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For the types of testing that he's doing, I suspect he's measuring boredom more than anything else, especially since he's testing largely in a university setting. Intelligent people are accustomed to being bored with endless entry-level evaluation exams, and at first glance this looks like it's just one more of them. And because the stakes here are so low (essentially zero), lots of people will just fly through without really reading and analyzing the question.

What he's seeing isn't something new, it's something so old that it's part of popular culture: the absent-minded professor syndrome. It's the stereotype of the brilliant physicist forgets what he's supposed to buy at the supermarket because he's thinking about their quantum properties. Analytic people are horrible at things that don't interest them.

Pay the students $50 for each correct answer, and there's not a doubt in my mind that the results will be the complete opposite of what he's seeing now.




Agreed. Perhaps the "smart" people are taking shortcuts for brainteaser questions. But when it comes down to it smart people are probably smart cuz they put in the effort to sit down and think about the problem at hand at some point. Give an incentive (grades, job performance, $50), and you're right, they'll probably get the right answer.


I also agree with your comment. I did both questions as fast as I could and only got the first wrong and the second right. It reminded me of a brilliant Civil Engineering professor I once had who was showing us his notes on the projector (the kind with the light bulb and magnifying glass over head) and someone asked him if he could turn off the lights. The student meant the lights, as in the classroom lights so he could see the projection better. The professor turned off the projector instead :)


I saw a pound coin and a 10p coin (UK) and got the first one wrong, I saw a bar graph with a lot of doubling bars, and saw the long history of doubling and got the second one right. I saw the money by denomination, and not as a quantity perhaps. Interesting.


Ok, so I posed both questions to my wife, and she answered both correctly, only pausing about 2 to 3 seconds before answering both. She then said the questions are stupid and are too elementary. Maybe this study is not foolproof and is only there to make people like me feel better about not being able to answer simple math questions better :P

Basically, once again, I've learned that my wife is smarter than me and that these studies should be taken with a grain of salt.

P.S. She is not a math person nor is she a tech person.


Just a sec.. where are you seeing that?


Sorry, I was describing the visual images I get when solving problems like this, the article is pure text.


Hmmm. Interesting that you point that out. I think if we were presented with a math formula (symbols), we'd have aced it.

I think the reason why my wife did it so fast is because it was fed to her as text only - in fact, I just read it to her. She's a lawyer and she's much better at interpreting text than most people.


> Pay the students $50 for each correct answer, and there's not a doubt in my mind that the results will be the complete opposite of what he's seeing now.

You've never tried tutoring kids who get kickbacks for good scores then. Absolute fucking nightmare. Motivation to study must come from within for it to be successful in any way.


Why's that? What makes it a nightmare?


The same reason why having a girlfriend that fucks you for your wallet makes it a nightmare. Sell-outs are never good work.




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