Posts tagged ‘online’

Big Brother Knows My Sons Are Smarter Than I Am

CWGYHEL QUizWhile 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:

PhD Result

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.

Speed Question

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…

  1. Speed is defined as…
  2. What is the name of the result when you add four numbers and then divide the sum by 4?
  3. What is the definition of binary?
  4. How many events are in a decathlon?
  5. What is the value of the Roman numeral IX?
  6. Who wrote The Elements, and what was it about?
  7. 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.

March 29, 2017 at 4:27 pm Leave a comment

Five Online Math Favorites

According to Google, there are more than 121 million results for “math.” The following is an unordered and incomplete list of some of my favorite math things on the web.

1. I laugh out loud at the comics on xkcd.com, but I think my favorite joke on the site is the disclaimer that appears at the bottom of every page.

Warning: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors).

But if you insist that I choose just one of Randall Munroe’s cartoons, I’ll pick Fields Arranged by Purity.

2. I used to watch really old, really bad movies with my father on Sunday afternoons (but only when the Steelers weren’t playing, of course). The following is a clip that I remember, now ubiquitous on YouTube.  

Ma & Pa Kettle – YouTube 

3. The only thing better than a great a cappella song is a funny a capella song. The only thing better than that is a funny a capella song that involves numerous math puns. Thanks, Klein Four!

Finite Simple Group of Order Two – Klein Four

4. When my friend Art Benjamin was interviewed on The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert said to him, “You call yourself a mathemagician. Now, what does that mean? Were those two words not nerdy enough by themselves?” Nerdy or not, Art is frickin’ amazing.

Art Benjamin Does Mental Math – TED Conference 

5. The following is a quote I’ve seen numerous times on the web, yet I’ve never seen an attribution. I’ll post it here, and credit Anon, though I’m pretty sure it’s a rip-off from a similar quote by Eleanor Roosevelt — “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Small minds discuss persons. Average minds discuss events. Great minds discuss ideas. Really great minds discuss mathematics.

July 10, 2010 at 6:18 am Leave a comment


About MJ4MF

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.

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