Students asked exam question about Bigfoot

Rather odd way of phrasing this question, not sure I agree it was good.

Common core exam includes question about Bigfoot.

After reading an excerpt about a mud fossil and an analysis of mysterious hair samples that suggest the existence of a Sasquatch, students were asked: “Which detail from the article best supports the claim that Bigfoot exists?”

Eighth-graders taking the English test were asked to read an excerpt about the discovery of a mud fossil and an analysis of mysterious hair samples that suggest the existence of a Sasquatch.

But the answer, regarding ape-like characteristics of a hair, was correct because it was scientific evidence. Eh? Weak. But I’m thinking this may be an example of trying to get kids interested in critical thinking and keeping their attention by using good stories. Kids love monsters.Who's messin' with who?

  7 comments for “Students asked exam question about Bigfoot

  1. Barry
    August 7, 2014 at 9:14 PM

    I have no problem with such a question, as long as one of the potential answers is “none of the above”.

  2. One Eyed Jack
    August 7, 2014 at 11:13 PM

    It’s a shame that the article does not contain the passage from the test. None of the answers on their own suggests any evidence of Bigfoot.

    The “correct” answer, C, is not valid. As a cryptoid, the presence of ape like hair is meaningless. There is no prior evidence to say that Bigfoot is a primate. That would simply be a hypothesis. So finding ape like hair without being able to link it to a source is only evidence of ape like hair. You would have to first establish that Bigfoot is a primate for this to qualify as evidence.

    Very poor question indeed. Standard case of someone trying so hard to be creative that they fail in the primary purpose.

  3. Peter Robinson
    August 8, 2014 at 2:03 AM

    If the question were proceeded by an explanatory para along lines of ‘There is no credible evidence for the existence of bigfoot/sasquatch/yeti, and to date those that claim they have found evidence have tended to be discovered to be perpetrating hoaxes, but if scientists found etc etc what would they need to do to establish whether such does exist?’ Adding in the points One Eyed Jack makes.

    The other issue is whether the kids would have the requisite course background to handle this.

    Be most interesting to see what the answers were.

  4. Sockatume
    August 8, 2014 at 6:30 AM

    I can’t speak for the US but I remember this sort of thing being common in my own English exams in school. You’d get a text about something completely ridiculous like trolls, and be asked to identify which parts related to which parts of language or which discursive constructs. They don’t want to know “which of the following pieces of evidence is the best evidence”, they’re asking “which of the following pieces of text best constitutes the presentation of evidence in an argument”. And the answer is obviously “C” because it’s the only part which performs that discursive function.

    I figure it’s a sort of Brechtian alienation device that forces you to consider the structure of the language and not the actual factual information.

  5. Sockatume
    August 8, 2014 at 6:33 AM

    It was multiple choice:

    A. “The creature was enormous — at least seven feet tall —. . . and walked upright like a man.”
    B. “Deep impressions of a hair-covered hip, elbow, heel, wrist and even buttocks were left in the mud.”
    C. “One hair had unique primate (ape) characteristics.”
    D. “Dr. Henner Fahrenback, a biomedical research scientist ­from Beaverton, Oregon. . . has labeled it ‘Sasquatch.’ ”

    It’s not A or D because those aren’t engaged in an argument, and B doesn’t present a case for the source of the marks being any particular creature, so it’s C.

  6. chemical
    August 8, 2014 at 10:05 AM

    I actually kind of like the question, from a critical thinking perspective.

    Remember, as skeptics, our job isn’t to simply say, “Bigfoots don’t exist” but instead to demand evidence whenever someone claims that bigfoots exist. The apelike hair hypothetically COULD be evidence, but I think we can all agree here that it’s pretty weak evidence and definitely not proof of bigfoots’ existence. In this hypothetical scenario, my first question would be, “How do you know that the hair came from a bigfoot, but not another known primate species, including human?”

    The main point is that the question paints a hypothetical scenario, in which someone claims to discover something no one has ever discovered before, and the student has to evaluate which answer is actually evidence that supports the claim.

  7. seesdifferent
    August 8, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    A writer with critical thinking in mind would have phrased a bigfoot question and answers very differently. Instead, this is written much like an internet post by a bigfoot believer, citing some pseudo authority regarding some anecdotal evidence and treating it as legitimate, and the logic and syntax are off kilter. So the reader is left with that “what did he just say?” feeling, just as one is after reading a bigfoot believer’s post. So I would say this was written by a bigfoot believer, and this is “the camel’s nose…”

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