welcome to yet another edition of v!be.

issue #16 (long overdue!)

Last week I was asked to co-judge a poster competition at an all-india science conference. Now, I have always been at the receiving end of judgements- at home, at school, in college, from my teachers, parents and peers- on my character, my work and what not. And sure enough I have come to hate them all. All along I have borne a grudge against these "judges" and "jurors" who are incapable of understanding my "true" worth and I have questioned their decisions(of course the ones unfavourable to me) as being ad-hoc or biased or plain downright incompetent.

Now here I was, part of a team of three responsible to select a winning poster, all geared up to do the "right" thing. We were handed out sheets of paper and there were columns pertaining to attributes like "content","verbal presentation","display" etc. and we were supposed to mark them on a scale of 20- all so very nice and proper. I generally assumed that finally we would sum up all our scores for all the contestants and then rank them and so went around the exhibition with a lot of zeal, giving scores as I felt "right". A total of 14 exhibits and half and hour later, the three of us gathered together with the coordinator to deicide upon the winners. One of the judges handed over his marksheet and went off on an important call. So there we were, 2 judges, a coordinator, 3 sheets of paper and a total of 14(participants) x 5(attributes) x 3(sheets) "handwritten"(no "ms-excel" magic to add them up) numbers!

So we came up with what in the scientific community they call "heuristics" - a process that is fast, approximate, devoid of any reason but works!(hopefully). We did a quick mental addition of marks (and none of us were good at that so god knows how many errors we made) and listed the top 3 contestants from each of the 3 sheets. Now, the first problem arose. It seems the judge who had left had given 20 out of 20 in each attribute to a participant and he had even voiced how impressed he was with that guy "and", most importantly, that judge was an important professor! So, even though that particular participant was nowhere in our lists of top three, we "had" to include him. Now we had two more to choose (we had decided to declare 3 joint winners). So the two of us tallied our rankings and there was noone in common! So we went back to our original score sheet and did a real mess of finding out near-common rankings and by the time everything was done, the two names that we finally came up with was nowhere in my "real" list of top three (or top five for that matter!).

I finally came out of this frustrating experience with a new perspective to contests and judgements, and now I can say that it's true judgements are seldom right but it's not the judges' fault! So here are my sincere apologies to all those who I have mentally cursed for having done me wrong in all the judgements I have endured.



At 2:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics, remember this to save further heartbreaks ;-)


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