WitCH 37: A Foolproof Argument

We’re amazed we didn’t know about this one, which was brought to our attention by commenter P.N.. It comes from the 2013 Specialist Mathematics Exam 2: The sole comment on this question in the Examination Report is:

“All students were awarded [the] mark for this question.”

Yep, the question is plain stuffed. We think, however, there is more here than the simple wrongness, which is why we’ve made it a WitCH rather than a PoSWW. Happy hunting.

UPDATE (11/05) Steve C’s comment below has inspired an addition:

Update (20/05/20)

The third greatest issue with the exam question is that it is wrong: none of the available answers is correct. The second greatest issue is that the wrongness is obvious: if z^3 lies in a sector then the natural guess is that z will lie in one of three equally spaced sectors of a third the width, so God knows why the alarm bells weren’t ringing. The greatest issue is that VCAA didn’t have the guts or the basic integrity to fess up: not a single word of responsibility or remorse. Assholes.

Those are the elephants stomping through the room but, as commenters as have noted, there is plenty more awfulness in this question:

  • “Letting” z = a + bi is sloppy, confusing and pointless;
  • The term “quadrant” is undefined;
  • The use of “principal” is unnecessary;
  • “argument” is better thought as the measure of an angle not the angle itself;
  • Given z is a single complex number, “the complete set of values for Arg(z)” will consist of a single number.
  • The grammar isn’t.

The PoSWW Coronavirus Post

We had plans a week ago (seems like a year ago) for a PoSSW coronavirus post. But, God, there is so much stupid right now. Who could possibly keep up?

Here is a dedicated post for coronavirus-related stupidity. Commenters are welcome to point to and give links to specific idiocies, or simply to vent. We’ll update the post with the hyper-stupids. (So, standard Morrison/Trump/Johnson incompetence doesn’t cut it, but unloading a whole fucking boat of sick people most definitely does.)

PoSWW 2 (26/2) Courtesy of occasional commenter Franz, cardiopraxis.de gives us a graph showing what “uncontrolled exponential spreading of the infection” would look like:

PoSWW 3 (27/2) The Guardian royally fucks up their 96pt bold headline:

PoSWW 4 (1/4) Richard Epstein, scientist extraordinaire.

PoSWW 5 (8/4) Peter Navarro, social scientist extraordinaire.

PoSWW 6 (8/4) Media Watch hammers Australia’s right wing loons. (Andrew Bolt wins the Loon Gold Medal at 8:00).

PoSWW 7 (8/4) The leader of Wisconsin’s psychopathic Republicans tries to convince voters that “you are incredibly safe to go out”:

PoSWW 8 (15/4) ScoMoFo in a radio interview:

“The president of the United States, Donald Trump, announced that he would suspend funding for the WHO while they investigate whether it’s handled the COVID crisis properly. Good move, bad move?”

“Look, I sympathise with his criticisms, …”

Wrong. The answer is “Bad move”, you useless, greasy dickwit.

PoSWW 9 (21/4) Uhlmann or IPA or Creighton or Lovick or Goward or Farrelly.

PoSWW 10 (21/4) The Wall Street Journal on a problem we can all understand:

PoSWW 11 (21/4) ScoMoFo indicates how much he appreciates teachers.

PoSWW 12 (21/4) Trump supporters demonstrating (their level of intelligence):

PoSWW 13 (1/5) Way to send the message, Ponce:

PoSWW 14 (11/5) The DCMO compares Cook to a virus. And what kind of third rate whiny little shits would pretend to give a fuck? These assholes. And this born to rule batfucker. And of course this racist, Ruby-Princess-Docking, fascist fuckwit.

Just how dumb do you have to be to buy the garbage that these motherfuckers are selling?

PoSWW 15 (11/5) Melbourne’s best and brightest, spurred on by Batfucker Smith, think they’re “spreading the word”:

PoSWW 16 (11/5) God help us:

PoSWW 17 (18/5) French muslims can simultaneously be fined for covering and not covering their faces.

Gambling with Coronavirus

Australia’s casinos are still open for business, and no one seems to see anything wrong with that. Our glorious leaders are out of their fucking minds.

UPDATE (19/03/20)

A number of prominent public Health Professionals have written an open letter to Australia’s health ministers and (the stunningly appropriately titled) gambling ministers. The letter is written in a predictably calm, professional and diplomatic manner, but we’ll translate: you people who signed off to keep pokies venues open are out of your fucking minds.

PoSWW 11: Pinpoint Inaccuracy

This one comes courtesy of Christian, an occasional commenter and professional nitpicker (for which we are very grateful). It is a question from a 2016 Abitur (final year) exam for the German state of Hesse. (We know little of how the Abitur system works, and how this question may fit in. In particular, it is not clear whether the question above is a statewide exam question, or whether it is more localised.)

Christian has translated the question as follows:

A specialty store conducts an ad campaign for a particular smartphone. The daily sales numbers are approximately described by the function g with \color{blue}\boldsymbol{g(t) = 30\cdot t\cdot e^{-0.1t}}, where t denotes the time in days counted from the beginning of the campaign, and g(t) is the number of sold smartphones per day. Compute the point in time when the most smartphones (per day) are sold, and determine the approximate number of sold devices on that day.

PoSWW 6: Logging Off

The following exercise and, um, solution come from Cambridge’s Mathematical Methods 3 & 4 (2019):

Update

Reflecting on the comments below, it was a mistake to characterise this exercise as a PoSWW; the exercise had a point that we had missed. The point was to reinforce the Magrittesque lunacy inherent in Methods, and the exercise has done so admirably. The fact that the suggested tangents to the pictured graphs are not parallel adds a special Methodsy charm.

PoSWW 5: Intelligence is not a Factor

The following PoSWW comes courtesy of Franz, who states that “when it comes to ‘stupid curricula, stupid texts and really monumentally stupid exams’ no Western country, with the possible exception of the US, is worse than Germany.” We take that as a challenge, and we’re waiting for Franz to back up his crazy-brave claim.

Franz’s PoSWW, however, has nothing to do with Germany. This PoSSW follows on from two of our previous posts, on idiotic questions appearing in New Zealand exams. Franz wrote to us, noting that the same style of question appears in the Oxford Year 8 text My Maths. Indeed, a number of versions of this ludicrous question appear in My Maths, all inventively awful in their own way. The two examples below are enough to give the flavour: