As mentioned, there was a more conventional economics bonus in packet 11. That said, I do want to push back on the question of whether mortgages are "academically interesting" or not. I don't think there's a universal standard for whether a subject is "academically interesting," so I don't think it's usually very helpful to complain that a tournament's answer choices weren't academically interesting. (Obviously, if there is a systemic issue about the way questions are written, such as all of the literature questions being uninteresting because they're "list tossups" or something, that's a different matter, but that's not what we're talking about here.)
The question was not interesting because of its context in my opinion. Of course there isn't an objective basis to my views here. If I hear one economics question over the course of an entire day, I'd rather be it on something that actually comes up in my course work.
My preference is entirely the opposite. I find "applied" social science questions (social science questions with answers/clues drawn from everyday life as opposed to just the classroom) much more interesting. This is particularly true in economics, presumably because I'm much more interested in finance than in pure economics.
That said, in terms of actual question writing, I do think the majority of questions should be based on course work. However, I also think both should be represented as long as the overall distribution features a majority of "course work" questions. In this case, since there were only 2 questions, I wrote one on an "applied" topic and one on a "course work" topic.
In contrast, what you seem to advocate is that there should be some minimum number of "course work" questions that should be included in a set before you can start writing "applied" questions. For example, if you think the optimal physics distribution for a set should be 80% physics and 20% engineering and a set (for some strange reason) had only 1/1 physics in the whole set, you would insist that both questions be physics rather than one being engineering. Is that a reasonable summary of your argument?
If so, I'm not totally opposed to this. However, I also don't think you can say that your approach is the only correct approach that people have to follow.
Progcon wrote:The argument that a social science question should go to what I would call a "current events economics question" when there was only about 5/5 social science on the entire day was rather unfortunate.
Of course, if your issue is just with the fact that only 1 economics question came up in the first 10 packets and that question was an "applied" question, I'm not sure if I can sympathize. The packetization was more or less random (as it should have been) and you can't say that we should have made sure to put the "course work" economics question in the first 10 packets. (That said, as I've mentioned previously, my personal opinion is that economics should have gotten 1/2 or 2/1 and that the third question should have been a "course work" question, so you would probably have heard a "course work" economics question if that had happened.)
Progcon wrote: Finance is, yes, economics in quizbowl but I'm just having a hard time understanding what the actual purpose of this question was in the grand scheme of this tournament. If this tournament is about introducing undergraduate teams to real, regular difficulty questions and this was only the economics question they heard, this does an inadequate job of that because harder tournaments (and even ACF Fall!!) have things that at least pretend to show up in economics course work such as on "Demand", "Labor", "Exchange Rates", "Trade", etc.
The "purpose of the question" was to test players' knowledge of an important economics topic. I don't think it makes sense to say that you can't ask about something because of meta concerns like how a question fits into the grand scheme of a tournament, and of quiz bowl as a whole. Are you saying that if a question doesn't fit your idea of "introducing undergraduate teams to real, regular difficulty questions," you can't have it at MUT/EMT? If so, where can you have it? ACF Fall and ACF Novice also introduce teams to college quiz bowl, and, by extension, so does high school and (if you extend things further) middle school quiz bowl. However, if you can't toss up mortgages as an economics topic at any of those difficulties, can you toss them up at higher (regular and above) difficulties? If you can, then how is tossing them up at a lower difficulty not "introducing undergraduate teams to real, regular difficulty questions?"
Along those lines, your implication seems to be that "applied" economics questions don't prepare undergraduate teams for tougher events because those events don't have questions on "applied" economics/finance. However, they actually do all of the time! Thus, how is including such questions not preparing undergraduate teams for tougher events?
Beyond that, I don't think any new players/teams are going to go away from EMT thinking that regular difficulty quiz bowl never asks about "things that at least pretend to show up in economics course work" just because the only economics tossup they heard was on mortgages. New players don't worry about "meta" concerns like that. Only experienced players care about things like how a question fits in the broader framework of a certain difficulty level and how that difficulty level relates to all of the other difficulty levels. New players just show up, get questions, and (hopefully) have a good time. If they make comments about the distribution, it's to say things like "Half of the questions are about literature" or "All of the sports questions are about basketball."* They are not going to make nuanced comments about the answer selection for one small subset of one small part of the distribution.
Finally, are there a lot of teams that play EMT to be introduced to regular difficulty? EMT isn't a regular difficulty tournament and most teams that play it have either played regular difficulty before or won't play it at all, so it seems weird to worry about whether EMT introduces teams to regular difficulty.
*Actual things I've heard teammates say, and things that were untrue, obviously.
Progcon wrote: All of these easy answerlines--which have been done many times--have more interesting clues than reading off financial instruments.
I'm willing to admit that describing types of mortgages is probably pretty boring to someone who doesn't like such things. On the other hand, I find a lot of economics theorems pretty boring to listen to, but that doesn't mean that I don't think they're important and shouldn't come up as clues! In an ideal world, I would have done more research and found clues that were perhaps more interesting, but I don't think this tossup was boring to the point of a bad question. At least, I would enjoy a question like this in any set I played.
Beyond that, I included the Liar's Poker
clue to break up the descriptions of types of mortgages and mortgage security related things, which brings me to my next point:
Progcon wrote:I'm mostly irritated that a teammate got this question off of Big Short knowledge and he himself admitted that he shouldn't have gotten it off of trash knowledge when he did.
I already mentioned this, but it seems you didn't notice: Knowledge from The Big Short is not necessarily "trash knowledge."
Just because you learn a clue from a movie doesn't make it trash knowledge. If it did, then the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana would be "trash knowledge" because it's mentioned in Hotel Rwanda
. "Trash knowledge" would be someone getting my tossup because I added a clue about that episode in which Homer Simpsons gets a subprime mortgage. Getting the tossup because you know about Lewis Ranieri simply means you picked up on something which was included in a movie because it's incredibly important
Along those lines, based on your logic, we'll never be able to ask about Lewis Ranieri again because he appears in The Big Short
. That's obviously unreasonable because his invention of mortgage backed securities has probably impacted the lives of every quiz bowl player alive. Along those lines:
Progcon wrote: For what it's worth, I don't find the gross number of people affected by the 2008 financial crisis a legitimate argument for the inclusion of this question.
I mentioned that because you talked about writing a tournament that is "gentle to undergraduate teams" and I interpreted "gentle" to mean "accessible." That said, your argument seems to be generalizable to "[you] don't find the gross number of people affected by [this economics-related topic] a legitimate argument for the inclusion of this question [on economics]." Are you really trying to say that you don't think a topic's real world importance matters in choosing to make it an answer line?
Progcon wrote: Yes, the 2008 financial crisis was extremely important. Ask about in the current events distribution instead of using one of the precious econ question slots.
First of all, the 2008 financial crisis is already too old to be a current events question; it would fall into history. More importantly, I don't think you can demand to have a question banished to a different part of the distribution just because you don't like the subject. Mortgages (and, by extension, finance) are an economics topic that economists study!
Progcon wrote: The question seems transparent when they start to mention different instruments.
The tossup doesn't even mention different instruments, plural! As a reminder, this is the tossup as you heard it:
The tossup wrote: These products are invested in by REMICs and investments based on them are the most common ones divided into PO and IO tranches The “Alt-A” type of these products is contrasted the “conforming” type of these products, which is also known as the “agency” type because it can be guaranteed by the GSEs. The book Liar’s (*) Poker describes Lewis Ranieri’s invention of a method to securitize these products. Varieties of these products known by the acronyms SISA and NINA are derogatorily called the “liar” type. Some individuals who obtain these products may have to pay points or buy insurance, especially individuals with FICO scores below 660 who are only eligible for their subprime variety. For 10 points, name these loans which are taken out to purchase a home.
ANSWER: mortgages [accept mortgage-backed securities or MBS or mortgage bonds or any other answer containing mortgage that indicates a fixed income investment; prompt on “loans” or “home loans” or similar answers] <CH, Social Science>
The only "instrument" listed is the REMIC. There are also types
of mortgages, which is a totally different thing.
Furthermore, about the issue of transparency, if you don't know the specific clues, the only thing you can infer through the end of the fourth sentence is that "this is a product that you can securitize* that people lie to get." I don't think this transparently indicates mortgages, especially not if you're trying to understand everything at game speed. If you decide to buzz in based off of this description and say "mortgages," you're welcome to do so, but I definitely wouldn't take that risk. (For one thing, the description applies to literally every financial product, which is perhaps why at least one person I know tried to make the same kind of guess and negged with "credit cards.")
*It's worth noting that if you don't have an economics background, you don't necessarily know what this word means, which makes buzzing in even more implausible.
In summary, I think that in economics (and social science in general), there should be a mix of "course work" questions on concepts and "applied" questions on how those concepts relate to society. I think the majority of questions should be "course work" questions. However, I don't think that you have to have a minimum number of "course work" questions before you can write "applied" questions, assuming you try to meet the aforementioned distribution of having more "course work" than "applied" questions.
I also don't think "meta" concerns about how an answer line fits into the broader scheme of quiz bowl should determine whether that answer line comes up at a tournament. (Unless, I guess, that answer line is coming up out of proportion to its importance or something). I think that any good, difficulty-appropriate answer line should be askable at any difficulty. I also don't think you can insist that people not use clues you personally find uninteresting as long as some reasonable number of people would find them interesting and important.
Finally, just because you learn something from a trash source doesn't make it "trash knowledge" that can't come up as a clue in an academic question.
Progcon wrote:Just to chime in the Ford question and Michigan bias: a teammate got it on "River Rouge" who isn't from Michigan and it's another transparency issue. How many "companies" could reasonably come up? I have read several books on the history of Detroit and Ford Motor Company (highly recommend Fordlandia), and there are tons of other clues that you can drop before their most famous factory. I do think it's a smart idea for a tossup, I just think you could move some stuff around.
As I've mentioned, you and other people have convinced me that River Rouge is better known than I thought and I've moved that clue.
That said, the rest of your comment seems incoherent. An answer line can't both have a "transparency issue"* and be "a smart idea for a tossup." Which one is it?
*Obviously, I don't think this tossup is transparent. Literally, the only thing you can infer from the first several clues if you don't know them is that the answer is a company, probably industrial, which has had labor trouble and still exists. That does narrow your answer space quite a bit, but you still have 4 or 5 possibilities, at least, even at this difficulty level.