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Moral Quandry

  1. Feb 22, 2004 #1
    I hope this is the right forum to post this in.

    I use the homework forum bunches, because I'm taking a physical science course and we have a really bad book and a really bad professor and the people on the forum are helping me teach myself the subject. I'm trying to learn math at the same time. Before you blast me, that I don't know math, I had a head injury, and I haven't done too well since in the math area. Can't tell time, etc. It makes it hard to learn.

    I went to a used bookstore yesterday, hoping to get a used physics text that I can understand. Well, I found a little old teacher's edition of physics tests from 1984. I just threw it into the pile of books I was getting. Lo and behold, when I got it home, I was amazed to see that it has in it the exact tests my professor is using.

    My quandry: Do I put the book aside? Or use it, because all's fair in love and war and I'm at war with physics? Do I let the other people in the class look at it, even though they are mean to me and yell at me? If I don't get an A in the course, I am thrown out of the sonography program. But is it cheating to have the book? It's luck to get born with a good brain, it's luck to find that book. I didn't get the brain, but I did get the book...so it's even? I am still teaching myself physics, I have to pass a 400-question test at the end of sonography school, this is a national test I'm talking about, I'm not trying to get out of learning physics.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 22, 2004 #2


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    Holly I have told you before I suspect you are not real
    ---that your personality and life-situation seem to some extent "made up".

    If they are made up, then I have to say that they are well-invented----your personality and your story are entertaining and provocative. You stimulate a lot of discussion and people like to help you with your homework problems.

    On the other hand, if they are not made up then you have my sincere sympathies about all these things: the head injury, the bored overworked professor, the dreadful textbook, the loathing for math...

    I will try to help you out of your moral dilemma. It matters whether or not the situation is real (morality is not something abstract).

    CASE A. If you are just an imagined person and none of this is real, then put the book in the T-shirt drawer of your dresser and dont look at it until after the course is over. If it turns out that the prof consistently uses tests from the book, all thru the semester, then the next time he teaches this course (probably next semester) sell the book to a new student for fifty dollars.

    CASE B. If your story is all real. Then figure it this way: you have no guarantee he will keep on using tests from this book. These problems are very easy to make up and it is as quick to make one up as it is to copy a problem from a book (for a PhD like him who is an old experienced teacher). So do not depend on it that he will crib tests from the book in future, why should he? Just use the book to study with as you would use anything else that you think might help.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2004
  4. Feb 22, 2004 #3
    Okay Marcus, now you've got me steamed. If I'm made up, how come I can't do physics? If I were made up, I'd make myself up into a brilliant babe with natural blonde hair and big blue eyes and say I'm at an exclusive grad school somewheres and that I'm only 28. I'd make something up GOOD. I'd post all sorts of stunning observations over in the Physics Theories forum or something, not post a bunch of homework problems evidently any fool can do. I thought you were very adept, very perceptive. Hmmph.

    Go look at my website if you think I'm made up! Ha! I'm weird, yes. Things happen to me that are peculiar. But please don't reduce me to some made-up nothing.

    I got that book fair and square, that's what I've decided! And I *know* he's going to keep using those tests, because he never expends any effort whatsoever in this class! So there! So I bet you I get an A! If I can memorize the answers. Don't give me any sympathy or pity, btw. I am GLAD I have troubles, GLAD I got hard knocks in life, because this is the path the Lord made for me! It's enough to just be alive.
  5. Feb 22, 2004 #4


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    OK OK I will assume you're real
    but mind what I say and learn your physics!
    believe me you cannot count on his continuing to crib from that "teacher's edition" of the text

    he could well have OTHER sources of readymade tests that he likes
    to use and he could easily switch over

    so all you can say, realistically, that you have is
    just another good piece of study material

    BTW sonography is where they look inside you with ultrasound
    it is like being an Xray tech?
    you'll be doing "amnio" probes and so forth?

    you suggested that I should visit your site:
    though still cautious, and dabbing away the pop-up
    advertisements, I did as you suggested and it seems
    I must now agree with you that you really exist
    and my earlier suspicions were ill founded.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2004
  6. Feb 22, 2004 #5
    First, if your professor is lazy enough to just rip exams from a book, and you have figured this out, then power to you. I say this because you seem to just have to survive this class and then press on with your life. If the rest of you academic life depended on how well you actually have learned the material, then I would feel otherwise.

    Second, I too have checked out your website (and suffered through the pop-ups!!!). I have a question for you. What are you doing putting so much time into the website when you have these classes to study for, one of which is knocking you around. I am also someone who works full time and has returned to school. I am pursuing a BS in Engineering Science, and it is all I can do to stay on top of my regular life (work, kids, wife) and maintain a respectable GPA. Where do you find the time to keep your site updated? Maybe you should re-prioritize your schedule. Just a suggestion. Don't beat me up.

    Also, what is with the thank you reference on your site to your husband. I thought you ended in a bad way? Did you miss wiping that out?

    Finally, what are the questions for which you do not have answers posted on your site? Maybe you should post them on this forum so that we can help you answer them.

    On another note:
    Marcus - I found the definition of Brite: brite

    \Brite\, Bright \Bright\, v. t. To be or become overripe, as wheat, barley, or hops. [Prov. Eng.]

    Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

    I am looking forward to the next brain teaser. Can you let me know when it posts in case I miss it?
  7. Feb 22, 2004 #6
    Well, I hope YOU believe I am real. And I am thinking, I will study the tests, but I want to understand the physics, too, because I have to pass a national physics test to be a sonographer. But if he's just going to xerox tests from twenty years ago, I will keep mum that I have the tests, too.

    It takes me no time at all to type things on that website. I then print out the A&P notes and use them to study by. By organizing it all for my site, I organize it for myself. I have a BS already. A&P is pretty easy for me. As for Physics, I don't post every homework problem I can't understand, because then people here would really, really hate me.

    Admittedly, I goof off making little animated things. Sometimes, you have to take a break! You're going to get burned out if you don't watch it.

    I have a new husband. Of course I thank him on the site! He puts up with me. Ex-husband is Joe, the evil physicist, ha ha.

    Thanks for weighing in on what I should do with the tests.
  8. Feb 22, 2004 #7


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    I've told the teacher when she stapled the answer key to the back of the test, before, so you can guess what I'm going to say. :smile:

    (a) Yes, cheating is morally wrong.
    (b) Giving others the answers is even worse.
    (c) Cheating detracts from your learning of the subject.

    So there you have it, three strikes and its out! Using the textbook to study isn't all that bad of an idea, though, if you can resist the temptation to look at the tests.
  9. Feb 23, 2004 #8


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    Paul, congratulations on finding Brite
    I found Brack in the Webster's Third International (1986)
    on page 265
    It had 4 entries for Brack, and no entry for Brite

    Also no entry for Brice.
    So I figured dduardo's sequence had two invalid entries (by the Fat Webster's criterion) and that Greg was just being nice to dduardo by giving him the point.

    But you have found an even fatter Webster's apparently.
    Mine has over 2600 pages, but I guess the Unabridged beats the New International.

    I only see Brain Teasers when I happen to scroll down and look.
    We should both probably subscribe so we would get notified by email (I think you can subscribe to a particular forum or subforum)

    If I remember tho, I will send you PM if I notice a new Teaser.
  10. Feb 23, 2004 #9
    The only thing I found on Brice was on the web. Apparently there was an entertainer by the name of Fannie Brice who did a radio show from the 1930's - 50's. That is the reason I posted my list of words, in case Brice was not really a word, only a name. Does a name qualify as a word? Anyway, I look forward to the next brain teaser.
  11. Feb 23, 2004 #10
    This isn't a case of the teacher accidentally giving the answers to me. This is a case of where I found the ENTIRE TEST BOOK the lazy so-and-so uses to get his tests, year in, year out...I didn't find that book on the floor of his office, I found it at a bookstore. Since I am not going to just "memorize it" (although he has suggested twice that I memorize everything because I don't have the intelligence to learn -- that's a quote) but use it to learn to work each problem, I don't think it's cheating. I'm just taking his kind suggestion, in a way. HE is cheating ME by refusing to teach and dismissing me as worthless because I have trouble with math. I found a big old mistake in the text, where they were squaring something and it was supposed to be sub 2, that universal gravity thing, and he said really sarcastically, "That's just a typo...you want a pat on the back for finding a typo?" HE'S MEAN.
  12. Apr 30, 2004 #11
    He's sounds like a *******. Feel free to interprete the stars as you like/

    [I'm not sure I'm allowed to do that ... ]
  13. May 5, 2004 #12
    That book is a gift. Remember that there are word search programs now that with just a few words, seven or less, the exact text can be located from which the quote came. Head injuries are such a bite, they mess with your control systems, and relationship with self, and then the head software issues. Math. I had a head injury and now, I do have a problem remembering strings of numbers between tasks. If you are young, get elementary math books and do it all over. It won't take long, and I heard that Einstein did easy math problems to stay fluid.
  14. May 6, 2004 #13


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    What is your school's policy on cheating? How do they define cheating? What are the consequences if you get caught?

    I think the solution to your problem is subtle because you could argue that students are supposed to have the information on the tests memorized ;)
    But the distinction to make is that the tests are not exhaustive, so I would consider memorizing *only* what is on the tests to be cheating.

    A very revealing question to ask yourself is if you would tell your professor that you have the book.

    Personally, I would tell my professor that I had the book, and see if they had a problem. If they didn't have a problem with it, I would use the book to study, but not to cheat, as you said above. If they did have a problem, I would work with them to avoid any unwanted consequences- like getting thrown out of school or breaching my promise to abide by the school's policies.
    Happy thoughts
    Last edited: May 6, 2004
  15. May 6, 2004 #14
    It's the end of the semester, I have a test and the final left to do.

    I did not use the book to cheat. I used it to find which questions I could not answer, then I sought help, including on PF, to learn how to DO these problems.

    I already told my professor I had the test book. He just laughed and asked if I wanted the more recent version of it. He wasn't concerned. IN FACT, he claimed he could GIVE everyone his tests one day, test them on the exact same test two days later, and have most of the class still fail. He is correct; I tried this by answering all classmates' questions and handing out photocopies of my tests and my personal notes (so we're all even), and they FAILED ANYWAY. I don't know what's wrong with them; they lack heart, or discipline, or ganas, or something. I'm starting to see why he's so very, very cynical.

    His use of essay questions brings anyone who has merely memorized answers to their knees, anyway.

    Thx for the input.
  16. May 7, 2004 #15
    I'd suggest keeping mum.

    Remember, mum kept you.

    Happy mum's day! :*)
  17. May 7, 2004 #16
    we all fakers!
  18. May 8, 2004 #17
    You don't say. Do tell.
  19. May 9, 2004 #18
    Holly, its up to you...
    No one can tell you what's right or wrong. I'm sorry for your brain injury. Its a tough break.
    But what will be more important to you in ten years...looking back and knowing you tried your best and maintained integrity, or knowing that you cheated to save yourself from having to invest effort into a difficult task?
    It sounds like you've already made up your mind, but if you're asking for thoughts, I say give integrity a shot.
  20. Jun 18, 2004 #19


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    Speaking of moral quandaries, here is one that seems not to have been quandary in the mind of the speaker, though I would think it would be so in the minds of most people.

    My mother used to tell me to be sure to give back excess change to a cashier who makes a money-counting mistake in my favor...

    I was listening to a portion of "Focus on the Family" on Christian radio today. The host played a tape of a minister, John Maxwell, speaking to an audience. (I presume it was a church service, but since I did not catch the whole program, I can't say that for sure.)

    Rev. Maxwell told about how his church came to possess an expensive property in San Diego--more than a million dollars. He said that after the purchase, the property was surveyed, and it was found to contain 210 acres instead of the 180 acres that the seller had claimed.

    At this point, I thought Rev. Maxwell was going to make the same sort of point to his audience that my mother had made to me all those years ago. I figured he was going to say, "We did the right thing. We offered the seller his choice of either additional money for the purchase, or the re-possession of the 30 acres that were rightfully his."

    But that isn't what Rev. Maxwell said. Instead, he said: "God gave us thirty acres for free!"

    What a concept--God in His role as the Great Swindler.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2004
  21. Jun 21, 2004 #20
    I found out a long time ago that religion does not make a "good" person.
    We have to all take personal responsibility for our actions instead of feigning that fate or God wanted it that way.
    When more people in this world act responsibly because they realize that moral decisions are up to them, the individual, this world will be a much better place to live.
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