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Guilt by association

When I was in high school, I cheated one time, on an English test.

No, I didn't copy answers from another student's test. No, I didn't bring in a cheatsheet and look up the answers. No, I didn't ask someone for help.

But I did game the system.

When the instructor, Mr. McClellan (he taught AP English the next year), would grade papers, he would mark the incorrect answers, total all of the incorrect answers, subtract that number from the number of questions on the test, and mark the score.

I had watched him grade papers a few times, and noted he went on auto-pilot after the first few papers. I don't know if he gave the same test year after year or what, but after the first three or four tests, he wouldn't look at the answer key, he'd just read the student answers, noting which were incorrect.

Well, this test I was taking was 50 questions long. I had actually studied for this test, because I was struggling in the class. Struggling in the class at the time meant, "I have a 93% in this class. Lose much more and I might get a B! Oh no! Work hard!"



So, I was taking this test, and realized I didn't know the answer to question #27. I think there was another question I didn't know, but could guess at. This one, I had no clue.

Not sure if most people know this, but colleged-ruled paper has between 25 and 30 lines on it. If appropriately numbered, one could, say, number a paper 1 through 26 on one side of the paper, and 27 through 50 on the other side of the paper, and use only one sheet for a 50 question test.

Or, if you wanted to, you could, say, number the front side 1 through 26, and the back side, oh, I don't know, maybe 28 through 50.

Which I what I did.

Knowing the teacher counted wrong answers when determining the score, and that he would flip my test over when nominally zoned-out while grading papers, I chanced that he wouldn't noticed I skipped question 27 when he was gradiing.

I was correct.

I missed one on the test, and it wasn't number 27, for a 98% on the test.

After taking the test, before receiving it back graded, I looked up the answers to the questions I didn't know. I did that all the time, so looking them up was nothing new or unusual.

Remembering the answer over a decade later probably is.

The answer to question #27 is, by the way, "Guilt by Association", a logic fallacy where one quality implies another quality because an item has both of the qualities. A shallow example: The apple is red and round. The box is red. Therefore, the box is round. A better example is from wikipedia:

Anti-war activists has made statements critical of Israel. Neo-nazis have made similar statements. Therefore, opposing the war is equivalent to supporting Nazism.

A dumb statement, but one that some people would make.

If the purpose of school is to teach a person, then I would have to say that I learned that lesson pretty well.

Apparently guilt for cheating on a test in school is a good teacher. I didn't make that mistake again.