Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lavish Links

1. The wit and wisdom of Larry Summers

2. Andrew Gelman lays a smackdown on "pop economists"

3. Are you geographically literate enough to be a 12th grader?

4. Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out!


Anonymous said...

As much as i like to rip on our government-monopoly education system (and NAEP scores always provide plenty of material for that), I'm not sure I really care whether or not our kids can properly answer the question below. It seems more like silly trivia than a test of intelligence and problem solving skills, which is what we should really be after. Can the kid read? Can she write a cohesive argument? Can she use math to show abstract thinking skills? If we're going to get into substantive topics, I'd take statistics and economics any day over weather patterns.

In early December the air masses that cross the Great Lakes from point A to point B are

1. colder than the water in the lakes
2. nearly the same temperature as the water in the lakes
3. blocked from moving south by mountains around the lakes
4. cooled by their passage over the lakes

The correct answer is: A

Anonymous said...

Agree, but how could you not mention:
3) In East Africa the process of desertification causes greater hardship for women than for men mostly because:
a. none of these answers are substantive proof that the premise of the question is true
b. who the fvck cares
c. the person who wrote the question/curriculum is determined to show that women endure more hardships than men

John said...

In response to Gelman, what if you just limit argument 1) to say that people are generally rational when making the decisions that most directly affect their lives? That's not at all the same thing as saying people are all equivalently good at analyzing the abilities of other people to make the decisions that most affect their lives.

Simon Spero said...

The question about the relative temperatures of air and water over the great lakes in winter involved (for me) backward chaining from the existence of lake-effect snow.

From there to the answer would seem more a test of basic physics that of specific geographic knowledge though.