EFT 2016: Social Science and "Other" Categories

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Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
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EFT 2016: Social Science and "Other" Categories

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Sep 19, 2016 5:12 pm

I want to open up a separate thread for discussing my approach to the Social Science and Other categories. I think my approach with this tournament was a bit different than the approach most tournaments, especially those of this level, take to these categories.

In Social Science, I tried to reach hard for "real" subject matter in a wide variety of disciplines using. Since there are a _lot_ of students who study the social sciences and how they apply to other humanities, I didn't have as much "restraint" topic-wise as the tournament had overall - especially compared to categories like literature and history where most quizbowl players are amateurs. So I thought it was fine to use common-links on simple concepts (nations/nationalism, liberalism, culture, etc.) to bring in some thinkers that quizbowl considers "hard" but who nonetheless do get discussed in both academia and important general-interest reading. These were mixed in with questions drawing heavily on coursework, at least to the extent I was familiar with the subject matter - to take one example, I wrote three economics tossups based on the first three economics classes I ever took.

For "Other", I threw trash completely out the window early on. Trash has an unfortunate tendency to devolve into vanity and to often be extremely hit-or-miss - sure, everything in quizbowl is something of the latter, but I think trash really exaggerates this because it often feels so clearly "out of place" in academic tournaments. I think carefully selected "other academic" topics - not just current events, geography, and mixed academic, but also non-traditional subject matter on topics that people are likely to encounter in personal and/or professional life, regardless of academic interest. There were, of course, some wackier out-there things (like the tossup on alchemy) but I think these fall under the same sort of "non-traditional content that people could totally still run into" grouping. I think these things serve the purpose of "leveling the playing field" (though a lot of the "other academic" stuff did have things that might traditionally go in other categories, like law or social science) but also don't have the hit-or-miss, eye-rolling problem that trash can have, where one man's trash truly is another man's treasure.

Here's a full list of the "Other" distribution:

Current Events: Cuba embargo, Merkel, San Francisco, Australia, Medicare / Part D / ACOs, Korea / Abe / _iron_ (rice bowl), Levant / al-Nusra / Qatar

Geography: Ohio River, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Pyrenees, Chile, Siberia / Heartland / Volga, Eton / Thames / Berkshire, Cameroon / volcano / Douala

Other Academic: Hmong, Richard Dawkins, Hawaii (food and language), Turkey (archaeology), American flag (law), Leo Tolstoy (mixed), alchemy, Oracle / CRMs / Amazon, Chanel / Met / Balenciaga, bonds / equity / Modigliani-Miller, McDonalds / Italy / Quinoa, Elias / sports / imperialism, Nihon Shoki / Yamato / the sun, bitcoin / Silk Road / Cyprus, tea / Hangzhou / chrysanthemum, strict scrutiny / due process / sexual orientation

Note that Richard, Andrew, and Jason wrote several of the "Other Academic" questions.
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Sun Sep 25, 2016 11:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Social Science and "Other" Categories

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Sep 19, 2016 9:36 pm

The only points in this tournament where I felt properly underwater were the Big 3 sciences (I'll never be confused with a science player) and the hard parts of thought questions (SS or Philosophy). I don't think we converted a 30 in those categories all day (unless Noah caught a psychology bonus) which is generally fine -- I didn't play enough college quizbowl to be expecting better than that. Whether it's something on my end or whether the categories landed too hard, I don't know, but I'd wager the former, given that the tossups were executed very well and gave me no similar feeling of "this tossup was not intended for me."

Was the Hawaii tossup in the packet that got burned in the Skype mirror? I don't remember it and would love to see it.

I thought this set could have used more geography, but there's a ton of good cultural interest topics in the Other Ac that scratches the same itch, so it didn't strike me as a "need" until reading this post and realizing "yeah, there really wasn't that much pure Geo." I really enjoyed the Hmong tossup - I thought it did a great job of saying interesting things leading into the description of Spirit Catches You.

I approve this tournament not having trash; its absence didn't detract in the slightest.
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Re: Social Science and "Other" Categories

Post by Mike Bentley » Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:11 pm

I wasn't a huge fan of the flags question. It seemed very transparent. By which I mean without knowing the specifics, you could figure out that this was an object involved in a lot of free speech cases, which greatly narrows the answer line down.
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Re: Social Science and "Other" Categories

Post by Mike Bentley » Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:12 pm

Mike Bentley wrote:I wasn't a huge fan of the flags question. It seemed very transparent. By which I mean without knowing the specifics, you could figure out that this was an object involved in a lot of free speech cases, which greatly narrows the answer line down.
That said, overall I enjoyed these categories.
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Re: Social Science and "Other" Categories

Post by Jason Cheng » Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:28 pm

I see your point about flags, and I'm considering changing it to a flag salute tossup.

That said, I do think there are a lot of things "free speech object" could be, and In general I tried not to be too worried about transparency since I figured the target EFT audience would have less experience with figuring this kind of thing out. Additionally, I'm not sure if it's transparent enough that would make it not just an easier than normal question (I'm definitely not married to the tossup, though. I'll let Will and Richard, who had the biggest hand in controlling the other ac, respond further I guess).
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Re: Social Science and "Other" Categories

Post by ErikC » Fri Oct 28, 2016 3:25 pm

I liked the Other questions quite a bit, to the point where I wish there was more. Of the couple questions that were in the area of what I learn about in academics I thought they were quite good. At the Canadian site I felt these questions were some of the best received.

Maybe next EFT could have more of these Other questions in place of Mythology?
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Re: Social Science and "Other" Categories

Post by Lawrence Simon » Fri Oct 28, 2016 3:51 pm

I generally liked the Econ on this set for what there was. I can agree that all of it is subject matter that's come up in the Econ classes I've taken and was very much applicable for what most college students usually learn.
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