yoda4554 wrote:For all the examples pulled up of supposedly impossible trash bonuses (none mine; in the whole set, I think I'm only responsible for Joni), I think all of them have at least one part that would be a reasonable tossup answer at a normal trash event (Warren Moon, Demolition Man, Blood on the Tracks, etc.), with giveaway-level clues provided for them.
It does mean that if you're a team without a good trash player you might get some zeros--but if you're a team without a decent lit or science player at ICT, you'll zero a bunch of those bonuses too; I don't see why there should be a difference.
The reason I believe there should be a difference is because I don't see ICT as TRASH regionals lite, now with 80% academia. I see it as an academic tournament that, for flavor, includes some trash. I don't see the trash as something that ought to mandate passing up a science maven for a good science player who knows movies; rather, it's a gut check to make sure that we're experiencing reality and culture instead of locking ourselves in a room with resources until we've written 50/50 Celtic myth and 100/100 Croatian social history. If we're not exposed to the memes of the day and to a fun movie and to good music (Chocolate Rain, noteably, qualifies as all three), then we're not thriving.
I think I'm with Dave on this one. If you want to make sure that teams don't care about knowing trash when selecting players, you need to cut the percentage of trash questions way down (and similarly with geography and current events). I don't think there is such a thing as a pool of trash topics that lots of strong-academic but weak-trash players know well, that lots of strong-trash players don't know better. Personally, I'd like to see somewhat less trash, geography and current events, but I'd probably still leave in enough that it's not worth ignoring unless you can really dominate the other categories, and honestly, if you can really dominate history/literature/science/a little more academic stuff, you should be able to crush every team at ICT already.
everyday847 wrote:I think the DII question brings up an issue I have with giveaways being too easy. I tuned out once I realized that I knew nothing about it, then tuned back in for the giveaway in time to hear "named for the namesakes of a unit of energy and one of temperature." I buzz and get ten points for "Joule-Kelvin." I don't even know if that should have been accepted, but one way or another, it turned a question into a buzzer race that really should have gone dead. Those points were assigned randomly, because the giveaway was so easy. It's just like creating a buzzer race anywhere else, but I think it's more serious because it affects everyone--not just everyone who knows a middle clue that's becoming stock, but everyone who has taken a high school science course.
The mantra has been for a while: make your giveaway really easy, since it's a giveaway, and 90% of teams should be able to get it. I think there's a point where you have to have some set difficulty minimum. Tossups shouldn't be gettable without knowledge.
Joule-Kelvin is fine, because the Thompson in question is William Thompson, Baron Kelvin. Honestly, I don't think that giveaway is too easy: suppose you know literally nothing about the Joule-Thomson effect, and that giveaway comes up. I can imagine that people would immediately figure out Joule (what other namesake energy units could it be?), but there are at least 3 good possibilities for the temperature part. Anyway, I think the real issue is that Joule-Thomson may not be known well enough at the DII level to warrant a tossup, if it made it to the giveaway in multiple rooms. If this was an isolated event in your room, then I'd say the question, including the giveaway, was fine--except that the lead-in was too easy for DI.
everyday847 wrote:If I don't qualify next year, and if the circuit will have me, I'm all for it. (I know that a sophomore teammate of mine wrote a Round 8 music question, so the precedent exists.)
Go for it. I think you have some unorthodox ideas about difficulty, but there'll be editors looking over your questions.
I don't know about "The Skeptical Chymist"--I've heard it come up before in (m)ACF tournaments, including ACF Nats 2006, but I'm not sure how well-known/important it is
I believe that when it came up at ACF Nats 2006 it was a bonus answer, which is ok; as a tossup, particularly as one of a series of tossups that focused on various works of scientists that were all 200 years old or older, it's really annoying.
Fair enough, I guess. I remember tossups on Skeptical Chymist, Principles of Geology, and Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences; were there others? If not, is 3 tossups out of ~90 that crazy? I think it's more than normal, but not a ridiculous amount.
--but Lyell's "Principles of Geology" seems fine: it's probably the best-known earth science text, and it was a major influence on Darwin, enough so that I think I heard about Lyell in AP Bio. I'd rather hear an earth science tossup on something else, because I'd probably do better on other stuff, but that's not a legitimate objection to the idea of a tossup on "Principles of Geology."
I don't know if I would do better on a real earth science question; I'm not that great of an earth science player. But really now, I seriously doubt that "Principles of Geology" is the best-known earth science text. I'm pretty sure it's not part of the earth science curriculum at most institutions, and it really has nothing to do with anything that anyone in science actually studies. I guess my point is that the science distribution should reflect actual science topics rather than historical curiosities that no one actually reads. If there were a huge history of science constituency in quizbowl, maybe that would make things different, but there isn't.
I've thought about it some more, and I'm more convinced that Principles really is the best-known earth science text--I literally can't think of another candidate (maybe Turcotte and Schubert's Geodynamics, and that's a pretty ridiculous competitor). I'm not aware of any single widely-known text by Hutton or Richter or anyone like that that could possibly be more widely-known (can anyone else think of a candidate?). My introductory earth science book calls it "one of the first and most influential geology textbooks," and I think it's very widely-known via Darwin. It's certainly not part of the current earth science curriculum in the sense that no one reads it directly, but it gets mentioned in intro/survey courses, and it gets mentioned in bio classes. Aside from its influence on Darwin, who in turn influenced earth science disciplines like stratigraphy, I think there is an argument that it has been relevant to recent earth science: the Principles popularized the theory of uniformitarianism, and uniformitarianism was the dominant paradigm in geology until fairly recently, when the Alvarezes managed to get the earth science community to accept the impact hypothesis for the K-T boundary. Since then, I believe there's been more work on fitting catastrophic events into a uniformitarian background. It may no longer be cutting-edge research (or it might be, I really don't know), but it's certainly not stuff that was figured out 200 years ago and hasn't been touched since then.
Of the three tossups I can remember on science texts, I would say that Principles is the most justified as a tossup topic, but perhaps Skeptical Chymist and Two Dialogues have been similarly influential in recent scientific thought. Jerry, like you I prefer tossups on currently-relevant science concepts, but a) I think Principles fits that paradigm reasonably well, b) I think it's okay to have occasional science questions on older stuff that was important to the development of science.
grapesmoker wrote:By the way, since apparently historical curiosities like the 2nd most famous Galilean dialogue are now apparently all the rage, I think NAQT should start having questions on actual science textbooks. I expect a tossup on Jackson's "Classical Electrodynamics" or Sakurai, or Rudin's "Principles of Real Analysis."
I'd enjoy that, you'd enjoy that, and a few other people would enjoy that, but I don't think there are enough people to warrant such questions. Which is a shame, because I'd really enjoy that.
grapesmoker wrote:I don't understand the obsession with space missions, to be honest. It's a recurring feature of many NAQT sets, but I'm not sure what makes them so damn fascinating. Sure, a major mission like the Mars landers is remarkable, but I feel that most of the time these questions boil down to "have you read the story of the day?" I don't follow the NASA news feed religiously, and if that costs me one tossup, that's ok; it shouldn't be the focus of 5 or 6 questions throughout the tournament.
Jerry, what are your objections to the dark matter and Zorn's lemma questions? I thought the Zorn's lemma question should have had a different answer line, but I thought the clues were fine, and all I remember of the dark matter question was that you buzzed early on MOND, which seems like a fine early clue.
The MOND clue was ok, but to be honest, I was already buzzing before I heard that. The first clue of the question was talking about detecting this substance, and I was thinking, "what's a typical substance that we might be interested in detecting? Why, dark matter!" It just seems like it's very easy to "figure it out." By the way, I believe I wrote a tossup on dark matter for FICHTE in which I mentioned the Bullet cluster; that's exactly the kind of current events type stuff that scientists are likely to hear about.
As for the Zorn's lemma question, I thought it was silly to write a seemingly tricky question that was trying to get you to say "Zorn's lemma" instead of the obviously equivalent "axiom of choice." As Mike pointed out, this is clearly a correct answer; in fact, any equivalent of AC is obviously correct, so what's the point of the question? I buzzed with AC, was prompted, said "well-ordering," and was negged; did I really fail to show that I understood the underpinnings of the proof of Tychonoff's theorem?
Fair enough on the dark matter question; I'd have to look at the text again to see whether the wording ruled out things like dark energy, neutrinos, WIMPs, MACHOs, axions, magnetic monopoles, the Higgs boson... If it narrowed things down too fast, that's a shame, because the following clue (on MOND) seemed nice and hard.
I think we can all agree that the answer line to the Zorn's lemma tossup was less than ideal, which is again a shame, since the clues all seemed pretty good.
Jerry, I'm not sure the trash bonuses were systematically harder than the academic bonuses. I played on a team with a good trash player and he didn't seem to have issues with converting decent numbers of points on those bonuses. In any case, the only way to figure this out is to look at conversion statistics.
I think I didn't make my point as clearly as I should have. What I'm trying to say is that citing a team with good trash players to support the notion that the trash was not that hard (as a couple of people seem to be doing) is mistaken; the question isn't whether good trash players will get any points on the bonuses but whether bad ones will. It was my opinion that the easy parts of those bonuses should have been easier, since I think the easy part of the academic bonuses were generally more friendly towards players who weren't able to get the other 20 points than the trash bonuses.
You might be right about this, but to some extent it depends on just how weak your team is on trash--if, like me, you know almost nothing about TV shows, and almost all teams know at least a little, I don't think you're justified in saying your team should be able to pull 10 on TV questions. If you feel like you were the weakest trash team in the field, perhaps it's okay that you guys 0'd several trash bonuses. Chicago wasn't very strong on history (or geography, or a couple other subjects) and we 0'd a goodly number of those bonuses, and I think that's fine.
cvdwightw wrote:if we bid on next year's SCT and I am staffing that tournament then I will try to write lots of juicy bio and chem for people (I know I'm not the best science writer in the world, but a lot of the clunkers were probably things R. and others tossed up at 5 AM Thursday morning). I would encourage other science writers to do the same (that is, if your team is already getting an autobid for hosting, go ahead and write part of the SCT science instead of play. I'm sure both NAQT and the circuit will be thankful). I'm not sure how many people have already started doing this, but if we can fill in the gaps in the SCT science quality, then perhaps ICT science quality will follow.
Please do this. I wrote some stuff this year for SCT in the same situation (we bid to host, and I knew I was going to be staffing). My experience with writing questions for NAQT has been that almost every science question I write is immediately used in a packet set, while questions I write in other areas aren't always used immediately, tying in with what people have said about low science production. If people write SCT science, presumably this will keep NAQT's stores of high-level science questions from being depleted right before ICT, and this will help avoid situations where R. and others have to scramble to write a bunch of science questions at the last second.
Eärendil wrote:I don't have the question in front of me, either, so everything that follows is from memory (by all means correct me if I'm wrong). So, from what I remember:
The lead-in was something along the lines of "it was the subject of Darwin's last book," which for some reason made me think of earthworms. I might have buzzed in with that if the next few clues were biological, but what followed were a series of classifications or grades of soil, on both national and international levels. I don't remember the details, but the clues sounded more commerical than scientific. The question ended with something like, "FTP, name this substance involved in leaching, nitrogen fixation..." etc., at which point it descended into a buzzer race in our room.
I believe you that soils are important and tossup-worthy; however, if that's the motivating factor for including it as a tossup, then the clues in that tossup should reflect its relevance. I'm sure there are tons of important stuff on soil composition, formation, chemistry, and so forth, but, to the best of my memory, none of that actually appeared in this particular tossup.
I don't remember the question well enough to correct anything. The Darwin clue sounds all right but not great to me (his last book was indeed on earthworm bioturbation). The classification/grades stuff might be juicy for earth scientists: pedalfers, pedocals, and laterites are all good buzz words. Humus and leaching should be pretty good later clues. Gelifluction, horizons and regolith would also make nice clues. I would say that all these things (well, the stuff after Darwin, at least, and the Darwin clue might be fine) count as real ultimate soil science, not soil trivia. I don't know how much of this stuff made it into the tossup. In any case, the main point I wanted to make is that an earth science tossup on "soil" is not a ridiculous idea--it's not like writing a history tossup on "the past."
On another note:
setht wrote:I don't know about "The Skeptical Chymist"--I've heard it come up before in (m)ACF tournaments, including ACF Nats 2006, but I'm not sure how well-known/important it is--but Lyell's "Principles of Geology" seems fine: it's probably the best-known earth science text, and it was a major influence on Darwin, enough so that I think I heard about Lyell in AP Bio.
grapesmoker wrote:But really now, I seriously doubt that "Principles of Geology" is the best-known earth science text. I'm pretty sure it's not part of the earth science curriculum at most institutions, and it really has nothing to do with anything that anyone in science actually studies. I guess my point is that the science distribution should reflect actual science topics rather than historical curiosities that no one actually reads.
We read Lyell's "Principles of Geology" in my history of science course, so I'm guessing this was part of the history distribution.
History of science gets lumped in with science, although my impression is that history of science is taught more often through history departments than through science departments. In any case, I think Principles has a claim to more recent relevance, as I said above.