Shit test: a question where the right answer is not the one that is seemingly expected; a demand where doing what is seemingly expected is the wrong thing to do; an order that you'll be praised for disobeying, not for obeying, even by the person giving the order.
The right answer in the case of shit tests is:
- Give the unexpected answer,
- Say no,
- Do something unexpected,
- Ignore the question or the demand altogether,
- Give the answer that will get people shock and publicly condemn and reject you, while actually becoming attracted to you.
A woman asks you to do something, then thinks less of you for doing it, such as: hold this drink for me, be nice to me, marry me, buy this or that for me, etc.
Ask a girl to have sex with you, then despise her for accepting:
Men really do devalue women who put out too quickly. Sexual evolution has granted men the insight to recognize that slutty women are likely to continue being just as slutty after committing to them, and that is bad news for men who want to know their children are really theirs, and who want to avoid the divorce raping that inevitably follows when a wife pursues the feral eat, pray, love self-actualization life trajectory.
In the Bible, when God asks Abraham to kill his son, now that could have been a great shit test. The right answer would have been something like “God, you gave me a brain and a sense of morality, and a set of rational rules such as ‘thou shalt not kill’. If someone is now telling me to break those rules and do something which I know to be wrong, then it can be no God, but only a devil disguising as such. And even if you are truly God, then I shall rather burn in hell than obey such a wrong demand and act immorally”. Now that would be a real test of morality: doing the right thing means doing the right thing even if it means eternal damnation, not doing something in order to be praised for obedience. I’ll leave it to interpretation whether it actually was a shit test which humanity failed and earned God’s loath ever since, or merely, if Christianity lacks a basic understanding of what morality is that even children stories (see below) understand. (A third possibility from Dan Simmons' Hyperion, is that Abraham tests God by accepting the sacrifice, and God passes the shit test by staying Abraham's hand.)
Human resources recruitment
“So… tell us some trade secrets from your previous company?” Or any such question. Would you really want to hire someone who’s gonna tell all your secrets to his next employer?
Very similarly, if you ask your girlfriend to give you intimate details about your predecessor, do you really want her to answer?
- Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game
In this classic geek porn novel, Ender is subject to a series of shit tests. The best being when he is scolded by general Graff for beating a bully who aggressed him... Only to be congratulated later and accepted to Battle School as a result.
- Philip K. Dick, The Exit Door Leads In
"The Exit Door Leads In" was written for Rolling Stone College Papers, a short-lived publication. It is unusual among Dick's stories in that it was written at the request of the editors. The story centers on a certain Bob Bibleman going out for a hamburger and, when asked by the robotic counterman if he wants to enter a contest, says yes. The contest instantly enrolls him in a quasi-military college where he [seemingly accidentally] comes across classified information the release of which would save millions of lives; however, it is strictly forbidden by the college authorities. After an evening of soul-searching, in which he dreams of his father being proud of him for returning the information to the college, Bibleman does just that, only to discover they were testing him to see if he was the type of person to break ranks and subvert authority for the sake of what is right. Since he too readily conforms to what authority tells him, he is expelled from the college and, dejected, returns to his former life.
- Frank Herbert, Children of Dune
The members of the Bene Gesserit delegation had wanted to know if she required proofs of their allegations. She'd given them an angry answer out of their own manuals: "All proofs inevitably lead to propositions which have no proof! All things are known because we want to believe in them.""But we have submitted these questions to mentats," the delegation's leader had protested.Jessica had stared at the woman, astonished. "I marvel that you have reached your present station and not yet learned the limits of mentats," Jessica had said.At which the delegation had relaxed. Apparently it had all been a test, and she had passed. They'd feared, of course, that she had lost all touch with those balancing abilities which were at the core of Bene Gesserit training.
- Frank Herbert, God Emperor of dune
HWI NOREE: And he does not tolerate pretensions. Recall the execution of the historians and the destruction of their works.INQUISITOR: He does not want the truth known!HWI NOREE: He told my Uncle Malky that they lied about the past. And mark you! Who would know this better than he? We all know the subject of his introversion.INQUISITOR: What proof have we that all of his ancestors live in him?HWI NOREE: I will not enter that bootless argument. I will merely say that I believe it on the evidence of my Uncle Malky’s belief, and his reasons for that belief.INQUISITOR: We have read your uncle’s reports and interpret them otherwise. Malky was overly fond of the Worm.HWI NOREE: My uncle accounted him the most supremely artful diplomat in the Empire, a master conversationalist and expert in any subject you could name.INQUISITOR: Did your uncle not speak of the Worm’s brutality?HWI NOREE: My uncle judged him ultimately civilized.INQUISITOR: I asked about brutality.HWI NOREE: Capable of brutality, yes.INQUISITOR: Your uncle feared him.HWI NOREE: The Lord Leto lacks all innocence and naiveté. He is to be feared only when he pretends these traits. That was what my uncle said.INQUISITOR: Those were his words, yes.HWI NOREE: More than that! Malky said: “The Lord Leto delights in the surprising genius and diversity of humankind. He is my favourite companion.”INQUISITOR: Giving us the benefit of your supreme wisdom, how do you interpret these words of your uncle?HWI NOREE: Do not mock me!INQUISITOR: We do not mock. We seek enlightenment.HWI NOREE: These words of Malky and many other things that he wrote directly to me, suggest that the Lord Leto is always seeking after newness and originality but that he is wary of the destructive potential in such things. So my uncle believed.INQUISITOR: Is there more which you wish to add to these beliefs which you share with your uncle?HWI NOREE: I see no point in adding to what I’ve already said. I am sorry to have wasted the Inquisitors’ time.INQUISITOR: But you have not wasted our time. You are confirmed as Ambassador to the Court of Lord Leto, the God Emperor of the known universe.
In TV Shows
- How I Met Your Mother, S08E19, The Fortress
"If I ask you to change too many things about yourself, you're not gonna be the man I fell in love with."--Robin to Barney
Beautiful shit test at the end, when the girl is asked to cut her baby brother as a test for becoming a princess. By refusing to obey, she proves that she cares more about about what is right than about becoming a princess, thus becoming worthy of becoming a princess.
- Ein Freund von mir Early in the movie, Karl is asked to sing at a job interview. He refuses, and is about to leave... then gets the job, for refusing to sing.
In Computer games
- In the game Atlantis, very early in the game, a character asks you to get him wine. If you obey him, he openly criticizes you for being servile, a female character whose help you need despises you, and the game is over.
Scrooge McDuck has to pass a series of tests in order to obtain a nobility title. The final test is to steal bread from a hungry child. He refuses to do it, and goes home expecting to have thus failed the test... only to be greeted as a victor: the real test of nobility was proving that he cared more about doing the right thing than getting what he wanted.
Kriss de Valnor has to prove her worth to the Walkyrie goddess Freya by accomplishing an action "worthy of a queen". Until she does, she is forbidden from "taking life", even killing animals. When her friend is in danger, Kriss nevertheless kills her attackers, even though she expects to be killed and denied access to the Valhalla as a result. Shit test passed: the goddess recognizes her disobedience to her own orders as doing what is right without regard for the consequences and thus an action proving her worth.
- And of course, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
That's really pushing the shit test concept pretty far.