35 Comments

  1. The question doesn’t say that they’re clearly his apples. It could be that they found 14 apples together, and he just took 12 of them. Whether the situation is fair or unfair, the joke is that what appears at first to be a math problem, turns out to be a rhetoric problem. It’s not really a knee-slapper, but I found it mildly enjoyable.

    I once took an IQ test, and there were questions like “You find a sealed envelope on the ground. What do you do?” and “Why should you pay your taxes?” I got those questions “wrong.” For the latter question, I said “because otherwise the government will put you in jail,” but it turns out the right answer was “because they pay for valuable government services.”

  2. But this comic makes no reference to INCOME inequality. And for that matter, some people earn more than others for perfectly legitimate reasons.

    If Mr. Carrillo wanted to make an income inequality statement, the teacher could have asked why Tommy has an apple in his lunchbox while Sally only has 7/10 of an apple.

    In this particular case, maybe Tommy has an apple tree in his back yard.

  3. I’m reminded of the old joke: “You have five friends and three cookies. What do you wind up with?”
    Answer is either “three fewer friends” or “three cookies and no friends”

  4. I still remember an IQ test I took when I was in 4th grade. One of the questions was whether a movie marquee’s purpose was to attract attention or to indicate what movie’s playing. I asked my father afterward what he thought the right answer was, and he said the right answer was whoever designed the test was an idiot.

  5. @Winter Wallaby, those are not IQ test questions. Not that you didn’t get them, just that they aren’t proper IQ test questions, and are not part of the Stanford-Binet test.

  6. carlfink: It was some official test of IQ that my roomate had to practice administering for his graduate psychology program. (At least, my roomate claimed that it was, and he gave me an IQ number at the end; I’m assuming he wasn’t just pranking me.) Most of the test seemed pretty reasonable, but those questions stood out, as did a few others like “Who is Louis Armstrong?”

    At least according to Wikipedia, there are multiple IQ tests, and Stanford-Binet is just one.

  7. I have a 12 year old granddaughter who likes riddles and jokes, so I told her this one:

    On this farm there are 30 cows and 28 chickens. How many didn’t?

    After a number of rounds of “How many didn’t what?”, I finally told her that it’s actually parsed as “20 ate chickens”. So the answer is 10.

  8. I recall in grade school once being marked ‘wrong’ for a question in our workbook which gave two versions of a sentence — “The horsemen galloped down the road” vs. “Down the road galloped the horsemen” — when the question was “Which version I liked better.”

    Aside from the fact that either version could be preferable in a given situation, depending on how the author chose to focus, I was outraged that I could be marked down for claiming that I *liked* one better when the standardized test question disagreed. How could the workbook know better than I which one I preferred?

    I think my respect for the logic and fairness of the education establishment and the adult mind in general took that day a hit from which, sixty-five or so years later, it has never recovered.

  9. Not even all IQ tests, because there’s no way to become good at answering questions with no correct answers.

    All they’re really preparing you for is the Kobayashi Maru.

  10. Powers, demanding that a child justify why he has more apples than somebody else, with the premise being that this is inherently unfair? Absolutely.

  11. Wallaby, I am not saying you didn’t see the questions on an IQ test, just that you should not have. Hey, I’m an instructional designer with a science degree, and the son of a philosopher–the principles behind things matter to me, and in principle those are not valid (in the technical meaning) questions.

    Bill, in fact IQ tests can be predictive of school success.

  12. “Bill, in fact IQ tests can be predictive of school success.”

    Of course. But not stupid ones.

    There were actually at least two ridiculous questions, but this is the only one I remember. It’s been a while, you know.

  13. “Not even all IQ tests, because there’s no way to become good at answering questions with no correct answers.”

    Unfamiliar with politicians, are you?

    As to the underlying discussion, just because a question appears on a test does not mean that it is used in determining the scoring.

  14. “Unfamiliar with politicians, are you?” Is a Rhetorical Question I Don’t Understand.

    And while not all questions are used in scoring, a question that’s total nonsense can throw off the entire test: it has zero value, and wastes a disproportionate amount of time.

  15. “’Unfamiliar with politicians, are you?’ Is a Rhetorical Question I Don’t Understand.”

    Politicians are visibly skilled at answering questions which do not have any right answers. Therefore, to say “there’s no way to become good at answering questions with no correct answers.”,

    one must be unfamiliar with politicians.

    ” a question that’s total nonsense can throw off the entire test”

    No. It can throw off a test-TAKER.

    “it has zero value”

    This is literally a value judgment. The fact that it has no value to you does not imply that it has no value to anyone, specifically including the test-maker.

    “wastes a disproportionate amount of time.”

    If this is on an intelligence test, perhaps the intelligence is measured by how long it takes you to recognize the question as a distraction, rather than by on answering the question “correctly”.
    As a parallel, have you seen the 1980’s movie “Wargames”? The climactic ending is when the artificial intelligence recognizes that there is no way to “win” a global thermonuclear war… only different ways to lose. The payoff line is “Interesting game. The only winning move is not to play.”

    May I suggest you invest a couple of minutes investigating “Lateral thinking games” or “lateral thinking puzzles” on the Internet? The central theme is challenging your assumptions. I would argue that being able to see past your own assumptions is a key element of “intelligence”. Since different people have different assumptions, it’s fairly hard, if not impossible, to measure in a standardized way.

  16. Winter Wallaby/carlfink – when I had my psycho-educational assessment done by a professional I got questions along those lines too. Although it was a bit less political bias free – instead of saying “why does the state license professionals” it was more along the lines of asking what the benefits of doing so would be. That said, while a Libertarian could still see what the benefits of doing so would be, answering the question correctly is easier for someone with a less individualist political outlook.
    Singapore Bill – I thought that tests like that were supposed to show how you thought – they can look and see what classes of problems you have trouble with to diagnose specific learning difficulties.

  17. Nice to know that I was not the only one to find that some questions had no answers and others have more than one. The past 2 years the NYS Regents exams had a question each year that had more than one answer – in one case the difference related to when in the calculation one rounded off the answer.

  18. Christine: I suspected I knew what they wanted with the tax question, so if it had been important to me to get a good score, I probably could have given the answer they wanted. (I’m not a Libertarian, though.)

  19. I apologise if I came across as “Libertarians can’t answer the questions properly”, I was picking that one specifically for the professional licensing question.

  20. Christine: No apology needed – I understood what you meant, and I’m not a libertarian anyway.

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