Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The fake news problem

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  • BenWilson,

    to get full citizenship you have to take exams and write essays to show your ability at critical thought.

    I'd be very much against that. Obviously teaching those things is important, but I don't think something as arbitrary as the luck you have in upbringing and natural intelligence should be the basis for access to power. That's how it already is, to a highly significant extent. But no amount of intelligence gives you moral authority, as so many clever evil bastards have shown throughout the ages.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to BenWilson,

    the basis for access to power

    In fairness to Rich’s point and example there, I achieved the required score on that sample test to be granted British citizenship. It wasn’t so much testing intelligence as it was testing knowledge. A test of the nature presented need not be dissimilar to the hoops one need jump through in order to legally drive a motor vehicle.

    Having said that I strongly support this:

    But outright meritocracy has serious problems as a political system. It’s going to entrench privilege and power, and there is no safety valve at all. At least giveashitocracy does have the valve that if something becomes enough of a problem that the giveashit factor rises, then the entrenched privilege can be swept aside.

    Most relevant is that with the US system they have a – loosely defined – meritocratic system already in place to protect their democracy from the worst excesses of the people.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to mark taslov,

    "irresponsible demagogue "
    Pre-inauguration, that looks like an "early call" :-)

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 776 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Attachment

    Maybe we should have a liberalised version in the west - e.g to get full citizenship you have to take exams and write essays to show your ability at critical thought.

    There's a couple of pre-existing ones we can use as a starting point. Here's one:

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich Lock,

    LOL. I fail on question 1. Question 10 is curly. For 11, crossing out the 1 makes the number below one million (zero is below one million). 2 is some kind of figure of speech, to underline the word line in this line. 5 is cunning, looks like a typo. Again it's some kind of cunning figure of speech that the first first letter of the alphabet happens to be the first letter in the word alphabet. To solve 12 you need to obviously either accept that a line can be not straight, or tear the paper accordingly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to BenWilson,

    "To solve 12 you need to obviously either accept that a line can be not straight, or tear the paper accordingly."

    Flawed assumption? Note that the test does not specify a straight line. Same applies to #1 perhaps (a line around something tends to become a circle).

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    No zero is not a number, or was not a number. No 5 is asking for the first "a" . . . so a comprehension test.
    The first question established that a line need not be straight . . . lines delineate.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 776 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    I had another take on "voluntarism as a primary social ethic".
    I took it to be volunteering one's life in service to something; a person or an ideal , even a piece of land. But the common idea was voluntary service, as in a life of service.
    Examples that came to mind were such things as the Volunteer Fire Service, and the Armed Services, and the Civil Service.
    Those entering such services were voluntarily giving up their right as freemen to be their own boss, a big ask in those days.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 776 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Farmer Green,

    No zero is not a number

    For the purposes of the test, zero was a number. Because, as I understand it, to pass the test you had to understand the instruction "cross out the number necessary," to translate to striking out the last 4 zeros. You also had to understand "when making the number below one million" as "when making the number, which is located below, one million"

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Yeah that traditional view is long established. My father's father ran the meals-on-wheels service for the St Johns Ambulance org back in the fifties in New Plymouth. A practical application of his christian faith. Since he was station master at the railway during the day, the voluntary sideline would have been an effort.

    We need a more novel ingenious approach now, incorporating teamwork. You know how the left merely uses groups for consciousness raising? The positive alternative necessary in the new millennium is a task & results focus, with a disciplined commitment to delivery. The right tend to comprehend this technique - but their problem is that they are merely mercenary. The middle way is the way forward.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    Looking back at the NZ education system as it once was, I see meritocracy and measurement of merit deeply embedded in the design. The system had no view on the circumstance leading to the exhibition of the quality of “merit”, so if it was luck in “upbringing and natural intelligence” that resulted in achieving merit, then that was the way that the cookie had crumbled.
    The names of the cohorts told the story. It was about standards. Some children never made Standard One.
    It was possible to sit the national secondary exam , known as School Certificate, after only two years of Secondary education, instead of the usual three, but in the former case you had to accumulate at least 250 marks over five subjects, instead of 200 marks over four subjects.
    Having got this Certificate of Attainment, you became ineligible for internal assessment of University Entrance, and had to undergo external examination for University Entrance along with the “repechage” for those who failed to be accredited under internal assessment.
    But entrance to university was yours by right upon reaching the age of 21.
    The only public role that was not so subject to formal meritocratic process and selection was that of M.P.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 776 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to David Hood,

    Pedantry no doubt , but zero was not a natural number , because it was not natural to count nothing. This was implicit in the concept of number as taught back then. You could not count nothing, . . . one would make a mark only for what was being counted.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 776 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Absolutely, zero is not a natural number. However, tests to be eligible to vote are fundamentally there to block people the test designer doesn't want voting, so in that respect the questions are there to limit people passing. It doesn't matter (from the test maker's perspective) if the questions are fair.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Ah, back when common sense prevailed in popular culture. A dim memory now.

    "By 1740 BC, the Egyptians had a symbol for zero in accounting texts" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/0_(number)) goes to show that after a millennium and a half of being civilised, they'd become sufficiently unnatural to conceive it.

    "Posting fake news stories is a modern form of identity politics, proclaiming an affinity for a particular community", according to the former director of the MIT Media Lab's Sociable Media Group and author of "The Social Machine: Designs for Living Online" (MIT Press, 2014).

    So, if you post the news that zero isn't natural you proclaim identity as a member of a community grounded in common sense. If you post the news that zero is a number you proclaim identity with the community who like using abstract concepts. You just need a tv game show in which the two compete and you'll have a semblance of identity politics based on either/or logic (whereas both/and logic is more postmodern).

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Farmer Green,

    No zero is not a number, or was not a number. No 5 is asking for the first “a” . . . so a comprehension test.

    These are clearly the important questions when deciding if a person should have access to democratic participation.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to David Hood,

    You also had to understand “when making the number below one million” as “when making the number, which is located below, one million”

    I may well have failed because of this. The logical solution is to cross out the one, because it asks to cross out a number (I don't think 0000 is a number). However, I would have crossed out five zeros, to leave 100,000 to make the number "below one million".

    I suspect that question 12 contains a typo, and the line should pass below circle 3 and above circle 4. However, I would have drawn a line out of the top of 2, around 1 and under 1,2 and 3, between 3 and 4 and then above 4 to 5. But the pedant in me would want to drop a line out of the bottom of 2, go straight through the middle of 3, above 4 to connect to 5.

    The second sentence at the top of the paper would make it very easy to fail people who take a precautionary approach. We don't know what are acceptable as correct responses, but it is obviously an appallingly designed test.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 615 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    I'm pretty sure Rich posted it as a joke. The whole point was that this test was written by someone carelessly, or with poor English, or taking the piss. Many of the questions are ironic self referential jokes. Question 10 is particularly bad - it does not tell you what collection of words to select the word from to select the letter from.

    His point being that half of the people in this thread could fail this particular test, even though it would seem to be pitched at about 10 year old comprehension levels.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Pre-inauguration, that looks like an “early call” :-)

    It looked like The Atlantic were running a 2 for the price of 1 electoral college deal.

    This analysis of the MSM's role in Trump's victory was quite comprehensive.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’m pretty sure Rich posted it as a joke

    I suspect it was to illustrate what happens once you start setting voter eligibility tests. These tests were from the 1960s. Note that everyone didn't have to take them, at the top it says "cannot prove a 6th grade education" so white people with good records didn't have to take the test (even if they could not have passed it) OTOH poor black people were disproportionately likely to have moved into manual work by the 5th grade and/or not have good records (sufficient to meet the standard set by the government of Louisiana) had to take the test, and thus flunked the "Literacy" requirement (it did claim to be a literacy test).

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to David Hood,

    I suspect it was to illustrate what happens once you start setting voter eligibility tests

    So a flawed example to illustrate what exactly? As of the 2013 census 87,534 do not speak English, 86.1% of whom are adults now. One such person I met last year (here on a parent resident visa) spoke glowingly about John Key, 'key' apparently being one of the handful of English words he knew; No facts, just an emotive response. Sure this demographic might only end up accounting for 1 parliamentary seat, if that, but I’m not seeing any compelling reasons to let illiterate people vote in elections that are basically literacy tests.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    What's flawed about it? The aim of the test was to stop people deemed inappropriate by the local officials from voting. It succeeded in it's aim

    By the way, those were only the first 13 questions

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_vault/2013/06/28/voting_rights_and_the_supreme_court_the_impossible_literacy_test_louisiana.html

    I'm sure people here could design a better test- where better is defined as excluding a different group of people that you want to exclude, but it will only be better in the sense of affecting a different group. This test was extremely effective as a gatekeeper.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to David Hood,

    What’s flawed about it?

    “one wrong answer denotes failure of the test.”

    I’m sure people here could design a better test- where better is defined as excluding a different group of people that you want to exclude, but it will only be better in the sense of affecting a different group. This test was extremely effective as a gatekeeper.

    Your argument hinges on the idea that the gatekeeper wanted to exclude, which we can assume they did. In our case could a test not be administered multiple times (as with a drivers license) with the aim of including everyone capable of interacting with our electoral system? There are 101 ways one could do this. Your inclusive argument would make more sense if we didn’t already exclude people on the basis of age and incarceration.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to mark taslov,

    The bigger point here is that, if any "meritocratic" limits are to be set on who can qualify to vote in a democracy, then it is essential that those limits be designed so as not to unfairly disadvantage or exclude any group whose lives will be affected by the outcome. In a national election, that's essentially any full-time resident. Such an unbiassed set of limits is near-impossible to achieve, even if those designing and administering those limits have that as their primary goal. (Which was clearly not the case in the Louisiana example above!)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1930 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to linger,

    I absolutely agree Linger, in all honesty I feel an aim of being more rather than less inclusive is a more productive starting point. That I have a tendency to waste time painting myself into corners over issues that I have little or no passion for is at least as unwelcome to me as it may be to anyone else.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • simon g, in reply to mark taslov,

    I’m not seeing any compelling reasons to let illiterate people vote in elections that are basically literacy tests.

    A foreign (second) language test is not a literacy test, or an intelligence test, or an education test. Who knows where voters get their information?

    I would happily exclude all voters whose dial is stuck on Newstalk ZB, but this would be hard to enforce, so ... no. Disenfranchising tests have a dreadful history, and - I sincerely hope - no future.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

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