Chapter 1
A Little Learning Is a Dangerous Thing: □ True □ False

ON THE OTHERWISE unmemorable day, Wednesday, March 18, 1959, the Times of London printed the following letter to the editor:

Sir, -- Among the "odd one out" type of questions which my son had to answer for a school entrance examination was: "Which is the odd one out among cricket, football, billiards, and hockey?"

I said billiards because it is the only one played indoors. A colleague says football because it is the only one in which the ball is not struck by an implement. A neighbour says cricket because in all the other games the object is to put the ball into a net; and my son, with the confidence of nine summers, plumps for hockey "because it is the only one that is a girl's game." Could any of your readers put me out of my misery by stating what is the correct answer, and further enlighten me by explaining how questions of this sort prove anything, especially when the scholar has merely to underline the odd one out without giving any reason?

Perhaps there is a remarkable subtlety behind it all. Is the question designed to test what a child of nine may or may not know about billiards -- proficiency at which may still be regarded as the sign of a misspent youth?

Yours faithfully,

T. C. BATTY

-17-

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