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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Are TV Game/Reality Shows Fixed?

I was watching the latest season of "The Amazing Race". The pair of women poker players seemed favored by the producers, based on how the show was edited. They finished last in the first leg. Instead of getting Philiminated, the women poker players were saved by a non-elimination leg. They managed to overcome their penalty and avoid elimination on the next leg.

Did the producers of the show decide at the last minute "This will be a non-elimination leg!", and keep the poker players in the race? I noticed that happened before, where a couple favored by the producers got an opportunistically-placed nonelimination leg.

That's the first time they ever made the first leg a non-elimination leg, which seemed really suspicious to me. Since the producers of the show don't announce ahead of time where the non-elimination points will be, they can favorably place the non-elimination points to favor certain teams. They usually eliminate one team in each of the first few weeks.

It's still an interesting show, and I'm watching it anyway. I'm suspicious that the producers of the show are cheating. It's like Chima on Big Brother complaining that Jeff got the Coup d'Etat power. It wasn't announced at the start of the season. The producers of the show can't prove they didn't add the Coup d'Etat at the last minute to help Jeff, who was popular with fans but likely to be eliminated quickly.

I also noticed another evil fnord on "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?". There have been only two grand prize winners. Both of them were State-licensed experts.

The first grand prize winner was a State bureaucrat in charge of overseeing a State public school system. The second was a Nobel prize winner, for "proving" the Big Bang theory.

There's a hidden evil fnord, which is "State-licensed experts in charge of brainwashing children are smarter than everyone else." It's possible that the producers of the show set up those two winners by giving them easy questions. The Nobel prize winner got a suspiciously easy set of questions.

The contestants are interviewed by the producers before the show. When the players reveal personal information, that can be used to give easy questions that don't seem suspicious.

You can't prove that the Big Bang theory is true. It's a reasonable explanation that fits the evidence, but that's not a proof. Humans can't perform experimental astrophysics! (yet!) There's no way to prove that the laws of physics aren't different when applied over large distances or large periods of time. The Big Bang theory shouldn't be considered absolutely proven, because there still are contradictions between observations and the theory.

Were the "State-licensed experts" intentionally set up by the producers as winners? I can't prove it, but it seems suspicious. Given the odds of the show "You have to risk $475k to win the grand prize of $1M!", without seeing the question ahead of time, it's very hard to win.

If I were on the show, I'd quit with the $500k. Even if the subject were Math, they could pick something hard like "How many vertices does a dodecahedron have?", which I could figure out with pencil and paper but not under the pressure of a TV show. Also, they once asked "How many factors does 121 have?" I answered 2 (11*11), but the producers wanted 3 (1, 11, 121). I would have gotten that question wrong. The answer also could be 1 (11, counted twice). Even for a Math question, they could use a definition other than the one I know.

Another important evil fnord in reality TV shows is "People are intrinsically evil." The rules of a reality TV show encourage the players to lie to each other and backstab each other. Once someone is eliminated, they can't retaliate. In the real world, you deal with the same person over and over again, giving an incentive to behave honestly.

A reality TV show is not a valid model for how people really behave. It's just a game, but there's a subtle hidden message that the best players are all scumbags. Usually, you can't win without lying or backstabbing someone! (Jordan won the latest season of Big Brother without really lying. She coasted off Jeff for most of the game, and then won the last Head of Household competition.)

Most TV shows have hidden pro-State messages. There are subtle ways that the producers of the show can fix the outcome. All the twists in a reality TV show aren't announced in advance, giving the producers the opportunity to cheat. It's still worth watching, provided you aren't fooled by the hidden messages.


theftthroughinflation said...

I like the theory of the rigged shows. Thinking about it I can easily pinpoint another "mole" in a TV show. I watched a couple episodes of "The Colony" on discovery which chronicles the lives of people living in a post-apocalyptic laboratory enviroment. Anyways there was 1-2 men on the show who were more agressive and less trust than the others. When more contestants were added to make the show interesting one guy didn't want to take them and was very agressive and wanted to search their private items for weapons. Was he added just to show thata violence monopoly is required because people are untrustworthy without a government?

Anonymous said...

FSK: When are you going to compile/sell a book based on your blog? You've got a lot of really good insights into what's lurking under everyday life, it could be titled "Fnords" or something.

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