A fun science literacy quiz

I took this fun science literacy quiz, and got 47 out of 50 questions correct.

The ones I missed were all in biology and life sciences, my weakest subject. Since so many of the angroids label climate skeptics as “scientifically illiterate”, and because climate change is specifically mentioned, I thought it would be fun to share and to have readers post their scores. Many of the questions are simple, like the first one:

Then there’s some tougher ones, like about Planck’s constant and some that require some simple physics math, F=ma and stuff like that. There’s a bit of irony in whose website the poll is on.

The Christian Science Monitor.


Surprisingly, there wasn’t a single question about climate change, even though they mention it. If you feel like taking it, don’t succumb to the temptation to look up everything on the Internet…there’s no sport in perfect scores.


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Lance Wallace

Anthony, this test fits in perfectly with a very recent study showing that it is not the less educated persons but the more educated ones (at least among conservatives) whose trust in science has declined over the past 20 years. The data are very solid, coming from a well-respected survey that is repeated every year or two since the 70s. I posted this in Tips and NOtes a day or two ago:
Today’s AAAS Policy Alert referred to a study showing a decline of trust in science:
“Trust in science has declined sharply among conservatives since 1974, according to a study published last week in the American Sociological Review(PDF). According to Inside Higher Education, the study found that just over 34% of conservatives had confidence in science as an institution in 2010, compared to 48% in 1974. Study author Gordon Gauchat of the University of North Carolina found that it is the better-educated conservatives who have changed attitudes.”
I was wondering whether the “climate science” war had had a noticeable effect, but the authors find the decline to be spread across the full 36 years rather than sharply associated with the Reagan or Bush administrations.
The article, which I thought well done, can be found here, and is not behind a paywall:


41 out of 50.
I’m a little disappointed in myself.

Lew Skannen

My raw score was OK but then later, after adjustments to account for various factors too complicated to discuss here, my projected score went up to about 65 out of 50.
Better than we thought!

David Madsen

I took it the other day and got 41/50. Not too bad, in my opinion. Most of the ones I missed were the life sciences. Figures, since I’m a Mechanical Engineer.
Anthony, this is a great site and I have enjoyed following it for the past 2 years. Please keep up the good work.

There’s a bit of irony in whose website the poll is on.
They did give as choices of the age of the Earth and the Universe the interesting number 6015 years.


42 and 8…not bad for an engineer who turned to the dark side….

23. Georges Lemaître


What a wonderful thing she is doing with her career. http://www.wm.edu/news/stories/2011/harbronff.php
On behalf of my two daughters I appreciate her interest in advocating science to our young women.


I got 41 correct out of 50. It’s late, I should have gotten 45 out of 50.

Richard Keen

Well, 49 out of 50. But then, I have a degree in Science – if Climate Science (capitalized) still counts as science. I missed the DNA question, apparently due to the misplaced X chromosomes that Algore says we skeptics are hampered with.

Anything is possible

Then I tried again and scored 29!


45 and a half
Blew four including that thunder lizard one (borderline trick question?), and got the object orbiting outside of Pluto with a WAG, so scored that a half.
Wonder how many Al Gore scored – 12.5 or less ??


Ugh… 36 out of 50 (72%). Brought back some memories.


I’m hideously ashamed of myself….36 correct….There is AGW after all……
My background is medical science if that’s any consolation? ‘Woolier’ thinkers maybe……
REPLY: There’s no shame in honesty. – Anthony

Michael Larkin

44 out of 50. A couple wrong because last time I did physics, we weren’t using Newtons, but the c.g.s system. Some of the answers I might not have got had they not provided the English meaning of Greek-originated terms – which made those questions more about knowledge of classical languages than science. I do have a science degree (zoology), though.

46/50, or 92%. Forgive me for being rather proud of that – I am an autodidact.

49 of 50, but four were good guesses. I missed zygote.
REPLY: I missed zygote as well. – Anthony


Leif says: “They did give as choices of the age of the Earth and the Universe the interesting number 6015 years.”
I imagine you already know this corresponds to Bishop Usher’s estimate.
It has been ridiculed, of course, but if one begins with the once generally accepted postulate that the Bible is literally true then the calculation is a rational approach. At least it yields something that is falsifiable which is not always the case with religion.
46 out of 50


I modeled the test and got 57 out of 50 with a 95% confidence level 19 times out of 20 by 2050.
(48/50 actually)

45. Anthony beat me by two.

Xion III

27. Nailed all the solar system stuff though.


Andrew30 says:
April 7, 2012 at 9:41 pm
I modeled the test and got 57 out of 50
Presumably a projection.?


49 of 50 — forgot the name of a triangle with all unequal sides.


I got 31 out of 50, but I had a double major in History and English. I took a course called Chem/Phys as a freshman and passed, but dropped out of Calculus after finding it impenetrable (or perhaps it was me that was impenetrable.) That was the extent of my science and math study.


Mr. Watts! Excellent work.
Not so good here at 34 of 50. (Red faced.) I blame the damn planet questions.☺ And some of that stuff was not even discovered way back when I went to school! ☺ So I get a senior’s bye.
I bet Al Gore would score not much more than 20 .. and that gives him 12 freebies just by chance. So he’d get a few because he actually knew them.

John Game

I took this a little while back and got 44 out of 50 – One question I could argue about, one was just dumbness on my part but four I really didn’t know, mostly units in physics. I’m a scientist (biology) by profession. I thought I would do better.
John Game.


I got zygote! Do I get bonus points then? Kidding.

Duke C.

39 out of 50.
But I got zygote right!

Scott from Ohio

I got 44/50 right, which I think is pretty good for someone who doesn’t work in any of disciplines in the quiz. About three of the questions were about watts as units of measurement, so I hope those weren’t the ones Anthony missed!


Professor Mann adjusted my scores 120.
But he also adjusted my score the last time I took this test 2 years ago down to 84.
Go figure.


44 right, but I gotta tell ya, I lucky-guessed correctly on about 5 of them; I really had no clue, lol. Thirty-nine sounds about right, since I flunked fluid mechanics and was average in chemistry and biology. I excelled in physics, geology, music and mathematics.


If your browser doesn’t accept cookies, and mine does not gratuitously accept them, you will get a perfect score. My inner Sheriff Arpaio though knows I missed 6. I struggled with chemistry.


40 🙁 but I had a couple of Doh! answers, it is 7:00am Sunday morning. . . . .


43/50 – OK-ish for a high school science teacher.

Russ R.

46 out of 50, but I have to admit that one was a lucky guess.


Ugh…ad-o-rama. My browser was screaming at me to get out of there before the tracking cookies wrecked by hard drive.
I made it question 40 without missing any, and then the site locked up.

Quiz results
Correct 4
Wrong You answered 46 of 50 questions correctly for a total score of 92%. Comment on this quiz.
Share your results
I got wrong on zygote, titan, scalene (due to my English) and precipitating.
It’s indeed for science lovers — even for a scientist you still need to read a lot of science articles.

Disappointed to some degree (68%) but I thought it pretty quirky. I would have done so much better either straight out of school and if I’d studied Latin and Greek. It’s also been a long time since I looked over — much less used — any of my physics, cellular biology and certain other materials. Additionally, neither Paleontology nor Astronomy never ever my strong suites…
Thought it dwelled a lot on terminology.
And I am functioning (?) with 16 hours under my belt, and knowing I need to meet my wife’s train in another two hours… 🙂

Anthony H.

I got 48 out of 50. I don’t work in the sciences, but I read a lot and have a good memory.


jones says: April 7, 2012 at 9:47 pm
[Presumably a projection.?]
No real projection, however my model does indicates that all of our scores were.
Worse then we thought.


PS Mr Watts, what score means you’re scientifically illiterate 🙂
REPLY: Don’t know, there is nothing at the end of the quiz given to indicate…but I would assume (based on the number being used in schools) that anything over 70% (35 of 50) is a passing grade. – Anthony

41 out of 50, I should have done better!


I got 46 and missed -nimbus which is either shameful (or excusable) since I’m from Seattle.

49 out of 50. Missed the cell division question. Nearly missed beyond Pluto question which would have really annoyed me.
And this was after a glass of Grand Marnier and starting at around 0100. Time for bed….

J R Waring

I didn’t take the test. (afraid I might have to give back my Ph.D. in physics.) But, I just found this website, after suffering through Wiki’s laudatory bio on Hansen. SO: a big thank you for existing!

Of course the test is flawed as it’s based upon the silly notion that merely knowing “facts” makes one scientifically literate. If anything about the climate debacle shows is that “knowing facts” isn’t what it’s about.
Science Literacy is more than mere facts, it is about how well do you know the scientific method itself, and do you follow the scientific method when confronted by assertions of “fact” or “truths” or “science claims” or do you merely “believe in science”. Science Literacy is about how good you are at critical reasoning skills and about being able to apply those skills to slice through bogus claims or recognize that you need to do more research to find independently verifiable evidence to confirm or refute the particular claims at hand. Science Literacy is about being skeptical of everything and recognizing that there are no authorities in science, that voting by consensus isn’t scientific but political. Science Literacy is knowing the distinction between science and politics.
Knowing a few facts on a quiz doesn’t make one scientifically literate.


I scored 45/50. Probably because camels are not too bright and this one is quite old.
I had one stupid mistake and two lucky guesses.


Leif Svalgaard, April 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm,
Let me guess. Was it bishop Usher who came up with 6015 based on all those begats?


I got 49 out of 50 missing the nimbus question. I did guess about 4 others, but I’ve always been a good guesser.
Dave Dardinger (who’s stuck with the daved46 because of the stupid WordPress “improvement”.)