On Geography at ACF Nationals

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On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby canaanbananarama » Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:59 am

I haven't paid very much attention to these various threads and they seem to be an unproductive continuation of an ever-growing trend towards cutting geography out. I would like to point to three people, who as it so happens, are the current leaders of ACF: Matt, Seth, and Jerry. All three of you cringe at geography questions, the same way I cringe at every science tossup. Now, Jerry, I feel you. Geography isn't particularly important to your academic studies.

How this makes me feel as a proponent of ACF: You're basically cutting out 5 PPG of my scoring total at ACF Nationals. Since I average around 25 PPG, let's say this drops me to twenty, because the other options, social science, well, I don't know much about this.

But, Matt, you're a historian by trade or degree or whatever? In my opinion as a student of history, knowing history and hating geography is like trying to pleasure a woman with a two-inch cock. Did you just totally skip over the dozens of pages devoted in any serious work to the geography of the area and how it literally caused history to happen in the way that it happened. I sure remember classes where 10% of my grade involved a map quiz. Yes, respected academics were basing a large fraction of your grade on you sitting down and being able to point things out on a map. Why was Sparta Sparta? Athens Athens? Geography. I can know the Peloponnesian War chronologically by heart, which is a difficult task, but if I understand the geographic location of Sparta and Athens, I don't have to do that much work. Russian history is what it is because of geography. Russians are who they are because of geography. That we have to defend geography's place in academia is absurd. I, as a historian, do not necessarily like economics. But it's fundamentally very important to the general study of history, so by God, have econ questions.

Seth, you were a geology major. Given the fact that 3/7 of that word is geo, you're telling me we should cut down on geography?

Enough with this rhetoric: the point is here, that posting in threads whether you like geography or don't may get you some totally invalid quorum. The end decision is going to be arbitrary. And in that circumstance, I don't see how you would change the status quo. Many people have said they are happy with the current situation. And by making this change, you are lessening the amount of questions on an important building block of academic study which is essential to many academic disciplines. I will posit you wouldn't be able to understand Thomas Hardy without knowing something about the place where he grew up. In his case, it's all over his works, you can't avoid knowing about the West Country.

Here's the thing about changes: when they are suggested and vouched for by the leadership of a certain group, the leadership almost always benefits, and the public is often pissed off. But since you are leaders of this community, if geography were cut, we wouldn't express our dissatisfaction in a public forum. Because many are afraid to challenge leaders. Natural, right? And sure, there will be other quizbowlers who would be happy to see geography go. Again, natural. But there will be a segment of the community that won't attend your ACF Nationals tournament. Dwight made a good point. You want UC-Irvine to attend nationals, a team that's on the fence about ACF to attend again? Well, guess what, Ray Anderson was a geography major. He enjoys getting geography questions. So do I. Would I attend ACF Nationals if geography were cut or reduced or whatever? I'm a respectable ACF player. I have deep knowledge of certain categories, and maybe I'm fairly unique, but this is one of them. And I doubt here that anybody would have the balls to say that players like Jeff Hoppes and me are getting "fraudulent" tossups when we first-line a geography tossup at ACF Nationals. But, you cut out something I like, and I don't know...you're marginalizing me as a player. And the thing is, you don't know who else you're marginalizing. To me, it seems like various leaders are coming to an agreement, "Hey, there's this subject that we don't know a lot about and aren't bothering to study, so let's cut it, and therefore increase our PPG." And you know what, that's kind of annoying.

If you continue this long-lasting process of abolishing geography from ACF (let's be fair, this whole gradual thing is just to make it seem like you don't want to completely cut it and to somewhat ameliorate us geographiles), you're cutting the PPG of good, legitimate quizbowl players. Am I going to (hypothetically, I'm of course not attending) an ACF Nationals where my PPG drops because my favorite subject got the boot? Why should I, when I can attend ICT, where admittedly the questions are more flawed, but I can put up big numbers because they (already) heavily favor my general specialties. And I understand Dwight. And I understand Ray Anderson. The latter has kind of a hex placed on him because he was part of that Minnesota "dynasty," which, let's get over it, it's not Ray's fault that he won CBI, because CBI matches are decided by something of less validity than a Ouija board. I don't see the poor guy coming on here and declaring himself "x-time national champion." His major is geography, and his grad work is in geography. So, yeah, in a way, you have Dwight devoted to ACF, but you'll probably turn his team against ACF by screwing with the distribution. And we don't know who's reading this thread and being, "I like geography, but I don't have the respect from you all to say that this will influence my decision to come to ACF."

So, in summary, go with the status quo. Change things, you make people mad, and they probably won't post because they'll be happily flying to the Omaha Airport next year to attend ICT in bathroom stalls. ACF is in a precarious position of trying to expand to other circuits, and, even though you think this logic is stupid, it reinforces the notion of "ACF is hard," and some day there's going to be a tossup on Jose Donoso's diary that he scribbled in miniature on his penis. Yeah, that's stupid. But don't screw with a thing you're already having problems selling to the quizbowl masses.

And, Matt, you're a history major. You want some day to write an academic text on the Russian Civil War, you're going to have to write that fifty-page introduction on the geography of Russia and how it influenced the various groups who participated in the Russian Civil War. Learn geography, love it, make out with it. When it says no, mick its drink and go to town with it.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby No Rules Westbrook » Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:17 pm

Charles, I don't know if you're off your meds or what, but calm down.

There are just as many "leaders" of ACF defending geography as attacking it...and the result of the endless polls and posts has generally been to confirm that a significant segment of people think geography should stick around in some form or another.

But, arguing that geography is a valid thing to ask about because it benefits or detriments your PPG, or the PPG of anyone else, is dumb. Sure, my PPG would go through the roof if there were a 4/4 distribution of "Things Only Ryan Westbrook Knows". But we don't ask about things because they bolster anyone's PPG...we ask about them because we deem them important enough academically in some meaningful sense. If you want to join the endless debate of whether geography is "important enough", fine - but everything you say has already been said a thousand times. And like I said, happily for you, your side is generally winning the debate, at least in terms of numbers.

I'll go ahead and say that, if you're attending ACF Nats, your primary motivator should be the quality of the questions and the competition. Going to ICT instead just because you can put up more points there is pretty much the epitome of bad quizbowl thinking. You can also put up a ton of "points" at your local bar's trivia contest, playing against drunken dolts. So what?
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:38 pm

No Rules Westbrook wrote:There are just as many "leaders" of ACF defending geography as attacking it...and the result of the endless polls and posts has generally been to confirm that a significant segment of people think geography should stick around in some form or another.


Despite the fact that the poll has shown majority support for geography, we have been assured by multiple ACF members that 1/1 geography per round is "off the table". And this is despite of the fact that, here at HSQB, we should expect a public poll to be MORE anti-geography than it should be, because of the phenomenon of newer players sucking up to prestigious players. Of the ACF members, the most prestigious are anti-geography, and strongly so. Sorry Ryan, nobody wants you to like them in the same way that they want Matt Weiner or Rob Carson to like them.

I don't share Charles's love of geography, nor am I willing to accept his determinism, at least not as strongly as he puts it (though I think it is true that history is easier to understand if you know the geography). But I find his post insightful because he hits on the cold, harsh, reality of the matter: the ACF Cabal is being extremely self-serving here. For one reason or another, a majority of ACF members despise geography, or are not very good at it, or don't feel like writing it, and as a result they are excising it. Despite the fact that large amounts of ACF players actually like it.

The self-serving nature of this has, I think, been exposed by the critical analysis of the anti-geography arguments made by my colleague Ted. We've seen that the purported microscripts of geography elimination do not match up with the professed macroscripts. Where there's smoke, there's fire.

What we are seeing here, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what Charles said: a resdistribution of 5-10 PPG per packet. Certain ACF members have voted themselves a 5-10 PPG increase. It is naked self-interest at play, the powerful exploiting their position to take resources from the less well-connected.

Sure, some of you may not care you. You might say "yes, the ACF cabal is being self-serving, but they are eliminating a thing I don't care for, so go ACF cabal". Well, the greater concern with such behavior on their part is that one day this might impact a subject you like. Maybe, in a few years, we'll have a set of ACF members who really like fine arts but find mythology annoying, and perhaps they'll attempt to reduce RMP and increase FA. Or the other way around. Maybe they'll reduce the big 3 to increase social science, or the other way around. Etc. This could have serious consequences in terms of shifting the balance between whatever the top teams at that point are, and could even impact the results of ACF Nationals itself. And heaven forbid that one day the ACF Cabal becomes so fixed on shifting a distribution in one way that people are made (or prevented from being) ACF members based on how likely they are deemed to vote for or against a particular distributional proposal.

A slippery slope argument, sure, but I am aesthetically disgusted by the current behavior of Teitler, Weiner, Carson, etc. and I think you should be too.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:43 pm

Bruce, once again I reiterate that I am advocating a reduction of geography to 1 question per packet, not its elimination. I also argue, and note that pro-playing-alongside-a-teammate-who-knows-geography Andy Watkins agrees, that unscientific Internet polls prove nothing and we need a properly designed survey if we're going to incorporate the "popular demand" element of the equation into a decision on geography's future. Lastly, I'm not eligible for ACF at any time in the near future, so unless we're voting on the Minnesota Open and Harvard International distributions, this won't benefit my PPG in the slightest for a couple of years. (Can we vote on the HI distribution, by the way? The geography questions last year were by far the worst part of the tournament.)

Charles, I support using appropriate geography-related clues in history questions, because that's a great way to make sure your geography question is actually relevant to something. Let's not pretend that what goes in the geography distribution these days has anything to do with the importance of geography to history. It has everything to do with "let's write a tossup on Turkmenistan by copying down a list of city names from a map of Turkmenistan in descending order of length." For some time now, my argument has been that a 1/1 geography distribution exhausts the number of topics that one can write more substantive questions on and forces that sort of question into packets, and thus that we can preserve good geography by cutting to a more realistic 1-question-per-packet requirement.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby No Rules Westbrook » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:01 pm

Bruce, I appreciate your characteristically Neo-Realist take on the situation, and I'm usually the first one to whine about self-interest driven arguments from the popular kids. But, I don't know.

I think most people are having a good faith discussion of whether geography is "important enough" to merit 1/1 per packet - and we have to allow for these discussions, the distribution can't be forever set in stone without any possibility of changing. And, while I positively love slippery slopes, we all know that subjects like fine arts/rmp/soc sci are in no danger of falling out of anyone's distro in the foreseeable future.

So, I don't know what's "on" or "off" the table as far as some people are privately concerned - my personal solution on this issue would be to allow a little flexibility for the time being. I'm kind of a defender of geography, but even I don't support it getting a mandatory 1/1 per packet, and there are people with votes in ACF who fall at various points on the continuum.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:05 pm

Sure, "post here if you like geography" is pretty unscientific and its results don't mean much, but I think it's fine to use that to support the idea that "lots of people like geography". For anything more precise than that, yes, you would need a better survey. But I don't think this one was completely without meaning, and, again, I find it notable that it skewed AWAY from the ACF Cabal's position, when you would expect it to be broken in such ways as to support the ACF Cabal's position.

Teitler's a smart guy and I'm pretty sure he was expecting the HSQB population (limited sample size as it is) to eat his position up when he posted those threads.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby Susan » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:07 pm

I'm not sure it's worth replying to these posts, since Bruce's appears to be merely ridiculous grandstanding and Charles's rests on arguments I don't have a lot of respect for (to say nothing of the fact that I don't consider the 1/1 geography that characterized ACF tournaments in one academic year--2008-2009--to be the "status quo" in any meaningful sense). However, I do want to ask what statements you, Bruce, are pointing to when you say that "we have been assured by multiple ACF members that 1/1 geography per round is 'off the table'." That's not at all what I've been reading--I note Ryan saying something like that, then other people saying that Ryan can't unilaterally decide that, then several people, including Seth and Matt, say that given their druthers they'd cut it down but that a vote among ACF members and a better sense of public opinion (to inform that vote) are necessary. I really don't think you're helping your argument by making crackpot posts like this and making lists of quizbowlers people most aspire to please.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:08 pm

No Rules Westbrook wrote: we all know that subjects like fine arts/rmp/soc sci are in no danger of falling out of anyone's distro in the foreseeable future.


Not true at all. Wasn't there a proposal last year, for instance, to reduce RMP for the sake of increasing FA? I believe it went something along the lines of "R is hard to write, and nobody wants to hear or write the nth tossup on Zoroastrianism, so let's bump up FA to 3/3".

Sure, nobody is going to eliminate any of those categories, but changing their incidence could have profound consequences. Whether the 20th tossup in the finals of ACF Nationals this year is classical music or urban theory could easily decide who the champion is.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby canaanbananarama » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:10 pm

No Rules Westbrook wrote:Charles, I don't know if you're off your meds or what, but calm down.

There are just as many "leaders" of ACF defending geography as attacking it...and the result of the endless polls and posts has generally been to confirm that a significant segment of people think geography should stick around in some form or another.

But, arguing that geography is a valid thing to ask about because it benefits or detriments your PPG, or the PPG of anyone else, is dumb. Sure, my PPG would go through the roof if there were a 4/4 distribution of "Things Only Ryan Westbrook Knows". But we don't ask about things because they bolster anyone's PPG...we ask about them because we deem them important enough academically in some meaningful sense. If you want to join the endless debate of whether geography is "important enough", fine - but everything you say has already been said a thousand times. And like I said, happily for you, your side is generally winning the debate, at least in terms of numbers.

I'll go ahead and say that, if you're attending ACF Nats, your primary motivator should be the quality of the questions and the competition. Going to ICT instead just because you can put up more points there is pretty much the epitome of bad quizbowl thinking. You can also put up a ton of "points" at your local bar's trivia contest, playing against drunken dolts. So what?


A.) We're not talking about "Things Ryan Westbrook Likes." We are talking about a category that his existed in the circuit except for tournaments run by people I mentioned above. I have some criticism of "The Experiment." Obviously, I'm rusty, but the existence of geography could have at least kept me from the shame of scoring negative points in a tournament. And that tournament, from a history perspective, was not well distributed. Questions on the Middle East fall into both the categories of "Things That I Like" and "Things That Should Come Up in Tournaments." If a tournament completely ignores a subject I personally like and I think it is generally agreed upon that it should come up, then what enjoyment is there in that tournament for me? No geography questions for me, well, I'm not going to be so interested in your tournament. I'll get two or so tossups a game in the history distribution because, well, it's something I like, and also, I won't get two tossups because they're on something I know little about. But let's take the 2008 ICT. You cut out geography, and Seth Teitler et al. probably end up getting the Double Crown. ACF Nationals 2007, maybe Maryland finishes fourth or fifth, we blow a game to Minnesota, who knows?

B.) You're odd, Ryan Westbrook, because you're practically the only person in the ACF Cabal that doesn't care about winning, and ergo, PPG. If I go to ACF Nationals, I want to score points, I want to win. And I realize that never have my contributions amounted to more than 30 PPG. In 2007, I think I put up 25 on a team that finished third and was very close to finishing higher. Players like Sorice, Jerry, Matt Weiner, are all motivated by winning, scoring points, etc. For me, one of the epitome moments in bad quizbowl history was Matt's obsession over whatever stupid trophy that was "stolen" from him at the 2006 ICT. We, the community had to hear about that for so doggone long of a time, and your perspective is radically different. You don't actually care about ICT, you don't care about winning, good for you. Matt Weiner sure seemed to. So, I think you're in disagreement with fellow members of the "cabal" about what exactly motivates you to go to tournaments. For me, it's scoring points, winning at stuff, or if not, doing well. And, well, discarding geography is going to help a lot of these winning-motivated players win national championships. Next year, Jerry's not going to blow that game against Harvard because Dallas got that geography tossup on Uzbekistan super early. Winning is a large motivating factor for most of the ACF Cabal. You're special. I don't even think Magin is as wildly idealistic about these things as you, dude.

C.) Matt mentions that he advocates geography being cut to 1 question per packet. In 2011, you'll be discussing how that 1 question for packet distribution has to go. You can accuse me of being off my medications (sorry, not a factor) or drunk (haven't had a drink in a couple of nights), but how easy will it be to discard that one question in a few years time after all this has blown over. If you succeed here, you know you can succeed the next time. Adios, geography.

Addendum:
Hint to all ACF Cabal members who hate geography: next year, in your 1/0 or 0/1 distribution, write that terrible tossup that Matt mentioned on Turkmenistan. I would include names of cities, yes, but place them in a historical context. But how about you don't. Throw in the fifth-largest mountain as a clue. The eighth-longest river, yeah, keep it coming! A place where Niyazov shat, nah, too historically important, let's throw in some clues about a random apartment block in Ashgabat. Oh, there's a sleazy disco in Merv? Oh, wait, there's ten of them? List 'em! Man, wouldn't that tossup be terrible and so representative of how awful geography is? The editor, pressed for time, would have to make it tossup 22! Yay, problem solved. Because it's not like Merv is one of the most important cities in medieval history in the world, is it? It's a slum where a bunch of men sit in rooms getting off to imported bad-quality Colombian pornography!
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby AKKOLADE » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:16 pm

Why don't we conduct a formal survey to gather useful information and use that rather than yell at each other and say things that we can't take back at a later date?
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby setht » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:16 pm

canaanbananarama wrote:I haven't paid very much attention to these various threads and they seem to be an unproductive continuation of an ever-growing trend towards cutting geography out.


I wish you and all the other "distributional conservatives"/"let's keep the status quo"-proponents had been consulted back when ACF moved to 1/1 geography required per packet. Pretty much every modern ACF tournament prior to the 2008-2009 season averaged less than 1/1 geography per packet, and some averaged less than 1 geography per packet. You should know; you played many of those tournaments.

canaanbananarama wrote:But, Matt, you're a historian by trade or degree or whatever? In my opinion as a student of history, knowing history and hating geography is like trying to pleasure a woman with a two-inch cock. Did you just totally skip over the dozens of pages devoted in any serious work to the geography of the area and how it literally caused history to happen in the way that it happened. I sure remember classes where 10% of my grade involved a map quiz. Yes, respected academics were basing a large fraction of your grade on you sitting down and being able to point things out on a map. Why was Sparta Sparta? Athens Athens? Geography. I can know the Peloponnesian War chronologically by heart, which is a difficult task, but if I understand the geographic location of Sparta and Athens, I don't have to do that much work. Russian history is what it is because of geography. Russians are who they are because of geography. That we have to defend geography's place in academia is absurd. I, as a historian, do not necessarily like economics. But it's fundamentally very important to the general study of history, so by God, have econ questions.


And I remember history classes where memorizing dates got me points, but we don't bother making space in the distribution for chronology questions because that kind of knowledge is being adequately served by the types of clues people use in their history questions. If people want to stuff more geography-related clues into their history questions I have no problem with that, but as Matt points out the fact is that quizbowl geography has, by and large, failed to attach itself in a meaningful manner to history, thus far.

I don't think you or anyone else has to defend geography's place in academia, but if geography as a quizbowl subject is largely going to turn its back on geography as a subject in the academy I don't think appeals to geography's academic import are valid. I don't know if you want to see quizbowl geography turn into something more like academic geography or if you support geography questions on "cool places I've visited." If it's the former I agree that your vision of quizbowl geography corresponds with something with a valid place in academa; if it's the latter, not so much.

canaanbananarama wrote:Seth, you were a geology major. Given the fact that 3/7 of that word is geo, you're telling me we should cut down on geography?


The number of geography questions I have ever heard that had one or more clues linked in a non-trivial fashion to material I learned in earth science courses is vanishingly small.

canaanbananarama wrote:Enough with this rhetoric: the point is here, that posting in threads whether you like geography or don't may get you some totally invalid quorum. The end decision is going to be arbitrary. And in that circumstance, I don't see how you would change the status quo. Many people have said they are happy with the current situation. And by making this change, you are lessening the amount of questions on an important building block of academic study which is essential to many academic disciplines. I will posit you wouldn't be able to understand Thomas Hardy without knowing something about the place where he grew up. In his case, it's all over his works, you can't avoid knowing about the West Country.

Here's the thing about changes: when they are suggested and vouched for by the leadership of a certain group, the leadership almost always benefits, and the public is often pissed off. But since you are leaders of this community, if geography were cut, we wouldn't express our dissatisfaction in a public forum. Because many are afraid to challenge leaders. Natural, right? And sure, there will be other quizbowlers who would be happy to see geography go. Again, natural. But there will be a segment of the community that won't attend your ACF Nationals tournament. Dwight made a good point. You want UC-Irvine to attend nationals, a team that's on the fence about ACF to attend again? Well, guess what, Ray Anderson was a geography major. He enjoys getting geography questions. So do I. Would I attend ACF Nationals if geography were cut or reduced or whatever? I'm a respectable ACF player. I have deep knowledge of certain categories, and maybe I'm fairly unique, but this is one of them. And I doubt here that anybody would have the balls to say that players like Jeff Hoppes and me are getting "fraudulent" tossups when we first-line a geography tossup at ACF Nationals. But, you cut out something I like, and I don't know...you're marginalizing me as a player. And the thing is, you don't know who else you're marginalizing. To me, it seems like various leaders are coming to an agreement, "Hey, there's this subject that we don't know a lot about and aren't bothering to study, so let's cut it, and therefore increase our PPG." And you know what, that's kind of annoying.


How does the ACF cabal's decision to bump up geography significantly for the 2008-2009 season fit in with your views on the status quo and how the ACF cabal makes distributional decisions?

canaanbananarama wrote:If you continue this long-lasting process of abolishing geography from ACF (let's be fair, this whole gradual thing is just to make it seem like you don't want to completely cut it and to somewhat ameliorate us geographiles), you're cutting the PPG of good, legitimate quizbowl players.


True. And when we put in 1/1 geography and cut RMP + social science prior to the 2008-2009 season, we also cut into the PPG of good, legitimate quizbowl players. We may also have turned off some RMP and social science-loving teams. This whole line of argument seems like a non-starter.

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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby grapesmoker » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:22 pm

I'll respond to Charles by and by, but first I want to take on what I view as an extremely offensive post by Bruce.

Whig's Boson wrote:Despite the fact that the poll has shown majority support for geography, we have been assured by multiple ACF members that 1/1 geography per round is "off the table". And this is despite of the fact that, here at HSQB, we should expect a public poll to be MORE anti-geography than it should be, because of the phenomenon of newer players sucking up to prestigious players. Of the ACF members, the most prestigious are anti-geography, and strongly so. Sorry Ryan, nobody wants you to like them in the same way that they want Matt Weiner or Rob Carson to like them.


I don't know what kind of "prestige" I may hold, but I'll just say this right now: no one should be sucking up to me or Seth or Matt or anyone else. I may disagree with lots of people but I have no love for anyone pandering to a position simply because they think it's going to make them my friend. If you come around to supporting a position that I advocate, you should do so on the basis of the quality of the arguments I make, rather than because you think it will endear you to me.

That said, let me be brutally honest with everyone: my vote in no way depends on the outcome of this poll. That is to say that the mere preference expressed by some people for or against geography is irrelevant to my decision-making process. If you want to convince me of something, you'll have to have a good argument.

I don't share Charles's love of geography, nor am I willing to accept his determinism, at least not as strongly as he puts it (though I think it is true that history is easier to understand if you know the geography). But I find his post insightful because he hits on the cold, harsh, reality of the matter: the ACF Cabal is being extremely self-serving here. For one reason or another, a majority of ACF members despise geography, or are not very good at it, or don't feel like writing it, and as a result they are excising it. Despite the fact that large amounts of ACF players actually like it.


For the same reason, I could argue that geography partisans are self-serving. For example, if I were a less generous person than I am, I would accuse you, Bruce Arthur, of turning the argument on its head to cast aspersions on my arguments because you, Bruce Arthur, play with noted geography wizard Dallas Simons. Thus, you are protecting your own scoring interests every bit as much as I might be protecting mine.

The self-serving nature of this has, I think, been exposed by the critical analysis of the anti-geography arguments made by my colleague Ted. We've seen that the purported microscripts of geography elimination do not match up with the professed macroscripts. Where there's smoke, there's fire.


I like Ted. His arguments, however, have been a rambling mess that has failed, in my view, to coherently establish a single point in defense of his position. If someone wants to condense those arguments into a form that is readable and understandable by people arguing against them, that would surely be helpful.

What we are seeing here, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what Charles said: a resdistribution of 5-10 PPG per packet. Certain ACF members have voted themselves a 5-10 PPG increase. It is naked self-interest at play, the powerful exploiting their position to take resources from the less well-connected.


By the same argument, I could say that the original institution of geography was likewise a redistribution of 5-10 PPG per packet. Or, for that matter, the requirement that music be part of the arts distribution could be viewed as a similar redistribution. In fact, any required distribution at all will benefit some at the expense of others (for example, the 1/1 physics and 1/1 other science distribution is incredibly beneficial to me since I have skills in both areas). To take another example, I'm a strong advocate of an increased representation of analytic philosophy in the philosophy distribution. This undoubtedly benefits me as this is where my interests are; I readily admit this. This does not mean that my argument in favor of this position is being made in bad faith.

Sure, some of you may not care you. You might say "yes, the ACF cabal is being self-serving, but they are eliminating a thing I don't care for, so go ACF cabal". Well, the greater concern with such behavior on their part is that one day this might impact a subject you like. Maybe, in a few years, we'll have a set of ACF members who really like fine arts but find mythology annoying, and perhaps they'll attempt to reduce RMP and increase FA. Or the other way around. Maybe they'll reduce the big 3 to increase social science, or the other way around. Etc. This could have serious consequences in terms of shifting the balance between whatever the top teams at that point are, and could even impact the results of ACF Nationals itself. And heaven forbid that one day the ACF Cabal becomes so fixed on shifting a distribution in one way that people are made (or prevented from being) ACF members based on how likely they are deemed to vote for or against a particular distributional proposal.


Wow, the Niemoller argument applied to the ACF distribution. You're right, of course; maybe these things will happen. However, the fact that they may happen does not mean that it should not happen. You also forget that ACF membership does not expire, which means that the current set of members will have a voice in ACF deliberations for some time to come. I don't know of anyone who is currently advocating positions such as those you describe above within ACF or outside of it. If someone wants to present a strong case for increasing social science at the expense of another category, I'm happy to hear it out. But I will say that if Jonathan Magin made that case, I would not stoop so low as to accuse him of voting himself points; that's because unlike you, Bruce, I make a good-faith effort to engage the substance of people's arguments rather than cast aspersions on their character.

A slippery slope argument, sure, but I am aesthetically disgusted by the current behavior of Teitler, Weiner, Carson, etc. and I think you should be too.


You know what? Fuck you. Take your high-horse pseudo-neo-realist bullshit to someone who actually gives a damn.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby canaanbananarama » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:27 pm

I will make the confession that I was unaware that the distribution had changed prior to the 2008/09 season and apologize for conclusions I've made based on this. While not off my meds, I am out of the country and am completely hazy about what the distribution was and have not followed the board very well. As many of you have suggested, that is a very faulty point in my argument and it was based on assumptions that were misinformed. However, I do try to write and staunchly support geography tossups with clues from other academic subjects. I have seen the HI geography tossups, many of which I thought were fine and a few flawed, but I can't be brought to see how this ruined this tournament.

Addendum: To make this post clear, I was under the impression that the ACF distribution was always 1/1 geography, since it is now, apparently, and was mistaken. Obviously, I did attend two ACF Nationals that I thoroughly enjoyed where the distribution was 1/0 or 0/1, since 2008 and 2006 (I screwed up the years) were before this happened. So, I apologize for the resulting harshness of this argument that was based on flawed notions. However, I do want to point out to you Jerry, that whether you like it or not, you're really good, you're friends with a great number of people, and people will suck up and pander to you. This happens everywhere. I'm sure we all know that there are people who emulate others in quizbowl. I kind of emulated Jeff Hoppes, personally, as a player. And you're on the cusp of winning a championship, so you should expect that people regard you with some kind of legendary status and may want to be you. Also, quizbowl is prone to having people who mimic the behaviors of others (I'm not a doctor, but I believe this is a symptom of autism), so, Jerry, you probably do have groupies.
Last edited by canaanbananarama on Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby Important Bird Area » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:29 pm

canaanbananarama wrote:All three of you cringe at geography questions, the same way I cringe at every science tossup.


I think the structure of this post is pretty much entirely wrong. I don't think that calls for the reduction of geography are a self-serving smokescreen for its eventual abolition; I think there's a serious argument there that lots of geography questions are badly-written, and that the academic quality of the questions would be improved if we encouraged more substantive use of geography in history, social science, and earth science and less "pure geography" that, so it is argued, leads to lazy writing like Matt's Turkmenistan example.

canaanbananarama wrote:Am I going to (hypothetically, I'm of course not attending) an ACF Nationals where my PPG drops because my favorite subject got the boot? Why should I, when I can attend ICT, where admittedly the questions are more flawed, but I can put up big numbers because they (already) heavily favor my general specialties.


I disagree with most of Charles's post, but this is a good description of my own thought process back when I played NAQT, with the obvious exception that I enjoyed playing those old ICTs because I enjoy playing geography questions for their own sake, not because I need an ego rush from reading my stat line. (And I also believe that Andrew and I have increased the quality of SCT/ICT history questions in the years since my retirement from NAQT.)

Whig's Boson wrote:Maybe, in a few years, we'll have a set of ACF members who really like fine arts but find mythology annoying, and perhaps they'll attempt to reduce RMP and increase FA. Or the other way around. Maybe they'll reduce the big 3 to increase social science, or the other way around.


This is just plain silly. Maybe we will: but if we do, then that set of ACF members would actually represent the view of the community, or at least the view of "people with the commitment and experience to edit ACF Regionals 2014: now with less mythology." This kind of "the distribution is set in stone and future generations are not allowed to alter it" business is something I find pretty ridiculous. Certainly arguments of this type don't bear any weight when we discuss: should NAQT reduce the amount of geography/current events/trash in its packets?
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby Captain Sinico » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:44 pm

Rarely have I seen such simple and poor arguments expounded at such length. Well done, gentlemen!

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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby canaanbananarama » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:47 pm

Thanks, Sorice. I wasn't going for cohesion or brilliance, you pretty much nailed it.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:56 pm

By the way, the person who codified geography at 1/1 was myself. ACF voted, at my suggestion, to import my revised 2007-onward Penn Bowl distribution wholesale for the 08-09 year. The reason I separated out geography to begin with was because the old practice of ACF and most circuit events, to ask for 2/2 "geography and social science," seemed deeply flawed. Teams who disliked geography wrote 2/2 social science; teams who disliked social science wrote 2/2 geography. At best, requiring at least one of each topic still resulted in a marked imbalance, and either the editor had to write 15 to 30 questions from scratch or the tournament's distribution would wildly fluctuate from round to round. I firmly believe that allowing the distribution to change within a tournament subverts the purpose of having a distribution at all.

The fact that most tournaments averaged out to 1/1 geography per round was the only factor in my thinking at that time; I don't think anyone was able to really articulate the core problem with requiring so much geography until very recently.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby Cheynem » Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:25 pm

I have been a staunch defender of geography and its role in the distribution. I enjoyed the Harvard International geography questions. That said, with all respect to Bruce, his post sort of jumps the crazy train, as noted by Ryan Westbrook expressing incredulity at it.

1. Where has it been assured that 1/1 geography is off the table?
2. How is the ACF cabal being self-serving anymore than people who want to keep geography (isn't Charles pro-geography post arguably the most self-serving, by his own admission)? What does it mean that several members of ACF are pro-geography?
3. What exactly was Ted's critical analysis about macroscripts or microscripts? I think I missed that.
4. The slippery slope argument is ridiculous, especially taking into account geography's recent expansion into the distribution. This is as silly an argument as "if you get rid of geography, science will be next."
5. I have mixed feelings as to "cool kids syndrome," but I don't really see it at work here. A lot of young players were in the pro-geography camp (as were a lot of veterans).

Also, I want Ryan to like me.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby No Rules Westbrook » Mon Sep 28, 2009 3:35 pm

Heh, I've always derided these geography threads as boring - who knew they could turn into such fun ad hominem-laced romps?

Really, I think Charles' posts are a little deeper into crazytown than Bruce's, for exactly the reason Cheyne says. Charles is accusing people of making self-serving arguments while consciously making exactly that kind of argument himself. Look, noone should assume that people are being self-serving when it's equally likely, and in many cases quite a bit more likely, that they're engaging in good faith argument.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby setht » Mon Sep 28, 2009 3:53 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:By the way, the person who codified geography at 1/1 was myself. ACF voted, at my suggestion, to import my revised 2007-onward Penn Bowl distribution wholesale for the 08-09 year. The reason I separated out geography to begin with was because the old practice of ACF and most circuit events, to ask for 2/2 "geography and social science," seemed deeply flawed. Teams who disliked geography wrote 2/2 social science; teams who disliked social science wrote 2/2 geography. At best, requiring at least one of each topic still resulted in a marked imbalance, and either the editor had to write 15 to 30 questions from scratch or the tournament's distribution would wildly fluctuate from round to round. I firmly believe that allowing the distribution to change within a tournament subverts the purpose of having a distribution at all.

The fact that most tournaments averaged out to 1/1 geography per round was the only factor in my thinking at that time; I don't think anyone was able to really articulate the core problem with requiring so much geography until very recently.


In a desperate bid to salvage something worthwhile from this thread I've started another thread over here, prompted by Matt's comments.

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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby magin » Mon Sep 28, 2009 5:22 pm

setht wrote:
canaanbananarama wrote:I haven't paid very much attention to these various threads and they seem to be an unproductive continuation of an ever-growing trend towards cutting geography out.


I wish you and all the other "distributional conservatives"/"let's keep the status quo"-proponents had been consulted back when ACF moved to 1/1 geography required per packet. Pretty much every modern ACF tournament prior to the 2008-2009 season averaged less than 1/1 geography per packet, and some averaged less than 1 geography per packet. You should know; you played many of those tournaments.


Seth, I think Matt explained that he separated geography from social science in order to make the distribution less variable from packet to packet while keeping the amount of questions in each category (1/1 geography and 1/1 social science) similar to previous tournaments. I don't remember him arguing "this will increase the number of geography questions at the expense of some other category"; in my memory, no one argued that separating geography from social science and giving each a concrete distribution would unduly privilege geography. I'm also inclined to trust Matt's sense of what the distribution has historically been.

setht wrote:I don't think you or anyone else has to defend geography's place in academia, but if geography as a quizbowl subject is largely going to turn its back on geography as a subject in the academy I don't think appeals to geography's academic import are valid. I don't know if you want to see quizbowl geography turn into something more like academic geography or if you support geography questions on "cool places I've visited." If it's the former I agree that your vision of quizbowl geography corresponds with something with a valid place in academa; if it's the latter, not so much.


I don't think this is accurate, Seth. Academic geography, as I understand it, studies the culture of places and the way those places are part of larger systems. A geography tossup on Thailand that mentions important cultural aspects of Thailand and/or important aspects of natural features of Thailand is going to reward people who study those aspects of Thailand in the academy, but also people who are legitimately curious about Thailand, and have satisfied their curiosity by reading about it or visiting it. In my mind, quizbowl should reward this curiosity; I've never taken a class on 17th century British drama, but I've read many 17th century British plays because I was curious about them. I think that such tossups on places, reflecting the intersection of academic study and what curious people are likely to learn, are exactly what ACF Nationals should include. Sure, tossups just listing rivers in Thailand are bad ideas, but so are tossups just listing titles of an author; I'm confident that the editors for ACF Nationals can make sure that both categories are well written.

setht wrote:How does the ACF cabal's decision to bump up geography significantly for the 2008-2009 season fit in with your views on the status quo and how the ACF cabal makes distributional decisions?


As I said earlier, I disagree that geography was bumped up significantly; my sense was that most tournaments attempted to include 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science per packet. Some examples taken from past tournament announcements:

ACF Regionals 2005: "Geography/Social Sciences 2/2: Please write 1/1 social science and 1/1 geography."

ACF Fall 2005: includes both 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science in the distribution

ACF Regionals 2006: 2/2 Geography/social science

ACF Nationals 2006: 2/2 Geography/social science

ACF Regionals 2008: 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science

It's my impression that requiring 2/2 geography/social science usually meant submitting 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science, meaning that the status quo of past tournaments generally mandated around 1/1 geography. The only event where this was not the case, Seth, was your 2007 ACF Regionals, which asked for 2/2 social science and 2/2 trash/current events/geography; that tournament, as far as I can see, appears to be an outlier in not asking for 1/1 geography. In that case:

setht wrote: And when we put in 1/1 geography and cut RMP + social science prior to the 2008-2009 season, we also cut into the PPG of good, legitimate quizbowl players. We may also have turned off some RMP and social science-loving teams. This whole line of argument seems like a non-starter.


I don't think this actually cut RMP or social science, Seth, but instead separated the 2/2 geography/social science distribution found in many ACF tournaments into 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science. In that vein, reducing the geography distribution from 1/1, as you advocate, would actually reduce geography from the fairly constant level it's been for the last five or so years in ACF. If you still believe that it should be reduced, that's perfectly fine, but your argument that the geography distribution was actually increased last year doesn't seem accurate.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby Susan » Mon Sep 28, 2009 5:40 pm

Magin wrote:As I said earlier, I disagree that geography was bumped up significantly; my sense was that most tournaments attempted to include 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science per packet. Some examples taken from past tournament announcements:

ACF Regionals 2005: "Geography/Social Sciences 2/2: Please write 1/1 social science and 1/1 geography."

ACF Fall 2005: includes both 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science in the distribution

ACF Regionals 2006: 2/2 Geography/social science

ACF Nationals 2006: 2/2 Geography/social science

ACF Regionals 2008: 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science


Let's not confuse asking people to write 1/1 geography per packet with including 1/1 geography in the first 20/20 of the edited packet. I thought the latter (enforcing 1/1 geography per packet) was the "bump up" we were discussing; am I incorrect?
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby magin » Mon Sep 28, 2009 5:55 pm

myamphigory wrote:
Magin wrote:As I said earlier, I disagree that geography was bumped up significantly; my sense was that most tournaments attempted to include 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science per packet. Some examples taken from past tournament announcements:

ACF Regionals 2005: "Geography/Social Sciences 2/2: Please write 1/1 social science and 1/1 geography."

ACF Fall 2005: includes both 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science in the distribution

ACF Regionals 2006: 2/2 Geography/social science

ACF Nationals 2006: 2/2 Geography/social science

ACF Regionals 2008: 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science


Let's not confuse asking people to write 1/1 geography per packet with including 1/1 geography in the first 20/20 of the edited packet. I thought the latter (enforcing 1/1 geography per packet) was the "bump up" we were discussing; am I incorrect?


As someone who has been arguing for geography, I have been advocating for continuing to ask teams to write 1/1 geography per packet, not requiring 1/1 in the first 20/20.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby setht » Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:04 pm

Looks like Susan beat me to the point I make below about 1/1 submitted vs. 1/1 used in the first 20/20. Oh well.

magin wrote:Seth, I think Matt explained that he separated geography from social science in order to make the distribution less variable from packet to packet while keeping the amount of questions in each category (1/1 geography and 1/1 social science) similar to previous tournaments. I don't remember him arguing "this will increase the number of geography questions at the expense of some other category"; in my memory, no one argued that separating geography from social science and giving each a concrete distribution would unduly privilege geography. I'm also inclined to trust Matt's sense of what the distribution has historically been.


At the time, I voted to give a total of 2/2 to social science + geography, with at most 1/1 geography. This seemed (and continues to seem) more reasonable to me than 1/1 of each, and it also seemed (and continues to seem) more in line with my recollection of various "early modern" ACF tournaments up to that point--or at least the higher-level ACF tournaments. As I said elsewhere, I went through the 2003 ACF Nationals set at one point and counted a grand total of 8 geography questions in the first 20/20 of 17 packets. That's probably low even by the standards of high-level ACF tournaments, but I think "1/1 geography in the first 20/20 of each packet" is very much on the high end, if not more than has ever showed up at a pre-2009 ACF Nationals.

magin wrote:
setht wrote:I don't think you or anyone else has to defend geography's place in academia, but if geography as a quizbowl subject is largely going to turn its back on geography as a subject in the academy I don't think appeals to geography's academic import are valid. I don't know if you want to see quizbowl geography turn into something more like academic geography or if you support geography questions on "cool places I've visited." If it's the former I agree that your vision of quizbowl geography corresponds with something with a valid place in academa; if it's the latter, not so much.


I don't think this is accurate, Seth. Academic geography, as I understand it, studies the culture of places and the way those places are part of larger systems. A geography tossup on Thailand that mentions important cultural aspects of Thailand and/or important aspects of natural features of Thailand is going to reward people who study those aspects of Thailand in the academy, but also people who are legitimately curious about Thailand, and have satisfied their curiosity by reading about it or visiting it. In my mind, quizbowl should reward this curiosity; I've never taken a class on 17th century British drama, but I've read many 17th century British plays because I was curious about them. I think that such tossups on places, reflecting the intersection of academic study and what curious people are likely to learn, are exactly what ACF Nationals should include. Sure, tossups just listing rivers in Thailand are bad ideas, but so are tossups just listing titles of an author; I'm confident that the editors for ACF Nationals can make sure that both categories are well written.


Academic geography also includes the discipline of physical geography. If I decide to write a geography tossup on climate change or fluvial transport, are you going to be okay with that, or does that not seem okay because there's another place in the distribution for that sort of thing (and if you feel that way about physical geography questions why should it be okay to write geography questions motivated by historically-important material when there's a separate history category)? Look, if people want to say "quizbowl geography should only be about the following subset of topics that an academic geographer would consider part of his purview" that's reasonable, and if people want to say "quizbowl geography shouldn't care about academic geography" that's also reasonable, but let's try to be clear about what we're arguing for here and then think about what that means for the "academic importance" of whatever quizbowl geography winds up being.

magin wrote:
setht wrote:How does the ACF cabal's decision to bump up geography significantly for the 2008-2009 season fit in with your views on the status quo and how the ACF cabal makes distributional decisions?


As I said earlier, I disagree that geography was bumped up significantly; my sense was that most tournaments attempted to include 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science per packet. Some examples taken from past tournament announcements:

ACF Regionals 2005: "Geography/Social Sciences 2/2: Please write 1/1 social science and 1/1 geography."

ACF Fall 2005: includes both 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science in the distribution

ACF Regionals 2006: 2/2 Geography/social science

ACF Nationals 2006: 2/2 Geography/social science

ACF Regionals 2008: 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science

It's my impression that requiring 2/2 geography/social science usually meant submitting 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science, meaning that the status quo of past tournaments generally mandated around 1/1 geography. The only event where this was not the case, Seth, was your 2007 ACF Regionals, which asked for 2/2 social science and 2/2 trash/current events/geography; that tournament, as far as I can see, appears to be an outlier in not asking for 1/1 geography.


It looks to me like the 2006 tournament announcements you quote also don't ask for 1/1 geography. More importantly, I think we're running into some confusion between "these tournaments typically received 1/1 submitted geography per (24/24 or 25/25) packet" and "these tournaments typically used 1/1 geography in the first 20/20 of each packet." I wouldn't be surprised if the average number of geography questions submitted per packet to pre-2009 ACF Nationals tournaments is closer to 2 than 1; I would be surprised if the average number of geography questions in the first 20/20 of pre-2009 Nationals packets is closer to 2 than 1.

magin wrote:
setht wrote: And when we put in 1/1 geography and cut RMP + social science prior to the 2008-2009 season, we also cut into the PPG of good, legitimate quizbowl players. We may also have turned off some RMP and social science-loving teams. This whole line of argument seems like a non-starter.


I don't think this actually cut RMP or social science, Seth, but instead separated the 2/2 geography/social science distribution found in many ACF tournaments into 1/1 geography and 1/1 social science. In that vein, reducing the geography distribution from 1/1, as you advocate, would actually reduce geography from the fairly constant level it's been for the last five or so years in ACF. If you still believe that it should be reduced, that's perfectly fine, but your argument that the geography distribution was actually increased last year doesn't seem accurate.


In terms of "what teams are asked to submit in a packet of 24/24" I don't think there was all that much change for the 2008-2009 season: in 2008-2009, teams were asked to submit 3/3 RMP, 2/2 social science and 1/1 geography. However, the supposed distribution for the first 20/20 used 2/2 RMP, 1/1 social science and 1/1 geography. I maintain that the pre-2009 ACF Nationals tournaments had an RMP+social science : geography ratio that was noticeably higher than 3:1. I could be wrong about this, but that is my recollection.

Incidentally, it seems to me that regardless of what changes (if any) are made to the distribution for submitted packets, it would make sense to set up the 20/20 distribution so that no category is supposed to have 100% of the questions submitted show up in the first 20/20 while other categories are dropping half their submissions.

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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby magin » Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:24 pm

I don't know anyone arguing for 1/1 geography in the first 20/20 of every packet of ACF Nationals (although I don't think that would be such a bad thing). I do know many people arguing to keep the amount of submitted geography the same at ACF Nationals. I wish you wouldn't attempt to rebut an argument that, as far as I can see, no one is making.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby Susan » Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:38 pm

magin wrote:I don't know anyone arguing for 1/1 geography in the first 20/20 of every packet of ACF Nationals (although I don't think that would be such a bad thing). I do know many people arguing to keep the amount of submitted geography the same at ACF Nationals. I wish you wouldn't attempt to rebut an argument that, as far as I can see, no one is making.


I think you must have this backward. Do you think that, say, Dwight is worried that UC-Irvine won't come to ACF Nationals if they don't get to write 1/1 geography? I think we (barring you, I guess?) are mostly arguing about whether to keep 1/1 geography in the first 20/20.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby magin » Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:57 pm

myamphigory wrote:
magin wrote:I don't know anyone arguing for 1/1 geography in the first 20/20 of every packet of ACF Nationals (although I don't think that would be such a bad thing). I do know many people arguing to keep the amount of submitted geography the same at ACF Nationals. I wish you wouldn't attempt to rebut an argument that, as far as I can see, no one is making.


I think you must have this backward. Do you think that, say, Dwight is worried that UC-Irvine won't come to ACF Nationals if they don't get to write 1/1 geography? I think we (barring you, I guess?) are mostly arguing about whether to keep 1/1 geography in the first 20/20.


Dwight can speak for his team's motives better than I can, but I think UC-Irvine wants to hear some geography questions, and the chance of them hearing geography is higher if all teams are writing 1/1 geography rather than 0/1, 1/0, or 0/0. Also, Susan, could you show me where people have argued for 1/1 required geography in the first 20/20? I can't find that argument in any of the myriad geography threads, but perhaps you can point out where it's been made.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby Susan » Mon Sep 28, 2009 7:13 pm

magin wrote:
myamphigory wrote:
magin wrote:I don't know anyone arguing for 1/1 geography in the first 20/20 of every packet of ACF Nationals (although I don't think that would be such a bad thing). I do know many people arguing to keep the amount of submitted geography the same at ACF Nationals. I wish you wouldn't attempt to rebut an argument that, as far as I can see, no one is making.


I think you must have this backward. Do you think that, say, Dwight is worried that UC-Irvine won't come to ACF Nationals if they don't get to write 1/1 geography? I think we (barring you, I guess?) are mostly arguing about whether to keep 1/1 geography in the first 20/20.


Dwight can speak for his team's motives better than I can, but I think UC-Irvine wants to hear some geography questions, and the chance of them hearing geography is higher if all teams are writing 1/1 geography rather than 0/1, 1/0, or 0/0. Also, Susan, could you show me where people have argued for 1/1 required geography in the first 20/20? I can't find that argument in any of the myriad geography threads, but perhaps you can point out where it's been made.


Anyone who's made any argument based on the "status quo" or "distributional conservatism" (Charles, Bruce, Ted) is making such an argument, some of them in this very thread.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby setht » Mon Sep 28, 2009 7:54 pm

magin wrote:I don't know anyone arguing for 1/1 geography in the first 20/20 of every packet of ACF Nationals (although I don't think that would be such a bad thing). I do know many people arguing to keep the amount of submitted geography the same at ACF Nationals. I wish you wouldn't attempt to rebut an argument that, as far as I can see, no one is making.


Perhaps you're right and all this time I've been arguing with people who just want to see 1/1 geography stay in the guidelines for the 24/24 submitted, and don't care that much if it then gets cut down to approximately 1 geography question in the first 20/20 per packet. I seriously doubt the other people arguing in favor of maintaining geography's place in the distribution are referring only to its place in the submission distribution, but I'll put this out there: I personally think it makes more sense not to require 1/1 geography even at the "what people submit in their 24/24" level and to give people some leeway on how much geography they submit, but if that's what the pro-geography people care about I'd probably be willing to vote for keeping the submission distribution the same as long as the 20/20 distribution changes.

Perhaps some of the other geography partisans can let us know if Jonathan is wrong in his characterization of their stances on geography, or if he is in fact correct and we're possibly headed towards a happy resolution.

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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby magin » Mon Sep 28, 2009 8:24 pm

myamphigory wrote:
magin wrote:
myamphigory wrote:
magin wrote:I don't know anyone arguing for 1/1 geography in the first 20/20 of every packet of ACF Nationals (although I don't think that would be such a bad thing). I do know many people arguing to keep the amount of submitted geography the same at ACF Nationals. I wish you wouldn't attempt to rebut an argument that, as far as I can see, no one is making.


I think you must have this backward. Do you think that, say, Dwight is worried that UC-Irvine won't come to ACF Nationals if they don't get to write 1/1 geography? I think we (barring you, I guess?) are mostly arguing about whether to keep 1/1 geography in the first 20/20.


Dwight can speak for his team's motives better than I can, but I think UC-Irvine wants to hear some geography questions, and the chance of them hearing geography is higher if all teams are writing 1/1 geography rather than 0/1, 1/0, or 0/0. Also, Susan, could you show me where people have argued for 1/1 required geography in the first 20/20? I can't find that argument in any of the myriad geography threads, but perhaps you can point out where it's been made.


Anyone who's made any argument based on the "status quo" or "distributional conservatism" (Charles, Bruce, Ted) is making such an argument, some of them in this very thread.


Actually, I'm fairly sure people arguing in favor of "distributional conservatism" are arguing against removing 1/1 geography per submitted packet, which has been the status quo in ACF for some time, and especially against simply removing subjects like geography or trash from the distribution entirely.
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby cvdwightw » Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:18 pm

My position is that geography should have at least 1 question and no more than 2 in the first 20/20. To that end, I am necessarily arguing that we should have 1/1 geography in each submitted packet. I don't believe that I've ever argued for 1/1 geography in the first 20/20 (though it's possible that I, like Seth, may have conflated arguments).
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Re: On Geography at ACF Nationals

Postby Sargon » Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:52 am

I think the idea of basing our arguments for a geography distribution on some notion of what is studied in "academic geography"or that geography needs such a justification is flawed. The same arguments would remove mythology almost entirely. At least in my disciplines, mythology is not viewed as particularly important. This last year we graduated someone with a PhD in Assyriology (with honors) who did not recognize the sun god's wife and repeatedly misidentified the Sumerian god Urash as a borrowed foreign deity. likewise A professor of Assyriology here, writing a book on Enuma Elish, had to consult a copy of the text to make sure she had the opening genealogy in the right order. I myself received a bachelors in classical literature and yet I am far behind the curve in classical mythology. I am sure there is some sort of academic comparative mythology that compares different systems and derives theories about the nature of myths which could generate endless tossups on dull-titled books and dry articles no one has read, but what we ask is different. Knowing which particular god is supposed to have fathered which other god is not all that important to any of these disciplines, it is just something you could pick up if you chose to. So too with geography; people pick much of it up studying other disciplines, which do not consider it that important per se, but it is a very broad area of knowledge people could and do know. Moreover it is pretty accessible compared to a lot of other areas in the quizbowl distribution. We could remove mythology as its own discipline and divvy its clues up among literature, history, and religion tossups and be more academically rigorous, but it would remove a large portion of the mythology canon as there are a lot of things we currently ask about that would be hard to fit into any reasonable question in one of those areas (e.g. nth labor of Hercules, Norse gods).

Likewise, confining geography to other disciplines would effectively remove things like exploration and small countries. One wonders how Tonga or the details of Palmer's and Byrd's deeds in the Antarctic would ever come up except in a geography question. However, these are things people can and do do know a lot about, and it would be nice to have some way of rewarding this in quizbowl. Indeed, one gets the impression from the debate that the less experienced players are fond of geography because they do know a good deal about it. One could avoid the nth tallest/longest/biggest thing style clues with things like ethnography/archaeology and language, which are sorely underrepresented in the distribution at present; not theories about ethnography and language which are covered by social science (archaeology in any form is almost entirely absent from quizbowl), but particular peoples and languages, past or present which currently are covered by nothing to my knowledge. The hypothetical Turkmenistan tossup might mention particular groups in the country and some of there more notable customs, or some of the languages spoken there, as well as rivers and cities and mountains. Thus things like knowing what the Omotic languages are, or knowing about the aboriginal inhabitants of Taiwan or Easter Island could be rewarded.
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