Friday, 3 October 2008

All advertisers are fuckwits

Reading this thread on the badscience forums I was introduced to the concept of 'Diagonal Thinking'. Apparently:

"At the ‘Creative Britain in Golden Square’ event held this week, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham launched a new, free online self-assessment tool that identifies if you have what it takes to succeed in the ad industry. This unique psychometric test, developed on behalf of the IPA by consultancy AgencyPeople, will tell you if you have ‘Diagonal Thinking’ ability. It is designed as a recruitment tool to encourage applicants from all backgrounds to consider a career in advertising. "
Here's the Diagonal Thinking Test:

"The Diagonal Thinking Self-assessment is an online tool, designed to aid recruitment into the advertising and communication industries. It tests the hypothesis that the most successful individuals working in the business are both Linear and Lateral Thinkers – they think ‘diagonally’. "
I started to have a go, and was presented with the linear thinking test:

"This part of the test assesses your ability to decide whether a conclusion logically follows from a statement or not. For example, in stating:

"Some chefs work very long hours. All people who work very long hours eventually suffer from stress."

you could logically conclude that some chefs will eventually suffer from stress. For the purpose of this test, you must consider all statements presented to you to be true. For each conclusion given, you must decide whether it logically follows from the statement. If so, click on the 'Yes' button. If you decide that the conclusion does not follow from the statement, click the 'No' button. If you believe the statement gives insufficient information to make a decision about a conclusion, click on the 'Don't know' button. Try not to let your general knowledge or opinions affect your judgements. Just stick to the given statement of facts when making your decision."

Here is a screenshot of one of the example questions (I didn't get as far as the actual test):

And here's another one:

It isn't entirely clear how we know that 'some scientists have very high levels of intellect' and 'all people with very high levels of intellect lack interpersonal skills' gives 'insufficient information to make a decision about a conclusion' over whether 'Some non-scientists are highly intellectual' yet we also know that 'all physicists have good interpersonal skills' 'does not follow from the statement'. One might be inclined to think that people in advertising know fuck all about logic and linear thinking, they certainly appear unable to figure out that despite physicists being a subset of scientists we can't tell whether any of them have high levels of intellect (and thus lack interpersonal skills) from these statements. Diagonal thinking my arse, smug self-congratulating tosspots more like.


Anonymous said...

Advertising budgets are the first to be cut when a company realizes it doesn't have money to waste - advertisers are desperately trying to justify their worthless existences.

TimW said...

Yeah, I had a go at this too, and noticed the same thing. Obviously I'm not diagonal enough to understand why there are three options to choose from when deciding whether the conclusion logically follows from the statements.

pj said...

Well although it isn't clear, I've done a fair few of these tests in my time, and I think what they intended was that you say 'yes' if the statement follows from the premise, 'no' if the statement is false according to the premise, and 'don't know' if you can't tell. Unfortunately it seems that they don't actually know much about logic, so their instructions are not clear. This would explain their examples where the first one is correctly marked 'don't know' and the second is oncorrectly marked 'no' because they mistakenly assume that because physicists are scientists therefore a statement about all scientists is also true of them a subset).

TimW said...

That's what I would have expected too!
The question would be whether (given the premises) the conclusion is "True" / "False" / "Can't tell". But they really seem to be *trying hard* to ask: whether you can draw the conclusion. And the answers look like "Yes" / "No" / "I don't know, give me a job in advertising".

Anonymous said...

the answer to the second question should be don't know since it is possible (taken into accountonly the information given) that the scientists with high intellect are all non-physicists.