March 21, 2012 by rebelwithalabelmaker
So, about a week ago, we were playing this fantastic game called “Wits and Wagers” as a family. It’s like a trivia game, except that most of the points don’t go to getting the right answer–they go to betting on the correct answer. So, you can use your keen knowledge of the human psyche to figure out who is most likely to be right if you aren’t an expert in the relevant area. Kind of like life.
So, final question of the night: Stakes are high, the first place prize is up for grabs, and the card says: “How many smaller cubes make up a Rubik’s Cube?” The answers we gave were: Me: 20, Eric: 26, Troy: 27, and Gary and Allison: 54.
The correct answer? 26.
Gary: What? Oh, that’s right. Of course. I was counting the faces of the cube–the question wasn’t very specific.
Eric (patiently, with no trace of a snotty tone): No, dad, because a square is a two dimensional shape, and a cube is a three dimensional one. How you tell is–
Gary: Yup, I got it.
Troy: But there should be 27 cubes!
Me: The middle one is a gear–otherwise how would it hold together? . You have to add up the cubes and subtract one.
It was just like slum dog millionaire. My whole life built up to this moment. I knew about three dimensional shapes because of all those fairy tales you tell kids about the flat-landers, who live in different dimensions, and how you can use math and physics to…. well, it turns out those are just fairy tales if your dad is my dad…
And I knew all about the internal gears of a Rubik’s cube because the only way I can solve one is to take the ^*%&^&ing thing apart. Oh, I am the queen of higher reasoning.
Eric: Mom, why did you write “20” as your answer?
Higher reasoning, A+. Multiplication tables–need work. Turns out, it’s three times nine is not twenty one. That’s three times seven. (Also patiently explained by my eight year old).
So, the prize goes to Eric. Second prize. The first place winner was Anthony, who guessed very few actual answers correctly, but absolutely cleaned up when it came to betting on the answers of others. Which speaks to something kind of interesting, if you ask me. With very limited knowledge base, Anthony was free to bet based on his emotional assessments. Turns out, that’s not a bad way to do it.
I know a lot about this–having a lot of trouble focussing in school has meant that I am missing big chunks of “common knowledge”. I have always relied heavily on the expertise of others–and that’s a skill in and of itself. Building relationship, reading faces, analyzing a person’s credibility… In the modern world, I am finding that knowing how to judge the reliability of information is often as valuable as having a solid bank of facts. Except for the multiplication tables. I really should have learned those. For one thing, my baking would probably turn out much better…