The compilation of " geography books " by uninstructed writers led to the pernicious habit, which is not yet wholly overcome, of reducing the general or " physical " part to a few pages of concentrated information, and expanding the particular or " political " part by including unrevised travellers' stories and uncritical descriptions of the various countries of the world.
The more extreme climates of arid regions on the margins of the tropics, by the unpredictable succession of droughts and floods, confound the prevision of uninstructed people, and make prudence and industry qualities too uncertain in their results to be worth cultivating.
But these views were not those of the uninstructed pagans who filled the churches and needed a rite which brought them, as their old sacrifices had done, into physical contact and union with their god.
The main arguments of those opposed to the examination system may be summarized as follows: (i.) Examinations tend to destroy natural interests and exclude from the attention of the pupil all matters outside the purview of the examination (they would not do so if examinations were so limited in character that preparation therefor could absorb only a fraction of the pupil's time); (ii.) they tend to cultivate a personal judgment where no personal basis of judgment is possible (this argument, directed mainly against the Oxford essay system, applies not to examinations in general, but to the character of the subjects set for essays); (iii.) competitive examinations on the home and Indian civil services scheme tend to diffuse mental energy over too many subjects (but see (xviii.) below); (iv.) examinations, especially competitive examinations, tend to become more and more difficult, difficulty being confused with efficiency - this has shown itself with the Cambridge mathematical tripos, in which for years questions of increasing difficulty were set on relatively unimportant subjects, until the examination was reformed (reply: all examinations should be overhauled periodically); (v.) they tend to paralyse the powers of exposition, all statements of knowledge being thrown into a form suitable, not for an uninstructed person, but for one who already possesses it, the, examiner (this tendency should be counteracted by definite training in composition); (vi.) the sample of knowledge and capacity yielded at an examination is frequently not a fair sample; it is liable to extreme variations in a favourable sense, if the candidate happens to have prepared the precise questions asked; in an unfavourable sense, if the candidate is suffering from misfortune or from accidental ill-health, the latter, owing to the periodic function, occurring much more frequently in the case of women than of men - [the reform of examination methods may remove to a great extent the element of chance in questions set; in a competitive examination it is impossible to allow for ill-health; in a qualifying examination it is difficult to make any allowance unless the examination is definitely conducted in whole or in part by the teachers, and the past record of the candidate is taken into account (cf.
But the common people did not discriminate, and believed that when they bought an Indulgence they were purchasing pardon from sin; and Luther placed himself in the position of the ordinary Christian uninstructed in the niceties of theological distinctions.