Thursday, December 11, 2008

We're both rooting for Bob or Sugar to win Survivor; Crystal demonstrates the perils of over-specialization

Just got done watching 2004 Olympic Gold-Medal track athlete Crystal get voted out of Survivor. The interesting thing about Crystal is that in the whole season, she demonstrated not one single ounce of athletic ability.

Here's my take on this: Hers is an example of over-specialization. If the only thing the Survivors had to do was spend several months getting ready for some sprints down a straight length of track, before which they would train, eat, drink, and sleep in certain specific ways, and would wear certain shoes and clothing and run on a certain surface, then she'd probably do pretty good. But, unfortunately for her, they haven't had to do that yet.

Here's the Gutenburg of a short story called "Unspecialist", by Murray F. Yaco. This blogpost sums it up: A machine can be built to do any accurately described job better than any man. The superiority of a man is that he can do an unexpected, undescribed, and emergency job... provided he hasn't been especially trained to be a machine.

They say that if a heart surgeon and an Emergency Medical Technician are in the two cars behind you when you are in a bad car accident, that you are better off with the EMT. The rationale being that the surgeon is very well-trained to fix you up if he has a fully staffed operating room, but the EMT can just slap you back together with some duct tape and an old T-shirt and get you on your way to the surgeon.

Now Bob, who reminds me a lot of Bill Nye (has anyone ever seen them in the same room together?) is very much a generalist. He's a high school physics teacher, which means he has to embrace the methodical and rational, and also be savvy enough about relating to other human beings that he can put up with being in a building full of teenagers all day. Plus, he's from Maine and does all these outdoorsy things just for fun anyway. He's an interesting successor to Yau-man, whom The ♥G♥ and I both hoped would win a few seasons ago.

If not Bob, then maybe his sometime ally Sugar? She is a gushing fountain of emotion, but she seems to know exactly how to harness it to her advantage. (Note -- She's a fountain of emotion; Crybaby Crystal was a volcano.)

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