## How Dumb Are You?

I recently purchased the book How Smart Are You? Test Your IQ for the same reason that I always purchase books like this — often, there are one or two gems buried amid a pile of mundane, mind-numbing questions.

• I found it on the discount table at Barnes and Noble.
• There is a picture of a wise, all-knowing owl on the front cover. (Ooh, an owl! I feel smart already!)
• The tag line on the cover reads, “Calculate Your IQ in Minutes,” yet the Introduction states, “Your scores will not reflect your actual intelligence.”

When it comes to measuring your IQ using this book, the following scale will be more effective than anything you’ll find between the covers:

 Did You Buy this Book? IQ Score Bought < 75 Didn’t > 125

The book contains 50 quizzes with 10 questions each. Each question is worth 16.5 points, so your IQ is found by multiplying the number correct on a given quiz by 16.5.

I hate to deliver the bad news.
The results of your IQ test have come back negative.

Sadly, there were no gems among the 500 questions in the book. (Honestly, I found it more difficult to calculate my score than to answer most of the questions.) Yet there were quite a few duds. And that’s where we’ll start today’s story.

One question asked the reader to identify the next number in the series:

5, 13, 21, 29, 37, 44, …

You may notice that 5 + 8 = 13, 13 + 8 = 21, and 21 + 8 = 29, so you might think that the rule is “add 8.” But 37 + 8 ≠ 44, so the pattern fails. You don’t even need to check the addition, though; since the first term is odd and the common difference is even, all terms must be odd. The number 44 should have stuck out like a sore thumb to any editor worth his salt. Yet that did not stop the author from listing 44 + 8 = 52 as the correct answer.

A high school has 40 students in its senior class. Forty percent of the seniors are taking physics, 30 percent are taking chemistry, and 10 percent are taking neither. How many seniors are taking neither physics or chemistry? (Ed. note: emphasis added.)

You might first think that 4 students are taking neither physics nor chemistry (nevermind that the problem used or instead of nor), since the problem says that 10% are taking neither, and 10% of 40 is 4. Upon seeing the correct answer listed as 16 students, you might then think, “What the f**k?” And that would be a justifiable reaction. I suspect that this was meant to be one of those questions where the numbers in the three groups adds to more than 100%, so the overlap becomes important, but this problem is an epic fail as presented.

Some people should have to pass an IQ test
to drive or reproduce. Fail the test,
you get birth control and a bus pass.

A little later, on a quiz titled “Unscramble the Letters I,” readers were directed to unscramble the letters

delif

to create an English word or name.

The Internet Anagram Server says that there are three: field, filed, flied. Finding one of them without the Internet seems like a reasonable challenge. But within the book, the problem is presented as a multiple-choice question:Oh, my. Anyone smart enough to read a book would see immediately that fled doesn’t have enough letters, flies has an s instead of the requisite d, and delight has too many letters. How many people have been misled by this quiz, scoring a 165 and then thinking that they were Harvard material?

My favorite in this section, though, was the scrambled-letter collection

lydarceptt

which I immediately recognized to be pterodactyl, but then thought, “No, wait, there’s no o.” Yet pterodactyl was the only reasonable option among the four answer choices (Pericles, lethargic, pterodactyl, and pictogram), so I ignored the omission and collected another perfect score of 165. (Yay, me!)

As I said above, there were no gems, but I’ll end with the only problem in the entire book that I even mildly enjoyed:

A car traveled 281 miles in 4 hours and 41 minutes. What was the car’s average speed in miles per hour?

This one was also presented as a multiple-choice question, but it’s more fun to solve without the options. Have at it.

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• 1. Ian  |  March 2, 2016 at 6:12 pm

We use kilometres, so this is a tricky one (to the nearest…)

Wow. One of the best blogs. Combines humor with math….
I too like writing humorous mathematical posts at Antarctica Daily a fictional newspaper reminding the world to smile with innocence.
I am sure you will like this and this.

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

## MJ4MF (offline version)

Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, NCTM, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and other purveyors of exceptional literature.