301 60-Seconds : Quick, figure this out

by Fred Showker

Fred Showker As you know -- things aren't always the way they seem! There are a lot of really down-to-earth lessons our educational system seems to be missing these days in favor of more lofty, perhaps unnecessary, lessons. Today, John McWade sent me a brain teaser that clearly illustrates this point...

John McWade recently wrote in an email titled : "Typesetting: Better is not always better!" And I quote John :

Quoting John McWade begins On my iPhone’s Kindle app I’m reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. Early in the book, I come across an interesting bit that pertains to the way we set type.

Yale professor Shane Frederick has invented a three-question test called the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT), which measures your ability, as Gladwell puts it, “to understand when something is more complex than it appears — to move past impulsive answers to deeper, analytic judgments.”

Two of its three questions are . . .

1. A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

2. If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

Most people answer incorrectly. Students at MIT scored only 2.18 out of 3. Harvard students 1.43. Students at less “brainy” colleges scored even lower. Quoting John McWade ends

How did you do?

You should be able to get this without even thinking -- specially if you're involved at all in graphic design, signage, or printing. Both questions reflect situations you'll come in contact with in the visual communications fields. The answers came to me before finishing reading the quizes.

John then goes on to share the answers. How did you do? John writes :

Quoting John McWade begins The intuitive response is that the ball must cost 10 cents. But the question says the bat costs $1.00 more than the ball, which means the bat by itself would cost $1.10. So that can’t be right. The correct answer is that the ball costs 5 cents. As for the widgets, 100 machines can of course make 100 widgets just as fast as 5 machines can make 5 widgets — in 5 minutes. Quoting John McWade ends

Elementary. But then John goes on to tie the lesson into typesetting and particularly typography as seen via the Kindle book on his iPhone screen. A little out of left field, but very valid just the same. Thank you John!

GO John McWade's Design Talk
GO David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
GO Kindle Edition

And, thanks for reading

Fred Showker

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