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Network to Sponsor In Vivo Social Experiment


By Elaine Cassel

How would you like to take part in a real-life social experiment and have a shot at winning One Million Dollars? The CBS television network is taking applications for 16 volunteers who will be marooned on a deserted island in the South China Sea for seven weeks beginning in March, 2000. Inhabitants will have to coexist with Macaque monkeys and deadly snakes-but that probably won't be nearly as burdensome as learning to live with each other in a self-styled tribal community.

In this in vivo social experiment, the group's task will be to establish a tribal council, build shelter, catch food, and participate in daily challenges designed to test individual members' guile and wit. Periodically, the "council" will meet to discuss the group's activities and the contributions of each member. At the end of each session, members will vote by secret ballot to oust one member from the group. Over a period of several weeks, members will be eliminated until only two remain. A council consisting of the last seven eliminated members will stand in judgment of the remaining two. Their vote will determine the winner.

A lengthy application is available at http://www.cbs.com. Not surprisingly, many of the questions are designed to elicit a psychological profile of the applicant through detailed inquiry into the individual's personal, family, education, and social history, as well as questions about personality traits. And lest we forget that a television network is sponsoring this clever publicity ploy, you are asked to name your favorite television programs and choose the Gilligan's Island character you most resemble! Finalists must pass strict medical and psychological scrutiny by a panel of medical and mental health professionals.

Could you survive the mental and physical challenges and be voted the ultimate survivor by a jury of your peers? The winner will need to be a valuable contributor to the well being of the group, as well as a congenial companion. If you aren't among the 16 lucky people chosen for the challenge, you will be able to watch a documentary about the experiment to be aired by the network sometime in 2000. Ten camera crews will record every moment of the experience.

You can follow the developments of the project, known as Survivor, by visiting the CBS web site.


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