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 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 46
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History
The wrong answerPage 4 of 4    (1, 2, 3, 4)
RE Msg: 69 by Rainsands:

1) You really take me too seriously. I get up a lot of people's noses, but mainly because I seem to have a knack for looking at things from angles that others tell me they've never considered. I still have to consider their view, of course. So I try to consider all views. But it still seems to get up a lot of people's noses, when I point out that there is more than one way to look at things.

2) I did consider that the USA might have a different way of doing things. But as everyone I know who has compared the students of the UK and US educational systems seems to regard the US students as being far less educated, both in breadth of knowledge and in depth of understanding, I didn't really want to get into that.

3) AFAIK, the same rules apply on primary and secondary level exams in the UK.

4) Obviously, one can point out that exams are often designed by teachers. An oral exam is still an exam, and so is any test set by a teacher. Even a question asked to you is an exam. But we cannot validate those questions in comparing people's ability to answer them so easily as we can with the questions set by an examining board that are set on a national level. However, even in exams in university where lecturers set their exams, AFAIK, the same rules applied in the UK to them as well.

5) You clearly agree with my point about not making assumptions, as you pointed out that I had made assumptions, as if that was a problem. Thing is, if you apply the rule of not making assumptions, then to follow the "simplest" argument, or to follow the "expected method", requires assumptions. So the minute you agree that making assumptions is not a good thing, they go out the window.

6) Thank you for pointing out that Occam's Razor was actually said by John Ponce. I did not know this. In future, I will point this out to everyone who cites it.

7) To be honest, I don't use an argument just because someone called William of Ockham said it, any more than I would use an argument because John Smith said it. I use an argument because it seems logical and useful to me.

I have just found that in my life, many people pick what they considered the simplest answer, or the expected answer, and frequently, they would get it wrong, and everyone around paid the price for it. That's just something about humanity I learned to accept. But for some reason, I looked at things differently. However, I could not be sure of myself, when so many went another way. So I considered both ways. But, having found 2 ways, I realised there could be more, and maybe they were right. So I would consider even more. Then I started to notice, that when I considered things, I would often see answers that others did not, but that more often than not, people would not listen. However, when they did, I noticed that everyone in the room seemed to think I had something important to say.

At school, most of my teachers seemed to prefer the expected from us. But then, most of my fellow classmates thought little of our teachers. So it really didn't make a difference. However, only a few teachers were respected by the teachers, and these were the ones who were the most logical in my eyes. They were very authoritarian. But their discipline was an open discipline. If you could solve a problem by a different way, they would hear it out. But if you simply refused to do the work, then you suffered highly. For some reason, it was these teachers that got the best results from all their pupils, who were the only ones to command discipline from their pupils, and who their pupils actually respected.

So I guess you could say that all of my post is "my opinion". It's "my opinion" that when people make assumptions, In the workplace, I often had to pick up the slack, because I seemed to be the only one to consider what to do if the assumptions of the expected method turned out to be false. I found it also to be a very highly useful tool in diagnosing a problem in IT. In one case, a problem that had stumped 4 programmers, all much better programmers than me, for 4 hours, I solved in 5 minutes. Neither was this an isolated case. I have done this sort of thing often. Many imagine it is because I have a "knack", or skill they cannot comprehend. Really, I'm quite a lot slower than they are. But I do do one thing when I'm diagnosing a problem with a computer. I look for all the assumptions that people would normally make, the expected answers, and then imagine the opposite, and try to see if they are there, and that is usually the problem, at least with the code I've looked at, which is probably millions of lines of code by now.

Maybe your way is better. I know that when it comes to learning a language, or using anything else determined by social convention, it has an arbitrary but fixed basis, where the expected answers are really the only answers. But I have seen one thing consistently: when it comes to things that can be solved by logic, then my way works for me and everyone that uses it. IMHO, it works, a hell of a lot better than following the expected method.

8) Were someone I know to have a teacher who marks them for the expected answer, then I would tell them what I would tell anyone with such a teacher, to just give whatever they think is the expected answer, but to realise that the expected answer is what the teacher expects, and that is based on who they are. But people are different, and that student will meet many who do not share that teacher's expectations, who that student may have to work for, or may be taught by in a later class. With those people, different expectations will hold, and what was the right answer for the first teacher will likely be the wrong answer for the second, and vice versa. So they have to look at it as a class to get through, but not to hold any expectation that anything taught to them in that class is going to be valid for other situations, not without careful independent examination of everything studied to remove anything that was due to the expectations of the teacher, and not due to true information or facts.

9) I expressed the view of Churchill that I have encountered here in the UK, from many here, including those who lived through the war, including my own mother, but also others too. If you disagree, then you should know that many Americans do not share this view, although the Canadians I have met in the UK, and discussed the war with, also seemed to be of the same opinion.

I don't know of your experiences. But as you are 55, and a Libra, then you were 55 in 2009, which would make you born in 1954, about 9 years after the war. You're quite a lot younger than my parents, or my grandparents, or most people I learned about the war from. So it's very difficult for me to take your views seriously, when I'd spent a lot of time discussing the matter with people much closer to the subject.

10) As to your beliefs and what you do, I don't have a gun to your head. You are free to do as you wish, as am I. I just know what works for me, and can observe what works for others.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 48
view profile
History
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/27/2010 4:52:02 AM
RE Msg: 73 by quietjohn2:

Ouch - a very thinly veiled ad hominem
was actually directed at arguments on behalf of both.
Fair enough. I acknowledge that I can be a pain in the a**.
 b0rg
Joined: 12/14/2007
Msg: 49
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/27/2010 7:05:20 AM
Rainsands is correct, concise and relevant, as usual.
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Some Specific Answers…

Msg 63

It seems telling that a majority of the posts in this thread, rather than celebrate a fun STORY about creativity and inventiveness, choose to perpetuate the pedantry that the STORY chose to challenge.
Nope. The intent of the story was to perpetuate the myth that the fertile mind is unjustly muzzled by the academic system. The adjudicator is illustrated as being mired in process and presumption, when in reality, even a carefully crafted tale cannot show anything but the student surreptitiously ignoring the context of the question to travel down a differing path.

The “creativity and inventiveness” of the student one refers to is actually “insolence and haughtiness”. We have proven this. “Refutation” of our assertions has also been shown to be based on faulty logic and the usual host of disambiguation (straw man arguments) and diatribes into relatively irrelevant details. We have yet to see any legitimate claim that the student had achieved anything more than a big fat ZERO.

Rainsands is also correct in labeling such a statement as nothing more than a lightly veiled ad hominem.

Msg 63

I'm quite sure that the STORY teller, in designing both the QUESTION and the ANSWER, chose to phrase things ambiguously for the benefit of the STORY. Perhaps the moral is more how WE choose to view the STORY ourselves, thus being somewhat more general than the message of the STORY itself. What does this say about the first sentence of the OP?

That the story teller (and yes, EVERYONE realizes it is a STORY) chooses to be as vague as possible is a given. What is significant is that even then, the teller could not craft it without framing the situation as a PHYSICS exam, and that a specific instrument with specific attributes is to be used. If it were merely a question and not a physics question, AND if no barometer was indicated, you may have a point. As that is not the case, you do not.

Viewing a story correctly does not include leaving out important details. Even then, many educators are open to evaluating answers that speciously ignore such constraints (there’s nothing “pedantic” about that). We have already covered the point that elevating the problem to one of “choice of method” elevates the complexity of the answer required.

Discipline in process is not narrow-mindedness no matter how much some want to equate the two (nor does discipline restrict creativity: in reality it focuses creativity and places things in perspective.)

Msg 63

In all of the hyperbole about the 'best' method, no-one seems to have come up with any estimates of errors in the (presumed) desired method, or alternative methods in the story, so much of what has been said is mere speculation. Once more underlining the rigidity and even unrealistic arguments that always seem so easy to fall into.
Nope. We are certain that you understand that hyperbole is exaggeration and usually is often meandering trips into simile that border or cross into irrelevancy. The notion of “a best method for the tool given” is not an exaggeration. Hence to label it as hyperbole is incorrect.

As far as the analyses of error, none of it is necessary if the student merely answer the question via the conventional method. We have already covered this.

The only hyperbole we see is when posters (be it this thread or others) have no valid logical rebuttal, and instead take some loosely related detail and expand on it beyond to deflect from being wrong about the salient issue. In some cases, people will employ outright falsehood to do this. As usual, we leave it to the general audience to see where this occurs.

Msg 63

Had the STORY teller chosen a truly smart student, he would have had the student acknowledge the expected answer, defining the expected measures and computations of the solution. In the process, highlighting assumptions and inacuracies (such as the 10% error acknowledged by NOAA - http://www.crh.noaa.gov/unr/?n=mslp) and then go on to list other methods.
Yes. This is what we have maintained.

As far as a 10% error, note that what is being measured and calculated in the link is really quite different from that of the story.

Msg 63

Then, perhaps quoting Occam's razor to weed out excessive additional equipment, inaccuracies and assumptions, come up with the most appropriate solution. My guess would be comparing shadow lengths - or trading the barometer for a rangefinder.
There may be conditions as to why the measurement is to be done by barometric methods (We caution those that think they have refuted this to realize that merely because The Collective does not answer does not mean we do not have an answer.) If a client asks for such a solution, one can certainly offer an error analyses, and alternate methods, but one must remember that assuming the client is “too stupid or too regimented to realize that”, is generally an incorrect assumption.
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Rainsands is correct, concise and relevant, as usual.

You have engaged The B0rg
“Resistance is Futile”
 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 50
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/27/2010 11:51:04 PM

We have yet to see any legitimate claim that the student had achieved anything more than a big fat ZERO.

Get real. He gave correct answers to the question. How does that merit a zero? I'd have given him full marks...more if it were possible for the creative thinking involved. If I had made up the question like that I would be the one (rightfully) humbled by his clever answers and bite the bullet of my pride. IMO the question reveals more of the test taker than the student. Obviously it wasn't framed in such a way that allowed no logical alternatives (which it ought to have been if the one making up the question was worth his salt as an educator)

correct in labeling such a statement as nothing more than a lightly veiled ad hominem.

So contempt is good for marks (deducted)? Did it say THAT on the test? The kid was right to find the question an insult to his intelligence. Retaliation with a contemptuous (but correct) answer only points out the flawed question.

a specific instrument with specific attributes is to be used.

...and it was, was it not?

elevating the problem to one of “choice of method” elevates the complexity of the answer required.

In that case, the question ought not to have allowed for it. If there exist more correct answers than are given in the answer key, whose fault is that?

Discipline in process is not narrow-mindedness no matter how much some want to equate the two

It depends what you mean by discipline in process. If you mean "discipline" as in marking a zero for a contemptuous but correct answer, then that isn't discipline in process, that is narrow mindedness.
 xlr8ingmargo
Joined: 7/28/2009
Msg: 51
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/28/2010 12:46:06 AM
As my daughter put it (I followed her the two hours from her house to mine),
while we sang B-I-N-G-O over our cell phones... BINGO
 b0rg
Joined: 12/14/2007
Msg: 52
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/31/2010 5:13:55 PM
The whole point is that “CONTEXT” is everything.

This has been clearly explained. This excuse of “the instructor never clearly stated the question” totally depends on ignoring context. There is always this immediate assumption that it is the examiner who was being “narrow-minded”, but it has been shown that smug answers are rarely as well thought out as one thinks. We have proven that it has occurred in the fictional story. It is ironic that it is also demonstrated in equally self-satisfied, but fundamentally flawed, attempts at rebuttals here too.

If you have some new angle on this, by all means let’s hear it. But if it’s just ignoring the CONTEXT again, we will refer back to this message.
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Some specific answers…


Msg 76


We have yet to see any legitimate claim that the student had achieved anything more than a big fat ZERO.

Get real. He gave correct answers to the question. How does that merit a zero?

We have already explained why the student did not give a “correct” answer. Giving you the benefit of the doubt that you may have missed it, we shall explain again.

The question was framed in a physics exam, and was further qualified with the use of a specialized instrument with specific functionality. To offer an alternate use without explanation as to why it was chosen over the conventional use is not worthy of marks.

Also, consider that conditions that favour the intended use, may not favour the use of the method suggested by the student (that of chaining.) Had the student mentioned the caveats necessary for his method, chances are he would have attained at least a marginally passing grade for thinking the problem through.

However, since the implication of the exam was to test the understanding of how pressure is related to depth, it is a requirement to, at a bare minimum, demonstrate it. The student did not so he fails.

The concept of implied conditions has also been explained. It is pure folly to consider that one can reject constraints to support answers that require them to be lifted. If this were so, all constraints could be lifted and replaced with convenient ones. Usually methods are constrained because other methods are not practical (and no, one doesn’t always have sight lines available or the luxury of triangulation). It would be like offering the solution of “just use a pry bar” only to discover that the reason you were asked to employ a smaller device with a specific method was because there was NO ROOM to use a lever (or resources to build an adaptor.) What was that? They should have said so? Nope. They already implied it when they gave you the device with a specific method.

Msg 76

I'd have given him full marks...more if it were possible for the creative thinking involved.

The test was on barometric concepts. Answer that and receive full marks. If one is considering “creative thinking”, that can be applied after achieving the main goal. Whether that creative thinking is in the form of method and error analyses, or a combination of that and a lovely pen and ink caricature of the instructor, that is the way to express real creativity. (Of course, all sorts of essay into the character of the instructor, or claims of victory based on false data are not.)

Msg 76

If I had made up the question like that I would be the one (rightfully) humbled by his clever answers and bite the bullet of my pride. IMO the question reveals more of the test taker than the student. Obviously it wasn't framed in such a way that allowed no logical alternatives (which it ought to have been if the one making up the question was worth his salt as an educator)

This is the presumption that always elicits so much anger when refuted. The truth is all those “clever” answers are actually poorly thought out. Has one even considered the inherent problems with draping a “rope” over the edge of a tall building? (Yes, that includes Burj Kahlifa.) Geometry, material properties, oscillation, etc are all important factors. What about the pendulum methods? Did the student really demonstrate knowledge of their limitations within the domain of answers to be expected? H.G. Lucky pointed out the fundamental oversight with the distance to time calculation. The answers were not in the least “clever.”

As far as leaving too much room for interpretation, we have covered this. If the student elects to take the more challenging path… then show the work, and get the bonus points. However, to go for the gold with the game of a neophyte is a recipe for the big fat ZERO.

People think that this is a “hard line” and is not encouraging “creative thought”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even as a “story”, it has to be relayed that REAL creativity is not as easily come by as that. We do not think a single instructor out there would not be thrilled with seeing real creativity. So, yes… we have, indeed, gotten “real”.

Msg 76



correct in labeling such a statement as nothing more than a lightly veiled ad hominem.

So contempt is good for marks (deducted)? Did it say THAT on the test? The kid was right to find the question an insult to his intelligence. Retaliation with a contemptuous (but correct) answer only points out the flawed question.

You do realize that what you just quoted was an agreement with Rainsands comment about a statement in msg 63 (and not that of the fictional student’s answer). We’ll assume it was an oversight…

Demonstrating contempt is probably good for all sorts of disciplinary action, but many adjudicators are reasonably forgiving. As far as an insult to one’s intelligence, the student may have felt so, but exhibited such a poor “rebuttal” that he gave evidence that his premise of superior aptitude was ill-conceived. Lol. Those “cute” answers proved no intelligence to his insult.

This is why a real “rebuttal” would have gone into analyses of the errors in the conventional method as well as an offer of an alternate solution and its associated error analyses. Of course, none of this mitigates neither ignoring the implied conditions that more precise methods may not be available nor neglecting that the specific knowledge being examined was not demonstrated.

Please read our analogy of about “driver’s license, please” as facetiously “correct” rarely earns one any respect let alone passing grades. If the student felt the question was too open to interpretation, who was really not applying “critical thinking” by not realizing that the question was not about all the other ways a barometer can be used?

Msg 76


a specific instrument with specific attributes is to be used.

...and it was, was it not?
It should be apparent that the specific attributes are the attributes which set a barometer apart from some non-descript piece of modern art or a can of beans. (We did explain this, so specific is adequate a term in this context.) As such, the student did not.

Msg 76



elevating the problem to one of “choice of method” elevates the complexity of the answer required.

In that case, the question ought not to have allowed for it. If there exist more correct answers than are given in the answer key, whose fault is that?
We’ve already addressed how “playing out of bounds” means playing a more dangerous game.

The question essentially doesn’t allow for it within the explicit and implied constraints. Yes. There are obvious constraints. If one is in Manhattan (yes, NYC) and ask for directions to Broadway and Third, no one (including that fictional student) can claim “you didn’t ask specifically in which city” and send you on the way to Los Angeles without being speciously obtuse.

We also note that latitude is allowed if the more difficult answer is chosen. If that is not in the “answer key”, it remains to be seen. Just what is in this answer key that we have apparently overlooked?

Msg 76



Discipline in process is not narrow-mindedness no matter how much some want to equate the two

It depends what you mean by discipline in process. If you mean "discipline" as in marking a zero for a contemptuous but correct answer, then that isn't discipline in process, that is narrow mindedness.

That would be “discipline in process” as in procedure to problem-solving (which includes firstly identifying a problem, its scope, and its constraints.) But if one wants to frame that as in respects to the process of adjudication, we have already covered that too.

If one wants to say that the question was ambiguous, we have already demonstrated that it actually wasn’t (read that part about Manhattan again.) If one wants to say that merely offering an alternate method was enough, we have already mentioned that methods than employ poor use of devices supplied, offer questionable results, and may require far more equipment and resources than reasonably available, is incompletion.

We have already allowed much latitude in that not realizing the intended use of an instrument, and instead choose to use it in method that does not demonstrate adequate understanding of the topic being examined is essentially a failing result. Given that, the student had to show that he understood the implications of his methodology (which he did NOT … see the part where H.G. Lucky pointed to the flaw in the d=1/2at^2 calculation).

None of that process in adjudication is “narrow-mindedness”.

If anything, the student was narrow-minded in thinking that the examiner wasn’t aware of all these “cute” answers and would expect MORE if one wants to escalate the challenge.

The mark of a “big fat ZERO” is for an INCOMPLETE answer that demonstrated narrow-mindedness on the part of the fictional student.
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The whole point is that “CONTEXT” is everything. This has been clearly explained. This excuse of “the instructor never clearly stated the question” totally depends on ignoring context. There is always this immediate assumption that it is the examiner who was being “narrow-minded”, but it has been shown that smug answers are rarely as well thought out as one thinks. We have proven that it has occurred in the fictional story. It is ironic that it is also demonstrated in equally self-satisfied, but fundamentally flawed, attempts at rebuttals here too.

If you have some new angle on this, by all means let’s hear it. But if it’s just ignoring the CONTEXT again, we will refer back to this message.


You have engaged The B0rg
“Resistance is Futile”
(Marlets… Enough talk… post up some “knotty” photos… Lol.)
 itsallinthesoul
Joined: 6/26/2009
Msg: 53
The wrong answer
Posted: 2/1/2010 11:19:04 AM
What a lovely story and that student is someone I would love to meet and talk with. As a group, we tend to think in terms of what we have been told is the "right" answer to all of the questions of life. Gifted is the one who can visualize many "right" answers to any questions and has learned to walk alone......
 JP1111
Joined: 4/13/2008
Msg: 54
The wrong answer
Posted: 2/28/2010 11:00:47 PM
I think the two are not related since one answer (the one the teacher will want) will be a comprehension of the subject at hand and the other will be a demonstration of creative thought.

I find that in life, the use of both of these is crucial. Even when you graduate and need to find a job, the thing most people do is to look for job postings that are advertised in the newspaper/job banks etc… But it will take a keen mind to think about other ways of tackling and approaching it differently… like I did!
 wvwaterfall
Joined: 1/17/2007
Msg: 55
view profile
History
The wrong answer
Posted: 3/1/2010 6:38:09 AM
I'm reminded of a problem included on a test I took in an advanced probability and statistics class many years ago:

"Five politicians meet for lunch. Each shakes hands with each of the others exactly once. How many total handshakes occurred?" Show your work.

Given all the more complicated problems we'd been working on in that class, all of the other students utilized complex formulas to fill a page with calculations and ultimately reach the correct answer. (10)

I simply drew a circle on the paper, marked five dots on the circle, connected all the dots, and counted the lines between dots.

Not only did I get credited for getting the answer right, when we went back over the test the prof first had one of the other students go to the board and demonstrate his complex method of solving the problem, then had me show my method, and admonished everyone to not make math harder than it needed to be.

Dave
 Inicia
Joined: 12/21/2007
Msg: 56
The wrong answer
Posted: 3/1/2010 11:46:18 AM
It appears that what the student demonstrated was an inability to grasp the understanding of authority figures. Which is demonstrated in every aspect of our world.

In essence we can all run around giving answers that are not expected of us and ask questions hoping to trip people into giving predictable answers or stumbling blocks and see who we can trip up::: so be it..


A) exists in as much as the problem exists it doesn't. or

WE could go on forever with scenarios to respond to this situation.....It really doesn't matter it is culturally determined. It is determined by not the correct math answer, that is irrelevant. the solution to your hypothetical problem is determined by the academic system within which a student is placed and the desired outcome of the education .

IMO Right now for our education system it seems that the desired outcome is the right answer.. and they want students to know the right answer not question what the hell is going on......we are past that phase.. it is too late.. we have to know what is going on and get the right answer and do something about it.... no more questioning the game of life... lol get off my duff and answer it right and do what I personally need to do on my path what ever that may be....It was once fun to question why my shadow was here but now there is a big hole in the ozone burning my flesh off figure some solutions out beyond bullcrap bug my teacher for their ability to phrase a question or waste a students time nit picking. we got bigger things to worry about....
 dalane75
Joined: 3/20/2009
Msg: 57
The wrong answer
Posted: 3/1/2010 9:45:51 PM
I have browsed through the posts so forgive me if I cover material that has already been addressed.

After browsing the posts I cannot help but think that an important detail has been overlooked that could be beneficial in coming to an agreement. Without this detail it is easy to digress from evaluating the moral of the story given that the moral of the story has not been revealed. An apparent moral of the story is that students that are bright or at least creative in their thinking will be hampered by the dictates of the powers of the educational system.

The important detail is that the independent arbiter is the narrator of the story. This may seem to be insignificant except in the fact that the narrator of the story is an independent arbiter and so much like the reader of the story. The reader in turn is forced into the position of the student in which they must work from the information given and determine the context of the question. The reader in determining the proper course of action also becomes like the teacher. The reader is like all three (no wonder there is such a difference in opinion.)

If as another post mentioned that the moral of the story is a parody on the reader then we forced into a conundrum for we are like all three characters. The apparent position of the story forces us to conclude that the story is not about the proper way of asking a question or in determing the answer. It becomes a story that forces us to evaluate our values and which character that we identify to based on those values. The ambiguities of the narration show that any answer is debatable and the position the reader is placed makes us believe (make-believe) the story means something. It is thus my contention that the moral of the story is to show the in-the-box thinking that we have been raised in with a make believe notion that we must apply values of right and wrong to a story. If you read the story it is only one that presents two sides without judgement. It is the reader that believes they must judge. The only decision the narrator makes is that both are given a second chance and the student is given a further vague set of instructions.

So my thoughts on the story is that its moral point, what it leads us to conclude, is that the story is just a story. We allow ourselves to be caught in boxes we form...even when we think creatively. Without any value argued, with only a retelling of a story we allow ourselves to makes values from it. Suppose we are only to read it and thinking outside the box, to follow the test, to judge fairly, we must as the reader only read it.
 dalane75
Joined: 3/20/2009
Msg: 58
The wrong answer
Posted: 3/8/2010 9:38:25 PM
I suppose it could be meant to show the dilemma of the scientist as well in evaluating a given set of information.
 Epicetus
Joined: 2/21/2010
Msg: 59
The wrong answer
Posted: 3/8/2010 10:51:20 PM
>> Academia is lacking in “critical thinking”. >>

usually is lacking.. teachers haven't the time to assess non standard answers.... and even in research, one eyedness predominates

no academic has time to debate an answer, nor do they allow someone else to criticism.. even at coffee table discussions, ego rules

just human nature
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