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This Harry Potter quiz, for someone's thesis of all things, is… - Sally's Journal
June 6th, 2005
10:44 pm

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This Harry Potter quiz, for someone's thesis of all things, is really crap and annoying. You should all go and do it, (after all, it is for someone's thesis)



While answering the following questions please think only about the events of the extract which you just have read. All you know about Harry Potter or about the story in general shouldn't have any relevance for your answers.

I mean, what the fuck! You can only interpret that extract correctly if you know the rest of the story. If Harry was wrong, or lying, or boasting, then yes, maybe he's an arrogant little shit who is teaching kids to look up to people who are disrespectful to teachers. If however, he's seen his friend killed and is being lied about by some evil child abusing evil person, then his behaviour is completely justifiable. But there is no way to answer the questions knowing only the events of the extract without them painting... well, exactly the picture the questionnarre designer wants them to paint, of a brat with no sense of community who overreacts to being told off. The passage can only be analysed in context!

Sheesh. If they get a PhD for this I'll cry. Unless they're a theology student and the whole thing is really meta and trying to prove how taking things out of context destroys their true meaning... but I think their questionees will be either too stupid or actually unable to answer their questions which rely on a huge overriding context out of context. I know I was...

Grrr.

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From:enismirdal
Date:June 6th, 2005 10:17 pm (UTC)
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Ooops. I missed the bit about taking it out of context. Heee. I was thinking as I was going through, most of these things depend entirely on the circumstances surrounding the situation - if you don't know what led up to the confontation, you can't possibly judge whether Harry is just feeling rubbish or whether he is trying to be a hero. And the generalisations were just silly - it's not always right to behave as Harry did, but it's not always wrong either. And the same for Umbridge. She might be a twerp, but she is only doing her job. Which is fair enough, really... I guess...

Some of those questions were sooo silly. I admit I giggled at the, "I was hoping Harry Potter would be punished," bit (*reads too much dodgy slash*)

My main thought when reading the passage was how appalling it had been typed up and reproduced. There were typos and missed paragraph breaks and my inner beta reader was cringing.

In my personal opinion, Harry Potter is not as remarkable personalitywise as that survey seemed to be trying to get me to say. He is generally mature and responsible for his age, but otherwise he's just reacting to the circumstances...

And I have to say, I have never found myself in a sticky situation thinking, "What would Harry Potter do?" Nor have I ever desired to be him.

*joins in your bitching very loudly and totally agrees*
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From:ilanin
Date:June 6th, 2005 10:20 pm (UTC)
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Sorry, no.

The background to the situation doesn't matter. One iota. It's a higher-goal versus current-goal situation, and that much is obvious from the excerpt given. You do not need to know the background to interpret that.

Or, to quote one of my favourite scifi authors in a similar context:

"Now, imagine you're an officer in the New Republic military and you want to criticise a senior officer's mission planning. All other things being equal, do you do this in a public or private context?"
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From:enismirdal
Date:June 6th, 2005 10:36 pm (UTC)
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I would be interested to know what the correct answer to that question is in various people's opinion. Cos I know a LOT of people who would say that to criticise publicly would be out of the question. On the other hand, unless I was likely to get shot as a result, or similar, I am thoroughly of the opinion that if you have the guts to speak up, doing so in public is perfectly acceptable. After all, if a person has poor enough judgement to need heavy criticism, they practically deserve to have their authority undermined so people won't make the mistake of placing too much importance on their words in future.

Of course, in a military context I am sure it's different, but that's why I am keeping away from the military - it seems to consist of, IMHO, a disproportionate number of nut jobs with something to prove.

*goes back to reread extract and see exactly what Harry was stated to be thinking at the time* Darn... They won't let me go back. Blehness. Was there any indication in that passage that Harry actually believed in what he was saying? I've heard people come out with all sorts of rubbish just to be bratty.

There has to be a past history element as well though - whether Harry was a known troublemaker from Umbrage's point of view, or whether this was a first time offence, whether she knew if he believed what he was saying was true, why she was arguing with him, how much she knew of the situation with Voldemort, that kind of thing.
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From:pjc50
Date:June 6th, 2005 11:38 pm (UTC)
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I'm guessing that Ilanin's answer would be that the criticism is inappropriate in either context?
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From:ilanin
Date:June 6th, 2005 11:46 pm (UTC)
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Short answer: yes.

Long answer: Forthcoming. Tomorrow afternoon in my break between Exam 2 and preparing for Exam 3. Going to bed now.

*sleeps*
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From:enismirdal
Date:June 6th, 2005 11:48 pm (UTC)
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Aah. I see.

I think people who are wrong or showing poor judgement should be told by someone - if they could blatantly have made a better decision - whether the person making the error is a subordinate, someone of equal standing, a boss or, for that matter, a deity! I don't think being technically lower in rank makes someone necessarily less qualified to have an opinion and I for one would prefer not to die cos my CO is stupid.

But this, again, might be an indication of why I am utterly unsuited for the military!
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From:naath
Date:June 7th, 2005 12:09 pm (UTC)
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If I were to say 'you are an evil child raping person' (about you personally) then whether I am a piece-of-shit would depend on if you had raped any children - if you have then I am telling the truth and I am a part of causing your evilness to be exposed and getting an evil person locked up. If on the other had I am *talking out of my arse* and you never did any such thing, well *then* I am a horrid piece of shit who just potentially ruined your life just because I decided that I didn't like you.

If you have read the books and therefore know what happened previous to this bit then you know that Harry is telling the truth, it is clear and obvious from every part of HP that V. Is allive and well and out to kill Harry. Whether or not DU knows this is rather besides the point - she is unfairly accusing HP of lying without being willng to consider the evidence of the case.

To come to a fair assesment of the situation you need to know whether HP is lying and whether DU is lying or just in denial, the second is hard but the first is not. Were this a court case then I would say 'where is the evidence that V is allive and attacked you' and HP and friends would give that evidence and I would say 'well, HP is not lying so DU is wrong'.

In the more general case I see *nothing* wrong with critising authority. I would probably not critisise an officer's orders whilst actually in the middle of a fight because it is important that the group works together but I *would* critisise bad decisions after the fact. Probably in private to see if there was a reason.
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From:ilanin
Date:June 6th, 2005 10:17 pm (UTC)
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The entire world should now hope and trust you never find your way onto a jury....
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From:pjc50
Date:June 6th, 2005 10:29 pm (UTC)
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?
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From:ilanin
Date:June 6th, 2005 10:40 pm (UTC)
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Being at least willing to try to separate the actual evidence you hear from any context your mind or others try to attribute to it is pretty much essential if the accused is going to get a fair trial.
From:yrieithydd
Date:June 6th, 2005 11:06 pm (UTC)
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But, if one knew one of the parties in a court case as well as someone who has read all the books knows Harry, then I suspect one would be disqualified from serving in the jury for that case.
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From:atreic
Date:June 7th, 2005 07:58 am (UTC)
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Also, I'd be quite capable of judging if the paragraph gave enough evidence for Harry acted illegally, and would say "yes, he acted illegally" or "no he didn't" honestly. Questions like "do you think what he was doing was right" however, have the honest answer from just that extract "If he was telling the truth he wasn't doing anything wrong, if he was lying to create a fuss then he was" and there wasn't a box for that!
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From:pjc50
Date:June 6th, 2005 11:37 pm (UTC)
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I'm still not sure whether I understand you, especially with regard to context your own mind attributes to it. Without putting all the evidence into a coherent whole surely it is impossible to make a decision? Especially in balance-of-probability equity cases.

Have you seen Twelve Angry Men? It covers imagined context and reasonable doubt very well.
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From:naath
Date:June 7th, 2005 12:13 pm (UTC)
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Evidence... in this case we have 'he said, she said' I want evidence about Voldemort. And in a court of law I would either get it (Harry is not lying) or not (Harry is probably lying). How do I tell whether a fictional charachter who is not recorded has having taken a lie detector test and to whom I have to access to ask questions or give a lie detector test of some sort is lying or not?

Why would you asume that Harry was lying without knowing anything about V.

Further if Harry is not lying (as he is not) then in what way should he not do what he does in this section? Your suggestion that this is bad no-matter-what suggests that we should just all lie down and take whatever 'our superiors' disho out. BULLSHIT.
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From:geekette8
Date:June 7th, 2005 10:02 am (UTC)
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What's that got to do with it? On a jury, you would be directed by the judge as to what you were supposed to consider, but that would typically be something like "is [this evidence] sufficient to prove that [this person] committed [this crime], beyond reasonable doubt?"

That's an entirely different question from "do you think he did it?", and I think atreic knows that perfectly well.
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From:atreic
Date:June 7th, 2005 10:13 am (UTC)
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Exactly. If I were on a jury and the proceedings went "The man broke down the door of a house and removed the TV. Is he guilty of theft?" I would boggle and go "I can't answer this question unless you tell me whether he owns the house and the TV first!"
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From:ewx
Date:June 7th, 2005 12:17 pm (UTC)
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Surely he only has to own the TV? Breaking down the door of someone else's house wouldn't be theft unless he kept the door...
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From:bopeepsheep
Date:June 6th, 2005 10:25 pm (UTC)
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Nope, sorry, disagree. It is perfectly possible to analyse just that extract on its own. It may not result in the canon answers, but the text can work perfectly well as a stand-alone passage. The questioner may be looking at construction of character, plot, use of language, interpersonal dynamics - without further information it's hard to know what the goal is but there's every chance they'll achieve it. Not following the instructions potentially invalidates any data you give them. If someone deliberately did that to my (hypothetical) Ph.D I'd cry.
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From:atreic
Date:June 7th, 2005 07:52 am (UTC)
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Well, I tried to follow the instructions to the best of my ability, but 90% of the time my answer following the instructions was "if he's lying then that box, if he's not lying then that box" and you can't tick two boxes, and ticking the "no opinion on if this is good or bad" box is actually more of a lie than guessing and ticking one box. If she'd wanted good answers she should have provided a "cannot tell from this extract" box.

And given two of my (highly intelligent) LJ-friends completely failed to read the "take it out of context" paragraph, I feel that reading it and getting confused by it is no more destructive to the data set.
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From:ixwin
Date:June 7th, 2005 08:10 am (UTC)
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It's also particularly hard to answer the questions without having the extract in front of you at the time.
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From:emperor
Date:June 7th, 2005 08:45 am (UTC)
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I answered it having not read the relevant book, at which point I still wanted to say "well, the truth of the situation referred to changes my answers substantially"
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From:geekette8
Date:June 7th, 2005 09:06 am (UTC)
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If someone deliberately did that to my (hypothetical) Ph.D I'd cry.

Perhaps I'm just hard-hearted, but if someone gathers data for a PhD thesis by posting an online survey for people to fill in, then I think they'd better be well-prepared to get a mixture of genuine and non-genuine answers; and even of the genuine ones, a mixture of responders who have read and understood the question properly (i.e. as the asker intended) and those who haven't.
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From:bopeepsheep
Date:June 10th, 2005 10:35 am (UTC)
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I know, I just think If they get a PhD for this I'll cry is fatuous in the circumstances, and was referencing it. Being so caught up in fandom wank that you can't answer a survey without getting emotional about it scares me. And people who deliberately ignore instructions annoy me. For all we know this Ph.D survey has been designed to take into account the various objections raised. It could be about recall and language rather than Harry bloody Potter. It could be about online behaviour: seeing if lots of people would get annoyed enough to email the writer of such a survey. Who can say? But encouraging people to ignore instructions is sabotage, because it does skew the data unnecessarily (yes, you can make adjustments for human error but how do you make adjustments for a campaign?) and that would seriously annoy me if I were the surveyor, whatever the desired outcome.
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From:feanelwa
Date:June 6th, 2005 10:57 pm (UTC)
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Their data gathering: make a Harry Potter quiz on the internet.
My data gathering: Prepare your sample in scary vacuum chamber ion plasma thingy, at intervals taking it out to see if it's see through yet, for days. Then spend 8 hours at a stretch in a dark, nauseatingly air-conditioned room, going in when the sun's just come up and coming out when it's setting, with an hour's frustration trying to align the microscope using tools that are too stiff to turn, then looking at a little green glowing screen and doing maths-on-the-fly under a dim light for the other seven hours, then finding it was all wrong and having to go back and do it all. over. again. And then developing pictures in a smelly dark room, and having some idiot walk in and expose them all.

Your research I know is at similar levels of "Oh for heaven's sake why is it all so much effort?" ness.

Is this person training for a marathon as well? Otherwise I'm inclined to hide my answers under a very large rock to make the effort comparable.
From:yrieithydd
Date:June 7th, 2005 09:03 am (UTC)
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Mmmm, my data collection techniques are possibly more relevant than yours here. I sit in a library and collect examples from texts and stick them in a database. It's not effort so much as tedium!

However, I agree that there are major issues with this as a means of data collection. I am tempted to go back and do it in the Spanish version (because I want to prove that my Spanish is still up to it). I have a different email address so there is no way she can prove that it's me doing it twice (and that's optional anyway). This means that someone (or a group of someones) could deliberately skew her results. One might argue that it would take a lot of times through to do that, but given we're talking about the internet, the means of getting lots of people to fill in your quiz are the same as the means for getting lots of people to mess it up!
From:yrieithydd
Date:June 6th, 2005 11:05 pm (UTC)
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MMm. I have to admit to not having read the bit about ignore the rest of what I knew the story, but to be honest given the passage has Harry saying (and I paraphrase) 'I know Voldemort's back, I fought him, Cedric Diggory died' which gives the key piece of information. Admittedly, knowing he was telling the truth (having read the previous book) probably did colour how I interpreted some of the questions, but one of the which frustrated me about the questions was the fact that he was standing up against the pretence that nothing was wrong (people saying 'peace, peace' when there was no piece if you like).* For example, in the section about why you thought he acted like he did, there was nothing which came close to that and I would say that was the prime motivator.

I also picked out a few questions which seemed to miss the point entirely:
Harry Potter has already had more experience than others, but he shouldn't boast.

I don't think it's good that Harry Potter makes such a big deal of his victory over Lord Voldemort.

Harry Potter has already achieved and gone through a lot, and everyone should know about it.

I think he's right to let everyone know how angry he is.


They all put a lot of spin on how Harry acted. I don't think he does make a big deal of his victory of Voldemort. Even within the passage, he says -- I know, this is what happened; he's not boasting but he has to refer to it for his stance to be understandable/acceptable. He's not just rebelling for the sake of it. Nor is it about letting people know how angry he is for the sake of it, the anger is a side-effect of the situation.

(Sorry they were the things I thought you might be ranting about!)

*To refer to Jeremiah. Sorry this ties in with something we were discussing at MSG this evening (which was actually on Isaiah but I ended up quoting that bit of Jeremiah)
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From:angoel
Date:June 7th, 2005 06:56 am (UTC)
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You do have to take it in the context that this was probably not the authors first language, and that English may contain subtleties that they were not sufficiently taking into account.
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From:ixwin
Date:June 7th, 2005 08:06 am (UTC)
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Yes - I thought the pairing of 'cheeky' and 'adaptable' as opposites was rather odd.
From:yrieithydd
Date:June 7th, 2005 08:58 am (UTC)
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There was a lovely bit of English at the top of one of the pages (which I failed to save this morning) which talked about `the lecture'. I read that and went `what?' there wasn't a lecture and then process and thought -- aah but `lecture' ought to mean 'reading' and that's what it's being used for here!

I agree a few of the pairings were odd, which tended to result in my going 'the middle one' as I thought he was neither X nor Y! (but not X and not Y in some cases!)
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From:atreic
Date:June 7th, 2005 07:55 am (UTC)
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Well, I was annoyed about all those things. I was also annoyed that if people fill in her questionarre correctly (which seems unlikely) there will be a big data set out there that says "I think Harry Potter is great" and "Harry Potter treats his teacher in many ways which are clearly bad (if taken out of context)" And then we'll have more proof about how evil Harry Potter is and we'll only be able to read books about fluffy bunnies eating grass.
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From:teleute
Date:June 7th, 2005 01:56 am (UTC)
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I wonder whether the thesis is on how well people can take something out of context. There seemed to be a lot of questions which would be skewed if you had read it, and I wonder whether that ties in at all with the 'how well do you remember this story' question. That one, after all, had a page to itself. I'd be really interested in understanding how well people can take an excerpt out of context when they're told to (aside from its important implications in juries etc., this is why I dropped a grade on my Eng Lang paper)
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From:atreic
Date:June 7th, 2005 07:48 am (UTC)
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Well yes, if she's doing that then it is quite interesting and subtle (my last paragraph was supposed to be a nod to all the ways this could actually be quite meta and cleverer than it first appears) But she's described as "a graduate communications student at the Department of Journalism and Communication Research in Hannover, Germany. At the moment I am writing my diploma thesis on the fascination of Harry Potter in different cultures/countries." I'm not sure you'd be hugely interested in a cultural difference in being able to take things out of context, whereas you may be interested in cutural attitudes to schools, schooling and respect. I'll have to look at the thesis when it's done... :-)
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From:bluap
Date:June 7th, 2005 09:57 am (UTC)
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Sounds more like an MA thesis than a PhD one...
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From:bopeepsheep
Date:June 10th, 2005 10:42 am (UTC)
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Fascination of Harry Potter, hmmm. I wonder if she's trying to separate the fandomwank submissions from those who can and do admit to failings in the hero (or perhaps in the author's style)? Those who might read that passage and thought 'gah, what a bratty child. There are better ways of communicating.' Fascination can mean a lot of things and doesn't necessarily imply approval.
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:June 7th, 2005 10:50 am (UTC)
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"And what good's theory going to be in the real world?" said Harry Potter loudly. Professor Umbridge looked up. "This is school, Mr Potter, not the real world," she said softly

And even if you take voldemort out of the question, I wouldn't say "School is for teaching useless stuff" is the good answer to why they're learning theory.

but I think their questionees will be either too stupid or actually unable to answer their questions which rely on a huge overriding context out of context. I know I was...

My first reaction was the same as yours, and I didn't continue the quiz on the grounds that I couldn't answer the question non-misleadingly. It didn't help that I wanted to go back and read the extract again and had to clear my cookies to do it.

Then I started thinking. Suppose I *did* clear my mind of context. Well, its clearly a fantasy novel, so I'd assume Harry was right because angsty teans always are.

OTOH, if I cleared my mind of context entirely and treated it as a real world occurance -- which e didn't ask -- then to be fair I would just assume Harry was wrong because the claim is so incredable. Though claiming, eg. Hitler was still alive and had killed his friend would be beyond lying and into illness, I would think harry was being disrespectful, etc. But I can't tell if that's the reading she really wants.
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From:beckyc
Date:June 7th, 2005 12:13 pm (UTC)
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It's a bit of the book that really grates and makes me wince anyway. I react differently to that extract than in general. I find it quite easy to say "Yes, he was behaving in a very stupid and bratty manner here". So, I think I can answer it without thinking too much about the rest of the books.
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From:ewx
Date:June 7th, 2005 12:33 pm (UTC)

that cut tag

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I've not read any of the HP books. I've seen the films so far though.
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