3 November 2000
Submitted by eve on Fri, 11/03/2000 - 8:26am. Funny
"He said we didn't need to bring scantron forms to the exam, because they'd be selling them there."
"Oh, cool."
"So you'd think. Lemme finish. They'd be selling them there for $10 apiece."
--Two guys exiting my Cog Sci class
(For those who haven't recently been in college, a scantron form is one of those things you bubble your answers in on, and they're about 25 cents.)
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Posted by Anne Onymous on Fri, 12/01/2000 - 4:19pm.
Archived comment by Mike:
No big deal. (Yes, I *do* come back here regularly.)
To take the other side of the argument, it does seem improbable, just not absolutely *impossible*. I guess we could just ask The Laughing God, but doing so this late would probably just make us look like a couple of Froot Loops. :-)
Hey, if your e-mail works (mine still doesn't, for reasons I can't comprehend) you might want to check up on him-- I've been dying to know where he went.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Thu, 11/30/2000 - 1:08pm.
Archived comment by Chris:

Thanks for clarifying your position. As for misspellings, I am the worst. That is what spellchecker is for.

I guess I fulfilled the definition of assume by
not checking Laughing God's pattern before commenting.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Mon, 11/20/2000 - 6:30am.
Archived comment by Mike:
Don't worry about it, boB. I'm sure there are lots of guys who end up shooting off blanks their first time. :)
Yeah, that makes sense. Somewhere in this site (I believe earlier in THIS comment page, actually) IP Admin talks about the very occasional need to censor; I guess that includes blank messages. No real need for me to worry about it.

You can *never* be too paranoid and pessimistic, though! :)
Posted by Anne Onymous on Sun, 11/19/2000 - 10:41pm.
Archived comment by boB:
Well, Mike, to answer your question about blank comments, I can say for a fact that as of last week there's some kingd of filter - human or otherwise - that eliminates blank comments within ~24 hours.
In my first comment on the site, I hit 'tab' one time too many and accidentally submitted a blank comment. I followed up with a content-bearing comment which mocked my ineptitude.
This slight mocking no longer made sense when I looked back the next day to discover my original comment gone. :-)
Posted by Anne Onymous on Sat, 11/18/2000 - 5:14am.
Archived comment by Mike:
Hi. Just wanted to say a couple quick things.
1) The comment directly below this one was just plain TOO LONG to really proofread. Sorry if there are a lot of misspelled words.
2) I just felt like adding in a twenty-fifth comment. For those of you who haven't noticed (or just plain didn't care), each page can only hold twenty-five comments before an auxiliary page is created to hold the earlier ones. It seems like a cool design; but I was wondering what would happen if someone tried to ruin the site by repeatedly clicking on the "add" button, only to send in a blank comment (hit "return" for about ten seconds, then hit "add comment," repeat until bored). Wouldn't the end result be about ten pages of blank space with maybe three real comments in it? Not to be *too* paranoid (too paranoid sounds like an oxymoron to me), but do you have any way to defend against this, IP Admin? (Or is it "Miss En Scene?")

Posted by Anne Onymous on Sat, 11/18/2000 - 5:04am.
Archived comment by Mike:
1) Sorry I didn't clarify it: the hypothetical smartass in my SAT scenario was assumed to be so intelligent that he knew the correct answers to all the questions; I didn't factor in the occasional "actually wrong" answer. I realize that there would be a pretty high probability of being wrong from the outset, but my hypothetical subject would consider honestly guessing to be a form of "cheating." Although there would be high odds of getting an answer wrong, I think that it is close to statistically impossible to get *every* question wrong without purposely trying; flat-lining the SATs seems to be at *least* as difficult as getting a 1600. That was the point of my little theory: some hyper-intelligent kid with too much time on his or her hands could prove her or his intelligence by doing worse on the SAT than any true moron could ever hope to. Like I said, I chickened out, but I think it would be funny if someone did do so someday.
2) I, too, have gone back over the Laughing God/Passerby situation since then. Like I told someone else, I am a sucker for logical puzzles; I've been trying to see the question from Passerby's perspective for quite a while now. Actually, I sat down with pen and paper and tried to puzzle out his though process for myself; I can only say that I have as of yet failed to see the logic in his words. A passage dedicated to working through THAT question would dwarf the one below in length, and it still wouldn't come to a satisfactory conclusion. Passerby leaves some implicit assumptions undefined; without knowing what he meant, it seems pretty impossible to follow his train of thought. In one sentence, for instance, he says that C "accounts for 20% of their mark". What does he mean by that? Does he mean 20% of the 70% the test-taker got correct, which would really equal 14%, or does he actually mean 20% of the total questions? It turns out that that is a very pivotal question to ask, because it is important in figuring out the rest of the question; but Passerby never clarifies his meaning-- in fact, I seem to remember seeing evidence of his using both situations in his proof-- C as 14% in one case, C as 20% in another. His proof was just too tangled for me to follow; and, having neither explanation nor access to him to ask if there WAS one, I just gave up on it.
About your assertion that The Laughing God's story supported the "zig-zag pattern of A then B then C..." Well, that is just plain not correct. If you look back on the passages, you will see that it was the Passerby who first made mention of the alphabetical order pattern; The laughing God's sequence read ABDCEDCBA. I know this for a fact because, as I am typing this, I am going back to the original page to check it. You can do it too: hitting the back button takes you to the page without destroying your comment-in-progress; hitting the forward icon takes you back to your typing. The idea that the test-take followed an orderly pattern is a second-hand fabrication of the Passerby; The Laughing God, in fact, specifically uses the word "randomizes" in his comment. I am fairly secure that he meant for the test answers to be chaotic; no pattern or order is implied.
In closing, Chris, I would like to say thanks for giving me the chance to defend my argument. It was gracious of you to leave your e-mail address and name so that I could reach you; I think the main thing that annoyed me so much about the Passerby, beside his poor logic and inflammatory comments, was his cowardice; throwing harsh words and then ducking back into anonymity. You have proven that it is possible for two people to disagree without resorting to name-calling and flaming. It's also good to check up on other people's thought processes; the heart of science is a sense of healthy skepticism and the willingness to question things that don't seem to make sense. I, for one, am glad for all the energy generated by the comments: any English teacher will tell you that playing with words is the best way to master them; any science teacher will tell you that the road to great discoveries and new insights often takes a meandering path through seeming triviality. This website provides both verbal and logical stimulation; who could ask for more? If The Laughing God had not made his comment; if the Passerby had not responded" if I had not answered *his* response; if Igypsy had not commented on the disappearance of the "greater than/less than" symbols--if all of these things had not come to pass, then IP Admin might not have chimed in with a quick lesson in HTML--and I would not know the first thing about it. (and unless this parenthetical comment is bold and italicized, the html is still down. Oh well...) You never know what you're going to come away with when you visit this site-- as an English major (and a former--*former*--natural science major) I guess that's one of the reasons it holds such an attraction for me.
Well, that and the assortment of other freaks who show up.:)

Posted by Anne Onymous on Fri, 11/17/2000 - 12:11pm.
Archived comment by Chris:
Mike Mike Mike,

A couple of things. 1) your SAT idea has one huge
flaw. Even if guessing your idea gives you a 75-80% chance of being right, depending on if there is an E option or not. Much better odds than being right. 2) The anonymous passerby was a little lame but your argument did not fit. I understood Laughing God's story to be a zig zag pattern of A then B then C... not a random choosing of letters. Meaning that anon is correct that the math does not add up. I used to draw pictures with the bubbles and see how well I did just for fun.

I am amazed at the amount of energy a scantron comment is generating. We are all either a little bored or just desperately in need of lives.

In-Passing Admin: Great site, nothing is better entertainment than real life. Thanks for all you do.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Sun, 11/12/2000 - 6:55am.
Archived comment by Mike:
Guess not.
Can't have everything.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Sun, 11/12/2000 - 6:54am.
Archived comment by Mike:
Can we underline?
Posted by Anne Onymous on Sun, 11/12/2000 - 2:44am.
Archived comment by Mike:
Oh my God, it worked!

(feels like an idiot)

I guess this means you just took my "tech virginity."


Posted by Anne Onymous on Sun, 11/12/2000 - 2:41am.
Archived comment by Mike:

Learning every day!
Posted by Anne Onymous on Sat, 11/11/2000 - 8:45pm.
Archived comment by In Passing Admin:
I must say, I'm impressed at the extent to which the regulars are banding together to defend themselves against the anonmyous nay-sayers, though I'd say this passerby just wanted to prove his or herself right. We've seen actual trolls here, as Oedalis will remember, but they didn't hang around long.
Anyway, there is good reason why greater than/less than signs don't appear in the comments -- the page reads them as possibly being html.
(See, you can write html into your comments, to make them bold or italic or even add a links.)
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 11/08/2000 - 1:41pm.
Archived comment by Igypsy:
Also: 'Well Done, Mike!'
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 11/08/2000 - 1:36pm.
Archived comment by Igypsy:
Hey LG ~
Ok, liked the scantron collection post, really ROFL'd me. BTW: Seemingly, anything within some symbol sets i.e. greater/less than, won't appear in yer posts...
What's scary tho, is the scantron/name link in da 1st! post! [grin].~ I
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 11/08/2000 - 7:12am.
Archived comment by Mike:
Oh, sorry. I forgot to add MY email address. I used to, back when I first found this site, but kind of let it taper off...
Oh, well, back to bed.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 11/08/2000 - 7:10am.
Archived comment by Mike:
Dear Psuedo Math Geek/Passerby:

"You are a liar" to a complete stranger? Harsh...

Just to play Devil's advocate...

1. Did you even READ the comment before you chipped in? "Whoever said the someone with ABCDE... got in the 70's and all the C's were wrong:"...

Um...I read The Laughing God's comment, repeatedly, and found no such mention of "all the C's" being wrong. You are upset with a statement that was NEVER MADE.

2. You also seem to have trouble picking up on an implicit assumption in The Laughing God's statement. "A friend of mine...didn't know anything so he did ABDCEDCBA..."
Ah...I can just imagine that conversation now...

LAUGHING GOD: Hey, friend! How'd the test go?

FRIEND: Horribly, Laughing God! I didn't know anything, so I just guessed at random!

LAUGHING GOD: Really? That's too bad! Say, I was thinking of using your situation as an anecdote on this website I know, so could you do me a favor and give me the EXACT SEQUENCE of your totally random answers? Wait, let me get my dictaphone... (rummages in backpack)

FRIEND: (without batting an eye) ABDCEDCBA...

The assumption was that anyone reading The Laughing God's comments would understand that by "ABDCEDCBA" he meant "any random sequence of letters," NOT "ABDCEDCBA *EXACTLY*." I guess he underestimated your TOTAL INABILITY to accept any amount of uncertainty in your anecdotes--which, by the way, seems suspicious, given the way YOU mangled his quote (he said "ABDCEDCBA," which YOU somehow translated into "ABCDE"...)when it was RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU--IN PRINT!!

But I guess I'll forgive you. I recognize that human beings are fallible.

3. Your cowardice about revealing your name and email address is embarrassing. for someone so sure of your figures, you show an obvious unwillingness to be contacted for further debate; your resort to name calling at the end is also unusual for someone supposedly so rational. Most science and math majors I know pride themselves on their ability to defend their arguments logically and dispassionately, with as little reliance on rhetoric as possible. Not so at your school, eh? (Assuming you ARE in school, of course.) If you have so much faith in your figures, why the anonymity?

4. ABOUT those figures...

Assuming that the LATTER part of the story is correct ("Someone...marked all C's. Over 80%") Then that means that C was the correct answer somewhat more than four-fifths of the time. Given that fact, I calculate that another test-taker could take the test and get above a 70 with as little as 52% of his answers being C. (If the percentage of correct answers being C 80, then the percentage of correct answers being not C= 19% at most; assuming he gets all of the non-C answers correct,then he would need 52% of his answers to be C--correctly--to give him a score of 71%--"over 70%.") Why you chose to attack the problem from the less reliable information (or take that information to be totally accurate)is anybody's guess.

In conclusion, Passerby, the story may indeed be false, but that is not such a sure thing as you seem to believe. What I got most strongly from your clumsy-fingered response was a sense of your own inability to reason and lack of tact. Next time, please remember to "attend to the beam in thine own eye" before you go attacking the mote in someone else's. (Do I have that quote right? Been a while since I looked it up.)

(This much thought and exertion? This early in the morning? and for NO COLLEGE CREDIT?!?


Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 11/08/2000 - 5:31am.
Archived comment by Passerby:
Whoever said the someone with ABCDE... got in the 70's and all the C's were wrong: I'm guessing was not a math course, you've never taken a math course, and if this was the same test, you're lying. that's what I get for accidently hitting submit. if ABCDE... got 70%, assuming all their C's were right, that accounts for 20% of their mark, and on the rest, 50/80 = 62.5% of the answers could not be C. Being generous and assuming everything else was C, the best possible score guessing all C is 37.5%. In other words, you are a liar.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Wed, 11/08/2000 - 5:27am.
Archived comment by Passerby:
Whoever said the someone with ABCDE... got in the 70's and all the C's were wrong: I'm guessing was not a math course, you've never taken a math course, and if this was the same test, you're lying.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Tue, 11/07/2000 - 9:27pm.
Archived comment by The Laughing God:
What's fun is to see how much your professor randomizes things. When in doubt... pick "C."

A friend of mine took a test on a Scantron once, didn't know anything so he did ABDCEDCBA and so on through the entire thing. Got 70-some percent. Someone else took that same test and marked all C's. Over 80%.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Mon, 11/06/2000 - 4:44pm.
Archived comment by Mike:
My school gives us scantrons for free. . .

Last time I paid for anything scantron-related was the SATs. I had a great idea as to how to subvert the test, but I chickened out. It went like this: For each question, find the correct answer, and then pencil in the slot for the most diametrically opposite answer you can find. That way, when your results come back, a "low" score would mean that you successfully identified the right answers; a higher score would mean that you guessed wrong and weren't as smart as you thought. Using that technique, someone who correctly identified the answer to each question would end up with an extremely low score (I think the basement score is 200) and gain some sense of his or her own knowledge base without revealing anything to the ETS (I was very anti-establishment in high school.)
Needless to say, I quailed when they actually handed out the tests. I guess it's all for the best though: had I gone through with it, I would probably be an uneducated and unemployed "rebel" instead of the lazy slack-off Internet-surfing college-scholarship recipient I am today. :)
Posted by Anne Onymous on Mon, 11/06/2000 - 2:52pm.
Archived comment by Jill:
Yes. And you should get a cookie for it.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Mon, 11/06/2000 - 8:57am.
Archived comment by The Scantron God:
No you may not! Nor may you see my extensive collection of vintage Scantron forms!

Actually, the URL takes you to Scantron's site. When someone didn't know what one was, I tried to describe it. Then I realized it would just be easier to show a picture. So I bopped on over to their site, hit the catalogue, and linked to a pic of the Scantron form I'm most familiar with. Aren't I a helpful little Laughing God?
Posted by Anne Onymous on Sat, 11/04/2000 - 7:27pm.
Archived comment by umrguy:
Yeah, we used them in high school too... darn near all the time in some classes... (on the other hand, it's kind of fun taking a multiple choice midterm in Physics)... haven't seen them here in college... Here's my tip for using them - if you're one of those people who tends to bear down on the pencil quite a bit, don't use a mechanical pencil to fill out a scantron form - I actually went back to the good old fashioned yellow #2 pencils because I didn't have to worry about continually breaking off the lead
Posted by Anne Onymous on Sat, 11/04/2000 - 4:03pm.
Archived comment by Jill:
Um...Laughing God. May I ask why you have a picture of a scantron sheet?

We use em in high school all the time. Mainly because our teachers don't feel like going through and grafing them. Not that I'm complaining, because that makes the test multiple choice...Hehe
Posted by Anne Onymous on Sat, 11/04/2000 - 9:44am.
Archived comment by Marder:
Wow, i have never had to buy those either. On the other hand, we pay almost 5 grand for tuition (CDN). They probably throw in costs like that, especially when we find out that we pay $35/year for some refugee fund....
Posted by Anne Onymous on Fri, 11/03/2000 - 7:18pm.
Archived comment by Aly:
Wow...we never had to pay for scantrons. And even blue books we only occasionally had to pay for, depending on the professor.
Posted by Anne Onymous on Fri, 11/03/2000 - 4:26pm.
Archived comment by The Laughing God:
Let me answer that question for you: no, you don't see it. Click on my name in either of these posts, though, and that will take you there.

*resolves to learn how these things work before doing that again*
Posted by Anne Onymous on Fri, 11/03/2000 - 4:24pm.
Archived comment by The Laughing God:
See that URL? Follow it. That's a Scantron. :)
Posted by Anne Onymous on Fri, 11/03/2000 - 1:39pm.
Archived comment by Amanda:
OK, I'm in college and I still have no idea what a scantron form is...bubble your answers in on??

I understand the price thing though.
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