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The Japanese dude who won the hot dog eating contest vs. Oscar Wilde (1); Albert Brooks advances

Yesterday I was going to go with this argument from Ethan:

Now I’m morally bound to use the Erdos argument I said no one would see unless he made it to this round.

Andrew will take the speaker out to dinner, prove a theorem, publish it and earn an Erdos number of 1.

But then Jan pulled in with :

If you get Erdos, he will end up staying in your own place for the next n months, and him being dead, well, let’s say it is probably not going to be pleasant.

To be honest, I don’t even think I’d like a live Erdos staying in our apartment: from what I’ve read, the guy sounds a bit irritating, the kind of person who thinks he’s charming—an attribute that I find annoying.

Anyway, who cares about the Erdos number. What I really want is a good Wansink number. Recall what the notorious food researcher wrote:

Facebook, Twitter, Game of Thrones, Starbucks, spinning class . . . time management is tough when there’s so many other shiny alternatives that are more inviting than writing the background section or doing the analyses for a paper.

Yet most of us will never remember what we read or posted on Twitter or Facebook yesterday. In the meantime, this Turkish woman’s resume will always have the five papers below.

Coauthorship is forever. Those of us with a low Wansink number will live forever in the scientific literature.

And today’s match features an unseeded eater vs. the top-seeded wit. Doesn’t seem like much of a contest for a seminar speaker, but . . . let’s see what arguments you come up with!

Again, here’s the bracket and here are the rules.


  1. AD says:

    Are you talking about Tsunami Kobayashi? He has a name.

  2. Jonathan (another one) says:

    Wilde is the obvious choice here, so I’ll do my best to make a case for Kobayashi.

    One could program a computer to create new Wilde adages. All of them are of the archetypal form: The ultimate in A is not-A.

    I can resist everything but temptation.
    To live is the rarest thing in the world.
    The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.
    I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a word of what I’m saying.
    She is a peacock in everything but beauty.
    I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.

    Now these are all great, and in his seminar Wilde would undoubtedly give us many more new ones. But so could computer-program-Wilde. And if we had the real Wilde, no one would bother to write the program. This creates the Wilde-Turing test: can a group of Wilde-ignorant humans tell the difference between Wildean wit and silicon pseudoWildiana? This seminar would be entertaining, and doesn’t require Wilde at all.

    Eating hot dogs, however, is a skill that computers aren’t even remotely capable of doing. We could of course create a hot-dog-eating robot that would put Kobayashi and Chestnutt to shame, but such a robot is trivial. So let a human do something that they are manifestly already inferior to machines at doing. Aspiration is the sincerest form of surrender. (See what I did there? I told you it was easy.)

    That’s about the best I can manage, and even I’m not completely convinced.

  3. Dzhaughn says:

    Suppose there were an Oscar Wilde winner
    Something that we show just cannot be:
    Cos’ if I were an Oscar Wilde wiener
    The Japanese already’s eaten me.

  4. Manuel says:

    I go with Wilde for the leprechaun tales. The Tsunami guy could tell leprechaun tales, but it would be really awkward. Wilde can eat hot dogs while enticing our attention with the leprechaun antics. Of course he will not eat so many hot dogs as the other guy, but I for one would take this as a fair trade-off.

  5. Jesse says:

    I’m pulling for Kobayashi if only because the longer he’s in, the more often Andrew will have to justify describing him vs using his name. The thought of Andrew introducing the speaker as “and now, here’s that Japanese dude who won the hot dog eating contest” sounds awkward enough to prime us all for stress-eating, and who better to give us best practices/techniques?

    • Phil says:

      If Andrew had put “Tsunami Kobayashi” in the bracket I would have had no idea who that was; that’s the only name on the list for which that is true. Sure, I could simply double-click on the name and right-click to do a Google search to find out, but who has the time? So I think no justification is needed.

  6. Steve Reilly says:

    “To be honest, I don’t even think I’d like a live Erdos staying in our apartment: from what I’ve read, the guy sounds a bit irritating, the kind of person who thinks he’s charming—an attribute that I find annoying.” Kobayashi it is then.

  7. zbicyclist says:

    All of us who have ever had their contribution put into a “We also thank …” footnote when they really should have been co-authors urge that the name of Tsunami Kobayashi appear prominently — in the next round!

  8. This reminds me slightly of the 2016 election. People were so confident that Hillary would win, they didn’t think they had to pull for her. (I see little if any similarity between Wilde and Clinton, except in this.) So… Wilde needs a plug, beyond the few that have appeared so far.

    Besides promising excellent appetizers and (sometimes) predictable adages (I agree with Jonathan in the main), Wilde would bring his true seriousness, which rises up out of the wit and charm. This is the author of “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” and “Salome,” for instance. I loved Wilde’s comic plays in childhood–memorized large sections of them–but was entranced with Salome, even though I understood little of it. He has great range and would bring it to the seminar. This may be true of Takeru Kobayashi too, but all I know about him is that he can eat a lot.

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