Trek Analysis: The Red-Shirt Phenomenon

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Here's one for the old-school Star Trek fans. Matt Bailey of SiteLogic has posted data and an in-depth analysis of red-shirt deaths on the original series. Bailey comes from a web analytics background -- a domain concerned with measuring web traffic and analyzing data to recognize and exploit trends. By applying these techniques to the Trek data, Bailey uncovers some surprising trends in the data. Here are some samples from the article:

Data Segmentation:

However, we need to segment the overall mortality (conversion) rate in order to gain the specific information that we need:

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

Q: What causes a red-shirted crewman to die?

  • On-board incident - 42.5%
  • Beaming down to the planet - 57.5%

Besides not beaming down, another factor that showed to increase the survival rate of the red-shirts was the nature of the relationship between the alien life and captain Kirk. When Captain Kirk meets an alien woman and "makes contact" the survival rate of the red-shirted crewmen increases by 84%. In fact, out of Captain Kirks' 24 "relationships" there were only three instances of red-shirt vaporization.

Read the full article for more, including advanced analysis showing the complex relationship between Kirk's conquests and red-shirt death. See also: Wikipedia on red-shirts.

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August 6, 2007 - 5:56am
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