How A Multiple-Choice Test Became A Fixture Of The NFL Draft – By ALAN SIEGEL APR 30, 2015

Greg McElroy

As Charles Wonderlic drove from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis to his company’s headquarters near Chicago on February 27, 2011, he made the mistake of turning on a sports radio show. The host, as Wonderlic remembers, was talking about Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy’s near-perfect Wonderlic score. Each winter, hundreds of football prospects take the multiple-choice test that claims to measure their intelligence. Results are supposed to be kept confidential, yet they always seem to become media fodder.

In reality, there’s no way anyone could’ve known McElroy’s score. On that day four years ago, as reports of McElroy’s supposed feat trickled out, sealed boxes containing every single Wonderlic answer sheet were sitting in Charles Wonderlic’s car, still unscanned. Wonderlic, Inc. didn’t send an encrypted file of the players’ results to the NFL until March 1. Unsurprisingly, a variety of news outlets ran with the story anyway.1 The months leading up to the NFL Draft feel like election season: Everybody’s trying to dig up dirt on candidates.

“Are we just so starved for information this time of year that we search for anything?” wondered NFL Scouting Combine director Jeff Foster, who only agreed to be interviewed for this article after I assured him that I wouldn’t be reporting individual Wonderlic scores.

In an era when the NFL schedule release is treated like the premiere of the new “Star Wars,” the answer to Foster’s question is a resounding “yes.” We crave even the smallest bits of information about players entering the NFL Draft, even if it’s not meant for our consumption. Forget Foster’s estimate that half the Wonderlic scores he sees in news stories are incorrect. As long as the test is administered at the Combine, media and fans will fixate on it.

“The only person it impacts is the player,” Foster said of a leaked Wonderlic score. “How would you like to be branded unintelligent because you scored a 5 on an intelligence test?”

The story of the Wonderlic, however, is more than just a range of easily regurgitated numbers. It’s the story of how one guy’s American Dream helped shape a new American pastime.

But before we get there, let’s first look at what the Wonderlic purportedly tests. “What we’re measuring is not what you know — that’s what’s being measured on the ACT or the SAT,” said Charles Wonderlic, president and CEO of Wonderlic Inc. “This is really saying, ‘How quickly does your brain gather and analyze information?’” The 12-minute Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT) features 50 questions arranged by difficulty, lowest to highest. Here’s a sample:

Jose’s monthly parking fee for April was $150; for May it was $10 more than April; and for June $40 more than May. His average monthly parking fee was ___ for these 3 months?

J) $66

K) $160

L) $166

M) $170

N) $2002

A player’s Wonderlic score is always a number between 1 and 50, and across all professions, the average score is approximately 21. (Systems analysts and Chemists top the scale 32 at 31, respectively.) For pro football players, the oft-cited number is about 20. Tracking down the average scores by position is tricky, mainly because the buttoned-up NFL isn’t interested in sharing any broad Wonderlic data. In an email, Charles Wonderlic said that while his company has published “norms” for other industries, “we maintain the confidentiality of test scores for single organizations. Since the NFL is the only client by which we can produce a quarterback average, we would need their permission to provide this information. Traditionally, the NFL prefers to keep any information about tests scores internal to their own organization.”

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Sanders: I’m in this to win – By David McCabe April 30, 2015, 12:49 pm

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he’s “in this race to win” on Wednesday, as he formally announced his White House run at a press conference outside the Capitol.

The Senate’s only democratic socialist said he has the most unconventional political career of anyone in Congress and insisted that background can help him defeat heavily favored Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

“We’re in this race to win,” he said.

Sanders argued that by speaking about the issues that Americans are worried about, and showing that the country belongs “to all of us and not the billionaire class,” he can win.

“That’s not raising an issue, that is winning elections,” he said.

Most political observers think Sanders has little chance of beating Clinton, who is way ahead of all of her potential challengers in polls. Clinton will also have a heavy cash advantage over Sanders and is better known nationally.

As a result, many think Sanders is more likely to influence the race if he can push Clinton to the left on policy.

Sanders said he would look to draw a contrast with Clinton and other candidates, but insisted he would not go negative in the race.

“Let’s be clear. To say that people disagree on issues and point out those issues, that’s what a debate is about,” he said. “Let me tell you, I run vigorous campaigns.”

Sanders, who will turn 74 in September, said he had “never run a negative ad in my life,” and that he “detested” such ads.

“I believe that in a democracy, what elections are about are serious debates on political issues,” he said.

Sanders highlighted a series of policies that appeal to the political left in his comments, including reducing income inequality, making public college free and reforming the campaign finance system.

“The major issue is how do we create an economy that works for all of our people, rather than a small number of billionaires,” he said.

He also mentioned his interest in health care reform and infrastructure improvement.

He said that he would raise campaign funds through “small, individual contributions.”

Earlier on Thursday, he suggested that his campaign would not have a parallel super-PAC — though there are already super-PACs that support his candidacy.

And he asked the media to refrain from focusing on “the political gossip, all the other soap opera aspects of modern campaigns.”

“This is not the Red Sox vs. the Yankees,” he said.

This story was updated at 1:20 p.m.

Nick Bostrom: What happens when our computers get smarter than we are? – Filmed March 2015 at TED2015

Artificial intelligence is getting smarter by leaps and bounds — within this century, research suggests, a computer AI could be as “smart” as a human being. And then, says Nick Bostrom, it will overtake us: “Machine intelligence is the last invention that humanity will ever need to make.” A philosopher and technologist, Bostrom asks us to think hard about the world we’re building right now, driven by thinking machines. Will our smart machines help to preserve humanity and our values — or will they have values of their own?

Baltimore Could Be a Burden for Martin O’Malley’s Long-Shot Presidential Hopes – By JASON HOROWITZ APRIL 30, 2015

BALTIMORE — One day last fall, on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore, Martin O’Malley stood atop Fort McHenry and swept his hand over the landscape below. “That was the battlefield,” he said. “It all happened here.”

The same could be said for much of Mr. O’Malley’s political career. Baltimore has defined him, whether as a 28-year-old member of the City Council or as a two-term mayor whose strength in the city twice propelled him to the governor’s mansion.

But this week, as Mr. O’Malley prepares his long-shot challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, Baltimore became a burden.

When riots exploded over the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who was critically injured in police custody, Mr. O’Malley rushed back to the cityfrom London to visit the scene of the protests, meet with local leaders and deliver food at churches. But on those familiar streets, critics old and new questioned his record as mayor, the “zero tolerance” brand of policing he introduced and the lingering effects it had on the relationship between law enforcement and Baltimore’s poor communities.

Interactive Feature | Who Is Running for President (and Who’s Not)? At least a dozen Republicans and a handful of Democrats have expressed an interest in running for their party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

The U.S. and Vietnam: 40 Years After the Fall of Saigon – By Kenneth T. Walsh April 30, 2015 | 12:01 a.m. EDT

America’s first taste of defeat in war shaped perceptions of the U.S. at home and abroad.

Mobs of Vietnamese people scale the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, Vietnam, trying to get to the helicopter pickup zone, just before the end of the Vietnam War on April 29, 1975.

Forty years ago today, the United States lost its first war. And for the vast numbers of Americans who were deeply affected by the Vietnam debacle – including the military personnel who served there, the families of the nearly 60,000 Americans soldiers who died in Southeast Asia, and the citizens who lost faith in their country because of the events that unfolded – the conflict will remain a defining point in their lives.

An April 30, 1975, photo shows a line of captured U.S.-backed South Vietnamese Army soldiers, escorted by Vietnamese communist soldiers, as they walk on a Saigon street after the city fell into the hands of the communist troops on the same day, marking the end of the Vietnam War.

For the United States itself, the war resulted in something America had never experienced before: clear defeat. It caused a wave of second-guessing about America’s role in the world, splitting the country between hawks and doves, dividing individual families and the nation itself  into angry camps over what went wrong and how much the country had lost its way.

The fall of Saigon, along with the sudden desperation of thousands of Vietnamese attempting to flee the city and, more broadly, the sad history of U.S. involvement in Indo-China, are being commemorated this week in a variety of ways, including television specials on PBS and the Smithsonian Channel. In an essay for ABC News, former Associated Press war correspondent Peter Arnett writes, “The mad scrambles to go anywhere but Vietnam [during the fall of Saigon] remain today an ignominious coda to the already bleak history of America’s last years in Vietnam.”

The defeat ended America’s innocence about its role in the world and shattered the once-cherished belief that the United States always did the right thing internationally. As a practical matter, the defeat undermined for years America’s belief in its own power and damaged the credibility of the presidency as many citizens felt misled by Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon.

And the “Vietnam syndrome” – the reluctance to get the U.S. militarily involved abroad in a sustained way because such an intervention might bog America down in another costly, lengthy, futile war – lasted a long time. Politicians of every stripe said their goal in foreign policy was to avoid “another Vietnam.” Americans understood this to mean a bad war, badly planned, badly executed and badly explained, that exemplified Murphy’s Law, in which everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

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