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Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in Diversions, Philosophy | 20 comments

Why I am not a 100 per cent humanist – the BHA’s quiz

The British Humanist Association has a quiz thingie where you can find out how humanist you are. I suppose part of the point is that people who do the quiz may find that they get very high scores, and should therefore think of identifying more explicitly as humanists. That’s fine, so nothing in what follows is meant to denigrate the idea or the quiz itself, all things considered. Good for the BHA.

That said… well I got 90 per cent. I thought I might come out lower, as a matter of fact, because I gave honest answers, i.e. the answer in each case that seemed closest to what I really think. Often, I could see a more high falutin’ (I’m tempted to say “sanctimonious”, but that would be too snarky) answer that I could not honestly give… but which I expected was what they really hoped I’d say.

When I write “closest to what I really think”, consider the first question. I gave the answer: “

  • I think my answers probably matched yours

    Thats the difference between a “humanist” as a noble position, and a “humanist” as in one who understands they are just human

  • Reasonably Faithless

    Hmmm… I got 93%, and I thought I could have given more “high falutin'” answers to a few questions… I answered the same as you on the two you mentioned.

  • 90% as well. It’s hard to take the quiz seriously when they have answers like “It would be a nice place for a motorway” to questions about your felt experience of a beautiful view. If the answer was more like “I see the potential for supporting a community” I might think they were serious and not just propagandising.

  • I got 90% too, and I said the same thing as you did about the beautiful view. Eh. It was an honest answer.

  • Colin Gavaghan

    90% as well, but could have gone either way on the Qs you mentioned. I don’t like the ‘live on’ metaphor either – or at least I wouldn’t use it for fear of offering a confusing account of what I actually believe. But I do find the prospect of my memetic inheritance somewhat reassurance when staring into the abyss. It isn’t survival, but it’s somewhat better than nothing, to use vaguely Parfitian terminology.

    The enviro Q posited a false dichotomy, I think. We should preserve the beautiful view precisely because it’s an example of what life’s all about. Actually, it’s more of a trichotomy (?), as the question of whether a motorway should be built through it would – as Matt said – depend on consequentialist concerns about the interests actually affected thereby.

  • Zardoz

    Hmmm, I got 76% on that quiz and there were a few questions on there where I did not like any of the answers. It felt like the questions in the quiz were not neutral but were pushing you to give the answers they wanted. Probably would have scored even less if the answers I truly wanted were on there. I must be a sociopath or something.

  • 86% here, and I agree with Zardoz that there were a couple questions where none of the answers were a good fit. Oh well.

  • Santiago

    96%. I gave them the answers I thought they wanted (cheesy and all)

  • MosesZD

    93%. For exactly the same reason you got 93%.

  • 93% for me. The quiz is rigged I tell ya. 😉

  • keddaw

    I answered in a hard-nosed, libertarian, money-grubbing way and got 70%. However the summary said I had a tendency to be dependent on authority (100% wrong) and agnostic or vaguely religious (100% wrong again).

    All humanist morality I’ve seen laid out is pure BS. It is based on some woolly utilitarian notions, but not in a directly consequentialist way. It tends to allow people/the state to massively control other people’s lives and enact all sorts of draconian legislation for the common good. e.g.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    86%. The questions are pretty dumb, or at least a lot of the choices for answers are dumb and not what I would answer if given other choices.

  • I got 86% and honestly, that’s probably too high because a lot of the questions had no real applicable answers. Unfortunately, as with a lot of “sponsored” quizzes, it was stacked heavily on the humanist side, the questions were worded so that people would pick the answers they wanted. As such, you can’t give any real credence to the quiz, it was fixed.

    I did go back and gave all the religious answers and got a 3% humanist score, but even then, they tried to talk me into being a humanist. How absurd.

  • Ingemar Oseth

    96% for me. I go to the Grand Canyon on a regular basis because I have a cabin about an hour away from the front gate. The canyon is breathtaking and I truly believe it and other natural wonders should be preserved for future generations. I also think that it will be the end of me when I die, which is probably not the “humanist” answer.

    By the way, having designed and used surveys at one point in my career I think this one is pretty flawed.

  • By the looks of it, one must be a consequentialist to be a humanist – who knew!? I became too irritated by the terrible questions to complete the test.

  • I got 96% but I think I was swayed by the thought that certain answers would give me a higher score!

  • Janet Holmes

    I had no idea what they wanted really, though some answers were obviously not that, I just answered truthfully as far as possible. It was clearly not a proper survey done for a scientific purpose, more like something you’d find in “New Idea” if they knew what humanism was.

  • Jason Streitfeld

    100%. I answered honestly, though not always enthusiastically.

  • Jason Streitfeld

    Re the view: When a landscape impresses me, I rarely if ever think about my own pleasure or satisfaction. I rather think beyond the momentary experience of it, and want to share it. So that explains why I got that one “right.” and I don’t think of my life as limited by my skin, but as extending to the work I do and the relationships I foster. So I think it is true that something of me lives on in those ways, though not in a way I can experience, obviously.

  • I posted the “right” answers (with commentary) on my blog: link.