Friday, June 29, 2012

Red Shirt of Doooooooooom!

There's an established point of culture that wearing a red shirt in Star Trek (the original series) is the mark of doom.  I recently came across this entertaining statistical analysis of this phenomena, which does indeed bear out the assumption, showing that 73% of all crew member deaths occur to those sporting the fabled red shirt. It also does some other entertaining statistical analysis of red shirt death.

The only element I was disappointed not to find was what proportion of red shirts overall died. After all, the 73% only stands out if you assume that shirt colour distribution is equal. If the majority of crew were red shirts then it would would be expected that the majority of deaths would also be red shirts. And considering the rate they got through them, that's not an unreasonable assumption.

And yes, I guess I could go watch every episode of the show and count them myself, but I don't honestly care that much.

EDIT: Further thoughts

Actually I realise it's impossible to work out what percentage of the crew were red shirts (unless it's listed somewhere in a book or something). The analytical study assumes a stable figure of 430 crew, but this fails to take into account all the replacements transferred in for those killed in action. Also, since we never get to see the entire crew, we can't tell how many of them are red shirts, but assuming that the division of shirt colour is roughly equal among the crew, there would be more red shirts in total because whenever someone dies they are replaced by someone with the same shirt colour and red shirts die the most.

So it remains that in simple numbers red shirts die far more often than other crew members, How statistically significant this is may be impossible to tell, but while it's less significant than simple numbers suggest, you're still better off in blue.

1 comment:

Sleestak said...

Just started reading John Scalzi's Redshirts. Hilarious. Pokes at every Trek trope.