[ExI] survivor

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Thu May 12 17:42:12 UTC 2016

 (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.)))))))


The flaw in this logic is clear:  circumstances may be different next time
and the strategy that worked last time may fail.  And maybe your strategy
was the best of a poor lot and had not faced stiff competition.  That's to
start with.

I am not familiar with Alinsky and have just bought his book.  Thanks for
the tip, Spike

bill w

bill w

On Thu, May 12, 2016 at 11:40 AM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:

> 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
> entertainment?))
> 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
> stage!
> 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.))))))))
> spike
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