Category: School

Logical, But Wrong

Consider the argument (symbolized and written in standard form, where the first three lines are the premises and the last line is the conclusion):

p · q
~p v ~q

The definition of an argument’s validity is thus: if all the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true. The argument is invalid if all the premises are true and the conclusion is false. So to determine whether the argument is valid or not, we simply look at all possible scenarios where the conclusion is false. This means we evaluate the premises and the conclusion given that q is false and p is false, and again given that q is false and p is true.

(Also, the expression ~p v ~q means “either p or q must be false”, and p · q means “both p and q must be true”.)

pp · q~p v ~qq

What the table tells us is that there is no possible situation where the conclusion is false that all of the premises are true. Logically, the argument is valid. So what’s the problem? Watch what happens when I expand the table to allow for the conclusion to be true as well:

pp · q~p v ~qq

Look at the third and fourth columns – p · q and ~p v ~q. As you can see, these two expressions always evaluate opposite of each other – that is, one will be true and the other will be false – regardless of the individual values of p and q. This is a problem, because both of these expressions are premises in the same argument. So while logically the argument is valid, it’ll never be correct.

Screw you, Spock!

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That’s the story of my life. Bookended a weekend of moving from the east campus to main campus with exams on Friday morning and Monday night, and I have another test tomorrow and yet another on Thursday. So in the span of six days, one test in each of my four classes.

I also have to write a paper on Justinian’s Flea by next Friday, and I haven’t even picked the book up since early October.

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Results and Such

My assessment of last Friday’s performance on the history test turned out to be pretty accurate. I got all the multiple choice questions right, lost 3 points (out of 20) on the long answer stuff, and lost 2 points (out of 35) on the essay. The 5 lost points were a result of leaving minor-but-important details out that the teacher was specifically looking for. Grand total was 70 out of 75 points, or a little over 93%.

Also took a history of rock music test this week, and keeping in mind I got a 97% on the first test, I only got a dismal 92% on this one. I didn’t pay enough attention to the material on Bob Dylan, apparently. Either way, I have one more test coming up in November, and as long as I get a B I’ll have an A for the semester.

If the semester ended today I’d have a 4.0 GPA. That’s not a bad start… now I just need to keep that up for another 10 weeks.

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School Update

First, I suppose in addition to not particularly feeling like I’m twenty-eight, most other folks don’t think I’m that age either. Apparently I look like I’m about six or seven years short of that. Kind of funny, but whatever.

We had our first exam in world history today, and it was in a format that I don’t have much experience in, which made me a little nervous. All of my tests so far have been a mix of short answer, fill in the blank, and multiple choice. Even the most insane of tests I had in Japanese at Metro in the spring and summer, which drilled you in every possible aspect of the language and ruthlessly exposed every weakness you had, weren’t much more difficult than writing complete sentences.

(On a tangent, last week I aced my first Japanese test. Ever. This class is cookies and milk compared to what I’m used to, and in that respect I don’t think I’m getting my money’s worth from UNL. But anyways.)

Today’s test was a quick round of multiple choice/FITB, followed a long answer section requiring about a paragraph written about four terms, and then a two page essay. The study guide for the test was handed out a couple weeks ago, and it contained twenty possible terms for the long answer section and five possible essay questions. The material covers pretty much everything from the dawn of civilization up until around 250 BCE, so we’re talking about three millennia worth of material from Greece, China, Egypt, India, and the Middle East. It took literally until yesterday to finish my notes on the study guide because we were getting material that would be on the test in lectures up until the very last minute.

That’s actually not that big of a deal though, because I had no problem learning and remembering the material. The reason I was so anxious going in is that I’ve never particularly cared for writing essays. I sloughed them off in high school (which is why I’m sure my AP government teacher regrets letting me sign up for his class my senior year) and generally did my best to skirt them beyond high school as well. So to go from that to all of a sudden having to fire off a massive compare and contrast essay in a short block of time was a bit of a concern for me.

The end result?

Turns out all the time I’ve spent having literary diarrhea on my site really helped me to gather my thoughts and commit them to writing in a cohesive manner. The hardest part of the essay wound up being avoiding setting my hand on fire from writing so much so quickly, and I ended up writing a solid three page essay (outline, thesis statement, and conclusion included) in about twenty-eight minutes.

As for the quality of the writing itself, I won’t find out for at least a week or so. There are almost two hundred essays that need to be graded by two teaching assistants. But what I do know is what Tom Osborne used to say about the value of preparation, and why I think I did well: you win your Saturday games in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. If you practiced well during the week, the final score tended to take care of itself. If you weren’t prepared, then there was no way you had a chance. I never hesitated on any of the questions, and the essay I wrote was coherent and viable (if not sloppily-written). In short, I blew the doors off this test days ago and I have high confidence that the score I get back will reflect that.

And now, it’s time for a sandwich.

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Nooo it are my birthday

I turned 28 today. I don’t really feel too old or out of place compared to the youngsters I have class with, so I guess things could be worse.

A quarter of the way through the first semester of classes, and I’ve learned a handful of things:

  • History of Rock Music is as easy as the title suggests, and having three multiple choice tests make up the grade for the entire semester pretty much guarantees an easy A.
  • Exam study guides help me cover up for the fact that I take way, way too many notes in class – close to 70 pages typed so far for all my classes.
  • The textbook we used at Metro for Japanese prepared you more or less for interacting with businessmen/businesswomen, and the textbook used at UNL prepares you for interacting with 20 year olds and surviving in a homestay on your study abroad trip. The grammar is the same, but there is a stark difference in speaking styles.
  • Unleashing your impressive knowledge of Japanese pop idols at the language table is a real good way to freak out your newfound international friends. (No, I wasn’t the guilty party for this one.)

And in closing:

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