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Author's profile photo Bärbel Winkler

The SAP Community Cranky Uncle Challenge!

This is a challenge to you all: try and get Cranky Uncle as cranky as possible by playing the Cranky Uncle Game! You might be asking yourself “Why would I ever want to do that?!?”, so let me briefly explain.

At a guess, many of you have a “cranky uncle” at home who thinks he knows something better than actual experts and keeps spouting misinformation about various topics, be it climate change, COVID-19 or something else, at family gatherings. Trying to debunk misinformation can be tedious and rather time-consuming – and you also need the relevant domain knowledge to do so confidently. Another option is to call out the techniques employed in the misinformation but this logic-based debunking entails critical thinking which can be hard work and is not always easy or quick to do on the spot.

This is where Cranky Uncle comes to the rescue! He teaches you the techniques HE employs to deny scientific findings and does so with the help of analogies and cartoons. You are then tasked with identifying the techniques in quizzes where you earn “cranky points” and can make Cranky Uncle ever more cranky as you reach higher “mood levels” in the game. The more cranky points you collect, the more you get to practise critical thinking and strengthen your own resilience against misinformation.

This is how our SAP Community Cranky Uncle Challenge will play out (yes, pun most definitely intended!) over the next couple of weeks:

You install the free app on your mobile phone or use the browser version and play the game. Once you’ve learned all the denial techniques and done all the quizzes, grab a screenshot of your final cranky level showing the points you reached and post it in the comments. At the end of August we’ll see who managed to get Cranky Uncle the crankiest!

This is how far I got during testing the BETA-version of the game (yes, there’s a cartoon for each level!):

You can get to the game via these links:

  1. iPhone: https://sks.to/crankyiphone
  2. Android: https://sks.to/crankyandroid
  3. Browser: https://app.crankyuncle.info

You can either use your email-address to start playing or use the group code SAPCOMMUNITY2021. If you’d like to help with scientific research *), you can fill out a short questionnaire before and after playing the game.

For a quick introduction to the Cranky Uncle game, please watch this video filmed on site at the University of Queensland in Brisbane in Dec. 2019 (hence no masks and distancing!). Can you tell that John Cook and his colleagues had fun shooting it?

So, are you up for this challenge?!?


*) This is not simply a smartphone game like many others, but is instead a game informed by cognitive science. Cranky Uncle is being developed by John Cook who is a research fellow at the Climate Change Communication Research Hub at Monash University. He obtained his PhD at the University of Western Australia, studying the cognitive psychology of climate science denial. His research focus is understanding and countering misinformation about climate change. In 2007 he founded the website Skeptical Science which debunks climate misinformation by presenting peer-reviewed science and explaining the techniques of science denial. I’ve been helping with Skeptical Science since 2010.

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      9 Comments
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      Author's profile photo Daniel Wroblewski
      Daniel Wroblewski

      Any way to know how many levels there are (besides brute force)? Not knowing is making me surly

      😒

      Author's profile photo Bärbel Winkler
      Bärbel Winkler
      Blog Post Author

      Daniel Wroblewski

      Hi Daniel,

      thanks for playing!

      With the questions currently available in the game, I think you can get to around level 18 or so. More levels will become achievable once more questions get added to the game. If that isn't a precise enough answer for you, I can check with the developer team 🙂.

      You'll get a message once you've run out of questions which will then be your high-score for now.

      Cheers

      Bärbel

      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham

       

      Need more levels!

      Author's profile photo Bärbel Winkler
      Bärbel Winkler
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for playing, Matt and for reaching level 18! Hope it didn't make you too cranky!

      I'll ask John if/when he plans to add more questions to make reaching higher levels possible. This will however lead to yet another challenge for our team: how will be able to keep up with additional content which will eventually need to be translated into X other languages as it becomes available?!? Right now we are "prototyping" translations with German and it's slow going even for just the currently available content ....

      Cheers

      Bärbel

      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham

      It seems to me that they're trying to stop the non-English speaking world using this. Or is that what the NSA want me to think?

      (Maybe a subscription to deepl.com would help).

      Author's profile photo Bärbel Winkler
      Bärbel Winkler
      Blog Post Author

      "It seems to me that they're trying to stop the non-English speaking world using this. Or is that what the NSA want me to think?"

      I see, Cranky Uncle has been successful, at least regarding the conspiracist mindset! 🙂

      I actually have a subscription for deepl.com but we wouldn't be able to use many suggested translations as is for various reasons. There are things where a verbatim translation would lose the joke or the connection to the cartoon, like with several of the ambiguity questions. We'll also have to switch names of some scientists because the US-based ones will not be known elsewhere. If push comes to shove, John might even have to create new cartoons!

      Oh, and we most certainly want to have the game picked up across the globe, which is why we put out a call for translation help last week: Cranky Uncle game now being translated.

      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham

      Humour is notoriously difficult to translate. I read one of Terry Prachett's book in German, and they missed so many jokes. (Does any German literature, have jokes... just askin'?)

      The comedian Milton Jones says that confuse conspiracy theorists, just tell them that what they've just espoused is

      "... what the NSA want you to think".

      Then their brains explode from cognitive dissonance.

      Author's profile photo flavio ciotola
      flavio ciotola

      my progress:

      thank you Bärbel Winkler for the blog and the funny challenge

      Author's profile photo Bärbel Winkler
      Bärbel Winkler
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for playing, Flavio!