[ExI] survivor

spike spike66 at att.net
Thu May 12 16:40:19 UTC 2016



It was a kind of funny thought experiment: what if. we turned a beauty
pageant around.  Currently, in the final round, they announce the most
beautiful woman in the universe (?) then expect 49 bitterly disappointed
losers to smile and congratulate the winner while pretending to not be
bitterly disappointed (sheesh (how in the hell could we consider that


But that whole beauty contest concept was getting stale (and already was
back when it was county-fair level low-brow even by those standards?)  So
what if we turn that around.  What if we get it down to 50 finalists, fifty
beautiful, talented young ladies, the winners from each sub-competition in
the same silly madness, but. instead of doing a bunch of competitions and
crowning a winner, we have a process where we give them all crowns to start
with, then repeatedly and publicly choose and de-coronate a loser, one at
time, shaming the hell out of them and the state from which they came.
Wouldn't that be shocking and funny?  Sorta?  Get the ladies up on the
stage, announcer:  The least beautiful of all these contestants is. Miss
Nebraska!  Hand over the crown and get your not-as-beautiful ass off our


Then she is shamed, Nebraska is shamed, the other contestants can put on a
phony sympathy act while inside each breathes a sigh of relief that she was
not the one that round, much like the way it is in any downsizing company
experiencing serial layoffs.


That concept might sell!  But. hmmm. choosing young ladies one at a time to
be identified as last place cellar dwellers, the least beautiful of a group
of beautiful women. that is a bit touchy really, problematic even for the
low standards of commercial TV.  But there were variations on a theme: a
quiz show called The Weakest Link, where a group of contestants played the
usual trivia games, but the last place contestant would be eliminated and
shamed by a mean dominatrix on the way out, with funny mean put-downs, such
as "Horkheimer Grunk, your ignorance knows no bounds.  You are. the WEAKEST
LINK!" and Grunk is finished, off the show, no consolation prize, and oh ho
ho, isn't that funny?  Donald Trump set up his variation on that theme
called The Apprentice, where he serially identified and shamed his least
successful trainee, dismissing each with a lusty: "YOU'RE FIRED!"  


So. variation on a theme: get a group of people isolated on an island, let
them do competitions and things, then let them vote people off the island
one at a time.  The survivors get to vote their own competitors off the
island, and in some cases those who were voted off get to vote in subsequent
rounds, opening up the dimension of revenge, writing a cool chapter in game
theory.  They did it.  The show was called "Survivor."  The last survivor
wins a million bucks.


More on that later, but. we learned so many fascinating concepts from
Survivor, that first season when not everyone really understood game theory.
They started out with a couple dozen, but eventually the guy who won that
popularity contest was the one guy with the fewest actual survival skills,
the fewest socially redeeming qualities, the one least likely to succeed,
the one who was unanimously agreed by the participants, before, during and
after the show, to be the uncontested least popular participant.  The term
"unanimous" in this case really does mean that the least popular guy
cheerfully agreed with the others that he was the least popular guy.


I didn't see many episodes, for those were very busy years for me, around
2000.  But we had Robin Hanson's play money Ideas Futures going then, and
that show got a lot of betting and a lot of commentary in Ideas Futures.  A
Reddit group formed (or its equivalent as I recall) to discuss the oddball
paradoxes that arise from this kind of competition.  In the end, the least
capable of actual survival and the very least popular guy walked away with
the million bucks.


Afterwards he explained what he did and why.  He did in fact make himself
unpopular intentionally, he did throw some strategic competitions
intentionally, made himself appear more in competent than he really was, as
part of an overall game strategy.  The usual example was he walked around
the island nude.  Some might have been cool with that, but in his case, he
was white as the Pillsbury dough boy, and as flabby.  He had nothing anyone
would want to see, any gender, any orientation.  Then he was intentionally
offensive in some cases when the nudity thing didn't work, arrogant,
deceptive, dismissive, etc.  


In interviews afterwards, he explained that he was a Saul Alinsky follower,
had studied the book carefully, understood game theory better than anyone on
that island (turns out that was perfectly true.)  When he explained the
rationale behind what he did, with the mean weird act turned off, the whole
thing made perfect sense (the rationale of the winner is always like that
(Saul Alinsky would agree wholeheartedly (if you win, then even if your
reasoning is flawed, it becomes sound by definition after the fact (that's
magic of winning (the same logic behind the old familiar saying the winners
write the history books (and propagate their DNA (both the genetic and
memetic varieties.))))))))



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