Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

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Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Longstride » Sat Jul 07, 2012 3:28 pm

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To begin with, seeing as though it is summer and we can all rest a little easier without looming tournaments and such, I thought this would be a great debate-oriented discussion on the effects of Quizbowl. To note, this discussion has absolutely nothing to do with the merits of studying for Quizbowl, or performing well in the field. I enjoy reading lists, skimming cliff notes, looking for literal "buzz" words, using note-cards for memorization, etc. to be able to race to the buzzer and get the question right, but the question I'm asking is the outside-Quizbowl effects of that style of learning.
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This is something I noticed when talking to teachers (specifically English and History ones, as those subjects have been my stronger Quizbowl areas). The vast amount of tidbits of information I had learned have allowed me to drop them in conversations with seeming comprehension of them. Knowing plot outlines, key characters and themes of books and short stories let me have discussions with English teachers invoking multiple authors and pieces of literature. Yet the mounting realization was that I was talking to people who have spent a lifetime devouring works of classic and contemporary literature, which I have read few or none of and was passing myself off as a knowledgeable person simply through the survey-information that Quizbowl rewards. For example, I could keep up a discussion on the merits of Conrad as a pro or anti imperialist author simply by having read the CliffNotes summary of Heart of Darkness and a few literary criticism essays, all of which took less than an hour.

Moreover, those obscure facts we all learn about a subject in the first line of a toss-up before we buzz in on the more mainstream clues, when dropped in a conversation get taken by others as evidence of a in-depth understanding of an event or person rather than just a tangential fact picked up on. Clearly, all of this is very useful to a High School student looking to spruce up an essay, impress others or convey some sort of intelligence. I'll be the first to admit that I readily use information picked up through Quizbowl to name-drop events, places and books in an SAT or AP essay to net some extra points. Now, I'm an average, not so spectacular Quizbowl player. Nonetheless, to the 99% of the School that has no relation or conception of Quizbowl, nor of the studying patterns it rewards, the simple knowledge of a wide-array of facts indicates "true" intelligence and comprehension.

This also presents a dual-edge sword whereby those playing Quizbowl that actually understand more don't perform as well as those who "know" more. One of the most frustrating experiences in some of my games is getting out-buzzed to philosophy toss-ups. In a tournament, the other team got the buzz on Immanuel Kant. The player who responded correctly on the other team admitted the he'd just "heard a similar question before" at other tournaments. Now, to me, the idea of losing a toss-up on a man's whose ideas (of the categorical imperative, goodwill, practical reason, etc.) I've spent long days and sometimes nights debating at state and national debate tournaments was irritating. I felt as though I "understood" more, though the style clearly preferred a better canonical knowledge. Of course, none of this is to criticize the format of style of Quizbowl - it is what it has to be and is fun the way it is. The problem is does the learning pattern of Quizbowl just create a phony base of knowledge?

This leads me to the ultimate question. Are the methods used for studying Quizbowl inherently a "con" of knowledge? Does the survey-level studying patterns that Quizbowl not only rewards but mandates given the high-volume of potential question subjects just build a "faker", less comprehensive wealth of knowledge than a true case of understanding?
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. » Sat Jul 07, 2012 3:48 pm

The answer to pretty much all your questions is "It depends on how you choose to prepare for the game."
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sat Jul 07, 2012 4:06 pm

I don't think you're right. My opinion is that good quizbowl can serve a strong pedagogical tool, which is that it provides an extremely efficient method for kids to be exposed to important aspects of our culture, which they can then choose to research further if they choose. I don't think that the fact you can get better at quizbowl by having superficial knowledge of these topics is a bad thing - if you didn't play, you probably wouldn't have even heard of some of those topics. If you never knew about the book Midnight's Children, then you heard a question about it, thought it sounded cool, and went out and read Midnight's Children, quizbowl has just enriched your life. This can especially apply to topics like art, music, mythology, and philosophy, which don't get taught widely in public schools. Working on expanding quizbowl in central Missouri, I see a lot of teams from schools that, by the standards of most board users, would astound you at how bad they are. I have a teammate at MU whose high school didn't offer a physics class, so forget about there being any APs. Given that environment, if you're a kid who wants to learn about our culture, quizbowl is your best bet by a wide margin.

There are a couple other points I'd like to make here. I am of the opinion that, even if all you get out of quizbowl is learning how to memorize facts or drop references in essays, that's still a benefit to you. Learning how to research efficiently, then memorize a bunch of facts and regurgitate them is an important component of being able to get good grades. You certainly need other higher skills to analyze some of those facts in order to get a better grade, but you can't do that without memorizing the facts in the first place. My other point is that I think at least some subjects you still do understand - if you research a bunch of facts about history for quizbowl, well, are you really lacking understanding of them? It's not like there's deeper material the average person interested in history needs to learn beyond what happened and why it happened. So yeah, I think quizbowl does still offer a lot, and if you don't learn everything in the most real way, well, does anybody ever?
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Auroni » Sat Jul 07, 2012 4:44 pm

I agree pretty strongly with Charlie.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby DumbJaques » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:06 pm

As swiftly as list knowledge will desert you in the face of increasingly higher-quality tossups, it will be several orders of magnitude less useful when conversing with increasingly higher-quality minds. Someone who is really able to think critically about Conrad (and in fact has read the book, is making informed assessments, etc.) will not be long interested by someone who is merely using a higher-than-median awareness literature to "stay afloat" in the conversation. Life, like quizbowl, is impossible - be assured that there is always something more challenging for you to seek out if you've become bored with what's in front of you. In the vein of Charlie's post, I think quizbowl's ability to provide a vehicle for doing just that is one of the very best things about it.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Cheynem » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:19 pm

In terms of pure knowledge, I'm unsure how much quizbowl rewards or enhances. I've taught, written grad-level papers, and read extensively about white flight and lost a buzzer race on it at MAGNI (admittedly to someone with knowledge), but then again, I've been thrilled to get buzzes on thinkers I've read about in grad school like Paul Lazarsfeld or Vance Packard. So that seems like a wash.

Where I think quizbowl really comes into play is stuff outside the classroom, which is why I respect but do not always agree with this whole "back to the classroom" mentality that pops up sometimes. To explain further, quizbowl has taught me a lot of interesting things about a ton of stuff I never learned in school because it was outside my curriculum. To wit, I never knew what the Treaty of Waitangi was until I started playing collegiate quizbowl (during my seventh year of college). I didn't know who John Singer Sargent was or Thomas Cole. I didn't know what Things Fall Apart was about (actually, I'm kind of ashamed to say I still really don't). Quizbowl helped me learn about all of these things, none of which really help me as a student, but I think it's neat to be sort of intellectually curious and aware as many topics as possible (this is also why I support trash questions that ask about things more far flung than the current Internet meme or Top 40 hit). And that's good.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Sir Thopas » Sun Jul 08, 2012 12:47 am

You'll learn stuff for quizbowl and you'll follow your own deep intellectual pursuits. You'll soon realize that each isn't all that helpful for the other. Also: people who have deep knowledge of things can tell when they're speaking to people who have shallow knowledge of things. Don't sweat it.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Sun Jul 08, 2012 10:37 am

Sir Thopas wrote:You'll learn stuff for quizbowl and you'll follow your own deep intellectual pursuits. You'll soon realize that each isn't all that helpful for the other. Also: people who have deep knowledge of things can tell when they're speaking to people who have shallow knowledge of things. Don't sweat it.

Yeah, you're "conning" no one but people who know less than you. Every chemist can tell a quizbowl-only chemist. I can't imagine any real chemist would much care unless you were to try to claim some higher-level knowledge (i.e. "I have a genuine interest in chemistry, not just in buzzing on the word Criegee") and invariably I can tell when that's actually code for "For some reason I don't realize that chemists have no social capital at all, so I think your respect is useful and I think that listing these buzzwords that feel MORE REAL to me will make you respect me."
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby ValenciaQBowl » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:51 am

Someone who is really able to think critically about Conrad (and in fact has read the book, is making informed assessments, etc.) will not be long interested by someone who is merely using a higher-than-median awareness literature to "stay afloat" in the conversation.


I'm not sure I completely can agree with this, or at least, with the implied suggestion that the person with this "higher-order, first-hand" knowledge will be able to immediately recognize the bright quiz bowl person with strong QB knowledge of the same thing. I speak only of literature and the arts, as I imagine in science it would be more obvious for surface knowledge to be exposed.

But as an English prof who regularly socializes and talks professionally with other English profs, I can tell you that it would be pretty hard to determine whether someone had really read a book being discussed unless one was in a specialized debate or exchange of serious essays. For instance, if our original poster here has read some a detailed plot summary and some essays on "Heart of Darkness" and is thus in casual conversation with a specialist to accurately drop references to Achebe's essay on the novel and appear to recognize other allusions to plot events or critical positions on it, it would be very hard for an interlocutor to ferret out any "fake knowledge." Part of the issue is that a professional involved in the wouldn't be suspicious in the first place unless something clearly inaccurate was said. Most conversations just really don't

But either way, who cares? I've enjoyed pretending to be deeply familiar with an author whom I haven't read much (::cough:: Fernando Pessoa), and as long as you're not submitting academic work in such a manner, nobody's hurt by it.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby fett0001 » Sun Jul 08, 2012 12:20 pm

http://xkcd.com/451/

I was reminded of this xkcd comic. Woo.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Auroni » Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:09 pm

I think this comes down to how you choose to learn clues for quizbowl. Do you rely on associations and buzzwords? If so, then you are almost certainly not equipped to carry on an intelligent conversation about any given thing, no matter how many early buzzes on that thing you've racked up in your career.

On the other hand, if you spend an hour writing an excellent, well-research, pyramidal tossup by consulting several sources, then not only will you know the clues that you use, you will also know stuff about the wider context of why the thing in question is worth asking. You don't have to /get/ the subject -- nobody will understand a book like Infinite Jest just by writing a tossup on it -- but at least you have some specific features of the book to talk about if you come across someone who has studied it more extensively.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Sir Thopas » Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:35 pm

Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:On the other hand, if you spend an hour writing an excellent, well-research, pyramidal tossup by consulting several sources, then not only will you know the clues that you use, you will also know stuff about the wider context of why the thing in question is worth asking. You don't have to /get/ the subject -- nobody will understand a book like Infinite Jest just by writing a tossup on it -- but at least you have some specific features of the book to talk about if you come across someone who has studied it more extensively.

Again, I may just be grouchy, but I don't see much merit in a conversation that goes like:

"Man, I really loved Infinite Jest! It's amazing how well DFW can write all these different voices and send your head spinning in a thousand different directions and make it busy yet still so full of these incredibly tender moments."
"Yeah, and that scene with the Eschaton! That totally happened!"

Quizbowl-exclusive knowledge, especially when it's fairly deep and well-researched, can give you a nice stockpile of anecdotes and, above all, makes you a great listener, since you know enough to prod your interlocutor into displaying his passion or knowledge of a topic—this very well may be what you intended to get across. (You can make a lot of people very happy by having merely heard of something obscure connected to their field of study or area of expertise.) What it doesn't do is allow you to hold a conversation that's of particular value to the other person, either in an academic setting, where deep and insightful analysis is useful, or in a social one, where you can form a connection by trading subjective reactions.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Auroni » Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:36 pm

Sir Thopas wrote:
Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:On the other hand, if you spend an hour writing an excellent, well-research, pyramidal tossup by consulting several sources, then not only will you know the clues that you use, you will also know stuff about the wider context of why the thing in question is worth asking. You don't have to /get/ the subject -- nobody will understand a book like Infinite Jest just by writing a tossup on it -- but at least you have some specific features of the book to talk about if you come across someone who has studied it more extensively.

Again, I may just be grouchy, but I don't see much merit in a conversation that goes like:

"Man, I really loved Infinite Jest! It's amazing how well DFW can write all these different voices and send your head spinning in a thousand different directions and make it busy yet still so full of these incredibly tender moments."
"Yeah, and that scene with the Eschaton! That totally happened!"

Quizbowl-exclusive knowledge, especially when it's fairly deep and well-researched, can give you a nice stockpile of anecdotes and, above all, makes you a great listener, since you know enough to prod your interlocutor into displaying his passion or knowledge of a topic—this very well may be what you intended to get across. (You can make a lot of people very happy by having merely heard of something obscure connected to their field of study or area of expertise.) What it doesn't do is allow you to hold a conversation that's of particular value to the other person, either in an academic setting, where deep and insightful analysis is useful, or in a social one, where you can form a connection by trading subjective reactions.


But the point that I'm trying to make is that you'll not just know that "that scene with the Eschaton" happened if you do what I said, but you will learn about the significance of the scene. If you put in the appropriate level of work and research into the question, that is.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Sir Thopas » Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:50 pm

Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:
Sir Thopas wrote:
Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:On the other hand, if you spend an hour writing an excellent, well-research, pyramidal tossup by consulting several sources, then not only will you know the clues that you use, you will also know stuff about the wider context of why the thing in question is worth asking. You don't have to /get/ the subject -- nobody will understand a book like Infinite Jest just by writing a tossup on it -- but at least you have some specific features of the book to talk about if you come across someone who has studied it more extensively.

Again, I may just be grouchy, but I don't see much merit in a conversation that goes like:

"Man, I really loved Infinite Jest! It's amazing how well DFW can write all these different voices and send your head spinning in a thousand different directions and make it busy yet still so full of these incredibly tender moments."
"Yeah, and that scene with the Eschaton! That totally happened!"

Quizbowl-exclusive knowledge, especially when it's fairly deep and well-researched, can give you a nice stockpile of anecdotes and, above all, makes you a great listener, since you know enough to prod your interlocutor into displaying his passion or knowledge of a topic—this very well may be what you intended to get across. (You can make a lot of people very happy by having merely heard of something obscure connected to their field of study or area of expertise.) What it doesn't do is allow you to hold a conversation that's of particular value to the other person, either in an academic setting, where deep and insightful analysis is useful, or in a social one, where you can form a connection by trading subjective reactions.


But the point that I'm trying to make is that you'll not just know that "that scene with the Eschaton" happened if you do what I said, but you will learn about the significance of the scene. If you put in the appropriate level of work and research into the question, that is.

The thing is, quizbowl doesn't really test the sort of things that I mentioned above as contributing to a good conversation, nor is it designed to. You can write an immaculately researched question on Infinite Jest without being able to analyze it or understand the experience of reading it at all. You could also go ahead and dig deeper and read reviews and critiques and discussion about it, but with respect to writing questions, you'd be wasting your time.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:51 pm

Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:But the point that I'm trying to make is that you'll not just know that "that scene with the Eschaton" happened if you do what I said, but you will learn about the significance of the scene. If you put in the appropriate level of work and research into the question, that is.

What proportion of tournaments go from fifty to one hundred percent completion in the last week or two beforehand? Unless those tournaments are written by an army, I'd say the minority of questions actually involve the amount of work and research you brand "appropriate." We love to talk about our passion for real knowledge, but all too frequently it doesn't come through meaningfully in question-writing specifically.

While I'm perfectly confident about this in general, I'm even more certain of it for science questions. I can't even begin to believe that people learn about the significance of almost any of the clues they put into science questions they have written for tournaments I have edited. Some questions are exceptions, but most questions I've edited written by a non-scientist has been lazy and has not reflected any kind of genuine engagement with the material. At the very least, none of the content of the submissions I'm talking about could distinguish well between someone with surface knowledge and someone with real knowledge.

Maybe science is less cool than really caring about the SIGNIFICANCE of something in the humanities, but I've seen this at every level from high school to CO, and it's fairly frustrating. People should stop pretending.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Auroni » Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:53 pm

Well in most places which you'd consult for clues about humanities questions, the knowledge obviously isn't arranged as a bulleted list of clues. It's arranged in essay-writing or prose that talks not only about the events but about the context surrounding them. By using those sources to write questions, some of the context will seep into your brain. That's all that I'm saying.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:02 pm

Auroni, if you research things that way for plot clues from a tossup or whatever, like, OK, good for you, you suddenly are able to get a quizbowl tossup about it, that's not remotely a substitute for real knowledge like you seem to think. The point is that the superficial knowledge you get from prepping for quizbowl can ultimately be enriching if you choose to then pursue the things you are exposed to that sound interesting (which will then pay off in quizbowl by you getting a lot more questions on them), not that the superficial knowledge by itself is all that enriching on its own.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Mechanical Beasts » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:04 pm

Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:Well in most places which you'd consult for clues about humanities questions, the knowledge obviously isn't arranged as a bulleted list of clues. It's arranged in essay-writing or prose that talks not only about the events but about the context surrounding them. By using those sources to write questions, some of the context will seep into your brain. That's all that I'm saying.

I guess? But that's an awfully weak condition. You could equally say "by cherry-picking clues out of prose about the subject of a humanities question, you are missing almost all of the context." Reading an essay for the purpose of writing a tossup on it is a millionth as helpful and/or edifying as reading the damn essay, in my experience.

And humanities isn't the whole picture. Who writes a physics tossup by working out a derivation of a law themselves? Who looks for a quantity and an exponent so they can say it's inversely proportional to temperature?

Whenever your argument for "this constitutes intellectual engagement" is "maybe some will seep in incidentally," you know you aren't really getting anywhere. I know a lot of people through quizbowl who are passionate about learning. I myself have discovered a dozen interests through quizbowl and can better comprehend a lot of areas because of the purely factual context I've gained. But I haven't learned anything genuine save through reading and learning inspired by quizbowl.

EDIT: yeah, Charlie Dees is right on the money here
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. » Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:28 pm

I don't really have a dog in this fight per se, but for the record, reviews of recent novels like Infinite Jest can actually be pretty good sources for clues. I think I wrote a DFW tossup mostly off of reviews once.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Scaled Flowerpiercer » Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:27 pm

I agree with the things such as what Charlie Dees have said on this topic, I just wanted to point out is that I think that as is clear both from my own experiences and from what has been said hear, the answer to the proposed question is two part.

I doubt that anyone would argue that it is truly "helpful" in an outside of quizbowl sense to know that Harold Godwinson died by an arrow to the eye or some similar stock clue, or that memorizing author/work lists really helps in anything more than a superficial way, and none of this knowledge will do much for you in the real word.

However, quizbowl inspires learning, and I think that its ability to do that is why it is not appropriate to say that it is inherently bad for knowledge. My studying "for quizbowl" has largely consisted of reading works that may be tossed up or texts about important topics that I find interesting - this is learning that I would likely have not done were it not for the existence of quizbowl, and certainly it helps a lot in quizbowl, but such acquisition of "real" knowledge for the sake of quizbowl is why I think it is folly to dismiss quizbowl as being bad for knowledge.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby MrHickoryHam » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:38 pm

I strongly agree with Charlie and Samuel on this topic. I think that a lot of the disagreement over this topic is rooted in the fact that everyone has different definitions of what is "studying for Quiz Bowl". For some, it may be simply memorizing clues. For others, it may be looking up brief explanations of each clue, or for those who want to investigate deeper - studying each clue extensively outside the realm of Quiz Bowl. Here are a couple of examples:

Take the Doppler Effect. If you define "studying for Quiz Bowl" as "I will just memorize 'Ives-Stillwell Experiment' and buzz on it every time I hear it", you clearly have a different view on the topic of this thread as someone who literally dives into textbooks, online lectures, etc about the Ives-Stillwell experiment.

Then, take a work of literature - "Heart of Darkness" for example. Honestly, if you are only researching a topic enough to get a question on it or to write a simple, average question on it, then you do not need to look up anything about Conrad's writing style or the significance of the work. Why? Because strictly speaking, questions cannot have vague clues like "The author of this work is known for criticizing the vices of European imperialism." And when you try to write "real knowledge" clues, you still cannot connect such clues to the author's particular style. Like you can mention "the author of this work compares Brussels to a sepulchre" but you cannot say "the author of this work compares Brussels to a sepulchre, which is reflective of his critical view of European imperialism" in your question because the second part is completely useless due to its vague nature (tons of authors were critical of European imperialism, so it doesn't help anyone narrow down his/her choices to one particular author). I believe someone had earlier said that "real knowledge" was useful for having an intelligent conversation on a work of literature, where the sharing of opinions/views on the work is what keeps the conversation interesting. That statement is completely true, but answering/writing QB questions pretty much excludes the possibility of sharing subjective information on a particular topic (you cant write "I really enjoy the author's use of imagery in..." in a question, after all). So back to the ambiguity surrounding what constitutes "studying for Quiz Bowl" - if you define "studying" as merely learning enough to answer/write a QB question, then of course your stance on this thread topic will be different than someone whose purpose in studying is to have legitimate intellectual conversations with people who have "real knowledge".
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Charles Martel » Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:19 pm

I agree with Eric. One of the points people seem to be making is "If you spend a very large amount of time studying a topic, you can learn real knowledge." But they seem to be missing the point that that's less efficient studying in terms of getting good at quizbowl.

My view is that beyond a certain depth, returns in terms of improvement in quizbowl are extremely low. You can study that deep if you want, but it's not the best way to get good at quizbowl. At the same time, there is merit to the argument that "You see interesting stuff that you do learn real knowledge about." At the least, most people who get involved in quizbowl probably do end up with more real knowledge than they would if they never got involved in quizbowl.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. » Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:24 pm

I know I said I didn't have a dog in this fight earlier, but frankly we're getting too fatalistic here. There's not a dichotomy between "things useful in a quizbowl question" and "interesting things to bring up in a conversation." If you want to have an in-depth discourse about Heart of Darkness, sure, you'd best know more than the basic plot of the book; on the other hand, you'd also better be able to say something more detailed than "It critiques imperialism," a claim that's just as vague in an essay as in a quizbowl question. To make and defend an interesting claim about the book's theme, you'll need to use very specific symbols, incidents, stylistic techniques, quotations, etc. These are, in fact, things that could appear in a well-written Heart of Darkness tossup. There's not a perfect match between academic and quizbowl study--perhaps not even an especially good one--but they're not at cross purposes either.

As for this comment:

But they seem to be missing the point that that's less efficient studying in terms of getting good at quizbowl. My view is that beyond a certain depth, returns in terms of improvement in quizbowl are extremely low. You can study that deep if you want, but it's not the best way to get good at quizbowl.


I'll just reply that it depends how good you want to get. I can't name a single player I'm afraid of at ACF Nationals who doesn't know their stuff.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Charles Martel » Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:31 pm

Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. wrote:
As for this comment:

But they seem to be missing the point that that's less efficient studying in terms of getting good at quizbowl. My view is that beyond a certain depth, returns in terms of improvement in quizbowl are extremely low. You can study that deep if you want, but it's not the best way to get good at quizbowl.


I'll just reply that it depends how good you want to get. I can't name a single player I'm afraid of at ACF Nationals who doesn't know their stuff.


True. I haven't yet started college quizbowl, so I don't really know that much about it. This is basically based on the fact that no matter how good you get, there will always be an element of randomness in topics you know. Many times I've seen people get beat on books that they've read by someone who hasn't read the book. But when they do that, it usually is because the person who didn't know it happened to know a first-line clue that the other person happened to forget or not recognize properly. I guess that at tournaments as hard as ACF Nationals, the person who knows it better gets multiple chances to recognize clues before someone who only has surface knowledge has a chance of knowing a clue. Completely a guess, though.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby Remember-the-Alamo-Remember-Goliad » Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:03 pm

The question of being an epistemological "con" in QB is certainly a valid point to ponder. However, as one of those deeply maligned creatures called a 'QB Coach', I look at the question posed in two ways:

1. First and most obvious, QB is a GAME! As such, I don't think anyone involved in the 'game' is going to be clueless about the level of knowledge needed to answer a set of rapidfire questions. It's an enjoyable pursuit much like chess. I can be a Grand Master or I can be a novice, but the game is the same and the enjoyment is real, even if the "mastery" question is completely different.

2. "StudyIng" for QB is like walking through a great museum. The first time through, one may only remember the greatest paintings and the artists who made them. Later on, a second or a third return to the same museum will give the opportunity to concentrate, perhaps, on a few, select paintings which have captured one's imagination -- and there begins to grow a real depth of appreciation.
Isn't QB a bit like these walks through a great museum?

Being a dilettante isn't a crime -- as long as one KNOWS his knowledge is superficial. The far worse crime would be the person who is an 'expert' in some field who is so insufferably priggish as to be intolerable. The first condition has a solution; the second one, maybe not.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby The Atom Strikes! » Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:26 am

In my own real-life study I've history, I've found that the cognitive map of people and events that I've built in my head has frequently been useful for contextualizing both new figures and events that I learn about and their thematic content and helpful for drawing up immediate parallels for comparison. But history is one of the subjects where "real knowledge" and "quizbowl knowledge" are closest together, and I would say that overall, Charlie Dees is mostly right about quizbowl's benefits.
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Re: Is QuizBowl an inherent "con" of knowledge?

Postby muzzy » Sat Aug 25, 2012 12:35 am

There is no black and white answer to your questions: as has been said already, it completely depends on how you study.

All of the examples of so called "real knowledge" that people have posted have been subjective interpretations of *random Quizbowl answer line*. Since clues are objective (or at least, they should be), assuming all you ever did to study Quizbowl was read tossups and bonuses, then you wouldn't learn any of this "real knowledge." To answer your question:
Are the methods used for studying Quizbowl inherently a "con" of knowledge?
this method would be a con: you might be able to say "Encapsulation is a key part of Object-Oriented programming!" and not have any idea as to what encapsulation is. However, if you learned about Encapsulation by reading Head First Design Patterns, you would probably have some "real knowledge" about encapsulation.

From this, I think it's safe to say that Quizbowl alone is just an academic competition: it can only really teach objective information (which one could say is a con of knowledge). But, it has the potential to inspire someone to pursue and attain "real knowledge" (whatever the hell that is). So no, Quizbowl is not inherently a con of knowledge (and I would say the only part of Quizbowl that is a con of knowledge is the objectivity of clues).
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