TV quiz shows are not a test of intelligence

TV quiz shows are where they actually reward people with money for knowing an obscure piece of trivia that nobody even cares about.

quiz show

There are many ways to test somebody’s intelligence. You could ask them to do one of a number of different scientifically proven intelligence tests or you could put them in a room and see how long it takes before they start licking the windows. I have even invented my own test for hereditary intelligence where you make a person watch Jerry Springer and see how much time passes before they recognize a member of their family… I call it the “look, daddy’s on the magic talkin’ box” test.

You cannot however, translate the ability to memorize trivia facts, into intelligence. Rainman had a brilliant memory, but I doubt that remembering sport statistics or the exact time of day that you took a dump for the past 10 years is quite the same as being able to solve a nuclear equation.

According to the dictionary, the word trivia‘ means “matters or things that are very unimportant, inconsequential, or nonessential; trifles; trivialities”. In other words, ‘shit that doesn’t matter‘. So don’t try to tell me that because you are good at remembering facts and unimportant shit that you are more intelligent than me.

I know a great number of people that are brilliant at remembering facts but give them something that involves a little bit of thinking and they will stare at you like a deer in headlights. I know that I am an intelligent and educated person, but I suck at remember things. The only reason I know when it is somebody’s birthday is because Facebook tells me so.

Here is the illogical logic of a generic TV quiz show.

  1. Somebody gets paid to sit in a room and come up with completely random questions. they can’t be too difficult otherwise nobody would know but they also can’t be too easy either.
  2. A random person gets asked the question.
  3. If they are correct, they get a round of applause and are rewarded with a large amount of money for knowing the answer to something completely random.

Yes, they actually reward people with money for knowing an obscure piece of trivia that nobody even cares about. Nobody cares about Queen Victoria’s shoe size, how many times Jamie from Mythbusters has been mistaken for a Walrus, or the number of people in Brazil who wear spandex to the beach. But hey, this guy knows so here, take $10,000. How about instead for asking random trivia, they actually try asking the contestants something useful like “should Greece be allowed to run the global economy”?

As if answering obscure questions isn’t random enough, they have even dumbed down ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire‘ into ‘Millionaire Hotseat‘. On Millionaire Hotseat, contestants not only get asked random questions, but they also keep changing who is in the hotseat and the person who happens to be in the seat at the end gets the money. It is random people, answering random questions, with the extra addition of luck. I really don’t understand the point of it.

Deal or No Deal‘ drives me insane as well. It is a game based 100% on chance and numbers. The only part of the game that isn’t chance is the intelligence of the contestants to choose when they take the money. Obviously greed comes in to play and the contestant always thinks that they can get more so they keep going, get screwed over, and end up taking home $3.49. The thing that gets me though is that they seem to think there is some mysterious force in play that is going to give them more money because of some strange superstitious belief that they should pick case number 19 before case number 13.

Do you remember a couple of years ago when the only thing that was on TV late at night were those shit quiz shows. They would take a washed up reality TV celebroduche, who’s only claim to fame is having a shower in front of a hidden TV camera on Big Brother 6 years ago. They would put it front of a camera and make it perform and ask the viewer questions.

Celebrodouche would ask the same question over and over for 30 minutes whilst encouraging the viewer to phone in and answer. In between this they would try to liven up the show by saying stupid things and dancing around like an idiot. It was like watching a child you don’t like trying to put a square into a round hole; We can all see that it isn’t going to work, but we keep watching in the secret hope that the stress gets too much and he pisses himself.

We keep watching in the secret hope that the stress gets too much and he pisses himself.

I know that there isn’t a big budget for late night TV, and the guy hosting it was probably the cheapest of all of the ex reality TV stars that they could find. But that’s the equivalent of saying that chlamydia is the best of all the sexually transmitted diseases… Just because its easy to get, doesn’t mean that you want it.

At risk of sounding like my grandparents, I think we need to bring back the golden age of TV quiz shows. shows such as ‘Countdown‘ and ‘Jeopardy‘ that actually require a contestant to use their brain for something more than recalling a fact. Get a host that knows what they are doing and knows how to entertain people. Not some washed up ex reality TV star who needs to earn a bit of cash to support the coke habit brought on by their 5 minutes in the spotlight.

Other than that, I think that we need to test the intelligence of people who think that TV quizzes are a fair test of intelligence… And once we peel them away from the window we can get started.

I'm an ex breakfast radio DJ who no longer hosts a breakfast radio show so I created this website to give myself somewhere new to make jokes and rant about life, pop culture, celebrities and stupid people.


  1. As someone who has been known since childhood for having a prodigious memory, I feel that your assessment of people like me verges on caricature. I don’t know (or care to know) Queen Victoria’s shoe size — that is trivial and pointless! In fact, ever since Trivial Pursuit appeared I’ve complained that people now regard what was known as “general knowledge” when I was at school in the 1950s (and was then highly valued) is now mere “trivia”. Well, I could not have done my last job, as an editor of academic science books, without the background knowledge I could bring to bear. You wouldn’t believe the number of factual errors in work by so-called experts on a given subject. This post lists a couple of typical examples.

    • Interesting reading! I now find myself questioning the validity of everything I learnt at uni!

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