Short-beaked echidna wrote:Re accusations of mean-spiritedness in my post: Note that I didn't call anyone a wanker (or, rather, synonyms thereof), nor did I (or Alston) impute anything of Benji or the editors as people, unlike replies to what we said.
Let me define "mental masturbation," lest it come across as purely rude, i.e. a synonym for "wanker." What I mean by this is that, under the premise of discussing some real problem that must be addressed, you have made a public display of the superiority of your knowledge, cognitive abilities, and/or other mental faculties relative to your audience. This actually happens all the time on these forums. I have no doubt that I do it as well.* Some people (Matt Jackson, for example) have the grace not to do it. But when combined with condescension, it is mean-spirited, annoying, and meritless. I'm not assessing your personality, the way you think, you as a person, or anything else outside of the content of your post. Nor do I believe I indicated anything to the contrary.
*In fact, I'm willing to entertain the idea that I'm doing it right now, in this post. Though I prefer to think that I'm trying to stamp out a bad type of post-tournament discussion. My other motive, for sake of transparency, is to defend my teammate's writing because he rarely posts here, and probably attributes less value to one's reputation as a question writer than I do.
heterodyne wrote:The problem with the Hume clue was originally mine so I feel like I should address it. My particular issue is that the tossup claims that people "understand necessary connection through the 'constant conjunction' of cause and effect." One can't understand something that is false or doesn't exist - on Hume's account, to understand necessary connection is incoherent, since there is nothing to understand (or, more specifically, if there is, it's epistemically inaccessible). An important point of Hume's argument is that the labels cause and effect are applied because of the constant conjunction of the things in question - not that there is a constant conjunction of preexisting cause and effect.
Let's grant that you're correct. Do you not see how incredibly nitpicky this is? How many philosophy questions have you written in your career? If that number is anywhere north of, say, 5, then you should know that these kinds of nuances can't always be worked out perfectly in a 7-line tossup containing 5-6 substantive non-title clues.
heterodyne wrote:Related to my above pain at being associated with (at least the idea of, if not the people within) the "music mafia," I really want to push back on the idea that the criticisms Joey and I have raised point to an unattainable ideal philosophy question. Maybe towards this end we can separate the criticisms into two classes. The first class contains things like openly incorrect statements, clues that (according to some set of standards which must themselves be defended yada yada) should not be in philosophy questions, insufficiently qualified statements about what something "is" when there is in fact debate on it, etc. The second class is descriptions of things that, in some sense, could be better. I make this distinction because, while criticisms in the second class can be applied to any set, no matter how acceptable or even great the questions are, the first criticisms cannot be applied to a lot of possible sets! In fact, I'd say that avoiding criticisms of the first class is a relatively low bar. I would say, though, that on a subjective level I felt more "bored" with these philosophy questions than I do with those in most tournaments. This suggests to me that the philosophy questions here failed to meet the average level of quality when it comes to the second class. That is, descriptions were in some sense less evocative (oh no, here I go mafia-ing again!) or intruiging.
See, I don't think you understand why you're being likened to the music mafia. Here is an alternative classification of your criticisms (ALL of them, I believe):
Class 1: You are either outright wrong, or out-of-touch with quizbowl's norms for writing philosophy questions.
Tarsky; Eichmann (your substantive criticisms are also wrong, because there's nothing problematic with a tossup that directly analyzes a historical figure without resorting to a primary focus on the underlying philosophy, even assuming that the tossup fails to address that); "mere addition" in utilitarianism ("mere addition" is not too early, as it appears in the 5th line of the tossup, before "act v. rule," "felicific calculus," and the giveaway, and you are being stupid); Bernard Baars in consciousness; Constant on Liberty; Taoism (there's no problem with philosophy questions taking a non-argument-based approach, especially for story/parable-heavy philosophical traditions from the East); Santayana
Class 2: You are nitpicking.
Hume; "no rest" in utilitarianism (given Andrew's response, this may belong in Category 1); Discipline and Punish
; Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
Class 3: Your concerns are correct, or at least valid and worth discussing on their face, without further justification.
Duns Scotus and Ockham both discussing "intuitive cognition"; P-Zombies as neg-bait for qualia; not prompting for liberty; knowledge (but I'm thinking that the "closed under closure" thing was just a typo?)
As you can see, most of your criticisms arise from a mistaken notion that your concept of how philosophy questions ought to be written is the norm. What gets filtered out from the sieve of "You Are Wrong" are a handful of nitpicks about clues being misplaced or not perfectly clear, and a handful of single-clue playability issues. Somehow, you and Joey take all of this to mean that Benji's philosophy questions are systematically bad. On top of this, you have all these unnecessarily condescending, bad-faith quips. For example:
A: Not understanding things is not good when you’re writing about them!
A: Just because consciousness is in the title of some Bernard Baars work doesn’t mean it’s good to clue him.
What do you think? Have I done a decent job at illustrating why your post was irresponsible and unproductive?
heterodyne wrote:Hopefully we don't do that, and actually explain why we hold the standards we do. I think our failure to do so was on a presumption of more commonly held standards than there apparently are.
I hope you do explain your standards. And if the community feels that your standards are worth adopting, then it should.** But realize that they are not the norm, and you should not retroactively judge a tournament for failing to adhere to standards that nobody else recognizes.
Short-beaked echidna wrote:Similarly, if the writer of a philosophy tossup decides that the sentences about, say, nonsense in TLP are arguments towards a certain goal, I'm going to be thinking of texts that unambiguously make that argument, instead of reflex buzzing on the word nonsense. I fail to see how this point is controversial. What is being conflated in your post, here, with this central point, is my proposed solution. You can resolve the problem of interpreting primary philosophical texts in a tossup by attaching interpretations to secondary readers. Philosophy has the good fortune of having a lot of super important secondary commentators that aren't well known in the quizbowl community, so if you want to clue a traditionalist reading of, again, say, nonsense, you can attach it to Hacker, who isn't going to generate a billion first line buzzes. This way you protect yourself from worrying about how to interpret primary texts that an editor doesn't reasonably have time to go in depth on, you increase clue density (there are now two named things for a player to make a buzz off instead of one) and you hedge against the possibility that you mess up the reading.
I haven't thought about it much, probably because I myself will never write another philosophy tossup, but I instinctively agree. This seems reasonable, and given my own desire to see objectivity in clue presentation throughout all categories, it serves my views on question writing as well. I wish you had articulated this in your original post, rather than posting what you did.
Short-beaked echidna wrote:[A]rguments should at least be present! Perhaps I think there should be more of them than most people, but when it felt like there were close to zero through the set, that seems like a point any can agree is an issue.
A quick perusal of the philosophy tossups suggests to me that "close to zero" is demonstrably false. But to encourage more responsible posting, I'll leave it to you to prove your claim, as that is your burden.
I think I'm done with this argument. You guys are posting productively now, you've retracted your ridiculous positions, and I think I've made my point. I fear anything else I say would be undeniably masturbatory.