Watched the Greatest of All Time competition over the last two weeks – Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, and James Holzhauer competing for $1,000,000. Which made me wonder about trivia challenges and the like.
I’ve liked trivial knowledge for most of my life. Reading a lot made that easy, and I seem to retain many facts, though admittedly some are easier to recall than others. (I have trouble recalling dates and years, and geography isn’t something I’m strong at.)
But who wins trivia challenges? In this Salon article, we’re told Jeopardy! isn’t about IQ. At least, not all of it. It’s a game show, so we’re relying on television drama and a buzzer that Ken Jennings called “a cruel mistress.”
But all the contestants know facts. Many may even know most of the answers. So where does IQ come in? Looking up the intelligent quotient, it’s “a number used to express the apparent relative intelligence of a person,” and from the Mensa website: “…it is an indication of how well one performs on mental tests compared to one’s contemporaries.”
If the average IQ is 100, and Mensa takes those of 132 or higher, where do trivia buffs fall on the scale? All over the place! According to Adam Holquist, contestants are split between “normal people” and super-performers. And on Vox, there’s a case to be made for the individual IQ score not really being predictive of performance.
So, yes, trivia buffs know a lot. But there are plenty of people who don’t play trivia games that know a lot too. And we all know a lot about something, even if no one is asking questions about those topics.
For a bit of fun, there’s a Twitter roast between the contestants from the GOAT shows highlighted on the Woman’s Day site.