August 6, 2013

"It's just upsetting to have lost that way. I don't know why it would have counted as the wrong answer."

This is a case study in teaching a child to be a sore loser. Thomas Hurley III lost his $3,000 bet on "Jeopardy" because he wrote "Emanciptation Proclamation" instead of "Emancipation Proclamation."

The judges make their rulings for reasons that obviously have to do with consistency across a broad range of decisions. Quit damaging this kid by letting him blind himself to the explanation and encouraging him to feel like a victim.

Not only did he lose $6,000, but he lost the opportunity to appear in public as a courageous loser, which — over the course of a lifetime — would have been worth more than than $6,000.

How important is spelling? Well, it depends. There are spellings where one adds or omits a silent letter or substitutes a letter for another that sounds the same. Dan Quayle reinforced the typecasting that he was dumb when he prompted a child to add an "e" at the end of "potato." And yet it raised no suspicion that he would have pronounced the word incorrectly.

But the spelling "Emanciptation" raises the supicion that Hurley would have pronounced it "e-man-cip-ta-tion." Many words — like "implementation" — end in "-tation." If it hadn't been final jeopardy, and he'd said "e-man-cip-ta-tion," there's no question the answer would have been rejected. By contrast, misspelling "Proclamation" as "Proclaimation," wouldn't be so bad.

The question was a good final jeopardy question for kids in part because they had to get out 2 big words. He missed one. Don't miss again by playing the victim.

And, by the way... Emancipation Proclamation. That's a clue to get a sense of proportion about the misfortunes that befall human beings.

35 comments:

Dan said...

It didn't matter, the winner won over $66,000, so even if they judged the kid's answer correct, the kid still would have lost by over $54,000.
So, not only is the kid is a loser, and a crybaby, both the kid and the media are making up a false story.

Ann Althouse said...

He still lost $6,000, which is a lot to a kid, but the fact that the other guy did so well -- most ever for a kid on the show -- is another aspect of the sore-loserhood. That other kid should have been the story. Hurley stole the spotlight from the other boy.

The press helped, in part, I believe, because Hurley was much cuter than the boy who won big.

Ann Althouse said...

And that other boy had the opportunity to bet in a way that would make him invulnerable even if Hurley had bet all his money and only Hurley had gotten it right. He did not. He gave the other boy a shot. He's the kid we should be talking about. Why don't we? If he were the cute one, and the misspeller was a chubby nerd, the press on this would be completely different.

Matthew Sablan said...

Wait -- are you telling me the other kid almost pulled a Clavin? Has the Emancipation Proclamation ever been in his kitchen?

MisterBuddwing said...

A couple of points about this highly misunderstood story.

Contestant #2 placed second, which means he won $2,000, not $6,600 (and not $9,600 if he'd been ruled right). Contestant #1, coming in third, won $1,000.

In other words, for the runners-up, it didn't matter what dollar amounts they'd "won," only their final placements.

Also, the show has had a rather soft policy on misspellings in "Final Jeopardy!" If the correct response had been, "Who is Arnold Schwarzenegger?" and somebody left out one 'g,' they'd probably accept it. But here, the judges obviously felt the exact, correct spelling of "Emancipation Proclamation" was crucial.








AaronS said...

Are you suggesting that our media is swayed by appearance?

"If he were the cute one, and the misspeller was a chubby nerd, the press on this would be completely different."

I can't believe it. Because if that were true we would get some stories on the appearance of impropriety in any number of actions from President Obama's administration.

Ann Althouse said...

@MisterBuddwing

What you call "a rather soft policy" may be what I suspected, which is a very specific policy related to pronunciation-related misspellings.

Ann Althouse said...

On the spoken answers, they rule a person miscorrect if they say something wrong in a particular way, and I suspect the written answers are treated in a corresponding way.

MisterBuddwing said...

Contestant #3 placed third. not #1. My bad. (Moderator, feel free to correct my post without publishing this.)

SGT Ted said...

You may know the answer, but if you cannot write it correctly, you will still lose.

If you cannot write it down correctly, you need to pay more attention to your spelling and realize that it is just as important as knowing the correct answer.

The lesson to the loser kid is that "attention to detail matters".

Almost Ali said...

Throwing professorial logic in the face of an underdog is not a winning strategy.

I'm with Hurley. Even though I have reservations about his being the III.

tomaig said...

Not to be picky, professor, but "miscorrect" is a verb, meaning to incorrectly correct something.

From Merriam-Webster.com:
miscorrect: intransitive verb - to make a mistake in an attempt to correct.

If you had used that word instead of "incorrect" would you expect Jeopardy to say, "Oh, that's close enough"?

Almost Ali said...

Mr. Buddwing suggests something even I hadn't thought of: the racial implication of "Emancipation Proclamation". Which may explain the singular rigidity of an otherwise discretionary rule.

EDH said...

The winner is: Skylar Hornback!

Robert Cook said...

Perhaps this illustrates that children should not be permitted on game shows, or, at least, prohibited from playing for cash prizes.

aronamos said...

There's some regional bias going on, too. Sore Loser III is from Connecticut. Chubby Winner is from Kentucky and has a drawl, in addition to one really sharp mind. Fat and southern doesn't sell as well as being cute and unable to spell.

Ann Althouse said...

"Not to be picky, professor, but "miscorrect" is a verb, meaning to incorrectly correct something."

You're right. I'm surprised to see that I wrote that!

It's in the comments, so I can't correct it.

MadisonMan said...

Either way, with or without the correct spelling, he only gets $2000 -- that's what 2nd place gets now.

Spelling matters. And I agree that this is such a non-story.

Next up: He'll be on Wheel....of....Fortune and the answer will be All's well that ends well but he'll say ends will and lose because of that.

Carol said...

It's condsidered rude to point out spelling errors nowadays, mainly because so many people can't spell. Sadly, Mr. III didn't have the texting on cellphone excuse.

Harrison said...

Years ago I was a Jeopardy! champion. There was no "warning" that spelling had to be exact (except if you got stuck with the "Spelling" category). Writing or printing on those screens is not easy and at times the Final Jeopardy answer was nearly illegible. The judges actually allowed some contestants to "translate" their answer. Jeopardy! has changed so much in the last 5 years, I no longer watch the show.

Lewke said...

Ann wrote: "That other kid should have been the story."

It all depends on where you start. Being from Kentucky, when Skylar Hornback won my Facebook feed was full of articles about the win and video of the Final Jeopardy where they revealed the wager. Louisville & Lexington papers carried the story, even some popular UK sports sites were talking about it.

This article is from Hurley's hometown so I kind of expect it to be about his perspective, though it does make him come across as a sore loser. If Skylar had gotten the answer wrong with the same bet, the KY articles would be different as well, although still positive. Betting that much on Final Jeopardy when you absolutely do not have to to win? I'm still kind of shocked he did it.

Mazo Jeff said...

I learned long ago, "close enough" only counts in horseshoe and hand grenade

Gahrie said...

Any long time Jeopardy watcher (and I used to be one) knows that 99% of the time Alex ignores minor spelling problems like this. Why Alex made such a big deal about an extra letter this time is unknown, but that's the issue...

Gahrie said...

If you cannot write it down correctly, you need to pay more attention to your spelling and realize that it is just as important as knowing the correct answer.

But that's the issue. They are many times in the past when Alex has accepted misspellings, as long as the answer is right.

Jeopardy's position is that the misspelling was so bad, you couldn't figure out what the kid's answer was supposed to be, which is absurd.

SteveBrooklineMA said...

I disagree. Since when does spelling matter in final Jeopardy? If "emanciptation" could be interpreted as some word other than "emancipation," then I would expect the judges to call it a wrong answer. But when there is no ambiguity, my impression from watching the show is that judges will rule it close enough.

Craig said...

Then there was the guy in the Offal Office with his finger on the little red button who kept saying nu cu lar instead of nuclear. Had to put spaces between the syllables to keep the computer from correcting the typo.

JustOneMinute said...

FWIW, there were no cash consequences to the judges ruling. Hurley came in second, good for $2,000 (only the winner gets the cash amount seen by the viewers). And he would have been second even if the judges accepted his spelling.

n.n said...

Juxtapose letters and numbers. A discrepancy, even minor, could mean the difference between a successful landing and annihilation. There is a reason for objective standards, and strictly limiting tolerance of deviation. There is a reason to normalize their usage.

Anyway, Trebek is both a host and a teacher. His very controlled denunciation of the mistake should not only be acceptable but expected. It was not a general condemnation of the boy, or an effort to denigrate his dignity, but a lesson, one of many that he will learn throughout his lifetime. It's in his best interest to receive an education early in development, including constructively handling failures.

Freeman Hunt said...

He paid $6000 to ensure that he would spell a particular word correctly for the rest of his life. Maybe he could enter a career where it is frequently used and reap the full benefits of his investment.

paul a'barge said...

Point - Jeopardy does not count adult responses wrong for spelling errors.

Thus, Alex Trebeck sucks bilge water.

Sam L. said...

As I understand it, Quayle was given the answer card with "POTATOE" ON IT.

Robert Rainsberger said...

I caught the Final Jeopardy answer last night....don't know if it was a rerun (don't think so), and I think they said it was a teachers tournament. Anyway, the correct response was "what is Waiting for Godot". The 3rd place contestant's response was "Waitin for Godot" (I don't recall whether she inserted an apostrophe).

She - her response rather - was declared wrong because of the misspelling.

It seems at the least that titles must be spelled/pronounced correctly.

Harold said...

I'm (not) surprised you didn't mention the backstory about Dan Quayle and mispelling. All the judges were given cheat sheets by the teachers for the spelling bee. All identical. Ooops- not. There were spelling errors on one of the cheat sheets, the one given to Quayle. I'm certsain it was purely accidental, and a bunch of Democrat teachers would have never set out to deliberately make a Republican look like a fool. No, that would never happen.

The cheat sheet was mentioned in one line in Time magazine a week or two after the spelling bee, and that was the ONLY MSM reference to it ever. That's where I first read it, a long time ago, when I actually subscribed to newsweeklies. Just googled and found but one reference to it. But that tidbit has been known for a long time.

Smilin' Jack said...

That other kid should have been the story. Hurley stole the spotlight from the other boy.

This is known as "snatching victory from the jaws of defeat." Now Hurley will always be known as "that cute kid who should have won Jeopardy," while the other kid will be known as "the other kid." Go Hurley!

I'll take facts, hold the narrative said...

As to Dan Quayle and the spelling of potatoe, IIRC it happened during a visit to a class that was preparing for a spelling bee. And Quayle was reading from the answer card used by the teacher.