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What Jeopardy! Reveals About Cognition

Today’s NY Times runs a pretty good article on whether Ken Jennings, the Jeopardy!-million-dollar-winner (and counting) is a genius. It basically gives them an excuse to explore some issues of cognitive science, particularly those related to intelligence. Good stuff.

Also, if you haven’t been watching Ken wipe the floor clean with the brains of his opponents, it really is something to watch.

  1. Sorry, Pal. This NYT article is just another uninformative, empty-headed piece of journalistic space filler. Another example of “nobody knows nothin’ about nothin'” so let’s write an article saying ain’t that innerestin’?

    Ken is interesting. Even fascinating. And here in L.A., on ABC, we segue straight from Peter Jennings to Ken Jennings and Ken’s trivia beats Peter’s news every time.

  2. I’ve got a friend who’s tried out for Jeopardy, Win Ben Stein’s Money, and several other quiz shows. He tells me that each time he’s aced the qualification quiz, but failed the screen test (which is somewhat humorous, given that he’s now got a voice credit in a blockbuster animated film, but…).

    I stopped watching Jeopardy (and TV altogether) a while ago, but it sounds like Ken Jennings is someone who managed to score low enough on the qualification quiz that they didn’t reject him for being too smart for their audience, then screen tested well, and is now mopping the floor. It’s not that he’s a brilliant trivialist, there are lots of folks like him, it’s that he’s the smart guy who finally social-engineered the producer’s screening process to get past the usual blocks put in the way of people like that.

  3. What I wonder is which of three likely scenarios will happen to dethrone Ken? Will he lose on a fluke? Kinda like Fred losing to Crazy Cabbie on Win Fred’s Money (ref: Howard Stern radio show).

    Or will the person who beats Ken actually be smarter than Ken, in which case, we’ll have Dick or Jane to watch forever to see them break Ken’s record.

    Or maybe people will get tired of Ken (no suspense really) and they’ll change the rules again.

    I’m not watching (not much of a game show watcher), but I must admit to being a bit curious to see how this plays out.

  4. I think it will likely be a case of Ken FINALLY taking a considerable risk that will avail his departure.

    Does anyone know when is the earliest instant a contestant can press that damn buzzer?

    (I’m intrigued by the screen test hurdle thing.)

  5. Why, Greg, do you think Ken will FINALLY take a considerable risk? That is observeably out of his character. And if he takes that risk, why do you assume it will lead to his demise? Is this a hubris issue? Do you view him as a demi-god who is destined to fly too close to the sun?

  6. do any of you remember the $64,000?/all the contestants admitted to being given answers to keep the ratings up except the self proclaimed genius Joyce Brothers/if you think she is smart read her books/there are no geniuses/everybody is ignorant: just about different things

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