has run,

And the small fowl are making melody

That sleep away the night with open eye

(So nature pricks them and their heart engages)

Then people long to go on pilgrimages…”

a) the opening lines of T.S. Eliot’s The Wastelandb) the opening lines of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Talesc) the opening lines of John Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urnd) the opening lines of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Kubla KhanE) the opening lines of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Renaissance 

58) Michael Mukasey

a) the biggest male star in Latino cinema

b) the only Latino member of the United States Supreme Court

c) Nobel Prize winning Argenitnian author of Labyrinthsd) Attorney General of the United States

e) the inventor of Speedy Gonzales, an advertising character he named after himself

59) International Date Line

a) an imaginary line running north to south that separates calendar days on earth

b) “Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?”

c) international dating service run out of Geneva, Switzerland

d) the shipping route that brings fresh and dried dates to market from the Eastern to the

Western hemispheres

e) the name of the cover business Dr. Evil runs to hide his evil attempts to rule the


60) July 20, 1969

a) the day Richard Nixon resigned from office

b) the day Martin Luther King was assassinated

c) the day British Prime Minister Profumo was forced from office over a sex scandal

d) the day men first landed on the moon

e) the day Jim Morrison of the Doors died in Paris by suffocating on his own vomit

61) Chicken Little

a) what the comedian Rich Little’s wife called him when he was afraid to stay in the

delivery room during the birth of their child

b) a children’s story whose tag line is “The sky is falling!”

c) the original name of what became Kentucky Fried Chicken

d) the slang term for illegal road races run at Clapboard Ridge in Danbury

e) the butcher’s term for chicken wings

62) Chinua Achebe

a) Miss World 1998, who was Miss Zimbabwe

b) Nigerian novelist, author of Things Fall Apart, and a contender every year for the

last 25 for the Nobel Prize in Literature

c) the Prime Minister of Mozambique

d) Japanese elected official whose 1996 comments blaming American weaknesses in

education on America’s “coddling its black population” resulted in his being

forced to resign in disgrace

e) American poet, formerly Leroi Jones, author of Preface to A Twenty Volume SuicideNote

63) Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

a) Latin for “after the fall, we won’t have to fear the fall”

b) from the Latin Mass, “after the Savior, we will need no other Savior”

c) the last words of Louis XVI before being guillotined in the French Revolution, 1791,

“after me, the deluge”

d) Latin, a logical fallacy, “after this, therefore because of this”

e) Written on all Bachelor of Arts diplomas, meaning “after this, you will have no greater

honor than this”

64) Dmitry Medvedev

a) 19th century Russian novelist, author of War and Peaceb) Ukranian-born member of the KGB who defected to the West in 1985

c) the President of the Russian Federation

d) 20th century Russian symphonic composer, author of The Rite of Springe) Russian immigrant scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project to develop the

atom bomb and was later (1952) executed for passing bomb plans to the Soviets


65) “Double, double, toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.”

a) my mother’s recipe for meat loaf

b) sung by the Three Witches in Shakespeare’s MacBethc) a description of the ordinary day to day behavior of my cats

d) what the witch says to Hansel and Gretel before trying to shove them into the oven

e) the first lines of the ceremony for exorcism in the Catholic Church

66) DNA

a) dioxyribose nucleic acid

b) Department of National Archives

c) Department of Natural Resource Acquisitions

d) “Deploy Nuclear Assets”–President’s official order to launch nuclear weapons

e) Diana Nedrickson Applethwaite, Princess Diana’s maiden name

67) “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the

political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the

powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of

Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they

should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

a) the opening of the Declaration of Secession, by which the Southern States attempted

to secede from the Union and started the Civil War, 1861

b) the opening of the Declaration of Independence, by which the American colonies

seceded from the British Empire, 1776

c) the opening of all formal decrees of divorce in the state of Virginia

d) the opening of the Declaration of Nationhood issued by the Indian National Congress

to declare their intent to separate from the British Empire, 1948

e) the opening of the Declaration of Sentiments issued by the Women’s Rights

Convention at Seneca Falls, New York, 1848

68) the Greenhouse Effect

a) the tendency of flowers and other plants to grow exceptionally large in very hot and

humid conditions

b) the name given to the fact that, since green is the least popular color for residential

houses, having a green house on a street depresses the property values of all

other houses, no matter of what color

c) the tendency of haunted houses to have been painted green at the time they first

acquired their ghosts

d) named after Green House, the official residence of Vice Presidents of the United States,

this refers to the fact that most Vice Presidents fail in their attempts to be

elected President themselves, following their terms in office as VP

e) term used to describe the process by which carbon dioxide and other gasses in the

atmosphere trap heat from the sun and hold it, thereby making the earth warmer

than it would be in the absence of that atmosphere

69) Jorge Luis Borges

a) the President of Nicaragua

b) the President of Cuba in 1959, deposed and executed by the forces of Fidel Catro

c) Argentinian author of Labyrinths, 1899-1986

d) Guatemalan political activist, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, 1987

e) Latino American union activist, founder of the United Farm Workers, 1937-1995

70) the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria

a) the names of the three ships Columbus commanded when he discovered America

b) the names of the three witches in Shakespeare’s MacBethc) the names of the three fairy Godmothers in Cinderellad) the names of the three women who were present at the tomb of Jesus when it was

discovered to be empty

e) the names of the three children who saw vision of the Virgin Mary at Fatima in 1917


71) Gabriel Garcia Marquez

a) President of Mexico, 1953-1959

b) chief inquisitor in the Spanish Inquisition, 1478-1485

c)Colombian novelist, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (1982), author of

One Hundred Years of Solitudee) Mexican author, inventor of the literary technique called “magical realism,” and

leader of the Department of Cultural Affairs in Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry,


72) Deism

a) the belief that God exists

b) the belief that God is personally involved in the day to day affairs of individuals

c) the belief that all religions worship the same God under different names

d) the belief that God created the universe and everything in it, and then ceased to pay

attention to it in any way

e) the belief that God answers prayers and rewards and punishes human beings in the


73) Arthur Conan Doyle

a) Prime minister of Great Britain during the reign of Queen Victoria

b) British television actor most famous for being the first to play Dr. Who

c) British author and creator of the character Sherlock Holmes

d) Irish poet laureate who was first to call Ireland “the Emerald Isle,” 1654

e) British serial killer, usually known under his pseudonym, Jack the Ripper

74) “Call me Ishmael.”

a) the first words in the first chapter of the Holy Koran

b) first words of the novel Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, 1851

c) words spoken by Ishmael, son of Abraham, to the Hezzamites, in Genesis 21 9-13

d) the first words spoken by Khan to Captain Kirk in The Wrath of Khane) words spoken by the Head of the Palestine Authority to the Prime Minister of Israel

at the beginning of the first round of peace talks at Camp David, 1982

75) Bishop John Ussher and 4004 BC

a) in 1897, Ussher, a Church of England clergyman and amateur archeologist, discovered the tomb of King Tut, dated to 4004 BC

b) in 1889, Ussher, a professor of classical languages at Columbia University, certified

the Book of Mormon as dating from 4004 BC and became a Bishop in the

Mormon Church

c) in 1647, Ussher, the highest ranking Catholic clergyman in Great Britain, was

imprisoned by the Protestant established Church of England authorities for

claiming that the Protestant version of the Bible could only account for events

back to 4004 BC, and not back to the creation

d) in 1701, Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, determined that the day on which God

created the world was Sunday, October 23, 4004 BC

e) in 1927, Ussher, a Catholic Bishop from Belfast, Northern Ireland, discovered the

remains of a pre-Christian tribe of nomads that had inhabited the island in

4004 BC

76) Jackie Robinson

a) the first African-American to play professional baseball

b) the first African-American to play professional hockey

c) the first African-American to play professional major league baseball

d) the first African-American to play a leading professional golf

e) the first African-American to play professional football


77) “Beam me up, Scotty.”

a) a phrase used in every episode of the original Star Trek, when crew members wanted

to be transported back to the ship

b) a phrase used in the original three Star Wars movies, meaning that the speaker had

temporarily lost touch with reality

c) a phrase recurring in the movies Gidget and Gidget Goes Hawaiian meaning that the

speaker was in need of being cheered up

d) a phrase used by US Army infantry ground troops in Vietnam, meaning the speaker

needed to be lifted out of the area by helicopter

e) a phrase from the movie Dude, Where’s My Car, indicating that the speaker had

gained possession of the continuum transfunctioner

78) the Copernican model

a) put forward by Roman philosopher Nicolaus Copernicus, 214-297, it was the theory,

which would remain the predominate one for more than the next thousand years,

that the earth is the center of the universe and the sun and all the planets and

stars revolve around it

b) put forward by the Roman Catholic theologian Nicolaus Copernicus, 1179-1242, it

was the theory that hell consisted of seven circles with differing severities of

punishments for souls that died in different degrees of evil

c) put forward by Dutch physicist Nicolaus Copernicus, 1874-1933, it was the first

operationally coherent model of the atom, with a nucleus of protons and neutrons

at the center and electrons in orbit around them

d) put forward by Polish philosopher Nicolaus Copernicus, 1473-1543, it was the first

coherent modern theory to show that the earth revolves around the sun, rather

than the sun and other planets revolving around the earth

e) put forward by Swiss diplomat Nicolaus Copernicus, 1901-1978, it was the design for

the United Nations that included the General Assembly at its core and organized

committees for peace and humanitarian aid that would operate as quasi-

independent entities

79) the Rosetta stone

a) discovered by Michael Stutthemmer outside Cape Town, South Africa, in 1896, it is

the largest unflawed ruby ever cut and set for jewelry. It is now the pendant in

a necklace whose other links are diamonds, and was last sold at auction at

Christie’s in London in 1995 for $22.4 million

b) discovered by French soldiers in 1799, it is a stone with writing on it in the three

scripts and two languages in use in Egypt in 196 BCE. These included

Egyptian hieroglyphics, Egyptian demotic (common) script, and Greek, and were

copies of a proclamation honoring the pharaoh. Since all three scripts said the

same thing, and Greek was understood in Europe at the time, the stone made

it possible for 18th century scholars to translate and understand hieroglyphics

c) discovered in the town of Rosetta, Mississippi, in 1865, by Confederate soldiers

newly released from service at the end of the US Civil War, it is a large black

boulder that was used from then until the early 1960s to mark the boundary

between the town’s white and black residential sections

d) a playing piece in the Japanese board game Noh!, it insures the player who acquires it

the power to remove any three of his opponent’s pieces in a single move

e) a large block of Italian rose marble, it was acquired by Pope Julius II in 1495 and

given to his protoge, Michaelangelo. Michaelangelo used to stone, which was

sixteen feet high and over twenty feet wide, to carve his Pieta, a statue of the

mourning Virgin holding the body of the dead and bleeding Christ just after he

has been taken from the cross

80) Bessie Smith

a) a movie star of the silent era, she was famous for portraying distressed maidens

defending her honor from Rudolph Valentino’s sexually ravenous sheik

b) a singer with the Big Bands of the 1940s, she specialized in love ballads and an image

of virginal innocence until she was discovered in bed at the Plaza Hotel in NYC

with another woman

c) 1867-1957, she was the author of a popular series of children’s books that became

the basis for the television series Little House on the Prairied) a notorious party girl of the late 1950s-1960s, she became even more notorious when

she engaged in simultaneous affairs with then President John F. Kennedy and

crime boss Sam Giancana

e) African-American blues singer and the first great crossover artist of the Harlem

Renaiisance, 1894-1937

81) C.E. and B.C.E.

a) standing for Common Era and Before Common Era, these replaced the old BC (Before

Christ) and AD (Anno Domini (“year of our Lord”)) in use for designating dates

in international scholarship

b) standing for Clyffsidden Elves and Bekkus Cladden Elves, the two chief clans of elves

in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy

c) standing for Christian Ethics and Basic Christian Ethics, the two competing theologies

of Christian life that led to the split of the North (also called “American) and

Southern Baptist Churches in 1859

d) standing for Constant Entropy and Backloop Contingent Entropy, the two kinds of

energy believed to operate in black holes

e) standing for Christus Eternatus and Benedictus Christus Eternatus, in medieval

Catholic theology the words God says to each soul as it leave the body, CE for

souls going to Hell and BCE for souls going to Heaven or purgatory

82) Confucius

a) Chinese political leader, 1929-1965, he founded the Chinese Communist Party and

published the Little Red Bookb) Chinese religious leader, 912-992, who first brought Buddhism to China

c) Chinese philosopher, circa 551-479 BCE, he was the author of the Analects and taught

a philosophy based on respect for elders, authority an ancestors, rule by example,

and treating others as you would have them treat you

d) Chinese politician and political philosopher, circa 400-320 BCE, he wrote The Art ofWar


e) Emperor of China from 1254-1279, and famous for his wisdom and intelligence, his

government was unable to withstand the attack of the Mongols in the 13thcentury and fell, leaving Chinas in the hands of Mongol conquerors for the next

five centuries

83) the Golden Rule

a) he who has the gold, rules

b) do unto others as you would have them do unto you

c) a watched pot never boils

d) an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth

e) don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time

84) June 18, 1815

a) the date on which Wellington defeated Napoleon at Waterloo

b) the date on which the French revolution started with the fall of the Bastille

c) the date on which George Washington was first elected President

d) the date on which George Washington died

e) the date on which Victoria became Queen of England

85) “Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove.”

a) the first lines of Sylvia Plath’s poem “Daddy”

b) the first lines of William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116

c) the first lines of T.S. Eliot’s The Wastelandd) the first lines of Stephen Vincent Benet’s poem John Brown’s Bodye) the first lines spoken by Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet86) Joseph McCarthy

a) Republican Senator from Wisconsin, 1947-1957, he became famous for accusing

high ranking leaders in the State department and the military of being “card

carrying” members of the Communist Party

b) in 1927, he flew his small plane, The Spirit of St. Louis, from New York to Paris, to

become the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean

c) American state department official who went to jail for perjury in 1948 after he lied

about his membership in the Communist Party while he was under oath during a

hearing of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee

d) infamous bank robber and murderer, between 1933 and 1934 he terrorized the

American Midwest, killing ten people and wounding seven others, until he was

gunned down outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago by Melvin Purvis and

agents of the FBI

e) Secretary of State under President Lyndon Johnson, 1964-1968, he was the chief

architect of American involvement in the War in Vietnam

87) America, France, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union

a) the Axis powers in WWII

b) the Allied Powers in WWI

c) the principle antagonists in the Cold War, 1946-1989

d) the only four countries in the world that use lethal injection for capital punishment

e) the Allied Powers in WWII

88) Cold War

a) the name given to Napoleon’s march on Moscow during the winter of 1815

b) the name given to the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians from 1948

to the present, which never ends but never breaks out into ultimate conflict

c) the name given to the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union from 1948 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, during which neither side directly declared war on the other but each funded third parties who did fight (like the North and South Koreans)

d) the name given to the explosion that results when hydrogen atoms are fused at sub-

zero temperatures, thereby creating energy that can be used to fuel electrical


e) the name given to the winter of 1862-1863, when military action in the US Civil War

ground to a halt due to snow and ice storms in Pennsylvania and Maryland

89) Yom Kippur

a) a British breakfast food consisting of a small, smoked fish a little larger than a sardine

that has been grilled with oil

b) the traditional greeting between two male Muslims when they meet coming out of a

mosque, it is accompanied by a bow of the head over templed hands

c) first elected President of the Republic of Lebanon, he was assassinated by Syrian

undercover agents in 1954

d) the name of the royal palace of the hereditary Kings of the house of Saud in Mecca,

Saudi Arabia

e) the Day of Atonement, the holiest and most solemn holiday in the Jewish religious year

90) Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar

a) the names of the three Sherpa guides who assisted Sir Edmund Hillary in his climb to

the peak of Mount Everest in 1953, becoming the first men ever to do so

b) the names of the three ships Columbus commanded when he discovered America

c) the first names of the members of the Kingston Trio, the ground breaking folk singing

group that introduced American popular culture to Carribean traditional music in

the 1950s

d) the names of the three Wise Men—the three Kings in the Christmas carol—who

visited the infant Jesus in his manger bringing gifts of gold, frankencense and


e) the code names of the three airplanes carrying atom bombs over Japan in 1946

91) light year

a) the amount of time it takes light to go from the sun to the earth

b) the amount of time it takes for light to travel from Alpha Centauri to this solar system

c) the term for the longer summers and higher temperatures caused by global warming

d) the distance light travels in one year

e) the amount of time the bulb will last in a Halogen lamp without needing to be changed

92) Which of the following are rights guaranteed to all Americans by the US Constitution?

a) the right to freedom of speech

b) the right to a high school education

c) the right to a speedy and public trial before a jury of your peers

d) the right to freedom of the press

e) the right to vote

f) the right to health care

g) the right to a job

h) the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures

i) the right to freedom of religion

j) the right to housing

k) the right to be happy

93) Ramadan

a) the Jewish scriptures

b) a month of fasting and prayer in Islam

c) the traditional title of the hereditary rulers of Kuwait

d) what the genie says when he leaps from the lamp after it has been rubbed

e) the name of Hammurabi’s palace at Babylon, where the famous hanging gardens were

94) Stockholm Syndrome

a) the tendency of free countries with extensive welfare states to have rising rates of


b) the tendency of free countries with extensive welfare states to have falling birth rates and decreasing populations

c) the tendency of people taken hostage to come to identify with and sympathize with the

people holding them hostage

d) the tendency of people living in very cold climates to develop severe depression during

the winter months

e) the tendency of people living in countries with restricted periods of extensive sunlight

hours to develop malformations of the knee and wrist joints

95) Germany, Italy and Japan

a) the chief allies of the United States in WWII

b) the chief allies of the United States in the war in Iraq

c) the countries most strongly protesting against the war in Iraq

d) the Axis Powers in WWII

e) the three countries that will not extradite criminals to the United States unless they are

assured that the death penalty will not be sought in the case

96) Ban Ki-moon

a) the Secretary General of the United Nations

b) the President of the Republic of Korea, 1994-present

c) the founder and first president of Singapore, 1890-1978

d) Asian novelist from Thailand, author of In The Heat of Honor, 1938-1977

e) member of the House of Representatives from the state of Illinois, 1988-present

97) Paul Revere

a) the lead singer of a 1960s socially-conscious rock group called The Raiders

b) the man who rode through the countryside of Massachusetts on April 18, 1775,

crying “the British are coming! The British are coming!” To warn the colonists

that the British were about to invade to put down the coming colonial rebellion

c) the founder of a kitchen equipment manufacturing company whose product is now

known as Revereware

d) coach of the football team at the University of Notre Dame in 1919, he invented what

has been come to be known as the “Hail Mary Pass”

e) the man later known as Pope Paul VI, he headed the Roman Catholic Church from


98) epistemology

a) the branch of biology that studies insects

b) the branch of physics that studies light

c) the branch of philosophy that studies what it means to “know” something

d) the branch of cosmology that studies the origins of the universe

e) the branch of medicine that studies epidemic diseases

99) 32 F/ 0 C

a) the boiling point of water

b) the temperature at which the human body decays

c) the freezing point of nitrogen

d) the temperature food must be kept at in the refrigerator to guard against E-coli

e) the freezing point of water

100) “The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome

insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns

like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of

purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more

abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours.”

a) from the sentence given to Dorcas Goode, aged five, by the Reverend Increase

Mather when he consigned her to be hanged for witchcraft in Salem,

Massachusetts on July 14, 1692

b) from the book of Genesis, spoken by Michael to Lucifer as Lucifer is cast into the fire

after losing the war against God in Heaven

c) from the sermon “Sinners at the Hands of an Angry God,” delivered by the Reverend

Jonathan Edwards at Enfield, Connecticut, in July 1741, setting off the First

Great Awakening

d) said by the Reverend Dimmesdale to Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel

The Scarlet Letter (1850) as he orders her to wear the bright red letter A (for

adulteress) after she bears an illegitimate child in Puritan Massachusetts

e) from the sermon “The Godless Constitution,” delivered by the Reverend John

Witherspoon at Princeton, New Jersey in September, 1787, after the Constitutional

Convention had voted down a proposal to include a statement of fealty to God in

the country’s new governing document


Written by janeh

December 25th, 2008 at 7:39 am

Posted in

One Response to 'Bah! Humbug!'

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  1. I love it!

    I just took the test, and I know for sure I got 83 right because I knew the answers before I looked at the possible choices (and I loved the variety of wrong answers!). On many of the other questions I could narrow it down to two possible and one probable, but I lacked the necessary information to pick which of those two was correct. My biggest deficiency was in modern politicians and in Latin American history and literature.

    What fun this was!

    The sad part is, of course, knowing that any of my three adult children would be hard put to get 40 out of 100 right.

    On the other hand, 3 out of 3 of my children know how to find the answer to any or all of the above questions.

    So my question now is this: If someone like my mother (1912-1992) or my grandmother (1885-1964) had written a similar test (they were both highly educated, extremely literate people), using what they learned in high school and college, would you or I have been able to score well on it?

    And when my grandchildren are adults, will they be able to score as high on a similar test written by someone in my children’s generation?

    The truth is that each generation has knowledge it feels is important. Some of what they thought was important we still think is important. Some of it we feel is no longer important. Some of what we feel is important will no longer be important 50 years from today.

    And the body of knowledge is now doubling at a rate that precludes anyone anywhere from ever learning even the tiniest fraction of it.

    Which brings into question the validity of this type of test.

    I propose the following type of questions for what I feel would be a more valid test of literacy:

    Name a book (fiction or non-fiction) you have read that:

    1) shows the conflict between individual rights and the rights of the state.

    2) shows the battle between good and evil.

    3) shows the struggle between the generations.

    4) shows how we are all alone / are not all alone in life.

    If you come up with, say, 50 topics, and the students cannot name any (or even very few) books they have read on the different topics, then you could probably safely conclude that they are not literate.

    I suppose, of course, that first one would have to define “literate.” Some people define it as “being able to read.” I tend to think “literate” refers to someone who has read and who still reads literature. Some people, apparently, enlarge it to mean someone who has read and still reads books (my husband, for example, only reads non-fiction–do we, for example, call a biology textbook “literature”?).

    In that respect, I think your literacy test above is mislabeled. For example, I don’t see how knowing science or pop culture makes one literate.

    Having said all this, I think one can basically define “literate” to mean anything one wants it to mean in order to “prove” anything one wants to prove.

    If, on the other hand, you wanted to call your test an “Ignorance Test,” to see just how deeply ignorant your students are, I would have no objection to that label.

    And yet… Upon further consideration, I would still have trouble with your test not being a valid one. If you actually want to test how educated someone is, then checking to see if they know a specific date is not necessarily the best way to go about it. Some people’s memories are full of details; other people’s memories are full of concepts. I have the type of memory that remembers and integrates concepts. There is no way on earth that I could have made it through medical school, for example, where I would have had to remember the names of thousands of parts of the body + thousands of illnesses and tens of thousands of symptoms, etc. My younger son (now a doctor) has always been able to remember in great detail everything he has ever read. What this means for your test is that on many questions you are asking your students for the specific details — names and dates, for example — and the students who have the detail-type memories will score higher. Other questions ask for overall understanding of concepts, on which the students with the concept-type memories should do better… except that they won’t necessarily remember the name of the concept.

    Yes, as a matter of fact, I did, way back in college, take an education course on how to write tests. And no, I don’t remember most of the details of what I “learned” in that course. What I do remember, and what I will never forget until I am totally senile, is that there is almost always a vast discrepancy between what the person thinks he is testing and what he is actually testing.

    Yes, taking your test above was a lot of fun (kind of like watching Jeopardy) because I got a high score, but as a test that gives you as a teacher any kind of meaningful results, I’d have to give you a C- and the comment, “You could do better if you thought this through a little more thoroughly.”


    20 Jul 11 at 3:59 pm

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