Jeopardy! and Philosophy: What is Knowledge in the Form of a Question?

Jeopardy! and Philosophy: What is Knowledge in the Form of a Question?


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Jeopardy! and Philosophy: What is Knowledge in the Form of a Question? by Shaun P. Young

Since its debut in 1964, Jeopardy! has been one of America’s favorite and longest-running daytime quiz shows. It turns the question-answer format of traditional quiz shows on its head and requires contestants to pose correct questions to answers in selected categories. While mining information and facts from Alchemy to Zoology, Jeopardy!, is a uniquely intellectual, erudite, and challenging daytime television program. Far beyond entertaining its fans with nail-biting contests of knowledge, memory, and speed, it all but requires them to participate. Few people watch Jeopardy! without pressing an invisible button and blurting out questions to their TV screen.

Because of this personal and intellectual investment, most Jeopardy! fans are devout. Watching the show is valued as a daily ritual in which genuine intellectual skill and encyclopedic knowledge (as opposed to thin Hollywood depictions such as those in Big Bang Theory or Rain Man) are not only respected and placed in the spotlight, but also rewarded with national prestige and prize winnings. Champion Ken Jennings (who contributes to this volume) has won over three million dollars and remained champion seventy-four times. For those who embrace Jeopardy! as an intellectual oasis in the arid desert of popular culture, it is the geeks who shall inherit the earth.

Jeopardy!’s celebration of intellect and forward-thinking is well recognized throughout popular culture and among all age groups. Ken Jennings, Chuck Forrest, and other all-time champions are near celebrities, while the show itself regularly reaches out through special tournaments to different segments of American culture, such as actors and musicians (Celebrity Jeopardy!), high-school and college students (Teen Tournament and College Championship Jeopardy!) and senior citizens (Senior Tournament Jeopardy!). Still, despite its widespread respect and, some might complain, smug self-respect, neither the show nor its fans take themselves too seriously. Jokes about host Alex Trebek’s hair and famous parodies of Jeopardy! on Saturday Night Live are as familiar as Weird Al Yankovic’s MTV-mainstay “I Lost on Jeopardy!” (to the tune of “Our Love’s in Jeopardy”):

Don't know what I was thinkin' of,
I guess I just wasn't too bright.
Well, I sure hope I do better
Next weekend on The Price Is Right.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812697995
Publisher: Open Court Publishing Company
Publication date: 11/06/2012
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

A Champion's Philosophical Reflection Ken Jennings ix

Acknowledgments xiii

A Quiz Show, Some Fans, and a Lot of Fun: What Is Jeopardy! and Philosophy? Shaun P. Young xv

I'll Take Popular Culture, Alex xix

I America's Favorite Quiz Show 1

1 Jeopardy! and American Exceptionalism Daniel F. Melia 3

2 Are all Jeopardy! Contestants Created Equal? Shaun P. Young 15

3 What Makes Jeopardy! a Good Game? Brendan Shea 27

4 Cliff Lost on Jeopardy!, Baby Franklin Allaire 39

I'll Take Slogans, Alex 51

II The Jeopardy! Moment 53

5 Dumberer and Smarterer Timothy Sexton 55

6 Jeopardy! Monkeys Ain't Smart Robert Arp 67

7 I, for One, Welcome Our New Computer Overlords Nicolas Michaud 77

8 What Is Jeopardy!? Randall E. Auxier 89

9 Not a Buzz Threshold but an Aha! Moment Rick Mayock 109

I'll Take Twentieth Century, Alex 121

III You Control the Board 123

10 Truth in the Form of a Question Daniel Wanless 125

11 It's Been an Education Matt Kohlstedt 137

12 Democracy's in Jeopardy! Joseph J. Foy 149

13 Survivor Has More to Do with Intelligence than Jeopardy! Ellen Sorg 159

14 This Question Is False George A. Reisch 167

I'll Take Potpourri, Alex 181

Meet the Clue Crew 183

Watson's Words 189

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