Real knowledge

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Saint Jerome in His Study

"Real knowledge" is a term used to indicate knowledge which was gained outside of quizbowl. This is contrasted to word association and meta-knowledge of stock clues and the canon ("quizbowl knowledge" or, more derisively, "fake knowledge").

Question writers who have a lack of "real knowledge" on a subject tend to use inappropriate terminology and constructions. This is part of the larger trend of "Quizbowlese".


The broadest definition of "real knowledge" is "strong knowledge of a subject gained from outside quizbowl". Because quizbowl is closely tied to schools, it is typically assumed to have been gained via coursework or other formalized learning - however, it is possible for someone to gain it from self-study.

All knowledge is "real" in a vacuum, but the designation's significance comes from the intersection of the information that someone gains outside of the game and the space of things that come up in quizbowl.

"Real knowledge" implies the higher degree of conceptual knowledge that is needed for writing research papers, doing laboratory work, and performing critical analysis. Due to the nature of buzzer competition, real knowledge cannot truly be tested under the auspices of "good quizbowl". Nevertheless, it is typically the case that successful players have real knowledge as opposed to just memorizing many facts.

Relationship to other concepts


Main article: Carding

Carding (shorthand for flashcarding) is a method of retention involving the creation and consistent review of flashcards containing discrete facts. It is often thought of as a distinct study method and in particular one which favors rote memorization over "real knowledge", but this is a false dichotomy: carding can be used with any type of studying and can be used for any kind of information.


Main article: Fraud

Frauding is the action of answering a question based off a very rudimentary level of knowledge, or using very simplistic heuristics. For example, a player who binary associated key phrases with specific answerlines could fraud questions based off a very minimal level of knowledge. Whether or not a given buzz is fraud is typically a value judgement made by the player who made it based on their personal assessment of how "real" their knowledge is.

See also