Phil 145: Midterm Structure

Prof. Eliasmith

The test will consist of 3 sections. Descriptions of each section can be found below. The test is worth 25% and you will have 80 minutes to write it in class.

Section 1: One question on designing and interpreting experiments (see example questions; 5%).

Section 2: Numbers and statistics. Of the following questions, 3 will be on the test and you will be expected to answer 2 of them (4% each).

1) What is a null hypothesis? What does ‘significant’ mean in the context of a statistical test? P-value refers to the probability of what? What attitude towards the null hypothesis becomes more reasonable as the p-value gets smaller?

2) What are two broad ways in which someone can draw an unrepresentative sample from the available pool of data?  Give an example of each.  How can you limit the possibility of falling prey to the problem in each case?

3) What is the “loss of information” problem with representative numbers?  Give one example for each of two different kinds of representative number. 

4) Politician A says, “The rate of increase in inflation has fallen by 50% in the year since our government took power.”  Politician B says, “What?  The inflation rate has increased just as quickly this year as it did last year!”  Could they both be correct?  Explain in detail with an example.  What general lesson follows from such examples?

Section 3: Of the following questions, 4 will be on the test and you will be expected to answer 3 of them. (4% each)

1) What five criteria should you consider when evaluating theories? Explain each in a sentence or two. Pick two competing theories and compare them briefly (1 sentence each) with regards to each criterion.

2) What is the false consensus effect? Name and describe three reasons for the prevalence of this effect. Briefly discuss the evidence for these reasons.

3) Give two reasons why understanding how the news media works counts as a critical thinking issue. In addition, explain how purported efforts to be neutral amount to a bias in the media.

4) What is 'sharpening and leveling' and what role does it play in belief formation? What is the relevance of 'literary license' to sharpening and leveling? How might our theoretical predispositions interact with sharpening and leveling? Give an example of the role of theoretical predispositions playing this role that not provided in the text or notes.

5) Describe the steps involved in setting up a controlled experiment. What advantage does this kind of study have over an observational study? Name and describe two limitations with controlled studies.