Why don't we have 1/1 math?

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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Iamteehee » Thu May 02, 2019 2:55 pm

No one studies space geo (this isn't quite true, but I do agree that space geography tends to be overrepresented in the astronomy distribution), so that means you shouldn't fill the astronomy distribution with space geography. It does not mean you should completely delete the astronomy distribution.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by frasier » Thu May 02, 2019 3:05 pm

Iamteehee wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 2:55 pm
No one studies space geo (this isn't quite true, but I do agree that space geography tends to be overrepresented in the astronomy distribution), so that means you shouldn't fill the astronomy distribution with space geography. It does not mean you should completely delete the astronomy distribution.
Sure, I'm definitely not saying that though.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Thu May 02, 2019 4:02 pm

frasier wrote: (or "legends", as people now call it, as if this actually changes anything)
In fact, it does change things (or at least it should!) - "legends" is a more neutral term than "mythology," which is often used as a derogatory term to dismiss non-monotheistic religious beliefs. The logical conclusion of the use of a "legends" category in the way it is named is to put a lot of the miracles / fantastical stories told by major monotheistic traditions into the legends distribution as well - i.e. the stories from the Mahabharata go with Qur'anic and Biblical miracles, while the theological portions of those texts (the Gita in the case of the Mahabharata, among other things) remain distinct. Thus, we treat the legendary founders of Israel and the legendary founders of Rome the same insofar as it is appropriate to do so, as what they are - legends. Obviously this is a bit of a bean-counting exercise, and it certainly wades into the realm of the politically incorrect, but I do think it's an important bias correction.

Of course, people are free to screw with the distribution as they see fit in their own tournaments, and I'm glad Oxford are taking the liberty to do so - I just want to push back against this sort of attitude.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Fuddle Duddle » Thu May 02, 2019 5:36 pm

frasier wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 2:47 pm
It's not for everyone, but I don't see the issue with playing around with the distro like this. I find it very weird that 1/1 myth (or "legends", as people now call it, as if this actually changes anything) is basically enshrined into the distribution at almost every tournament.
That hasn't been standard for a few years now. As with math itself, the fact that it shouldn't be 1/1 doesn't mean that it should be cut from the distribution entirely.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by touchpack » Thu May 02, 2019 8:15 pm

As someone who is not a huge fan of most subfields of earth science, it's way more than just "geology and physical geography." Off the top of my head, there's also geophysics, atmospheric science and meteorology, hydrology (encompassing ocean science, freshwater science, and stuff about groundwater), agriculture-adjacent topics like soil science, and perhaps most important to humanity of all, climate science! I can get behind an argument of "there should be more math than earth science", but the insistence that "no one cares about/studies earth science" is not even remotely true!
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by frasier » Fri May 03, 2019 4:32 am

touchpack wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 8:15 pm
As someone who is not a huge fan of most subfields of earth science, it's way more than just "geology and physical geography." Off the top of my head, there's also geophysics, atmospheric science and meteorology, hydrology (encompassing ocean science, freshwater science, and stuff about groundwater), agriculture-adjacent topics like soil science, and perhaps most important to humanity of all, climate science! I can get behind an argument of "there should be more math than earth science", but the insistence that "no one cares about/studies earth science" is not even remotely true!
Sure, my apologies for lumping in earth science with space geography. It wasn't the best part of that post, but, given most of the fields above use mathematics anyway I'm not sure my thoughts on increasing the maths distribution change that much.
That hasn't been standard for a few years now. As with math itself, the fact that it shouldn't be 1/1 doesn't mean that it should be cut from the distribution entirely.
I didn't really want to get into yet another debate about myth, but that first statement seems untrue. SGI, Fall, Regionals, EFT, Terrapin and FST had/have mandated 1/1 myth, though I'm glad a few sets, including SPARTAN and OOT, explicitly deviated from this. I still thinking calling it the "standard" at regular and below is still accurate. Of course, not mandating myth in the distribution doesn't mean no myth. You can put myth in literature, geography and misc depending on what kind of myth you're talking about.

The fact that maths, a tool used in a large range of scientific and social scientific subjects, as well as a subject that is studied by a lot of people in and of itself, gets significantly less of the distribution than mythology (and, at lower college difficulties, almost certainly less than Greek/Roman mythology, which can be largely learnt by reading like 3 books) seems utterly bizarre to me and I'd love someone to mount an argument defending that status quo beyond "I like/get points off myth".
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Fri May 03, 2019 1:41 pm

The fact that maths, a tool used in a large range of scientific and social scientific subjects, as well as a subject that is studied by a lot of people in and of itself, gets significantly less of the distribution than mythology (and, at lower college difficulties, almost certainly less than Greek/Roman mythology, which can be largely learnt by reading like 3 books) seems utterly bizarre to me and I'd love someone to mount an argument defending that status quo beyond "I like/get points off myth".
This is completely wrong. Math shows up everywhere in the chemistry and physics distribution, and indeed probably poses the biggest barrier to entry to trying to understand the physics distribution. Applications of mathematics also shows up in some biology and social science subdistributions, computer science, and astronomy. So indeed, the distribution seems to reflect what you're saying - most of the math reflected in the distribution is reflected in how it is applied in other categories. This seems perfectly reasonable to me!

I do think there's more space for specific areas of math that don't get as well represented as they should be, such as statistical techniques and engineering, but there are lots of ways to dealing with that. The high barrier to entry of quizbowl questions concerning the sciences and mathematics can't simply be overlooked here.

My argument for myth is "people know myth, there's a good amount of it that can be asked, and it's worth caring about because of how it has a key influence on other important topics." This last bit is important because it shows how mythology differs from pop culture - mythology has a clear, lasting influence on other academic topics (particularly the ones that show up in quizbowl) and has had such an influence throughout the ages, ranging from the more obvious (religion, arts, literature) to things like anthropology and history. Thus, mythology is "important" and fits like a "piece of the puzzle" in academic quizbowl in a way that pop culture doesn't.

Now, of course, we ought to consider which myths are more important than others. Frankly, the Kalevala is not very important and has not influenced many cultures. A lot of underasked Buddhist/Taoist/Chinese/Indian mythology topics, by contrast, have had such an influence and ought to come up more in the places where they are difficulty-appropriate. Classical myth is the most important myth area (perhaps only against some of the fantastical Biblical/Qur'anic tales, which we ought to call myth but we don't) and it correspondingly comes up a lot. At least at the high level, quizbowl has moved away from asking infinite questions on increasingly obscure Aztec deities and the Kalevala, and focused increasingly on underasked myth topics like major folk tales from living world cultures. Frankly, it seems like the game is doing its job, though maybe we could be more aggressive and push this mythology distribution shift down to lower difficulty levels as well.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by frasier » Fri May 03, 2019 7:54 pm

This is completely wrong. Math shows up everywhere in the chemistry and physics distribution, and indeed probably poses the biggest barrier to entry to trying to understand the physics distribution. Applications of mathematics also shows up in some biology and social science subdistributions, computer science, and astronomy. So indeed, the distribution seems to reflect what you're saying - most of the math reflected in the distribution is reflected in how it is applied in other categories. This seems perfectly reasonable to me!
The maths in the economics and social science parts of the distribution is scant and in no way reflects its importance in economics and political science. Very few questions actually ask about mathematical techniques used in these disciplines, and if they do it's generally at harder tournaments (the question on the core at Nats 2018 is one example of not many I can think of).

At any rate, this argument doesn't work very well because the whole point we're discussing is what is mandated in quizbowl by means of the distribution. Of course, someone could come along and write a tournament with loads of maths in the "misc" or "other" portion of the distribution, but the whole debate isn't about what might happen at one tournament, but moreover what is mandated to come up at a tournament. Mathematics is not mandated by the distribution in the same way and in the same frequency as mythology is. The fact that statistics (to use just one example), a tool used across the social sciences and sciences (and even in history) gets asked about in the average lower level college difficulty tournament less than say Greco-Roman myth is just plain odd, even if we ignore all the other areas of maths which are, as I've said before, studied by lots of people anyway.

I think the "barrier to entry" argument is an interesting one but I'm not sure I really follow it. Is maths really harder to understand or learn than physics or the more difficult for the layperson to read bits of philosophy? Is the fact laypeople can't understand something easily a reason to leave something out of the distribution anyway? I'd be inclined to say no to both of those, but I can appreciate people might differ on that.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Fri May 03, 2019 9:48 pm

The fact that statistics (to use just one example), a tool used across the social sciences and sciences (and even in history) gets asked about in the average lower level college difficulty tournament less than say Greco-Roman myth is just plain odd, even if we ignore all the other areas of maths which are, as I've said before, studied by lots of people anyway.
Write fifteen difficulty-appropriate tossups on statistics topics for EFT that do not have substantive overlap. Then, write fifteen such difficulty-appropriate questions on Greco-Roman mythology. How many such questions can you write before the material starts to repeat itself? As someone who majored in financial economics, I do think there's a lot more statistics related questions we could write and that it's an important topic, but I think the question here illustrates that there are constraints here that are not being adequately taken into consideration, putting aside the more abstract question of "how important is this topic."

Again:
  • How many people in the target audience (here loosely defined as "intellectually curious, mostly amateur college students") will have engaged with the material?
  • Are there different levels of this knowledge that can be tested to distinguish members of this target audience?
  • Can this knowledge be tested in a way that rewards in-depth understanding, while still satisfying the criteria of uniqueness without overt reliance on things like title-matching (i.e. core attributes of "good questions")
  • (As a corollary of the other three) How many pyramidal questions can be produced out of the material on a sustainable basis?
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Ike » Sat May 04, 2019 10:30 am

At any rate, this argument doesn't work very well because the whole point we're discussing is what is mandated in quizbowl by means of the distribution. Of course, someone could come along and write a tournament with loads of maths in the "misc" or "other" portion of the distribution, but the whole debate isn't about what might happen at one tournament, but moreover what is mandated to come up at a tournament. Mathematics is not mandated by the distribution in the same way and in the same frequency as mythology is. The fact that statistics (to use just one example), a tool used across the social sciences and sciences (and even in history) gets asked about in the average lower level college difficulty tournament less than say Greco-Roman myth is just plain odd, even if we ignore all the other areas of maths which are, as I've said before, studied by lots of people anyway.
I don't think this "mandated" argument is good in the sense that tournaments will be rightly criticized if they ignore some part of the distribution that is not mandated. For example, there's nothing that mandates how much poetry has to come up each tournament, but if a tournament was severely lacking in poetry, it would be not good. There are some implicitly mandated portions of the distribution that an editor is expected to adhere to; and I suspect the reason why they aren't included in the distribution is because it's of a tournament-wide scope rather than a per packet scope.

In my opinion, math is implicitly asked about in several science questions and even in some humanities questions every packet. For example, I don't think you can really understand the Schrodinger equation without having some concept of the derivative from calculus, and a well-written tossup on the Schrodinger equation may require that math classwork to parse; in that way I would argue that math ~does~ come up much more than mythology.
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