March 10, 2010, on this blog: Family Feud politics
Facts matter in Jeopardy!
Facts do not matter in Family Feud. That game show — which pits teams of five family members against other family teams — isn’t about getting the right answer, but about guessing the most popular response. Where Jeopardy’s questions and answers come from an almanac or an encyclopedia, Family Feud’s responses come from surveys and polls. “One hundred people surveyed,” the host says, over and over, “the top five answers are on the board.” The questions on Family Feud don’t require knowledge or a grasp of information, but rather the ability to guess what answers were most popular with those “hundred people surveyed.”
Usually, the Family Feud producers do a good job tailoring their questions to this subjective format. “Name something that might be found in a glove compartment,” or “Name a popular animal at the zoo.” Such questions don’t have right and wrong answers, per se, just common or uncommon answers. But sometimes the producers trespass into more objective realms, offering questions that actually do have right and wrong answers. And on Family Feud, insisting on the right answer can get you into trouble, because those “hundred people surveyed” often seem to be an ill-informed bunch of morons.
When Alex Trebek asks you about the capital of Australia, you’d better say “Canberra” or you’re going to lose. When Richard Dawson or his successors ask that question on Family Feud, you’d better be prepared to answer “Sydney” or “Melbourne” or “Vienna,” because those hundred people surveyed may have never seen a map.