10 Strangest Tests

Tests can be used to help prove or disprove a lot of things, but we find these examples to be quite weird indeed.

1The Bechdel Test - A Measurement Of Women's Roles in Pop Culture

The original "test"

What is it: A test created by cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985 in her comic, Dykes to Watch Out For.

The test: The character in the comic says she won't watch a movie unless:
1) It has at least 2 women in it.
2) They to talk to each other.
3) The subject matter is other than about a man.

Results: This test was meant as an underground joke, but has become a mainstream test that has been applied to movies, television, literature and more as a measurement of women's roles. When applied to the top-grossing movies of 2013, half failed.

2The “Mull of Kintyre” Test - Used to Censor Films

Tell that to Paul McCartney

What is it: an unofficial test rumored to be used by the British Board of Film Classification in the 1990s as to whether or not to censor a man's penis.

The test: If a man's penis is erect at an angle greater than the Mull of Kintyre, a peninsula in Scotland, it was deemed “obscene” and could not be shown.

Results: Although they never admitted specifically to the test, the BBFC stopped censoring based on anatomy in 2002.

3The “Moron in a Hurry” Test - A Standard Applied to Trademarks

Speaking of McCartney…

What is it: A legal test that has been used as an argument to determine of someone is guilty of trademark infringement.

The test: It was first used in a lawsuit by a British Socialist paper entitled the Morning Star that was trying to prevent another newspaper from using the name the Daily Star. The judge concluded that “only a moron in a hurry” would confuse the two papers.

Results: Its most famous use was in the case in which the Beatle's music company, known as Apple Corps, sued Apple Computer for infringement. (The Beatles' Apple lost.)

4Hafele–Keating - Experiment On An Airplane to Test Relativity

What was it: A test of Einstein's Theory of Relativity, conducted in 1971 by Joseph Hafele and Richard Keating.

The test: The scientists took 2 pairs of atomic clocks on airplanes flying around the world first east and then west across the equator; these clocks were perfectly synced to two clocks left on Earth. The idea was to test time and the discrepancies that would occur according to Einstein's calculations.

Results: There's a lot of math involved, but the resulting speed-up going West and slow-down going East of the clocks (we're talking nanoseconds here) were consistent with Albert's predictions about special and general relativity. Or were they?

5The Mirror Test to Measure Animal Self-Awareness

Who is that handsome devil?

What is it: A test created by psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. to see which animals have self-recognition. (Hey, it was the 70s…)

The test: Two male and two female chimpanzees were placed in separate rooms and they were exposed to a full-length mirror over 80 days to see how they interacted with it.

Results: The chimpanzees initially felt threatened by the images, but gradually began to make faces and groom themselves. Other species that have passed include: bottlenose dolphin, killer whale, and Asian elephants. Failures include dogs and rhesus monkeys.

6The Strange Situation Test - Given to Infants

What is it: A test given to infants up to 18 months, designed to determine the level of attachment to their parent or caregiver.

The test: In a series of episodes, a mother and her infant interact with a stranger, who first talks with the mother and then offers the infant a toy. At one point the mother leaves the room, leaving the infant with a stranger.

Results: Children are then classified according to their responses during the test as “secure,” “anxious-avoidant,” “anxious-ambivalent,” and ”disorganized-insecure.” This is thought to give insight into the child's future behavior as well as their home environment.

7The Wada Test - Given to Brain Surgery Patients on Drugs

The Wada test in action

What it is: a neurological test given to patients before brain surgery.

The test: While still awake, the patient has barbiturates injected into each hemisphere of the brain and is shown a series of pictures; afterward, the patient is asked to recall what they saw.

Results: This test is used by surgeons to determine where the patient's memory and speech functions are located. Doctors can then ascertain the proper surgical method as well as the possible level of post-operative cognitive damage. The test itself does have unusual side effects, such as shivering, impulsive behavior. Some patients temporarily lose the ability to talk, yet are still able to sing.

8Test To Determine if Universe is a Simulation

What is it: A test based on the simulation hypothesis, a philosophy that believes the universe we live in is essentially a sophisticated computer program.

The test: As suggested in a paper by a team of researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany, a simulated universe would have built-in limitations of all its components which which would become evident upon mathematical analysis.

Results: The Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin (GZK) cut off seems to be a limitation that cosmic ray particles have. This appears to be what you would expect if we were living in a giant video game.

9The Prayer Test - Measuring the Impact of Prayer on Surgery

What is it: A test devised by the Templeton Foundation to document if the power of prayer had any impact on a person's health.

The test: Three sets of Christian groups prayed for specific patients who were having heart surgery. Some patients knew they were being prayed for, some were told it was a possibility, and a third group weren't prayed for but were also told it was a possibility. In total, 1800 patients were studied.

Results: Prayer was generally shown to have no effect on aiding recovery of the patients; however, 59% of the patients who knew they were being prayed for and 52% of those that were told it was possible developed a complication.

10The Transcendental Meditation Test - Does it Reduce Crime?

Crime crime go away, come on back some other day...

What is it: A test conducted to determine whether group Transcendental Meditation (TM) would affect the crime rate.

The test: From June 7-July 30 1993 in Washington D.C., approximately 4000 people engaged in group TM.

Results: It was shown that TM decreased crime in the area by 1%. This is also known as the “Maharishi Effect” as it was the predicted outcome by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1960. Subsequent tests and peer-review have supported the hypothesis.