Big Brother Knows My Sons Are Smarter Than I Am
While pointing and clicking, I stumbled upon an online quiz, Can We Guess Your Education Level? Intrigued, I tolerated the 70‑question multiple-choice quiz to see if they could make an accurate prediction. Sure enough, they correctly declared, “It looks like you’re a master with that Master’s Degree.”
How did they know?
The optimist in me thinks they use some incredible adaptive engine to figure out exactly what I know and what I don’t, and then they use that information with a correlation of what people at various educational levels know. Sounds plausible, right?
But the pessimist in me was pretty sure they just mined info from my LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, and they likely knew the answer before I responded to a single question.
So, I tested my theory. I took the quiz a second time and deliberately missed a bunch of questions. When I finished, I scored only 21%, and they told me, “It appears that you completed high school, and then graduated from the School of Life.”
Okay, so it is at least based on percent correct. I’m still dubious that it’s rigorous, but at least it isn’t digging through my personal information just to dupe me.
For fun, my 9‑year old son said that he’d like to take the test. And this is when I knew it was complete bullshit — because he scored higher than I did:
Hold on a second. You’re telling me that I spent five glorious years at the Pennsylvania State University earning my undergraduate degree, and then I spent five magnificent years at the University of Maryland earning my master’s degree, and yet my son — who hasn’t spent even five years total in the educational system — was able to outperform me on an academic quiz?
“Hello, is this Penn State? I’d like my money back.”
What really got me, though, is that the math on this quiz — just like every other online quiz, multidisciplinary test, and academic competition — was paltry.
There were seven math-related questions on the test, none of which rose above the level of “basic,” and some were even lower than that. But don’t take my word for it; decide for yourself…
- Speed is defined as…
- What is the name of the result when you add four numbers and then divide the sum by 4?
- What is the definition of binary?
- How many events are in a decathlon?
- What is the value of the Roman numeral IX?
- Who wrote The Elements, and what was it about?
- The year 1707 is part of which century?
Can we all agree that these are rather easy math questions? It makes me wonder if our discipline is just so abstract or elusive that even the most basic of questions is perceived as difficult by a large portion of the population. If so, what accounts for this perception?
Your thoughts are most welcome.