Wednesday, March 29, 2006

When in doubt, pick C

Here’s why I hate multiple choice tests:

Which of the following is NOT a color on the shirt I wore yesterday?
  1. blue

  2. black

  3. red

  4. white

  5. orange

This question, surprisingly, is a little easier than the questions with which I met on Monday’s Torts midterm, but only in subject matter.  In terms of probability, I have the exact same chances of getting this question right, right now, than I did any question on my midterm.  

Consider that you need to know four pieces of information in order to get this question right without any doubt.  Four of these answers are, in other words, TRUE, and one is FALSE, so by process of elimination, the minimum number of facts you have to have in your brain is four.  Let’s say, for instance, I only remember for sure that my shirt was blue, black and white, but that stripe across the sleeves was kind of in the middle of red and orange.  Could go either way.  If I pick the “orange” and the correct answer is “red”, I get no credit for knowing that my shirt was, at least, blue, black and white.  

And don’t even get me started on questions that include E) All of the above, or  E) Both A and B, and occasionally C, or E) You don’t have any clue do you?  You might as well just pick me, since the professor wouldn’t have put me here unless I’m the right choice.  Or am I?, or  E) None of these are right, including this choice.  Live in that conundrum, jerk.


Peter said...

To be fair, the minimum number of facts you have to have in your brain is 1, e.g., there was no black in the shirt. Quit yer bitchin', and get offa my land.

Garvey said...

I oversimplified. My point was that if you knew that the shirt lacked "red", but you weren't sure about "orange", there's some doubt there. You might know only one fact, but you don't know the answer to the question for certain until you've ruled out the other four. I hate that I could know as many as three, and still get zero credit.

And you can keep your land. All these damn gophers make for a tough game of flashlight tag.

Esther said...

I thought you had Mensch for Torts? Since when does she give multiple choice? You used to need speed-reading abilites to get through the fact pattern with time left to answer the damn question.

Peter said...

Fine. Let me clarify. The minimum number of facts you have to have in your brain is one, assuming that fact renders all other possibilities false.

Multiple Choice:

Which one of the following does Peter not own?

a) a gas range
b) a leather sofa
c) a musical lighter
d) the moon

You may not know about a, b, or c, but as you know for a fact that I don't own the moon, it is clearly the only correct possible answer.

Also, I am such a geek. Shut up, Peter.

Anonymous said...

no, mensch's exam was SO totally multiple choice. that's part of the reason i was so baffeled when her final came around. think the mid term was hard? HAHAHA. not even close to her midterms.

her final will include questions as to why and how the color red exists and why the underpants gnomes steal more boxers in that shade. explain how that relates to torts. in under 2 hours.

it rules not being in law school right now.

Garvey said...

Peter – I agree with you, but you’re making an unfair assumption. That’s like saying “all I need to know in order to answer the question is the answer.”

I’m saying, silent any other assumptions, that in order to unequivocally know the answer to any m.c. question, I'd have to know (if there are 4 choices) a minimum of three facts.

I understand your point in this particular case, and if I saw your question on a test, I’d pick "d)", even though I'm not entirely sure whether or not you own a stove at all. In other words, I know the fact ("peter does not own the moon"), but I don’t absolutely, 100%, for perfect certainty know the answer to your question, because there is always a chance it could be a). By that logic, couldn’t I have answered your question just as well knowing zero facts?

Everyone else - Torts sucks. Con Law sucks harder.

Peter said...

Garvey, you bet that my example hardly ever applies. Enjoy your tests.

I own a stove. And I just put in a bid on the moon. Wish me luck.