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An Uncritical Inference Test

The Story of Billy and Tom - Responses

The Statements with Responses

   T     1. Billy and Tom had been friends all of their lives.

The first sentence in the story makes this clear.

   ?     2. Both had doubts about their religious beliefs.

The story does not tell us why they decided against entering the ministry.

   ?     3. The sniper spoke English well.

Possibly, but it is also possible that "I surrender" was the only English phrase he knew.

   ?     4. Tom and Billy graduated high school together.

The story says nothing about their educational achievements or relative ages.

   ?     5. When the sniper opened fire, Billy and Tom were side by side.

The story says nothing about their relative positions as they patrolled.

   ?     6.  Tom walked with a limp.

Unlikely given their presumed ages and military enlistment health requirements, but Tom might have had a small stone in his boot that day.  It is also possible that he'd developed a blister while on patrol.

   ?     7. In his anger over Billy's death, Tom wanted to kill the sniper with his bare hands.

We are told nothing about the effect of the bullet on Billy, or about Tom's state of mind or intentions.  A bullet might have hit Billy's helmet, knocking him out but not penetrating the metal.  In a Hollywood film, Tom would most likely seek instant retribution for what he probably assumed had happened; but in real life, there are too many possibilities for us to know for certain what his actions might be.

   F     8. Tom and Billy were unhappy in the Army.

The story is clear that they were happy in the army, and that things had worked out perfectly for them there.

   ?     9. Had the sniper not lost his rifle when he tripped, he would not have wanted to surrender.

The story says nothing about what happened to the sniper's rifle.  Perhaps he had it, but was in too much pain to lift and aim it.

   ?    10. Tom cleaned his rifle regularly.

We are not told what caused Tom's rifle to jam.  It could have been dirty, but there might also have been a mechanical failure.

   ?    11. Camp Bingo was not in the United States.

We are not told when or where the war took place.  If it was the American Civil War, this statement would be false.  As it would be if the story refers to a future war on American territory.

   ?    12. Camp Bingo was a dangerous place.

It proved dangerous for Billy and the sniper on this one day, but we know nothing about its danger at other times except that it is several miles from enemy action.

   ?    13. The sniper was working alone.

The story tells of only the one sniper, but does not rule out others.

   F    14. Another member of Billy and Tom's patrol stopped the sniper by shooting him as he was running off.

The story is clear that the sniper was felled when he tripped on the tree root.

   T    15. Tom approached the sniper as he lay writhing in pain on the ground.

The story states this clearly.

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original web posting: Wednesday, October 25, 2000
last modified: Saturday, April 23, 2005