ACF Distribution

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grapesmoker
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by grapesmoker »

Sorry to beat this dead horse some more, but I think Kay Li's outline is incorrect and not illuminating. Once you get past the basics of the field, you're going to get a lot of questions on stuff that's not all that accessible to the non-specialist. Even questions on accessible things in physics, for example, tend to be pretty heavy on material that helps specialists first (as they should be). And once you get past the introductory material, a huge world of possible answers opens up. Yes, you have to get there first to understand what's happening, but this is a feature, not a bug.
However, I still think that math is important enough so that it should be considered apart from the minor sciences. Math is a huge, important field, and more and more quizbowlers seem be becoming interested in it. I think that, while there are practical limitations to what can be asked in math, we should nonetheless strive to seek higher representation for math in the distribution. As such, I think that math should be considered a "semi-major science" and that we should mandate a 0.5/0.5 distribution for it within the 4/4 science distribution. I think that not having at least one math question (tossup or bonus) per packet would be a huge oversight.
Yes, math is important; no one has ever argued otherwise. Still, this alleged distinction between "semi-major" and "minor" is a fruitless avenue of debate. I don't have any evidence that more quizbowlers are more interested in math, but if that happens, then let them write the math questions they want to write. If there's a natural demand for this, the game will provide it; there's no reason why we need to mandate 0.5/0.5. Just to be clear, I'm not opposed to such a distribution if it ends up being the case in some tournament, but I think imposing it top-down is pointless. I would be worried if a tournament had no math, but not having a math question in a single packet is not a "huge oversight."

I continue to insist that this is a solved problem that people seem to be continually resurrecting for no obviously good reason. The current distribution is fine; it allows some latitude and accommodates a lot of different players. We don't need to go out of our way looking for imaginary problems to fix when we've got something that works quite well already.
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kayli
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by kayli »

I think Jerry and Seth have brought forth good arguments, and I think I will personally rest my crusade for now having been rather convinced.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Magister Ludi »

Tees-Exe Line wrote: I would associate myself with the view you're presenting in opposition to mine--I do think that it's a waste to toss up Pareto's alternative term for "utility" and other economics chestnuts over and over, but that's further motivation for me to write economics questions that are relevant to the field as it actually exists and are also enjoyable to play. Fair enough that you find the Sack of Antwerp economics questions frustrating--but I wouldn't then adopt your view that it would really be better just to leave things as they are. Aren't people a little curious about what's actually discussed nowadays in fields like anthropology and sociology rather than universally-memorized stock clues about old books?
You may associate yourself with the second view but in practice you have followed the former. I don't think you will convince anyone to adopt your views with extraneous and somewhat bizarre arguments conflating sensible positions about the real-world curricula of different scientific disciplines with an endorsement of the mediocrity of the American education system. I continue to think that writing tournaments that people enjoy playing is the most productive way to convince people of one's vision of the distribution or a specific subcategory, and this is rarely accomplished by forcing lots of questions about a given topic down players' throats. For example, after perusing last year's Sack of Antwerp it turns out 8 of the 12 social science tossups were on economics, and in Harvard's practice with three people who have taken the introductory economics course I think only three or four were answered. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with writing questions on harder material, but on a purely pragmatic level this approach dissuades people from wanting to change the distribution and leads to uneven tournaments.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Tees-Exe Line »

For example, after perusing last year's Sack of Antwerp it turns out 8 of the 12 social science tossups were on economics, and in Harvard's practice with three people who have taken the introductory economics course I think only three or four were answered. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with writing questions on harder material, but on a purely pragmatic level this approach dissuades people from wanting to change the distribution and leads to uneven tournaments.
I agree with you. That's what I meant when I said I subscribe to the point of view you attributed in opposition to mine--I realized after Sack of Antwerp and ACF Nats that while I don't mind dead tossups on interesting subjects, lots of people do. So, for instance, I wrote a question on "trade" for Chicago Open that was 2/3 taken from recent giant steps in that field and 1/3 Heckscher-Olin or Ricardo or something. In the room where I read that, it was answered based on the old stuff. Maybe we rather need a tossup on "trade" that's 100% old stuff, but the idea there is that you would come away thinking "if I learn more modern economics, I'll take that question off someone who's memorized quizbowl social science."
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Cheynem »

I don't know anything about economics, but I do know something about history, including the fringe history stuff that doesn't get a lot of quizbowl play (historiography, public history, etc.). I think I've submitted or written several questions on Fawn Brodie, the proponent of psychobiography that at least to me seems interesting, and have also written questions on notable historiographical works like The Cheese and the Worms and The Return of Martin Guerre. While I would not be opposed to seeing individual questions on those things (or going in the public history route, on topics like museum deaccessioning or scandals in the field) at very difficult tournaments, in general, I suppose they are probably better off as bonus parts or clues (for instance, a tossup on Joseph Smith could use early clues about Brodie's biography of him). Your "trade" tossup strikes me as a good, honest attempt to do that, which I think could work for the appropriate tournament.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Gautam »

Tees-Exe Line wrote:. So, for instance, I wrote a question on "trade" for Chicago Open that was 2/3 taken from recent giant steps in that field and 1/3 Heckscher-Olin or Ricardo or something. In the room where I read that, it was answered based on the old stuff. Maybe we rather need a tossup on "trade" that's 100% old stuff, but the idea there is that you would come away thinking "if I learn more modern economics, I'll take that question off someone who's memorized quizbowl social science."
That tossup was great, getting it on description of the gravity model was better. Mostly because I submitted a tossup on the gravity model.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Thundercougarfalconbird »

Hey, so I've read through this thread and I still don't understand what a "minor science" is; could someone explain that to me? Definitionally, a minor science is something that gets less on the distribution than a major science does, but does the label "minor science" denote anything in addition to that? If so, what? It just seems to be like understanding that might be helpful in resolving the arguments surrounding the minor sciences.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by MathMusic »

Major Science: Bio, Chem, Physics
Minor Science: Anything else, including Math, CS, Earth Sci, Astronomy, etc.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by Thundercougarfalconbird »

Yeah dude, I know what the "major sciences" and "minor sciences" are. I'm asking if there's any other meaning to certain things being major or minor sciences.
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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by setht »

Kilogrammage wrote:Definitionally, a minor science is something that gets less on the distribution than a major science does, but does the label "minor science" denote anything in addition to that? If so, what?
It also denotes no guaranteed minimum per packet. A similar thing happens in the fine arts, with most tournaments treating painting and non-opera classical music as "major fine arts" with a minimum of 1/1 per packet each, and leaving all the "minor fine arts" (architecture, film, opera, sculpture, butoh, etc.) scrapping in the dirt for space in that final 1/1 fine arts.

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Re: ACF Distribution

Post by touchpack »

I think what Ben is trying to get at is what is it about biology/chemistry/physics that makes them get a different share of the distribution than math/cs/earth/astro/other, which comes down to real-life importance (after all, there are Nobel Prizes in Bio/Chem/Physics but not astronomy) and depth of askable topics in the canon. In addition, bio/chem/physics are much more widely taught at the high school level (math is widely taught too, but it has a low share of the distribution for reasons already enumerated).
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