Well, in theory... Pat Ferrucci's S33 recaps

Ep.4: Dissonance snuffs silence


So I’d like to start this one off by saying something obvious: I’ve never played Survivor.


As much as I think I’d like to, I’ve never applied for the show. What does that mean? Well, it means as much I like to think I understand strategy, I have no idea about the social bonds, down time and gazillions of unaired hours that happen during a typical season.  


That makes it easy to criticize, but hard to know how right you are.


With all that said, man, everyone acted dumb this week.


And how are we going to describe these amazing displays of bad playing? With cognitive dissonance theory, that’s how.


Introduced to the world of social psychology, arguably, by Leon Festinger, you’ve probably heard of cognitive dissonance before. Basically, at its heart, this theory describes the stress we go through when we hold two opposite beliefs at the same time. So, I think an example given by Festinger in his book provides the best illustration. Let’s hope I get this right … it’s been awhile since I read this.


Festinger describes a group of people who are convinced aliens are coming to destroy Earth on a particular day. They believe to survive, they have to sell all their belongings and meet in a specific spot that day. When they do and nothing happens, you would think they would realize, well, um, they’re probably a wee bit nuts. But, you see, surviving that alien attack had become so engrained in their identity, they had to believe that the aliens decided to give Earth a second chance, which is why everyone lived.


Or, basically, we only need to look to this election for an another example


But, really, we saw Jessica deal with cognitive dissonance, I think, this week.




In her mind, she remained part of a solid female alliance of three, an alliance that together voted out Paul. But then Ken came over and told her otherwise.


Now this is why me having not played Survivor is important. You see, I don’t know all the conversations all these players have had with each other. I do know that if I was on the island, I would try to determine what rumors were true and what weren’t just like a good journalist does: I would ask questions. What kind of stakeholder is the person telling the information, what’s in it for them? Does this make sense?


As a journalist, you always receive tips from people. And you always have to determine what seems credible and what’s not. Sometimes that’s easy, sometimes it takes lots of reporting.


To me, Ken’s info to Jessica seemed awfully credible (even though I of course know it was from editing). Ken wasn’t being targeted. In fact, to Jessica, Ken may have been in the majority alliance now. It’s so close to a swap, why wouldn’t Ken just want to make it past another vote? More importantly, why would Ken lie and tell Jessica this if he knew Jessica and Lucy used to be allies? That would certainly come out.


Do you see what I’m getting at here? If Jessica stopped and thought about it, I feel like she should have known Ken’s information was credible. But, you see, she had built her belief system around the idea that her, Sunday and Lucy remained a tight alliance. Even though Ken’s info may have seemed credible, it caused cognitive dissonance in Jessica. This made her confront Lucy. Even though Lucy certainly didn’t lie too well, Jessica chose to believe her. It was the easiest way to rationalize her past gameplay.


OK, sorry for the short column this week. I’m in a busy season until a Nov. 1 deadline arrives. I dream of that day. But, let’s just say everyone’s moves were dumb this week, especially David giving away an idol for no reason, and call it a day? Here’s where I’m at with everyone left in the game?


Gen X — Takali

Gen X


  • 1. Chris — I’m not sure why, since his character archetype is usually a downer for me, but I’m still liking Chris. I don’t think he has a shot in hell of winning this game at this point, but I stand by preseason thought: If Chris’ tribe went into the merge with numbers, he could win. The problem, of course, is Gen X is a bad tribe making stupid decisions. Um, so, yeah, Chris not pulling the ropes during immunity, but rather being pulled?


  • 2. CeCe — I don’t remember a more consequential inconsequential player of recent years. What do I mean? CeCe is almost voted out at every tribal, but she seems to have absolutely no agency in the game … or any chance to win. I’m probably wrong, but I just don’t remember someone targeted so much for doing so very little.


  • 3. Ken — I’m loving Ken so far, but, if you can’t tell, he’s got a clear weakness. Kenny simply can’t take orders. I bet he grew up in a very strict household. Sometimes, in Survivor, you just got to shut your mouth and go with the flow. Ken, it seems, can’t do that. And at some point, this is going to piss someone off. He’ll be voted out because of it … maybe by David.


  • 4. Bret — Bret is in mourning now that the Sox got swept. Bret can’t watch Big Papi anymore. And Bret’s probably not going win to Survivor either. I’m thinking second out after the merge. But, hey, Bret, at least we still have the GOAT to look forward to every week.


  • 5. Jessica — I simply can’t get past Jessica’s eyes. She has the most emotive eyes I’ve ever seen. It’s awesome. Now we know she’s willing the Legacy Advantage to David. That seems like her fate in this game: As an early player who gets the boot pretty early post swap … maybe this week, actually.


  • 6. David — Dumb David. Dumb. Every week we talk about another dumb David move. Oh, sure, he’s going to make it relatively far in the game based on the edit, but that doesn’t make it right.


  • 7. Sunday — Why do we never get to actually hear from Sunday? I’d sure love to hear her tell us where her head is at. I mean, we know based on voting, but why is she also just against Jessica?


Millennials — Vanua



  • 1. Adam — Producers have become a lot more adept, I think, at providing us with multiple Winner’s Edits™ over the course of a season, but, man, Adam sure is receiving one.


  • 2. Hannah — I think CBS should create a spinoff where Hannah just lurks around people. It would be awesome and I would totally watch.


  • 3. Michelle — Once again, Michelle basically is nonexistent. I wonder why.


  • 4. Taylor — I so badly wanted Taylor to go all the Lord of the Flies during that goat hunt. Not sure why, but I just wanted it.


  • 5. Zeke — Zeke, my friend, you kind of took another backseat this week. I miss your confessionals. Please come back.


  • 6. Jay — I’m still in the feeling out stage with Jay. At first, I thought he was, well, not so good. Then I thought I underestimated him. Now? Well, I’m hoping I underestimated him because, you know, I enjoy his screen time.


  • 7. Michaela — I love Michaela. Love. I’m hoping she wins this thing. And, I have to say, she’s set herself up pretty well. She’s good in challenges, smart and yet not trying to be a leader. I like where this is going. And I love her.


  • 8. Figgy — What’s the opposite of love?


  • 9. Will — I need to Will to know something: You let Adam find the idol. Adam is on the bottom of the tribe. Do you think there’s a chance in hell Ronald Reagan would have let anyone on the bottom get treats or something valuable? Come on, do your idol (pun intended) proud.  Now, Jesus, that’s a different story.


And we’ll end it there. OK?    


Pat Ferrucci Survivor 31 recapsPat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He's seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he'll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @patferrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.