Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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5th Column

the enemy within
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The game is thus: a number of teams compete in a series of 10 minute mental and physical challenges. For example, to demolish a house to as low a level as possible; to build the tallest self-supporting tower using only spaghetti and blu-tac; to compete at wheelbarrow races; to collectively answer trivia questions, to navigate the whole team across an assault course while half are blinded and earmuffed; etc.

Each team has perhaps 6 to 8 people in. Teams accumulate points, and the team at the end with the most points wins.

The prize is thus: cash prizes for the winning team, substantial but not impossibly big for the effort required e.g. £10,000 per head.

The 5th column: before the game starts, all teams stand around the edge of a large circle, and each person briefly introduces themselves, and says what they bring to the game and what they bring to their team.

Then each team retires, and discusses amongst itself which individual from all the other teams they wish to recruit as their fifth columnist. That individual is secretly notified, but must not let on.

The incentive for the fifth columnist to do their double-crossing duty is that they will win 5x prize money if the team they are secretly helping wins. If their “own” team wins they get nothing.

The 5th columnist’s prize money is given secretly in used banknotes after the show penguin ends. The person who is an enemy 5th columnist in the winning team will be presented with a prize cheque along with their “teammates” but it will bounce if they try to cash it.

Let the games begin.

pocmloc, Jul 16 2011

Who is... the mole? http://en.wikipedia...le_(U.S._TV_series)
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jul 18 2011]


       The participants would know that their team included a 5th columnist; after all they selected one for the other team themselves. Also, why should the 5th columnist be secret? There is no penalty if he or she is discovered. Why should he or she not totally sandbag and be dead weight, refusing to help, falling down on purpose, faking seizures, trying to make the team lose, physically holding them back, knocking down the sphagetti towers, screaming at them "you freaking LOSERS! I want you to LOSE LOSE LOSE! Then I'll be RICH!". It would make for a depressing show.   

       Or possibly a wildly popular one. I think there are a lot of reality TV viewers who would revel in seeing skilled, competent, dedicated teammates thwarted and frustrated and maybe crying.
bungston, Jul 16 2011

       /skilled, competent, dedicated teammates thwarted and frustrated and maybe crying./   

       There is your show. I think a large percentage of the American populace hates experts, learned expertise and people who excel. This show would have teams of excellent people exactly like this, engaged in contests. The contests are rigged in ways that frustrate their plans and efforts. Viewers would wriggle in glee when the expert confident in his or her expertise goes down in flames and melts on camera. This sort of thing would be leavened by occasional perserverance / root for the underdog stuff, especially where the Forrest Gumplike underdog overcomes largely thru luck, inborn gifts and divine providence.   

       It might be best if all staged, like wrestling.
bungston, Jul 17 2011

       I think that the individuals concerned could decide what strategy they prefer. If they want to resist openly, they could.   

       Also there is no guarantee that your team will have a 5th columnist in. If we start with 6 teams, then it is possible that 5 teams will choose a 5th columnist in the same team. You could even get one individual recruited by more than one team - they would just keep quiet and have twice the chance of winning.
pocmloc, Jul 17 2011

       The rules should state that if the 5th columnist is discovered at any time during the contest, he should get nothing.
RayfordSteele, Jul 17 2011

       Interesting addition, [RS]. But that makes [bung]’s scenario impossible. I was trying to imagine rules that would enamble the maximum possible number of different strategies.   

       One strategy would be for all the team to collaborate with their embedded 5th columnist to hinder their opponents, agreeing beforehand to share the 5th columnist's winnings. This would net them less than winning outright but if they were not confident of placing first of 6 teams, but their 5th columnist’s team was a front-runner, it might be a better bet.
pocmloc, Jul 18 2011

       If there are more than two teams, then each team would have at least two fifth columnists representing other teams. How does that sort out?
RayfordSteele, Jul 18 2011

       as one who dislikes "reality" TV with a fervor approaching how [7th] feels about cats I say: bun.
Voice, Jul 18 2011

       I was imagining each team only being able to nominate one 5th columnist. If there were (as originally envisaged) 6 teams each of 6 people, then the Blue team would look around the ring at the other 30 competitors and would select one only of those 30 to be the Blue 5th Columnist.   

       Perhaps there could be a rule change that allowed a team to select one 5th columnist in each opposing team, but then it could get silly with every participant a 5th columnist.
pocmloc, Jul 18 2011

       Sort of like The Mole. [link]   

       The incentive not to be known is that instead of being limited to passive (dead weight) sabatoge, you can actively hinder your team.   

       Likewise you'll get all the team information, and can pass it on to the team you support. In aid of this there need to be at least some competitions where knowing the opponents strategy is of use, and the duration/actions required need to be complex enough that the traitor can pass information if they can figure out how.
MechE, Jul 18 2011

       // you can actively hinder your team //   

       But that's soooooo Baked in many, many commercial and industrial environments.   

       However, the Fifth Columnist is generally easy to spot; they either have the title Manager, or work in Sales and Marketing ...
8th of 7, Jul 18 2011

       Engineers who don't proof thier own blueprints are 5th columnists for sure.
Alterother, Jul 18 2011

       //Engineers who don't proof thier own blueprints are 5th columnists for sure.//   

       Speaking of proofreading....
mouseposture, Jul 18 2011

       I'm not an engineer.
Alterother, Jul 18 2011

       S'OK, we'll put a word in for you when the Revolution comes.   

       (However, that word might well be "DIE !").
8th of 7, Jul 18 2011

       Who're you gonna get to actually build the stuff you design, if you do away with [Alterother]? More importantly, who will repair it when it breaks?
mouseposture, Jul 18 2011

       // build the stuff ... if you do away with [Alterother] //   

       We are in negotiation with the Acme Corporation, who have provided us with a wonderfully thick prospectus printed on very glossy paper with lots of bright coloured pictures ....   

       // who will repair it //   

       We will just call AOL technical support. Everything will be fine.
8th of 7, Jul 18 2011

       Thanks for fighting my side anyway, [mp]. It'll be an honor refusing the blindfold alongside you come the Borgvolution.
Alterother, Jul 21 2011

       // Who're you gonna get to actually build the stuff you design //   

       Half the time we can't build it anyway, 'cause we can't understand the #*€%ing prints!
Alterother, Jul 21 2011

       //It'll be an honor refusing the blindfold//   

       No worries, sport. Come the revolution, we'll have most to fear from "the people whose labors go beyond ideas into the realm of 'real materials'"
mouseposture, Jul 21 2011

       Ah, the Amish, then.
RayfordSteele, Jul 21 2011

       // people whose labors go beyond ideas into the realm of 'real materials'" //   

Alterother, Jul 21 2011

       What about those who transcend both?
pocmloc, Jul 21 2011

       Again, are you talking about me? I don't want to be shot!!!   

       Of course, those who intend to do the shooting had best come prepared....
Alterother, Jul 21 2011

       Damnit everyone the drama is in the paranoia, machinations and manipulations THE HUMAN DRAMA. Think "Red Scare" and Nixonian politics. With a little tweaking this would make brilliant television. (...We just need to lock them in a house together, or an island or something, make them live eat and breath together. Kissing to. primetime magic.)
WcW, Jul 21 2011

       Oh, agreed, and I like the idea. We just got off on a tangent.
Alterother, Jul 21 2011


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