11. Miscellaneous Questions
from Clear Thinking by R W Jepson

N.B.—Except where otherwise stated, arguments are quoted for analysis and criticism.

1. A burglar, after one of his housebreaking exploits, leaves behind a written message which contains glaring errors in grammar and spelling. What different inferences can be made?

2. How can X. be worse off now he is a partner? When he began as a traveller, he received a salary and 10 per cent commission; now he shares fifty-fifty with Y.

3. "I travelled up to town in the same carriage as Robinson the other day," said Brown. "He was reading the Daily Herald. I always thought he was a staunch Conservative!

(a)What is the implied inference? Is it justified or not? Give reasons.
(b)Substitute "hide-bound Tory" for "staunch Conservative." What difference is made?

4. "In going round the world westwards we keep gaining time and the whole trip would gain us a full day therefore, if we could make the whole journey in twenty-four hours, it would really take us no time at all." Point out the fallacy.

5. A man confesses to a crime. Is this sufficient to convict him? If not, why not?

6. A question in an Examination Paper admitted of two different answers. One candidate gave both answers fully and correctly, and also gained the maximum marks in the remainder of the paper. The examiner, anxious to give him full credit for his excellent performance, first awarded him 5 marks more than the maximum, which was 100 Then realising that it appeared absurd for one candidate to have more than the maximum marks, he reduced each candidate's marks by 5. Criticise the examiner's action.

7. What is to be said (a) for, (b) against, Promotion by Seniority?

8. A compositor drops the letters of the word "level" and replaces them at random. What is the probability that the word will be correctly printed? (Mathematical formulae not allowed. Explain in detail how you arrive at your solution.)

9. A deputation of parents in a rapidly growing suburban district, whose children have to attend a school over a mile away from their homes, waits upon the Local Education Committee.

LEADER OF THE DEPUTATION: "We refuse to allow our children to attend school until suitable transport is provided to convey them backwards and forwards."
CHAIRMAN OF THE L.E.C. :"Why! when I was a boy, I had to walk five miles to school every morning. It never did me any harm. Look at me, still hale and hearty at eighty."

If you were the leader of the deputation, how would you proceed with the argument?

10.A."Why, won't these boys work?"
B."Because they are lazy."
A."But why are they lazy?"
B."Because they won't work."

11. Democracy is a bad form of government because the people are not the best judges of what is good for them.

12. "Well, it's good for trade," said a survivor of the earthquake, "the damage will have to be repaired."

13. "X. must be one of the eight best schoolboy shots in England because he was a member of the winning team in the Ashburton Shield Competition at Bisley this year."

14. When long-term British Government Stock paying 5 per cent stood at 99, Nbinga Nbonga 7 per cent Debentures were sold at 120. What would be their approximate value if British Government 3.5 per cent Stock rises to 115? State your argument in full.

(asked to cash cheque by a stranger):
"But I don't know you."
STRANGER:"But my friend here will vouch for my identity."
B.M.:"But I don't know her either."
STRANGER:."That's easily rectified. Allow me to introduce you."

The Bank Manager is a patient and courteous man. How should he proceed to point out to the stranger (a lady) the fallacy in her argument?

16. "Free schooling, then free meals, now free boots and free milk—why! there will be free tickets for the cinema for the children before we know where we are.

17. The "Grid" system is going to save the country a lot of money because it is the most economical system that can be devised.

18. "You are hopelessly inconsistent. If you say there's no harm in a raffle at a Church Bazaar, what objection can you have to a Government lottery?

19. Consider the point of view of the "next motorist" who comes before a magistrate who has just announced:
"I shall make an example of the next motorist who comes before me charged with speeding on the — by-pass."

20.Cost Of Living Index Numbers
Month and YearFood OnlyAll Items—Food, Rent, Clothing, Fuel, Light, etc.
July 1914100100
December 1927163169
December 1932125143
Average Weekly Rates Of Wages In The Building Trades
Trade July 1914
s. d.
December 1927
s. d.
December 1932
s. d.
Bricklayers40 774 167 3
Masons39 774 267 4
Joiners 39 1173 1167 2
Plumbers39 874 067 3
Plasterers40 075 867 10
Painters 36 373 467 0
Labourers27 053 1150 2
(a)Explain carefully the significance of Cost of Living Index Numbers, giving a simple example.
(b)Did the comparative wages of the different operatives in the Building Trade change between 1914 and 1932? If so, to what extent?
(c)What changes do you note in the real wages (i.e., calculated in purchasing power) of any one of the classes of operatives mentioned?

21. To the Editor of the Morning Argus.

I have no use at all for these newfangled notions in Education—free discipline, self-determination and so on. Look at the results. A lot of Bolsheviks, shiftless wasters, with no respect for authority or anything else for that matter. Give me the good old-fashioned discipline. If you spare the rod, you spoil the child. Besides, everyone knows that the average boy likes strict discipline: he respects those who wield it. He knows that it does him all the good in the world.
Yours, etc.,

Write a reply to this letter without being angry or sarcastic.


(a) The place of the woman is in the home. What interest has she in Politics?
(b) Woman has a genius for housekeeping, and there fore she should do well in Politics. For what is the Government of the State but housekeeping on a National scale?

Criticise both these points of view from the logical standpoint.

23. The Corporation of Brighton proposes to construct a motor-racing track on the Sussex Downs.

A Critic's Comment — How can the "beauty of the Downs" and the "harmony of the surroundings" be compatible with a fenced enclosure of 400 to 500 acres, a motor track 4'2 miles long, a road of access from Devil's Dyke to the track, with broad subsidiary roads scarring the Downs, the camouflaged buildings, the half a million spectators, the appalling noise of the racing cars, the hundreds of motors, the litter and all the attendant abominations, spreading far beyond the actual area?

An Official Reply — What nonsense! The Corporation have no intention of allowing anything to interfere with the beauty of the Downs. We are all public-spirited and think that this scheme should go through. Most anxious thought has been given to the whole scheme. I am convinced that it would only retard the march of progress if the scheme were not sanctioned. The track will bring many visitors and much money to Brighton, but the Corporation have not allowed these considerations to outweigh others. The terms of the lease to the promoters of the track prohibit advertisement hoarding, and provide that any buildings erected shall be in keeping with the surrounding landscape. The Corporation are satisfied that nothing will be erected which will be an eyesore. There will be no racing on Sundays, so no objection can be taken from that point of view. The whole scheme has my personal approval. I am satisfied that nothing will be done which is detrimental to the beauty of the Downs. Your critic seems afraid that the noise of the cars will disturb the quiet of the Downs. I do not think it will. The R.A.C. restrictions regarding noise will be in force. They are strict. There should be no real cause for complaint. The Corporation will watch the activities of the track. If anything is done which can be regarded as objectionable, prompt action will be taken.

(a) Which side would you take in this controversy, and why?
(b) How far do you think the official reply meets the objections of the critic?

24. No successful business can be run nowadays without advertisement on a large scale. In fact, you have only to look at the hoardings and the front page of the Daily Argus to see the firms that make the profits. You don't suppose they could afford such publicity unless they were exceedingly prosperous.

25. Protectionist: And then you say that Protection raises prices. Why, ever since the introduction of tariffs after the financial crisis of 1931, prices have actually fallen, and many staple foods actually cost less to-day than they did in the palmy days before the Great War. That shows that tariffs have actually lowered prices.
What is the retort?

26.A. "They are a lot of hypocritical humbugs inspired by selfish greed."
B. "Come! Come! We may not agree with their opinions or their methods, but we have no right to question the purity of their motives or the sincerity of their convictions."
A. "I'm surprised at you—a man of your culture and upbringing—defending these blackguards."

As B., what would you now say?

27. Pinkerton's paper, the Daily Haste, hated being pinned down to and quarrelled with about facts; facts didn't seem to the Pinkerton press things worth quarrelling over, like policy, principles or prejudices. The story goes that when anyone told him he was wrong about something, he would point to his vast circulation, using it as an argument that he couldn't be mistaken. If you still pressed and proved your point, he would again refer to his circulation, but using it this time as an indication how little it mattered whether his facts were right or wrong. Some one once said to him curiously, "Don't you care that you are misleading so many millions? " To which he replied, "I don't lead or mislead the millions. They lead me."
Ross MACAULAY: Potterism.—Comment.

28. The owner of a one-man business: "Why shouldn't I open and close my shop when I please? If I choose to work sixteen hours a day, whom does it concern but me?"
What is the other side of the picture? Present it from the point of view of a shop assistant in a large store.

29. If you were on trial on a charge of burglary to which you pleaded not guilty, how would you answer the following question put to you by the counsel for the prosecution:
"Where did you conceal the swag?"

30. The holder of industrial shares must expect the value of his property to vary because of the fluctuations in the industrial markets.

31. The total wealth of a country has to be divided between workers and property owners. Obviously, what is taken from the one is given to the other.

32. An old man who has bathed in the Serpentine every morning for the last forty years says, "Look at me." I say to him, "Yes, but where are the others? " Why is my retort justified?

33. Why cannot you answer the following question by a plain Yes or No?
"Have you ceased bullying young Jenkins?"


(a) Why during the hearing of a certain case does a Judge forbid the Jury access to the outside world?
(b) At what point in a Criminal trial is evidence of a prisoner's previous criminal record permissible? And why?

35. The directors of a certain Meat Extract Company submitted to the shareholders particulars of offers made by two other companies, Bifco and Steeril, which wished to amalgamate with it. When the shareholders' replies were received, it was found that 85 per cent were against amalgamation with Bifco, and 55 per cent were against amalgamation with Steeri1.

(a) Were there any against amalgamation with both Bifco and Steeril? If so, what percentage?

(b) Were there any who were not against amalgamation with either? If so, what percentage?

36. Some years ago a number of British engineers were arrested in Russia and accused of espionage and sabotage. The comments of several British newspapers were based upon the following assumptions:

(i) The charges were absurd: no Briton could be guilty of espionage : no British engineer could be suspected of sabotage.

(ii) The accused could not expect a fair trial. Justice in a Russian court was, as every schoolboy knew, a mere travesty of Justice, as we in Britain understood it.

Was this attitude justified? Give reasons.

N.B.—Never mind what happened after the arrest. Remember I am not suggesting it was wrong to sympathise with our fellow-countrymen. Try to put yourself in the place of a Russian reading these comments; or imagine that similar comments were made in a Russian newspaper on the arrest and accusation of Russian engineers in Britain.

37. What is meant by:

(a) I never throw dust in a juryman's eyes
(b) drawing a red herring across the trail
(c) special pleading
(d) a leading question
(e) the laws of evidence

38. In a debate on "Capital Punishment" one speaker said: "The possibility of the death penalty does not deter the man with murderous intent, because only little more than 100 years ago sheep stealing was punished by hanging. and then crime was more prevalent than it is now.
How would you deal with this argument as a speaker on the other side?

39. What is meant by : prima facie evidence, a priori argument, sub judice, sub rosa, ex cathedra?

40. "I don't see any way out. You cannot be surprised if a man is driven by lack of home comforts to take refuge in a public house. And you cannot expect a woman to keep a respectable home when most of her husband's earnings go in drink."
Drab and sordid homes may encourage drunkenness, and drunkenness may lead to drab and sordid conditions in the home, but is it true to say, "There is no way out "?

41. "The British Empire has been built up, brick by brick and stone by stone, cemented by the blood and sweat of successive generations of our countrymen. Remove one of these stones or bricks, and the whole edifice will collapse."

42. "Cupping" or blood-letting is a recognised method of curing some bodily ailments. War, too, acts in the same way. It is a blessing, not a curse. What country ever became great without blood-letting?

43. Comment on the logical validity of:

(a) X. was one of the best statesmen the country has ever had, for during his period of office we enjoyed a degree of prosperity unparalleled by anything either before or since.

(b) The cost of pig
Is something big
Because it's corn you'll understand
Is high priced too:
Because it grew
Upon the high priced farming land.
If you'd know why
Consider this: the price is big
Because it pays
Thereon to raise
The costly corn, the high priced pig.

(c) To grant a bounty on wheat production is clearly beneficial to wheat producers. To give bounties all round would therefore benefit all industries.

(d) It was a great Art for it was produced for a great State.

(e) Every variety which is selected into a species is favoured and preserved in consequence of being in some one or more respects better adapted to its surroundings than its rivals. In other words, every species which exists, exists in virtue of adaptation, and whatever accounts for that adaptation, accounts for the existence of the species.

(f) For forms of government let fools contest
Whate'er is best administered is best. —(London University Scholarship Exam.)

44. How would you answer the following question:

Would Association Football benefit if the pernicious influence of professionalism were removed?

45. You know that Jones possessed a First Class Season Ticket on June 29th. Three days later you see him returning from the city by his usual train, but in a Third Class Carriage.
What possible conclusions may be drawn from this data alone?

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