Have you ever taken a test that made you feel really bad?

I know, this could describe basically every single test you’ve ever taken in your life: the MCAT, court-appointed drug tests, the LSAT, paternity tests, colonoscopies, the SAT and the PSAT and the GRE, lots of other classist and ethnocentric little gates to allow some people in while keeping others out, or to diagnose you with cancer, or fatherhood.

Yikes. This post went south fast. Can you tell I’m behind deadline on my next novel?

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Anyway, tests. One time I happened upon this personality test in the dark corner of the Internet. This was before the later and larger spike in online personality tests where you find out what famous Internet cat best represents your personality. (Mine is keyboard cat. I know. What can I say? I’m basic.) It was also tucked into a dark corner of the Internet but not the Dark Web, so it didn’t seem so inherently risky, just a little bit off.

Then, the deeper I got into the test, the more it didn’t just seem risky. It felt risky. Kinda wrong. A little bit of an abomination. Like check this out, for example:

Q9 from the Pierley/Redford Dissociative Affect Diagnostic

The test isn’t as static as this screenshot would lead you to believe; the shapes actually flicker, slightly, while you’re taking the test. After only a few questions, you don’t feel so great, like, internally.

Much like the sinking feeling most humans get while completing the aforementioned elitist college entry tests of this century, arranged in the same oppressive structural way as the inequitable system itself, the Pierley/Redford Dissociative Affect Diagnostic leads you to feel you are adopting a dissociative affect just from the mere act of taking the test.

When I first encountered the test, there wasn’t any explanation about it, as I recall. It was just a link on a page. I don’t even remember how I found it. Since then, its author gave more background and structure to the test series, no longer available online, and identified himself, so it’s no longer poised to be a terrifying mystery that sparks a market research disaster fiction novel.

The artist moved on to create other frightening tests too.

Screw you, test.

Unfortunately, they’re all created in Adobe Flash Player, so your computer could potentially be compromised just by accessing them and the whole product line is unstable and soon-to-be unsupported.

(But if you get a chance before Adobe Flash gets retired forever, check this one out: http://www.hypnoid.com/EM_entropy/. Spooky! You can read more about the test and others like it from Chelsea Maxwell’s piece on Medium.)

I really appreciated this bizarre little feel-bad mystery survey when I first came upon it way back when, and between this and the curious patents of Hendricus G. Loos, it sparked the mind-controlling market research survey in Corporate Torsos Need Not Apply. Well, that, and also my own experience working in market research. Both probably very co-influential, now that I think about it.

Kudos to the artist, Randy Horton, who also turned out to be a novelist, and I look forward to reading the Undernet, probably as brilliant and terrifying as these psych tests? Will report back.

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