Captain Sinico wrote:Anyway, here are some answers from EFT that I think are badly overasked and/or are asked/seemingly askable (in their role, given the tournament's level) only because they've come up (too much) already:
I'm going to comment on a few of your selections, because I wholeheartedly agree with some and disagree with others. Note that "perceived difficulty" implies "how difficult this would be for someone who's played several recent tournaments" and "actual difficulty" implies "how difficult this would be for someone who's never played quizbowl to answer." Also note that while I'm using what I believe to be your standard regarding academic relevance and difficulty (that is, is it taught at the university, and at what level), my experience is solely my experience and other universities may vary.
Captain Sinico wrote:the Goldman equation
This came up in the first three weeks of the first quarter of my year-long upper-division neuroscience series, which makes sense as it's really important to understanding what's going on inside and outside the neuron. I definitely agree that its perceived difficulty is much lower than its actual difficulty due to it coming up all the dang time. Given that the number of people who have taken upper-division and above neuroscience is limited to me, Ray Luo, and a few "true bio" players, I'd say it's definitely inappropriate for the novice level as anything other than a hard bonus part, but it would be at least defensible as a hard bonus part.
Captain Sinico wrote:TMS/chemical shift
I encountered these in second-quarter O-Chem and I'd imagine most people that encountered them would also do so sometime in their year of O-Chem. This doesn't strike me as particularly egregious, given the high potential for even-more-overasked-and-unimportant parts of the series "Named Things in Organic Chemistry."
Captain Sinico wrote:PKU
Disease questions are always weird. On one hand, you have the ubiquitous PKU warning labels on yogurt. On the other hand, it's unclear how many people actually know what PKU is. I seem to recall learning about this at some level as an undergrad, but I might be confusing that with maple syrup urine disease. This is probably inappropriate for a tossup answer but I could see it as the middle or hard part of a bonus at this level.
Captain Sinico wrote:electrospray ionization
As you probably recall, this answer was the 2007 equivalent of 2008's Pomeranchuk cooling: an ACF Nationals answer (in this case, tossup answer) that was met with collective eyes-bulging stares. I'd guess that I'm one of the very few people on the circuit that has actually encountered this in a class, and since that class was a graduate-level microfluidics class, I feel extremely confident in saying that this has absolutely no place as anything other than an early clue for "ionization" or "mass spectrometry."
Captain Sinico wrote:Meiji restoration
I'm not sure on this one (as, it appears, neither are you). It's an extremely important period in Japanese history and one that I hope would be covered in any survey course on modern Asian history. I'd say its perceived difficulty is less than its actual difficulty, but its actual difficulty is not actually that high.
Captain Sinico wrote:RNAi
This is another one that neither you nor I are sure about. I encountered this in lower-division molecular biology (and may have encountered it in AP Bio); furthermore, any decrease in its difficulty can equally be attributed to the recent Nobel for its discovery, and thus I'd argue that its actual difficulty is lower than one would think. Upon reflection, I'd have this at the upper-difficulty end of "stuff that should come up."
Captain Sinico wrote:prions/Creutzfeldt-Jacob
Eight or so years ago, when everyone and their mother was freaked out about mad cow disease, I'd completely disagree with you. Now that all people seem to remember about mad cow disease is that it makes cows go crazy and it's caused by feeding cows parts of other cows, I think you're right. I think this is another example of how a topic's sudden importance in academia or popular culture can quickly lower its actual difficulty while not doing anything to its perceived difficulty.
Captain Sinico wrote:What I'm saying about these, again, isn't per se an indictment of EFT. I'm saying that these come up too much in quizbowl and there are other things that we can and should ask about instead in all of these areas. Note especially that I'm not arguing about the academic importance of these answers in an absolute sense; with perhaps a few exceptions, these are valid, academic answers. My argument is rather about the relative academic importance of these answers compared to other things.
I think some of this can be attributed to the fact that people who don't have primary knowledge in an area have to use "what's come up before" as a benchmark for "what's appropriate at this level." This inevitably results in a spiral of downward difficulty as things that continue to come up move down the difficulty level irregardless of where they started or should have started in the first place. I'd like to see what "things that we can and should ask about instead" you would have selected in place of those hard bonus parts.