Monday, December 15, 2008

Mensa Hunt 20008—Persuasively Strong

About 2 weeks ago, I organised a virtual hunt in this blog. At the end of that hunt, I discussed all the questions one by one. One of those issues which arose from those questions was regarding the positioning of a particular word in relation to others. Check out the discussion here.

In that question, we had the word "about". That word, in its literal sense, can mean nearby or next to or adjacent. However, I had intended to use "about" as a container indicator.

If for example we say X is next to Y, is there anything to restrict X's position to before or after Y? I decided that there's no such restriction. Therefore both XY and YX should be accepted as perfectly answering, in terms of sequence, the "X is next to Y".



According to the CoC, he was there at the sector that morning, and he found it strange that a fair number of the hunters seemed to linger for a long time on this question. He had intended it to be a relatively "easy" question. He put the long time spent on this question as "over-analysing" on the part of the hunters. I disagree with his view.

Let us now look at the CoC's explanation, and then see if it can hold water.



Therefore, AL is joined to STRONG to become ALSTRONG.

I have two points I'd like to raise as far as the above solution is concerned. Firstly, whether we can be fully satisfied with equating PERSUASIVE to STRONG. I suppose one can say persuasive argument and we can take that to mean strong argument. When used in that sense, I guess persuasive and strong may be used interchangeably without changing the meaning of the phrase. But when taken independently, can we accept persuasive = strong? I happen to know that many people have employed this kind of relations between words, and in that sense perhaps we can say that persuasive = strong can be accepted.

But now we come to the question of the positions of the words relative to each other. Is there anything in the question that suggests the STRONG to come after AL? In this question we don't have "nearby" separating these two words. Therefore, in this particular case, we can only join whatever products of our analysis by means of the charade operation based on the cryptic approach. There is no reason that would allow us to put AL before STRONG other than trying to fit the answer to the question.

In other words, since PERSUASIVE comes before the ADVOCATE, then we can only join STRONG to AL, by means of the charade operation to become STRONGAL and not ALSTRONG.

Maybe, I would have been able to live with ALSTRONG eventhough it's wrong on grounds of "there's nothing better within that sector". But the trouble is that also found there—and obeying the sequence of the question too—is the word STANLEY. And a quick search from the internet can yield a fair number of STANLEYs in connection with "advocating against man-made climatic changes". And some of them are very persuasive too! For example, check out this STANLEY who's a professor at John Hopkins University. To be quite honest, I don't know how persuasive is Al Gore, but to me Prof. Stanley's comment is very persuasive (strong?), don't you agree?


Anna said...

yea.. our team did agree on other possible answer "stanley" as we googled and found that very name that could fit into the descriptions..

Cornelius said...

Hi Anna,

Although I've not asked the master teams, I'm fairly certain most of them must have spent a while debating on the accuracy of ALSTRONG. At least my team did!

I was for STANLEY, eventhough this guy was obviously not as famous as AL (Gore). But fame is only one of the many factors in determining a perfect fit. And we can all debate over dinner whether a president of the American Geological Institute is famous enough to qualify for our purpose.

But famous or not, it is difficult to deal with something which is obviously a violation of the flow of the sentence, both from the literal and cryptic sense. It was for this "defect" that ALSTRONG is inferior when compared to STANLEY in my opinion.

Consider this clue:

Q) Sit back, Al

SIT back = TIS

And you can find signboards containing

(i) ALTIS;

(ii) TISAL

Which one would you choose? I think there is no doubt that you would choose TISAL. Why? Because it satisfies the flow of the question. ALTIS, although a well-known word (a model of a car) would fail against TISAL.

We kept the options of ALSTRONG and STANLEY open until the last minute as my team members thought they're 50%-50%. I remained adamant to my STANLEY till the end, but had to reluctantly give in to majority vote. In the end, we chose ALSTRONG and was duly awarded the points.

This is a good example of answering the CoC and not the question.

Claire said...

We had a 'nice' time on this, didn't we, dear Ckoh? ;)

Ozzy said...

I have to admit, we answered the CoC for this one. Though at first I was sceptical of ALSTRONG because the word "persuasive" came BEFORE the rest of the clue, we all decided on it as Al Gore is a famous environmental advocate and his name was even found on the hunt entry form!

Cornelius said...

Claire dear,

I must admit that I'm glad that I was "wrong" in this case. I suppose we can say this is one good outcome of the democratic process, no?


Yes, that's basically the same argument that led my team members to opt for ALSTRONG. I did not like ALSTRONG because of the existence of STANLEY in that sector. But even now that the whole thing is over, I still don't like ALSTRONG whether or not STANLEY is there!