so profound

The power of email. It brings me wonders like these deep thoughts.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners
3. Name the last five winners of Miss America
4. Name 10 people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Price
5. Name half dozen Academy Award winners
6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners

How did you do?
The point is, none of us remember the headlines of yesterday.
These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their
fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are
forgotten, and records broken. Accolades and cerficates are buried
with their owners. Here’s another quiz. See how you do.

1. List a few teachers who have aided your journey through school
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and
special
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with

Easier???

The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. THEY ARE THE ONES WHO CARE.

Sadly, these sets of questions suffer from a minor level of specificity mismatch. Translating the second set of questions into the level used in the first set, the questions would more like “name the five teachers in the world who have meant the most to their students” or “name the five most worthwhile things taught over the last decade.” Those are a just tiny bit tougher.

Or we could port the other way “Name a few actors whose performance you’ve liked” or “Name all the Heisman trophy winners you’ve played touch football with.” Those are just a tad easier, wouldn’t you say?

Geez, I guess it wasn’t so profound after all.

6 thoughts on “so profound”

  1. 5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with

    If you’d asked me this in 1985 I could have given you an answer, no problem. But right now for some reason I can’t think of anyone.

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  2. If you’d asked me this in 1985 I could have given you an answer, no problem. But right now for some reason I can’t think of anyone.

    Maybe it’s really a curmudgeon test.

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  3. I can’t believe I’m defending one of those chain emails, but I don’t understand why the two lists need to be of comparable specificity. Isn’t the email just saying, “list some people who did some things we consider to be Great Things. Now list some people who did some things we consider to be Not All That Great…” Don’t the lists take on meaning because of their different scopes? Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s how I understood it.

    It’s still dumb, though. I’ll grant you that.

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  4. Ok, maybe I should have been more clear. The writer wants us to be wowed because it’s so much harder to remember the things on list A than list B, and therefore we should realize that things on list A aren’t as important as those on list B.

    But the reason list A is harder isn’t because they aren’t as important as we thought, but because it’s much harder to come up with really specific information like “THE five wealthiest people in world” versus something vague like “name five wealthy people.” If the questions in both lists were parallel in specificity, there wouldn’t be a difference in the difficulty in answering the question, and therefore the writer couldn’t claim that it reveals something so important about our misguided human existence.

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