[IPAC-List] Yelling Fire?

Joel Wiesen wiesen at personnelselection.com
Mon Jan 12 13:40:10 EST 2009

Thank you for all your messages concerning Yelling Fire. They have been
very helpful.

The facts are as follows:
This item was last included on the WAIS-R. (I think it was on the
original WAIS, published in 1955.)
The WAIS-3, published in 1997, omitted and replaced this item (and
several others).
The WAIS-4, published in 2008, also omits this item.

The item appeared in the Comprehension section of the WAIS-R. That
section was designed to "require the examinee to understand and
articulate social rules and concepts or solutions to everyday problems."

My analysis (see below) suggests this item is no longer correct as
originally keyed.

A US Supreme Court decision in the early 1900's concerning freedom of
speech refers to shouting fire in a theater when there is _NO_ fire,
saying that freedom of speech does not extend that far. This seems to
be different from the situation on the WAIS, but perhaps the WAIS
question was based, in part, on that court decision.


Joel P. Wiesen, Ph.D., Director
Applied Personnel Research
27 Judith Road
Newton, MA 02459
(617) 244-8859

Joel Wiesen wrote:

> Hello IPACers,


> The e-mail responses on yelling "Fire" show the question has been around

> for a long time.


> Now please indulge me in a few more requests for assistance.


> 1. Does anyone have a copy of the test administration and scoring

> instructions for the question?


> 2. Is the question on the current form of the test (the WAIS, I am told).


> 3. Would anyone like to offer an opinion on the reasonableness of the

> question?


> My take is that the question is antiquated, dating back to a time when

> movie theaters were larger and less safe than today (due to a shift from

> since large theaters to suites of small theaters, and to more stringent

> fire codes concerning signage and exit and aisle size and the like).

> Supporting this view is the operation of the little red fire call boxes.

> When you pull one the house lights don't come on. All that happens

> immediately is that the fire alarm sounds. That seems to be making an

> announcement like shouting Fire.


> Would anyone like to make a case for the question still being a

> reasonable measure of judgment?


> Thx.


> Joel



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