Discriminatory clothing

[HT: Freakonomics] In some desperately needed, clear headed analytics, Matt Bailey investigates discrimination in indiscriminate killings on Star Trek (The Original Series). Of the 59 crew members of the Enterprise who lost their lives:

  • Yellow-shirt crewperson deaths: 6 (10%)
  • Blue-Shirt crewperson deaths: 5 (8 %)
  • Engineering smock crewperson deaths: 4
  • Red-Shirt crewperson deaths: 43 (73%)

This was also a reasonable share of the Enterprise complement (Bailey calculates 13.7 percent but confuses stock and flow issues so it is probably about 10 percent). Here is the full set of data. Anyhow, the perceived red-shirt crew phenomenon is borne out by the stats. What is more, Bailey finds that the most risky scenes were situations where there was on on-planet alien-human fight.

In actuality, I think that this analysis neglects some proper Bayesian calculations — something, believe it or not, I don’t have time to do right now (but I will happily post if someone does it). You have to factor: (a) the fact that red-shirt crew are mostly in security; (b) that the episodes shown tend to be situations ‘out of routine’ in the five year mission; and (c) the unknown proportions of colours amongst the crew. I will note, however, that a generation later, the total amount of seemingly clothes coloured related deaths on Star Trek diminished. But, once again, the world is crying out for a proper analysis.

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