How to read a question?

Philosophical, mathematical and computational logic, linguistics, formal argument, game theory, fallacies, paradoxes, puzzles and other related issues.

How to read a question?

Postby BadgerJelly on August 15th, 2017, 5:32 am 

I have been playing around with QI tests and puzzles lately and noticed I often find myself misreading the questions or seeing them as lacking in clarity often leaving me thinking I could easily answer the question in two different ways (this is the case in "odd one out" questions)

Example

Which one is the odd one out:

L T A S H

I said "A" because it is a vowel, but they said "incorrect" because their answer was "S" because it was not made of straight lines. My fault was most likely not bothering to read the intro to that section of questions which no doubt pointed out a certain feature they were testing (probably special awareness?)

What do you do to stop yourself from assuming what the questioning is asking for. Considering we find it very difficult to see something anew for a second time what do you do prior to reading the questioning to set yourself up to be open to many interpretations?
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Re: How to read a question?

Postby Serpent on August 15th, 2017, 9:20 am 

I try to guess what the test-maker was thinking. Sometimes you get a pretty good sense of their mind-set from the other questions. Even if the test was made by a committee, questions of the same type are all by one member, so you get clues.

This, of course, is the biggest problem with multiple choice tests of any kind. You have to choose A B C or D, even if they're all wrong, even if they're all right, even if two of them are right.
In your example, L would also be correct, because it can't be flipped and look the same.

Be interesting to administer such tests in essay form: Which did you choose and why?
But then of course, a real person would have to read and evaluate the answer sheets - awake - and that's time-consuming.
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Re: How to read a question?

Postby Braininvat on August 15th, 2017, 10:11 am 

"As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives...."

The classic example of a puzzle where the wording requires your close attention.
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Re: How to read a question?

Postby BadgerJelly on August 15th, 2017, 10:24 am 

I didn't see that Serpent! What interests me is if you see one difference then you'll stop looking for other differences, you'll be blinded by what seems like the obvious difference.

Biv -

I have always been terrible for reading questions. I remember in a physics class I once spent a long time trying to figure out a problem much harder than the one posed!
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Re: How to read a question?

Postby Serpent on August 15th, 2017, 2:33 pm 

BadgerJelly » August 15th, 2017, 9:24 am wrote:I didn't see that Serpent! What interests me is if you see one difference then you'll stop looking for other differences, you'll be blinded by what seems like the obvious difference.

You pretty much have to: these things are always on a time limit. You're always under pressure to answer quickly and move on. They're also done in strict isolation; can't ask for clarification; can't complain.

That's why I think it would be interesting to dissect one or more such tests in a classroom, and see how many different ways students read the questions, and see the diagrams, and what they think about the answers given by other students.
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Re: How to read a question?

Postby someguy1 on August 15th, 2017, 3:34 pm 

BadgerJelly » August 15th, 2017, 3:32 am wrote:I have been playing around with QI tests


IQ tests?

BadgerJelly » August 15th, 2017, 3:32 am wrote:(probably special awareness?)


Spacial awareness?

Touch of dyslexia perhaps?
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Re: How to read a question?

Postby Braininvat on August 15th, 2017, 5:54 pm 

SPATIAL.

--- best regards,

Paul Brainvat
Candidate, Pedant of the Year
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Re: How to read a question?

Postby Serpent on August 15th, 2017, 6:26 pm 

A special awareness or perception of pattern; the ability to discern subtle differences.
SPECIAL

Cheers -
Serpent - vice pedant
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Re: How to read a question?

Postby BadgerJelly on August 20th, 2017, 11:25 am 

I always do that kind of thing. No doubt you've noticed in many of my other posts? Perfect example of the habits of the brain and the fingers! I've often caught myself mid-act typing a word I know is wrong as I am doing so. Very strange thing.

The subtler examples I imagine everyone suffers from, such as "your" and "you're", "its" and "it's". I guess everyone has this kind of cross-over to some degree? "wail" and "whale", "bean" and "been", and the thorn in my side ... "bear" and "bare"!

Spatial has a less common spelling that I prefer to use, "special". HAHA!! I did it again!! The irony! XD haha!! I meant "Spacial"
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Re: How to read a question?

Postby Serpent on August 20th, 2017, 12:12 pm 

BadgerJelly » August 20th, 2017, 10:25 am wrote:The subtler examples I imagine everyone suffers from, such as "your" and "you're", "its" and "it's". I guess everyone has this kind of cross-over to some degree?

That's rampant now, as are to and too, they're, their and there. Some of it is down to expecting the spellchecker to do one's due diligence; some is simply that even the professional purveyors of information are slipshod of both grammar and vocabulary, so that we constantly see incorrect usage in material that we are conditioned to trust.

"wail" and "whale", "bean" and "been", and the thorn in my side ... "bear" and "bare"!

Now, that suggests to me an aspect of your perception. Perhaps you respond to language more by sound than sight. Maybe you have an aptitude for song lyrics.

Sometimes the "wrong" word isn't wrong at all - but rather, suggestive, subversive, challenging, humorous or poetic.
(Never apologize, never explain!! Bluff, bluster, brazen it out, double down....
.... eh, maybe not)
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Re: How to read a question?

Postby BadgerJelly on August 20th, 2017, 12:54 pm 

I do mess about with homophones and homographs in poetry a lot. Love word play and always have. I guess it may be down to my "sloppy" nature or just that in my younger days I would spend much more time thinking about certain subjects than studying them.

Example:

I see slipshod (something I've not heard for a while sadly) and I fall in love with it. Cannot help go to play and think about changing it to "shipshod" and developing a whole metaphor based around the seafaring with humanity skiing on the back of Neptune wearing/wearing ships for water skis.
I HATE spell checkers because they tend to constantly switch to US settings no matter what I do and it drives me mad! Those bloody zeds! AARRGHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Re: How to read a question?

Postby Serpent on August 20th, 2017, 4:47 pm 

I like zeds. Even zees. I never exchange one in a Scrabble game, no matter how long I have to hang onto it waiting for an opportunity to make a word.
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