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6:33pm on Tuesday, 17th November, 2015:

Knowing Nothing


In preparation for my forthcoming bound-to-be-embarrassing University Challenge appearance, I've been watching recent episodes of the programme. I don't know whether this is a good idea or a bad idea. It's great when I hear a question to which I know the answer immediately ("Fotheringay!"), but of course this means that the same question won't be asked again any time soon. My knowledge is therefore basically wasted. On the other hand, when I hear questions to which I don't immediately know the answer, I don't celebrate for dodging a bullet; rather, I get a sense of what proportion of questions I won't immediately know the answer to when I'm on the show myself (which is "a large one").

The word "immediately" is important there. I actually do know quite a lot more than the average person, but a lot of it isn't immediately available to me. It takes about 30-60 seconds for me to retrieve it. This is far too long for a quiz show. It's not because I'm getting older and having trouble remembering things, though; rather, it's that I've always had an ability to file away things I find interesting or notable, which I can pull out later. It's like a process I can set off to look something up for me in my memory while I'm doing something else.

Another poin worth mentioning is that because I design and play a lot of games, I know answers to questions that people never ask. This gives me a wide range of knowledge, but if no-one asks the questions then that's not a great deal of use in the context of a quiz show.

Maybe I should just try to memorise some flags, American presidents and names of space missions (or play games that have these in them).

I draw the line at listening to opera, though.

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Copyright © 2015 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).