When Facts Aren’t Facts … the absurdity of modern testing
Handsome, my human friend, is sleeping at last. For a few months, he was barely able to. And even when he would fall asleep, he’d either be on top of his computer keyboard or holding his laptop in his arms. He was just frantic.
All this was about a test he had to take. He wants to expand his professional license to other states than just our home. That’s all fine. And he had to relearn a bunch of stuff from school to do so. That’s also fine.
So why was he such a wreck? Not because the test demanded a ton of knowledge. No, it was because of how it asked for it.
- A dog
- The Author of AskShirelle
- Handsome’s Best Friend
- A chair
This test doesn’t ask for straight-out knowledge. Rather, it’s supposed to test how he thinks, to see if he’s qualified. But for all Handsome’s flaws, thinking is something he’s always done well. In fact, so well that he has a lot of problems with these tests!
they ask him to pick the Best of them, or to offer four bad answers, and have him pick the least-bad of them.
But does that make sense at all?
Everything Everywhere All at Once is about:
- The difficulty of running a laundry
- A lady getting in a bunch of fights
- A bunch of Chinese Americans
You see, I’m just a dog, I know, and I don’t have the brains you guys do. But from what I’ve learned, there are facts and there are opinions. And other than those two, there are only wrong things.
Are cats mammals? That’s a fact. Are cats annoying? That’s my opinion. Are cats likely to hunt birds? That’s a fact. Are cats likely to be hunted by dogs? Depends on the dog! But we’re still in the “fact” realm. Are cats worth hunting? That’s an opinion too. But are cats reptiles? No, that’s just untrue.
Suggesting that there’s anything else but facts, untruths, and opinions, gets into a realm that… well, causes lots of trouble!
Julius Caesar lived:
- In Rome
- In the first century B.C.
- In a Toga
- On a yacht in the Carribean
And when the people giving the test say their goal is to see how well you think, what they’re really testing is if you think just as they do; or rather, if you can read their minds and figure out how they’re thinking.
The best place for a dog to lie down is:
- In the doorway, where I can chase down a squirrel if it comes into my yard but I can also run to beg if Handsome starts to eat in the kitchen.
- On the couch, because it’s so comfortable.
- Anywhere other than the couch, because Handsome gets mad at me if I lie there.
- On top of a moving car’s hood.
So which is best, of the above answers? The doorway is best for chasing and eating, the couch is the most comfortable, the “anywhere else” is good for keeping Handsome happy, and the car hood – well, it might be kind of exciting, but I think we can agree that it’s the worst of the choices.
But how is one expected to know what “best” means? Again, it seems they’re asking you to assume something that they’re assuming. To take this to its fullest degree…
4x + 38 =
Now sometimes the questions don’t ask for mind-reading. Instead, very often, they test whether you catch their tricks or not. A skill which shows that you are qualified to… take tests. And nothing else.
Taylor Swift is:
- A 32-year-old singer
- The writer of the hit songs “Love Story,” “Blank Space,” and “Déjà Vu”
- The performer on the world-famous Eros tour
- A male photographer in Seattle
Did you get that one right? Maybe not. The world-famous singer is currently 33; the Olivia Rodrigo song “Déjà Vu” does credit her as a co-writer but only because it samples one of her songs; and her tour is called Eras, not Eros (though of course you had no idea if I might have made a typographical error). But yes there IS a man, a photographer, living in Seattle, named Taylor Swift. You can look it up. D is the correct answer!
But unless you’re taking a test on Seattle photographers, this trick question ONLY serves to mess with you!
Now not every question on these tests is as awful as what I’ve shared here. And Handsome actually thinks he might have passed, though he won’t know for a while (but they won’t tell him why it takes so long to grade a multiple-choice test he took on a computer!).
But while he sits there trembling in his crazy mood, I’ve been thinking about the whole mindset behind these tests. What’s the point of them? Do they help anything? Or do they make things way worse.
A few years ago, a spokesperson for the US President famously excused his lies by saying that they were “Alternative Facts.” And while many people laughed at this, millions of others accepted it. And I just wonder if that’s because they had been trained by this mindset! Once someone accepts that there are “better” correct answers, or “less bad” wrong ones, then actual truth becomes meaningless.
History has shown that people have often made up their own facts, but they were really spreading lies so well that everyone accepted them as facts (See the speeches of Nazi Germany about the dangers of Jews, for example). But to me, this is a different version of the same problem. At a time when you humans are achieving so much in science and technology, I see you also slipping into dumb and disproven mindsets of racism, sexism, and authoritarianism. All because so many of you can’t agree on what truth is.
So I side with Handsome. I’d love to see these tests go very far away. And once that happens, to paraphrase Taylor Swift (the songwriter, not the photographer!), people should Never Ever Ever get back together with them!
Tests that expect the taker to read the mind of the writer of the test are:
- Pickled Giraffe