« Revisionist History

Puzzle Rush


Malcolm challenges his assistant Camille to the Law School Admissions Test. He gets halfway through, panics, runs out of time, and wonders: why does the legal world want him to rush?

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Its eight o clock in the morning on Saturday, a little children deepen downtown Manhattan streets around of standing on the sidewalk is my assistant, Camille Baptista resulting needs? No did you did you sleep Allison? I did say, while I didn't, I You got no good, almost no sleep, and I had a name at the outset when I left the forms I had an exam nightmare from high school since high school last before it was over I had a nightmare about. The Elles said that I walked out before the test was over. Oh but my nightmare, it's just because
This is welcome global, I'm back with season for of revision is history, my podcast about thing so overlooked and misunderstood This episode is about what happened when Camille and I took the law school admissions test. We had three number two pencils: each small pack of clinics, a package of trail mix, in clear plastic bags we lined up outside pace university with hundred by their nervous people clutching clear plastic bags. Everyone wanted Sunday to become lawyers except ass. We were there in the name of science, with the goals of salt. Been very earnest us, traumatic,
and stressful, but I wanted to get one last thing. I would like to get your handicap on your chances of being just tell me what you think of chastity. My chances as it as it is now, That was quite confident you would wish my mom is incidentally, no matter why, which is very nice, but you know maybe unrealistic. You know, I don't know fifty fifty Camille, I real people, all of you. I am twenty four forget I came in I won't even tell you how about, but it is a large multi of your. I know, but I don't think it has anything to do with age ideas with reading ability and you read nonstop twenty four hours, they had been. An intellectual I've been in cognate decline for targeted the exposed aright raw Bulgaria
I got the idea of taking the outset from a man named William Henderson. I read a paper that he wrote it was on. My favorite website assess our end which is where academics from around the world postal papers and they get ranked fewer- regular listener to this podcast you'll know how genius, I think, assess our enemies. Anyway, this paper was called the EL said law, school exams and meritocracy the surprising and you're theorize role of tests taking speed any thing. Words surprising and under theorized in the title of course, is going to be catnip for me. So I read it then I read it again. Then I had to meet him. So just a little bit of background.
I hear you gotta lost relatives, thirty five and I had a whole career before then. Why did what were you doing before? You became alert as a firefighter paramedic as a union rap for Suburban Cleveland Fire Department did at four and nine years, and is I kid people and remember Kitty as I went to law school because of those bastard management. Attorneys Henderson goes to law school. After that he gets a clerk ship with a judge. One day he's in the shower and a thought occurred to me. What was the, a shower? The specific aha was what was my God the two most time pressure things I've ever done. My life is taken the OECD and these damn school exams. He had been a fire fighter paramedic. He had raised to the streets of Cleveland to save people on the brink of death and the most time pressure he'd ever felt was taken,
Neil said to go to law, school and then taking the exams once he got there commemorating cast sons, teams, elements exam. My first year of law school is a two hour. Exam cast sunsetting used to teach at the University of Chicago which is where Henderson went to law school his genius. He asked the kind of questions that you can spend months years, thinking about, but his exam two hours. That's all you got there Proctor shit I'm in everybody drop their pencils and there is a huge ugh ever you plenty was like groaning that they didn't get more time to to keep on working on costs and setting up an exam like, Ninety people who law drop their pants on their all. You know exclaiming the desire for more time than that there was a member experience. I'm sure this is obvious to you, particularly if you're in American, you been tested, thousand times in your life, eighty ac t, J, R e on and on and every
one of those standardize tests doesn't just test whether you can answer the question correctly. They test how quickly you can answer the question correctly, but I'm a canary I've never taken a standardized test. In my life an outsider. I have to say the whole systems really weird. Why is quicker better? The asset is exhibit It's the single most important thing that determines where you go to law school, nothing else comes close and what is it it's around a hundred and twenty five questions divided among five sections, political reasoning. Reading comprehension, two sections on dissecting an argument and one experimental section: everything's multiple choice: You mark your answers with a pencil by filling in little bubbles on an answer. She, like an IBM punch card. A perfect score is one eighty. And if you're a super go get her. You cannot
or below one seventy five, because then you can't get into Harvard and if you can't get into Harvard you're, never gonna get an offer from a big law firm or get a supreme court collection. You life is over everything: the Country Club, the Bmw, the multiple cases of two things. Then shut told of the rock child. If hinges on those five sections and how long do you get to spend in each of those five sections. Thirty five minutes at forty, not fifty, not fifty five. And if you finish up one section early, you don't get to add their time to the next section. When we decide who is smart enough to be a lawyer, we use a stopwatch, so that was William Henderson's question. What does putting that? Thirty five minutes time limit on a cognitive tests like the outset do so
said to Camille, let's find out and because we're both super competitive. The whole thing got very involved. The first of all like to do is to under stand on a very, very granular level. What time pressure means for the way people take to test the strategy's. They use the kinds of mistakes they make. Specific to everyone told me that there was no way I could do well on the LSAT without getting some coaching. So I went to one of the top new educational technique. Gee startups in America accompany in New York called noodle started by John Catchment, who, before this was one of the founders of the famous Princeton review test. Prep company I sat down with catchment and two of his top people in a big laugh building on Union Square Manhattan cow
Simon Fritz, Stuart and Dan Edmunds? No, but I am very utterly live very anxious not to lose two Camille, so I'm gonna real wishes in the: U S written either. You oh she's went fancy schooling. The serious Susie Intelligent one by one, U S for you, you would? U S? Ok, you have your I'll make you a system of our great I'm too old and I'm from the wrong country. It was not an encouraging start. I've done things under time. Pressure before, of course, a written newspaper stories on deadline. I wrote exams in college in those as though the task required meat to be me only with a sense of urgency. But the first thing, the little guys told me was the EL sat. Didn't require me to be me. It required me to be someone else, A lot of it is about helping people. Understand. They don't get to do this at a comfortable speed as Dan Edmunds
in order to finish these sections, you have to do it at the speed is a little uncomfortable It means we have to hold your instincts by the test rules not by your rules, We see me to read it comfortable speed for me it means that if there's something like reading, comprehension passage. If I had a paragraph that I dont fully understand, I don't get to go back and we read it. I just gonna have to accept the pie, did I understand and move on the noodle guys broached. The EL said, like pathologists approach, a cadet For me, I'm like a all right. I didn't get that, but but if the question asked about it, I will go back, but it doesn't bother me as long as I understand the topic sentence of the paragraph and the overall thrust of the author's argument. If I miss it details here and there are even of a chunk of the argument of my I find you cares or Google. I'll go, do you dig it out exactly what I need to wait? It's ok miss a chunk of the argument. So I don't
an aim for a level of what we would normally call. Comprehension and my first read: I am out to process the information, not understand it. I dont get any points for understanding and they get points for bubbling in the rifle. I imagine that when you re there are lots of moments. Re sort of- oh, that's an interest in point any sort of pause. A new thing. Can you your you? Let your mind me under a little bet: there's no meander time on the outside. There's no digression time. Andor and digression are my. I am all that's what I do for a living. Would you think this pod cast Contra? So then John Cadman gave me a simple question. What I would have you do is read this and then for each. Of these questions tell me the too stupid his answers to stupidest your guest
to ask for us is that you know a wrong wow. This is what that's from saying they care redesign. Yes, no, nor can the passage with six hundred words. It seemed longer. I've just been told that I dont need to understand it. I dont need to comprehend it it's ok if I miss chunks of it. In other words, I supposed to read it without reading it I sit there puzzling about this. The three of them debate right in front of me how long this reading without reading should take John said a minute fritz said three tops dance said: it depends on the person whose reading The only thing they all agreed on was that I had to hurry. Fly, get the bones of the argument and now feel free to spend the time on the question. El again, all you're trying to do is play. The two worst answers: she was answers, you time in on your shower
To sum up, he was his eye on page one for me to thank God. I read it out loud because I thought maybe that would help Certain people who participate in opinion surveys often give answers. They believe the opinion surveys wants to hear and swore. This reason did so opinion surveys. Do not the actual use of those being serve. It, however, well constructed survey. The questions are worded so as to provide responses with no indication of which answers the surveyor might expect. After the passage there were multiple sets of questions to test my understanding of what had just now they would pages of them. So the Serbia's well constructed survey the spanish desire to meet surveyors amputations has no effect on the service results the reasoning and researchers. Writing is questionable in that. The argument overlooks Possibility that.
There is a and b are just just yes MA am Those are the worst, nothing worse than the clock is ticking such a brutal passage cases. That is what we term lies This is what they meant when they talked about uncomfortable reading. I was being forced into a kind of altered. Frenzied state. Do they used was breathless. You should be a little breathless. They said I was breathless. I kept asking how much time has passed. They tell me my heart: would: salaried. I started to panic again. Ok, I have no idea what I did. I mean that seven minutes. Twenty seven section is how long minutes, thirty five and thirty five Arafat.
Let me just say one: two: three, four: five: six, questions you would have had say ten minutes Effect any red answers yet will you dial Harper and that's one half of summer Samson, sometimes so,. You told me that you're not us, oh I touched we did not question. I was convinced the answer was be, it was see I could feel Harvard slipping away. Great. Thank you. Will you guys think my answer reserve? Can you do you want? honest answer. Nonsense. I think you're, a real trouble. Buddy on the day. At the outset, I sat in a little classroom in one of those fixed half tests that I last having great school. We got our test. Packets,
I raised to reading comprehension with time to spare sections in three. I was right up against a deadline. Then came analytical reasoning, logic games and I looked at the questions and what I had to figure. And realise that there was just no way. I was gonna finish and thirty. Five minutes I needed to low down and it wasn't allowed to slow down a glance behind me and there was Camille with like deaths stare in her eyes ruthlessly dispatching question after question: did it looked around some more and saw all these kids have my age neighbouring away full of purpose, because all you Americans apparently accept as gospel. This idea that the smart person is not the person who gets the right answer, the small person is the person who gets the right answer:
the quickest mercifully it ended at one thing: Camille, and I stumbled outside into the sunshine. Clutching are plastic bags are producer, Jacob Smith, waiting. We had. We had no idea that people want to be lawyers for small. That was a shock Camille cheated, because she she packed my red to have his plastic bags. She black pack, my plots indefinitely,
He gave herself like apples and I really really Tricia's snacks. I got. I did the same thing, so you added fresh fruit and knocker died, two eggs from sneaky S but fire, but who sharper lawyer pencil, album and packed you little tissues in case. You knows, runs now after Baltic near who, like what you're honest opinion, anything did better. I think it commuting. I was I did so poorly. I was finally got really cocky and then I hit the logic games and basically I've got zero right. I had no idea what to do. I sat there arose a silk complete panic. I have. I was untested until it moment. I now I have been tested. America has taken this measure of me and I mom it's pretty spree humbling experience. Why do Americans do this to themselves? Do they?
scrabble with a stopwatch inlet. Your class. Do they get extra points for reading Tolstoy is war and peace overnight? Is there an Oscar that goes out every year to the movie they got shot the quickest, I really don't get it. Time to me under an digress. I became a RAM Astro Fifteen, so I think I became an I am right after I turned thirteen. I was a grand master fifteen, sir. That thought was very, very good. It's time, that's hikori, now camera Grubbin Westchester County outside New York City he's in his early thirties. Although he looks about half that age he's one of the best chest players in the world, how much chess we playing as a kid pretty much all the time. So I was play the mark.
At least I would say two or three days everything a week and then also be playing blitz on the internet, trust club, I would say at least five years hours every single day years ago I met Agnes Karlsson, who is the greatest chess player in the world, and I asked him how much she used to chessboard versus how much he just worked through chess positions in his mind, and he said. Oh, I practice mostly in my mind. In fact, I'm working on an opening right now. The Cairo knock em era is a little like that he's credibly. Gracious and humble, but even when he's giving you what seems like his full attention, you get the feeling that there's a whole separate part of his brain breaking down. A Bobby Fischer match from the early ninetys seventys. The first thing I did after my disaster with the EL set was call up- hey Karl, but I didn't want to talk to him about chess. I wanted to talk
him about time. So my first question about this would be what would happen within reason. If there was no how does the way that you approach their chests change? If I remove the time constraint entirely? All right, sir, If your move time entirely from the game of chess every game chess would be drawn because without without time, if you have announced about time think about any given move. If I could thing for thirty minutes on every single move, I do not think I would ever lose a game of chess to a human computer. I would still lose, but to human, even Magnus, yeah fire our four remove. I don't think I've ever lose two Magnus. This is white yes, games have a time limit, otherwise is not a game. Tournaments would go for months and everyone would end up tied for first, it will be like little league everyone
get a participation trophy so there's classical chess, which is the kind played the world Championships classical allots. Ninety minutes for the first forty moves, then thirty minutes for the rest of the game. Winning at classical chest involves calculation working through many possible scenarios before deciding on a move, then there's blitz chess, that's what he said I was playing for five or six hours a day, growing up in blitz. Each bear gets five minutes for the whole game. We play bullets. Chess very much becomes about finding moves that look good, that are not blunders that you can play almost instantly were use a couple of seconds. Ask how many moves would you go deep? It normally be about five or six moves and about three or four branches. It's a fantastically come.
Lex, mental exercise. Yes very much time is probably at least I would say close to a hundred different different permutations of moves or a sequence. Is that you're, looking out for every single move in blitz, we ve truncated. That process run everything about blitz and classical is the same same pieces, same board, same players. Same choreographed openings, but the time limits are different and what happens when you tinker with the time limit. You get a completely different set of results. A classical chess Magnus, Carson, is number one he's also number when a blitz, because he's a genius he Cairo right now is eleventh in the classical rankings, but a blitz he's number two in the world. Why? Because he's really really good the rapid pattern. Recognition is necessary for bullets and is not quite as good at the complex calculation that's necessary for classical
now who's an example, a good example of the opposite phobia our wine is actually is probably the best example I can't think of anyone else, who is that much better at classical chess and they are at Blitzen RAP. Why do you think he's not good at puts in rapid? I think I think, with Fabiano he's it's the other way he's very, very good at calculation, so when he gets positions, he's very good at calculating and understanding what the possibilities are with with more time. Where is when he doesn't have time to
Let the long sequences all the way through his intuitions, take over Anna's intuition unnatural feel are not as good as as everyone else Fabio is a tortoise, slow and steady hick. Our vote is a hare years back speedy. You can structure, chested favours the tortoise or you can structure chess so that it favours hairs. I think you can see where I'm going with this. If we had a blitz tournament for the World championship, in two months. Where would you put your odds of winning out for my eyes of winning? Probably around twenty percent? I would say: I've put Magnus it about sixty percent. I put myself a twenty percent, so pretty good arts. Yes, so you you you were. Changes, if just arbitrarily we decided that the standard for international tournament chess oughta be bliss, Yes, it would change her. Will you,
make a lot more money. Probably us wait, there's a third variation bullet chess in bullet. You get one minute for the whole game and Cairo is thick. Hang a bullet. Are you better than Magnus apples? Apples yes, a boy ass y know. So what's why wouldn't Magnus, if he's, if he so serenely, superior and all kinds of chess. Why can't he be you a bullet in terms of the calculation? What he does is like the four law is not algorithm, but saw the way that he find tools or the way things have. I think it takes a little bit more time to come to the conclusions. What strikes me is that the the chess higher a formal chess hierarchy. Is an arbitrary function of the amount of time we have decided to spend on a chess match right. Yes, like I said I think you can see where I'm going with this.
The girl is a hare, not a tortoise What is the Elles said? It is a test that rewards there's over tortoises, which means that if the Elsa ran the chest world, they consider- had gone through the greatest chest- in the world they would crowded champion over Magnus L sat logic. Is it the best player is the one who solves the hardest? Chess puzzles quickest and that's a cargo but that's insane, not even a car or thinks he's better Chester Magnus. What car would say is that he's a different kind of chess player than magnets and I haven't even mention puzzle rush. It's an online game Will you get a series of endgame chest positions and you have to get to checkmate as often as possible in five minutes puzzle,
She is insanely popular, do play at a puzzle rush. I have the highest score at Cyril. So what's your score, my high scores, fifty five and what's the second highest I think there are two people was fifty four and then their couple was fifty three falls off from their yeah yeah we have most of the top. There is no world played puzzle. Rush most unhappy ass as Magnus been not officially, not officially the rabbit, laying in hiding a similarly probably has you can I award for being the number. None preservation. Now knows it feels like crowd. You, king, oppose a rush. There's a three hour, video of a car of crushing puzzle, rush on Youtube. It is a hundred and thirty thousand views this now she might be the most hotly contested form of chess. You ve ever played you ve aeroplanes.
Then, where millions of people are in the same turn of it that yeah? That's the writer, that's right. You're right, you could make an organ. This is your greatest accomplishment. Gas I went there that wherever yes you're right you're, the only reason we Consider that your greatest accomplishment is we ve arbitrary, too I did only to honour chess played under these archaic rules. It turn him an atmosphere That also Russia's mean if we decided to say that's what just right. Europe surely decide. Yes, that true has many advantage is a cheaper Israel. It allows the entire world to compete on equal rights right yeah, so you I can see the entire world and you want, I don't know yeah yeah. I never thought about that. But yes, that that is true here with one thing comes out of this. It is, I hope you you give yourself a pat on the back of the
order in which people finish in any cognitive task is an arbitrary function of how much time is given to complete the task. You can make it fast or you can make it slow the chest world has chosen to reward the tortoise, the Elsie has chosen to reward the hare they decided to play puzzle rush.
Reward the corners of the world and not have us play classical and reward far beyond what is illegal world have against Fabienne step inside drop everything at the door breathe. A sigh of relief ass, the killing of home is the most comforting. Worthier is parachute, believes that when we take care of our home it takes care of us, that's why they make premium quality, sheaths, towels, robes rugs and all things. Soft and wonderful visit, parachute home, Dotcom, flashed Gladwell for free shipping and returns on parachutes very comfortable home sensuous. That's Para:
shoot home, dotcom, logical, ah well, for free shipping and returns. As I mentioned earlier, there is going to be a second part. To this examination of the onset. Of course there is. Why would I rush in the next episode I'm gonna visit with the folks who administer the outset, law school Admissions Council of New town Pennsylvania, but that can wait. Let's back to William Henderson, who started me wondering about time and tests the great justification The EL set is your score is supposed to be a useful indication of how well you we'll do in your first year of law school, it's a predictor but Henderson's great question was what, if the Elles said only predict
law school grades, because last schools make the same mistake that the EL sectors, it mostly schools, grew so based in large part on how well students do on exams where they are deliberately Not given enough time, you take costs stiens elements exam were you? engage with the ideas of illegal genius and you have two hours, that's it Henderson wondered: if a law school doesn't relies so heavily. On its students, doing things quickly if the school relies instead on, take home, exams and essays what happen to the usefulness of the EL set as it predictor, and he found that its usefulness declines. Quoting the data, showed that the EL sat a relatively robust predictor of in class exams and a relatively weak predictor I've taken exams and papers. In other words, once you stop racing against the clock, then the people
Who do well on the Elles said no longer are the best possible, which is exactly what every chess player in the world would have told you would happen. So what did William Harrison do when he became a law? Prefer at Indiana University, He changed the way he evacuated his students. He started, placing more emphasis on take come exams, and when he did, then examine class. He makes it for hours not to be completely open book and I give out one of the questions and exert in advance. Here's three questions on a test yon once you ve seen one of the questions already and then four hours is plenty of time to do the She spotter and I give a word limit and in- and I did that as a direct result of that Elsie T study that I did because I was keenly aware that you change the ordinary ranking when you, when you pick a testament- and I said-
You know, I don't see any mail need all four hours, but if you, if you want to take four hours, you're free to take four hours not long after he started grading that way, a student came to see him. This kid got an an exam in: and so he comes any wants to talk about examines is said to have been here for three years I've never done this well on the exam before I want to know why this well and those exam and it was an eight hour, take home, and I go look at your first paragraph you here. Every single issue here in the first paragraph it's just a well organised pearl. The light bulb went on for Amazon like if I had had more time. All my exams would have been this organised. You have student who this system declared was of average ability. The student believed it. Why would
DE, but then someone came along summoned by the way, with the great benefit of being a fire fighter from the suburbs of Cleveland who had the freedom to think a little differently and he said wait. Maybe you aren't of average ability. Maybe you only think your average, because we have chosen an arbitrary system to evaluate your ability. That makes you look average. You are Fabio and we have been making you play puzzle rush I know what you're thinking yea I yet, but who one between you and Camille who got the highest Coronel said no stop racing ahead. You are engaged in uncomfortable listening you'll have to wait until the next episode. I want you to think about. Is that student of William Henderson's and his miraculous revelation that he really was a good student. After all. There are a ton of tortoises like him out there, not just take
the outset and sitting in law school classrooms, but competing for places number of schools and professions that have decided to tell their applicants of whether they are or are not any good. And what I dont understand his how the hairs got to set the rules. I thought the whole point of the story of the tortoise and the hair was at the Tortoise one. Clearly the kind of person who is most disadvantaged by this system is the tortoise. I realized, after my experience with the noodle guys, I come from tortoises and we ve met tortoises in earlier? Who will not? My mother is a lot of a tortoise. She will not be brushed under any circumstances. She will not. She does not make mistakes. She goes over things five times to marry the perfect there. She is ideal for a certain kind of works. She'd have a problem with the Elles that she would say why you rushing me.
Ideal for a certain kind of works. She'd have a problem with the outset. She would say why you rushing me and she would do no and she wouldn't finnish and she would never guess Cherkis she's incapable of guessing. So my mom could never the profession is putting up a barrier to mark you put a stopwatch on thinking, whatever You read this system, so Camille winds, fine, but when you go after the Gladwell, then it's personal Religious history is produced by mere la belle and Jacob Psmith with Camille Baptista are editor is Julia. Barton flown Williams is our engineer fact: checking by birth Johns original music by Luis Kara special thanks to come
we make Liore had a feigned Maggie Taylor, Maya Caning and Jacob iceberg. Ravages history has brought you buy skin industries. I Malcolm gotta, but Camille, clear psyche, Smarty pants, she's gonna do do you think you could do guys yeah, yeah, we'll Camille out, has a natural She she'd naturally prepares and is naturally persistent and determine so I think there are things will really help her a walk. Should I should I be worried I think I think you should be weighed on July.
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Transcript generated on 2020-01-12.