Monday, November 26, 2007

Salt-free Paxo

No one can reasonably expect Jeremy Paxman to have a fluent knowledge of all the subjects on which he has to ask sometimes remarkably different questions on University Challenge. But if the topic is chemistry, you’d better get it word-perfect, because he’s got no latitude for interpretation. Tonight’s round had a moment that went something like this:
Paxman: “Which hydrated ferrous salt was once known as green vitriol?”
Hapless student: “Iron sulphate.”
Paxman: “No, it’s just sulphate.”
I’ve seen precisely the same thing happen before. How come someone doesn’t pick Paxo up on it? The fact is, contestants are advised that they can press their button to challenge if they think their answer was unfairly dismissed. The offending portion of the filming then gets snipped out. But I suspect no one ever does this – it’s just too intimidating to say to Paxo “I think you’ve got that wrong.”


JimmyGiro said...

A couple of weeks ago someone gave the answer to a stats 'normalization' question as "unity"; to which Paxo said "no, it's one".

Philip Ball said...

Yes, I laughed at that one too. The weird thing is that Paxman has an earpiece for techies to put him right if he is too lenient or something (it has been known). So why don't they get fact-checkers in on the act too? They do it for QI, for goodness' sake!

Dave Bradley said...

Didn't he also do the reverse recently when the answer to the question, "which deep purple potassium salt....?" should have been permanganate he said no, it's potassium permanganate...something along those lines


Wavefunction said...

Do you get this show in the US? Maybe he was just parroting something someone else wrote. A pity in any case.