Letter to the Editor: Trivia psychology


The Lawrentian, January 30, 1976.

To the Editor:

A weekend of madness will soon grip the Lawrence campus. In just one week hundreds of Lawrentians in many teams will be virtually glued to their radios day and night for two days. Movie books, record books (especially Guinness), dictionaries, encyclopedias, newspapers from way back when, and the like will be piled to the ceiling. Spies and detectives will criss-cross the campus. Professors will be called upon at all hours in their homes, or wherever they're hiding. What is this, a mad study craze> No, just a scramble to find answers to questions such as "When is National Split Pea Soup Week?" or "How old is the tree just east of Main Hall?" before someone else does. And why has this Trivia contest been such a success over the past decade? Why do people who never dream of involvement in such things suddenly find themselves entrapped by such trivia? The most famous theory to date is that advanced by Simon S. Feud.

According to Feud, the mind is divided into three main components. They are the trivia, the question, and the super question. The trivia is the consumer of all energy in the system. It consumes it best in the form of a trivial question or answer. They are consumed by a process called anthection. The trivia is very primitive and cannot find questions to ask or answer for anthection on its own. This is up to the question and super question. The question finds questions or answers to anthect in the real world. The super question chooses the socially acceptable ones.

The problem is that Feud's trivia drive is best satisfied if the question or answer is trivial. But this is not usually acceptable in society. (Imagine, for example, asking someone "How many legs does a smashing stomatopod have?", for no apparent reason.) If this drive is not satisfied the mind becomes charged with too much psychic energy and the person becomes nervous and irritable. Fortunately, however, the trivia can be satisfied with a more complex question or answer. This is called sublimation.. Unfortunately, sublimation is never completely gratifying.

It is now evident why trivia is so successful. Everyone has an inner drive that is gratified at trivia time. As can be seen, this is very important for psychological needs. In the words of Simon S. Feud, "The importance of trivia must never be forgotten."

Submitted by:
-Stephen Pflanze