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Donovan A.

The Ominous Parallels Test 01

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Jonathan,

If you have specific issues with specific questions and if you would like to offer constructive suggestions on how you think certain questions could be improved, I'm open to what you have to say.

In regard to claims being false, each question includes a reference and as I have said three times now, test questions (IMO) have to be formed from claims made in the book. That is what it means to have a test on content from a book. True/false or multiple choice answers have to be selected in relation to the claims made in the book and not on one's own views.

- R

Look, if a classroom of Objectivists were given a test on the writings of, say, Hitler and Marx, and a couple of the questions were, "True or false: Jews, homosexuals and the mentally handicapped should be exterminated,"[p73] and "True or false: Capitalism is viciously exploitative and evil," [p114], do you think that any of them would object to the phrasing of the questions? Would you understand why some would hesitate or refuse to answer, or intentionally answer "incorrectly" based on their knowledge of factual reality rather than the false opinions of the authors? Would you recognize that the unfortunate phrasing has mucked up the questions and likely put some test-takers in the uncomfortable position of not wanting to appear to side with something that they know to be factually wrong?

Test-takers shouldn't have to deal with those concerns and distractions. At least not on a well-constructed test.

J

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Sigh. Some mind sets are set minds.

--Brant

but the tests overall were pretty good, except for the one on TOP, because of the poor quality of the book, a book which has nothing to do with Objectivism save culturally. It's an Ayn Rand contaminated historical artifact. Of course, what is thought of as Objectivism is mostly cultural.

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Jonathan,

You are dropping the context of the fact that the test is in reference to a specific book on a particular subject matter. Your attempt to toss page number references around in your last post in relation to nothing is meaningless. You haven't given any specifics about what questions you object to, other than that you think Peikoff is wrong about some of his assertions. I understand your point loud and clear. You see reality on the left and a book like The Ominous Parallels on the right. What you want isn't a test in relation to The Ominous Parallels, but on what you think is correct. That being so, you should make your own tests, in which there wouldn't be any page numbers as references, since one simply needs to go out and look at the color of stop signs.

- R

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I am not sure if this will satisfy Jonathan, but I have added the following statement:

Note: All questions are formed from assertions and arguments made by the author of the book/material. When answering test questions, please keep in mind that the "correct" answer is based on those assertions. The Culture of Reason Center does not necessarily endorse the positions articulated in the subject material.

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I am not sure if this will satisfy Jonathan, but I have added the following statement:

Note: All questions are formed from assertions and arguments made by the author of the book/material. When answering test questions, please keep in mind that the "correct" answer is based on those assertions. The Culture of Reason Center does not necessarily endorse the positions articulated in the subject material.

You are only double-downing. Jonathan hit you over the head with a 2 x 4 but it only broke in two and he's still vibrating. You don't seem much affected by the effect.

--Brant

but keep up your good work

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Thanks Brant.

These discussion are valuable even if I'm not always convinced by the criticisms. Candid feedback is important and I'd like to improve the project as I move forward. There will be more tests on The Ominous Parallels and on other works by Rand, Branden, and Peikoff, etc.

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I understand your point loud and clear.

No. It's clear that you still don't understand my point.

You see reality on the left and a book like The Ominous Parallels on the right. What you want isn't a test in relation to The Ominous Parallels, but on what you think is correct.

False. My point has simply been that your test deviates from standard phrasing of questions, thus sacrificing clarity and needlessly introducing the potential for confusion.

That being so, you should make your own tests, in which there wouldn't be any page numbers as references, since one simply needs to go out and look at the color of stop signs.

Yeah, you definitely still don't get it. If I were to make my own test, one would still have to read the book that one is being tested on. Going out and looking at stop signs, or engaging in any other external research or observation of reality -- such as reading history or studying Kant or whatever -- would not be needed to answer correctly. My test would cover only the content of the book, and agreeing or disagreeing with its content would not be relevant to whether or not an answer was correct. The only difference between my test and yours would be that mine would follow the standard, logical method of phrasing questions.

J

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Could you please bring forward the questions you dislike and offer alternative phrasing?

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Could you please bring forward the questions you dislike and offer alternative phrasing?

Do the same thing that you did in question 4:

4) Dr. Peikoff maintains that the cause of Nazism is ______________. [p.20-25]

For example:

5) Dr. Peikoff claims that this science determines the destiny of nations and the course of history, and that it is the source of a nation's frame of reference and code of values, the root of a people's character and culture. [p.23]

Biology

Religion

Politics

Philosophy

6) In Peikoff's view, a cultural atmosphere is not a primary. Instead, he proposes that it is created, ultimately, by a handful of men; by those whose lifework it is to deal with, originate, and propagate fundamental ideas.[p.24]

True

False

7) Peikoff asserts that if we view the West's philosophic development in terms of essentials, three fateful turning points stand out, three major philosophers who, above all others, are responsible for generating the disease of collectivism and transmitting it to the dictators of our century. The three are: [p.26]

Plato, Kant, Nietzsche

Plato, Kant, Marx

Hegel, Darwin, Martin Luther

Plato, Kant, Hegel

Etc.

J

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Did questions 5, 6 and 7 confuse you?

Did you think the assertions were someone else's view (not Peikoff's)? For question 6, when attempting to answer did you think: I don't know, maybe Randall means true according to Noam Chomsky?

Do you think the answers for questions 5, 6 and 7 are wrong?

If you think the answers are wrong, I encourage debate and discussion. If you think a question is worded in a way that it is confusing as to whose view is being expressed (true according to whom) then I'm happy to reword a question.

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Did questions 5, 6 and 7 confuse you?

Did you think the assertions were someone else's view (not Peikoff's)? For question 6, when attempting to answer did you think: I don't know, maybe Randall means true according to Noam Chomsky?

Do you think the answers for questions 5, 6 and 7 are wrong?

If you think the answers are wrong, I encourage debate and discussion. If you think a question is worded in a way that it is confusing as to whose view is being expressed (true according to whom) then I'm happy to reword a question.

All the questions should be reworded regardless if any are clear, for the sake of standard-testing methodology. This is a technical issue. It gives immediate focus on what needs to be focused on by the test-taker without all this folderol. This would be especially valuable to your work if absent professional polish professionals, say ten years from now, elect not to use your tests. It's such a small thing to fix up, really, but it marks you as an amateur in spite of all your hard work. Wake up and smell the professional roses. I'm not aware of anyone here actually talking about the quality of the questions' content respecting the tested material, which is what you are stubbornly looking for, not mine or Jonathan's comments which apply to all your questions on all your tests. We are trying to help you.

--Brant

and we're not from the government :)

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I appreciate that. I just think it is interesting that this objection is coming up now. When I provided the Objectivism: General Knowledge Test 01, I do not recall anyone raising this issue.

Consider test question 1:

Existence is the primary metaphysical fact, which does not require proof or explanation. [OPAR, p.7]

True or False.

Are you saying that this question should be reworded to:

According to Peikoff, Existence is the primary metaphysical fact, which does not require proof or explanation.

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Did questions 5, 6 and 7 confuse you?

In writing question #4, did you think that it would have been confusing if you had asked "The cause of Nazism is ________"? Why did you include "Dr. Peikoff maintains that" at the beginning of the sentence?

Did you think the assertions were someone else's view (not Peikoff's)? For question 6, when attempting to answer did you think: I don't know, maybe Randall means true according to Noam Chomsky?

In question #4, did you think that readers would assume that someone else's views (not Peikoff's) were being asked about? Did you think that they would think, "I don't know, maybe Randall means what caused Nazism according to Noam Chomsky." Is that why you identified for the test-taker the fact that you were asking what Peikoff maintains caused Nazism?

Do you think the answers for questions 5, 6 and 7 are wrong?

Do you think that the answer to question 4 would be wrong if the question didn't include the phrase "Dr. Peikoff maintains"?

J

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I appreciate that. I just think it is interesting that this objection is coming up now. When I provided the Objectivism: General Knowledge Test 01, I do not recall anyone raising this issue.

Consider test question 1:

Existence is the primary metaphysical fact, which does not require proof or explanation. [OPAR, p.7]

True or False.

Are you saying that this question should be reworded to:

According to Peikoff, Existence is the primary metaphysical fact, which does not require proof or explanation.

Yes, or even OPAR. As to not mentioning this before maybe it wasn't obvious then how much you were going to be investing in all this. What I'm thinking now is how will this travel? You are creating a body of work.

--Brant

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In writing question #4, did you think that it would have been confusing if you had asked "The cause of Nazism is ________"? Why did you include "Dr. Peikoff maintains that" at the beginning of the sentence?

Question #4:

4) Dr. Peikoff maintains that the cause of Nazism is ______________. [p.20-25]

The possible answers are:

A) because the Germans lost World War I (This possible cause was named on p.20)

B) the Great Depression (also named as a theory on p.20)

C) secularism or the scientific spirit of the modern world (also named as a theory on p.20)

D) none of the above (Peikoff's theory is that the science of philosophy "determines the destiny of nations and the course of history." p.23]

When I decided form this question, I thought it would be helpful to emphasize that I was looking for Peikoff's theory as opposed to the many other theories which were also named in the same section. In fact, I think answers A, B and C are fairly widespread. This emphasis, in my opinion, wasn't absolutely necessary, but I provided it. If someone did not read the book, or they were not focusing while reading it, they might have been likely to select any of the wrong answers.

In question #4, did you think that readers would assume that someone else's views (not Peikoff's) were being asked about? Did you think that they would think, "I don't know, maybe Randall means what caused Nazism according to Noam Chomsky." Is that why you identified for the test-taker the fact that you were asking what Peikoff maintains caused Nazism?

The important point of the question is to identify the cause of Nazism which is put forth in The Ominous Parallels by Dr. Peikoff.

Because Peikoff names several competing theories (p.19-25) I think a person could have been confused and could have ascribed the wrong theory to Peikoff. However, even if I had left out "Dr. Peikoff maintains," I don't think any rational test taker would object, thinking that I'm looking for a theory asserted by Chomsky or Rothbard, etc.

Do you think that the answer to question 4 would be wrong if the question didn't include the phrase "Dr. Peikoff maintains"?

No, I don't think the question would be wrong or unfair if worded without "Dr. Peikoff maintains."

At this point, I have to say, I'm satisfied with the additional disclaimer I have added to all of the tests. But, I haven't been convinced that there is any serious need to "opinionate" most of the test questions.

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