Monday, October 12, 2009

Unbelievable student answers

Have you ever thought you have heard/read/seen everything? Here's one that I did not expect from a student answering a question on an exam regarding the definition of eudaimonia.

Eudaimonia: an illness similar to diarrhea.

I do not even begin to know how to process this one!!!!

Share your example of unbelievable student answers - this might be fun.


  1. This one comes to me secondhand, but a student wrote that according to Hobbes, in the state of nature, man is short nasty and brutish.

  2. "Some philosophers believe that all our experience is caused by a mental quail."

  3. I've had students describe, in papers, actions as ill-moral, instead of immoral!

  4. Exam Question: What use does Aristotle make of the statement, "One swallow does not make a spring"?

    Student Response (approximately; I can't find the copy I made): It's like when you're eating something, and you first take a bite, you have to chew for a while, and you can't swallow right away. It takes a long time before you can swallow. And, happiness is like that; it takes a long time.

  5. I've asked, "name the Ten Commandments."

    Student's reply: Freedom to bear arms.

  6. On a true/false I had a student write, "Faluse;" not once, but repeatedly.

  7. In an introductory ethics class, I once gave the following multiple-choice question on a pop quiz: "Complete the quote from Immanuel Kant: 'There is nothing conceivable in this world, or indeed even beyond it, that could be considered good without qualification except for...'
    a) a good will
    b) the greatest happiness for the greatest number
    c) the social contract
    d) chicks, cars and the third world war."

    A student who was clearly copying answers incorrectly from the smart student in front of him mistook her a) for a d) and selected the final option. When he discovered that he had scored lower than she did, he complained. I asked whether he really thought that Immanuel Kant had held such a high opinion of chicks, cars, and the third world war. The student actually insisted for some time that that was what I had told them before he finally realized what an idiot he sounded like.

    Note to non-Canadian readers: there was, prior to that time, a silly hit song in Canada whose chorus was "The only three things worth dying for/Are chicks, cars and the third world war". It was only later that I realized that in the USA, where I was teaching at the time, that song was not well-known and that the students wouldn't get the joke.

  8. "Since the beginning of time, man has wondered whether computers can think."

    On Descartes...
    “We can never sense or imagine the true nature of wax because we are not wax.”

    “Other things that I have thought about that go along the same lines are, how would you know if you were mentally challenged?”

  9. On a question dealing with sexual morality, I once had a student write that sodomy was a "crimanal offense."

    I was hoping he'd go on to condemn it as a "anus crime," but no such luck. There were plenty of other misspellings, though.

  10. Thesis statement in an applied ethics course: "Abortion is impermissible except after birth."

  11. I'm not sure this counts, but the best title for a student paper I have ever received is:

    Abortion: What's Up With That?

  12. I once graded a paper which contained the following pair of sentences:

    "Persistence is key. That's how we beat the Vietnamese at Pearl Harbor."

  13. I'm not going to get this quite right, but a fellow grad student once gave a quiz asking why Rawls used the Original Position to support his claims. The answer:

    "Rawls uses the original position because there is nothing like it. Once you've used the original position, you will not go back."

  14. On an essay on third-wave feminist theory:

    "Paris Hilton is the ideal example of a model of a third wave feminist."

  15. "A deductive argument is an argument you make when you have evidence to support your position. An inductive argument is an argument you make when you have no evidence to support your position."

  16. From an assignment in which students were asked whether they would vote for a hypothetical California ballot proposition authorizing physician-assisted suicide:

    "Terminally ill patients sometimes suffer pain so horrible that it can hardly be comprehended by those who have not actually experienced it. Why should these patients be forced to suffer through these pains in the state of California?"


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