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Pop Quiz: 15 for 15

Donate It's 15 trivia questions from 15 Skeptoid episodes, to celebrate our 15th anniversary!  

by Brian Dunning

Filed under General Science

Skeptoid Podcast #802
October 19, 2021
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Pop Quiz: 15 for 15

In celebration of Skeptoid's 15th birthday, I decided it's time to give myself a break from researching and quiz you all on past episodes — since that's all work I've already done in the past. But fear not; these are all pretty good general knowledge questions, and you shouldn't need to be absolutely fluent in all the myriad oddball details in some 800 Skeptoid episodes. All you need do is appreciate that every question involves the number 15. If you can get all 15 right, then you are indeed a Skeptoid superstar. Let's get started.

Question 1: The Mentor's Hair

In 1827, 15-year-old music student Ferdinand Hiller went to the home of his mentor who had died the day before, and took a lock of his hair — hair which today has been wrongly claimed to prove the great mentor died of lead poisoning. Who was the mentor?

Reveal the answer

Question 2: The Russian Lab Rats

An urban legend speaks of Russian scientists who left a group of political prisoners alone in a sealed chamber for 15 days. When they went to check on them, they had committed horrors beyond any human experience. What was this experiment?

Reveal the answer

Question 3: How to Spot Pseudoscience

In an earlier episode, I created a 15 point checklist called "How to spot pseudoscience". This was based on the baloney detection kit developed by who?

Reveal the answer

Question 4: The Phantom Bombers

In 1942, antiaircraft batteries were stationed around a major American city when the AAA commander reported a fleet of 15 enemy aircraft over the city. Batteries opened fire for over an hour, raining tons of shrapnel over the city and causing much damage. It was soon determined there were no enemy aircraft, and some now say the batteries were firing at UFOs. What city was this, after which this battle is named?

Reveal the answer

Question 5: The Besieged Country Folk

In 1955, a Kentucky family was besieged by as many 15 small creatures they believed were aliens, and which we now believe was probably one pair of owls. In what town did this famous event take place?

Reveal the answer

Question 6: The Twin Assassins

A popular urban legend claims there is a huge list of uncanny similarities between the assassinations of two US presidents. Among them is that both killers are known by their three names, and both those names have 15 letters. Name both assassins.

Reveal the answer

Question 7: The Multitalented Element

In several episodes about global warming, we've discussed one particular element that plays an important role, and of its 15 isotopes, only 2 are stable. What is that element?

Reveal the answer

Question 8: The Prolific Rockets

15 years before Sputnik 1 was launched, some 3,000 of these suborbital rockets were launched.

Reveal the answer

Question 9: The Vanishing Colonists

In one of several early attempts to establish this famous New World colony, Sir Walter Raleigh left a garrison of 15 men in the 1580s, none of whom were ever seen or heard from again. What was the colony?

Reveal the answer

Question 10: The Magicians in the Room

In the 1990s, the Society for Psychical Research held a series of seances in an attempt to prove that they are real contacts from the afterlife. These seances involved 6 mediums and 15 investigators. What was the experiment called?

Reveal the answer

Question 11: The Aggrieved Ambassadors

In October 2017, the United States expelled 15 Cuban diplomats in retaliation for what?

Reveal the answer

Question 12: The Passionate Worshipers

When this alleged religious miracle took place in Egypt in 1968, 15 people were trampled to death by crowds trying to see it. What was this event?

Reveal the answer

Question 13: The Funky Beverage

This fad beverage claims to be a superfood, but in a typical 2-ounce shot you get only 15% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C. What is it?

Reveal the answer

Question 14: The Violated Scientist

When this famous researcher died, government investigators entered his home and reported:

His thoughts and efforts during at least the past 15 years were primarily of a speculative, philosophical, and somewhat promotional character often concerned with the production and wireless transmission of power; but did not include new, sound, workable principles or methods for realizing such results.

Who was he?

Reveal the answer

Question 15: The Reclusive Cryptid

In the 1990s a pair of British cryptozoologists began a 15-year search in Sumatra for this cryptid, including taking plaster footprint casts. What is it?

Reveal the answer

So how did you do? If you got all 15, you are a Skeptoid superstar. If you got 10 or more, you have my respect and I tip my glass to you. And if you got fewer than 10, then you are my next most favorite kind of listener, because it means you've got plenty of podcasts to catch up on, and I'll be seeing you in your podcast player many more times!

By Brian Dunning

Please contact us with any corrections or feedback.


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Cite this article:
Dunning, B. "Pop Quiz: 15 for 15." Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, 19 Oct 2021. Web. 23 Jun 2024. <>


References & Further Reading

Allen, Benedict. Hunting the Gugu. UK: Macmillan(hard), 1989. 192-208.

Baxter, J. "Raleigh's Lost Colony." The New England Magazine. 1 Sep. 1894, Volume 11: 565-587.

Childress, D. The Fantastic Inventions of Nikola Tesla. Chicago: Adventures Unlimited Press, 1993. 249.

Cornwell, J. Hitler's Scientists: Science, War, and the Devil's Pact. New York: Viking, 2003.

Editors. "Army Says Alarm Real." Los Angeles Times. 26 Feb. 1942, Newspaper: Front page.

Editors. It Came from Kelly. Hopkinsville: Kentucky New Era, 2005.

Eisinger, J. "Was Beethoven Lead-Poisoned?" The Beethoven Journal. 1 Jul. 2008, Volume 23, Number 1: 15-17.

Gillin, C. "How long can humans stay awake?" Scientific American. Nature America, Inc., 22 Mar. 2002. Web. 17 Nov. 2015. <>

Harris, G., Davis, J., Londono, E. "U.S. Expels 15 Cuban Diplomats, in Latest Sign Detente May Be Ending." New York Times. The New York Times Company, 3 Oct. 2017. Web. 15 Dec. 2017. <>

Lister, C. "Wheat Grass Nutritional Analyses." Crop & Food Research. The New Zealand Institute for Crop & Food Research Ltd, 12 Sep. 2002. Web. 9 Nov. 2006. <>

Mikkelson, B. "Linkin' Kennedy." Urban Legends Reference Pages. Barbara and David Mikkelson, 16 Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <>

Nelson, C. "The Virgin of Zeitoun." Worldview. 1 Sep. 1973, Volume 16, Number 9: 5-11.

NOSAMS. "What is Carbon Dating?" National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometer. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 10 Mar. 2015. Web. 10 Dec. 2016. <>

Sagan, C., Druyan, A. The Demon-Haunted World. London, UK: Headline Book Publishing, 1996. 189-206.

Wiseman, R., Morris, R. Guidelines for testing psychic claimants. Hatfield, UK: University of Hertfordshire Press, 1995.


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