Is WWTBAM Baised?

There is an article in USA Today about the show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and the lack of diversity on it.

Here is the link.

My question is: Is the way that contestants are picked random enough? Should steps be made to make the contestants more diverse? What if anything should be changed to accomplish this task?


Dear God.

“It is lucky for rulers that men do not think.” — Adolf Hitler

(Hey, Strainger, you wanna reply to this one, too???)

Now, to the OP:


I think what needs to be changed is the mindset that the only acceptable or valid outcome of a given situation is one where all the nose-counts come up a certain way.

Maybe a case can be made that there is a problem with geographical representation. Since they already use a random selection of people passing round 1, I could see making sure this portion of the selection process was able to pull from all geographical regions.

But nothing more.

BTW, the artical states that men are quicker on the “fast-finger” portions of the game. Is this true? I always heard that one of the measurable differences between men and women was that women excelled at digital dexterity.

It’s obvious that we need a congressional commission to study race and gender inequality in the game show industry. Perhaps a Federal Game Show Task Force. The FGSTF could infiltrate game show organizations and place undercover operatives near Regis Philbin.

We can’t let a severe injustice like this stand. The government needs to do something.

Words can’t express just how insane the idea of having everything be indicative of the cultural makeup of society is to me.

If you are faster than everyone else, you win. If you know more random trivia, you will do better. If you have the ability to stand Regis Philbin, you will enjoy watching the show more.

Well, shut my mouth. It’s also illegal to put squirrels down your pants for the purposes of gambling.

I am in agreement with the posters who have stated that it is enough.

I felt it was silly for someone to write and publish an article about a game show that let’s people choose to call. Thereby, if mostly white males call then it will be weighted that way. But whomever calls, then goes through a random selection process that has no idea of the gender or race of the contestant. Then it is up to the person who can answer the fast finger question the fastest.

I just wanted to see what others had to say.


From the article:

I have to admit I don’t understand. What is artificial? Does he mean artificial compared to setting sex and race quotas?

What an insult to Midwesterners and West Coast folks. I mean it’s just not fair that we are underrepresented in game shows. They should make special questions and categories for us. We have been historically repressed by “the man” and deserve a little special consideration. Obviously, we aren’t able to compete on the same level with white, East Coast Males, so they should make the categories easier for us.

WWTBAM after Gary Levine

“Welcome to the Who Wants to be a Millionaire contestant line. This is Regis Philbin welcoming you to our first round elimination contest. If you pass this, you may be selected to move on to the second round. Stay on the line and listen to the following choices. Listen to all choices before making your selection.
If you are a white male press 1. Then, feel free to apologize and feel quilty for oppressing everybody else. You are scum.
If you are a white female press 2, but not as quickly as a man would, due to your non-interest in video games.
If you are a white person who feels guilty for possibly skewing the preferred representation of contestants, press 3 then hang up.
If you are an underrepresented minority on our show, press 4 and move directly to the second round. The second round consists of picking up your airplane ticket.
If you feel slighted in any other way not mentioned on this recording, wait until the beep then leave your name, address, and complaint and we will rush Kathie Lee Gifford to your house for a personalized apology.”

Well, shut my mouth. It’s also illegal to put squirrels down your pants for the purposes of gambling.

Yeah, I think the guy’s problem is that he’d like to see the producers select people totally at random, rather than artificially restrict the contestants to people who might actually have a chance at getting all the questions right.

But there might be a valid point here. On the actual show, once a single contestant starts to go for the million, there is no time limit. But time is critical for people calling up to try out for the show, and it is critical even for the ten people trying to become the next contestant. This unfairly skews it all towards people with the mental and physical dexterity to press the buttons in the correct order quickly enough.

If it were up to me, I’d change the rules so that we’d have 20 or 30 seconds instead of 10. And if there is a tie among the on-stage people (as there usually was) there could be a second question or just a random selection from among those who got it right.

Okay, here is a question that is off the OP, but since it is my OP, I can do that.

Do you have to pay for your own ticket to the show or is it provided by ABC if you get to that point?


Jeffery, I think they fly you in. Here’s my question: Have they established that a large percentage of people calling in are female and/or minority but none of them get selected? If so, it might – I said might – be indicative of a problem. But if the callers are overwhelmingly white males, then why would anyone be surprised that white males make it onto the show?


Fiat Justitia

“Women with children are not going to drop everything to fly to New York for two days.”

Expenses paid??? In a flipping heartbeat!


Fiat Justitia

For those who aren’t already familiar with the WWTBAM contestant search process…

The procedure changed a LITTLE between the first run of the series and the second run. But both times, would-be contestants called a special number, and were given 3 questions. Each question followed the same format: you were given four persons/places/things, and asked to place them in some required order, by pushing the keys of your touchtone phone. The first question is always EXTREMELY easy (suaully something like putting four words in alphabetical order), the second one is tougher, and the third is usually very tough.

For the first run of the show, you called a 900 number; more recently, they had a toll-free number. Moreover, the first time, the people who reached the playoff round were the ones who answered all three questions in the FASTEST time. More recently, EVERYONE who got all 3 questions right (regardless of time) was put into a random, computerized drawing. I can tell you first-hand that they NEVER asked anyone’s race/creed/color. And while you do have to state your name for voice mail, the computer doesn’t know your gender. SO, it’s hard to make a rational case that the process is racist or sexist.

So, why do so few women/minorities appear on the show (or on trivia shows in general)? Part of the reason is that geeky white guys like me are far more interested in trivai than most women and minorities are. Second, it’s rather tough to get through to the contestant hot line. You often have to keep calling for 15 minutes, and endure endless busy signals. My guess is, most casual fans (which includes most women) give up after 2 or 3 tries. Only the fanatics (again, geeky white guys like me) keep on calling!

FInally, even when women DO appear on trivia shows, they tend to do poorly. Why? My hunch is, it comes down to confidence. When I was a teacher, I observed that when I asked questions, boys were quick, indeed EAGER to raise their hands and answer questions, if they had even the SLIGHTEST idea what the answer might be… girls, on the other hand, didn’t raise their hands unless they were almost POSITIVE they were right. And when a boy answered incorrectly, it rarely bothered him- next question, he’d raise his hand again, and try to answer again. WHen a girl answered a question wrong, it embarrassed her to the point where it would be ages before she’d raise her hand again.

Now, I’m NOT saying boys were smarter than girls- on the contrary, their grades showed that my female students were a little SMARTER than the boys. But for whatever reason (genetics, socialization, who knows?), girls aren’t as confident as boys, and don’t like to take chances.

Well, on shows like Jeopardy and WWTBAM, you HAVE to take risks to do well. TO winn on Jeopardy, you have to guess at the difficult 800 and 1000 dollar answers if you’re even 51% sure of the answer. WOmen tend not to answer unless thgey’re positive… and when they blow a pile of money on a wrong answer, they get gun-shy, and don’t ring in as often.

StrTrk777: I take it you mean “biased”?

Not if he’s cooking a baised ham.

This show sure gives Affirmative Action a boost, huh?

Level playing field, contestants picked solely on merit… but we NEED more diversity. What to do?

Translate the questions into Ebonics? :slight_smile:

(Sorry. That was uncalled for and crude and racist and – aw, heck, who am I kidding, it’s funny!)

Just to keep the thread alive, I wanted to let y’all know that I saw on the news this morning that ABC has picked up WWTBAM as a regular show to begin in January. Probably three times a week, probably Sunday, Thursday, and – I forget what other night they said, but it was not Fri or Sat.