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November 24, 2008 04:23 PM UTC

Monday Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

“It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.”

–Justice Louis Brandeis


62 thoughts on “Monday Open Thread

    1. I missed two, but I had to reread some of the questions, since some of the answers are a little tricky. I think I would have done a lot worse if I’d been asked to do a multiple choice test over the phone.

      This was a strange question to ask.

      “Free markets typically secure more economic prosperity than government’s centralized planning because…”

      And the final report was pretty dishonest.

      Officeholders and non-officeholders find it equally difficult to identify the three branches of government. Only 49% of each group can name the legislative, executive, and judicial.

      Nobody was asked to name the branches, but they were asked a multiple choice question where that was one of the answers. Another one was “federal, state, and local,” which is a more correct answer (the question didn’t specify federal government, and therefore the question only has meaning to the extent that “three branches” triggers a memory you wouldn’t otherwise have had).

      Other questions are equally problematic. The test was apparently written by B+ history students who think they’re smarter than they are.

      1. and I’m not sure I completely agree with any of the choices. Was pretty surprised that I only missed one but I have always had a good feel for multiple choice.  

      2. the only context in which I’ve ever heard the phrase “three branches of government” is the context of the federal government as set forth in our constitution.  But they should have specified.  

        1. Quizzes like this have to be a little nonspecific at times so that people who really don’t know have a chance of guessing incorrectly. If they had said, what are the three branches of FEDERAL government, then they couldn’t have given Local, State, and Federal as a choice; and I’m sure there are people who think that those are the three branches.

          1. It’s okay. Sniff, sniff. My feelings are hurt at the knowledge that I’m a dimwit…sniff, sniff.

            I’ll probably just take droll’s advice, switch parties and run against Markey in 2010. My future awaits me…

      1. I missed #32 and was rewarded with an outrageously precise score of 96.97%.

        Some of the economic questions … I just don’t see how they are a measure of “civic literacy.” And yet these made up nearly 1/3 of the “quiz.”

        (I also have a problem with reporting too many significant digits in the scores. This makes my BS detectors go off. Why not just report my score as 97%? Do the authors of this quiz really think that they can measure “civic literacy” to four significant figures?)

        1. It drives me nuts.

          “Polls show that approximately 32.88 percent….”

          Or, they’ll use the same precision when reporting on something very vague and subjective.

          I blame the our educational system that has critical thinking component.  One of my favorites, about a year ago.  The reporter was in Africa reporting on the race problems. “Well, amongst the African-Americans here…..” What a maroon.  

      1. I was surprised at some I got right – I really wasn’t sure, just picked the one that sounded right.

        Still, it says that 30/33 = 90.91% while the average score for the month is 78.0%, so I don’t feel bad.

    2. And should have known better on one of them.

      I find it hard to believe that the survey found such horrid results; the average score posted on their site is 78% for November, though it was probably shifted upwards significantly since Kos (and probably other sites) put it up yesterday – nothing like a horde of policy/civics wonks to skew the results.

    3. Given who is administering the test, ISI is one of the evolution denying groups who wants to purge all liberal ideas from college, I rather suspect they carefully selected their ‘sample’ to give them the anti-government results they wanted.

      1. that while they cite statistics among people who have or haven’t held elected office, they never asked me if I’d held elected office.  So they appear to do the “elected office” surveys differently, which is very suspicious.

        1. They commissioned a survey, which I assume means they asked people by telephone. Thus the respondents didnВґt have the advantage we discussed above of eliminating options like itВґs an SAT. Much more pressure, explaining the much lower scores.

          It was during the survey that they asked about elected office.

          On the whole, despite the seeming sophistication of the methodology, this crap is no more useful than Jay LenoВґs or Howard SternВґs ВЁLetВґs find stupid people who canВґt answer simple questions.ВЁ

          I canВґt imagine what purpose it could possibly serve. Maybe to make people feel better about themselves? ВЁHey, IВґm smarter than 70% of the public!ВЁ

    4. Alright I got 31/33 or 93.94%. The sad part the average score for Nov. 78% ouch!

      So I missed 1 I had no idea of the answer (an economics question) and 1 that I misread the answer, stupid me.

      All in all something fun for a Monday morning.

      1. That this test is open to anyone on the internet.  Assume 1000 people take the test and the people trying their best get an average of three wrong or 90.9%. How many jokers purposefully marking all of them wrong would it take to bring the average down to 78%? The answer is 142, or about 14%.

        Is that the whole answer? No. There are probably some astoundingly ill informed people on the internet. But I think there are more than a few people who might have their thumbs on the scale too.

  1. i agree that some of the questions/answers were a bit tricky.

    i also missed one because i rushed the answer.  had I reread the question and the optional answers i would have gotten one more correct.

    I flat missed the one about Socrates, et al.

    I think my civics is okay, but certainly my Philosophy 101 class from 40 years ago is a very dim memory.

    1. I don’t know crap about Socrates and the gang, but if you have five options, and three are about morality, then the answer involves morality. Throw two away.

      Now you have two options that are more or less saying the same thing, and one option that says something different. Both similar options must be incorrect.

      Now you have the right answer.

      Amazing how well you can do on your SATs once you know this stuff (without knowing anything else), which is why rich kids do better on that sort of thing.

      1. This is probably why I did better on my SATs than a friend who went on to become a neurologist and was clearly both lots smarter and a much better student than I was.  She was lost if she didn’t actually know the right answer.  

        I could do pretty well with guesses based on assumptions such as you describe, sxp. However in my day nobody I knew took any  pre-SAT training.  I just had an instinct for this sort of thing.  It’s also well to be wary of emphatic extremes like “always” and “never” on multiple choice.  

        Of course that says something about the relevance of tests like SATs and IQ as measures of intelligence and/or knowledge.  Some of us score higher just because we have a better feel for the tricks of the multiple choice trade.  

        1. It’s hard to believe that with all the pre-SAT classes available now, the opportunity to take it over and raise your score, and the lowering of the bar some years ago, kids are still winding up with the scores we did.

          It’s pretty sad.  

          1. It couldn’t be the answers referencing Christianity and evolution since three of the four were classical pre-Christian (I knew that much about who these guys were even if I couldn’t remember much about what any of them said specifically) and all were around long before the theory of evolution.  Since neither Christians like Aquinas nor classical philosophers were big on moral relativity,  that just left the one answer; that there are basic unchanging truths to which we have access. Voila!

      2. I would have likely missed about 30% if I had had to come up with a short answer without the hints available with MC. I have excelled at MC for as long as I can remember.

        The first 10 questions I knew the answers without any hints. True for a smattering of the remaining 23. However, for about 8 questions I identified the correct answer once I saw it as an option. But I could have missed one of these had I not reread the question. And then for about another 8 I figured out the correct answer by eliminating options based on test-taking skills, not subject knowledge.

        1. which is why BushВґs NCLB was so stupid. Standardized multiple-choice tests are really good at weeding out people who have not done test prep, not so much at finding out how much people know or how successful they will be.

          As BlueCat mentioned (and I had the same experience), you can be really good at taking tests but not at all good at basic skills needed for jobs.

          Except I did learn one thing from school: how to design a multiple-choice test that you cannot cheat your way through.  

  2. Facing an increasingly ominous economic outlook, President-elect Barack Obama and other Democrats are rapidly ratcheting up plans for a massive fiscal stimulus program that could total as much as $700 billion over the next two years.

    That amount, more than the nation has spent over the past six years in Iraq, would rival the sum Congress committed last month to rescuing the country’s financial system. It would also be one of the biggest public spending programs aimed at jolting the economy since President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.


      1. After Iraq, we have a bunch of dead bodies to bury, and you need undertakers, gravediggers, and sometimes autopsy specialists as well. Local deathoconomy booms.

        How many dead bodies will infrastructure investment produce? Even in the best-case scenario, not that many.

        That’s right, hope you’ve learned YOUR Bushonomics lesson.

        1. of the things that kill.  Factories were busy.

          That said, I think you’re underestimating the possibilities of the infrastructure investments body count.  If it gets screwed up enough, we’ll all strangle the luckless person sitting next to us.  Thank you, Bush, for saving so many lives.

  3. Yesterday’s paper (Sarasota) had a story about guys having a secret camping spot down in Charlotte County.  All under 26.  Washing clothes in creek water, no soap. Share blades when they can.  One guy said that he has walked and applied to every place in North Port. He rattles off store names. Some he finds out that he already applied.

    No homeless shelter in that town and a long bus ride to Sarasota.  

    Foreclosures here still on the uptick.  A friend that owns a restaurant needed a new cook.  Usually she gets a few apps with a lot of drug users and criminals.  Now she had 60 including white collar professionals.  

      1. Great reference.

        The Gleaners

        There’s an interesting French documentary called The Gleaners and I. I wasn’t familiar with the term until I saw it. Gleaners, as depicted above, weren’t “harvesting” a field; they were poor people picking over the field for food after the harvest had already taken place, as allowed by French law:

        The official subject of this film is gleaning, the act of gathering remnants of crops from a field after the harvest. As Varda demonstrates, people can be discovered throughout the French countryside gleaning everything from potatoes to grapes, apples to oysters, much as they did hundreds of years ago (though no longer in organised groups). More figuratively, there are also urban gleaners who salvage scraps from bins, appliances from the side of the road, or vegetables from stalls after the markets have closed. And then there’s Varda herself, a gleaner of images, driving around France with a digital camera and a tiny crew (at times, she wields a smaller camera herself, permitting an even greater degree of intimacy).

        1. Landowners were forbidden to get every scrap out of the fields.  Ruth, an ancestor of Jesus, was gleaning in the fields with her mother-in-law when Boaz spotted her and the rest is history, as they say.  

  4. Outgoing Gov Ruth Ann Minner announced former Biden CoS Ted Kaufman as the next Senator from DE.

    This is kinda interesting because, one, she’s picking Kaufman over her Lt. Gov (and loser of the gubernatorial primary earlier this year) and, two, if there is any blowback over her just appointing a placeholder so mini Biden (Beau) can run in 2 years it won’t hurt her because she’s gone in 2 months.

    Nicely done…

  5. Did anyone else choose Geithner as their Treasury Sec in the super fun “mane your own cabinet” thread Haners posted a while back?

    He’s the only one I got “right.”  Yay for me.  🙂

  6. I don’t know about you, but I’m crushed, CRUSHED I say, over the news that Hannity & Colmes are breaking up after 12 years.  🙂

    Seriously, I didn’t even realize that awful show was still on.  Hopefully Faux News can find an equally spineless DINO to let Hannity beat-up on…

  7. Newt Gingrich’s lesbian sister Candace sounds off:

    Dear Newt,

    I recently had the displeasure of watching you bash the protestors of the Prop 8 marriage ban to Bill O’Reilly on FOX News. I must say, after years of watching you build your career by stirring up the fears and prejudices of the far right, I feel compelled to use the words of your idol, Ronald Reagan, “There you go, again.”…

    Then again, we’ve seen these tactics before. We know how much the right likes to play political and cultural hardball, and then turn around and accuse us of lashing out first. You give a pass to a religious group — one that looks down upon minorities and women — when they use their money and membership roles to roll back the rights of others, and then you label us “fascists” when we fight back. You belittle the relationships of gay and lesbian couples, and yet somehow neglect to explain who anointed you the protector of “traditional” marriage. And, of course, you’ve also mastered taking the foolish actions of a few people and then indicting an entire population based on those mistakes. I fail to see how any of these patterns coincide with the values of “historic Christianity” you claim to champion.

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