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johnlawrenceaspden comments on Fake Explanations - Less Wrong

58 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 20 August 2007 09:13PM

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Comment author: johnlawrenceaspden 27 August 2012 02:40:25PM 1 point [-]

I heard this in the popular 'Oxbridge Interview Question' genre, a long time ago. It actually makes great sense there, as a 1960s don would have had a coal fire burning in winter, when the interviews are done, and be able to turn the plate round between interviews. And the interviewer would be expecting everyone to know all the relevant laws, and be looking for exactly the right level of bewildered confusion and hypothesis generation that you're hoping for.

The point is not to guess the right answer (that's essentially random inspiration and the ability to detect trickery is irrelevant for physics). The point is to provoke a detailed conversation about physics.

Some of these stories are clearly apocryphal, and some of them have the ring of truth. This one seems a bit dodgy since the previous interview candidate could easily spread the information about the trick (and although that's rather irrational, candidates do do this). Although if a candidate guessed straight away, the interviewer could just use another stock question.