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A Gettier is a correct buzz on a question made by a player who arrived at the answer through an incorrect thought process of a certain sort: they correctly determined that a clue corresponded to the right answer, but were mistaken about how. The term is named for the "Gettier problem" of American philosopher Edmund Gettier, who introduced it to challenge the definition of knowledge as "justified true belief." Making a Gettier is called Gettiering.

Gettiering is not to be confused with fraud, which involves binary word association and poor clue selection but ultimately relies on accurate deductions. Gettiering specifically describes getting a question right through an incorrect thought process.

Justified true belief and the Gettier problem

Prior to Gettier's work, knowledge could be defined as "justified true belief." In this framework, a subject can be said to know a piece of information P if:

  1. P is true
  2. they believe that P is true
  3. and they have a justification for believing that P is true

The Gettier problem is an example of a situation where all of these conditions are satisfied but the subject would not be considered to have knowledge. In one of the original examples, Smith applies to a job alongside Jones. He believes that Jones has 10 coins in his pocket and that Jones will get the job. He then "knows" that the person who gets the job has ten coins in their pocket. However, Smith gets the job instead and when he checks his pocket he finds 10 coins. The information was true, Smith believed it, and had a reason, but did he really "know" it?


An example of Gettiering a question may be buzzing on a question on birds on a clue on the Sibley-Ahlquist Taxonomy based on the knowledge that there is a famous Sibley bird guide. While this would be a good buzz, the Sibley of the taxonomy (Charles Sibley) is not the same as the Sibley of the bird guide (David Allen Sibley). In the case of this question, the player has a justified true belief about the name "Sibley" and its association with birds, however they have knowledge of the incorrect Sibley.[1] Thus, despite getting the question right and getting the points, they have been rewarded for false knowledge.

Nevertheless, the most common reason for Gettiers is faulty reasoning on the part of the player.


  1. Gettier Problems in Quizbowl by Muriel Axon » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:09 pm