The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 TeasersiSteve Blog
Jeopardy
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

From the New York Times:

‘Jeopardy!’ Phenom James Holzhauer Smashes Through $1 Million Mark

By Julia Jacobs
April 23, 2019

For more than two weeks, a professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has been dominating “Jeopardy!” with a calculated strategy, an affinity for risk-taking and a deft buzzer hand.

The contestant, James Holzhauer, 34, surpassed $1 million in total earnings on Tuesday, becoming the second contestant to do so in “Jeopardy!” history and continuing his record-breaking streak.

Holzhauer won $118,816 in the game that aired on Tuesday, having capped off his winnings by correctly answering this Final Jeopardy clue: “On May 1, 1869, these two men met at the White House, four years and three weeks after a more historic meeting between them.” (Can you guess? The answer is at the end of this article.)

On the show’s hall of fame, which documents the highest single-game winnings, Holzhauer now claims the top seven spots. Holzhauer’s earnings of $1.06 million so far amount to less than half of the $2.52 million that the game-show legend Ken Jennings took home in 2004. But Jennings amassed that prize over 74 games, while Holzhauer took only 14 games to reach his total.

Holzhauer’s strategy boils down to this: Go for the high-value clues first, hunt for the Daily Doubles and, when he finds them, bet everything he has.

When I was on Jeopardy (I refuse to remember whether there is an exclamation point in the name of the game) in 1994, my buzzer only worked about one out of five times I pushed the button. So I fell behind and ended up doing something similar in a desperate push to catch up (which came close but failed).

One tradeoff is that if you pick your favorite category and start with the hardest $1000 question, and you miss, you might not get back to that category before the game is over. For example, I knew I ought to dominate the “1911” category (e.g., “Who is Stravinsky?”), but if I started with the toughest question and missed, I’d be tipping my hand that the other players shouldn’t pick that category. Presumably this guy is just so good that he’s good at almost all categories.

“I’m going to get the Daily Double right a lot more often than I’m not going to,” he said in an interview with ESPN on Monday. “I want to maximize that bet.”

It also helps to be really, really good at answering questions. Holzhauer is presumably pushing the tempo as much as he can not only to make more money during each game but in order to reduce the element of luck: like in the 1985 NCAA basketball final game, mighty Georgetown with Patrick Ewing lost because Villanova slowed down the tempo and only took 10 shots in the second half, happening to make 9 of them.

… Part of how Holzhauer rakes in cash early on is by choosing the $1,000 clues toward the beginning of the game. Instead of watching his pile of cash rise incrementally with the easier $100 questions, he aims for the bottom of the board, opening up the potential to significantly increase his total if he lands on the coveted Daily Double. …

As for the sources of his knowledge, Holzhauer has said that an underrated strategy is reading children’s books, which he said are more effective than adult books because they cater to readers who might not be naturally interested in the subject matter.

I can recall as an adolescent clearing out my public library’s selection of 75-page biographies for kids: Bismarck, Disraeli, Cromwell, etc. I was always distressed after that by the trend toward 800 page biographies that teach more than I care to know about any one person. I think I might have persuaded a guy at Penguin in the 1980s to commission a series of short biographies. If my recollection is correct, I want to apologize to him for probably ruining his career. It turns out, people want to buy biographies they’ll never finish.

Others have speculated on social media that Holzhauer’s winning streak is stretching the game show’s budget. In response to that concern, a “Jeopardy!” spokeswoman said, “Contestant winnings are budgeted for every season and James’ winnings are no different.”

When did Jeopardy last raise the value of its questions?

2001.

Jeopardy is doing fine.

 
Hide 128 CommentsLeave a Comment
128 Comments to "Jeopardy"
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
    []
  1. When did Jeopardy last raise the value of its questions?

    No, wrong, Alex Steve. That’d be “The date when Jeopardy! last raised the value of its questions.” for $5,000. Didn’t they ask questions in the form or answers back in 1994, and vice versa, Steve? Maybe that’s why you lost, on a technicality, and you’ve blocked it out in your mind ever since.

    “I’ll take ‘Repressed Memories’ for 200 dollars, Alex.”

  2. I can recall as an adolescent clearing out my public library’s selection of 75-page biographies for kids: Bismarck, Disraeli, Cromwell, etc.

    Heh, same here. Westinghouse was my favorite.

    The interesting question is why Mr. Holzhauer is a professional gambler rather than, say, a university president.

  3. Svigor says:

    Someone told me recently that Jeopardy contestants are told the categories ahead of time, so they can study up. Was that the case for you, Steve? And does anyone know if that’s the case now?

    Holzhauer has said that an underrated strategy is reading children’s books, which he said are more effective than adult books because they cater to readers who might not be naturally interested in the subject matter.

    That’s really, really good. Excellent generalist advice.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Logan
    , @JMcG
    , @Svigor
  4. @Steve Sailer

    Was it ever anything more than a gimmick? It’s just a quiz show now where you have to tack “what is” on the front of your answer, but would it be viable to use actual answers and questions in their natural habitat?

    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
  5. @Steve Sailer

    Isn’t it a backwards question thing?

  6. @Desiderius

    The interesting question is why Mr. Holzhauer is a professional gambler rather than, say, a university president.

    Because he has self respect? Because he has balls? Because he likes excitement? Because he hates sucking up to rich people? Because he hates spending his days dealing with angry feminists and spineless men? There must be many other reasons as well.

    • Replies: @SFG
    , @Desiderius
    , @danand
    , @Anon
  7. Is the answer “Who are Grant and Lee?”

    • Replies: @Father O'Hara
  8. Daniel H says:

    On May 1, 1869, these two men met at the White House, four years and three weeks after a more historic meeting between them.

    Without looking it up, Who are Grant and Lee.

    • Replies: @Known Fact
  9. SFG says:
    @Harry Baldwin

    All those are sufficient, and likely.

  10. goatweed says:

    I’ve enjoyed some of Paul Johnson’s short bios.

    Given my short internet attention span, his books are still too long for me.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Jim Don Bob
  11. @Desiderius

    My guess is that it could make a difference, but in practice maybe doesn’t.

    “It was January 1, 2001.” There are so many answers. Given the category, you still need to be creative and perceptive. “What was the turn of the 3rd millenium?”

    “It was the turn of the millenium.” Given a category like “correct dates”, this is much easier to answer.

    • Replies: @El Dato
  12. @goatweed

    Paul Johnson seems to know more facts than anybody else writing in English.

    • Agree: Desiderius
  13. So the Cliff Clavin strategy….actually works?

    Someone call John Ratzenberger for an emergency sketch on SNL!

    More seriously, the Jeopardy folks have been doing something right for a very long time. The show was on TV in the 1960s, for crying out loud. This nighttime version started later, but still. Trebek getting cancer recently was a minor crisis for many folks.

    And the whole “answer in the form of a question” gimmick is so part of our American culture, other TV quiz shows have to repeatedly warn guests not to do it.

  14. Hail says: • Website

    James Holzhauer is half-Japanese.

    He says that one of his grandmothers, a Japanese who he says could not speak much English, “came over” from Japan when he was young, and was his inspiration to game the system on Jeopardy, which he now has.

    While he has explicitly identified only 1/4 of his grandparents’ ethnic origins, the way he characterizes the grandmother (e.g., language ability and “coming over” at a late date) implies, to me, a most-likely scenario as follows:

    Ca. 1970s, High-IQ White American male (surnamed Holzhauer) meets/marries high-IQ Japanese female; baby James Holzhauer is born to this union in the USA in 1984; by the later 1980s, the Japanese mother is secure enough in visa status via marriage, or perhaps has already been citizened-in, such that she can sponsor her mother to come over, perhaps to help raise James and siblings (if any).

    The above seems corroborated by a googling of “James Holzhauer mother” which yields the name “Nachiko Ide Holzhauer.”

    • Replies: @Mr McKenna
  15. If he bets everything on every daily double he will eventually miss one and go to zero. Especially late in the game, a strong opponent could then take the lead going into the final question and knock him out.

    Holzhauer could thus get unlucky and lose all the future earnings from the games he’d otherwise get to play if he kept the consecutive win streak alive.

    And if he’s really that good, it could be a very long streak of future games he’d be looking at.

    Holzhauer obviously knows what he’s doing. But his strategy could be overly skewed toward maximizing dollars per show rather than the expected total dollars over the life of his potential run on the show.

  16. Anonymuse says:

    It is always some white guy. White male privileged again. Jeopardy questions should be made more gender balanced so womyn can excel. And I feel Alex Trebeck is a misogynist.

  17. Hail says: • Website

    On gaming the system:

    Some of James Holzhauer’s methods go against long-respected, good-sportsmanship practices on the show. The tradition back to the show’s origin, as I understand it, has always been to start with low-value questions first — specifically as a courtesy to other players and viewers (many of whom are quietly or non-quietly playing along at home), and to build up suspense as clues get progressively harder. This is not technically ‘gaming’ the system, true, but is worth mentioning anyway. All games are subject to a kind of traditional sportsmanship, discarded at the integrity of the game’s peril.

    Other of his methods are quite reminiscent of the various strategies for gaming standardized tests (e.g., his test-cramming-like memorization of factoids; his use of gamblers’ techniques).

    Most problematic, and arguably unfair, is the way he very extensively trained with the buzzer. This is a real form of gaming the system, in that he is able to buzz in at exactly the right millisecond under the current rules following his extensive buzzer training (this is described in one of these articles). A player just doing it for fun won’t care about this level of detail (e.g., a too-early buzz-in disables your buzzer for 0.25 seconds).

    This extensive, Tiger Mother-like training to beat the system gives Holzhauer a serious and arguably unfair edge over those too polite to yell “Hey!! Stop Everything! My buzzer isn’t working!” (as Steve Sailer presumably did not do in 1994.)

  18. @Hail

    Everything I’ve read says he’s 1/4 Japanese, but whether it’s 1/4 or 1/2, the critical fact is that Holzhauer is of Japanese & German extraction. Our two enemies in WWII!

    This is part of an evil plan, innit? A plan to demonstrate superior genes, or something.

  19. Western says:

    ” I think I might have persuaded a guy at Penguin in the 1980s to commission a series of short biographies”

    There is a series called A Very Short Introduction from Oxford University Press.

  20. @Harry Baldwin

    That’s what I was getting at too. The point being that Mr. Holzhauer would run circles around the present crop and it’s our loss that he was likely not afforded the opportunity to do so.

    As for excitement, one profession doesn’t preclude the other.

    • Replies: @Olorin
  21. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Steve Sailer

    When Jeopardy was new, weren’t there like a dozen popular quiz shows, so the counterintuitive format gimmick would serve to distinguish it?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  22. LarryS says:

    I wonder if experience with the buzzer is a factor. It seems timing is important.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @danand
  23. Duke84 says:
    @Hypnotoad666

    He did bet and lose 8 thousand dollars once but that was early in the game and he was able to easliy recover.By the latter part of the game he usually has a huge lead and doesn’t bet it all.

  24. Duke84 says:
    @Anonymuse

    The second longest streak is held by Julia Collins at twenty wins but it looks like Holzhauer will soon break her record.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  25. @Hail

    Some of James Holzhauer’s methods go against long-respected, good-sportsmanship practices on the show.

    Indeed.

    The bigger problem, as I see it, is that Holzhauer’s competitors have had roughly zero chance to see his novel playing style and get used to it before they walk into, as Trebek has referred to it, “a buzzsaw.”

    Holzhauer’s first show aired in early April. Jeopardy films 5 shows a day, twice a week. They stopped taping on April 6 for a season that runs through July 26. So if any of the contestants he’s been up against so far had any chance to see him prior to actually competing against him it was probably in the studio during the recording, giving them little or no time to prepare for a guy who has now also had lots of experience with the buzzer. By the time his opponents are used to being in front of a camera or using the buzzer in actual competition Holzhauer has cleaned out the high dollar clues and they’re barely to the first commercial break.

    And while I normally like Trebek, he seems to have taken a shine to Holzhauer and is almost mocking his opponents in his comments. That adds to the intimidation factor.

    Holzhauer’s “Coryat score” (the score from his answers not counting that earned from wager questions, like Daily Doubles) is almost exactly that of Ken Jennings. His aggressive betting assures that he’ll make a lot of money when he wins, but could make him vulnerable to losing if he misses one or two Daily Doubles, which he eventually will. The likely scenario is that he bombs in the first round by missing the Daily Double, then gets a set of questions that favor one of his opponents.

    Austin Rogers, who won 12 shows, and who is probably the funniest and most popular Jeopardy! contestant ever, eventually lost to a girl from Tennessee when they had a category about Dolly Parton in the Double Jeopardy round. Naturally she cleaned out the category, and that was enough to put her over the top. She lost the next day. The lady who beat Ken Jennings lost the next day, as well. So it doesn’t take a great player to beat someone like Holzhauer – just someone who gets the right mix of questions and can match him on the buzzer.

    Also, the Daily Doubles on the shows I’ve seen him in seem to have been far easier (on average) than normal. I’m not saying the show is rigged. I do think Jeopardy has a distinct political bias in its contestant selection, but I seriously doubt they rig they questions to favor certain contestants. But eventually (and very soon) he’ll get two Daily Doubles on the same show that he can’t answer, someone else will hit the other one, and he’ll come up at a loss. I think that will happen sooner than you think.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  26. Anon[319] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymuse

    Like the SAT and city firefighter civil service exams, Jeopardy is racist.

  27. Anonymous[288] • Disclaimer says:

    I read a children’s encyclopaedia cover to cover, and also one of the second tier encyclopaedias that way, not Brittanica. They were out of date, but not everything dates badly and you get a snapshot of what the zeitgeist was at the time. I found it to be an excellent way of gaining a good overview of a lot of things in life. Instead of a 75 page biography of Cromwell you get a 1-2 page overview. The childrens/lower tier encyclopaedias are a lot easier to read for fun.

    I wonder if those histories mention that Cromwell was funded by some Jews in Amsterdam in order to regain access to Britain and likely other concessions? You kind of have to do supplemental reading to learn a lot of those sort of interesting facts.

  28. @Hypnotoad666

    If he bets everything on every daily double he will eventually miss one and go to zero. Especially late in the game, a strong opponent could then take the lead going into the final question and knock him out.

    He typically only bets everything on the Daily Double in the first round. If he’s ahead in round 2 (Double Jeopardy) he’s more conservative. He’ll only bet everything in Double Jeopardy if he’s behind and/or doesn’t have much to lose. That’s what will probably eventually do him in.

  29. Anonymous[375] • Disclaimer says:

    I can recall as an adolescent clearing out my public library’s selection of 75-page biographies for kids: Bismarck, Disraeli, Cromwell, etc. I was always distressed after that by the trend toward 800 page biographies that teach more than I care to know about any one person. I think I might have persuaded a guy at Penguin in the 1980s to commission a series of short biographies. If my recollection is correct, I want to apologize to him for probably ruining his career. It turns out, people want to buy biographies they’ll never finish.

    Kids encyclopedias and reference books are excellent too. They’re short enough that you can sit and leisurely read through them entirely, yet still packed with lots of interesting info and wide coverage of a topic. Whereas encyclopedias and reference works for adults are typically too big and dense for anything more than perusals and checking out individual articles.

  30. 800 page biographies reflect the preferences of the authors, who hate to see readers deprived of any of the fascinating details about their obsession

  31. El Dato says:
    @Chrisnonymous

    Wouldn’t that be “*When* was the turn of the 3rd millenium?”

    Holzhauer’s strategy boils down to this: Go for the high-value clues first, hunt for the Daily Doubles and, when he finds them, bet everything he has.

    Here is IBM’s Watson playing Jeopardy, (from Final Jeopardy by Stephen Baker, an excellent read, buy that book!)

    It didn’t take long to see that Watson was in a groove. The machine monopolized the buzzer, hunted down the Daily Doubles, and appeared to understand every clue.

    Jennings, whose lectern was right next to Watson’s bionic hand, later said that its
    staccato rhythm as it pressed the buzzer three times reminded him of “the
    soundtrack from The Terminator.” Rutter said that playing against Watson filled him
    with a new type of empathy. “I thought, ‘This must be what it feels like to play
    against Ken or me,’” he said.

    Watson’s buzzer speed also affected the humans’ game. They felt compelled to jump
    faster than usual for the buzzer. This often led to quarter-second penalties for early
    buzzing—a trap Watson never fell into. And in their eagerness to win control of the
    board, they found themselves hurrying to respond to clues, sometimes before
    reading them, resulting in mistakes. “Against human players, you have a window,”
    Jennings said. “Against Watson, that window essentially does not exist.”

    In the first minutes of the game, Watson ransacked the board for Daily Doubles. This led it through the high-dollar clues on everything from Sergei Rachmaninoff and Franz Liszt to leprosy and albinism. The frustrated humans kept trying to buzz, to no effect. The computer nearly tripled Rutter’s score, to $14,600, and then, under Cambridge, landed on the board’s first Daily Double. “I’ll wager six thousand four hundred thirty-five dollars,” Watson said. This figure, so unusually precise, drew laughter from the crowd.

    Like everything else on the board, the clue turned out to be friendly to Watson. “The chapels at Pembroke and Emmanuel Colleges were designed by this architect.” Watson could have handled this one in its infancy. The clue featured simple syntax and a crystal-clear LAT (Lexical Answer Type) —an architect—connected to easily searchable proper nouns. By answering “Who is Sir Christopher Wren?” Watson raised its winnings to $21,035.

    Two questions later, a clue appeared in the wrong box. These glitches, which would continue through the afternoon, made life even harder for Jennings and Rutter. They
    had to stand at the podiums with their backs turned to the Jeopardy board so that they wouldn’t see a clue if one happened to pop up. These delays often lasted for five or ten minutes at a time. While the contestants stood there, attendants mopping their foreheads or offering them water, Trebek worked to keep the audience engaged. He told jokes and answered questions about Jeopardy. He mentioned, for example, that Merv Griffin, the game’s founder, raked in an astounding $83 million during his lifetime for rights to his Jeopardy jingle. One time, as technicians labored behind him, Trebek intoned: “We realize that if we keep you waiting here three hours on the tarmac, we have to provide you with a meal, and perhaps accommodation.”

    The malfunction during Watson’s runaway game arrived at a strange moment. Watson had chosen the $1,600 clue under Hedgehog Podge. The clue seemed almost designed for the computer: “Garry Kasparov wrote the foreword for The Complete Hedgehog, about a defense in this game.” Watson, as usual, won the buzz. Its answer panel showed 96 percent confidence in its first response: “What is chess?” It was Watson’s digital role model, Deep Blue, that had beaten Kasparov in the famous man-machine match in 1997. Yet as Trebek waited for a response, saying, “Watson?” the computer said nothing. After its time ran out, Jennings scored on the rebound.

    “Chess is right,” Trebek said. “And I think Deep Blue will never forgive Watson for
    missing that one.”

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @guest
  32. @Patrick in SC

    Obviously. I thought that was a pretty easy question for Final Jep. Call me cynical,but since this guy has gotten famous the ratings are way up. He’s good for business. Maybe they’re trying to help him a bit?
    He was like a machine, I have to say,relentless and confident. Had I been his opponent I would’ve collapsed into the arms of Trebeck, sobbing.

  33. @YurtAndBernie

    My impression from my game and then sitting with my parents in the studio audience watching the next two games is that if my buzzer worked, I would have won my game and then the next one, which probably would have been a total of about $40k. But it seemed like I would have lost the third game. The questions in the third game just weren’t ones I was good at. So that would have been the end of my winnings. At least back then, you only got paid if you won. But I could have used the $40k (minus taxes).

  34. NickG says:

    Most factual books should be pamphlets. Their length is predicated on the book selling business model rather than imparting knowledge.

    Even magazine and newspaper articles are often structured around a word count that encourages padding. Indeed it would be good practice to executive summarise articles at the start with one short paragraph and a few bullet points.

    I suspect this noise to signal problem is – at least part of – the reason kids don’t read anymore.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  35. @Duke84

    How many other women rank among the all timers on Jeopardy?

    • Replies: @Ragged
    , @Ragged
  36. @LarryS

    What’s the buzzer rule these days? In 1994 you had to wait until Alex Trebek finished the question. So you’d try to anticipate the end of the question coming up.

    In College Bowl back in the 1978-1980, you could buzz in anytime and then the host would stop asking the question. So the key was to buzz right before Art Fleming would say the key word in the question that would let you know what the question was about. Usually his momentum would carry him to another word or two. By big moment was in the Rice U. tournament final round in 1980 my team of 4 was down by 150 points and I got the last 5 toss-up questions in a row.

    But the College Bowl buzzer rule must have been baffling for audiences, who not only didn’t know the answers to questions, but couldn’t figure out what the questions were, kind of the way ice hockey or 6 person Olympic volleyball or Olympic wrestling is hard to watch on TV.

  37. @NickG

    Most business books are really only the first chapter.

  38. Cortes says:

    Kind of like “Route One” questions from the old (late 1960s/early 1970s) lowbrow BBC show Quiz Ball.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02mbcsf

    Teams could “score” via four routes with from four questions of an easiness the average professional football player could cope with to a single question of moderate difficulty. The teams represented real professional sides with three players and one guest fan per team. The teams which specialised in going “Route One” dominated almost always, though latterly I recall a bit of cultural skewing to handicap the better teams. My own team, Celtic, had a player – Jim Craig- who was also a qualified dentist, and the guest was a brainy actor and they used Route One all the time.

    “Route One Football” has passed into the sports language to mean no-nonsense hammering the ball upfield at every opportunity.

    As for your buzzer experience, it’s often occurred to me that the simplest way, ahem, to manage the outcome of a quiz is to control the responsiveness of the contestants’ buzzers.

  39. @El Dato

    “He mentioned, for example, that Merv Griffin, the game’s founder, raked in an astounding $83 million during his lifetime for rights to his Jeopardy jingle.”

    Merv …

    Trump outsmarted Merv Griffin in a business deal back in the 1980s, or at least that’s the way Forbes wrote it up at the time. You had to get up pretty early in the morning to outsmart Merv.

  40. @J.Ross

    Right. Merv Griffin was a show biz genius (emphasis on biz).

  41. Dtbb says:

    I am unbeatable at Jeopardy at the bar. I have had shows where I have gotten every “question” correct. Everyone wants me to tryout, but I demur because with a beer in one hand and a smoke in the other, what will I use for the button?

  42. danand says:
    @Harry Baldwin

    Harry,

    Mr. Holzhauer definitely appears to “suffer” a bit from Asperger’s. More pronounced in his first few show appearances; perhaps I am just getting used to James oddities now? Within moments of observing him in his 1st game I was struck of the resemblance in look/feel to Jeff Bridges performance in Starman.

    Just a guess as to why, with what is his obviously superior mind, he isn’t running a hedge fund instead of goofing around in Sin City.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  43. MEH 0910 says:

    “Weird Al” Yankovic – I Lost On Jeopardy

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  44. bomag says:
    @Hail

    Most problematic, and arguably unfair, is the way he very extensively trained with the buzzer.

    I like the idea of negating some of the buzzer advantage, such as randomly picking from those who buzz within the first half second after the “answer” is read.

    But streaks sell, and it could well be in the show’s interest to give a slight advantage to whoever answered the previous “answer”.

    And I very much prefer the conventional progression of clue selection; a buzzer lag could be built in as a penalty for jumping the queue.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  45. @danand

    “Holzhauer was raised in Naperville, Illinois.[4] He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics[5] from the University of Illinois, from which he graduated in 2005.”

    A lot of smart people go to the U. of Illinois, but it’s not necessarily a smart choice of college. It’s kind of a sink or swim college. I know several smart people who flunked out of U of I. Do hedge funds or McKinsey recruit there?

    According to Wikipedia, he has a Japanese grandmother, like Christian Yelich, the baseball slugger.

    I wonder if a lot of high-achieving white guys are now part Japanese? When I played College Bowl at Rice U., my superstar protege was a 16 year old half-Japanese freshman with a super WASPy name (like a now famous writer, like Tom Wolfe, only more so). He is now a professor of mathematics at a grand old college. After I graduated, he took the Rice College Bowl team further than I ever did, to the national final in 1982. My old girlfriend, who was peeved I hadn’t selected her as an alternate for the Rice U. team in 1980, and who succeeded me on the Rice U. team, said he was the best College Bowl player in the country by his senior year.

  46. his competitors be like

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  47. @prime noticer

    I looked exactly like Weird Al Yankovic in 1978. Somewhere I have a selfie I took in the bathroom mirror at Rice U. around then with the same hairdo and mustache. He first became famous about 1979 with his Knack parody My Bologna.

  48. njguy73 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Sometime between the release of his hit record, I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch of Cocoanuts, in 1949, and the day he introduced Nancy Reagan to her astrologer, Merv Griffin created Jeopardy! As Griffin recalls, he and his former wife, Julann, were on a plane talking about the quiz show scandals of the ’50s. “Why don’t you do a show where you give the contestants the answers?” Julann joked.

    “Sure, and I’ll end up in the slammer.” said Merv.

    “Suppose I said, ‘Five thousand two hundred eighty feet.’ ”

    “How many feet in a mile?” Merv shot back.

    “Seventy-nine Wistful Vista.”

    “Wow! What was Fibber McGee and Molly’s address?”

    And on that slender column of trivia. Jeopardy! was built.

    https://www.si.com/vault/1989/05/01/119810/television-for-1000-the-worlds-toughest-game-show-what-is-jeopardy-

  49. @Achmed E. Newman

    During a civics competition, I gave an answer starting with what is. The MC pointed out ” A lot of our contestants watch Jeopardy, but it is not necessary to answer in the form of a question “. That got a laugh from the audience.

  50. Besides the biographies for kids, do they still publish the “We Were There” type books? We Were There At… Lexington and Concord, The Building of The Erie Canal, The Gettysburg Address, The Creation of Vegas By The Mob.

    • Replies: @MichiganMom
    , @Reg Cæsar
  51. @bomag

    You could set a rule that everybody who buzzes within, say, one second of Alex Trebek ending the question ought to get tossed into a lottery and picked at random.

    • Agree: Hail
    • Replies: @Jack D
  52. TTSSYF says:

    For more than two weeks, a professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has been dominating “Jeopardy!” with a calculated strategy, an affinity for risk-taking and a deft buzzer hand.

    While that is true, the writer omits one very important element of Holzhauer’s success. The guy is brilliant. In addition to his quick reasoning ability, he has a wealth of knowledge that spans just about every category. I’m looking forward to seeing him return to compete against other big winners in a championship game — particularly if they bring back three or four of those arrogant bastards.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @TomSchmidt
  53. @Svigor

    Was that the case for you, Steve?

    No.

  54. @TTSSYF

    Perhaps it’s kind of like how bill James was a baseball nobody until the 2000s, but now he’s won 3 or 4???world series titles as a front office executive for the mighty Red Sox

  55. Paywalled:

    ““On May 1, 1869, these two men met at the White House, four years and three weeks after a more historic meeting between them.” (Can you guess? The answer is at the end of this article.)”

  56. Danindc says:
    @Hypnotoad666

    He said he would have lost in 2nd game if he didn’t get question of “what school was nicknamed Sadie Lou” – he said he and his wife had just talked about naming their daughter Sarah and Sadie was a nickname for Sarah. So he knew it was Sarah Lawrence. Can you imagine if this guy was knocked out in the second game of his career?

    He’s a very likable an interesting guy. Definitely for ISteve types as well – being a quarter Japanese makes a lot of sense. Especially with some of his facial expressions. Saw him last night and could not place where I’ve seen those looks before. Now I know.

    The way he’s riding now and with the confidence he has I just can’t see him losing in the near future. It could get to the point where they have to retire him or something. Did Jennings ever lose? Or did he get retired?

  57. Danindc says:
    @Fran Macadam

    Who didn’t know this question? Easy

  58. Hail says: • Website
    @Fran Macadam

    If it was General Lee and by-then-President Grant, what was the meeting about?

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    , @lysias
    , @res
  59. @Redneck farmer

    Probably not, as that would make obvious who WASN’T there.

  60. A college friend got a job writing answers/questions for Jeopardy.

    He had an astronomical IQ. I remember when he tied with John Sununu for first place on some incredibly hard intelligence test put out by Omni magazine. We used to stay up late in the dorm and talk about things like why he thought Einstein was wrong.

    Merv Griffin was a genius too, certainly for show biz. I liked his talk show when I was a kid. I hadn’t been informed yet of the law that said nobody could compete with Johnny Carson.

  61. @Hypnotoad666

    He only bets it all early on. In the Double Jeopardy round he bets conservatively.

  62. $2.52 m in 2004 is $3.39 m today. Holzhauer (“woodman”, i.e., lumberjack) has a lot more hewing to do to catch up.

  63. @Steve Sailer

    If my recollection is correct, I want to apologize to him for probably ruining his career. It turns out, people want to buy biographies they’ll never finish.

    I usually read the genealogy and the childhood parts, and skip the rest. Maybe that’s an HBD/environmental thing?

    I hate the backwards answer thing.

    Blame Merv Griffin. He and his wife were out in the car brainstorming game show ideas. One of them came up with Twenty Questions, and the other said, “Why not turn it around?”

    Merv also wrote the tune– he was a professional musician, after all. I wonder what his royalties on that were. Are.

    • Replies: @Phil
  64. @Redneck farmer

    Besides the biographies for kids, do they still publish the “We Were There” type books?

    There are many such titles for kids about RMS Titanic, in different series.

    Does Reader’s Digest still do those classic “I Am Joe’s Sphincter” articles?

  65. @Hail

    If it was General Lee and by-then-President Grant, what was the meeting about?

    Uniting the country with this newfangled perversion of rugby?

    https://www.profootballhof.com/football-history/birth-of-pro-football/

  66. Logan says:
    @Svigor

    Someone told me recently that Jeopardy contestants are told the categories ahead of time, so they can study up. Was that the case for you, Steve? And does anyone know if that’s the case now?

    Absolutely not for me. But that was 20 years ago in the old payout period.

    • Replies: @Logan
  67. @MEH 0910

    Greg Kihn, whose original is parodied, is the limo driver at the end. Good sense of humor. (Don Pardo is in there somewhere, too.) Yankovic doesn’t need to get permission, but does anyway, and he’s actually popular with his victims.

    All of Kihn’s albums were a pun on his name, the pronunciation of which is counterintuitive. I thought a good title for his hit collection would be “Fuh-Kihn-A”.

  68. Logan says:
    @Logan

    In fact, the crew told me how it works.

    The show tapes five shows a day, twice a week.

    For each day they have 20 or so prepackaged shows, and a rep from a third party organization randomly chooses one to go up. In theory at least, when the categories pop up it’s as much of a surprise for Alex and the crew as it is for the contestants.

    So even if they wanted to tell contestants what to study on, they couldn’t do it.

    They would have an incentive to do so, because those questions where nobody rings in are their worst nightmare. Boooring!

  69. @Steve Sailer

    Posing the question in the form of an answer makes the game move faster.

  70. @Father O'Hara

    Agreed. The show loves having someone generate this kind of publicity. I think he’s getting some sort of advantage, but I don’t know exactly how. Is he being tipped off to where the Daily Doubles are? Is his button easier to use?

    My other observation that supports this theory is that he simply seems like a con man. Oh, and he’s a professional gambler. Hmmmm. OTOH, I see conspiracies in my oatmeal.

  71. Logan says:
    @Anonymuse

    20 years ago men appeared on the show at least twice as often as women.

    On my last tryout I asked one of the crew why that was. He said that women who tried out were just about as good as the men, but 5x as many men showed up to try out.

    I suspect those numbers have changed.

    • Replies: @6dust6
  72. @Father O'Hara

    Obviously. I thought that was a pretty easy question for Final Jep. Call me cynical,but since this guy has gotten famous the ratings are way up. He’s good for business. Maybe they’re trying to help him a bit?

    That’s about typical difficulty level for a Final Jeopardy question. It’s easy to see a fair % of Jeopardy getting it wrong. His Daily Double questions *seem* to have been a little easier than normal, but I could be wrong.

    I doubt the show is rigged. If they were to rig it the more likely method would be to give him an advantage on the buzzer. Easier to do and fewer people involved.

  73. lysias says:
    @Hail

    Very early in Grant’s presidency for Lee to visit him in the White House. Did May Day then have any particular significance?

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  74. @Steve Sailer

    In 1994 you had to wait until Alex Trebek finished the question…In College Bowl back in the 1978-1980, you could buzz in anytime

    The college rule seems better suited to the “depth-first” style of the clues. Your Lee-Grant example is typical: first, an obscure fact, then something quite obvious.

    “Born to an economist and an anthropologist, he later became the first black President of the US.”

  75. stretch23 says:

    Hey Steve Sailer
    Glad to hear you made it to Jeopardy! I won a regional tournament back in 1984 (when Art Fleming was still host and they went out to do road shows] but I never ended up going to the main competition for some reason. The interesting thing about Holzhauer is his betting aggression. He has no fear of totally wiping out early in the game because he is confident he can get back in by double jeopardy. He is generally quite knowledgeable but not that amazing – he rarely guesses and he is very good on the buzzer. I believe he will fundamentally change the game for future outstanding contestants who will understand that once they put away their opponents early, they can’t be touched. I’m looking forward to a future match between him and Jennings, which we can be assured, is in the offing.
    your College Bowl! pal
    Steve Hahn

    • Replies: @Jimbo
  76. @Daniel H

    After about 50 years of TV viewing, it finally dawned on me what a cool name actress Lee Grant has

  77. @Steve Sailer

    I had a friend from Naperville so I notice that it regularly shows up on lists as the number one safest or best quality-of-life US community

  78. Has anyone ever looked at the demographics of Jeopardy! winners? At least among the big winners they’re almost all white males – the only exceptions are Julia Collins and the loathsome Arthur Chu. Jewish people seem way under-represented compared to what I would expect – is that because smart Jewish people have better things to do than memorize random obscure factoids?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jeopardy!_contestants

    Best entry: Hutton “Red” Gibson won the 1968 Tournament of Champions. Gibson later became a prominent sedevacantist and conspiracy theorist; his son, Mel Gibson, later became an actor.

    • Replies: @6dust6
  79. Jack D says:
    @Hail

    This is the contrast between the English and the Asian view of “cheating”. The English view is that there are lots of unwritten rules (hell they don’t even write down their constitution) but a good gentleman somehow knows what these rules are anyway and observes them. And that one of those unwritten rules is that what you are doing should be effortless (or at least appear effortless) and not look like you prepared too much or are trying too hard. The Asian view is that as long as you are complying with the letter of the law you are not cheating and that lots of preparation is a GOOD thing.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Johann Ricke
  80. Jack D says:
    @Steve Sailer

    One second is probably a touch too long a lag (maybe .7 sec) but your idea is sound. Jeopardy is supposed to be a test of knowledge, not of reaction time.

    I don’t recall – is there some kind of light that the contestants can see which goes on when Alex finishes the question and the buzzers are unlocked? If not, there should be.

  81. Jimbo says:
    @stretch23

    I also see him affecting the other contestants in finally getting off the old “start and the top and work your way down” style. Some others (like the odious Arthur Chu) have grasped the strategy of searching for daily doubles lower on the board, but after this run we should finally get a mojority of people who get it. I just don’t know how many other people will have the balls to bet as big, though: I think most Jeopardy contestants are fairly milquetoast…

  82. res says:
    @Hail

    If it was General Lee and by-then-President Grant, what was the meeting about?

    Unclear.

    http://bethanybeachnews.com/content/civil-war-profiles-%E2%80%94-lee-and-grant-meet-again-white-house_06_15_2017

    Grant took office March 4, 1869 and the meeting was May 1st. My guess is it was mostly a gesture of reconciliation to the South and of respect for Lee. Lee died a year and a half later.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    , @Hail
  83. danand says:
    @LarryS

    Larry,

    Might be worthwhile for future contestants to get their hands on one of these gizmos?

  84. Olorin says:
    @Desiderius

    Because the self-minted, internally circulated currency of The Ed Biz today is emotional chanting of certainties, not the asking of questions…even when the answer is already out there.

  85. Anon[194] • Disclaimer says:
    @Desiderius

    Mostly because it’s extremely hard to get hired as a university president. It’s a very fun and cushy job, if you can get it.

  86. Anon[189] • Disclaimer says:
    @Hail

    The hunting for Daily Doubles strategy was started about 10 years ago by a guy named Roger Craig, who actually held the highest single game winnings record until yesterday. Craig is also a computer scientist who prepared extensively for the show by using data mining programs. The main new thing Holzhauer brings to the table is the gambler’s strategy of huge wagers, which is a high risk strategy that will probably be his downfall at some point.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Craig_(Jeopardy!_contestant)#Preparation

    Craig prepared for Jeopardy! by studying the online archive of past questions maintained on the J! Archive website. Using data-mining and text-clustering, he identified the topics most likely to occur in game questions,[9] then used the spaced repetition program Anki for memorization and tested himself using his own program.[10][11][12][13][14]

  87. Anon[194] • Disclaimer says:
    @Harry Baldwin

    He’d take the University president job if he could get it. They’re not offering it to him.

    Hanging out with rich people is fun.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  88. Anon[146] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jack D

    English descended quiz show champs like Roger Craig, and Ken Jennings aren’t country squires who are too busy foxhunting or something to prep in between quiz show victories.

    http://www.ken-jennings.com/faq

    Once you found out you were going to be on Jeopardy!, how did you prepare?

    Studying up for Jeopardy! isn’t like studying up for a bio quiz in eighth grade. Jeopardy! can ask you questions on literally any subject from the entire history of all human knowledge, ever. This makes it a little bit hard to cram. That said, there are topics that, Jeopardy! fans know, come up time and again on the show: U.S. presidents, world capitals, Shakespeare, and so on. So I made flash cards on topics like these, plus a separate set on cocktail ingredients, since Jeopardy! loves their “Potent Potables” category, and I don’t drink. So, after I got The Call, my wife drilled me incessantly on the flash cards for the next month. That February, the only topics of conversation in our house were, for the most part, the presidency and cocktails, the presidency and cocktails, the presidency and cocktails. It was like going to college with George W. Bush.

    Also, I set new nerdiness records by deciding to start watching Jeopardy! (a) twice a day, (b) standing up behind my recliner to imitate the podium experience, and (c) hammering my thumb on my toddler’s Fisher-Price ring-stack toy, which I figured was about the same size as the Jeopardy! buzzer. I looked and felt like an idiot, but I think it helped.

  89. Phil says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    When I was in college, I had a habit of reading biographies from the childhood through the 1st job, with my interest petering out once the biography enter the weeds of the person’s career.

    I think I largely did this because childhood – 1st job, I had a framework for understanding what’s going on, whereas once you started down various career paths, the action didn’t fit the frameworks I had in my head nearly as well.

    I probably cheated myself out of a lot of useful knowledge with this pattern.

    I guess water under the bridge now.

  90. Olorin says:
    @Desiderius

    You raise an interesting programming idea, Des.

    How about Jeopardy, College Prezzes edition?

    Imagine them pitting against Holzhauer or other contestants against the likes of George Bridges of The Evergreen State College. Or Amy Gutmann of The University of Pennsylvania. Or Hiram Chodosh of Claremont-McKenna. Or the totes embarrassing Pete Salovey of Yale–but only if everyone wears rainbow clown wigs for that episode.

    (Sadly, Drew Faust is no longer available, having stepped down from Harvard.)

    Imagine such a Jeopardy edition’s service to society, exposing how removed from common culture or basic understanding of the world around them are college presidents, who are advanced for being glad-handing hothouse flowers specifically alienated from anything affecting the general public. And proud of it.

    John Leo at Minding the Campus unwittingly supplied list of potential show talent back in 2015.

    https://www.mindingthecampus.org/2016/01/06/worst-college-president-of-2015-who-wins-the-sheldon/

    Sadly, Leo did not continue to present the Sheldon Award.

    That was named for Penn’s abysmal prez, who presided over such clusterflubs as

    –what today is referred to as “the water buffalo incident,”

    –the unpunished theft of an entire press run of the Daily Pennsylvanian for its crime of running a lone conservative columnist who opposed affirmative action, and

    –crumpling under the frosh tooth-cutting of one Bret Weinstein, who launched his career of upending order and trust at a campus, then scurrying away to self-present as nothing but virtuous and, natch, smarter than YOU.

    (Mr. Weinstein, at the time a shall we say departmentally recognized underperformer in undergrad evolutionary biology, erred more than he knew in picking Walter Annenberg’s own and beloved undergrad fraternity to mess with. Hey, that sounds like material for a Jeopardy board square! I’ll take “Media Celebrity Professors for $500, Alex!”)

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  91. @Steve Sailer

    My alma mater had an annual, televised event called the Trivia Bowl, which pretty much suited the atmosphere. (Same place where thousands of students would gather in the quad every 4/20 to smoke pot. Now that it’s legal, I don’t know if they even bother.)

  92. JMcG says:
    @Svigor

    I was on Jeopardy a couple years earlier than Steve. Actually won a little bit of money. There were no clues given as to categories that would be used. I was awfully relieved to see no Opera popping up.

  93. guest says:

    Watching Jeopardy! being gamed is boring. My preferred contestants are ones whom I barely notice.

  94. guest says:
    @El Dato

    I don’t know how it’s possible to have a fair contest between a computer and humans when buzzers are involved. How did they work out “Watson” “deciding” to buzz in? Also, it didn’t even have thumbs.

  95. Ragged says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Pam Mueller won the College Jeopardy tournament in 2001 or so. She made the semifinals in both 2004 and 2014’s reunion tournaments, which is no small accomplishment. Her three-person team made the finals of the recent All-Star tourney but then got crushed by Brad Rutter’s and Ken Jennings’ teams. I read (I think on reddit) that she’s the all-time leader in losses on Jeopardy, since players can lose in tournament quarterfinals and still make the semis as a wild-card.

    More recently there was a great college player named Nikki Peters (half-Asian) who would probably be a legend but lost the College Tournament by blowing the second day’s final jeopardy question about Joe Biden.

    Holzhauer was on a game show called 500 Questions in 2015 where he was a “challenger” facing a “champion.” The show was so poorly designed that it was almost impossible for the “challenger” to win, and Holzhauer lost. (Pam Mueller, another “challenger,” lost to the same guy.) The show also wanted contestants to act antagonistically towards each other, and Holzhauer came across as kind of a jerk, but he looks pretty OK on his current streak. I believe “500 Questions” also tested each player’s IQ, since it would occasionally announce them. Holzhauer’s was in the 150s or 160s, Mueller’s in the 150s.

  96. @lysias

    So Lee was a Putin stooge too. It’s all finally coming together.

  97. @res

    Pretty strong evidence of collusion if you ask me. Lee was a known white supremacist. Better take down all Grant statues just to be safe.

    • LOL: Hail
  98. @Desiderius

    A distant relative of mine by marriage is/was a professional gambler (sports bettor, like Holzhauer). Had a college degree, normal job, but got into trouble in either the 70s or early 80s due to betting illegally (Texas was much more strict about those things back in the day). He became somewhat famous both locally and in Sin City because the last time he had a run in with the law, the judge suspended his sentence on the condition he move to Las Vegas.

    Anyway, I assume it’s all about the thrill of it. Newman’s line in “The Color of Money.” ‘Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.’

  99. Before getting rid of my books, I used to have a lot of those bio tombs. People like to fill bookshelves, surrounding themselves with books that become quite a burden with many moves. Some long biographies are good, but I see the point about developing a good range of general knowledge via short bios meant for non-experts. That’s how you go for the Jeopardy jackpot. It might be a good educational strategy, too, but you can do something similar with those big anthology books or now with Wikipedia.

  100. @Anonymuse

    South Asians tend to do well on the show, and although they are few and far between, just judging by memory and not stats, Blacks (again, who make to the air) tend to do well on the show as well.

  101. Steve Dahl had a huge success with “Ayatollah,” based on the same song. Beloved in Chicago,it also had some success nationally.
    A bit ironic,IMO, in that “Sharona” was itself not a real song,but an irresistible comedy song.

  102. chucho says:

    Some thoughts from watching the show around once a week in the last year (after not really paying attention to it since the 90s):

    – The contestant pool is skewed rather young, is almost entirely white/asian, and flamboyant gays and butch lesbians are over-represented (as are Jews). Latinos are very rare, even more so than blacks.

    – The clue writers are fully onboard with diversity. “African American entertainers”, “Women writers”, etc are perennial categories.

    – Women usually do better in the pop culture categories like “Recent TV”. It actually shocks me sometimes how much TV some of these contestants much watch (I usually go 0 for 5 in these categories).

    – I commend the show for not doing away with unpopular categories like the Bible and opera. These stale/pale/male categories won’t last forever, though.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  103. @Fran Macadam

    I wonder if the editor inserted that into the article. I would piss me off when I’d leave a non-essential piece of trivia like that hanging without an answer in an article and the editor felt compelled to add it. A big portion of Dennis Miller’s success was fans saying ‘oh, I get the reference!’

    It’s not the most high-minded or high-browed of literary methods, but that sort of suspense does increase reader interest. Like is there really a frozen leopard above the snowline of Mt. Kilamajaro?

  104. @Steve Sailer

    If he graduated in 2005, and he’s now 34, then he was born in 1985 or 1984. Meaning he graduated college in the year he turned 20 or 21, so he’s a little ahead of most college graduates.

  105. @Jack D

    Wasn’t it Thomas Edison who said: “Genius is one per cent perspiration, ninety-nine per cent inspiration”?

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  106. I was on Jeopardy in the early eighties, and did not win.

    The hardest part is dealing with the timing of the buzzer. We were told that the buzzers were frozen until Alex Trebek had finished reading the question, but I found that other contestants were getting in earlier on many questions, or so it seemed.

    Obviously there are many questions that all three contestants know the answer to, so timing the buzzer is a very important factor.

    However, I might still have won, except that I screwed up a Daily Double near the end. The question was “This was the only one of the New Testament gospels written, by one of Jesus’s disciples.”

    I think I said Matthew, but the answer they were looking for was John, although most scholars generally agree that the Gospel According to St. John was written several decades after the death of Jesus, and attributed to the disciple at a later date.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    , @Anon
  107. @TTSSYF

    No, he has obvious holes. Fine art, and classical music being two of them. But he REALLY does know a lot. His knowledge of pop culture trivia is superb; maybe hip-hop will trip him?

    If there’s a Double Jeopardy round with a “sculpture” and “opera” category, and the Daily Double is in both of them, he is toast if an opponent knows them and has the, uh, guts to bet big. But too many people do not bet enough on daily doubles to take him out.

    He’s an innovator: no one who follows him will be able to beat a competitor who employs his strategy. I think Jeopardy! has undergone a paradigm shift.

  108. stretch23 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    I guess that makes you my protege, and not an Asian bone in your body.

    Steve Hahn
    Rice College Bowl Captain, 1978

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  109. Hail says: • Website
    @res

    A fun, creative exercise to separate trivia-knowing, buzzer-gaming “grinds” from people of another sort: Take a given, straightforward question and alter only a single word or digit such as to make it technically not answerable; see what a person comes up with as a plausible response:

    Alternate versions of the Lee-Grant question altering only one digit:

    On May 1, 1969, these two men met at the White House, four years and three weeks after a more historic meeting between them.”

    On May 1, 1769, these two men met at a swamp east of Georgetown, Maryland (later site of the White House), four years and three weeks after a more historic meeting between them.”

    In this Creativity Jeopardy, see who comes up with more compelling answers (that is, questions: “Who are ____.”)

    The reason this is more interesting is you can’t just know facts, you have to be able to think comprehensively, constructing a plausible alternate reality.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  110. @Anon

    Throughout most of American history university presidents did a hell of a lot more than hang out with rich people. Maybe if they’d hire men like Holzhauer instead of vacuous gladhanders and milquetoast party minders they wouldn’t suck so bad that they have to prostitute themselves to grifters and conmen.

  111. @Jonathan Mason

    You’re right, but John’s the only one that could be plausibly erroneous. I remember a couple questions like that on my first driver’s exam but at the time I was too stubborn to figure out what they were trying to get at so I had to take it again.

  112. Anonymous[375] • Disclaimer says:
    @Hail

    Trivia questions already sort of do this, and in an objective fashion.

    I had no idea that Grant and Lee had met in the White House in 1869, but I immediately knew the answer to that Jeopardy question. 5 years earlier had been the Civil War; Lincoln had already died; from these facts you can infer the most plausible answers. A lot of successful trivia answering is like this.

    • Replies: @Hail
  113. Hail says: • Website
    @Anonymous

    A fair point.

    An important difference is there would be no single right answer in Creative Jeopardy (therefore not suitable to the Normal Jeopardy format; instead, could use written form responses in a 30-second window, Final Jeopardy style?).

    It’s unlikely any two people would come up with the same ‘answer’ (question, in Jeopardy format), so the purpose would be to see whose is most compelling and/or creative, what they came up with, how people’s answers are different. I have a feeling Reg Caesar would be a standout iSteve player of Creative Jeopardy.

    And since we would not be dealing with the world of fact, if we really wanted to crank it up, there is this:

    On May 1, 2069, these two men met at the White House, four years and three weeks after a more historic meeting between them.

    What would you come up with?

    Anyone who could readily come up with plausible and compelling responses/scenarios for all three (“These two men…” for 1769, 1969, and 2069) would have my respect.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  114. Anonymous[375] • Disclaimer says:
    @Hail

    There are assessments that consultant types use that are in this vein, like asking subjects to take some everyday household item like a paperclip and come up with as many uses for it as possible.

    There are obvious downsides to the buzzer as mentioned above, but it’s useful for TV entertainment, which is the ultimate point of Jeopardy! If you tried to ensure everyone had equal time to answer the same questions, the whole show would be like Final Jeopardy! and it’d be like watching people take a test and thus quite boring. You’d have to introduce some dramatic element to make it exciting.

    I don’t think the kind of broad knowledge involved in trivia is as disconnected from creativity as many people assume. New ideas are combinations of old ideas and combinations. Part of the reason for Steve’s interesting and creative blogposts is that he draws upon a broad knowledge base that he’s cultivated since his quiz bowl days. He makes connections from disparate areas, and this is only possible with breadth.

    • Replies: @res
  115. Svigor says:
    @Svigor

    Thx for the answers, Steve & co. Will inform “someone.” 🙂

  116. Ragged says:
    @Steve Sailer

    My first reply forgot Larissa Kelly, who is probably the best female player ever. She was on Brad Rutter’s winning team in the recent All-Star tournament, and Ken Jennings had her in the top 5 eligible “draft picks” (she went 6th. Ken had picked Matt Jackson 3rd).

  117. @Johann Ricke

    Wasn’t it Thomas Edison who said: “Genius is one per cent perspiration, ninety-nine per cent inspiration”?

    I think you have that backwards.

    • Replies: @Johann Ricke
    , @Desiderius
  118. res says:
    @Anonymous

    I don’t think the kind of broad knowledge involved in trivia is as disconnected from creativity as many people assume. New ideas are combinations of old ideas and combinations. Part of the reason for Steve’s interesting and creative blogposts is that he draws upon a broad knowledge base that he’s cultivated since his quiz bowl days. He makes connections from disparate areas, and this is only possible with breadth.

    Well said.

    There is a similar phenomenon with specific domain knowledge. However, there can be a tradeoff between knowing a field well and being overly wedded to its conventions.

    Perhaps I have a different idea of creativity than some though. I would summarize my view by observing that it is relatively easy to come up with ideas. Coming up with ideas which are both novel and potentially useful is much more difficult. Being able to evaluate and build on those ideas to the point where they are actually useful in reality just adds to the difficulty (but can sometimes be outsourced).

    • Agree: Desiderius
  119. @Jim Don Bob

    I think you have that backwards.

    Precisely. Not only is it not effortless – it’s all-consuming.

  120. @Jim Don Bob

    I believe that was the joke.

  121. @Olorin

    Worked on unmasking the cluelessness of Wolf Blitzer et. al.

  122. 6dust6 says:
    @Logan

    I have noticed that women do not play as well as men on the show. For one thing they are more risk averse. Also, if there is more than one female contestant competing the questions seem to be easier, more like the college and high school game questions. James Holzhauer is formidable, the real deal. He knows the garbage pop culture qustions as well as science and arcane geographical facts. His breadth of knowledge is astounding. And that Final Jeopardy question was not a fair sample, they are usually more difficult than that one.

  123. 6dust6 says:
    @Space Ghost

    Agree. I am assuming that Alex Jacobs is Jewish and he was a big winner. A professional gambler, he seemed to pioneer playing the game backwards, (along with Arthur Chu), and also took high risks with the bonus questions. And out of the two that you mentioned, Julia Collins and Arthur Chu, I am not sure which one I disliked the most.

  124. Anon[192] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jonathan Mason

    John’s, iirc, is the only Gospel that asserts in the text (at the very end) to have been written by a disciple. That’s probably what they were going for but they could have posed the question or answer or whatever much, much better.

Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - Comments are moderated by iSteve, at whim.


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Steve Sailer Comments via RSS
PastClassics
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?