Monday, March 23, 2015

The Pottermore Sorting Hat Quiz Fallacy, or why Tom Felton may not be a Gryffindor


The site that launched the sorting hat identity crises.

In truth, since Pottermore opened to the public a few years ago, I've taken this test many times.  (I've lost track!  Simply you open an account, take the test, and then delete the account.  It's per rules that you must delete your account and open a new one if you wish to retest and re-sort.)

Maybe this is sneaky of me, but when I first took the test and was sorted into Hufflepuff, I felt deflated.  Unsure.  Not right.  So I did what any sensible human being would do, I deleted my account, singed up again, took the test (answering truthfully with each random question I received), and was sorted into Gryffindor.  Same test, different questions, I was just as honest, and yet I was sorted into another house.

On January 21, 2015 Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter series, a character known for his Slytherin ways, joined Pottermore.  He promptly tweeted "Today was the day. I finally did it. I joined Pottermore and was sorted into........Gryffindor. Heart broken x #slytherinforlife"  

There's 27 different questions created for this test randomization, in which you are only tested on 7 questions during sorting.  On the "Random Bits and Pieces of Nothing" tumblr page, the authoress, Julie, worked out that there are 9730 possible combinations (did she figure this out while taking into account that you only answer 7 at a time?  I don't know . . . and frankly I'm too lazy to found out.  And honestly I've forgotten how to do that sort of math.)  But still, if that number is correct, 9730 combinations is quite a lot.  You can take the test over and over again and not get the exact sorting each time, regardless of how Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff you may be.

There are times when I've taken the test 10 times in a row and was pretty much sorted equally between the 4 houses.  So what does that make me?  A GryffinSlytherRavenPuff.  Honestly, we may all be this.  It's impossible to have the traits of just one house 100% and 0% the other houses.  So I guess that makes us all Divergent . . . which is a different franchise, but the principle remains.

In truth if you analyze the sorting hat questions and what house each one skews, you may start to find imbalances or a differing opinion of which house that answer lands.  Thankfully there are true Ravenclaws out there to do the reasoning for us.  "Pottermore Sorting: Sorting Hat Analysis and Meta" is a very thorough article breaking down each question, and which house each answer skews.

Fun fact, all water and Merlin questions skew Slytherin.

(Though I must note that I just took the sorting hat quiz three times, choosing water and Merlin if those questions were generated for my random test, and answering honestly for all other questions, and I was sorted 1st Ravenclaw, 2nd and 3rd Gryffindor.  So taking the test and simply answering water and Merlin may not sort you into Slytherin, because your random test may not give you those particular questions, or you highly favor another house with the other questions).

Also, there are questions I have problems with, such as the instrument question.  Trumpet skews Hufflepuff (this makes no sense to me, Puffs are neither boisterous nor loud), Violin skews Slytherin (1st or 2nd violin? 1st chair principle?), Piano skews Ravenclaw (the only skewing I truly agree), and Drums skew Gryffindor (the symbolism of marching to your own drum?).

With the "either or" questions at the end of the sorting test, there's a question where you choose between Dawn or Dusk.  Dawn favors Ravenclaw and Gryffindor, while Dusk favors Hufflepuff and Slytherin.  Simply being a "night" person vs a "morning" person can skew you towards one house or another, regardless or personality, but simply because of your internal clock, and that you must work the night shift.

Ultimately, for personal TMI worthy reasons that will not be discussed on this blog, I know I would be sorted into Gryffindor, especially at age 11.  I still maintain the sentiment that we should all embrace our inner Hufflepuff, because Hufflepuff is the noblest of houses, they just keep getting a bum rap, which will hopefully change with the new movie "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."  The main character, and author of the book, is Newt Scamander, a Hufflepuff . . . 

"I have visited lairs, burrows and nests across five continents, observed the curious habits of magical beasts in a hundred countries, witnessed their powers, gained their trust and, on occasion, beaten them off with my travelling kettle."
—Newton Scamander
  Newt Scamander is also Luna Lovegood's Grandfather-in-law.  She marries Rolf Scamander.  Just some FYI when the movie comes out.

In the end we are what we choose.

The sorting hat is fun, none of this is real, unless you wish to believe, but if you took the sorting hat quiz and received a house different to what you feel is right, it could simply be the luck of the draw in terms of the 7 questions you received.

Be who you wish to be.

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