Periscope Depth

life was a fly that faded and death a drone that stung

Thoreau had a post up on Unqualified Offerings yesterday re: terrorism. I don’t want to talk about terrorism since it’s too nice a day out, but he did use a humorous metaphor to make a point about terrorist recruitment …

I mean, Fear Factor got 6 attractive, physically fit, confident people who could have made far more money in personal training or sales to eat live spiders week after week for a mere $50k! (Incidentally, in a further sign that Hollywood has zero new ideas, Wikipedia says that a reboot is imminent.)

… that I addressed in comments and wanted to echo here.

In picking contestants for Fear Factor, attractiveness wasn’t a coincidence. “Wow, all six of these people photograph really well; what are the odds?” It was a necessary criterion. Producers won’t let you on TV without it.

Attractiveness was far more important than courage, in fact. You don’t want someone who can fearlessly eat spiders on camera. There’s no tension there. It’s not hard to find someone who’ll eat spiders. Go to any traveling circus that still has a geek tent. What you want, instead, is someone who will squirm and go pale, sweat making their immaculate bangs cling to their unblemished forehead, as they lift the bug to their mouth.

I make a point of it because it’s a common Bayesian error in evaluating the composition of a group. Make sure you know what the group was actually being selected for. The ostensible marketing ain’t it; take it from one who knows.

And finally, because I can never pass up a chance to quote Chesterton:

“Now, really, I know of no occupation for which mere willingness is the final test.”

“I do. Martyrs. I am sending you to your death. Good day.”

- The Man Who Was Thursday