Professor or hobo?

It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference, isn’t it? Someone at the University of Toronto has posted ten pictures of scruffy individuals, each of which is either a vagrant or a professor.  You have to guess, and your score is revealed at the end. (Sadly, it doesn’t tell you which is which.) I got only seven out of ten, though one of them is bloody obvious.  Greg Mayer, who found this site on Andrew Sullivan’s blog (Sullivan is okay when not nattering about religion), also got the same score.

e.g.:

If anyone recognizes the professors, post their names below.

89 Comments

  1. Sean Boyd
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    6/10 here, although when I finished, I was taken to a page with my score, and a list of who was professor and who was not.

    It’s amusing that the only one about which I was absolutely certain is a CS prof at George Fox University…I had him pegged as a math professor, but close enough.

    • PB
      Posted November 6, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      8/10
      I thought the first one is a theology prof!

  2. Thezombiemessia
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps your browser is being a little weird, but it’s told me which is which and who is who:

    1 – Hobo

    2 – PROF! Bill Unruh is a Canadian physicist at UBC. He discovered the Unruh effect.

    3 – Hobo

    4 – PROF! David Hansen is a computer science professor at George Fox University.

    5 – PROF! He is a professor of computer science at a Californian university.

    6 – Hobo

    7 – Hobo

    8 – PROF! Kim Sterelny is noted for his work in the philosophy of biology.

    9 – PROF! He is a professor of environment at St. Olaf College.

    10 – Hobo

    I hope I’ve not ruined this for anyone, but there we go…

  3. Posted November 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I thought it was a trick and said they were all professors. It does say who they are right after it brings up your score.

    • daveau
      Posted November 6, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, Me too. I called 9/10 profs, and therefore I missed 4.

      • Posted November 6, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

        Wow, I only got 6/10. I guess I shouldn’t have tried to be clever by using the background cues.

    • Dave Ricks
      Posted November 6, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      I said they were all hobos, assuming the profs had tenure.

    • bsk
      Posted November 7, 2011 at 1:21 am | Permalink

      I assumed it was a trick question since hobos don’t usually have such new-looking clothing.

  4. John Laughlin
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    8/10

  5. Posted November 6, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps some people’s browsers don’t make nice with the Solutions page, which is here if it didn’t load for you:

    (No cheating!)

    http://individual.utoronto.ca/somody/solutions.html

    • Notagod
      Posted November 6, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      10/10

      Glad I studied otherwise I would have missed 4! Let that be a lesson to those not doing as well.

  6. Kevin
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    8/10

  7. Llwddythlw
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    7/10.

  8. Posted November 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    7/10, but most of the guesses were more to do with the backgrounds of the photos and props (such as a glass of wine instead of a bottle in a paper bag) than the actual persons.

  9. Filipe
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    8/10.

  10. Posted November 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m just sad they didn’t include Art Shapiro @UCD.

    • Flakko
      Posted November 6, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      I posted the same thing a bit farther down. I see “the homeles professor” every once in a while here in Davis. He certainly does fit the name, but he is very intelligent and has raised some brilliant children as well. Knowledge and scholarship before aesthetics, I suppose.

      • Posted November 6, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

        I went out in the field several times with him during my time at UCD. Brilliant dude with endless knowledge and endless crazy, random stories.

    • Anna
      Posted November 6, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      Me too.
      IMO they need to fix this.

  11. Llwddythlw
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    My 12 year old son also got 7 out of 10. He even got this one right (my own addition; the address is a bit of a give-away).

  12. Jhiend
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    6/10

    I’m surprised nobody linked to this PhD Comic yet:

    http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1446

  13. Posted November 6, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    8/10

  14. nick bobick
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    8/10 for me… Here is the rationale I used: most profs, even with a shaggy beard and hair, will still make an effort to trim their ‘staches so they don’t continually eat hair (I’ve been there). Hobos often don’t have that option.

  15. Posted November 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    So…would a modern itinerant academician be a probo…?

    Sorry…no, that’s okay…I can find may own way out….

    Cheers,

    b&

    P.S. Also 7/10. b&

    • sasqwatch
      Posted November 6, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      How about a scruffy disciple of Derrida?

      A pomo hobo?

      Try saying that five times fast.

  16. pdblouin
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    1 – Guessed wrong. Thought he was a prof, looked semi-decent.

    2 – Correct! I just thought he looked smart and not addicted to cigarettes.

    3 – Correct!. Looked like a guy attending Woodstock, i.e. hobo.

    4 – Correct! Looked too smart. I don’t know, and he was in a house, not in the street.

    5 – WRONG! I said hobo. He looked reasonable but I felt there was some sort of trickery. Looked “too” eccentric?

    6 – Even if he had cropped out the watermark up top, the cigarette stained stash gave it away. Correct!

    7 – Cigarette stained mustache, I guessed CORRECTLY!

    8 and 9 looked way too Prof-like. I’d doubt anyone got these wrong.

    10 – Wrong! Darn it. He looked too happy, and the lack of closeup revealing a weathered face made me guess Prof.

    7/10. Yay!

  17. Posted November 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    9/10!
    The only wrong one was the dude with the ludicrous glasses (Prof!)

  18. Larry Cook
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    it tells you right underneath their photos which they are when it tells you your sore.

  19. Larry Cook
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    8/10 btw

  20. Lourdes
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I too got 7 out of 10.

  21. Zwirko
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    9/10 w00t! Was convinced I had them all wrong though.

  22. Chris Slaby
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    8/10.

  23. Max
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    I got 8 of 10, and I’d still give that last guy tenure in a heartbeat.

  24. tardis_blue
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Yay! I got 8!

  25. Torbjorn Larsson, OM
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    7/10.

  26. Hempenstein
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    70%

  27. Tim
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    8/10

  28. Posted November 6, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Hey, they forgot about me on the solutions page!

    • Lynn Wilhelm
      Posted November 6, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      You should have been given credit. Your presence was a helpful clue!

      8/10

  29. Ken Pidcock
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    9/10, and that’s with not seeing the first picture. I can’t say if I would have missed it or not.

  30. sasqwatch
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    I’ve worked with street people for 20 years & thought this would be a piece of cake.

    7/10

    My sweetie (also a former social worker) got 8/10. (we missed 5 and 10 together – I missed 7 in addition)

  31. matticus
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    I got 7/10 though i didn’t recognize any of them.

  32. Posted November 6, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    What, a U of T test and no picture of Larry, so we can vote “Hobo” on him?
    (Says the guy who could easily be mistaken for a hobo before I’ve combed my hair in the morning. Sometimes after, too.)

  33. Posted November 6, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    I got 8 out of 10. Then again, I am a math professor so they all looked like professors to me. 🙂

  34. Scott Simmons
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Woot! 9/10! I marked #7 as a prof when he was actually a hobo … The only one I recognized was Kim Sterelny–not by name, and I never met him, but I knew I’d seen him before. Probably on a book jacket photo–Lord knows I’ve ready enough of his work over the years.

  35. Marta
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Well, good God. If they don’t have pocket protectors, how can anyone be expected to make an intelligent guess?

  36. Flakko
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    We have one here at UC Davis: Arthur Shapiro, Entomology Dept.

    http://biosci3.ucdavis.edu/FacultyAndResearch/FacultyProfile.aspx?FacultyID=180

  37. mordacious1
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    7/10

    That last guy is a well-dressed hobo. I’ve had professors that don’t dress that nicely, but I suppose that the gist of the excercise.

    • mordacious1
      Posted November 6, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      that’s

  38. Thomas Massey
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    This is sooo hilarious.
    Got 8/10

    Helpful hints:

    Background – Academic Institutions, Field Work etc
    Example Prof of Environment

    Posture
    Example professor of computer science

    Eyes – Michele “crazy eyes” Bachmann types or that line from The Outlaw Josey Wales “…he had crazy eyes”

    Or if the eyes had “hope” or “despair” or “emptiness”
    Note: Look at the eyes of the Profs versus Hobos

    The last picture was the most tricky of the lot

    • Michael Sternberg
      Posted November 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      9/10. The last one fooled me (the one Jerry cited).

      Agree with the tactics. Notably the background/setting. Add “nice glasses” as giveaway for profs.

  39. mordacious1
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    BTW, I’ve had some female professors that could be hobos (or hobas) too. How come they’re not represented in this quiz? Of course, in the late 60’s early 70’s the women profs may not have dressed as nicely as they do now.

  40. Kevin Alexander
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    4/10 They all looked like bums to me.

  41. L Delaney
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    8/10

  42. Lynn David
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    8/10

    I recognized two of them.

  43. Posted November 6, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    I recognised Kim Sterelny, but still only got 6/10. It was all pretty random for me.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 7, 2011 at 2:10 am | Permalink

      Me too. Same score.

  44. Posted November 6, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    It is not always an either-or question…I was homeless for a short time and also taught physics at U of Texas (just a TA, but the kids called me “prof”…actually, they usually referred to me as the “barefoot prof”).

  45. Marella
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    8/10 Interesting. My first degree was geology, they all looked like hobos.

  46. mordacious1
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Hobos are usually more kempt than bums. Hobos are homeless but are actually migrant workers. Bums don’t work. I think these gentlemen who aren’t professors are most likely bums and not hobos, but there’s probably no way to tell by looking at a picture. Maybe some itinerant professors are closer to hobos, since they may not have permanent housing.

    Okay, enough of this tangential thinking.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 7, 2011 at 2:12 am | Permalink

      I was wondering at the term “hobo” myself. Did not even think it was that applicable anymore. But “bum” is probably too non-PC.

  47. Petercx
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    9/10. Maybe it’s my years of poker. Or maybe it was just luck.

  48. vHF
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    There is (and has been around for at least 5 years) a more idiosyncratic variant of this game: “Programming language inventor or serial killer?” here:

    http://www.malevole.com/mv/misc/killerquiz/

    (you may want to switch of the sound)

    On the prof/hobo test I got 7/10 without much thinking. It was not very difficult.

  49. CarlosT
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    10/10. The only one I was hesitant about was the last one, who seemed very cheery, and if you notice, most of the professors are smiling and most of the hobos are not. That last one was smiling, but he seemed just a little too unkempt to be a professor, so I guessed hobo.

  50. Diane G.
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    As Ben’s already alluded to, I immediately thought of the large class of “adjunct” profs at universities these days. Basically the academic equivalent of owner-operators; or temps. Itinerant indeed. And deplorable.

    As an erstwhile flower child, I’ve always loved the hirsute look. Speaking of which, is there an evo-psych hypothesis for male facial hair?

    • ChasCPeterson
      Posted November 7, 2011 at 6:39 am | Permalink

      I’ve always loved the hirsute look. Speaking of which, is there an evo-psych hypothesis for male facial hair?

      you posted the question and answer in the wrong order.

  51. Griff
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    Am I the only person who thinks it a little unfair that we’re told the names of the academics, but the “hobos” are all just branded as hobos? How about “Bill Smith has been a hobo for 42 years and has travelled extensively throughout the Americas. He is an expert at staying warm using frequently discarded household items…” etc

  52. Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    7/10

  53. Posted November 7, 2011 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    I eagerly await “Theologian or hobo?”

  54. TrineBM
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    8/10 – total guesswork – only parameter I used was how weatherworn they looked.

  55. martindh
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Who was that hobo holding Prof. Steve Steve in #8?

    • Sigmund
      Posted November 7, 2011 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      I got to meet Professor Steve Steve a few years ago when he came to visit Stockholm.
      Unfortunately he is now lost to science after getting stolen while being looked after by arch-accomodationist Josh Rosenau!

  56. bsully
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    I got 7/10.

  57. ChasCPeterson
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    I got 8. The last guy has a wise sparkle in his eye that threw me off.
    And I am skeptical of the other one I got wrong: #5. Why is this person and his institution not named?
    I consider that one a hanging chad.

  58. Posted November 7, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    I got a score of 9 out of 10 — perhaps that means something. Most likely it doesn’t

  59. Hitch
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I’m glad that academics don’t have to be supermodels. And in fact it’s just the beard stereotype really.

  60. SeanK
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    The quiz shows the answers afterwards now.

  61. SeanK
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me of the Programming Language Inventor or Serial Killer quiz:

    http://www.malevole.com/mv/misc/killerquiz/

    • Pete Cockerell
      Posted November 7, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      Ha! 9/10. I thought the Christie guy looked a bit like Alan Turing.

  62. Stephanie
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    8/10 here, but I do object to the professors getting a descriptor and the ‘hobos’ just being labeled ‘Hobo!’ as though they aren’t people. Everyone has a story.

    • Pete Cockerell
      Posted November 7, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      Everyone has a story, but not everyone has a blog, I mean website, where you can look up their biographical details. I don’t think the creator of that page was trying to dehumanize anyone.

  63. Pete Cockerell
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m really not bragging, but I got 10/10 sitting here in Starbucks without trying that hard. Maybe I have a natural Profdar (or Hobodar)…

    • BillyJoe
      Posted November 7, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      ..or you could be a liar 😉

      • Pete Cockerell
        Posted November 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        I could be, if I was lame beyond words…

  64. BillyJoe
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    8/10

    I don’t know any of them.

  65. Corey
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    People, people, it’s quite obvious who the hobos are.

    1. Hobos live outside, yes?

    2. If 1. is true then all pictures taken outside contain hobos.

    3. Indeed every picture taken outside contains a hobo.

    My goodness, it’s simple logic, people.

  66. John Scanlon, FCD
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I thought they all looked like profs.

    Giveaway in retrospect that all the hobos are outdoors, and all outdoor shots are hobos except for the obvious varsity geek.

  67. Posted November 9, 2011 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    I was once about to get on a train with my wife when we saw someone in an ill-fitting, shabby brown suit, with a polo shirt underneath. His beard was scraggly and didn’t look too clean. His glasses were taped at the bridge. He was wearing trainers and holding a plastic carrier bag from a poor-quality supermarket stuffed with paper.

    I began to explain to my wife that he was a professor in my (computer science) department and before I could finish my sentence she said “YES. I CAN TELL.”

    Perhaps either he or I should be offended by this, but I think he’d agree it was a fair comment.

  68. Posted April 29, 2014 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    General Hope here the all professor s in the good book I carry God bless u ns keep on the track n do the right thangs always
    GH


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