Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

August 2017

I still test well.

Theology is not a subject where you can fake your way through a pop quiz. That was especially true in Carol’s Uncle Tony’s course. He had this way of marking that was actually a very useful mentoring technique: At the beginning of the first class, standing at the board, he made a series of marks explaining each one.

The long dash meant you added something unnecessary, a slash for leaving something important out, a check for getting it right, an “x” for getting it wrong, and a cross for heresy with the admonition to not show your paper to anyone or he would have to excommunicate you.

Carol was a high school classmate, and her father’s brother was a Jesuit professor teaching theology — one-semester courses to business school students. Somehow that made him seem noteworthy to me.

One day walking into his class, I had forgotten that a test was scheduled, and my friend Bob asked me how long I had studied for it.

“What? Huh?”

He quickly recapped the gist of what he thought were the toughest bits to get.

I got a higher mark than Bob.

So naturally, whenever I’m tempted by a claim on Facebook that more than a million (usually stated as “over” rather than “more than”) people had taken this quiz and no one had ever scored a perfect 10, I give it a whirl.

Big deal. I almost always ace it, but I don’t usually post that fact for all my FB friends to see. However I just did, because this quiz was so stupid. I guessed on three or four answers because who would bother to know such crap while most of the questions were of the “Mount-Everest-is-part-of-what mountain-range?” type. Would you believe that I knew who starred in Blade II?

Problem is there is nothing to be gained or learned taking one of these tests, plus for weeks your feed is stuffed with challenges to take more tests. That’s how algorithms work, okay? Take a few of these tests and check out how many new emails you get offering you stuff you don’t want.

But the businesses offering that stuff bought your name because people who take dumb tests buy dumb stuff — probably true.

Back to Uncle Tony: If you applied his standards to whatever you do, your work product will be better. Like advertising: Too long a message won’t work, but don’t leave out the essence. Avoid mistakes, and don’t lie or commit a trade libel or you’ll get thrown out.