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Simplistic thinking for complicated times

Let's say you see the following on a test:

Q. Given a barometer, how would you measure the height of a building?

The obvious answer is, of course:

Measure the barometric pressure between the ground and the top, and do the math.

What if a student thinks or pretends to think that that's the only answer? What if the teacher declares that that's the only answer? They're obviously wrong, aren't they?

Here are three alternate answers I can think of:

1. Drop the barometer from the top of the building, record how long it takes to hit the ground, and do the math.

2. Sell the barometer on eBay and hire a surveying team to find out how high the building is. Alternatively, hire a surveying student to do the work for experience. Give him some of the money and spend the rest at McDonald's.

3. Call up the building's architect and ask him.

Obviously, real-life experience teaches us that there are many answers to questions, that things aren't always as they appear, and that sometimes test questions are stacked against you or you otherwise need to do some creative thinking to solve difficult problems.

Unfortunately, some people - including our leaders - seem to favor simplistic thinking or at least pretend that they do.

With that in mind, consider this question from an Instapundit reader concerning the global test, which was also featured here:

"So how do you pass the Global Test when those marking the test have been bribed to give you a failing mark?"

Do we storm out of the classroom? Do we drop out of school or go start our own college?

Or, do we put on our nuanced-thinking caps and come up with an effective solution:

Take the test and get the failing grade. Afterwards, compile documentary and testimonial evididence showing that either you were singled out or showing that the teacher engages in such activity.

Sue the school, collect a nice judgment, get to take the test again and get the proper grade.

There are, of course, many other ways to pass that particular test.

If someone fails to see all the ways to solve a problem, or uses the stacked test as an excuse, perhaps that means that person just doesn't have what it takes.

See also "How you fail the global test".

Politics · Sun, 10/10/2004 - 11:40 · Importance: 1