Left-Wing Questions?

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Left-Wing Questions?

Post by quizbowllee » Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:22 am

This was overheard at our tournament this weekend. The statement came from a parent:

"We'd win more matches if these questions weren't so left-leaning."

LOL. Thoughts?
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Emil Nolde » Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:31 am

Must have some deeeeeep second amendment knowledge.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Sniper, No Sniping! » Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:41 am

I feel like I've also heard that in league play sometime (southern/eastern Ohio). Yeah, sophism is a commie-liberal thing totally.

It's not quite the same thing that happened at your place, but its in a similar vein of asininity. Saturday in our OAC regional we knocked a local public school out twice (by overwhelming margins, no less) to eliminate them from states contention. Their coach, right in front of us in the hall-way after the game, exclaimed "this is what happens when we have to play private schools". Good gravy, it's got nothing to do with having a better quiz bowl team, better coaches.

(INB4 a stupidly pedantic "private/public" debate getting discussed ad nauseum.)
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Susan » Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:56 am

quizbowllee wrote:This was overheard at our tournament this weekend. The statement came from a parent:

"We'd win more matches if these questions weren't so left-leaning."

LOL. Thoughts?
Could you tell exactly what they were complaining about?
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by quizbowllee » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:03 am

I didn't actually hear it myself. One of my moderators told me about it after the fact. Basically, it seemed that they were complaining about literature and art. Liberal Arts = Liberals = Left Wing. :lol: :roll:

This is Alabama, after all.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Cheynem » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:15 am

Maybe they were reading Delta Burke.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by quizbowllee » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:26 am

It was the NAQT Div. II SCT questions.

I was actually surprised at how easy the questions were.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by vinteuil » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:32 am

quizbowllee wrote:It was the NAQT Div. II SCT questions.

I was actually surprised at how easy the questions were.
These questions are supposed to be easier than HSNCT questions.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:06 pm

quizbowllee wrote:I didn't actually hear it myself. One of my moderators told me about it after the fact. Basically, it seemed that they were complaining about literature and art. Liberal Arts = Liberals = Left Wing. :lol: :roll:

This is Alabama, after all.
Don't forget the science distribution, with its well-known liberal bias.

On a more serious note, splitting public and private divisions is unfortunately A Thing here in Central Georgia.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:12 pm

Maybe they were reading Delta Burke.
Yeah, now there they'd have a point, wouldn't they? But in any case, actual facts often notably display a liberal bias, at least to the less thoughtful conservatives out there (present company entirely excluded, of course).
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by MorganV » Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:18 pm

One of my teammates once protested a bonus for liberal bias. We got the question right, but he protested anyways.

(The bonus DID blatantly attack some conservative figure or another, to be fair.)
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by ProfessorIanDuncan » Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:43 pm

Saturday in our OAC regional we knocked a local public school out twice (by overwhelming margins, no less) to eliminate them from states contention. Their coach, right in front of us in the hall-way after the game, exclaimed "this is what happens when we have to play private schools". Good gravy, it's got nothing to do with having a better quiz bowl team, better coaches.
This is just to justify losing so badly. They don't actually mean anything by it, it's just an excuse. Deep down who ever said this knows they were outplayed.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Wackford Squeers » Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:32 pm

I think it's part of the current movement conservative cosmology that most of their personal troubles can be attributed to liberal or liberal bias. That said, quiz bowl questions do take more swipes at conservative figures than is necessary or appropriate (I think this was in fact noticed in the DII set iirc.)
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by geowzrd » Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:13 pm

It does also seem odd that quite a few literature questions deal with mature topics, and still controversial books like Brave New World and the Catcher in the Rye(just to name a few), although they might be considered tame by today's standard.

On a lighter note: "Reality has a well-know liberal bias." -Stephen Colbert
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:44 pm

If they're fair game in a high school literature class, why is it strange for them to come up in quizbowl?
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by the return of AHAN » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:35 pm

Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant wrote:If they're fair game in a high school literature class, why is it strange for them to come up in quizbowl?
They're only fair game in high school literature classes because of the leftist educational establishment! :roll: Jeez! Try to keep up, Farah!! :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Emil Nolde » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:22 am

MorganV wrote:One of my teammates once protested a bonus for liberal bias. We got the question right, but he protested anyways.

(The bonus DID blatantly attack some conservative figure or another, to be fair.)
Was this who I think it is? ('yes' or 'no' will do)


In all honesty, though, any serious discussion of whether or not there is a bias (and furthermore, whether any evident bias can be justified) is probably going to be fruitless. After all, how could it be done differently? It's not like people who've expressed this opinion seem to be willing to work to change it.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:30 am

So as one of the half dozen or so conservatives in quizbowl, I figure I should weigh in:

I think there are two types of "liberal bias" you encounter in quizbowl from time to time. First, you have bias in question tone. This is common in current events and history questions. Essentially, what this means is that questions are either outright critical of conservative figures, or praiseful of liberal figures, or are more subtle and do things like make all the bonus parts on a conservative figure about scandals. Questions may suggest that the policies of a conservative figure were mistakes and that the policies of a liberal figure were great accomplishments, etc. This is fairly benign, in my view, because nobody is going to have their political views changed by a quizbowl question, and it doesn't change the fact that the things being asked about are worth knowing. Nobody should be anything more than slightly annoyed at this type of bias.

The second type of bias goes to relative emphasis on topics. Suffice it to say, I think that liberals and conservatives have different interests when it comes to things like history. Liberals will be much more into, say, labor history or various "identity" histories. Conservatives are more likely to be into "great man" style history. When I hear a history bonus about the lives of peasants or about some labor activist, I do sometimes roll my eyes and say something about liberals, but, again, doesn't really change the fact that these things are worth knowing about.

I'm sure that if more conservatives wrote quizbowl questions, there would be "conservative bias" that is exactly analogous to what I described above. The only reason this thread is about liberal bias instead is that there are simply more liberals.

On a closing note, if you're a conservative at a university, you should be used to the fact that you are completely surrounded by liberals, who are going to lib out all the time. The university, more than any place else, is the liberal's kingdom, nowhere is the liberal more hegemonic. You're gonna have to deal with libs being libs if you hang out in the kingdom of the lib, just like liberals who visit country clubs in Alabama are going to have to deal with cons being cons. It's a useful life skill, tolerating people who are different from you.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Joshua Rutsky » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:23 pm

"I know there are people out there who don't love their fellow human beings, and I HATE people like that!" - Tom Lehrer

If this is what I think it was, and I'm going entirely on what my team reported to me, this was likely a case of a team that is by the nature of the program (homeschool fundamentalist Christian) going to be limited in awareness of pop culture and anything that might be considered edgy or morally dubious by virtue of their faith--they simply don't want to expose themselves to some of the music, movies, and television that is available today. One would think that if your faith is that important to you, missing a few quiz bowl questions for the sake of it is a small sacrifice. It's a sacrifice, however, of two-three questions and bonuses in a packet, though, so I guess the parent has a point, though by the same token I could probably say "I'd win more toss-ups if the questions weren't so history-leaning," and I'd probably have made a more accurate statement. Equally meaningless in terms of value, but more accurate.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:32 pm

I agree with Bruce, and apparently everyone else, that there is sometimes a liberal bias in question tone, but in many ways quizbowl has a conservative bias in topics. Knowledge of the classics is more highly emphasized in quizbowl than it is at most universities, and I believe that someone like Roger Kimball would laud how much quizbowl rewards knowledge of classical music, opera, painting, and sculpture relative to knowledge of more popular forms of visual and aural entertainment.

More to the point of Bruce's post, I went through the tossups of ACF Fall 2012, which included 69 history questions, and I found 32 questions on heads of state or other important leaders, 10 questions on battles or wars that were not primarily focused on the horrors war brings for ordinary people, 9 politically-neutral questions (Kansas-Nebraska Act, Assassination of Franz Ferdinand, Second Bank of US, Apollo Program, Interstate Highway System, Hansa, Transcontinental Railroad, Disappearance of Earhart, California), 8 vaguely left-leaning questions (London, Jack the Ripper, Einstein, DRC, Committee of Public Safety, Huguenots, Georgia, Gunpowder Plot), 2 questions on labor history (Labour Party, Triangle Shirtwaist), 0 questions on identity history, and 8 other questions on things that lefties are more likely to care about (Argentina, Indonesia, Thailand, Apartheid, Rape of Nanking, Apache, genocides, Warsaw). While this doesn't prove a conservative topic-bias in quizbowl, it does provide strong evidence that quizbowl caters more to the interests of people who imagine that the young Alexander conquered India alone and that Caeser beat the Gauls without a even cook at his side than it does to people who are interested in social, economic, geographic, and cultural forces, not that everyone didn't know that already. This probably has more to do with how relatively easy it is to write questions on battles than it has to do with the conservatism of quizbowlers.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Auroni » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:48 pm

I find this thread pretty interesting, but I would like to remind people (as a person who has worked on multiple tournaments), that the primary goal of a question writer is to fill a tournament with answers. When we do that, we think of what people are likely to know. That is our primary concern, we don't have the time or energy to consciously think about giving more emphasis to "great men" or "liberal history" or what have you. Any sort of trend that you notice with any given tournament's answer selections is more likely than not incidental.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:58 pm

Kenneth Widmerpool wrote:I find this thread pretty interesting, but I would like to remind people (as a person who has worked on multiple tournaments), that the primary goal of a question writer is to fill a tournament with answers. When we do that, we think of what people are likely to know. That is our primary concern, we don't have the time or energy to consciously think about giving more emphasis to "great men" or "liberal history" or what have you. Any sort of trend that you notice with any given tournament's answer selections is more likely than not incidental.
and what you as a writer know (or think that others are likely to know) could very well be impacted by biases that are not yours: i.e., the biases of your teachers, the biases of whoever happened to be on your school board when you were in high school, the biases of the authors you read, etc.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by AKKOLADE » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:57 pm

Quiz bowl generally does a good job of it, but tournaments absolutely shouldn't use their sets as a mode in which to be snarky about political parties or positions, unless it's on something really wacky and is done rarely.

I am amused that Jack the Ripper is "liberal history."
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Cheynem » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:58 pm

I actually learned a lot of leftist history (I don't think of it as leftist per se, more like social or cultural history) in school; the trouble with it in a quizbowl context is that a lot of it makes for difficult or hard to write questions (hard to tossup _being a French peasant_--I mean, you could, obviously, but it's harder than writing a tossup on the Fronde), and that it isn't very accessible (is E.P. Thompson finally regular difficulty?). I do think quizbowl can try to ask about these things more in terms of bonuses or creative tossups, but I also don't want to encourage people to "hey, let's write on all these things" without a keen sense of how to do it well.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:24 pm

tournaments absolutely shouldn't use their sets as a mode in which to be snarky about political parties or positions, unless it's on something really wacky and is done rarely.
Well, as a (or the?) primary violator of this tenet, of course I'll disagree. Of course, Delta Burke is a bit of a niche tournament as the larger QB community is probably concerned, but the CCs which compete are often coached by pretty conservative folks and have plenty of conservative players on them, and it doesn't keep me from injecting plenty of snark when I want to, especially into bonus lead-ins and parts. I hope it's actually "wacky" enough not to really bother anyone, but as I always tell folks, it's my tournament, and if someone else wants to write a tournament with lots of snarky stuff about liberals, he can!

But I suppose Fred's point is well taken with regard to NAQT or other groups who are trying to attract a mass audience and make money. No use alienating anybody.

Anyway, I think Bruce's last point in his first post above is excellent. It's important to be able to hear obnoxious phrasings of other points of view and be sanguine about it.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by marnold » Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:02 pm

Quizbowl is way less left-wing than by rights it should be. It's an activity run and populated almost entirely by people that are either committed leftists themselves or slot into the blithe, squish liberalism towards which thoughtless high school and college students gravitate. Like Bruce said, quizbowl's Romney voters can (maybe) fill out a team. Also, I don't know/care much about high school quizbowl or curriculum, but if the college canon actually represented the topics and methods of study of the college academy, I don't think the literature and social science distribution would be recognizable. No one should seriously care about this, but even if they do they should realize it could be much worse.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:34 am

Personally I'm a huge liberal, but I've occasionally felt that some questions were a bit biased. This isn't some huge problem, although I guess people should be mindful of this considering that high schools (and some colleges) can quit going to things or stop funding something for stupid reasons. We can probably look at this issue in three different types of situations:

1) Some tournaments (since Borglum has already posted, I'll point to Delta Burke) at the college level are not at all hesitant to make fun of conservatives and everybody knows it. What people do with their own tournaments is their own business, and while I'd probably refrain from it personally, people can make fun of liberals or conservatives however much they want.

2) I would think that high school tournaments should refrain from sniping at political figures if at all possible, and I would suggest more official tournaments at the college level (like SCT, Regs, ICT, Nats, etc.) should probably avoid that too. This is mainly in the interest of keeping people involved in quizbowl, and while I hope no one is thin-skinned enough to run from quizbowl because of political jokes, it's probably reasonable to try and avoid scaring these people on purpose.

3) Some people aren't going to be pleased in any case. Some right-wing schools are going to whine that the science distribution is a communist conspiracy because it mentions certain facts they've chosen to ignore. There's not much you can do about them, not is there anything you can do about people who think the history or literature distribution is too liberal because it doesn't ignore the fact that gay people have existed for thousands of years. We should just laugh at complaints like that, and I guess any similar complaints (about "great man history" or whatever) from liberals.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by quizbowllee » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:24 am

I started this thread so everyone could have a good laugh about a "sour grapes" statement made by a disgruntled parent trying rationalize away the fact that her child's team wasn't doing as well as she thought they should.

But, reading the comments, I started to think that this perceived "liberal bias" in quiz bowl may be more prevalent than that. I still don't buy the idea that the bias EXISTS - particularly not in NAQT's sets. But, clearly, real or not, the biased is PERCEIVED to exist. I guess George Berkeley was right.

The problem, as alluded to in some of the above posts, is that the canon simply lends itself to topics that The Right considers to be Leftist. I know there are many right-wing quiz bowl players. In fact, there are several on my team right now (again - rural Alabama....)

So, I pose some questions to those out there who might be able to answer:

1) Do fundamentalist Christians dislike it when quiz bowl asks about other religions? Is a tossup on Diwali, for example, somehow Leftist in your opinion? I'm just curious.
2) In the same vein, do adherents of other religions get frustrated by the abundance of Bible questions?
3) Do people get frustrated or offended by pop culture topics that might be somewhat risque? Is 3-part bonus on a R-rated movie "out of bounds" for high school? College?
4) I've seen/heard/read literally dozens of questions on highly suggestive literature - even at the high school (and even middle school) level. Lady Chatterley's Lover comes to mind. Is this too "Leftist" for some? Should we avoid asking about these works in pre-collegiate competition.
5) Do people get upset about science questions that The Right want to refute (evolution, climate change, etc.)?

I pose these questions not to cast judgment, but to hear from players/coaches who have different perspectives. This is an interesting topic.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:31 am

quizbowllee wrote:2) In the same vein, do adherents of other religions get frustrated by the abundance of Bible questions?
There was a guy a few years back who came to HSQB to complain about the abundance of Bible questions. He got laughed off the forum by a bunch of Jews and Atheists.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Cheynem » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:47 am

Politically, I"m somewhat liberal, but I would consider myself on a personal level fairly conservative and an evangelical, and I've never really had much of a problem with what quizbowl asks about. Certainly as a Christian, I'm not bothered by hearing stuff about other religions at all. I think it's usually kind of dumb to refer to real people as "massive idiots" or "terrible people," but whatever, it doesn't really bother me. I will say that if you are a devout, non-compromising type of Christian, you might it difficult to play quizbowl in the first place because of the variety of content being asked and just because it will probably affect your Sunday worship a decent amount of times (obviously more in HS).

I would agree that high school quizbowl should probably try to stay away from the blatantly risque. That doesn't mean "don't ask about D.H. Lawrence," who is certainly risque, but there's no need to use profanity or ask about things that at least theoretically high schoolers would not be allowed to watch/do (i.e., I wouldn't ask about R-rated movies [within reason, there's a difference between Schindler's List and Eyes Wide Shut, here] in high school or alcoholic beverages).
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Joshua Rutsky » Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:20 pm

Actually, Lee, this is something I'm currently dealing with, at least in one sense. The Jewish Day School here in Birmingham wants to start a middle school quiz bowl team, but isn't sure if there's a point since pretty much all tournaments take place on Saturdays. The school follows orthodox restrictions to accommodate as many students as possible, and will not field a team for any event on Shabbat. I'm sympathetic to that, and as the president of ASCA would like to help, but I don't think we can move the state tourney to a school day given that we've always hosted it at a high school. We will have to discuss the possibility of a move, and moving 100 teams to accommodate one is always iffy.

As far as question content goes, I rarely see or hear anything that makes me cringe at the High School level, although there was one bonus in IS-126 that raised some eyebrows in my room when I read it. Tossups on Lolita are inherently referencing pedophilia, and I certainly don't support that, but don't have a problem with the tossup, since it's an important book. I think I'd draw the line at asking a question about something in a salacious manner vs. asking a question about something sexual-- for example, I can remember a question from a couple years back where the answer line was "Monica Lewinsky's dress"; that was, I thought, borderline for a high-school tournament, but a question where the answer was Monica Lewinsky wouldn't have bothered me, particularly in the "name the intern with whom Clinton was accused of carrying on an affair" format. That's important current event material. Similarly, for pop culture, I could see a toss-up about "There's Something About Mary" that was fine, and then one that referenced the "hair product" joke that would be way out of bounds for HS.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by quizbowllee » Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:28 pm

In your opinion, does the very fact that most events take place on Saturday constitute a bias? If so, it certainly wouldn't be considered a liberal bias, would it?

I had a freshman player at Columbia who was very talented and could have potentially been a game changer for our team. However, he was a Seventh Day Adventist and couldn't go to Saturday tournaments. Eventually, he just quit the team because he felt that he couldn't be a consistent contributor. I remember his parents voiced their disdain at the fact that most tournaments were on Saturdays. My question to them was if not Saturday, when?

It also bears mentioning that the HSNCT is a Saturday/SUNDAY event. Granted, it is but one tournament, but are there any teams that balk at foregoing church on Sunday to attend HSNCT? I notice that there is no lack of Christian schools in attendance every year.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:33 pm

I'm the kind of liberal who thinks that our current president is frustatingly centrist (a position that makes eyeballs explode in my conservative, suburban home area), but I love and am glad for questions on the Bible (and all religion, for that matter), as well as those on Ayn Rand, Friedrich Hayek, Sayyid Qutb (more Qutb questions! But only at the hardest tournaments!), the Cincinnati Rebellion in the NRA, Reagan, Thatcher, Nozick, Nixon, Pat Buchanan, etc.

Our game is about knowing all kinds of stuff, and I know the smart conservatives who play it feel the same way about questions on all the dirty commies I'm into. And snark should go all directions; I'm just as happy to make fun of Anthony Weiner or Michael Moore in a lead-in when appropriate. Or almost as happy, maybe.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Joshua Rutsky » Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:43 pm

My first instinct was to immediately say "No, not a bias at all--just a reality that happens to exclude a group....consistently....Oh, wait a minute."

Bias isn't the right word, I don't think, but speaking as an educator as well as a quizbowl participant, part of my mission is inclusion and opportunity, and while there's nothing that prevents your player or that day school from forming a team and hosting their own Sunday events or Friday events, that does start to get a bit reminiscent of "separate but equal" arguments or claims that unintentional discrimination is not discrimination at all. But only a bit. I think we also have to remember that when you are in the minority by choice--and faith is a choice--you accept the challenges that your choice entails. I've seen cases where a single championship game or tournament games have had schedule changes to accommodate religious issues--I think there was a HS basketball team in Texas this year that was from a Hebrew School and made the state semis, which were scheduled on a Saturday, and the other team agreed to move that game to Sunday afternoon so they could compete. Moving a two-day high school tournament, however, off a weekend to accommodate one or two teams or players is a much larger thing to ask, and I think reaches the "unreasonable" level. Maybe, though, HSNCT and other such year-end events should consider weekday dates, however, since they occur so late in the school year that many schools are already done with their year. I'm certainly willing to look at the possibility of moving our tourney dates for ASCA to a weekday, but I expect that we would hit the problem we hit at state--moderators, particularly good ones, are hard to find during normal working hours on a weekday.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:56 pm

The reason why most events are held on a Sunday is because it's the most convenient for the most people. Teams that have a long way to travel don't have to drive back the night of the tournament in order to be back for school the next day. I have no qualms about missing church for Quizbowl on Sundays, and it was by no means a factor with reagards to attending HSNCT. Also, many schools (including TJ) end in mid-June, which would make attending a weekday HSNCT or NSC very awkward.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:59 pm

quizbowllee wrote:1) Do fundamentalist Christians dislike it when quiz bowl asks about other religions? Is a tossup on Diwali, for example, somehow Leftist in your opinion? I'm just curious.
This would not be surprising, as I have seen multiple instances of fundamentalist Christians objecting to any real or perceived reference to non-Christian religions that isn't in a "look at these satanic things that are wrong" context. Like the California parents objecting to yoga classes in schools or those CAPalert reviews.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Important Bird Area » Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:05 pm

HSNCT will certainly maintain the majority of its schedule on the weekend. (It's possible to imagine a future format that called for Friday games or Monday games, especially because the Monday is a holiday. But we couldn't put both days on weekdays: many schools are still in session in late May, and it's not realistic to ask our staff to take (more) time away from work.)

I don't recall a school turning down an invitation to HSNCT because of religious services; by contrast, there are numerous cases of teams either attending services very early Sunday morning or forgoing scrimmage rounds to attend services.

Saturday vs. Sunday can be a difficult question (some teams/players will not attend Saturday tournaments at all; others are happy to play but prefer slap bowl). In these cases, I think it's reasonable for tournament planners to devise a calendar that provides opportunities to play on both Saturday and Sunday.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Auroni » Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:10 pm

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:
Kenneth Widmerpool wrote:I find this thread pretty interesting, but I would like to remind people (as a person who has worked on multiple tournaments), that the primary goal of a question writer is to fill a tournament with answers. When we do that, we think of what people are likely to know. That is our primary concern, we don't have the time or energy to consciously think about giving more emphasis to "great men" or "liberal history" or what have you. Any sort of trend that you notice with any given tournament's answer selections is more likely than not incidental.
and what you as a writer know (or think that others are likely to know) could very well be impacted by biases that are not yours: i.e., the biases of your teachers, the biases of whoever happened to be on your school board when you were in high school, the biases of the authors you read, etc.
I think that the vast majority of content from the sources that are the genesis for quizbowl questions, whether it be classes, cultural awareness/literacy, or simply cool things you were made aware of by playing quizbowl, is exactly identical between writer to writer. It's true that high school and college classes in California might be more likely to cover Cesar Chavez, but it would be dumb to think that he's absent from the curriculum nationally -- and that's just one case. Over the entire spectrum of the answer space, these things average each other out and ideological biases really do take the backseat to biases based on the favorite subjects of individual writers, which tend to be more ideology-blind[1].

[1] = If you consider stereotypical you, Bruce Arthur, you like Hungary a lot; you'd have an equal chance of writing about a Great Man like Matthias Corvinus and a Marxist like Gyorgy Lukacs.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity » Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:47 pm

Joshua Rutsky wrote:Actually, Lee, this is something I'm currently dealing with, at least in one sense. The Jewish Day School here in Birmingham wants to start a middle school quiz bowl team, but isn't sure if there's a point since pretty much all tournaments take place on Saturdays. The school follows orthodox restrictions to accommodate as many students as possible, and will not field a team for any event on Shabbat. I'm sympathetic to that, and as the president of ASCA would like to help, but I don't think we can move the state tourney to a school day given that we've always hosted it at a high school. We will have to discuss the possibility of a move, and moving 100 teams to accommodate one is always iffy.

As far as question content goes, I rarely see or hear anything that makes me cringe at the High School level, although there was one bonus in IS-126 that raised some eyebrows in my room when I read it. Tossups on Lolita are inherently referencing pedophilia, and I certainly don't support that, but don't have a problem with the tossup, since it's an important book. I think I'd draw the line at asking a question about something in a salacious manner vs. asking a question about something sexual-- for example, I can remember a question from a couple years back where the answer line was "Monica Lewinsky's dress"; that was, I thought, borderline for a high-school tournament, but a question where the answer was Monica Lewinsky wouldn't have bothered me, particularly in the "name the intern with whom Clinton was accused of carrying on an affair" format. That's important current event material. Similarly, for pop culture, I could see a toss-up about "There's Something About Mary" that was fine, and then one that referenced the "hair product" joke that would be way out of bounds for HS.
I was thinking about the lose-lose predicament here and I thought this may not be an isolated problem. Certainly, there aren't a tremendous number of Jewish schools around (compared to Christian ones) and I assume (correct if wrong) the one in Birmingham adequately serves the needs of the community so that there isn't another such school in the area. Given the recent experiments in Skypebowl, might it be somewhat conceivable that schools with religious conflicts with competition times could have some sort of online league or tournament? I realize that the logistics of this would be pretty hard to work out and a good number of kinks would have to be hammered out, but it seems like at least a possibility of giving these schools an opportunity to compete. I would hazard a guess that there are other Jewish schools around the country that have either had the same problem or have dismissed the idea of a quiz bowl team because of the Saturday issue. It would take some work, but it might be some sort of possibility.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by quizbowllee » Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:58 pm

The thing is, virtually all school activities require some amount of Saturday participation. I know we have many sports events on Saturdays, not to mention Math Team and all manner of other academic events. Even the ACT and SAT are on Saturdays (for the most part).

This issue certainly isn't limited to Quiz Bowl.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:07 pm

quizbowllee wrote:The thing is, virtually all school activities require some amount of Saturday participation. I know we have many sports events on Saturdays, not to mention Math Team and all manner of other academic events. Even the ACT and SAT are on Saturdays (for the most part).

This issue certainly isn't limited to Quiz Bowl.
I meant that the schools could work out an arrangement amongst themselves to hold something after school or on Sunday or whenever. I'm not proposing this as a way to solve all scheduling issues because it wouldn't work for most of these activities. It certainly wouldn't solve the scheduling jam created by removing one day out of the week, but if there is a set of schools that really want to have a quiz bowl team, I think this might be a possibility. I guess my thought was that if it were to work out, it would be a way to have let's say a dozen schools across the country engage in this activity whereas they previously couldn't.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:44 pm

I am reluctant to upend the entire structure of how and when quizbowl is played to cater to small sets of people. Switching over the entire quizbowl schedule to Sundays on the off-chance that a few religious people might start attending, would be a silly disaster. Are there some regions which do, and other regions which can, host a few of the year's tournaments (on the order of 2-4 out of 10-15+) on Sundays to try and get around some conflicts for some people? Sure, but most actually-existent teams have been used to playing most/all of their tournaments on Saturday and interfering with that custom could be pretty harmful.

At the 2008 HSNCT, after games were concluded, I was a guest at an impromptu Mass held in a hotel room by Gonzaga, at which several Kellenberg players were also present. Things like this do happen.

Please don't run a 3-day HSNCT.
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Re: Left-Wing Questions?

Post by quizbowllee » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:50 pm

RyuAqua wrote: Please don't run a 3-day HSNCT.
This.

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