The Parents, Teachers, Friends Testing Guide for Dummies
|“||It is vital that pupils are provided with structured opportunities to explore actively aspects, issues and events through school and community involvement, case studies and critical discussions that are challenging and relevant to their lives.||”|
—Crick Report, Advisory Group on Citizenship
|“||There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we do not know we don’t know.||”|
—United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Are my parents, teachers or friends planet-cities, tree-people, robot-children or are they even from an unknown location in spacetime? Inquiring minds might want to know these things and undefined words and connotations may be useful to refer to things that haven't been measured. This use of undefined words could, of course, also be seen as prejudice and may be seen to endorse a choice of cognitive biases, for instance anchoring, stereotyping, confirmation bias, normalcy bias, framing effect, selective perception, Semmelweis reflex, status quo bias and ambiguity effect.
This book tries to guide adolescent readers to assess the cultural dimensions, idiocultures, personal preferences and attitudes in their social environment(s) insofar as that is desirable, sensible and relevant. Adolescents may frequently lack the knowledge of human nature and people skills required, consequently this book tries to address a need of this group. The book tries to give a humorous introduction to the topic, because it can be taken far too seriously and, of course, adolescents are likely to enjoy the humorous perspective.
Do I need a qualification as a tester? Obviously there are no strict qualifications for specific test scenarios. A tester might want to consider the knowledge areas required for a scenario and perform a self-certification. A certain knowledge of psychology and pedagogy appears generally advisable. Understanding for cognitive biases may also be advisable. Knowledge of philosophical and especially ethical issues concerning the knowledge areas of the test may be required. Last but not least the tester might want to devise an actual test plan in order not to leave the test results to a passing whim.
Research methodology 
|“||Science is experience becoming rational. The effect of science is thus to change men's idea of the nature and inherent possibilities of experience.||”|
—Democracy and Education, John Dewey
The observer effect 
Every observation has an effect on what (or who) is being observed. Therefore this effect should be considered and should be designed to be beneficial or at least potentially beneficial.
Why do I want to test and what do I want to test? 
Overtesting considered harmful 
Overtesting is obviously undesirable, which should be immediately obvious for pupils as far as tests in school are concerned. The same or similar observations do apply to tests in a social environment. Tests can have the effect to reduce credibility and they can cause undesirable side-effects; in a hypothetical social group in which most people conduct tests at once, for instance, one could expect an alien ecology to materialize immediately (Captain Kirk is considered an alien ecology on most planets). Consequently a balance between testing and beneficial intervention should be considered a (highly theoretical) minimum standard. Teachers would find this minimum standard insufficient, of course.
Research ethics 
Educational effects for everybody 
Passing a test or even failing a test could be seen to have an educational effect for the testee. If a test result is seen as qualification by the tester (or a social environment) then one could see it as an obligation to allow people to qualify, otherwise one might deny a group of people an educational effect merely because they weren't required to qualify. A social group might, for instance, at some point decide to refrain from testing others for suitability as members simply because the group was considered large enough. Such a group could see it as an obligation to allow others to benefit from the intended educational effects anyway, possibly as members of competing groups. This observation is, for instance, outright trivial for sporting competitions.
Idiocultural competence and knowledge of human nature 
|“||Because of the within-group differences in how much individuals uphold a particular value, it is better to actually measure the cultural values of individuals than to assume the cultural values of individuals based on group membership.||”|
—Handbook of Youth Mentoring, Bernadette Sánchez und Yarí Colón
Idealized positions 
Idealized positions, as for instance found in religions, may not be suitable for testing because they may represent an exaggeration that does not actually represent the views and opinions of individuals in a specific group, especially not in everyday life. Consequently one required aspect of idiocultural competence in this case is to understand idealized positions as such. The christian concept of love for enemies, for instance, could be seen as a theoretical ideal, which could even be seen as self-contradictory. Love for enemies in the context of mentoring could be interpreted to mean that a mentor should understand that even if the protégé is a nuisance a mentor can under no circumstances (except for highly hypothetical circumstances) legitimate abuse of basic rights, which also means the mentor has acknowledged an important moral priority that could be seen as relevant for citizenship education.
What women want 
Idiocultures can have male or female biases, depending for instance on the number of male or female group members that shape the idioculture of a group or their respective ability to influence. The distinction between femininity (by principle of equality, conflict resolution, orientation to holism and quality of life) or masculinity (competitive orientation) itself represents a cultural dimension. An idioculture with a female bias may, of course, comprise many other aspects, including further cultural dimensions, due to the bias. Relevant for this book should be the aspect that a female idioculture may involve its own "non-standards" of testing others; being "non-standards" the exact details may vary, of course, and may thus be prone to contain frequently reinvented anti-patterns. Female readers could see this as a motivation to compare intuitive logic, which is prone to cognitive biases, with test patterns, some of which can be found in this book.
Pharao test 
What is the problem with the Pharao test? The problem is that the joke "The pharao must have been a Frau (a German homophone for pharao which translates to woman), because decorative objects shouldn't become as large as the Great Pyramids." constitutes sexism but still has several amusing and relevant interpretations and more simple-minded listeners may, of course, just enjoy the pun withouth giving consideration to other meanings and effects, thus one could argue that somebody who does not reject the joke as sexism may not have thought enough or may have considered the sexist interpretation to be less relevant than the interpretation that the pyramids may have been a joke at the expense of the pharao, which may be because sexism is of no relevance or because it is not seen as a problem or because the listener does, for whatever reasons, not apply the categorical imperative to jokes (Obviously a general tendency to tell jokes with a sexist interpretation could constiute actual sexism due to psychological effects.) Thus it is quite difficult to draw a particular conclusion merely from the reaction to this joke.
Prejudice could be seen as a contrary of karma. One could, for instance, speculate that a social environment basing karma on prejudices instead of testing might thus contribute to arbitrary or prejudice-based karma. This is, of course, only a hypothesis. The hypothesis, however, motivates the much more relevant view that to counter this hypothetical effect one would have to make proper measurements of whatever one considered relevant for karma. To make these measurements could be seen to lead to the development of a personal or public reputation system and thus the view of karma as a metaphor for or motivation towards a planned reputation system could be seen as valid.
- See also: Karma Lab (Theory Design Lab)
Alien ecology of extraterrestrial behavior patterns 
The "alien ecology" is an ecology of behavior patterns that can grow and reproduce themselves like an alien ecology, if left unchallenged. The means of propagation are psychological effects like unreflected imitation and psychological reactance but the behavior patterns can have almost any complexity or relevance and affect areas of life one could expect to be controlled by reason. This implies that the alien ecology is brought forth through the absence of higher-order volitions, metacognition and collective intelligence (and probably the presence of an alien-nation somewhere) and functions like another ecology or civilization, competing with proper civilization. Consequently no individual should be seen as an alien but everybody can contribute to the alien ecology through absentmindedness or general lack of higher-order volitions, metacognition or collective intelligence.
For the pupose of testing a or in a social group this may, however, mean that the tester himself may have to contribute to the alien ecology with a behavior pattern others are meant to criticize or otherwise reject or circumvent in order to pass the test. One could, of course, deduce a resulting moral obligation to alleviate resulting problems or similar problems in order not to become a polluter oneself, for instance by occasionally adopting the role of an ethicist.
Aren't there alien ecology garbage dumps? 
That may depend on your perspective. In general it doesn't seem to be advisable to tolerate alien ecology garbage dumps if it can be avoided. In more usual words segregation from groups considered to be "polluted" or "polluters" is not in general a collectively intelligent solution, unless you are from another planet. Segregation also reduces bridging social capital (social contact between very different population groups) in a society, which should be considered a negative development. The metaphor of alien ecology garbage dumps could be hidden in the Star Trek episode Skin of Evil.
Collective intelligence and mentoring 
|“||The culture of growing up, which the Tenth Children and Youth Report alludes to, demands such a well attuned framework of personal relationships and supporting facilities in which knowledge, values and norms are taught and can be acquired and that allows the acceptance of responsibility through children and adolescents.||”|
—The meaning of the family for educational policy,
If you want to understand people mentoring could be seen as a kind of measurement, anything less may tend to be a failure to measure. The observer effect could (humorously) be seen as a criterion here, instead of as a measurement problem: A "measurement" without observer effect could be seen as insufficient.
Being an ethicist 
An ethicist is somebody whose ethical views are relied upon by a social group. If you want to be an ethicist you have to understand that people can easily be distinguished into animals or robots and real people, and thus you immediately a.r.e. an ethicist. This is easy and convenient and also totally incorrect (which the most convenient solutions frequently are).
- Exercise: Explain why the suggested solution does not sufficiently address the problem at hand.
If you have solved the above exercise with an adequate amount of consideration for the issues involved and phrased an answer that refers conclusively to human rights, moral obligations and (preferably) the categorical imperative then you may have made a step towards being an ethicist, for whatever social group did listen to your elaborations. This exercise and similar exercises should be part of ethical education or citizenship education in junior high school and/or high school. If this is not the case you might want to complain to your school or Local Education Agency about their educational standards. (You can make such an enquiry as a Wikinews reporter, which may add some additional credibility to your request, or you can submit an internet petition to allow others to support your request.)
Moral obligations and moral boundaries of an ethicist 
|“||Criticism of citizenship education in schools argues that merely teaching children about the theory of citizenship education is ineffective, unless schools themselves reflect democratic practices by giving children the opportunity to have a say over decision making. It suggests that schools are fundamentally undemocratic institutions, and that such a setting cannot instil in children the commitment and belief in democratic values that is necessary for citzenship education to have a proper impact.||”|
What could be the moral obligations of an ethicist and what could be moral boundaries for an ethicist?
- Would you consider Günter Wallraff an ethicist?
- What exactly are moral — oligarchies[learning difficult word] ?
- Would you consider mentoring a moral obligation[now understood] ? What are the moral boundaries?
- Would you consider tutoring a moral obligation? What are the moral boundaries?
- Would you consider testing a moral obligation? What are the moral boundaries?
- Would you consider intercultural competence a moral obligation?
|“||It is a good thing to give children some pocket-money of their own, that they may help the needy; and in this way we should see if they are really compassionate or not. But if they are only charitable with their parents' money, we have no such test.||”|
Many pupils will have made the observation that tests in school can appear as anti-social behaviour (by the teacher) or promote anti-social behaviour (between pupils). In this case "testing", however, refers to the more general tests which are the topic of this book, of course. Testing can test for anti-social behaviour, it can appear as anti-social behaviour and it can even be anti-social behaviour.
If testing causes problems or side-effects for the testee, which may persist beyond the actual test, then the test may have to be considered anti-social behaviour, unless the context or further considerations allow to discard this concern.
A test can, of course, appear as anti-social behaviour if anti-social behaviour is what the testee is meant to reject. A problem for the tester is the observer effect: Anti-social behaviour may cause more anti-social behaviour in a social group, even if it is just seen as a test by the tester.
The antisocial personality disorder is as frequent as 3% of the male and 1% of the female population. The diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, however, can only apply to adults and, of course, most people are not qualified to make such a diagnosis and thus should not try to make it. Consequently one cannot have the goal to reveal an antisocial personality disorder but one could, of course, choose to test for anti-social behaviour, which almost anybody may be willing to show once in a while.
|“||A curriculum which acknowledges the social responsibilities of education must present situations where problems are relevant to the problems of living together, and where observation and information are calculated to develop social insight and interest.||”|
—Democracy and Education, John Dewey
Can I invent or cause a problem to see how people react? Should there be moral limits for the effects I can allow to be caused with artificial problems?
When you decide to test somebody you can carry a hidden sheet of paper with "Failed" and "Passed" on the two sides. As soon as you have formed a final opinion you can show the corresponding side of your sign.
Testing is, in a way, also part of dating. Of course on online dating web sites the test is usually only a click-through self-test, as for instance The Idealism Test on okcupid.com.
One type of anti-pattern is to bet your credibility against that of the testee without a useful and definitive result. This type of anti-pattern is typical for young people, who may get carried away by the goal of the test and may surmise a test result.
A more sensible course of action is to be be cautious and more or less respectful even after a result that seems to indicate a failing condition. There is most probably no reason to show aggressive behaviour, even if the testee really failed the test. On the other hand the testee may be disappointed and thus avoiding reproaches and aggression may be the sensible course of action right from the start.
Testing in tertiary education 
Among docents it is commonplace to put minor mistakes or even major mistakes into lectures. If the students notice the mistakes and interrupt the docent a usual remark is that "he wanted to see if he had an audience", because students who failed to notice the mistakes apparently lacked presence of mind.
Contrary to the "bet your credibility" anti-pattern, for instance, this remark and accompanying discussions often provoke laughter.
Testing in professional life 
In professional life there is obviously an abundance of opportunities and motivations for testing others. An example for a test by employers is to offer alcoholic beverages during a job interview; one should politely decline this offer, or at least the author of a guidebook for job interviews I leafed through seemed to think so. Better questions for a job interview are, of course: "What is your philosophy of life?", "How do you define free will?", "Do you have any cognitive biases?" or "What is or would be your code of conduct?".
Employers obviously test their employees on many occasions and employees might want to test their employers or supervisors (within certain limits, of course). Company policies may set limits for what can possibly be tested during working hours but otherwise you should feel free to be creative in order not to be seen as an outsider, merely because you forgot to test others. Company policies may also be the subject of testing, of course; obviously companies want their policies to be taken seriously, otherwise they wouldn't bother to publish policies in the first place.
A test by the employee ist depicted in the popular Dilbert comic "What color do you want that database?".
Joining any kind of organization (as an exaggerated example for instance a secret society) should be seen to entail the obligation to monitor the organization's compliance, which could include testing the organization and possibly whistleblowing. Any part of an organization could otherwise as well be a terrorist cell (from the point of view of the public sphere) and companies with extremely poor compliance standards are prone to develop towards social or environmental terrorism.
In a capitalist society one could see company standards as strictly necessary: The International Corporate Values study has found that almost all companies with more than 50 employees express some kind of values.
Testing company policies 
What do you do if your boss thinks you are some kind of telephone system which exists so he can play fate (or maybe make phone calls to other deities)? That may sound, of course, like an unusual problem (or maybe not that unusual if you work in a call center for instance), but the simple answer can be found in the categorical imperative again: A telephone is a means, not an end. Consequently a sensible test for any employer should be: Are the employees means or ends? The test has to begin, of course, by reading all relevant company policies. The second step is to verify the implementation of company policies: Has the company taken steps to make the company policies more than just advertisement? The third step can be to actually test the application of company policies. In so far as that requires to construct a situation where a policy applies one should be careful to either document the test and/or not to cause an inappropriate amount of problems. Last but not least one might want to document the result of the test on a employer review site or as a whistleblower.
Testing and the categorical imperative 
Too many invented scenarios or problems can prevent people from perceiving or responding to real problems, because they may not believe in the actual problem. This is, of course, a hypothetical problem but should be a reason not to exaggerate testing in relation to any problem that may actually occur and may require people to react quickly. Causing a fire alarm to test the fire alarm system, for instance, should only be done by the people responsible for the fire alarm system and the people who are meant to respond to the fire alarm should know that a fire alarm may be a test. Not all types of problems are as critical as a fire alarm, of course.
Testing parents 
|“||Jarvis: But a minute ago you said ...
God: I have been testing you. I have pretended to be a bleeding-heart liberal in order to establish your commitment to the Bible. I do tests. Don't you remember Isaac and Abraham - Genesis xxiii?
—The Philosophy Gym, Stephen Law
Tests for parents:
- Charity test : Find a good occasion for donating an amount of money to charity and try to convince your parents. (If they aren't interested educate them about the categorical imperative.)
- I broke your favorite toy test : You don't have to actually break something, just excuse for doing so and see what happens. (And try not to make somebody fall down from something out of surprise.)
- Politics test : Find an unlikely political position and argue in favor of that position. See how parents react to political arguments.
- Culture of constructive criticism test : Find something you will be criticized for and provoke an argument where constructive criticism would be in order. See how parents react in a difficult argument.
- Somebody else's problem : Find a typical Somebody Else's Problem and discuss it with your parents, but without initially taking a definitive position, even if you have a definitive opinion. An abstract description of a problem, without reference to people who may actually be involved in related problems or with reference to characters in a narrative, can help to emphasize abstract philosophical positions.
Testing teachers 
Teachers test and grade pupils, consequently it may seem reasonable for pupils to do the same. The school evaluation page on Wikiversity offers an evaluation sheet for evaluating teachers. Pupils can, of course, also make their own evaluation sheets.
Testing friends 
What you want to test your friends for may depend on what you expect from them. Here are some qualities you might be interested in. Of course it may not be possible to test all these qualities with an actual test and that may not be desirable either (because of overtesting). Forming an independent opinion without an actual test may commonly be possible, however.
Another collection of dispositions, skills, aptitudes and understanding one might want to test for has been published by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority on behalf of the Citizenship Advisory Group of the British Government. The collection was part of a recommendation for the subject citizenship education in British schools and is under the copyright of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority; it can be found on page 44 (PDF page 46) of the Crick Report. It may be reproduced for the purpose of research, private study, criticism or review, or by educational institutions solely for educational purposes, if full acknowledgement is given.
Testing guests 
A host can test his guests by presenting a situation that requires a polite response from the guests. For instance a host could claim to have spoiled a meal so everybody should feel obliged to be satisfied with a very small portion. Of course, the next course can penalize those who ate to much from the allegedly scarce previous course by being even more tasty and not scarce at all.
See also 
- Crick Report; Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, Advisory Group on Citizenship
- Democracy and Education, John Dewey
- DuBois, David L.; Michael J. Karcher (2005). Handbook of Youth Mentoring. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications Ltd. ISBN 0761929770. http://books.google.com/books?isbn=0761929770.
- Idioculture (Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology)
- The meaning of the family for educational policy, conclusions from the PISA study, Scientific Advisory Council of the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
- Kant, Immanuel (1900) [Compiled 1803 by Theodor Rink]. On education (Über Pädagogik). trans. Annette Churton, introd. by C. A. Foley Rhys Davids. (1 ed.). Boston: Heath. OCLC 2342855. http://openlibrary.org/books/OL13530445M/Kant_on_education_%28Ueber_p%C3%A4dagogik%29.
- Law, Stephen (December 2003). The Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures in Thinking (1 ed.). Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 0312314523.