CO 2019 Discussion

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CO 2019 Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:07 pm

Hi all - please use this thread to discus CO. I'll try to keep my thoughts brief and turn it over to you all.

First, I want to reiterate what a privilege it was to edit CO, and how grateful I am for the work of my fellow editors (and all the other folks who made CO happen). You all did amazing work.

Second, I want to point something very important out. We had the express purpose this year of making this set accessible. This was was our guiding editing mandate, we gave each other a very hard time about it, it was the reason I took on the chief editing position to begin with, etc etc. We tried *like hell* to make this set easier this year.

It was still too hard.

Not egregiously so - the tossups were mostly pretty good, while the bonuses (especially the middle parts) were rough. But I think this is critical to point out. I'm very proud of this set, but man, we tried SO HARD to make it easier, and it was still too difficult. This is an important lesson, I think, for us to take as a community (in general, and most particularly about this event): In the past decade, we've had zero CO's that were too easy and more than a few that were too hard. We need to be constantly purposeful about controlling difficulty. We need to understand that even when we think we've got it under control, we probably still haven't gone far enough.

I'll offer three specific points I think are most useful in accomplishing this when editing an event like CO:
1)Manageable tossup answerlines. First, don't have too many difficult questions in the same packet. Use a difficulty rating system, and be diligent about it. Second, always look to make a question easier if possible while preserving most of the content. For instance, want to write a tossup on Elizabeth Anderson because she's super important in contemporary philosophy? Great. Make it on "Anderson," and toss some Perry and Benedict in there to finish it out. Nobody needs 9 full lines on Elizabeth Anderson anyway Third, end your tossups properly. Don't end a tossup on Camus with "The Rebel." Write decent giveaway curves, because hey, 50+% of rooms are very often going to be buzzing on these clues. Create a good gradient to avoid the majority of rooms playing a one-line tossup, and include enough info to actually make it a giveaway. Don't make an answerline needlessly harder than it needs to be.
2) Bonus difficulty. Remind yourself that middle parts are SUPPOSED to be converted by a significant number of teams. Not just the best teams, but many teams. Don't have the mindset "well, I don't want this to be free points for the top teams, it's still a middle part." The top teams are going to destroy a ton of middle parts - that's literally the idea! Also, understand that your middle part issue might actually be an issue you have with hard parts. If you have impossible hard parts, then you aren't going to reliably have middle parts - you're going to have hard middle parts. Don't write hard parts that are unconvertible. Be OK if someone 30's your bonus.
3) Editing approach. Never be the only one who takes a real hard look at your questions. Solicit input from other people, both those who know your category well and those who are decent generalists (as editors or players). Understand that your perspective is so very limited. Mine is, yours is, everyone's is. Be eternally mindful of making attribution errors when considering why you know something. Does everyone know it? Your tastes, life experiences, dominant milieus, etc. are impossibly unique. Be cautious about overgeneralizing to others. When in doubt, err on the side of accessibility.

TLDR - quizbowl is hard, CO is hard, we keep making CO hard and we never make it easy, so CHILL OUT (by being in fact extremely active and purposeful in controlling difficulty).
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:16 pm

I’ll populate this post with more stuff as I remember it, but first I’d like to reiterate my thanks to my fellow editors, and to acknowledge a few dumb mistakes—I screwed up the wording of a crucial late clue in the Trump (the dog) TU, and I likely should’ve moved the powermark or even some middle clues in the Doxologies tossup; feel free to post or let me know if anything else hosed or confused you.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:19 pm

I felt the tossups were almost wholly of appropriate difficulty and I appreciate attempts at taking potentially harder answerlines and creating easier ones.

I also commend the tournament in having easy parts on bonuses that didn't seem insultingly easy or "just repeat the question back easy." With a few exceptions, these were of the nature in which I would expect most CO teams to get (rather easily), but which still require a level of mental thought or which might be harder if you have no knowledge at all in a certain topic.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:23 pm

Also, specific thoughts on a few of the distribution innovations we tried at this event (modifying the history distro, Modern World, science history).

History Distribution:
What we did: We reconfigured how history was distributed:
1/1 "European" (Western Europe, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, modern history that's part of the European tradition like much WWI/WW2 content, etc. Commonwealth history also goes here)
1/1 Mediterranean-Plus ("Euro" history that is more Mediterranean in nature, Islamic world and things that were adjacent to the Islamic world, Ancient and Classical, Central Asian)
1/1 Non-Western (Latin American, African, East Asian, and otherwise global or transregional history; you can also write questions on the Islamic world here if you do not write them in the Med+ distribution)
Did that shit work?: I think this was very successful. This opened up more of the world for the 2/2 "euro" distribution and the 1/1 "world" distribution, and actually helped us be more diligent about balancing. Having the second euro slot as more of a "flex" position was great from an editing perspective, and is quite clearly justified from an empirical perspective. Unfortunately, we ended up with a bit too many military history questions composing this distribution, but this wasn't related to the change itself. I emphatically endorse using this new model to write history, which has been overdo for a distribution reshuffle for many years now.

Modern World:
What we did: 1/1 per packet, effectively replacing the "current events/geography/whatever" slot, with an expansive definition that encompasses contemporary politics, world culture, geography, and most importantly, thought about the modern world.
Did that shit work?: I really think so. I had a lot of fun writing the modern world content for this set, and I thought we absolutely managed to write about "current events" without writing the sort of boring CE questions that everyone always complains about, and that has led a vital part of the academic canon to be marginalized at many college events. This also helped address concerns that people have about the lack of more applied social sciences in quizbowl - we were able to ask questions about the economics of immigration, cultural psychology, and basically the entire and very often totally neglected disciplines of political science and IR by putting them mostly into the first half of questions in this category. This is a GREAT way to do "modern world" questions, and I hope it will continue. There is absolutely no theoretical justification for not having 1/1 modern world in a tournament; the concerns (and they have been legit) are all about playability. I'm really hopeful this is something other folks will look to incorporate, and to develop and improve upon, over the next few years.

Science history:
What we did: We had a science history question (tossup or bonus) like once every two packets.
Did that shit work?: Eh. I was more mixed on this. I still think this IDEA is very good - science history belongs in the distribution, and it belongs in the science distribution. It's representative of the holistic identity that quizbowl has, rather than the "here, solve this equation" or academic decathlon or whatever. I don't think we ended up writing great science history questions for this set, though. Even so, some of them weren't bad, and I heard from several science folks that they actually enjoyed this distribution, so perhaps my take is in the minority here. In any event, I hope someone who's better at this than we were (Eric, Mike Bentley, etc. etc.) models how this can be done right, because I still really believe it can be.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by John Ketzkorn » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:31 pm

DumbJaques wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:07 pm
We need to understand that even when we think we've got it under control, we probably still haven't gone far enough.
This is a big takeaway from this year. This year's editing team did a great job of rewarding people for knowing things. We often fall into a bias of "well, I know this thing, so it must be too easy," but you'd be surprised how little the field actually knows said thing. I only started playing CO in 2016, but of the four I've played (with the obvious caveat that I've improved), this year felt the most enjoyable. This set pushed the canon just a bit, but wasn't so canon-busting that it was overwhelming / demotivating.

My general sense of things: Chem felt pretty punishing (I suspect very few people buzzed on "do this reaction at game speed" type clues). Games were fun. Bonuses were on the hard side. Tossups were well controlled (with a little spice here and there). Thanks everyone who helped put this together.

As an aside: I respectfully wish editors would keep team names as is unless there is a serious problem with them. It's a disheartening way to start the day to see your name tossed (even if it's not funny).
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:35 pm

John Ketzkorn wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:31 pm
As an aside: I respectfully wish editors would keep team names as is unless there is a serious problem with them. It's a disheartening way to start the day to see your name tossed (even if it's not funny).
We didn’t do this intentionally, so it must have been an internal communication mistake—sorry!
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by The Lutes of Dependency » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:51 pm

I was very pleased with the jazz in this set. I felt that the clue selection was wonderful and properly rewarded people for interacting with (i.e. playing and listening to) jazz in a way that didn't involve impossible answerlines and complete chord progression-bowl.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:03 pm

DumbJaques wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:23 pm
Modern World:
What we did: 1/1 per packet, effectively replacing the "current events/geography/whatever" slot, with an expansive definition that encompasses contemporary politics, world culture, geography, and most importantly, thought about the modern world.
Did that shit work?: I really think so. I had a lot of fun writing the modern world content for this set, and I thought we absolutely managed to write about "current events" without writing the sort of boring CE questions that everyone always complains about, and that has led a vital part of the academic canon to be marginalized at many college events. This also helped address concerns that people have about the lack of more applied social sciences in quizbowl - we were able to ask questions about the economics of immigration, cultural psychology, and basically the entire and very often totally neglected disciplines of political science and IR by putting them mostly into the first half of questions in this category. This is a GREAT way to do "modern world" questions, and I hope it will continue. There is absolutely no theoretical justification for not having 1/1 modern world in a tournament; the concerns (and they have been legit) are all about playability. I'm really hopeful this is something other folks will look to incorporate, and to develop and improve upon, over the next few years.

Science history:
What we did: We had a science history question (tossup or bonus) like once every two packets.
Did that shit work?: Eh. I was more mixed on this. I still think this IDEA is very good - science history belongs in the distribution, and it belongs in the science distribution. It's representative of the holistic identity that quizbowl has, rather than the "here, solve this equation" or academic decathlon or whatever. I don't think we ended up writing great science history questions for this set, though. Even so, some of them weren't bad, and I heard from several science folks that they actually enjoyed this distribution, so perhaps my take is in the minority here. In any event, I hope someone who's better at this than we were (Eric, Mike Bentley, etc. etc.) models how this can be done right, because I still really believe it can be.
I liked but didn't love the Modern World distribution. I certainly appreciated that this tournament made space for it and hope more tournaments will do so in the future. And compared to your average college set this year, this tournament was much better at selecting interesting clues and answer lines that weren't along the lines of celebrity gossip but with politicians*. That said, I felt the answers and clues skewed more to the Academy than I would have liked. I don't have the set in front of me, so this could be just bad memory (it was pointed out that the set in reality had less military history than my team remembered). But my impression in playing it was that a lot of the Modern World tossups began with "so and so professor studies this subject" or bonus parts on specific professors/where they studied.

Not all of the questions were in this vein. Some of these other ones felt a tad easy to me, but I'm also working on a Modern World tournament so this could be me just having more knowledge than the field in these areas. But for instance if I was writing a tossup on the Social Credit System I would have placed the ANT Financial clue much later in the question. And the arbitration question (a great topic to ask about) also seemed to have pretty easy to fraud clues about this being a legal process that companies really wanted plaintiffs to partake in.

Finally on this subject, I felt like I was getting fewer buzzes from having read investigative journalist pieces, engaged with modern high culture, etc. than other recent tournaments like ACF Nationals 2019 or last year's CO (and certainly not this year's Scattegories). I don't think that all Modern World distributions need to be crafted to reward this type of knowledge, but I personally prefer ones that do so.

I sometimes had a hard time noticing when the science history happened in a round. From what I understand that was intentional. For the ones that were more in the history than science side of things, I personally liked them but could see how science players might be upset that "their" distribution was being taken. It was great for my team to be able to steal a tossup on Bletchley Park against a team with better science players, but whether this needs to be in this part of the distribution in future tournaments remains an open question.

Edit: Forgot to add the footnote. Here it is: *I recognize that criticism of celebrity gossip is gendered. I think there's an argument in the pop culture distribution to bring more topics like that into the mainstream. But for CE, many college tournaments are almost exclusively written about "did you get a load of this crazy thing this state politician did?" and would like to see a hard pivot towards that being a small percentage of questions and clues.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Borrowing 100,000 Arrows » Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:17 pm

This set was really good. The decrease in difficulty was very welcome. While it occasionally led to buzzer races in-power or whatever, I think that is far preferable to the soul-crushing slogs of the past two years. The literature was really great, lots of interesting tossups on core, meat and potatoes shit. The thought was also great (the philosophy was some of the best I've ever played.)
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by cwasims » Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:44 pm

This was my first CO, and I really enjoyed the tournament. The history was excellent, with lots of interesting questions and a distribution that felt pretty much exactly right from a regional/era perspective. The thought was great, with the focus on contemporary philosophy in particular being much welcome for me after having been frustrated by QB's usual focus on often dubiously-important historical philosophers (although I will say that some of the philosophy answer lines were quite difficult, more so than in most categories).

I was, however, quite disappointed with the music in this set. I'm not sure when the decision was made to roll jazz into the 1/1 Auditory Arts, but that combined with the world music, a tossup purely on film music, two tossup on performers, the opera tossup (although this is more understandable) and some tossups on fairly "out there" or otherwise content (Luther, J.C. Bach) resulted in basically a third of the number of questions on the core classical canon that you would have in a tournament that was 1/1 Classical Music. Not that 1/1 Classical is required, but it's still pretty common in many sets and veering so far from that was quite frustrating. I'll also note that one opera tossup in a set of this length is pretty meagre, particularly with that specific tossup adding to the preponderance of 20th century music (I won't complain too much though, since that was one of my powers).

I hope this doesn't come across as sour grapes, because I really had a great time at this tournament. It was particularly gratifying to see some of the questions I wrote come up and be played by some of the best players out there.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:12 pm

cwasims wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 2:44 pm
I was, however, quite disappointed with the music in this set. I'm not sure when the decision was made to roll jazz into the 1/1 Auditory Arts, but that combined with the world music, a tossup purely on film music, two tossup on performers, the opera tossup (although this is more understandable) and some tossups on fairly "out there" or otherwise content (Luther, J.C. Bach) resulted in basically a third of the number of questions on the core classical canon that you would have in a tournament that was 1/1 Classical Music.
For what it's worth the England tossup (opera) was in Other Arts, along with the Puccini and Mozart opera bonuses; there was additionally 1/1 musical theater, which sounds like it may not be your jam.

Are you referring specifically to late-19th-century orchestral music? The tossup on Brahms 2 that ended up in Play-In might help balance that perception out. Otherwise, there were questions on J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy, Scriabin, Schoenberg, Messiaen, and plenty of other "deeply core" composers (and of course the Martin Luther question had Mendelssohn clues as well!).

I do agree, in any case, that this is about as much 20th-century music as I would possibly want to see in a set, and that 1/2 opera might be a little light.

I did try to make this explicit in the announcement, but I think putting all the music together (or putting opera and ballet in the music distribution like Auroni does) is the only way to leave adequate space in the "other arts" distribution, especially considering the sheer number of art forms to cover, that film is probably the most-engaged-with topic in the entire arts distribution, and that architecture overlaps with the interests and fields of study of so many quizbowlers.

In any case, I probably should have made that more explicit, given that we got many, many submissions with a photography bonus and a painting bonus (both obviously "visual") or a European art music bonus and a jazz bonus (both obviously "auditory"). But that in fact is the whole point of divvying up the arts like this.
Last edited by vinteuil on Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by magin » Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:16 pm

I edited literature for CO, with the help of Wonyoung Jang (who wrote and edited the tossups on playing tennis, characters with the first name Mildred, Szymborska, Spring Awakening, Leonora Carrington, Medea, ghazals, Russia from eatly 20th century poetry, Laura Esquivel, British authors with the first name Elizabeth, "salt," and "red"), Will Holub-Moorman (who edited the tossups on Villon, Borges as a character, and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men), Michael Kearney (who wrote the tossup on Maecenas and the bonus on classical rhetoric and edited the tossup on Camilla), and Jacob Reed (who graciously turned his tossup on Six Records of a Floating Life into a tossup on the Qing dynasty after it went dead in every playtesting session and wrote a Chinese poetry bonus for the finals).

There were many very interesting submissions which made our lives much easier. In general, I tried to place a strict limit on difficulty while drawing from the clues/ideas in the submitted questions, and keeping them whenever I could. In practice, that led to a tossup on "Le Lac" being turned into a tossup on lakes in poetry, a tossup on What the Butler Saw being turned into a tossup on Winston Churchill, a tossup on Vargas Llosa punching Garcia Marquez being turned into a tossup on both authors, a tossup on the author Jean Paul being turned into a bonus, a tossup on spermaceti from Moby-Dick being turned into a tossup on whales, and so on. I wanted players to buzz in on every line of these tossups and to have a good chance to get 30 points on bonuses without needing hyper-specific knowledge.

Finally, I wanted to include biographical clues that would reward people who like reading about literature, not just works of literature. For example, the Kleist leadin mentions Kafka's love for him, and the USA tossup mentions Gorky's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad visit to it. I think those types of clues are generally better ways to reward engagement with literature than obscure critical essays, and tend to be more engaging for non-experts as well.

Note: I believe I did not accept a team who said "Odysseus" for the Ulysses bonus part from Troilus and Cressida. It turns out that there are some editions that refer to that character as "Odysseus," so your answer should have been accepted. I apologize; almost all editions call him "Ulysses," but I should have been more diligent.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Here Comes Rusev Day » Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:17 pm

I enjoyed playing my first CO, and the fact that it was this one (and with such incredible teammates). I will play any quizbowl I can get nowadays so perhaps my time in this game has become more of appreciating quizbowl for what it is and not so much being upset at the content. This is probably of the best sets I have played (WAO I and MO 2011 being pretty much gold-standards for me at least), and i’m so glad this past weekend happened. The only criticism is that the lit bonuses seemed much more difficult than any other subject (to be fair we did not have a lit player, but even at this difficult level we all have pretty much a basic knowledge of author’s names or main characters). My teammates have commented on the music and my knowledge there is extremely rudimentary, but that was their primary issue.

Secondly, I really hope pop culture and trash can be brought back for future COs when it can be done super well (Chidi, the Bahrain tossup with mostly soccer clues), and also the 1/1 Modern World.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by heterodyne » Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:10 pm

I edited the philosophy for this tournament, and am very happy to have received largely positive feedback on it (although I would certainly like to hear from anyone who didn't like it, since it was far from perfect.) This was my first outing editing submitted packets, as well as my first attempt at philosophy writing or editing for a difficult college tournament, so any feedback would be very useful. I didn't really have some grand editorial vision -- my two main goals were to write questions that I felt rewarded a wide variety of engagement patterns with philosophical content and to ensure that I didn't accidentally write on pet topics in a way that would unfairly reward those people familiar with my interest patterns. In hindsight, I certainly could have done a better job with both, particularly the latter. A tighter subdistribution would have gone a long way in that respect, and I will be using one for any further editing efforts.
DumbJaques wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:07 pm
Second, I want to point something very important out. We had the express purpose this year of making this set accessible. This was was our guiding editing mandate, we gave each other a very hard time about it, it was the reason I took on the chief editing position to begin with, etc etc. We tried *like hell* to make this set easier this year.

It was still too hard.

Not egregiously so - the tossups were mostly pretty good, while the bonuses (especially the middle parts) were rough. But I think this is critical to point out. I'm very proud of this set, but man, we tried SO HARD to make it easier, and it was still too difficult. This is an important lesson, I think, for us to take as a community (in general, and most particularly about this event): In the past decade, we've had zero CO's that were too easy and more than a few that were too hard. We need to be constantly purposeful about controlling difficulty. We need to understand that even when we think we've got it under control, we probably still haven't gone far enough.
Maybe this is a topic for a different, more general thread, but I think it's worth having a community discussion about how hard we want CO to be. While the bonus difficulty did overshoot our stated targets, I'm not convinced that the bonuses we wrote are too hard "for CO" in some absolute sense. I've had conversations with a few people (I don't want to put them on the spot, but they're welcome to post their agreement!) where we agreed that one of the enjoyable features of CO is that it can feel like a whole new level above ACF Nationals, where things can be asked that would be inappropriate for determining a national champion but that are nonetheless both interesting and important. Personally, I think that both 2016 and 2018 are closer to my preferred difficulty (as a player), although of course the two tournaments took very different approaches to that difficulty. However, I would completely understand if I am in the minority here; if that's the case, I'm happy to get my fix from tournaments like Scattergories or other Arrabalesque things. Either way, I think the best way to resolve this is to discuss it and hopefully arrive at some sort of community consensus.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:12 pm

a tossup on Vargas Llosa punching Garcia Marquez being turned into a tossup on both authors
Yeah, I was feeling pretty clever about this, but it was definitely too clever by half, so good revising. I thought that incident was really well known, but obviously I was mistaken. But I think it does speak to the type of "important" biographical clue you referred to, Jonathan: the kind of life experiences and anecdotes that inform criticism/articles about authors that one might read in NY Review of Books or Harper's or whatever.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:15 pm

This set's difficulty was mostly fine. By and large I thought it "got things right" outside of having a bit much bonus variation in the too-hard tail direction and social science / philosophy being a bit more daunting than the other areas - your mileage may vary, but I don't think our team powered a single social science question, despite it being one of Caleb and my best subjects, and the raft of tossups on hard analytic philosophy topics felt like it wasn't leaving much for some more basic topics, particularly from the Early Modern and ancient eras. I guess that's what's "academically relevant" today, but it seemed a bit out of line with the set's apparently goals elsewhere of presenting a wide range of accessible material that could be learned in a variety of different ways. Don't get me wrong, the questions in these areas were of very high quality, but they seemed a bit at odds with the rest of the tournament to me.

Personally I like hard tournaments and canon busting questions, but I think they need to be done in a balanced way by mixing in that sort of material with a lot of "meat and potatoes" and/or novel answerlines that still aren't too tough. I tried to do this with my side event this year and it's really hard to get the balance right! Hence, I really appreciate that the editors put a lot of work into this. I think there maybe could have been a few more novel answerlines / approaches to questions, but I completely get the conservatism given the general community desire for a less oppressive CO experience.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by heterodyne » Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:43 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:15 pm
This set's difficulty was mostly fine. By and large I thought it "got things right" outside of having a bit much bonus variation in the too-hard tail direction and social science / philosophy being a bit more daunting than the other areas - your mileage may vary, but I don't think our team powered a single social science question, despite it being one of Caleb and my best subjects, and the raft of tossups on hard analytic topics felt like it wasn't leaving much for some more basic topics, particularly from the Early Modern and ancient eras. I guess that's what's "academically relevant" today, but it seemed a bit out of line with the set's apparently goals elsewhere of presenting a wide range of accessible material that could be learned in a variety of different ways. Don't get me wrong, the questions in these areas were of very high quality, but they seemed a bit at odds with the rest of the tournament to me.
Thanks for this commentary, since it reminded me of a few other things I wanted to note! In the prelims, 7 out of 10 tossups and 1 out of 10 bonuses were on analytic philosophers/topics (assuming one counts McDowell as analytic). In the playoffs, including the finals and the play-in packet, 2 out of 7 tossups were analytic and between 3 and 4 bonuses out of 7 were analytic (not sure how to classify the Cavell one, since he's weirdly external to mainline analytic stuff). Because I was worried about over-representing my personal interests in continental philosophy and the history of philosophy, I was actually worried that having only 14 out of 34 questions on analytic content wouldn't be sufficient, especially since only three tossups and two bonuses were focused on contemporary analytic work (as well as the early clues in the repugnant conclusion tossups and a few other clues on contemporary secondary work here and there).

However, I failed to consider the way in which the concentration of these analytic tossups in the morning and the fact that most people do not hear the play-in packet and finals combined to create an impression that was actually much more analytic than I intended! I just wanted to clarify that this effect was not a result of an attempt at "academic relevance", since I wanted to reward people other than American philosophy majors who are still engaging with philosophical work. Rather, it's an unintentional consequence of my inexperience and not thinking enough about distributional feng shui. Apologies!
Last edited by heterodyne on Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Fucitol » Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:58 pm

DumbJaques wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:23 pm
Science history:
What we did: We had a science history question (tossup or bonus) like once every two packets.
Did that shit work?: Eh. I was more mixed on this. I still think this IDEA is very good - science history belongs in the distribution, and it belongs in the science distribution. It's representative of the holistic identity that quizbowl has, rather than the "here, solve this equation" or academic decathlon or whatever. I don't think we ended up writing great science history questions for this set, though. Even so, some of them weren't bad, and I heard from several science folks that they actually enjoyed this distribution, so perhaps my take is in the minority here. In any event, I hope someone who's better at this than we were (Eric, Mike Bentley, etc. etc.) models how this can be done right, because I still really believe it can be.
My $0.02 on the science history:

Hard agree on the "mixed" part of this. We were blessed enough to have two perfect exemplars of what to do and what NOT to do:

What to do: The Shapley-Curtis debate bonus. This was a major turning point in the history of modern cosmology. The correct side in this debate was actually right and it wasn't a pair of crackpots talking about two equally stupid theories. Both sides presented (at the time) quality scientific evidence to most of the scientific community. I thought the island universes part of that was also cool since it was the actual terminology used back then to describe the theory.

What to never do ever again please I beg you: Tyndall. I'd like to see that tossup again so I can see all of the clues and see if there was actually a core of usable material in there, but here is what I remember from the tossup: First line/two: personal anecdotes, next two lines: Some demonstrations he did of things that varied in how much they were real science and how much they were very stupid theories. Pre-FTP: Lets say sky is blue a couple of times so somebody negs with Rayleigh(the neg happened much earlier in our room but if the question were still live I would have negged it hard there). FTP: LOL ITS COLLOID SCATTERING WE TRICKED YOU.

It would be great if tournaments that try to do this in the future could:
1. Try to do more of events of historical importance in the development of their fields
2. Do less of "this dude did funny/crazy stuff we can put in the leadin and had a notable discovery we can put at the end. I'm sure middle clues exist. Bottom Text."
3. Maybe have less of it and take it away from categories more evenly. I might be biased since my pet category is so small but the difference between 1/1 "modern" science astronomy and 1/2 or 2/1 of that is really noticeable.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by csa2125 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:59 pm

There are a few individual questions I'd like to take another look at before referencing them, which also may change how I comment on the set generally. How soon should the packets be on the archive?
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Red Panda Cub » Wed Aug 07, 2019 5:01 pm

I really liked this tournament, and don't have much to say by way of overarching criticism beyond two little things.

I think this did echo some of the PIANO complaints where tossups may have been made a little bit worse by the drive to improve convertibility. One that immediately comes to mind (I didn't take notes in play and so I can't enumerate much more than this without seeing the set, alas), was the South East Asia tossup. As far as I could tell, it jumped straight in by describing in straightforward terms core contentions of the very famous scholar James C Scott. At the same time, the weird "we're looking for a large world-system level region like "North Africa [or whatever it may have been]" meant the answerspace was narrowed a lot. I appreciate the experiment, but I think, especially at a tournament like CO, you should just do the simplest thing and TU Scott. The conversions into easier answerlines that Magin described about, however, were all successful, so I'm willing to accept that this may just have been a fluke issue.

The second criticism has less to do with the execution than the ethos of the tournament. That is, it was just a bit easier, primarily in the tossups, that I feel CO needs to be. As a result of this, the tournament felt less like my ideal CO, which is genuinely a new level of the game. Instead, this CO felt more like a harder Nats with powers and open teams. Perhaps that's what people want, and I'm happy to accede to that view, but I think something valuable is left out that way.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by touchpack » Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:46 pm

Fucitol wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:58 pm

My $0.02 on the science history:
I largely agree with James' post, and would also cite the tossup on Sophie Germain as a successful way of incorporating science history into the science distribution. However, I don't think science history should solely be put into science. Science history, as its name implies, is intermediate between the two categories, and thus I think questions with more of a "history" bent (like the tossup on Bletchley Park) should go in history and questions with more of a "science" bent (like Sophie Germain and the Shapley-Curtis debate bonus) should go in science. I will applaud the editors for doing a much better job than the last time "science history formally in the distribution as science" was tried (in 2013), but there's still a ways to go for improvement (not to pick on Tyndall too much, but I think that question is unsatisfying whether you classify it as science or history).
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by magin » Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:28 pm

If any teams are interested in receiving feedback on their CO literature questions, please shoot me an email at jonathan.magin AT gmail.com.

I'll try to respond as promptly as I can.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:07 pm

CO 2019 wrote:This drug addict supposedly told his wife Louisa, “My poor darling, you have killed [me]” after realizing that she had mixed up his magnesia and chloral bottles. This scientist liked to wow audiences by catching a falling glass cylinder during Christmas lectures. This man, whose reputation suffered after his “Belfast Address” challenged Christianity’s claim to cosmology, almost went on a suicide mission to recover the body of a man who failed to summit the (*) Matterhorn. He was the first man to spend a night on the summit of Mont Blanc, where he made temperature readings. This man succeeded his friend Michael Faraday at the Royal Institution. By adding gas to a test tube filled with air, this contemporary of Lord Rayleigh demonstrated to a skeptical John Ruskin how the sky gets its apparent color. The greenhouse effect was discovered by––for 10 points––what scientist whose namesake effect describes the scattering of light in a colloid?
This question definitely isn't perfect, the first two lines in particular. The rest of it, though, is pretty relevant to either Tyndall himself (who I thought was a self-evidently important and famous scientific figure), or clearly shows his pervasive presence in British science of the time (and the fact that he's not a one-hit wonder), or clearly points to the mountaneering stuff, which was one of the facts that Sriram and I both came to this question with.

Among other things, I was hoping that people would get points on this question from the fairly extensive reviews of this major biography that came out last year.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:18 pm

heterodyne wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:43 pm
Thanks for this commentary, since it reminded me of a few other things I wanted to note! In the prelims, 7 out of 10 tossups and 1 out of 10 bonuses were on analytic philosophers/topics (assuming one counts McDowell as analytic). In the playoffs, including the finals and the play-in packet, 2 out of 7 tossups were analytic and between 3 and 4 bonuses out of 7 were analytic (not sure how to classify the Cavell one, since he's weirdly external to mainline analytic stuff). Because I was worried about over-representing my personal interests in continental philosophy and the history of philosophy, I was actually worried that having only 14 out of 34 questions on analytic content wouldn't be sufficient, especially since only three tossups and two bonuses were focused on contemporary analytic work (as well as the early clues in the repugnant conclusion tossups and a few other clues on contemporary secondary work here and there).

However, I failed to consider the way in which the concentration of these analytic tossups in the morning and the fact that most people do not hear the play-in packet and finals combined to create an impression that was actually much more analytic than I intended! I just wanted to clarify that this effect was not a result of an attempt at "academic relevance", since I wanted to reward people other than American philosophy majors who are still engaging with philosophical work. Rather, it's an unintentional consequence of my inexperience and not thinking enough about distributional feng shui. Apologies!
I'd also like to push back on the idea that "only 14 out of 34 questions on analytic content wouldn't be sufficient" or that 3/2 contemporary analytic content isn't enough, or the general trend of asking a lot of analytic philosophy at many hard tournaments. If we think about the ways that people in quizbowl are engaging with philosophy, I think it's a lot more broad than say, science. For science, most people will mainly engage with such topics through science classes or things they do at work (i.e. data science, computer engineering). For philosophy, I think it's way more dispersed - some people engage with philosophy through studying it as its own academic discipline, but I would wager that many more people encounter it as a lens on other disciplines which they are exploring, e.g. philosophy of science, literary theory and criticism, religious philosophy / theology and its serious impact on history, the philosophy of history itself, political philosophy as a foundation for modern social orders, etc. Most of my philosophy knowledge, aside from a few independent readings I've done and quizbowl, comes from history and political economy classes. Very few of these touch on analytic philosophy in depth, and I think we're better off taking a more expansive view of what's likely to reward serious academic philosophy knowledge.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:35 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:18 pm
For philosophy, I think it's way more dispersed - some people engage with philosophy through studying it as its own academic discipline, but I would wager that many more people encounter it as a lens on other disciplines which they are exploring, e.g. philosophy of science, literary theory and criticism, religious philosophy / theology and its serious impact on history, the philosophy of history itself, political philosophy as a foundation for modern social orders, etc.
Are you saying that these encounters exclude analytic philosophy? Even after the philosophy of mathematics tossup on "intuitionism"? Or, taking your example of history/philosophy intersections: one of the most-read pieces along those lines would be Quentin Skinner's "Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas," an essay that draws on, among others, Austin and Davidson.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by touchpack » Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:38 pm

vinteuil wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:07 pm
CO 2019 wrote:This drug addict supposedly told his wife Louisa, “My poor darling, you have killed [me]” after realizing that she had mixed up his magnesia and chloral bottles. This scientist liked to wow audiences by catching a falling glass cylinder during Christmas lectures. This man, whose reputation suffered after his “Belfast Address” challenged Christianity’s claim to cosmology, almost went on a suicide mission to recover the body of a man who failed to summit the (*) Matterhorn. He was the first man to spend a night on the summit of Mont Blanc, where he made temperature readings. This man succeeded his friend Michael Faraday at the Royal Institution. By adding gas to a test tube filled with air, this contemporary of Lord Rayleigh demonstrated to a skeptical John Ruskin how the sky gets its apparent color. The greenhouse effect was discovered by––for 10 points––what scientist whose namesake effect describes the scattering of light in a colloid?
This question definitely isn't perfect, the first two lines in particular. The rest of it, though, is pretty relevant to either Tyndall himself (who I thought was a self-evidently important and famous scientific figure), or clearly shows his pervasive presence in British science of the time (and the fact that he's not a one-hit wonder), or clearly points to the mountaneering stuff, which was one of the facts that Sriram and I both came to this question with.

Among other things, I was hoping that people would get points on this question from the fairly extensive reviews of this major biography that came out last year.
I think, if you want to make this a good science question, this should have been converted to a bonus. Make the leadin about his mountaineering career (a cool anecdote/fun leadin, but not great as "middle clues for distinguishing teams based on science knowledge") then straightforward scattering clue for the easy part, make the medium part the "greenhouse effect", clueing Tyndall and also Svante Arrhenius' work on radiative forcing (here's where you tie in some actual science in with its historical context), and pick some memorable but obscure thing from his body of work (which is apparently way more than I realized) for the hard part.
Last edited by touchpack on Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:38 am

vinteuil wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:35 pm
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:18 pm
For philosophy, I think it's way more dispersed - some people engage with philosophy through studying it as its own academic discipline, but I would wager that many more people encounter it as a lens on other disciplines which they are exploring, e.g. philosophy of science, literary theory and criticism, religious philosophy / theology and its serious impact on history, the philosophy of history itself, political philosophy as a foundation for modern social orders, etc.
Are you saying that these encounters exclude analytic philosophy? Even after the philosophy of mathematics tossup on "intuitionism"? Or, taking your example of history/philosophy intersections: one of the most-read pieces along those lines would be Quentin Skinner's "Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas," an essay that draws on, among others, Austin and Davidson.
I don't think they exclude it entirely, but it still seems really unbalanced to me to have a ton of this content and very little by comparison from the ancient, medieval, and modern eras.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by heterodyne » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:52 am

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:18 pm
I'd also like to push back on the idea that "only 14 out of 34 questions on analytic content wouldn't be sufficient" or that 3/2 contemporary analytic content isn't enough, or the general trend of asking a lot of analytic philosophy at many hard tournaments. If we think about the ways that people in quizbowl are engaging with philosophy, I think it's a lot more broad than say, science. For science, most people will mainly engage with such topics through science classes or things they do at work (i.e. data science, computer engineering). For philosophy, I think it's way more dispersed - some people engage with philosophy through studying it as its own academic discipline, but I would wager that many more people encounter it as a lens on other disciplines which they are exploring, e.g. philosophy of science, literary theory and criticism, religious philosophy / theology and its serious impact on history, the philosophy of history itself, political philosophy as a foundation for modern social orders, etc. Most of my philosophy knowledge, aside from a few independent readings I've done and quizbowl, comes from history and political economy classes. Very few of these touch on analytic philosophy in depth, and I think we're better off taking a more expansive view of what's likely to reward serious academic philosophy knowledge.
Just to clarify, since my post was unclear: I don't actually believe that the amount included was insufficient, I was just noting that my concern lied in deviating too heavily from the quizbowl norm on the low end, not on the high.

I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of the many avenues through which one comes to engage seriously with philosophy, and would identify them with the "wide variety of engagement patterns" I mentioned in my first post in this thread. My only quibble is that I think you underestimate how much these alternate avenues engage with what I would call "analytic philosophy" (here meaning roughly the post-Wittgenstein Anglo-American academic tradition.) My hope was that answerlines like "repugnant conclusion" and How to Do Things With Words would reward engagement with philosophy through (in these cases) the "rationalist"/effective altruist/utilitarian community and linguistics or gender theory (both areas in which one is likely to run into the paper) respectively.

I only belabor this point because I want to emphasize that I fully agree with you on the importance of rewarding all these engagement patterns, and simply differ in deciding what that rewarding consists in. Luckily, this sort of disagreement is much more tractable than the endless debates about "how 'academic' qb should be."
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:54 am

Good to see we're largely on the same page :) I'm hardly a philosophy specialist in any case and I do want to reiterate that I found the questions in this area broadly interesting to listen to and enjoyable. I take it that my teammates felt the same.

Re: biographies of Tyndall, I just don't really think that's how a lot of people who are "into science" are really approaching things. I suspect that, for the QB-playing generations at least, people who are reading biographies of scientists are relatively few in number in comparison to people who engage with sources like 3Blue1Brown, minutephysics, or PBS SpaceTime, which give engaging and accessible presentations of the "real science" coupled with relevant historical discussions of how it was developed.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Sam » Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:48 am

Thanks to the editors and staff for a great tournament! Between this, Age of Empires, and Scattergories, it was impressive how consistently good everything was, from the proofreading (at least from the player's point of view) to the content of the questions, to the skill of the teams, to the logistics and tournament direction. Kudos all around.
Red Panda Cub wrote:
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The second criticism has less to do with the execution than the ethos of the tournament. That is, it was just a bit easier, primarily in the tossups, that I feel CO needs to be. As a result of this, the tournament felt less like my ideal CO, which is genuinely a new level of the game. Instead, this CO felt more like a harder Nats with powers and open teams. Perhaps that's what people want, and I'm happy to accede to that view, but I think something valuable is left out that way.
I'd be curious to hear what Joey and others think the "something valuable" left out is. There are two aspects of harder tournaments I enjoy:
1a) harder tournaments are more likely to feature things I have never heard anything about, and learning is fun, and

2a) harder tournaments are more likely to feature things that only I have heard of, and getting good buzzes is fun.

These are both good things. I'd note that they're also present in well-written easier tournaments, but a tournament where the space of potential questions is larger is going to be able to have more, all else equal. There are also a few aspects of harder tournaments that I don't dislike, necessarily, but think are important to consider:

1b) A bias towards "impossible speedcheck" style quiz bowl: say you write a question that you expect one quarter of players to be able to answer by the end. That's not terrible for conversion, with eight players in the room you could expect a conversion rate of around 90%, maybe a little less allowing for game errors. The probability that there's at least one player on each team who can answer is quite a bit smaller, less than 50%, and it of course keeps dropping from there. This does not invalidate the results of the games, the teams who know more stuff are still the ones who come out ahead, but it does mean that in more than half of the games, the lovingly crafted pyramidal selection of clues isn't doing that much to distinguish levels of knowledge among people. It may still be nice to have those clues (see 1a), learning is fun), but it's worth considering that for a lot of very difficult questions, the person who gets the tossup is whoever knows it's a Thing.

Again, this is not necessarily bad: if I know a Thing exists and my opponent does not know a Thing exists, I really do know more about it than him or her. But increasing the difficulty is not neutral with regards to the style of the competition, it advantages people who engage with material in a certain way and disadvantages those who engage with it in a different way. To a first-order, I'd say harder tournaments reward increased breadth more than increased depth, though increased depth is still certainly rewarded.

2b) greater variance within the set of "very difficult" questions: in the example above, the hypothetical question writer knew with near certainty that one quarter of players would be able to answer. In reality, I suspect that as the expected fraction of players to know a topic goes down, the uncertainty around that expectation increases. E.g., when I expect 80% of players to have heard of something, the actual fraction will probably be pretty close to 80%--maybe it's actually 77%. When I expect 10%, the actual fraction may be farther away, maybe closer to 1% (or maybe closer to 20%, though the other direction seems less likely). This in itself is okay (1a and 2a still apply), but it means rounds are going to go longer than anticipated, weird circles of death that require multiple finals and play-ins are more likely, and it's going to be harder for me to find a restaurant that's still open by the time the tournament winds down.

After last year's CO (which I also enjoyed), I was happy to play a tournament where tossups were usually picked off in the middle and which concluded before restaurants closed. More generally I'm pretty satisfied with the status quo, where CO's difficulty fluctuates year-to-year as different editors bring different takes; I think that's part of the fun of this particular event. This is a very long way of saying that I'm not sure it's worth finding an "ideal CO difficulty" and sticking with it, but rather allowing different editors to approach it differently is something worthwhile for its own sake.



For specific questions: I remember the UBI bonus mentioning Hoynes and Rothstein working for the National Bureau of Economic Research or writing their paper for NBER or something like that. This is how many news sources routinely talk about NBER but it's not really true. At least in terms of its working paper series, the organization is more like an exclusive arXiv or less-exclusive academic journal than a think tank or university. Hoynes and Rothstein are employed by Berkeley. (Saying something like "Hoynes & Rothstein wrote a working paper disseminated by this organization" would be perfectly accurate.)
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:39 am

I endorse Sam's analysis, particularly on the difficulty of estimating conversion when the numbers get very small. This is partly because experts in a subject---the only ones who know the answer---are the most likely to neg if the answerline is so out of left field!
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:01 am

That Tyndall question would have probably been great if it was like... other ac. Was a bit upset to have played the Bletchley Park tu - seemed like a game of chicken on "this facility where people are... solving problems?"
Set was fun - difficulty control very noted, had nice "Chris Ray" flavor, Chris saw how excessively excited I was to hear a bonus part where I recognized a Starcraft pro's name.
Some of the science seemed a little behind (although in general was v good) a couple of leadins seemed misplaced (the entire coherence tu, SUN proteins have been asked a lot, a lot of the physics seemed very easy to power) and it seemed very heavy on the named reactions.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:44 am

Fucitol wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:58 pm
What to do: The Shapley-Curtis debate bonus. This was a major turning point in the history of modern cosmology. The correct side in this debate was actually right and it wasn't a pair of crackpots talking about two equally stupid theories. Both sides presented (at the time) quality scientific evidence to most of the scientific community. I thought the island universes part of that was also cool since it was the actual terminology used back then to describe the theory.

What to never do ever again please I beg you: Tyndall. I'd like to see that tossup again so I can see all of the clues and see if there was actually a core of usable material in there, but here is what I remember from the tossup: First line/two: personal anecdotes, next two lines: Some demonstrations he did of things that varied in how much they were real science and how much they were very stupid theories. Pre-FTP: Lets say sky is blue a couple of times so somebody negs with Rayleigh(the neg happened much earlier in our room but if the question were still live I would have negged it hard there). FTP: LOL ITS COLLOID SCATTERING WE TRICKED YOU.
I feel like part of the point of studying science history, as opposed to science, is that it isn't always clear which theories are very stupid when you're developing them, or for decades after.

Not commenting on the execution of the question, it's hard to deny that Tyndall was one of the great Victorian public intellectuals and representatives of science. (He even gets a mention in Mortimer Collins's "The Positivists.")
Last edited by Muriel Axon on Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by magin » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:52 am

Here Comes Rusev Day wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:17 pm
The only criticism is that the lit bonuses seemed much more difficult than any other subject (to be fair we did not have a lit player, but even at this difficult level we all have pretty much a basic knowledge of author’s names or main characters). My teammates have commented on the music and my knowledge there is extremely rudimentary, but that was their primary issue.
Are there any specific literature bonuses you found too difficult, or was it an aggregate effect?

Also, if other people found the literature bonuses too difficult, please let me know. I tried to make them reasonable, but I want to know if I overshot things.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by John Ketzkorn » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:00 pm

Part of the problem with the Tyndall question may be its focus on a single person. Science on the whole tends to be about trends, major breakthroughs, and successful (and attempted) paradigm shifts (such as the development of string theory for example). The Tyndall question was pretty biographic and while it's interesting to hear about Tyndall's drug addiction, it's perhaps more suitable for bonus framing (as Billy has already mentioned). I agree with Billy's point that how far a question bends towards science or history should determine it's place in the distro.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Taper or die. Can you do any less? » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:05 pm

magin wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:52 am
Are there any specific literature bonuses you found too difficult, or was it an aggregate effect?

Also, if other people found the literature bonuses too difficult, please let me know. I tried to make them reasonable, but I want to know if I overshot things.
I found them to be eminently 10able, frequently 20able when I knew what was going on, and only 30able when I had deep knowledge (or, occasionally, had a lucky guess). I think that's pretty solid.

The Ultima bonus struck me like a little bit of a "0 or 30". Our opponents only barely 10'd it, which makes sense because I don't think the novel itself is really an easy part.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:27 pm

For what it's worth, our team got 20 on the Ultima bonus. I really liked that this tournament generally made you put in some genuine work to get an easy part - though most teams were clearly up for that work, given the strength of the field, and most PPBs were over 10.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Borrowing 100,000 Arrows » Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:36 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:18 pm
heterodyne wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:43 pm
Thanks for this commentary, since it reminded me of a few other things I wanted to note! In the prelims, 7 out of 10 tossups and 1 out of 10 bonuses were on analytic philosophers/topics (assuming one counts McDowell as analytic). In the playoffs, including the finals and the play-in packet, 2 out of 7 tossups were analytic and between 3 and 4 bonuses out of 7 were analytic (not sure how to classify the Cavell one, since he's weirdly external to mainline analytic stuff). Because I was worried about over-representing my personal interests in continental philosophy and the history of philosophy, I was actually worried that having only 14 out of 34 questions on analytic content wouldn't be sufficient, especially since only three tossups and two bonuses were focused on contemporary analytic work (as well as the early clues in the repugnant conclusion tossups and a few other clues on contemporary secondary work here and there).

However, I failed to consider the way in which the concentration of these analytic tossups in the morning and the fact that most people do not hear the play-in packet and finals combined to create an impression that was actually much more analytic than I intended! I just wanted to clarify that this effect was not a result of an attempt at "academic relevance", since I wanted to reward people other than American philosophy majors who are still engaging with philosophical work. Rather, it's an unintentional consequence of my inexperience and not thinking enough about distributional feng shui. Apologies!
I'd also like to push back on the idea that "only 14 out of 34 questions on analytic content wouldn't be sufficient" or that 3/2 contemporary analytic content isn't enough, or the general trend of asking a lot of analytic philosophy at many hard tournaments. If we think about the ways that people in quizbowl are engaging with philosophy, I think it's a lot more broad than say, science. For science, most people will mainly engage with such topics through science classes or things they do at work (i.e. data science, computer engineering). For philosophy, I think it's way more dispersed - some people engage with philosophy through studying it as its own academic discipline, but I would wager that many more people encounter it as a lens on other disciplines which they are exploring, e.g. philosophy of science, literary theory and criticism, religious philosophy / theology and its serious impact on history, the philosophy of history itself, political philosophy as a foundation for modern social orders, etc. Most of my philosophy knowledge, aside from a few independent readings I've done and quizbowl, comes from history and political economy classes. Very few of these touch on analytic philosophy in depth, and I think we're better off taking a more expansive view of what's likely to reward serious academic philosophy knowledge.
Like Jacob, I'm sympathetic to this line of argument, but I'm also skeptical that it actually leads to your desired conclusion (I also think you're perhaps taking too narrow view of analytic philosophy? You mention philosophy of science, literary theory, and philosophy of religion, but these are perhaps the most common avenues toward engagement with analytical philosophy; the most famous philosophers of science (Kuhn, Popper, etc.) were analytic philosophers, Austin and Grice had a huge impact on philosophy of literature, and the best known contemporary philosophers of religion (Plantinga, William Lane Craig, etc.) are also analytic philosophers.) For what it's worth, I've taken several social science classes (mainly, linguistics, but also some poli sci/econ stuff) that interacted with philosophy, and it was always analytic philosophy (e.g., I first learned about Goodman's New Riddle of Induction in a linguistics class!) For better or worse (and I believe it is better), philosophy in the academy is mainly analytic philosophy, very few people are reading Derrida or Lacan outside of comparative literature departments.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Here Comes Rusev Day » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:14 pm

magin wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:52 am
Here Comes Rusev Day wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:17 pm
The only criticism is that the lit bonuses seemed much more difficult than any other subject (to be fair we did not have a lit player, but even at this difficult level we all have pretty much a basic knowledge of author’s names or main characters). My teammates have commented on the music and my knowledge there is extremely rudimentary, but that was their primary issue.
Are there any specific literature bonuses you found too difficult, or was it an aggregate effect?

Also, if other people found the literature bonuses too difficult, please let me know. I tried to make them reasonable, but I want to know if I overshot things.
It was more of an aggregate effect. The Bless Me Ultima
one has been brought up as a difficult easy part (which we also barely 10ed, but I think that was maybe an outlier). There was also a bonus in Round 9 I believe, in which the easy part was Palestinians. It certainly was fun to learn about all the interesting literature though!
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:28 pm

Bless Me, Ultima and Palestinians from Darwish strike me as fine easy parts at the CO level - the former is (or maybe was?) widely assigned in high schools and Darwish comes up all the time.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by AGoodMan » Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:33 am

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:28 pm
Bless Me, Ultima and Palestinians from Darwish strike me as fine easy parts at the CO level - the former is (or maybe was?) widely assigned in high schools and Darwish comes up all the time.
Can confirm I read Ultima as assigned reading in high school.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Santa Claus » Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:07 pm

Hey, so I wrote what was (as far as I can tell) the hardest science tossup in the set, judging from me asking around on the day of - the tossup on oozes, which made it in unedited from our team's submission. I intended for the tossup to link disparate pieces of knowledge about ocean science that I assumed people had with an answerline on a specific term. This does not seem to have worked very well, though, as no one I talked to converted this tossup. I'm wondering what the thoughts on the tossup were, since I'd certainly like for ocean science to make up as large of a component of the other science distro as meteorology, where people are tossing up crazy things like nacreous clouds, but it really doesn't seem practical.

The tossup as submitted:
Examples of these substances associated with Cibicides and Cibicidoides have C13/C12 ratios that lag significantly behind atmospheric levels and are used to track the circulation of fluid parcels. Transfer functions for comparing these substances can use the prevalence of Emiliania huxleyi as a physical paleoproxy. The distribution of component size in these substances is bimodal and decreases over time as its larger component dissolves, resulting in a remainder of red clay. One type of these substances dominates the other in the Arctic, Antarctic, and the Equator due to the influx of nutrients from upwelling. Diagenesis of these substances can result in the formation of chert from discarded tests and in other cases begins with the needle-like isoform aragonite. The carbonaceous variety of these substances cannot form below the compensation depth and is primarily derived from coccolithophores, while its siliceous type is formed from diatoms. For 10 points, name these biogenous benthic sediments defined by being formed from thirty percent or more planktonic skeletons.
ANSWER: oozes [accept siliceous ooze, diatomaceous ooze, carbonaceous ooze, coccolithophore ooze, or foraminiferal ooze; prompt on oceanic sediment or pelagic sediment; prompt on calcium carbonate, aragonite, or calcite; prompt on silica, or silicon dioxide]
Our submission also had the Bless Me, Ultima bonus which I thought was very reasonable, having read the book in high school. In a tournament of so many hard literature tossups, it doesn't seem that unreasonable to ask for the name of a novel which is pretty widely read (and also has come up a number of times recently).
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Here Comes Rusev Day » Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:04 pm

I’ll concede it’s completely reasonable to ask, and that it probably is an easy part. It’s going to have to be when the set is posted that I remember some of the harder lit things, as the Darwish and Anaya things were just the first bonus sets that came to mind. Ultimately, I think it’s me being unaware of the canon expanded to include it nowadays, because none of this is meant to be an inquiry into what was a stellar set.

On difficulty since it was mentioned: We knew what we were signing up for and definitely didn’t feel we were oppressed or getting upset at any point. Difficulty seemed well-controlled and this was a great first CO to play (with really difficult questions being a fun time for me). I can’t really comment on it because it’s the summer open canon-buster everyone unleashes their awesome ideas onto, but I don’t think people would be upset if this year’s CO becomes the standard or even 5-10% easier overall.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Fucitol » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:22 pm

Santa Claus wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:07 pm
Hey, so I wrote what was (as far as I can tell) the hardest science tossup in the set, judging from me asking around on the day of - the tossup on oozes, which made it in unedited from our team's submission. I intended for the tossup to link disparate pieces of knowledge about ocean science that I assumed people had with an answerline on a specific term. This does not seem to have worked very well, though, as no one I talked to converted this tossup. I'm wondering what the thoughts on the tossup were, since I'd certainly like for ocean science to make up as large of a component of the other science distro as meteorology, where people are tossing up crazy things like nacreous clouds, but it really doesn't seem practical.

The tossup as submitted:
Examples of these substances associated with Cibicides and Cibicidoides have C13/C12 ratios that lag significantly behind atmospheric levels and are used to track the circulation of fluid parcels. Transfer functions for comparing these substances can use the prevalence of Emiliania huxleyi as a physical paleoproxy. The distribution of component size in these substances is bimodal and decreases over time as its larger component dissolves, resulting in a remainder of red clay. One type of these substances dominates the other in the Arctic, Antarctic, and the Equator due to the influx of nutrients from upwelling. Diagenesis of these substances can result in the formation of chert from discarded tests and in other cases begins with the needle-like isoform aragonite. The carbonaceous variety of these substances cannot form below the compensation depth and is primarily derived from coccolithophores, while its siliceous type is formed from diatoms. For 10 points, name these biogenous benthic sediments defined by being formed from thirty percent or more planktonic skeletons.
ANSWER: oozes [accept siliceous ooze, diatomaceous ooze, carbonaceous ooze, coccolithophore ooze, or foraminiferal ooze; prompt on oceanic sediment or pelagic sediment; prompt on calcium carbonate, aragonite, or calcite; prompt on silica, or silicon dioxide]
Our submission also had the Bless Me, Ultima bonus which I thought was very reasonable, having read the book in high school. In a tournament of so many hard literature tossups, it doesn't seem that unreasonable to ask for the name of a novel which is pretty widely read (and also has come up a number of times recently).
While I can confirm that this was one of the harder science answerlines it wasn’t all that bad relative to the insanity that is “CO difficulty.”

If anything the problem with this tossup is that people know the most important “compensation depth” is calcite related (tbh it’s the only one I know and might also be the only thing with that name) so a buzz on the clue using that term which is met with a prompt is probably going to lead to a neg based on knowing a clue but not knowing exactly what you wanted the player to say.

I should also note that I was able to ascertain from context clues that the answer wasn’t going to be calcite but that doesn’t make this a good tossup even if the answer is a good idea.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:47 pm

Match recordings are here: http://doc-ent.com/co2019/
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by Cody » Wed Aug 14, 2019 6:06 pm

Nah, the problem* with the "oozes" tossup is that the specific term is too hard -- almost no one in the field knows that specific term or will be able to pull it even if they figure out what's going on. It's pretty easy to figure out (especially after diagenesis) that it's talking about a type of sediment, and someone who knows oceanography can easily get to the fact that it's a biogenous ocean sediment. (much earlier if they learned about E. huxleyi, a notable coccolithophore.) But the extension to "oozes" is unlikely to happen.

* I don't actually think this a problem. Even if it wasn't converted, it's a good tossup.

I agree that what's likely to happen is a prompt to a neg based on not knowing the exact term, but with answers based on "sediments". The context presented in the tossup firmly rules out the chemical compounds (especially once you're at "compensation depth").
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by TaylorH » Thu Aug 15, 2019 11:49 am

The PDF packets that were just posted seem to be corrupted and cannot be opened.
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:45 pm

TaylorH wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 11:49 am
The PDF packets that were just posted seem to be corrupted and cannot be opened.
We are aware of this and working on fixing it; expect them to work by tonight.

EDIT: This should be fixed. I think our use of an emoji in the subtitle may have screwed things up...
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Re: CO 2019 Discussion

Post by a bird » Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:38 pm

I'm a bit late, but here are some thoughts on the science. Overall I had a good time playing CO, so I hope I don't sound overly negative.

1. The chem tossups were like 70-80% organic syntheses, with the bulk of the clues drawing from named reactions. Quizbowl writing has been moving away from this distributional style recently (see for example PIANO and Lederberg 2019). I enjoyed the chemistry quite a bit less than last year's CO as a result of this distribution. If a tournament is going to go against the prevailing subdistribution, I think the editors should warn players beforehand.

2. The physics had a better subdistribution, but many of the constructions felt "quizbowly." The _precession_ question, which talked about a bunch of different physical effects named after people, is a good example.

3. The science history was a bit of a mixed bag, and I agree strongly with what James said upthread. Future science history questions should try to focus on defining historical events that had a big impact on a field.
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