EFT Discussion

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grapesmoker
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Re: EFT Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:24 pm

theMoMA wrote:I'm saying that the people who have knowledge of who Posner, Hart, and Dworkin are (like me, for example) aren't being rewarded by a question that says "hey, here's a really noted legal philosopher in the third word of this tossup on 'law.'"
I guarantee you that 99% of non-law-school players at EFT have no idea who either Hart or Posner are, so while they are "noted" among people who care about legal philosophy, they are certainly not noted at all among the general field at this tournament. Not to mention that you are making the mistake of assuming that just because they are legal philosophers, the answer must be "law," when in fact the answer could be any number of things.
For someone like me who has read excerpts of these guys, it really threw me off the track because I don't know their titles, but I figured a tossup on "law" would not begin this way.
Again, this makes way more sense in the context of the field of this tournament. Look, if you know enough about Hart (hehe) to be able to identify legal positivism, that's great! That actually is your knowledge earning you points, and not some nefarious attempt by me to psych you into negging. If you don't know the titles, then I guess that's too bad, but I've already explained why one cannot really do away with titles given the need for unambiguous clues. Your mistake seems to be that you are trying to second-guess my intentions in writing the question instead of buzzing in and giving the obviously right answer. Now, I know how that feels, since I often do that too, and sometimes there's justification for that. But again, given your level of experience relative to the field that was the target of this tournament, you should expect that once in a while you're going to see a clue that you know better than most other people.
So I was trying to think of what the answer was going to be ("justice," "legalism," etc). The Hart title that was given (it was either Law, Liberty, and Morality or Law, Morality, and Society) isn't a particularly well-known title of his, and so putting that clue first just seems to foster guessing.
Ok, that's just absolutely incorrect. I have no idea how you could have thought this to be the case. I'll post the text of the question below:
A work which ushered in a certain type of positivism was written by H.L.A. Hart and was titled after the “concept of” this idea. A collection of essays that advocates an empirical approach to a certain sphere of human activity is titled Overcoming this concept, and was written by Richard Posner. A book in which Hercules is imagined in the role of an arbiter was written by Ronald Dworkin about this concept's “empire.” The best known work by Hugo Grotius is titled after the application of this titular concept to war and peace and William Blackstone is best known for his commentaries on the ones of England. For ten points, identify this sphere of human activity which is often personified by a blindfolded female holding a sword and scales.
Answer: laws
Perhaps the only possible ambiguity here might be that you thought a different Hart work developed his notion of legal positivism, but even then you would be wrong since The Concept of Law predates Law, Liberty, and Morality. Other than that, the question completely unambiguously refers to Concept in the first clue; given that it's Hart's most famous work, and possibly one of the most famous works of legal philosophy in the 20th century, it seems pretty odd to complain about not knowing the title while simultaneously claiming that the leadins are too easy.
Now maybe I'm just a bad player complaining about not getting a question and I should just go out and learn what Posner's noted titles are, but having read only excerpts in a primary-source book, I did not know his titles.
You're not a bad player but I don't understand the source of your confusion. I mean, as I've said before, if you know enough to know something about Hart and legal positivism, why are you even hearing the Posner clue? Incidentally, that clue is there because I figured more people would have heard of Posner and connected him to law, while the specialists would have buzzed on Hart. Obviously, knowing the exact title of Posner's book would be useful, but it seems that you have enough information to put it all together and give the correct answer. I don't know why that didn't happen, although I would guess that we all have brain farts at times, but at no point until the bad giveaway is the question misleading.
Anyway, if you want my opinion, a question like this would go something like

These were called [description of Concept of Law] in a book about the "concept" of them, and they [etc] in a book about "overcoming" them. They [etc] in a book about the "empire" of them, and three noted scholars of them are HLA Hart, Richard Posner, and Ronald Dworkin. Blackstone wrote a commentary on the ones of England, and Hugo Grotius wrote [etc]. For 10 points, name these entities [appropriate giveaway].
I think this is a bad idea. If I start talking about primary and secondary rules, people are going to go "laws = rules" and buzz. That would defeat the purpose of the question. You may not believe this, but every one of the clues I used was selected for minimal transparency to people who don't know much about law, so that you wouldn't be able to guess it just from linguistic clues. There's a reason why I write of Hercules as arbiter rather than use the word "judge" in the Dworkin clue.
My point is that anyone who knows anything about legal philosophy
Yes, all three of you on the circuit playing at different sites.
is going to be really confused when you start naming people who are really famous in that field in the third line in a question whose answer is a word form of "legal."
Why do you consistently mischaracterize the text of the question? I did not just write a tossup that began "Hart, Dworkin, and Posner are known for studying these." I wrote a pyramidal question that unambiguously pointed to "law" as the correct answer, while using clues arranged in such a way that one could not just guess the answer through synonyms. In each case, you had to know something about the work and the author to buzz on that clue. I did not backload the authors or the titles because I saw little benefit in doing so, given the intended audience and as I've said before, if a more experienced player (with some legal philosophy background too!) is buzzing on those early clues, that's fine with me. That's what should happen, and I don't see any reason to contort the text of the question just so I can put off those players from buzzing for another line.
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Re: EFT Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Oct 14, 2008 2:14 pm

I thought the tossup was a fine one overall, Jerry. My one gripe is that I'm unfamiliar with any positivisms save "legal" and "logical" and so I spent the rest of the tossup testing each of those words against the titles (while "Empire of Law" and "Empire of Logic" would both kind of work, "Overcoming Logic" is a bit less likely than "Overcoming Law" or whatever). That didn't affect how the tossup played, of course, since I figured I don't know jack about philosophy compared to my teammates, but presumably--even if that sort of guesswork, predicated on how little, not how much, you know didn't give me the answer, it still would have given me a 50/50 shot, which is a little much that early.

That said, I can't advocate, like, a cunning way to overcome that (if it constitutes a problem at all; I honestly don't know) besides not use the word "positivism" so early. So take it as you will; it might not be a stunningly useful criticism.
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Re: EFT Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Tue Oct 14, 2008 2:54 pm

I don't know, Jerry. I think you'd be pretty angry if someone wrote a tossup on say, plasmas, where the first three clues were all appropriately hard, but also namedropped Langmuir, Landau, and Debye.
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Re: EFT Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Oct 14, 2008 3:20 pm

theMoMA wrote:I don't know, Jerry. I think you'd be pretty angry if someone wrote a tossup on say, plasmas, where the first three clues were all appropriately hard, but also namedropped Langmuir, Landau, and Debye.
Not if I was playing a tournament intended for newer players. In fact, for such a tournament, I might write such a tossup; certainly clues about Landau damping are not the sort of thing I expect a non-specialist to know anything about. I would be unhappy with such a tossup at a national tournament, though, but this isn't a national tournament.

Look, we're talking here about highly specialized topics. Even most physics majors don't actually take a class on plasma physics during their undergraduate years (or maybe ever) so the number of people who have that level of familiarity with the topic in quizbowl probably include me and Mike Sorice, with Seth Teitler a distant third. So if a tossup begins with clues about a collisionless energy transfer mechanism, yeah, I'm going to beat almost anyone to that. That's fine, that's exactly what should happen; doubly so for a tournament that, as I keep mentioning, is geared towards new players.
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Re: EFT Discussion

Post by cvdwightw » Tue Oct 14, 2008 4:08 pm

Writing common link tossups on very general things is very hard to do, because the clues need to be at once extremely specific (to allow people to buzz with confidence) and extremely general (to prevent the "this is too specific an answer, so you're wrong, even though you had knowledge" neg). Usually my grievances with this kind of stuff come on common-link myth tossups, and I've certainly written a few of these that were grievance-worthy. In particular, I'm pretty sure I've negged with "snake" for "dragon" and with "dragon" for "snake" off of the exact same clues, and then there's the mess with pigs/boars/swine/etc. and other things like that which end up with answer lines longer than an NAQT tossup.

In this case we've seen it creep into the philosophy/SS distribution, precisely because the expansion of the canon at the novice level needs this kind of common link tossup. That's not a bad thing, but it can lead to a weird situation in which the more knowledgeable player derives zero benefit from that knowledge. Suppose that you're a reasonably competent player, and you hit a common link tossup that's using a lot of titles. You don't recognize what's being talked about in clues 1 through n, and recognize the description in clue n+1. Unless clue n+1 is referencing something like Eros and Civilization where you can be reasonably certain that the "common link word" isn't going to be Eros, then the benefit derived from recognizing/understanding the description of the work is negligible, since you'll have to wait for the other words in the book's title and could reasonably end up in a buzzer race with someone who buzzes off the word "Eros" after hearing "Marcuse".

In common link tossups, or tossups on very general things like the Anabaptists, it's very likely that someone who's buzzing off a middle clue recognizes something specific about that clue. We do this all the time with tossups that begin with a plot description before differentiating between whether we want a work, an author, a common word in the titles, etc. This is to presumably reward a player for knowing things. The argument for doing so is that the answer was correct up to the point of the question.

I think there are two camps to a roughly analogous situation with middle clues (player buzzes in recognizing a clue and gives an answer uniquely applicable to that clue). The strict absolutist camp notes that specific answer X was ruled out as a possible answer choice by an earlier clue, and therefore as that answer is not in the space of possible answer choices it cannot by definition be a correct answer. I find myself more in the lenient relativist camp, and I think a few others (maybe just high school coaches, though) are in this camp with me. The lenient relativist notes that the player would have been correct at the time of his buzz if the clue off which he had buzzed existed in a vacuum. Furthermore, because the player had not buzzed off previous clues, it is reasonable to assume that the player had no knowledge of these clues (if the player was sitting, and therefore had recognized an earlier clue, the player would have figured out what the question was looking for by the time of his buzz). Therefore, the player was correct at the point of his buzz, to the best of his knowledge, and except in rare cases (such as answering "logic" on that language tossup after "logic" had been mentioned), the previous information in the question would not have completely ruled that answer out for all players that had been paying attention. By instituting this "earlier clue ruled that answer out, so you're wrong" policy, we are mandating that players either recognize every clue in the question (in which case players would be buzzing on leadins every time and we could just go to speed check bowl) or that they do nothing with their knowledge of a specific clue (which makes the players' knowledge of a specific clue useless at best and penalized at worst).

One way I've tried to be lenient on players who have good buzzes but have incomplete knowledge of earlier clues is to include the direction "be lenient and accept [more specific answer, or answer that applies to a single clue] between [word] and [word]".
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Re: EFT Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Tue Oct 14, 2008 4:24 pm

Well, first off, I like Jerry's law question just fine (although I may have gotten rid of the reference to positivism). I disagree with the notion of hiding the names of the authors - if you know who HLA Hart is, you should know his book Concept of Law, and you should be buzzing early at this tournament, that's fine. I think it would be terrible if you replaced Jerry's question with a tu that gave some vague description of Concept of Law and then said "a book about the concept of THESE" - I would be mad at the end of that tu, because I'd think to myself "damn it, they were talking about Hart's Concept of Law, and I didn't realize it." And often, when you try to describe books like that, it comes off vague and difficult to pinpoint - plus, like Jerry said, you'll probably end up talking about "rules" or something that sound an awful lot like "law".

In general, I think a lot of writers today skew too much toward using quotations or minute technical details about works - in an effort to make questions more "real" (this applies to the music discussion a lot too) - and what ends up happening is that the question is so "real" that it becomes vague and doesn't let hardly anyone buzz...unless, I don't know, they've just read the book in question two hours ago. "Oh, you just quoted a sentence from Chapter 23, silly me, how did I not get that!" Unless it's clear that it's too easy or too transparent at a certain point - my advice is always to err on the side of just coming out and giving the name of an author or a title, instead of playing keep away. But, this is a bigger discussion for another day maybe, I'll refrain from continuing to type.


Anyway, this talk - much like the nonsense over trash subdistribution - gets in the way of what I wanted to say about this set. From the few packets I've brushed through so far, this tournament looks fantastic. In my other post, I talked about how "certain people produce certain kinds of tournaments" - and it looks like this tourney turned out to be exactly what I'd hope and expect EFT would be. Very well done.
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Re: EFT Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:32 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
theMoMA wrote:I don't know, Jerry. I think you'd be pretty angry if someone wrote a tossup on say, plasmas, where the first three clues were all appropriately hard, but also namedropped Langmuir, Landau, and Debye.
Not if I was playing a tournament intended for newer players. In fact, for such a tournament, I might write such a tossup; certainly clues about Landau damping are not the sort of thing I expect a non-specialist to know anything about. I would be unhappy with such a tossup at a national tournament, though, but this isn't a national tournament.

Look, we're talking here about highly specialized topics. Even most physics majors don't actually take a class on plasma physics during their undergraduate years (or maybe ever) so the number of people who have that level of familiarity with the topic in quizbowl probably include me and Mike Sorice, with Seth Teitler a distant third. So if a tossup begins with clues about a collisionless energy transfer mechanism, yeah, I'm going to beat almost anyone to that. That's fine, that's exactly what should happen; doubly so for a tournament that, as I keep mentioning, is geared towards new players.
I think this post kind of outlines the differing approaches that Jerry and I took in our packets. I wrote a tossup on plasmas, but while writing it, I tried to ensure that stock clues like Langmuir probes and Debye length weren't anywhere near the leadin; in fact, I don't think I've ever seen those clues previously up until "Vlasov Equation". In general, I wrote my questions with the idea of taking an accessible topic, littering the second half with clues that are accessible to newer players, but pumping the leadin full of interesting new clues when they were available (there's only so much you can do with "Thor"). This is why I refrained from advertising EFT as a novice tournament, because while the answer selection largely conformed to that of the so-called "novice canon", the clues most certainly did not.

This is a philosophical difference between me and my co-writers, and I can see the value in what Jerry is saying. I personally believe that injecting difficult leadins into an easy tournament is a good idea (partly for selfish reasons - its important that I learn something when I write). Even though this tournament was for the "children", I don't think they lose anything by learning some new clues as they are introduced to the canon - in fact, when I was younger, I preferred it that way.

Also looks like we've made the cut as some of Ryan Westbrook's Chosen. Hooray!
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Re: EFT Discussion

Post by millionwaves » Tue Oct 14, 2008 11:28 pm

grapesmoker wrote:I'd rather not make this a thread about the state of high school education in America
Agreed. You all can discuss the teaching of AP US History over here.
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