Web Analytics According to Captain Kirk:
July 31, 2007 12:25 PM   Subscribe

Web Analytics According to Captain Kirk: As the data shows, Captain Kirk "making contact" with alien women has an impact on the crew's survival. The red-shirt death rate is higher when a fight breaks out than when Kirk meets a woman and a fight breaks out.
posted by Cool Papa Bell (27 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
31 flavours of awesome.

The money shot is right here: http://www.clicktracks.com/_images/insidetrack/star-trek-graph.jpg
posted by GuyZero at 12:45 PM on July 31, 2007

I really did laugh out loud at this one.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:49 PM on July 31, 2007

Yes, the red shirt is the shirt of death. But we who wear it wear it with pride. And tell you this -- no man who is unwilling to don the red garb and fight and die by the side of the one we call Kirk will ever be a friend of mine.

And we shall die. We shall stain the ground with our blood on alien worlds, in Earth's distant past, and, occasionally, on worlds in which aliens have become convinced they are living in Earth's distance past. Madness? The is STAR TREK!

This is our purpose: We live, and fight, and die so that Kirk can pose, and preen, and pause dramatically, and then woo alien women and fly with them to the stars. We can't all be Kirk -- at least we can be the cause of Kirk's happiness.

Red shirts, be glad, for tonight we dine in hell.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:51 PM on July 31, 2007 [16 favorites]

The attempt by the 'researcher' to put a causality link between the 'Captain's Conquests' and red-shirt mortality sounds like one for The Greatest Book on Abusing Data Ever Written (and proof that 142 pages is the optimum length for a scholarly text) "How to Lie With Statistics"
Support MetaFilter, buy a copy here.
posted by wendell at 12:52 PM on July 31, 2007

If you'll excuse me, I need to go "conquer" that Orion Slave Graph...
posted by Samizdata at 1:21 PM on July 31, 2007

Mission to PowerPoint
posted by PlusDistance at 1:26 PM on July 31, 2007

You know, this is exactly the sort of thing Shatner was talking about in that SNL skit.
posted by tommasz at 1:29 PM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

I appreciate any data that supports the idea that things are better if Kirk gets some.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:31 PM on July 31, 2007

wendell: The correlation appears to be legit. Whether there's a causal relationship between the two is another question, but bearing in mind that the article is observing patterns in stories people made up, not in actual, real-life missions of the Starship Enterprise, it's entirely possible he has uncovered a consistent storytelling technique used by Trek writers: that sex is a substitute for violence.

Now, if he were trying to make this point about actual, real-life missions of the Starship Enterprise, I'd agree he was confusing correlation with causation (at the very least).
posted by adamrice at 1:33 PM on July 31, 2007

As the data shows, Captain Kirk "making contact" with alien women has an impact on the crew's survival the likelyhood of onanism by a trekker.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:35 PM on July 31, 2007

My guess is that there is a causal link that is perhaps not intentional. Given that the show is entirely a fabrication by human minds, it stands to reason that the writers of the show included all events towards a certain goal. The death of a crewmember is a subset of all events, and thus all deaths portrayed in the course of an episode are shown for a certain purpose, which is most likely to impress upon the viewer the severity of the conflict. In communicating this severity, the writers are attempting to obtain the emotional involvement of the viewer. To do this effectively, the deaths need to invoke the sympathy of the viewer, necessitating a certain of screen-time to show the death and then to depict its consequences. Given the solemn nature of death, the amount of screen-time required to do this is likely not trivial. Likewise, given the equally involved nature of interpersonal relationships, the amount of screen-time required to show Captain Kirk's forays is also likely not trivial. The duration of each episode is fixed, and a certain amount of time in each episode must be devoted to the mechanics of plot, so I therefore conclude that an excessive number of crew deaths (assuming that the screen-time devoted to dealing with the deaths of crewmembers increases non-trivially as the number of deaths increases) prevents a romantic subplot from appearing in the episode and vice versa.

posted by invitapriore at 2:12 PM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Classic bad statistics: he says all this stuff about how often red shirts die relative to other shirts, but doesn't talk about the relative number of red shirts.

That is, suppose red shirts die twice as often as yellow. You'd naively think yellow shirts are safer. But if there are ten times as many red shirts as yellow, you're in fact safer in a red shirt than a yellow.

So - funny, but I'd never hire this guy to do data analysis.
posted by freebird at 2:20 PM on July 31, 2007

I absolutely guarantee your average Excel / Powerpoint mangler is going to end up with a legend more like this on the Casualties by Year slide.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:41 PM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

I was just about to post what invitapore said, at length: there are X minutes in every episode. Every minute spent on romance is a minute in which redshirts aren't dying.

Oh, and Astro Zombie? Nothing personal, man, but I don't want to be your friend. I prefer breathing. :)
posted by Malor at 2:46 PM on July 31, 2007

Sorry, invitapriore.
posted by Malor at 2:48 PM on July 31, 2007

Like this, is what I mean to say. Because - ha! ha! - they have difficulty with technology.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:48 PM on July 31, 2007

Caffeine is the enemy of brevity, Malor.
posted by invitapriore at 2:49 PM on July 31, 2007

I like it, I like it alot.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 4:10 PM on July 31, 2007

freebird: "So - funny, but I'd never hire this guy to do data analysis."

Dammit Jim, I'm a speaker, not a doctor!
posted by salishsea at 4:22 PM on July 31, 2007

I think the awesomest part is that in a show with a mere 70 some episodes there was a statistically meaningful number of times that Kirk laid an alien chick.
posted by DU at 4:23 PM on July 31, 2007

Also, something I don't see touched on is death rates. More redshirts die numerically, but what's the ratio of red to yellow shirts on the ship? Maybe being a redshirt is actually safer than being a yellow.
posted by DU at 4:30 PM on July 31, 2007

Also also, the "exclusion theory" (more minutes spent on hot sex == fewer minutes spent on dead dudes) can be tested. In each type of episode, count how many times Spock raises his eyebrows or says "illogical".
posted by DU at 4:31 PM on July 31, 2007

The stacking of bars is problematic as well, because redshirt deaths appear to increment fight count. And redshirt deaths and fight counts appear to increment Kirk's conquests. It communicates the busyness of a given episode but since it appears to compare types of incidents it is poor at at-a-glance communication.

If I was designing that chart, I would move Kirk's head below the bar chart as a static flag, and have parallel bars for red shirt deaths, yellow shirt deaths, and fights.

And then probably get really drunk to try to forget having spent that much time on the problem.
posted by ardgedee at 5:36 PM on July 31, 2007

This guy is onto something. Captain Kirk was campy even in his prime, and statistics is a dull edged tool for working with the heart, but still he’s onto something. I’m here to tell you my cohorts and I survived the Baltimore Decency Rally of 1968 with the Karma my friend and I got from schmoozing with pretty Black women.

It was awful. The city fathers had it at the football stadium and listed big pro-Vietnam-war people like Billy Graham, or whatever... and all the anti-war people couldn’t let that go, so a sizeable contingent showed up and everybody sat together. No one wanted to sit with the white war guys, so we grouped up just below the Black section... most of whom were there ( and a lot of us as well) for a promised performance by James Brown.

The James Brown thing was a lie from the beginning, and it wasn’t long before the Black fans started to vent on the handiest white folks. I saw what I took for corrugated card-board panels sailing like frisbees into the people below me. Then someone got hit in the head by one and got knocked out. Then a guy got stabbed.

I still remember sitting under the only shade tree outside the stadium and watching the denouement, as one last white guy got chased down.
posted by Huplescat at 6:46 PM on July 31, 2007

The blue shirts have it best. Their pay rate has to be next to the Captain's, and they usually save the day when he screws up. How often does a blue shirt die? Almost never. Yet McCoy and Spock beam down all the time, and sometimes, blue shirts get lucky, too. McCoy got married and had girlfriends, even Spock got spore'd until he actually had a personality and scored a girlfriend, and in another episode had a thing with the Romulan commander woman. So their getting some/mortality quotient has to be pretty damn high.

I am such a geek.
posted by misha at 9:53 PM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Huplescat, that's a great tale, but I'd love to see you join some of those dots for us.
posted by imperium at 10:49 AM on August 1, 2007

Thanks to the internet, I've now seen a population model for vampires in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and data on Star Trek red shirt deaths (presented in a Star Trek-themed PowerPoint presentation!). Truly the interweb runs rampant with genre nerds who like to play with numbers. And I knew that, but man. I don't appreciate it until I see things like this.

I'm amazed that Kirk encountered female aliens only 1/3 of the time. I seem to remember being horrified by his courtship rituals more often than that. Or maybe those episodes are replayed more often?

I would also like to see red shirt death rates, DU. More importantly I would like to see a comparison of red shirt death rates between shows/captains. I hypothesize that Picard's crew has a lower redshirt death rate than Kirk's. Because Kirk seems like that kind of leader.
posted by Tehanu at 2:18 PM on August 1, 2007

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