I’m sure many of you have received messages purporting to test intelligence. Many otherwise intelligent people manage to fail these tests miserably. Perhaps on some of them there is a good reason for this. Some of them are entirely bogus. (Of course, it should be recognized that many of these so-called tests are intended to be funny, not serious. This is not going to prevent me from ripping one such test apart.)
I recently received the following via email. I managed to get one out of four correct. I found it highly amusing but I’m still going to analyze it to death. Note that for brevity, I have removed the miles of vertical space between questions and answers. My comments appear after each answer.
The following short quiz consists of 4 questions and will tell you whether you are qualified to be a “professional”. Scroll down for each answer. The questions are NOT that difficult. Try not to look at the answers below until you have thought about it awhile.
1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?
The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door. This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.
Okay, I can buy that answer. It seems fair to excuse those of you who say that the giraffe doesn’t fit in the refrigerator so you can’t do it as the question does not specify that the refrigerator is large enough. You might even be excused for saying that you should cut up the giraffe into bits so it can be packed into a smaller space. Even though that is a bit bloody. After all, it didn’t specify a live giraffe, did it? Or that the giraffe had to remain alive. Of course, it doesn’t say the giraffe has to stay in the refigerator so why do we necessarily have to close the door?
2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?
Did you say, “Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the refrigerator” (Wrong answer)
Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.
Okay, since when did saying how to do something actually equate with doing it? The test didn’t say to follow the instructions you gave, did it? Anyone who gets this one wrong by using the first answer above should be excused. Anyone who gave the same answer as for the first question should also be excused. After all, there was no mention of it being the same refrigerator anyway, even if you were following the instructions you gave. And there’s the same size issue; it doesn’t say the refrigerator is large enough either.
3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend except one. Which animal does not attend?
Correct Answer: The elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. You just put him in there. This tests your memory.
Again with the assumption that I’m actually following the instructions the test is asking for. It still isn’t saying to put the elephant in the refigerator; it’s asking how to do it. Big difference. So basically, this question fails to provide sufficient information to come up with an answer. Those of you who said that there was no way to know can be excused.
OK, even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.
4. There is a river you must cross but it is inhabited by crocodiles. How do you manage it?
Correct Answer: You swim across. All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting. This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.
Okay, I got this one correct. One can reasonably assume the quiz continues in the same manner as the previous questions thus one should be able to get this one. However, the quiz says nowhere that the questions are at all related. How many of you have done quizzes that had totally unrelated questions? How many quizzes have questions the relate chronologically? We had no context to know this one was a story. However, I can buy the answer to this one since the previous question does mention all the animals at an animal meeting.
Now, who says one has to swim across the river? Suppose I made a raft? Suppose it was shallow enough to wade across in one place? Even if the crocodiles weren’t at the meeting, I might have simply swung across on a vine. It doesn’t say there are no trees on the banks of the river. Those of you who said you had not enough information can be excused. Those of you who said that you didn’t manage it might be excused except there is a solution even if the crocodiles are not at the meeting. This solution is left as an exercise to the reader. Note that it depends on the exact context of the river and the crocodiles.
According to a major international consulting firm, around 90% of the professionals they tested got all questions wrong. But many preschoolers got several correct answers. The consulting firm says this conclusively disproves the theory that most professionals have the brains of a four year old.
Send this out to frustrate all of your smart friends.
Okay, it seems I’ve missed the point of the whole thing, right? Most of you are saying, “It’s a joke man! Calm down!”. Well, yeah. It’s rather obvious isn’t it? But admit it. You found it funny that someone analyzed it, didn’t you?
Now a theory as to why preschoolers would get several correct. Well, they don’t have the knowledge to question the relative sizes of the animals and the refrigerator. Or for that matter that saying how something is done is not the same as doing that something. This is a level of reasoning that many of them cannot yet achieve. Also, they will use information that has no clear relationship with the problem at hand to come up with a solution, often ludicrous to an adult but perfectly logical to the preschooler. After all, we know the giraffe is in the refigerator so it’s obvious it has to be removed, right?
All in all, don’t get your knickers in a twist over it. Simply laugh at the quiz. And laugh at me. And laugh at the world. And anything else that gets your goat.
Back to Missing the Point index.