Re: Question 15 Challenged

From: Harnad, Stevan (
Date: Wed May 21 1997 - 09:30:37 BST

> > From: Gill, Lynn <>
> >
> (15) According to Sperber & Wilson's relevance theory, which would be
> most relevant to you now:
> A. a statement that gives you the answer to question 15?
> B. an explanation of how to compute the answers to all 36 questions in
> 18 minutes of calculation?
> C. an explanation of how to compute the answers to 18 of the questions
> in 9 minutes of calculation?
> D. a list of the answers to 6 of the 36 questions?
> E. ***a list of the answers to all 36 of last year's questions?
> > I would like to know why 'e' is the correct answer, because
> > I don't see how the answers to last years questions are
> > going to be of any help, ie are most relevant, since tests
> > are never the same from one year to the next.

This was probably the hardest question on the quiz. Remember Sperber &
Wilson's 2 criteria for relevance? What is most relevant is what has
(1) the largest number of implications, weighted by (2) how much effort
it requires to get those implications. So it's most implications with
least effort.

And I had also said that there was a problem with these criteria,
because we don't want large quantities of just any old implications: We
want RELEVANT implications. But "relevance" was supposed to be captured
by Sperber & Wilson's criteria. Number of implications/effor was
supposed to be the measure of the relevance. So the criteria are

So let's count implications, and put beside them (in parentheses) the
relative amount of effort

A: 1 (0 minutes effort)
B: 36 (18 minutes effort)
C: 18 (9 minutes effort)
D: 6 (0 minutes effort)
E: 36 (0 minutes effort)

E gives you the most information for the least effort, but it is not
relevant to this year's quiz! Sperber & Wilson's criteria would
nevertheless pick E.

(By the way, last year's exam is not COMPLETELY irrelevant to this
year's quizzes, but that too is irrelevant, since the S & W criteria
are just pure implication/effort counters. Do look at last year's
skywriting and exam questions where the topic is relevant -- but
be sure to look at my comment on the practise answers that last year's
student gave, because my comment was meant to show what the answer would
have had to be to get a 1st.)

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