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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: February ::
Hamlet Survey?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0436  Monday, 16 February 2004

[1]     From:   Philip Eagle <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Feb 2004 10:39:42 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0427 Hamlet Survey?

[2]     From:   David Cohen <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Feb 2004 12:49:04 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0427 Hamlet Survey?

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Feb 2004 15:54:30 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0427 Hamlet Survey?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Philip Eagle <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Feb 2004 10:39:42 -0500
Subject: 15.0427 Hamlet Survey?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0427 Hamlet Survey?

My personal suspicion is that "bull" is not being used here as superior
to "cow", but is being delicately used as an abbreviated euphemism for a
rather pungent American term for polished verbiage devoid of content.

Phil

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Cohen <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Feb 2004 12:49:04 -0600
Subject: 15.0427 Hamlet Survey?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0427 Hamlet Survey?

 >The essay explores a problem familiar to anybody who tries to grade
 >essay exams fairly--and does not, as best I can remember, make such a
 >black-and-white moral distinction between knowledge and persiflage as
 >Cohen seems to endorse.

Whoa, I am not endorsing any such black-and-white moral distinction,
though irresponsible cow can be reprehensible.  I believe in both cow
and bull (see below), but of course integrated into a coherent and
responsible whole through true education.  It is RELATIVELY pure cow
without bull (cowability), or RELATIVELY pure bull without cow
(bullability) than I can both admire and suspect.

 >It was not a matter of "knows not"; the student
 >knew something about American history, and something about American
 >government, and something about reasoning and writing, and was able to
 >construct logically and rhetorically if not evidentially persuasive
 >arguments on these bases; but  he "does not know as much as they
 >should" before they pretend to authoritate on this subject.

The ability to bull ad lib, as this student obviously did with his
little bits and pieces of knowledge and his reasoning ability, is
correlated with IQ, the higher the IQ the greater the ability to bull,
as well as to cow.  We know that verbal skills as well as knowledge are
correlates of IQ, so I am guessing that the essay written by the student
invoked by Perry was more a reflection of his IQ than anything else. (I
mean, what else could it have been measuring better?)  When I say IQ, I
mean his intelligence relative to students in general (he is a Harvard
student), though perhaps not relative to other Harvard students; a
brighter Harvard student might have achieved a B+ or maybe even an A!
The tougher the grader, the better that the grade for a relatively pure
bull essay will reflect relatively high IQ; for a tough grader whose
students average a C, that B- would  be rather impressive.  For a lax
grader (most of the class gets an A), a B- might be a good indication of
triumphant ignorance that even a lax grader couldn't ignore and for
which modest cowability could not compensate.   So my point is that the
distribution of grades (assuming that there is one, meaning that not
everyone gets an A), whether for essay test or multiple-choice tests,
will correlate with the distribution of IQ for the same students, that
is, tests of knowledge (multiple choice) and thoughtfulness (essay)
about the topic being tested are also measures of intelligence, which
includes cowability and bullability.   (In the same sense the SAT is to
a great extent an IQ test, that is, if we can believe the evidence,
including new evidence that SAT correlates as high with one IQ test as
one IQ test correlates with another.)
   I suppose, then, that the challenge of the teacher of any topic is to
educate the cowability and bullability of the student. Incidentally, I
predict that those who are relatively high in bullability, though they
be more charming, reflective, and creative, will will wind up making
less money than those high in cowability!

 >The gender implications of Perry's terms, and especially the notion that
 >"bull" is somehow superior to "cow" are irremediably sexist; I can only
 >plead the willful ignorance (read "stupidity") of 1963.

I don't know what any of this means

David Cohen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Feb 2004 15:54:30 -0500
Subject: 15.0427 Hamlet Survey?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0427 Hamlet Survey?

David Evett wrote

 >The gender implications of Perry's terms, and especially the notion that
 >"bull" is somehow superior to "cow" are irremediably sexist; I can only
 >plead the willful ignorance (read "stupidity") of 1963.

Oh, come on!  In the first place, "cow" is the more scholarly
alternative while "bull" is merely glib.  Secondly, it should be obvious
that Perry assigned these sobriquets so that "bull" would call to mind
the common barnyard epithet which it abbreviates.

It is bull like this that justifiably makes academics ridiculous, like
requiring a professor to apologize to his class for lecturing that a
certain fiscal policy is niggardly.

Fess up, David; you inserted this gratuitous comment in your post to win
points with someone for Valentine's Day.

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