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How did those Jeopardy wiz became who they are?

  1. Mar 24, 2012 #1
    I'm always amazed at how a single person could know so many things, how did they managed to accumulate that much knowledge?

    Is there anything like a book or something where I can go through to achieve the same erudition? Or do I have to do that by many years' trivial and arduous quest?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 24, 2012 #2
    A lot of the questions are from subjects learned in high school, but other questions I guess from reading various novels and books. I am not as well read as I focus my reading on various philosophical books, some science fiction, and the bulk being various subjects in science I am unaware of. But the contestants, from my assumption, read novels that are focused in the arts. So, yes, years of accumulation of knowledge is what helps in becoming a wiz. That and quick processing power.
  4. Mar 24, 2012 #3


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    There was an article a few years back where someone went through and analyzed all the kinds of questions that are posed to Jeopardy contestants. They found that the questions actually were far more limited in scope than they appear. A quick google is in order....
  5. Mar 25, 2012 #4
    Many questions aren't rote memorization or "knowing the answer." In some cases, you can deduce the answer from clues and category to narrow it down to maybe one or two possibilities.

    For an easy example, consider this Jeopardy question from 1/31/12:

    You don't need to be up on international finance to clue in on the word "whopper."

    From the same show, consider this question:

    The question seems to focus on the names, so "Northern Ireland" would be a good guess for the answer, even if you have no idea who McDowell or McIlroy are. I sure don't.

    Last example, same show:

    You don't need to know the Epstein-Barr virus. Just look at the word "one" and it isn't hard to come up with "mono." The only trick from there is to know the full name of the disease, mononucleosis.

    Source for questions and answers: http://j-archive.com/listseasons.php
  6. Mar 25, 2012 #5


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    Questions on academic subjects seem to me to be mostly at the level covered in US high-school and college/university "general education" courses, i.e. introductory courses in the sciences, English, history, etc.

    People who travel a lot, or at least like to read about travel, also tend to pick up a lot of knowledge of various countries and geography (handy for those questions about bodies of water, or which cities are in which states/countries)

    For the world-affairs, sports, pop-culture and recent-history questions, I think you'd be well-served by regularly reading one or two weekly newsmagazines cover-to-cover (e.g. Time or The Economist, which my wife and I subscribe to), including the book, music and art reviews. It's simpler to read a magazine from beginning to end, than it is to drill down into all the sections of a web site like CNN.com or NYTimes.com.
  7. Mar 25, 2012 #6


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    Or be this:

  8. Mar 25, 2012 #7
    I think on a lot of questions, the contestants don't really know the answer, but they know about the topic and pick the most probable guess. And I think how fast they buzz in is misleading to. It makes you think they immediately knew the answer. But I think a lot of them hear the question, know they can figure it out, so they buzz in and THEN think about what the answer is, since you have a few seconds after you buzz in to answer the question. I think Ken Jennings did that a lot.
  9. Mar 27, 2012 #8
    So hard! So hard... my brain getting ice cream freeze...
  10. Mar 27, 2012 #9
    I watched a lot of discovery channel and history channel when I was younger, and I generally get about half or less of the questions. Though I'm sorry to say that this technique may not be so useful considering the quality of those two channels nowadays :(
  11. Mar 27, 2012 #10
    Me too. But I get the same feeling the knowledge density isn't so great as before.
  12. Mar 27, 2012 #11
    you mean like it decreases over time? That's why I spend a few hours every day randomly browsing wikipedia.
  13. Mar 27, 2012 #12


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    I can honestly say I gained a surprising amount of knowledge doing this. I have a really good memory for written word and wiki is perfect. While the knowledge may not be USEFUL, I often know more details about a topic of conversation and I can picture the wiki page I read it from. (I read a lot of city histories, past lawsuits, chemical information, etc.)
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