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The Man Who Knew Too Much 655

Posted by simoniker
from the rather-clever dept.
theodp writes "For thrilling competition, Slate says the Tour de France pales next to the 25-game reign of Jeopardy! supercontestant Ken Jennings. The 30-year-old software engineer has won a total of $788,960, beating the previous record-holder by a margin of over $600,000. Watching KenJen play is like witnessing any great athlete in top form: He's the Michael Jordan of trivia, the Seabiscuit of geekdom, and his antics have once again made Jeopardy! required viewing. (Update: 26 wins and $828,960: 'When Jennings ran the Marvel comics category during the second round, host Alex Trebek asked: Have you done anything besides read comics? It pays to be a nerd, Jennings responded.')"
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The Man Who Knew Too Much

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  • Tonari no Totoro (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Karrde712 (125745) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:22AM (#9640783)
    Personally, I thought it was wonderful when Jennings announced that his good luck charm was a stuffed Totoro doll from Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro), a Studio Ghibli/Hayao Miyazaki animated film. (See nausicaa.net for more)
  • by tommasz (36259) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:24AM (#9640795)
    Not only does Ken know a lot, he's got his "signalling button fu" working. He's going to be hard to beat as a result of that alone, as we've seen. But even when he guesses, he seems to guess correctly, so there's no doubt about the breadth of his knowledge. Go Ken!
  • Incredible (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WenisMonger (787750) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:26AM (#9640809)
    It's like he knows one of the guys who makes up the trivia. It's really incredible.

    I had only heard about him until two days ago when he won his 25th in a row, and his winnings for that day were only $14,000, which was his lowest in all 25 games.

  • Curious about timing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WebGangsta (717475) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:26AM (#9640812)
    (disclaimer: I haven't watched any of these episodes, so I don't know if this has been addressed or been made obvious in any way)

    I know that normally, game shows are filmed weeks/months in advance before they're aired. For exampls, WWTBAM's daytime edition takes something like 2-3 months between taping and airdate.

    What timeframes are we looking at for the current Jeopardy episodes? These certainly aren't being taped for same-day or next-day broadcast, are they? Certainly, if Jeopardy is taped ahead of time, wouldn't it have already been leaked somewhere that there was a guy whose streak went for x episodes?

  • Maybe he's a robot (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grunt107 (739510) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:27AM (#9640816)
    This is very impressive. Maybe he has someone feeding him answers (conspiracy theory!).

    Brings to mind the recent GSN (Game Show Network) airing on the Michael Larson "Press Your Luck" scandal. This guy learned their random board sequence was actually sets of predictable moves and won what was then large $. Then the network would not pay him, although IMO he did nothing wrong.
  • by Apocalypse111 (597674) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:27AM (#9640818) Journal
    With his track record on Jeapordy, there is no way they would allow him anywhere near the set of Millionaire. I mean, if you knew that having this guy on your game would make you lose $1 million, would you do it?
  • Constantly Recording (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thpdg (519053) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:29AM (#9640828) Journal
    I've watched a few of his shows, and I have to say, he is definitely a learner. On the rare occasions that he misses a response, I've never seen him say "Oh, I knew that". Instead, he has this intense look, as if he's going to remember it for next time. If he's been doing that his whole life, then it's no wonder he has such a knowledge base.
    Based on myself, and some others that read here, I suspect a lot of the Slashdot community is the same way. How else could we recall so much about Linux, servers, PC upkeep, and any number of topics that appear here on a regular basis?
    I wish Ken the best of luck, and maybe we'll be able to talk to him here, at some point.
  • Re:Tonari no Totoro (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sglane81 (230749) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:33AM (#9640865) Homepage
    Ken is well rounded in everything except Country music and something else (can't remember). He stated this a while ago. He is one of the BYU team that selects questions for the College Bowl
  • Not even close (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arieswind (789699) * on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:38AM (#9640921) Homepage
    These games arent even close... last night he had 40k at the end, the next closest was like 4 or 5k. The night before that he had over 25k, both of the other people were in the red, for nearly the entire show. It's one thing to win 25 closely contested shows, its quite another to win by the impressive margins that he does every night.
  • by Angry Toad (314562) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:41AM (#9640939)
    I'm pretty sure he hits the button without even considering whether he knows the answer - he's been caught out like that a couple of times, having pushed the button but with no idea what the answer is. I suspect he just trusts to his vast knowledge of trivia.

    My daughter has started rooting against him - "Enough!", she yells, "Ken is getting boring! Somebody make him lose!"

    Personally I think he will just decide to walk once he hits $1000000.

  • by Psychic Burrito (611532) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:41AM (#9640940)
    Anybody seen Quiz Show [imdb.com]? To increase viewer numbers, champions regularly stayed on a show for 20+ weeks. How they did it? Participants got the questions in advance and it was all just a big show... And no, this isn't fiction, it really happened - in the 1950...

    Should make everyone wonder whether the network has really found a great candidate or just decided to increase viewer numbers again with a similar plot...
  • The New Jeopardy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gwjc (181552) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:42AM (#9640947)
    Firstly, I don't think he's cheating. People we're speculating on it the last time he was /.'d but he's just under too much scrutiny. The elimination of the five win rule set the stage for this new form of Jeopardy and I can't see how it can change from here unless the reinstate the rule. Ken will stay on top until someone like Ken but better comes along, and it stands to reason that whoever can beat him will remain unbeatable for a long run until some equally rare triv-master knocks them out. I noticed that last night when he referred to himself as a 'nerd' Trebek quickly insisted he was anything but; He used to seem more antagonistic to him. It's like Alex has Stockholm syndrome now that his show has been taken hostage by Ken. I wonder if the people who select the questions will deliberately start stacking the questions to exploit his weakspots or maybe they won't given the ratings boost he's bringing them.
    Anyway, here's to Ken!
  • Re:Culture (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shadowcabbit (466253) <cx&thefurryone,net> on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:44AM (#9640968) Journal
    If our culture is headed down the path of having high esteem for people who appear and do successfully on game shows--boy are we screwed.

    Oh, wait. We already do that with reality tv people. Whoops, my bad.


    There is a significant amount of difference between being a font of general (if often/somewhat useless) knowledge, and being willing to eat bugs on camera.

    In the one case you have demonstrated a voracious appetite for learning and retention of this learning, and made a few bucks along the way.

    In the other case, you've eaten bugs, which demonstrates the fact that, with the application of enough money, you'll probably do anything.

    I don't know about you but I have plenty of high esteem for people who win on quiz shows because they are more than likely smarter than me. (And this coming from a kid who could answer most of the questions on Jeopardy when he was seven... I haven't watched Jeopardy in such a long time, it's just too easy. I miss that one game show that was on GSN a few years back, with the hidden-host gimmick-- I think it was called Inquisition or something. That had some tough questions.)
  • by WolfJ514 (316793) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:44AM (#9640971)
    He's stated a number of times on the show that he is married.

    Furthermore, he's a BYU grad, and Mormons encourage you to get married and have more adherants, errr, children.
  • Yes, according to the article, this is the first season. In that sense, his "record' isn't that impressive. Earlier this year someone got to 7, now he's crushed that.
  • Re:Proud? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by k98sven (324383) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:51AM (#9641027) Journal
    Intelligence is not knowledge, but there is are relations between the two.
    An important part of what most of us regard as 'intelligence' is the ability to 'see' how things relate to one another and form conclusions about them.

    One way to do that is to form an abstraction in your head.
    Another way is to form an analogy and relate it to something which you do know.

    For example the conclusion: "Fighting a war on two fronts is bad", could be reached either by abstract reasoning along the lines of how a two front war would divide one's resources and increase the chance of loosing the war. Or you could form an analogy to Germany loss in WWI.

    The way I see it, they compliment eachother. But naturally, knowledge in itself is not intelligence, because you need a certain amount of abstract skills to be able to recognize an analogy.

    I Am Not A Cognitive Psychologist, however.
  • by Wally Fenderson (791245) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @08:52AM (#9641034)
    Actually, the network (CBS), was _trying_ to find a way not to pay him. The lawyers basically told them, nope, he didn't cheat, it's your fault, ya gotta pay him. The next season, CBS did double the number of patterns on the board, from 6 to 12, to try to prevent that from happening again. Sadly, Larson lost all of the money in a bad real estate investment deal (I guess he finally did hit that whammy), and died of cancer nearly broke. I did see rumors of a film based on the story, with Bill Murray as Michael Larson.
  • Bored of Ken (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Walrus99 (543380) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @09:03AM (#9641130)

    Actually I am getting sort of tired of watching Ken. I used to watch Jeopardy every evening, but have tunned out lately. He has gotten the signaling button down. Most of the lower value questions are general knowledge and its a matter of who ever signals in first. If you can control the board you can choose the categories and can pic the ones you know more about, also you have a greater chance of getting a daily double. This give an adavantage to those who have been on for a few shows and has gotten used to the timing of the signaling button, regardless of knowledge.

    I say bring back the five show rule and get some competition back in the game.

  • Re:Job Interview? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gio Angles (778876) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @09:05AM (#9641149)
    The thing is, the Jeopardy writers toss plenty of clues into their "answers", and generally reward players that have Intro level knowledge of a wide variety of subjects.

    Impossibly hard trivia -

    STAR WARS

    "This person played Boba Fett in the original SW films."

    "Who is Jeremy Bulloch?"

    Typical Jeopardy question -

    STAR WARS

    "Jeremy Bulloch played the role of this deadly intergalactic bounty hunter."

    "Who is Boba Fett?"
  • by rpbailey1642 (766298) <robert.b.pratt@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday July 08, 2004 @09:08AM (#9641184)
    We used tabbed browsing, with slashdot, wikipedia, google, and everything2 opened. So, we're not smart, we're just good researchers. (humor, humor, humor)
  • by HaloZero (610207) <protodeka@@@gmail...com> on Thursday July 08, 2004 @09:11AM (#9641199) Homepage
    Disagree. This way, he's got a significant amount to show for it if he flubs up. On Millionare, you could get stiffed by a question that they had the wrong answer to, anyway (referring to a gentics question as the 500,000$ prize, to which they had the ultimate wrong answer; the guy got it wrong, anyway, but if he had used that 50/50 lifeline or whatever and they removed the appropriate answer, there would have been legal trouble, guaranteed.)

    Besides, earning yourself 1,000,000 over a months time going head to head with 52 other people, you take more than just money away from that experience - you take away satisfaction.
  • by AndroidCat (229562) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @09:31AM (#9641377) Homepage
    There was a guy in Croatia who made a nice income from the local version of the show. I think he was eventually banned as a phone a friend. Here you go. [ananova.com]
  • how else? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by way2trivial (601132) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @09:37AM (#9641417) Homepage Journal
    muscle memory...

    I occasionally go overseas to visit extended family.. i get tapped by friends of the family to look at computers, these folks have win 3.1 (and even one with win 3.0) and win 95 machines

    I typed a 80% complete autoexec.bat from scratch, just by letting my fingers go.. I was trying on the way over to the house, (knew what I was going to be doing) to remember all the lines, and couldn't.
    with dos edit open, and a lable at the top that read 'autoexec.bat' it just kinda oozed outta my fingers non-stop....

  • by HungWeiLo (250320) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @09:45AM (#9641491)
    Personally I think he will just decide to walk once he hits $1000000.

    Anybody else notice his slight political slant that he lents into his comments? It was towards the beginning of his reign. But in the last couple of shows, he jokes that he is now in favor of the Bush tax cuts.

    Speaking of which, does anyone else notice that Bush advertises on Wheel of Fortune and Kerry on Jeopardy?
  • by Augie De Blieck Jr. (13716) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @09:46AM (#9641513) Homepage Journal
    The signaling button is no doubt an important part of the show. And last I heard, the J! producers put different people in charge of "turning on" the buzzers for every show. This way, you won't get one contestant in tune with one producer to lock into the timing. (Remember, you can't buzz in until AFTER Alex finishes reading the answer.)

    People often forget (or don't realize) that there is a certain amount of strategy involved with Jeopardy! Being smart and a trivia hound is definitely the first thing, but then the buzzer comes into play, and answer selection. (If you're under a minute to go in Double Jeopardy and another contestant is at -$2000, try hard not to pick a $2000 answer right away...)

    The idea I like the most to unseat KenJen is to bring back Chuck Forrest, Frank Spangenberg, etc. to compete against him. All out Super Jeopardy! brawl!

    -Augie
  • by mog007 (677810) <Mog007.gmail@com> on Thursday July 08, 2004 @09:49AM (#9641552)
    You don't seriously believe that they only film one episode a day, do you? He's probably gotten that money over the course of at least half the time it's taken to be aired. Sure, he'd still get the money faster on Millionare, but I saw him a few times, and I have to say that I'm glad there's someone to put Trebeck in his place, WITHOUT the cards.
  • Re:The New Jeopardy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by flamingmoose (592269) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @09:53AM (#9641598)
    There was a show in the Netherlands about a year ago, where the contestants were given a booklet with 1000 questions nd ansers from which the questions would be asked. I didn't know that the first time I watched. Just when I was in awe of the contestants (obviously, they knew very much) one girl was able to say who came second in last years Tour de France. When the host asked her (not a real question, just making conversation) who won, she didn't have a clue...
  • by Jahf (21968) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @10:01AM (#9641702) Journal
    (I had this scripted out years ago while doing an exercise in cubicle boredom ... figured I'd update it with the new points and add a line to compare his winnings :)

    Obviously he is not playing very efficiently as he has been winning only about .15% of the theoretical max (which for 26 days is $5,512,000)!


    #!/usr/bin/perl
    # jeopardy.pl ... determine the theoretical max winnings on Jeopardy!
    # optimal daily double location is the 6th $400
    $singleJeopardy = ((1000*6)+(800*6)+(600*6)+(400*6)+(200*5))*2;
    pri nt "Max Single Jeopardy round = $singleJeopardy\n";
    # doubleJeopardy doubles answer values
    # doubleJeopardy has 2 daily doubles
    # ... must sub value of 1 and double a 2nd time
    # ... again optimally the double replaces the lowest value, $400
    $doubleJeopardy = ($singleJeopardy - 400)*2;
    print "Max Double Jeopardy round = $doubleJeopardy\n";
    $finalJeopardy = ($singleJeopardy + $doubleJeopardy) * 2;
    print "Max Final Jeopardy! Winnings: $finalJeopardy\n";
    $totalJeopardy = $finalJeopardy * 26;
    print "26 days ... \$828,960 / $totalJeopardy = " . 828960 / $totalJeopardy . "% of max\n";

    # Results of "perl jeopardy.pl":
    # Max Single Jeopardy round = 35600
    # Max Double Jeopardy round = 70400
    # Max Final Jeopardy! Winnings: 212000
    # 26 days ... $828,960 / 5512000 = 0.150391872278665% of max


    ... while you can't assume that the daily doubles will always be in the lowest point category, that doesn't make too much difference in the overall points.

    It also shows why Super Millionaire is the place to play if you have that many trivial bits up top ... $10,000,000 in 30 minutes versus less than $1,000,000 in a month of playing (unless Jeopardy! runs that contestant 7 days a week he's over a month). Hopefully for his sake *laugh* they won't disqualify him from SM.

    I mean ... really!

  • by Mickey Jameson (3209) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @10:04AM (#9641740)
    [spoiler]
    Ken wins until July 23rd, the last episode of this season. When the next season airs, he wins the first 10 shows, amassing somewhere in the tune of $1.5 million.

    This season stopped taping in February and he can't legally comment on anything related to the show until his reign is over.
    [/spoiler]

    That said, I don't think this guy is all that special. Who knows how many prior 5 day champs could have done what Ken has.

    And don't ask me how I know. Let's just say a little birdie told me.

  • by Cuthbert Calculus (629326) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @10:13AM (#9641829)
    Especially considering these are taped weeks in advance. I know the contestants are sworn to secrecy, but how do they make sure no one in the audience squeals? I mean--presuming he's lost by now--surely someone at the taping must have seen it. That's an awful lot of mouths to keep quiet.
  • Re:I Just Hope... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GigsVT (208848) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @10:20AM (#9641902) Journal
    I saw one Millionare show here in the US.. I swear the guy was cheating.

    Regis kept asking him why he was fiddling with his ear.

    The guy worked for some secret government agency, and wouldn't talk about his job.

    When he did a phone a friend, there was feedback on the line, something that could only happen if his phone friend was listening to the show be recorded live.

    The guy was on twice, and quit both times at the half million dollar level. The second time, half the money was for charity.

    I never saw any news story about this guy, so I guess he got away with it. Nice way to pull down $750,000 leveraging high tech survelliance gear.
  • by pmc (40532) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @10:21AM (#9641910) Homepage
    Ah - you missed out the moutain stage - stage 15 - where he effectively won the race. He was going up this HC climb (really steep and long) with Jan Ullrich and Tyler Hamilton in his group - the leader of the stage being about a minute a head.

    Lance attacked and was starting to pull away when his handlebar got caught on a spectator's bag and he crashed to the ground most spectacularly. Jan's and Tyler's group went by him and slowed to wait - tradition demands you beat the yellow jersey, not take advantage of misfortune.

    Lance climbed back on his bike and immediately the chain slipped and he went groin first into the top-bar - eyewatering stuff. He got his rhythm again, caught up with the group. And kept going - straight through them. Tyler and Jan just could not respond and Lance went on to win the stage by 40 seconds. This gave him enough margin to eliminate any possible challenge in the last time trial.

    Tyler Hamilton, incidently, broke his collar-bone on stage one. He still went on to win a stage and finish overall fourth last year. True "Clash of the Titans" stuff. And people think a quiz-show compares?
  • by wanerious (712877) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @10:44AM (#9642237) Homepage
    You might be right, but I was on Wheel of Fortune back in 1990, and the usual schedule was to tape 4 days of 5 shows per day, getting at least a month's worth per week. I think Wheel still keeps to that schedule, and I thought Jeopardy did too.
  • Re:The New Jeopardy (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 08, 2004 @10:56AM (#9642394)

    Ken will stay on top until someone like Ken but better comes along, and it stands to reason that whoever can beat him will remain unbeatable for a long run until some equally rare triv-master knocks them out.


    Not unless the producers want it that way. Ken is smart and knows more than most, but he has strong and weak categories. He runs his strong categories and plays smart on his weak ones.

    With 25 shows to look back on, the producers could find all the areas where he had the most trouble and pack the board with "Ken killer" categories (Hint: No questions about comics anywhere on the board)

    Then they could put him up against someone who just happens to be good at those categories and a stooge. (The new winner could be killed off the next day with a radically different set of categories)

    This would be the end of Ken, but I suspect that they're going to let him get $1,000,000 before actively trying to get rid of him.
  • by pbegley (84849) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @11:14AM (#9642631) Homepage
    Ken is doing a good job. He has techniques like answering with the fewest details and always phrases his answers as a question.

    However, the only reason he has won 25 days in a row is because they changed the rules of the game.

    I forget his last name, but supercontestant Chuck from the 80's would clean KenJen's clock. Chuck gave very complete answers, including one reference in Hebrew that the judges missed the first time and gave him points after researching the answer.

    Anyone remember Chuck's last name? He didn't win the overall on one of the Champion match-ups, but he was a very impressive contestant.
  • Political Theory (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Angry Mick (632931) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @11:18AM (#9642689) Homepage
    Speaking of which, does anyone else notice that Bush advertises on Wheel of Fortune and Kerry on Jeopardy?

    Here in Atlanta, the local NBC affiliate bumped Jeopardy down from 7:00 into an afternoon time slot in favor of another local news program (in case folks missed the one at 6:00 due to our prolonged exposure to extremely heavy traffic). My guess is that Junior's folks are just playing to the percentages - looking to "borrow eyeballs" from greatest number of post-local news viewers.

  • by iantri (687643) <iantri AT gmx DOT net> on Thursday July 08, 2004 @11:28AM (#9642823) Homepage
    I wish Ken the best of luck, and maybe we?ll be able to talk to him here, at some point.
    To expand on that idea, I think a /. interview with this guy would be great..
  • by debest (471937) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @11:34AM (#9642893)
    Assuming that he doesn't just quit first....

    The guy is so good, you know that he'll never do anything stupid enough to lose. There have likely been many like him on this show, but they never had this chance (the limit on 5 wins cut them off).

    It will take another super-duper geek to beat him. Is this the future of Jeopardy? "Unbeatable" champions that just win for months at a time? Personally, that'll get boring quick. Having a heroic run once in a while is thrilling: having it happen all the time is just dull. Michael Schumacher's dominance has similarly turned me off of F1 racing.

    Methinks another rule change may be in the making for next season: a cap on earnings. Maybe $1,000,000 is the right amount.

    BTW, I'm REALLY looking forward to a "Tournament of Champions" where he can square off against some of the others that got cut off at 5 wins. I think he'd do well (likely very well), but he'd certainly not be a lock to beat some of the others we've seen on this show in the past.
  • by telstar (236404) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @11:41AM (#9642980)
    Larson ended up getting much of his money stolen (he kept piles of it around the house to participate in a contest where matching the serial number on a dollar bill would net him a prize) and wasted the rest on a bad real estate investment. He died alone ... a sad, broken, poor man.
  • by GeoGreg (631708) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @11:54AM (#9643147)
    Chuck Forrest. Who, according to this site [triviahalloffame.com] is hunting Iraqi war criminals.
  • by Octagon Most (522688) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @12:34PM (#9643662)
    "I feel like 'Cactus Gavvy' Cravath. Do you know who that is? Right. Nobody does. He's the guy who had the home run record before Babe Ruth came along." Tom Walsh, of Washington, D.C., who held the record for "Jeopardy" winnings until Ken Jennings of Salt Lake City broke it recently

    - Newsweek 7/12/04 issue
  • by Deathlizard (115856) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @12:35PM (#9643669) Homepage Journal
    according to the GSN show, they did know it was not a good random pattern way before Mike Larson. In fact, CBS producers were genuinely concerned that the pattern wasn't random enough. They just never figured that anyone would figure it out before they updated the system.

    The board had two major problems.
    1) The technology available to them was very limited in scope. It had limits on how many and how big the random patterns could be. Although I dont see why they couldn't design a system to be completely random, for some reason that I can't remember it had to be psudorandom.
    2) The screen values were not random enough. Idelally, it would have been perfect to have a whammy on every possible value and have that run a totally random pattern. at that time however, they didn't cover the entire board. There were many that didn't ever show a whammy and Mike picked two of them that were easy to track the pattern to. And one of them happened to be big bucks.

    Once Mike walked all over the board, both of these things were changed. there were more whammys and much more random patterns.
  • by JohnsonWax (195390) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @12:35PM (#9643673)
    In a previous life, I worked at a company that wrote software for sports computers - heart rate, mph, what have you. They hired a guy to come and test the software - ride the bike, treadmill, etc. who had this same condition.

    He was amazing - he could ride/run at full speed nearly without limit. So long as he kept refueling - getting oxygen and nutrients, he said mentally he could go nearly forever since he never experienced fatigue pain. The danger was that his body gave him no clues before failure. He could ride until his heart failed or his muscles tore. To him, the computers were necessary because he could make sure his heart rate stayed below critical levels and he could stop himself before he did any real damage.
  • Re:Proud? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Le Marteau (206396) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @12:48PM (#9643854) Journal
    Any one fact by itself is "useless trivia". But assorted "useless trivia" questions are just a way of gathering a random sampling of the entire body of knowledge that someone has.

    I remember when I was having my head shrinked. The psychiatrist gave me a battery of tests. He asked me about 10 'useless trivia' questions, e.g. "Who wrote 'Faust'" (I replied "Goeth", pronounced it just like that, not the German pronunciation.) Another question: "Where is Egypt?" (Africa, of course). I forget the rest.

    The shrink was using the questions to gauge my general body of knowledge. Combined with other metrics, a general picture of a person's state of mind and persona develops. Certainly, someone who knows who wrote 'Faust' and where Egypt, and the other questions, is a very different person from someone who knows none of the answers. Plus, the fact that I pronounced "Goethe" the way it is would be pronounced if it were an American name, is telling, as it showed that I obtained that knowledge by reading, rather than through a lecture or a TV show. It also showed I was not German, and had not studied the language to any real degree.
  • Conspiracy? Perhaps. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by david_reese (460043) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @02:02PM (#9644703)
    Because of the Quiz Show scandal, Jeopardy and other game shows are monitored very closely by the Standards and Practices guys.

    And who monitors them? Seriously, these days with all sorts of corruption coming to light in business [washingtonpost.com]and government [cnn.com], I wouldn't be surprised to find out that some of these "Standards and Practices guys" have ties to the network execs or show owners.

    Perhaps this is a test run, to see what the audience will eat up... a quick search on google turned up nothing on these "standards" guys.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 08, 2004 @04:05PM (#9646359)
    I am not a big fan of the show but I watched a couple of the episodes due to the hoopla. I tried to answer the questions as they came along, and I figured that IF I 'outbuzzed' him I would have come pretty damn close to beating him. I don't think the questions are that obscure, I think lots of folks in this forum could beat him knowledge wise - I think it is his buzzer speed that gives him the edge.
    Does anyone remember that old British show where they asked insanely difficult questions and these geniuses had to answer? Now that was tough, I remember watching few episodes - it made Jeopardy look like grade school
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 08, 2004 @06:19PM (#9647608)
    Yes - the unlimited winning run is new for this season. Given the huge volume of negative feedback we are receiving from viewers (I work for an abc affiliate) I very strongly suspect this will be a one season thing.

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