Sunday, July 07, 2019

Miller Analogies Test

A bit of family history, bragging on my wife.

I don't think the Miller Analogies Test is used that much to get into graduate school anymore, but it is still used, as I just learned.  In 1975 it was a credible alternative to the GRE's, and people took it, especially those who had not taken much math in college and were out of practice.  As an example, a 66 qualifies one for Mensa. My wife took it at William and Mary to go to Library School at Simmons. She got a 98, which her advisor looked at in amazement.  It's not even on the charts.  A score of  91 is at the 99.99 percentile.  I don't even know what this means. From this we (falsely, but not ridiculously) concluded that she was the record-holder for the test.  Years later, we learned this is not so.  A few people must have scored at at least that number, as it is used as an acceptance score for the Prometheus Society. I don't know if anyone has ever scored a 99 or a 100.  Probably so.  There are some pretty amazing folks out there.  But Tracy is the highest you are ever likely to meet.

As you may guess, it is impossible to play the dictionary game with this woman, as too much time is lost trying to find words she doesn't know. We have not played the game in decades. Even when she thought she didn't know a word she would make up a definition that turned out to be very close to the real one, giving away to everyone that one of those two was correct.  The example I remember is wherry, for which she made up a definition of "a long narrow boat used in the 19th century." Which is mostly just what it is.


Donna B. said...

I'm not claiming Mensa's or Tracy's level of intelligence or "whatever" but there's an intuitive level of discerning meanings of words. Or perhaps this intuitive level for some people is the practice of looking up those words in a dictionary. This is the intuitive level I'm claiming. It's the level I'm trying to teach my grandchildren. Oh who am I trying to kid here... I'm still trying to teach it to my 40+ year old children. We play Scrabble often and I insist on everyone looking up the word in a printed dictionary. We also play Words with Friends... way too easy!

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Scrabble apparently relies more on pattern recognition (of the multiple letter and word scores) than on vocabulary. I can well believe it. I never play, but was fairly regularly beaten by people who I knew did not have my vocabulary. Now I know why. they had the more important skill.

Donna B. said...

There are multiple levels of satisfaction in Scrabble. For my grade 4 to 8 grandchildren, it's learning to use a printed dictionary. It's also *my* rules -- they can't use a word they can't define and use. Those are the rules for the old-fashioned board game. As for the online game, Words with friends, it's certainly more pattern recognition. I'm only playing that with the oldest grandchild.

It's the next to oldest that challenges me. Her response is "Why can't I just ask Nonna if it's a real word and what it means instead of looking it up?" She's also likely to take random books from my shelves and read them aloud to me seemingly without a need to understand -- the most recent a history of sawmills in Arkansas and previously an almost antique philosophy textbook. She did not question the meaning, but read "e period g period". Should I worry?

The fascinating thing for me is how different each grandchild is and that I'm just now best appreciating my children. Most recent cute thing -- 4 year old explaining why lizards change colors: to hide from their "creditors". Extra funny since her mother is a bankruptcy attorney who succumbed to uncontrollable giggles upon hearing this. Perhaps one of those "you had to be there" moments. I'm loving my life right now!

Grim said...

... an almost antique philosophy textbook. She did not question the meaning, but read "e period g period". Should I worry?

Any time you catch a child reading philosophy you should be concerned. Little is more dangerous.

It may be that she understands more than is apparent. One of the great mathematicians -- Sofia Kovalevskaya -- grew up in a room wallpapered with math lectures. I wish I'd learned the story earlier, so I could have bought some similar collection to use as wallpaper in a child's rooms. No guarantee that the miracle would work twice, but long years of looking at the things could produce some sort of priming effect in the childhood mind.

Donna B. said...

"Any time you catch a child reading philosophy you should be concerned. Little is more dangerous."

Ha! She's an interesting child for sure.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, I said something similar to a liberal friend who was wearing a Fear No Art button on the occasion of the Mapplethorpe exhibit. "No, that's backwards. Art is one of the most fearsome things there is."

With the increase in censorship over the last few years, I was apparently prophetic.

Dan Kurt said...

re: "She got a 98, which her advisor looked at in amazement. "AVIdiot

More than 60 years ago I was in grad school and during the summer took a train to visit a girl I was dating from one of the seven sisters. She and a large bunch of similar girls were sharing a house for the summer. I arrived to pick up my date and was a bit early. While waiting I walked into the dining room and observed a girl in her late teens doing the NYTimes Sunday crossword puzzle. She was using a Black Pen and writing down the answers seriatim, one after the other. I was astonished, fascinated. I could not tell you the color of her hair, her facial attributes, whether or not she was fat or thin. All I can say is she was young, not yet twenty, and able to solve that most difficult puzzle as if taking dictation. My date eventually arrived and ushered me out of that place. Except for bringing her back later that day to drop her off before getting my return train, I never visited that house again so I never again saw or actually talked to the puzzle wizard. What a talent!

Dan Kurt

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, one of the advantages of being pretty smart is that it gives you opportunities to meet people who are very smart indeed. I have had a dozen or so experiences in my life of observing a person doing something that is not merely an enhanced version of something I can do myself, but something that is utterly beyond me.