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This philosopher wrote Word and Object and became a fundamental contributor to analytic philosophy with his essay “Two Dogmas of Empiricism.”

Oh, that’s Willard Van Ormon Quine, of course.

Sounds like useless knowledge, right? Not if you’re on the twelve-member UW Quiz Bowl Team. Quiz Bowl, a game in which four players sit in front of buzzers and attempt to answer questions about anything from astrophysics to French literature, has been on the UW campus since the 1960s, when the game was referred to as College Cup.

As one of the better teams in the country (three years ago, it was ranked fourteenth nationally), the UW squad traveled to Chicago in April and butted heads with some of the best Quiz Bowlers in the national collegiate competition.

With so much material to cover, team members say one person can’t realistically prepare; having four players who specialize in different subjects is a much more effective strategy. But why would anyone already in school choose to join a team to learn? Doing so “kind of validates you for having obscure interests,” says Alex Gawenda ’09, a former team member who continues to participate in open tournaments. “If you just have genuine curiosity, there aren’t many places that reward that.”

Published in the Summer 2010 issue


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