Quiz Quackery

Is anyone else annoyed by those online tests with the intentionally misleading or blatantly false titles? I see these all the time as links on Facebook. I used to click on them occasionally, but I don’t anymore; they’re just too aggravating.

The quizzes tend to follow a common format. The headline will say something like, “Only A Real Genius Can Score 20/20 on This Difficult Quiz!” Sometimes you have to give permission for the quiz site to access all your personal information and Friends list. (Don’t ever do that.) Even worse are the ones that bait you with, “You won’t believe the answer to Question 5!” (Hint: The answer to Question 5 is perfectly believable.)

So you take the quiz and score 20/20 or close to it because the questions are all about simple things you learned in fourth grade, like state capitals or basic facts about the U.S. Constitution. At the end, you either congratulate yourself on being a Real Genius (if you’re gullible) or you roll your eyes in disgust and vow never to take one of these again.

I’m not saying that all online quizzes are idiotic. I’m fine with the silly but harmless ones that ask something like, “Which Game of Thrones Character Are You Most Like?” or “What Does Your Coffee Order Say About Your Personality?” Those can be fun; we all need a diversion now and then. It’s the ones that use untrue or misleading statements to manipulate us into participating that I really hate.

I assume the point is to get people to click through the questions, exposing the users to advertising and earning money for the person or organization that posted the quiz. Why do people continue to fall for these things?

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