## Re: Presidential Guest Post!

1

I got them all right even thought I'm religious, impatient, and shallow about how I buy things.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:34 AM
2

Are you sure it doesn't just test if you're able to write down an equation?

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:35 AM
3

Thingis, the whole set-up just screams "trick question." You know that whatever answer first comes into your head has to be wrong. I got them all right, but I'm certain in any real world situation, I would get a problem like number 1 wrong, and probably a problem like number 2 wrong as well.

Actually, I was kind of thrown by the third question because 47 days was the first answer that came into my head. That's how doubling works. Is the tempting but wrong answer supposed to be 24?

Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:38 AM
4

Roughly, it measures whether it occurs to you to formulate something as an equation if there seems to be a perfectly good intuitive answer. MIT students (the original population tested) do extremely well, but British housewives making household buying decisions (another population tested) do extremely poorly.

Posted by: B.F. Skinner | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:39 AM
5

Is the tempting but wrong answer supposed to be 24?

If the question is what recent TV series should I watch, yes.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:40 AM
6

I refuse to answer anything until I know (1) why this post would need to be presidential, and (2) why anyone would think "B.F. Skinner" is a "presidential" pseudonym.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:43 AM
7

6: I think urp has solved the real test.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:45 AM
8

1. An explanation for why it needs to be presidential would sort of defeat the purpose of it being presidential and
2. I was president of the Midwestern and the Eastern Psychological Associations.

Posted by: B.F. Skinner | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:47 AM
9

One of my favorites from this genre of questions:

The rope ladder of a boat hangs over the side of the boat and just reaches the water. Its rungs are 8 inches apart. If the tide rises 4 feet, how many rungs will be under water?

(It is one of my favorites because I got it wrong the first time I encountered it.)

Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:47 AM
10

Are you sure it doesn't just test if you're able to write down an equation?

Or at least do mental arithmetic using a sort of kludged shorthand equation, e.g. 'how long does it take twenty times as many machines to make twenty times as many widgets - see above'. Or a sort of quick mental slider for question 1 i.e. 'ummh 1.10 +10 =1.20 therefore five cents.

Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:48 AM
11

There's a fantastic video - probably somewhere on YouTube - where they interview a bunch of Harvard students on their graduation day.

The question they ask is "Why are the seasons the way they are?" and the students all get the question wrong - they all answer "It's because the orbit is an ellipse. Winter is when the earth is farthest from the sun, and summer is when it's nearest."

It's the same sort of System 1/System 2 thinking - if you answer on auto-pilot (as you're likely to when you're already wearing your cap and gown and about to walk across the stage) you retrieve some nonsensical related facts and string them together in a half-assed way.

If you have some cue that you need to engage with the question, those answers will strike you as immediately super ludicrous, and you'll think through the right answer.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:49 AM
12

6 is a trick question; this post was in fact submitted non-pseudonymously by the actual B.F. Skinner.

Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:50 AM
13

I think we need to know more about how the ladder is constructed. I was to say "7", but do all rope ladders have a rung at the bottom?

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:50 AM
14

13 is great.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:51 AM
15

I'm assuming the boat isn't floating, or the question wouldn't make any sense.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:52 AM
16

15 is great.

Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:53 AM
17

15 is also great.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:53 AM
18

Shit.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:54 AM
19

18 is shit.

Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:55 AM
20

I feel like I've heard all these questions and so I'll never truly know what a sheep I am.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:56 AM
21

20: did you get them right when you first heard them?

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:56 AM
22

20: well, do you make poor purchasing decisions?

Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 11:57 AM
23

I kind of hate these sorts of questions, my initial response is always that the questioner is an asshole.

I got 2+3 instantly, but might have missed one if I hadn't been clued in that it was a trick question. The boat question is just annoying ass bullshit.

I am both religious and politically extreme, pretty bad at judging risk, and make crappy purchasing decisions all the time, so there you have it.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 12:00 PM
24

20: Are you now, or have you ever been, a British housewife?

Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 12:00 PM
25

The best lateral thinking test.

Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 12:00 PM
26

I'm assuming the rope floats.

Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 12:00 PM
27

The boat question is just annoying ass bullshit.

It's also not paleo.

Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 12:01 PM
28

25 is more my speed. Fuck these trick questioners.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 12:02 PM
29

I'm assuming you've all seen this already. If not, it is totally fantastic.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 12:07 PM
30

The boat question is a trick question because you have to ask the name of the boat, which is, of course, Kobayashi Maru.

Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 12:09 PM
31

I recommend the albatross soup.

Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 12:10 PM
32

I've seen them all, but if I remember the first time I saw them all correctly, I got two out of three -- lily pads and widgets yes, but bat and ball no.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 12:46 PM
33

I approached the questions in an analytic way and got the first two right, then had a brain fart on the 3rd and formulated a horrible, abortion of an equation. If I'd been in common sense mode probably I would have gotten it right. At any rate, I've avoided British housewifery, for now at least.

Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 12:50 PM
34

The notion of a lily pad patch doubling in "size" is ambiguous. Presumably something different is meant, such as: it doubles in cross-sectional area at the plane of the lake. But now we must recall that lakes can be oddly shaped. Suppose that the lake has a long, narrow extrusion—an aquatic peninsula, if you will. If we think of the lily pad patch as circular and model its doubling in size as its radius increasing by a factor of sqrt(2), then it could take 48 days to cover the entire like but only, say, 43 days to cover half the lake.

You might object that lily pad patches can only thrive or even exist in water, so that either (a) it isn't really doubling in size, contrary to the hypothesis or (b) it is doubling in size and must therefore be doing so by growing into the peninsular portion of the lake, contrary to my argument. I would have to defer to you regarding that, as I am inexpert in lily pad patch biology; I only know about geometric ratios and shapes and such things. But perhaps we can get around this by supposing that the excess growth of lily pad patch proceeds not into the peninsular portion of the lake but rather into the streams that feed the lake. Since they are not part of the lake proper, but are aqueous, they allow for lily pad patch growth but do not count toward covering the lake.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 12:54 PM
35

I'm assuming the rope floats.

That makes even less sense.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:00 PM
36

I am inexpert in lily pad patch biology

How are you regarding toilets? Helicopters? Cap and trade?

Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:03 PM
37

I'm amazed, I got them all right. Wow. I generally don't do well at this kind of test. That hasn't happened since... actually, here. Clearly Unfogged quizzes are too easy.

Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:04 PM
38

I only got 5/10 on that when I tried just now.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:07 PM
39

Incidentally (and this is part of why I'm presidential) I agree that the questions are fairly stupid, but I think this test is fairly described as the subject of extraordinary current excitement in the realm of social psychology, because it seems to be so predictive of so many things. Somebody like S/lo/man, linked in the post, would be likely to think about it as dispositive of a core ability to do causal reasoning, and somebody like Kahneman would (does, I think) talk about it as indicating one's propensity to engage system 2-style reasoning.

Posted by: B.F. Skinner | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:11 PM
40

39: Has it been cross-referenced with propensity to hold out for a promised second marshmallow?

Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:13 PM
41

I'm not even going to attempt to answer the questions until someone promises me a marshmallow.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:14 PM
42

Goddamn you m/tch!

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:15 PM
43

40: Oh yes, definitely. I believe the marshmallow experiment results partly inspired the development of this measure. See page 30 (page 6 in the document) here.

Posted by: B.F. Skinner | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:18 PM
44

As for lily pads and lakes, consider also that the sizes of the things mentioned are discrete and finite. You can't have a patch with fewer than one pad in it, and I don't know the size of lilies off the top of my head but they can't be any smaller than, say, three inches in diameter. Double that 48 times and I think we've exceeded the surface area of the earth.

Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:20 PM
45

I don't think we need to assume the lake is smaller than the surface of the Earth.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:22 PM
46

One of the things that I didn't mention explicitly in the post is the hypothesized connection between this test and temporal discounting of reward, which is thought to underlie things like risk-averseness and impulse control.

Posted by: B.F. Skinner | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:23 PM
47

I don't understand how, if the test is supposed to measure one's ability to restrain one's intuitive answer, the circumstances in which the test are given aren't critical. For example, as I said above, I eventually got all three but knew that I had to keep trying because these were obviously trick questions. If, say, they'd been given in a different context (say a math test where all the other answers were straightforward and extremely easy) I almost certainly would have gotten at least question no 1 wrong.

Something similar has also always bothered me about the marshmallow test; IME it's always seemed like an ability to delay gratification is highly contextual, not some kind of core character trait. I'm sure the people running this research have thought of all of this.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:30 PM
48

I'm sure the people running this research have thought of all of this.

You would think so, wouldn't you?

Posted by: B.F. Skinner | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:31 PM
49

Maybe they got sidetracked by people unwilling to assume that a boat would float?

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:33 PM
50

On the other hand, it is certainly the case that large numbers of people (all those poor British housewives, 60% of people on Amazon's Mechanical Turk) get at least two questions wrong despite the context clearly being "a test administered by psychological researchers".

Posted by: B.F. Skinner | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:34 PM
51

That was before people learned to expect that psychological researchers would be tricking them.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:36 PM
52

Put a little differently, British housewives may just be less used to being asked trick questions, whether or not from researchers, whereas MIT students are extremely used to answering trick questions. Differing levels of awareness as to how to deal with a trick question seems a little different than having different overall sets of capacities for thinking through intuitive responses. Or maybe not, I dunno.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:37 PM
53

52: That certainly seems plausible, yes. And in fact, if you make the test more difficult (by making the font harder to read) people perform better.

Posted by: B.F. Skinner | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:40 PM
54

I'm going to return to using comic sans when I give people instructions.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:42 PM
55

I don't understand how, if the test is supposed to measure one's ability to restrain one's intuitive answer, the circumstances in which the test are given aren't critical.

Oh, they are. Kahneman's book goes into many various ways in which tests like this can be primed in one direction or the other.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:45 PM
56

I admit that I got the first one wrong and grew impatient and clicked through to the answers. My purchasing style could be summarized as: get the ball now, as it's cheap, and I can use a stick for a bat and see if it's really worth going back later."

Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:45 PM
57

I'd like to see research into how awareness of being tested, and/or the format of a test, impact peoples' answers. Exactly how much better do people do at these questions when they're presented like this rather than as genuine out-of-the-blue questions? On a related note, how much better would people do at them if they were multiple choice questions?

Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 1:50 PM
58

Just to be clear, I think these results are really interesting. And I am not at all a fan of "let me attack your major ongoing research project with my 30 seconds of reasoning as set forth in a blog comment, and if you can't prove it to me in a blog comment, you're wrong." Just asking questions that come to mind.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:01 PM
59

as genuine out-of-the-blue questions

I'm not sure how you would do this. Accost people on the street? Construct scenarios so that people believe that you are trying to figure out if you have enough money to buy a ball? It isn't trivial, and also makes it more difficult to control the experiment so that different subjects are experiencing the same context.

Posted by: B.F. Skinner | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:03 PM
60

So why do you all think men score better (see link in 43) on this test than women?

Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:06 PM
61

Don't think of a relephant.

Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:08 PM
62

59: Have a study that requires a spinal tap. While on the table prior (or post), have a child actor playing the kid of one of medical people ask them the question as if it was a homework problem they needed help with.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:09 PM
63

60 -- I'm sure you have an intuitive answer ready at hand.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:09 PM
64

This is where psychological researchers, like the moderators of Presidential Debates, could learn from Reality TV show producers.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:10 PM
65

58: I'm not sure who 'you' refers to in that comment, but this is certainly not part of an ongoing research project on my part. If I seem like I'm defending it, it's only because I am interested in robustly exploring the various criticisms.

(Of course it's not part of an ongoing research project on my part; I'm dead, and mostly worked with pigeons, and would have hated this line of research.)

Posted by: B.F. Skinner | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:11 PM
66

No, not to you in particular. I just felt like I was coming across as all "HERE ARE MY POORLY THOUGHT OUT OBJECTIONS TO THIS SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH. PROVE ME WRONG" which is kind of an internet thing that I generally dislike, at least when I'm being sincere.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:14 PM
67

In this case I think you've lit on some quite valid criticisms to which I'm not sure there are very good answers.

Arguably (which is to say, I would argue this) similar criticisms apply to big chunks of the social psychology literature, and may underlie some of the problems with replication that afflict that discipline.

(Finally, with the above paragraph, my decision to go presidential pays off.)

Posted by: B.F. Skinner | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:17 PM
68

So, plucking the first relevant bit of Kahneman I can find (using these particular questions verbatim), he cites research showing that students do better (35% make at least one mistake versus 90%) when the questions are in a hard to read font.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:19 PM
69

You went presidential to avoid pissing off social psychologists?

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:20 PM
70

Dude the social psychologists can and will break your brain. Don't f with them.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:21 PM
71

69: That's part of it, yes.

Posted by: B.F. Skinner | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:21 PM
72

There not Freudian. They won't try to sex your mother.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:26 PM
73

60: Because we're genetically superior. Just like why us white people don't go to jail very much.

Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:29 PM
74

4: I go for equations. Given a test where an answer seems obvious there has to be a trick. Paranoia is useful.

Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:40 PM
75

That's just what they want you to think.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:45 PM
76

paranoia is not always useful.

Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:52 PM
77

60: it's kind of tough to say with any certainty given the task, right? Is the question "why do women tend to give up before reflecting?", or do we assume that they do tend to reflect and still produce the wrong answer after additional thought? Would you not need two separate hypotheses for these scenarios?

I would slightly lean toward "why don't women reflect more?" being the money question, but I really don't have the slightest idea. Oh hey, what an interesting rhetorical pattern in this answer.

Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 2:52 PM
78

Is too.

Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 3:05 PM
79

Is snot.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 3:26 PM
80

why don't women reflect more?
You may as well ask why don't they like garlic.

Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 3:37 PM
81

60:

Expressed loosely, being smart makes women patient and makes men take more risks. This result was unanticipated and suggests no obvious explanation. The only related ﬁnding of which I am aware is in a study by Shoda, Mischel and Peake (1990), who found that the patience of preschool girls was strongly related to theirsubsequent SAT scores, but the patience of preschool boys was not.

...is what the author in 43 wrote, among some other things I didn't study. Time-preference?

But...

73: All together now:We Blame the Patriarchy

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 3:55 PM
82

80: Human women don't like garlic? Interesting, very interesting....

Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 4:00 PM
83

Expressed loosely, being smart makes women patient

This explains something about hilzoy, at least.

Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 4:24 PM
84

Has anyone discussed/studied the role of acting in the Milgram experiment? I know you can't actually shock people, but in my hazily remembered version of the experiment, weren't the subjects responding to the sounds of people acting like they were shocked - that is, they didn't see the people being "shocked", so they had to go by what they were hearing?

Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 4:34 PM
85

I thought the subjects could see the actors.

Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 4:38 PM
86

I guess either way my question is still the same.

Also, on the original post, I actually paused on the second question and wondered if the machines were connected to each other and if there was a loss or gain in efficiency in having them work together. Then I thought that was silly and looked at the answers without coming up with my own.

Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 4:42 PM
87

84/85: they ran the experiment under a variety of conditions. Not being able to see the victim was associated with higher rates of compliance, IIRC.

Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 5:13 PM
88

Radiolab (I think) did a Reinterpretation of the Interpretations! of the Milgram experiment a while ago. I, er, can't remember what they actually said, but what I remember is that subjects were not nearly as horrible as we are told the experiment showed they were. Now I think of it as`not exactly false but exaggerated for shock and alienation', like Hardin's theories.

Grist?

Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 5:27 PM
89

So are there non-mathematical versions of these questions?

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 7:52 PM
90

90: That is a very good question. The answer, from what I know, is that social psychologists agree that there should be but that there are not yet.

Posted by: B.F. Skinner | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 7:54 PM
91

Don't let that stop social psychologists from drawing significant correlations out of the results.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 8:01 PM
92

I couldn't if I wanted to.

Posted by: B.F. Skinner | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 8:02 PM
93

Good then.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 8:04 PM
94

90: A funny story is a joke, a well-known soft drink is a coke, what's an egg white called?

More seriously, what is a possible candidate for a non-mathematical version of these questions? Are logic questions allowed? If not, I think it would be pretty impossible to find something suitable.

Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 8:11 PM
95

Well, again, this isn't my research, and I find the whole project somewhat suspect, so I am not the one to ask. In general, you would need a non-mathematical question that has an intuitive but definitely incorrect answer and a non-intuitive but definitely correct answer that requires some reflective thought. I would have thought the boat ladder question was a reasonable alternative, but it turns out that some boats are glued to the ocean floor.

If you come up with something within the necessary parameters by all means email it to the researchers in the OP.

Posted by: B.F. Skinner | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 8:16 PM
96

The boat question is to many a well known puzzle (I already knew it as well). Couldn't one simply gain acuity in solving puzzles without being particularly reflective? (Maybe not—I dunno.) The boat question does of course depend on some domain-specific knowledge. I bet there are lots of populations who would do poorly on it for that reason.

Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 8:51 PM
97

Are there domains where most boats don't float?

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 8:53 PM
98

98: dry land, for one.

Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 8:54 PM
99

95: the seasons question from 11.

Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 8:55 PM
100

99: Boats still float, but this becomes somewhat less unique.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 8:57 PM
101

There was also a question where college students were asked about the phases of the moon, and their off the cuff responses were all to the effect that they thought a new moon was caused by a lunar eclipse.

Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 8:59 PM
102

You could do a question about a very small rope ladder and a continental plate rising under pressure from magma.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 9:14 PM
103

Huh. I guess I never understood the phases of the moon until just now.

Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 9:20 PM
104

I always end up looking up the answers to the seasons and the moon phase questions. I know my "intuitive" answers are wrong too.

Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 10:11 PM
105

Huh, I actually got them right this time. More or less.

Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 10:37 PM
106

I can't figure out how the moon works either. The seasons are easy though.

Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-18-12 10:54 PM
107

I can't figure out how the moon works either.

Tide goes in, tide goes out.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 12:27 AM
108

I pretty much hate all trick questions, puzzles, puzzle-type-games [sudoku, crosswords, etc.]. Almost exactly as per Halford in 23. In fact, my initial response to the questions was near identical. Got the second and third basically instantly, wrong answer for the first, except that I thought about it for a few seconds and looked again. I probably wouldn't have done if I'd just been click radio buttons next to a set of answers on a web-form.

Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 12:37 AM
109

The third was the only one that took me more than three seconds, as it's a double trick question. I suspect the ability to answer these correlates pretty well with standardized test scores in general since they both reward awareness of authorial intent.

Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 1:07 AM
110

The third was the only one I was sure of immediately, partly because I'd never seen it before so I actually thought about it and worked backwards by halving. For the first, I thought "isn't the answer usually .35 and .65?" and then I realized the question was a bit different from whatever I was thinking of.

Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 1:30 AM
111

95. M-A-C-L-E-A-N is pronounced "Maclane"; M-A-C-F-A-R-L-A-N-E is pronounced "Macfarlan"; how do you pronounce M-A-C-H-I-N-E?

Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 1:57 AM
112

And now you can all do this test, which is marginally harder.

Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 3:56 AM
113

Isn't a problem with a non-mathematical version that it's going to be hard to make the question unambiguous enough to make the intuitive answer clearly wrong? The Linda is a feminist bank teller problem is sort of what's wanted, but that one has always sounded to me like people are misunderstanding the question: in ordinary speech, if you asked someone whether Linda were a feminist bank teller or just a bank teller, the second option would be implicitly understood to include "Not a feminist".

Writing really unambiguous non-mathematical questions that still have an intuitive answer that's undeniably wrong is going to be hard.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 4:25 AM
114

I got #2 no problem. Number 3 I didn't do, because I told myself that I need to write out an equation.

Number 1 I didn't get intuitively.

Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 4:46 AM
115

If you asked me 1 and 2 out of the blue, I would have gotten them wrong.

25 is funny. I particularly like the "He shot across the international dateline and the bullet hit him in the back of the head " answer. That should be the answer to all trick questions.

Most movies have endings less dramatically satisfying than 29.

Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 5:04 AM
116

||

Social Mobility and Family Name in Britain and Sweden 1800-2010

Not fucking much mobility. Nothing has helped in 200 years. Immoral as hell.

Liberty, fraternity, and equality begin in compulsory orphanages

Creches. That is all.

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Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 5:19 AM
117

OT: Two years ago at about this time, I came on here and asked what it would be like to have a three-year-old and Apo said that three-year-olds are assholes. We said yes, though, and got a surprisingly non-assholic Mara 10 days later. I just wanted to thank people here for the incredible amount of support and tolerance I've gotten over these past two years, which have been hard at times but probably more wonderful.

Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 5:19 AM
118

114: I believe that one's been asked in a bunch of different ways to try and clear up exactly that kind of problem. For example, splitting the sample into two groups, so nobody gets asked both questions.

Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 5:26 AM
119

re: 114.last

Our folk-physics allegedly fits quite well with medieval 'impetus' models, but not with post-Renaissance physics. So there's, I suppose, a potential source of tension between intuitions and world that you could use to generate puzzles. But they'd basically be testing knowledge of (pop-)physics.

Notoriously, our logical intuitions are often at odds with the answer formal logic* would give. There's lots of puzzles there, but that's well-trodden ground in psychology.

* of whatever appropriate variety

Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 5:27 AM
120

||

More 117, nut graphs

There are a few takeaways here. One is that family status could be more powerful than past measurements have suggested. Clark and Cummins note that their estimates suggest that family background has a much bigger impact on social status than previous studies have found. Another is that genetics likely has little to do with those results. Clark and Cummins studied surnames across eight generations. So, two people with the same surname in 1800 and 2011 would only share 0.58= 0.4 percent of their DNA.

And perhaps the most bracing revelation from the studies is that we haven't gotten that much better at promoting upward mobility. The 50 percent to 37 percent drop in the correlation between an English person's wealth and the wealth of his or her parents is encouraging, but much smaller than you'd expect over a 211-year period. At that rate, we won't wipe out inheritance-based inequality for another 600 years.

I suppose there is perhaps an alternative to creches as a means to make external conditions fair and equal for all children...communism, equalizing status of all parents. But not only is that close to as drastic a solution as creches, I consider it inadequate, because even if all families are economically equal, there would still be families with stronger traditions of reading, for instance.

So...creches

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Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 5:32 AM
121

So, either Thorn or bob is a monster.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 5:56 AM
122

122:Shorter, Lenin & soup kitchens. I vote myself as monster.

There may be multiple moralities, depending on the scope and hierarchy of communities one attaches to, moralities of the micro and the macro. We (almost) all believe so, that killing is judged differently in the bedroom and the battlefield.

That I attach to the bleeding crowd (however inadequately) at the expense of the needy friend is perhaps asocial and monstrous, but we all also have our own hypocrisies paying tribute to virtue.

And as a socialist/commie, I blame the systems and history, not individuals.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 6:11 AM
123

Crèches with padded wire-monkey mommies for all.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 6:19 AM
124

The link at 25 is fantastic.

Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 7:40 AM
125

Haven't some of the questions at 25 been discussed here before? The thing that always strikes me about them is how many of them are really morbid. Can't we have more cheerful brain teasers?

The first one doesn't sound familiar and it's really giving me a headache.

Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 7:48 AM
126

Okay. 2 is easy enough. And I get the equation in 1, but then I try to check my work.

A bat is \$1.00 and a ball is .05. 1+.05 does not equal 1.1. What am I missing?

Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 7:49 AM
127

Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 7:51 AM
128

A bat is \$1.00 and a ball is .05. 1+.05 does not equal 1.1. What am I missing?

A ball is five cents.
The bat is one dollar MORE than the ball, so \$1.05.

Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 7:51 AM
129

129: Come to think, isn't this pretty much your area? You've asked before for people to come up with examples from literature where the author used the reader's intuition to mislead, or something like that.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 7:53 AM
130

Well, right next door to my area, anyway. Yep!

Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 7:55 AM
131

128: Yeah, it took me a bit to figure that out. I think that's the real test.

Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 7:56 AM
132

128. Yes, it helps if you've encountered "training" sites at work that use that trick. I've been reinterpreting the world in terms of Stingray all day.

Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 8:06 AM
133

Apo said that three-year-olds are assholes.

Children do tend to reflect their environment.

Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 8:13 AM
134

129: yes, that part makes sense. So then, how does a bat and a ball cost \$1.10?

Posted by: BG | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 8:55 AM
135

And as long as we're talking about kids, here's an OT bleg:

Any suggestions for a card or board game for a 7-year-old who's pretty good at strategic thinking but has limited patience?

She likes Labyrinth for example, but wants to stop playing or change the rules if she's not picking up the treasures quickly enough.

(Her impatience and poor impulse control are other issues over which I, alas, have little influence.)

Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 8:57 AM
136

135: 5 cents plus one dollar and five cents is one dollar and ten cents.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:01 AM
137

135. A bat is \$1.05 and a ball is \$0.05. 1.05 - 0.05 = 1.00 (QED); 1.05 + 0.05 = 1.10.

Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:02 AM
138

Am I going to lose points for not showing all my work?

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:04 AM
139

I'm having my own problem with problem three in the quiz from 113. Why are you only £10 worse off?

Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:05 AM
140

135: (Multiply pwned, but already typed up, so here goes...)

The total cost of the bat and the ball together is \$1.10, and the bat costs one dollar more than the ball does. So the cost of the ball is x, and the cost of the bat is (x + \$1). So:

2x + \$1 = \$1.10.
2x = \$0.10
x = \$0.05 = the cost of the ball
x + \$1 = \$1.05 = the cost of the bat

Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:06 AM
141

Any suggestions for a card or board game for a 7-year-old who's pretty good at strategic thinking but has limited patience?

Maybe some of the simpler Reiner Knizia games? His card based bidding games (eg Money, High Society) can be very quick to play.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:07 AM
142

Expressed loosely, being smart makes women patient and makes men take more risks.

but this makes total intuitive sense. Accords with my experience completely. Basically, when men are smart they try to use their brains as a tool for being more alpha and competitive -- I AM SMART NOW I GET TO BE PATRONIZING AND MANSPLAIN EVERYTHING AND HOPEFULLY MEN WILL FEAR ME AND WOMEN WILL SLEEP WITH ME. Men who are in geeky subgroups are the worst about this, perhaps because they did not have enough other avenues to status in their formative years.

When women are smart they can think of more reasons why their first thought is wrong so they wait to speak more, makes them appear more patient. This is the effect smartness would have on you if you were less concerned about earning social status by being the first person to pop in with the 'right' answer. (Or if you were in a gender that did not gain social status by aggressively shutting other people up by using your brains).

I can't be the only person who has observed this set of phenomena.

"HERE ARE MY POORLY THOUGHT OUT OBJECTIONS TO THIS SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH. PROVE ME WRONG" which is kind of an internet thing that I generally dislike, at least when I'm being sincere.

I think this is a great use of the internet. What, are you going to go out and earn a phd before commenting in a blog? It's great to have a forum where generalists can learn stuff by asking specialists obvious questions. Also, the soft 'sciences' often assume away very basic foundational questions in order to use their methods. E.g. if you want to claim external validity for social or psychological experiments conducted in a lab environment, or extrapolate from the results of administered pen-and-paper tests, you *have* to downplay the importance of context.

Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:08 AM
143

Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:09 AM
144

142: Another idea - Ticket To Ride. Games are relatively short, but more importantly they involve several clear short term goals, so she'll always be achieving something, or on the verge of doing so anyway.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:10 AM
145

136.--Settlers of Catan!

Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:13 AM
146

136. Liar dice.

Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:13 AM
147

It's great to have a forum where generalists can learn stuff by asking specialists obvious questions.

This isn't quite the dynamic I thought Halford was talking about. Asking honest questions is one thing, playing gotcha and assuming that the specialist hasn't considered the thing you came up with in 3 minutes is another.

Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:14 AM
148

144: Ah, I see. I didn't assume you could skip your £20 payment the last month.

Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:15 AM
149

148: Yeah, the sort of thing you see with climate change denialists. Economists, however, shouldn't be given any presumption of knowlege.

Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:18 AM
150

149. You don't pay the premium for the month in which you claim., not necessarily the last month. I think the way it's presented is a bit dodgy, but I worked it out on the basis that any way you spin it you're worse off, and that was the only way to make it come out at £10-.

Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:20 AM
151

When I asked a similar question of snark not too long ago, he suggested Forbidden Island, which was a big, big hit.

Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:20 AM
152

152 to Kraab's 136.

Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:20 AM
153

but I worked it out on the basis that any way you spin it you're worse off, and that was the only way to make it come out at £10-

That was my reasoning as well. Poorly written question.

Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:22 AM
154

136.--Settlers of Catan!

Catan might not be great for an impatient child given the ease with which you can be frustrated in your road/city building efforts. Not to mention the randomness of the dice. Nothing more annoying than needing just one brick (or whatever) and never getting the roll and nobody wanting to trade with you.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:26 AM
155

121

... Another is that genetics likely has little to do with those results. Clark and Cummins studied surnames across eight generations. So, two people with the same surname in 1800 and 2011 would only share 0.58= 0.4 percent of their DNA.

This is ignoring associative mating.

Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:27 AM
156

142: Bidding games sound like a possibility. I'll check those out.

Ticket to Ride I actually find kind of tedious (though that may be that the person we play it with most often ALWAYS wins).

Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:35 AM
157

152: Forbidden Island is a big hit in our house. And its cooperative!

Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:35 AM
158

re: 151 and 154

Yeah, I did it sort of backwards. Worked out I'd be worse off, as £210 always less than £240, and then worked out why it'd only be £10 worst off. 'Ah, I wouldn't pay in the month I claimed' but it is poorly written.

Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:38 AM
159

Thanks all. I had done the algebra right, but my eyes skipped over some text. I was working on the assumption that a bar was \$1.00 AND \$1.00 more than a ball which isn't what the problem said.

Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:42 AM
160

Bat, although a bar which cost only \$1.00 would be kind of neat.

Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:45 AM
161

Kind of neat unless it was soap.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:46 AM
162

152: We have Forbidden Island, which she likes ok. (I like it a lot.) It's the patience thing again; she sees a good move but usually doesn't want to take the time to look at alternatives. It means we're more likely to lose, which is fine, but it also really cuts down on the cooperative aspect.

I do think cooperative games are a good option with her, though.

(Pandemic is another good cooperative game from the same company, but too complicated for young kids.)

Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:51 AM
163

Air hockey is a board game. The board just has some small holes in it.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:54 AM
164

163: We just got Pandemic for CA's nephews and lost every time on the baby level. (CA and his brother have also just introduced those kids to D&D. The older one brought his new Monster Manual to hockey practice. Oh dear.)

Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 9:58 AM
165

more praise for the link at 25

Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 10:00 AM
166

I noticed the lack of assortative mating in Clark and Cummins too. Now, one of the reasons you'd get assortative mating is money marrying money (with people as proxies), which confounds the results again, but perhaps could be teased out as the process. Hm.

Games: A seven-year-old might be just the age for _Lord of the Fries_ and _Give Me the Brain_, and I like them too, so fun for adults? (thinking) I'm pretty sure they aren't naughty. Cheapass Games are pretty reliable, I find. _The Very Clever Pipe Game_ is my favorite, check that out too.

Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 10:00 AM
167

I know a kid in that age range who really likes Fluxx.

Posted by: Stranded in Lubbock | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 10:01 AM
168

Which strategy do you take in the Pipe Game, clew?

Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 10:05 AM
169

Settlers of Caftan is nice if the kid is into loose clothing.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 10:06 AM
170

Shorter cynical PGD's 143: Smart men have worked out that the world is stacked in their favor, smart women that it's stacked against. Now, *that* test I would *really* like to see crossed with high & low SES and high & low charm.

When I am getting a PhD rather than commenting on blogs, I find that framing a question as "How did you rule out effect X?" works very nicely whether the speaker did or didn't rule it out, and even if X has been known to be a false folk belief for years.

Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 10:12 AM
171

142: Bidding games sound like a possibility. I'll check those out.

As a poker player, I find Money in particular to be a genius piece of game design, though it's long term appeal may be limited. Basically you're all dealt a hand of cards, where the suits are "currencies" with face values from 10 to, I think, 100. The aim, basically, is to collect sets of the same value in the same currency, and more generally to get as many cards of a given currency as you can. Each turn, two sets of four cards are turned over in the middle, and you take turns to bid on them with your own cards. The highest bidder takes the set they want and replaces it with their bid. Then the next highest makes the same choice, and so on. The genius is that, unlike betting in poker, the stuff you're bidding with is also the stuff you're bidding for. If you over-bid on one turn you can spoil your chances later even though you won. And you may have to break up a set to get a higher value one, or shift out of one currency when you realise that other people are going for it too.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 10:14 AM
172

163: Pandemic's alright, but I always get the feeling that it's really just a single-player game that they added turn-taking to. That may not hold true if you have someone who's very impatient or doesn't want to form a consensus.

Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 10:14 AM
173

173 to 165, not 163.

Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 10:16 AM
174

More generally, if you've got the time, I'd strongly suggest watching some of Wil Wheaton's newish Youtube series, Tabletop. They've been showcasing some great games, co-op and competitive, and you get a really good sense of how they play out and the level of complexity.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 10:16 AM
175

Sleeping queens is a pretty fun game:

http://www.amazon.com/Gamewright-230-Sleeping-Queens/dp/B0009XBY3A/ref=pd_sim_t_3

Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 10:16 AM
176

163: Pandemic's alright, but I always get the feeling that it's really just a single-player game that they added turn-taking to. That may not hold true if you have someone who's very impatient or doesn't want to form a consensus.

Very true. There's a zombie-themed reskin of Pandemic on iOS and it plays just fine single player.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 10:17 AM
177

Asking honest questions is one thing, playing gotcha and assuming that the specialist hasn't considered the thing you came up with in 3 minutes is another.

The other day, I finally got around to reading the whole paper from Haidt that we discussed in this thread here, and reading the whole thing really reinforced my 3-minutes-to-form opinion that it was shoddy work.

But I'm not a social scientist, and really have no other standing to complain. I find it disturbing to ridicule the work of a sincere professional whose objective qualifications are so superior to mine, but holy shit this thing is a piece of crap.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 10:24 AM
178

163: Agreed. If you don't like talking through the moves, there's no point to having multiple players.

Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 11:00 AM
179

Agreed. If you don't like talking through the moves, there's no point to having multiple players.

Maybe it's a case of familiarity breeding contempt: once my wife and I got a feel of what sort of solutions worked in Pandemic, we usually wouldn't have to talk too much. But when we'd play with someone else, it'd be frustrating to let them in on our groupthink.

I think I tend to enjoy cooperative games of that sort when I play them less. Ghost Stories was a lot of fun and led to some nail-biting endings, but I've only played it twice.

Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 11:29 AM
180

148 was the point I was making. Questioning is one thing, but there's a tendency I've found on the internet to demand explanations and then get quite arrogant if the questioner can't be satisfied with an explanation that fits in a two-paragraph blog comment.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 11:33 AM
181

114: Oh, here it is, from that linked Wikipedia article:

Many variations in wording of the Linda problem were studied by Tversky and Kahneman.[3] If the first option is changed to obey conversational relevance, i.e., "Linda is a bank teller whether or not she is active in the feminist movement" the effect is decreased, but the majority (57%) of the respondents still commit the conjunction error. If the probability is changed to frequency format (see debiasing section below) the effect is reduced or eliminated.

There's support elsewhere for the proposition that that people understand relative frequencies better in terms of counts than in terms of percentages. Many of the standard Bayesian updating tests (e.g. the medical condition

Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 1:46 PM
182

The takeaway from which is that to communicate statistics effectively to even a highly educated audience with good quantitative skills (e.g. doctors), talk in terms of whole-number relative frequencies whenever possible.

Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 1:48 PM
183

Kraab, I recently gave my 7 year old niece Catan: Junior. It has a simpler structure that Settlers and it has pirates! It was a hit with her and with her father. (He loves Settlers, so I figured he'd like this too.)

Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10-19-12 5:55 PM
184

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I don't want to be a total Debbie Downer in the active, somewhat silly thread, so I'm commenting here that I am feeling sad tonight. Today is the 2nd anniversary of the birth of my friend's baby who died a week later. We were going to go to a big cultural event together tonight, one that promised a lot of potential for catharsis, but then she couldn't go, but it came to pass this afternoon that she *could* go, but I didn't get her message about it until a little while ago, when it was already too late. I realize that this isn't my fault, just one of those plans-that-don't-materialize deals so common in our age of cell phones, but I still feel bad that I'm not there with her. Drag.
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Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-20-12 5:40 PM
185

Sorry to hear that, Nat. Sounds like you're a good friend, either way.

Posted by: Stranded in Lubbock | Link to this comment | 10-20-12 6:12 PM