Did Redshirts REALLY Die More Often on TOS??

By StarTrek.com Staff - February 27, 2013

Last week, we posted photos of Gabby French on StarTrek.com and on the StarTrek.com Facebook page (click HERE). Perhaps you remember the shots. They featured French, a stunning model, posing in a red Trek-esque skirt, and it ran as part of John Eaves’ guest blog. In fact, Eaves regularly includes shots from his popular Red Dress pin-up-style photo series with each of his guest blogs for StarTrek.com. Fans went bonkers, lamenting what a loss it would be for the galaxy if French succumbed to the red shirt curse, which assumes that pretty much anyone sporting red will be dead in the very immediate future.

 

 

Well, guess what? French and many, many red shirts like her, particularly those of the fictional kind, as seen within the original Star Trek show, are safe. In fact, they’re safer than those wearing other colors.

That’s according to Matthew Barsalou, who debunked the red shirt curse for Significance Magazine by mathematically breaking down the death rates, by uniform color, of characters on the original Star Trek. A simple pie chart reveals 55 total deaths and, yes, red shirts perished in frightening numbers. A whopping 24 died, compared to 9 in yellow/gold command and 7 in blue, with 15 crossing into the final frontier in unidentified colors. However, it’s all a matter of perspective and percentages. There were 430 crewmen aboard the Enterprise, 239 of them in engineering, security or operations, and all wore red. So, in reality, they had a decent survival rate, and it was, statistically speaking – courtesy of a little something called Bayes’ theorem -- the folks in gold who were more likely to meet their maker.

 

 

Here is Barsalou’s concluding statement: “Although Enterprise crew members in redshirts suffer many more casualties than crew members in other uniforms, they suffer fewer casualties than crew members in gold uniforms when the entire population size is considered. Only 10% of the entire redshirt population was lost during the three year run of Star Trek. This is less than the 13.4% of goldshirts, but more than the 5.1% of blueshirts. What is truly hazardous is not wearing a redshirt, but being a member of the security department. The red-shirted members of security were only 20.9% of the entire crew, but there is a 61.9% chance that the next casualty is in a redshirt and 64.5% chance this red-shirted victim is a member of the security department. The remaining redshirts, operations and engineering make up the largest single population, but only have an 8.6% chance of being a casualty.”

 

 

Click HERE to read the full story in Significance Magazine and, in the meantime, consider this question: Even with Barsalou’s contentions, would you dare to be caught dead in red?

 

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