Is Survivor Fixed?

Has Burnett responded to Dirk’s allegations. I’m in agreement with the spirit of most of what you post David, but in order to give Stacey compensation we have to accept at face value what Dirk has said.

Before that can happen I think I’d like to hear what Burnett has to say.

Doubtless he’ll deny it, as Stacey’s victory would lead to the possibility of lawsuits by each of the losing contestants as well.

Still, Dirk is perhaps the weakest contestant in terms of personal credibility besides Sean, and I feel corroboration before com[pensation is warranted.

Scylla said:

Yes. As you guessed, he has denied everything. When she originally filed suit, he was quoted as saying, “Clearly, if there was anything to this stuff, it would’ve come out well before this.” I pointed out in my article that, indeed, it had come out in the earlier book, The Stingray. That’s pretty much the way he (and CBS) has been acting all along – blowing it off and hoping everybody else would as well.

He has claimed he just told Dirk to “vote his conscience.” That’s quite a bit different from what Dirk says, obviously.

Like I said, that’s what I think should happen. I don’t think that’s what a court will ulimately decide, though, for the very reason that it’s just one word against another. I do happen to think that it is more likely that Dirk is telling the truth than it is that Burnett is. But I’m right now looking at a 1995 article from Outside magazine that questions Burnett’s ethics. I’m working on an article about the topic, though I don’t have much to go on at this point. However, questioning what he would do for ratings is not something new.

I disagree in terms of who is credible and who isn’t. I think Dirk’s credibility is enhanced by the fact that his testimony could only serve to hurt his future hopes in Hollywood. Indeed, he tried to keep his testimony sealed for just this reason. He does not stand to gain a thing out of this mess – but does have the potential to lose. Burnett, however, stands to lose quite a bit.

Fiver said:

Yup. I’ve read, for example, that Burnett is on hand during all Tribal Councils and tells Probst what to talk about. He even tells him in what order to read the votes!

I’ve read other things that producers – possibly Burnett himself – are at these. Indeed, producers generally travel with the cameraman as a team. I specifically recall reading that Burnett had to separate the two tribes at one challenge because they were getting friendly and talking while the cameras were setting up.

I don’t think we can have expected Probst to notice the carabiner thing. Indeed, it took somebody going frame-by-frame to make sure it really happened. But the point of those who showed it was that Burnett goes through all the tapes every day, and he should have caught it. I don’t think that’s necessarily a big point – what could he have done about it at that point?

The plate thing, though, is another matter.

Even if it was a producer, you could say the same thing. But I have a problem with apparently changing the rules of a challenge in the middle of it. This would be like an umpire deciding, in the middle of an inning, that you really need six balls before he’ll declare a walk.

David B:

I’d love to read your article on Burnett when finished.

If I’d like to comment further on Dirk’s testimony, it would probably behoove me to read it.

Maybe I will. From the show I think of Dirk as not too bright and rather easily manipulated, a poor witness. Burnett on the other hand certainly seems capable of what he was accused of, and we seem to agree that there was almost certainly too much manipulative interraction occuring between crew and contestants.

I find it difficult to make a judgement call here on what actually occured between the two.
Just as an intellectual exercise concerning the boats, do you recall how many people were in each boat at the time of maximum load? This might enable us to do some back of the envelope calculating and figure out how easy it would be to weight (no pun intended) the contest to one side.

While I understand Burnett’s need to make a marketable television show, I see no real reason why that has to conflict with the responsibility to provide a fair and legal contest.

Personally, as a viewer, I love the manipulation that occurs at Tribal council with the bombshells. They provide fuel for all the intrigues and manipulations that occur during the show by the contestants.

Part of the fun of Survivor is that it’s not a straightforward black and white rules game. It’s a game of nuance and social interraction, and it might be less of a game without the paranoia inducing hints that are thrown out there.

I see no way to maintain that and also ensure that the game is strictly fair.

I don’t suppose that their are an official rules to Survivor anywhere, are there?

Finally, thanks as always for the excellent information.

Scylla said:

[blatant plug]Well, then be sure to keep an eye on RealityNewsOnline.[/blatant plug] :slight_smile:

Why? Most of the reporters who wrote articles about it don’t appear to have done so.

Checking my old articles, I see that it occurred in Episode 5. (Which, coincidentally, was the first one in which Jeff Probst revealed information about the alliance at Tribal Council.) That means two people had been voted out of each tribe by that time, leaving six in each.

I agree completely, of course.

Even before I started writing about the show and following it as much as I do, I was really uncomfortable about that part. I remember thinking at the time about how totally unfair it was that he would reveal secrets like that to the rest of the tribe.


No prob!

Now if we could just get some other people in on this discussion… :smiley:

Let’s look at the following teams, by name and approximate weight:


Sue - 150 pounds
Rich 230
Rudy 195
Dirk 190
Sean 170
Jenna 120

Greg-175 pounds
Gervase 180
Colleen 100 yummy pounds
Other guy 195
Girl 125
Girl 125
These weights are official Scylla best guesses.

That puts Tagi at 1,055 pounds, and Pagong at 900. Let’s assume a boat weighs 200 pounds and you need a 20% safety margin over that so that you don’t swamp.

Pagong therefore must float 1,320 pounds of total weight, and tagi must float 1506 pounds.

At 62 pounds per cubic foot, Pagong’s boat must displace 21.25 cubic feet of water, and Tagi’s must displace 24.24 cubic feet.

So in order to fix this contest, you need to find boats between 21.25, and 24.24 cubic feet of displacement to have a reasonable chance of pulling it off.

A boat eleven feet long by two feet wide by 1 foot deep (as an example) would displace 22 cubic feet of water and theoretically do the job. But, 12 1/2 feet would be too long to assure the fix.

Finally, the boats will not be identical due to vagaries of construction, wood density, and amounts of water they’ve absorbed.

You don’t want to cut it to close to the line for Pagong, because not swamping is also a matter of skill and luck. Ideally, I would think you’d want a boat that displaced between 23 and 24 cubic water to have a reasonably good chance of pulling off the fix, all other things being equal (which they’re not.)

Notice that this equation will change dramatically based on prevailing wave height at the time of competition. Higher waves will necessitate a higher safety margin and a larger boat.

So, in order to fix this contest you must find a boat that is within less than 4% of your calculated specs(and yet handcrafted out of wood of indeterminate stock,) and you must have accurately predicted the size of the prevailing waves on the day of the contest.

To be safe, you are going to need several sets of boats.

I would think that this would be an extremely difficult task to pull off, and rather unlikely.
An alternate method of fixing the contest might entail obtaining boats that well exceed the needed tolerances and concealing weights on them to bring them within the needed range.

That’d be a much more workable way of doing it.

If you want to check for the fix, watch the film again, and look for signs of the boats being weighted.

Boats are generally very balanced when they’re constructed. Unloaded do the boats float evenly and levelly?

Does it appear that the crew has added unnecessary decorations and features to the boats? We are looking for purely ornamental dress-up type features that provide no utilitarian purpose yet consume valuable weight. These would be most effective the higher on the boat they were located.

Other suspicious modifications?
I think it’s pretty clear that it would be difficult to choose boats that fit the criteria, but modifying them might be reasonably possible. A relooking at the tape might shed some light on that possibility.

Wait a Minute!

Checking my old articles, I see that it occurred in Episode 5. (Which, coincidentally, was the first one in which Jeff Probst revealed information about the alliance at Tribal Council.) That means two people had been voted out of each tribe by that time, leaving six in each.


If this was the episode Dirk left, than that means

Tagi at this time constisted of:


That would be seven people, right?

I’m not going to redo my calculations but seven people would mean that the tolerences would have to be even more exacting to pull off the boat trick. That would mean tolerances of less than 3%, or somewhere around 50 pounds, or 3/4 of a cubic foot!

All that is dependant on weight estimates, wave height, building materials, and craftsmanship. Too many variables!

That’s pretty tough. I’d call the boat fixing very unlikely (unless of course they had some German engineers around.)

And, I think you are also wrong in your last link where you remark that Dirk is the last Tagi member to leave until all the Pagongers are gone.

They gave Kelly the boot before Colleen.

Scylla, those calculations are awesome!! Where did you ever find the weight of 1 cubic foot of water? :wink: :smiley:

You have the names wrong. At the time of the contest there were six members of each team and they were broken up as:

Tagi - Rich, Dirk, Sean, Rudy, Sue, and Kelly.
Pagong - Gervaise, Colleen, Jenna, Gretchen, Joel, and Greg

Also, Kelly wasn’t given the boot before Colleen. Kelly was runner-up in the competition. I assume you mean Jenna who was voted off two Pagongers before Colleen.

BTW, I did take the time to read all 205 pages of Dirk’s testimony last night. I tend to believe Dirk’s testimony that Mark Burnett’s influence had a direct impact on the behavior and votes of the tribe. I also don’t see how CBS can feel positive about his testimony. He seemed credible (IMO) and his testimony was pretty consistent throughout the deposition regarding MB’s influence and the game.

That link is correct. Dirk was the last Tagi member voted off prior to the merger. The next week, Joel from Pagong was also voted off. After the two tribes merged, all the Pagongers were voted off beginning with Gretchen §. Then came Greg § , Jenna §, Gervaise §, Colleen §, Sean (T), Sue (T), and Rudy (T). Kelly and Rich were the final contestants with Rich ultimately winning.

Scylla, in doing some looking around for other Survivor-related articles, I found the following, which address a couple of the things you’ve said.

First, you asked if it was just Jeff Probst and a cameraman around most of the time. this article talks about Michael getting burned and Burnett’s reaction. The important part is where he says, “If the cameraman was the only person there, then of course he has to drop the camera and help. But there’s never just a cameraman.” The article notes: “Trained medical experts and producers are always in close proximity.”

The second link is to an article in the New York Daily News in which the writer talks about reading through Dirk’s testimony and finding it “entirely credible.”

Scylla said:

Scylla, Scylla, Scylla. You’re going to make me wonder about your powers of observation and memory. You doubt me? Tsk, tsk, tsk. :wink:

As Grace has already noted, Kelly came in second (by only one vote). Colleen was the last of the Pagong to be voted off. Sean came after her, and he was the first Tagi to go since Dirk was booted pre-merger.

Nice job on all those calculations, by the way. I’m not sure what to make of it all because we really have no good way of knowing whether Burnett did all the calculations or just winged it. But nice job anyway! :slight_smile:

You know, I thought about gloating over the “error” of yours I found.

Past experience of course says that might be premature. As it turns out, I’m glad I waited.
Make what you will out of the calculations. I think they show that finding boats that fit the criteria is out of the question, but modifying them to give an advantage might be possible.

If one desired, one who had the tape could watch that part again, and look for modifications/signs of weights. That would be strong evidence that the fix was in.

You do it, you can take credit.

Blow the lid off this one, and they’ll be saying “woodward, Bernstein and Bloomberg!”

(Very slow day at work, today.)

Scylla asked earlier if there were any official rules to the game. While I can’t find any official or detailed rules, there are some eligibility requirements for Survivor 3. I have always thought it was inappropriate for Rudy to be a contestant since he was involved in another MB production. Apparently someone else agrees since the requirements for Survivor 3 include:

“Employees, officers, directors and agents of CBS Broadcasting Inc., DJB, Inc., Survivor Productions, LLC, SEG, Inc., Combat Missions LLC and Eco Challenge Lifestyles, Inc., and/or of any of their respective licensees, assigns, parents, affiliated and subsidiary companies and the immediate family (spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, daughter or son, regardless of where they live) or members of their same households (whether related or not) of such employees, officers, directors and agents are not eligible to be contestants on Survivor or participate in this application process. Previous contestants and their immediate families are also not eligible to be contestants on Survivor or participate in the application process.”

The only rules I could find are on the show’s website here. What’s interesting is that stealing food is considered against the rules of Survivor 1. Stacy has hinted in interviews that Rudy was stealing food. Plus, if Dirk’s testimony is true about someone sneaking food in, then based on their own rules, Rudy and the other contestant should have been removed from the show.

The Cubs are in first place (knocks on wood) and David B has started an MPSIMS thread.

Hell has, in fact, frozen over.


Scylla said:

I would tend to doubt they went so far as to modify them. But if they knew it would be close, that could have been enough for them to see what would happen. There’s really no way to tell.

Luckily, the whole “case” doesn’t rest on this item. Indeed, it didn’t even come out until Dirk’s transcript was released. Do I think it’s suspicious? Yes. Does it make or break the case of Burnett interfering? Well, I guess it would make the case if it could be definitely established, but I don’t think that’ll happen.

I don’t know if I still have a tape from the first series or not. Also, I doubt there was that much footage that we would be able to see.

What, they don’t already?! :wink:

Grace said:

Ah, but Rudy was not, from my understanding, an employee of Eco Challenge Lifestyles. He was a member of a Navy SEALS team that competed in the race (see this article for some more details).

This said, I don’t think that somebody who knew Burnett from before should have been allowed in the game at all, whether it was technically within the rules or not.

Depends on what they mean by “stealing.” He was allegedly eating some of the tribe’s food. Is that stealing? I don’t think so – he is part of the tribe, after all. I would think that meant stealing from the other tribe.

Apparently it was a cameraman who was sneaking in food for one of the final four contestants. But that is a currently unsubstantiated story – Dirk heard it from someone who heard it from someone – that sort of thing.

rastahomie said:

Ah, but it’s a Survivor thread, so that’s okay. :smiley: I just had expected that somebody else would have started one and was surprised when I couldn’t find any such thing (post-Dirk’s testimony being released, that is).

The official Survivor website here:

Has a picture from the challenge that you can blow up that shows the front of the boat.

They look like heavily modified wood canoes.

Interestingly the dual outrigges make the boat very steady. Swamping a boat would most likely be a function of weight alone, as the dual outriggers would tend to compensate for wave action to some degree.

Notice also the heavy metal structure on the bow.

I personally don’t know of a style of canoe that is made of wood with a metal bowcap and side rails. They would serve little purpose from a weight efficiency standpoint, and would need to be made of a corrosion resistant material to hold up to prolonged ocean use.

Dual outriggers are also unusual.

At the very least, the boat does not look standard.

*Originally posted by David B *
**Spavined said:

Um, yeah, but you see, there are laws against fixing a game show.**


My dad uses this as an argument when I bring up the idea that Who Wants To Be A Millionaire might be rigged. I always say: “There are laws against smoking pot and insider trading, too. Who’s policing them?”