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The Conjoined Alliance of Space Travellers (Nope, not that one) is a generally nice completely peaceful group of heavily armed species exploratory organisation.

Using ships such as the Exciting Undertaking and bases like A Long Way from Anywhere V C.A.S.T. has spread across the stars, often culturally annihilating civilising other species in their quest for shiny things knowledge.

Some time ago C.A.S.T. scientists noted an alarming trend: When people were given shirts, tunics, snoods, kilts or other items of culturally appropriated tat clothing that were coloured red, they showed a much greater chance of dying. This trend was directly correlated with the proportion of red to other pigments in the clothing, and is as yet unexplained. Rigorous testing (on background crew members, obviously) has confirmed the causal link: Red uniforms cause a 10 fold increase in chance of death. This isn’t a statistical fluke, it’s been confirmed using a carefully planned variety of uniform styles over multiple seasons years to eliminate various sources of bias.

Despite this research being passed up to the higher levels of the command chain it is still mandated that certain positions within the organisation wear red.

Given that the leaders of C.A.S.T. have sensible advisors... are generally not idiots... are quite clever... are some of the smartest people in the known universe: Why might they still be producing items of clothing in a colour they know will cause higher casualty rates among the people who wear them?

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Oct 18 '17 at 15:40
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    $\begingroup$ I wasn't aware that in-jokes were allowed here. $\endgroup$ – Robert Harvey Oct 20 '17 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ A full book was written on the topic and provide THE explanation. See "Redshirts", the novel by John Scalzi $\endgroup$ – Uriel Oct 21 '17 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ You forgot about thneeds. $\endgroup$ – nijineko Oct 22 '17 at 20:11

25 Answers 25

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The red suits are optional, worn by crew members who find a post-scarcity life too boring and risk-free for their liking. As a group they see themselves as the elite, willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, when nobody else is willing to take up the mantle and don the red.

Such a worldview is intolerable to the C.A.S.T principles of equality, however as those afflicted with such moral superiority complexes are already taking measures to lower their lifespans, it's seen as a problem that is solving itself.

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    $\begingroup$ My god.. they’re Space vegans. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 16 '17 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ ‘I’m sure they’re the latest fashion, but do you have anything in red?’ $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 16 '17 at 12:42
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    $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs space vegans sums them up perfectly $\endgroup$ – Callum Bradbury Oct 16 '17 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ @mbm29414 I think Joe's point is that they have in common a sense of noble suffering (for vegans, the suffering being that tofu is less tasty). $\endgroup$ – tsbertalan Oct 19 '17 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ Boss: "Prejudice is one of the worst poisons you can have on any society. It's wrong to discriminate people because of their religion, skin color, sexual orientation or..." - Secretary: "But, boss, you said several times you don't like vegans because..." - Boss: "I said it's wrong to discriminate people. " - Actual exchange on my workplace - my boss chatting with her secretary a while ago. $\endgroup$ – T. Sar Oct 20 '17 at 13:40
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They want people to strive for a better position and sort the weaklings out

By making the lower ranks wear red they incentivise people to get better. After all everyone knows that Redshirts die more often than others. If you are a Redshirt you are seen as expendable and you don't want to be expendable. So you better get moving and try to climb up the corporate intergalactical ladder.

This is a form of "survival of the fittest" engineered by the leaders. Something kills things in red - so the weaklings get sorted out. But if you were a Redshirt and you survived a few missions and proved to be competent then you surely are a great asset and should be allowed to jump a few rungs.

At the same time they are protecting their more important people. If whatever exactly is killing is occupied with Redshirts it can't possibly kill the others at the same time. Probably.

Space is cruel. You have to show that you can survive the dangers and prove your worth. This is just a form of pecking order where the stronger ones thrive and the weaker ones get sorted out when danger approaches. Your only hope is to get out of that position as fast as you can.

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    $\begingroup$ That... is a more brutal than average HR department. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 16 '17 at 10:58
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    $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs Only slightly more brutal than your average HR department. Space is cruel. $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Oct 16 '17 at 11:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Secespitus Not as cruel as mine $\endgroup$ – 1089 Oct 17 '17 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ Except that nobody in command starts in a RedShirt. $\endgroup$ – paulzag Oct 18 '17 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ Reminds me of the PC game "redshirt", where the goal is to avoid being KIA due to said shirts... $\endgroup$ – Zommuter Oct 23 '17 at 12:04
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This is a matter of perception bias from an outside observer.

While it appears to us that wearing red causes people to die, it's quite the opposite that's true.

The Conjoined Alliance of Space Travellers undertakes comprehensive aptitude testing of all incoming crew members. From the results of this testing people who are likely to walk across uncleared minefields, or enter rooms full of hostiles without checking, are issued red uniforms. This alerts team members around them to take better care and provide support in an to attempt to keep them alive as long as possible.

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    $\begingroup$ But why work so hard to keep stupid people alive? $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Oct 16 '17 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ @RonJohn, every coalmine needs a canary or two $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Oct 16 '17 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ Canaries are (for a whole host of reasons) cheaper than humans. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Oct 16 '17 at 17:44
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    $\begingroup$ I take more as a "don't stand next to" sign. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Oct 16 '17 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Separatrix, the Red Shirt actions mentioned above tend to lead to collateral damage including TPK. I'd rather be somewhere else. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Oct 17 '17 at 20:48
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Because it works better.

It turns out that while reds get dead, everyone else gets on pretty well. The total casualty rate is less or the total success rate is greater than not having red shirts.

It's not yet clear if there are psychological factors for the enemies, or someone yelling "Noooo! Johny don't die!" helps galvanize your side, but the statistics are clear; red side wins even if red wearers in particular lose.

Since this is dealing with thousands of expected deaths, more than a few terribly expensive ships, and occasionally the fate of the galaxy, all other factors are secondary to a slight uptick in total performance.

We would give them hazard pay to compensate, but money went out of style some time ago; we would give them extra holodeck privileges, but it turns out those are a major cause of death already; same with shore leave and fraternizing with leaders.

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    $\begingroup$ Death as an exercise in optimisation. Nice. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 16 '17 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs "The happiness of more people is heavier then the happiness of that one guy" ... or something like that. $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Oct 18 '17 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ Think Coulsons death on the first Avengers movie... $\endgroup$ – Fernando Gavinho Oct 20 '17 at 9:31
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Red shirts reduce casualties for non-red shirts

Perhaps red is the universal "kill me" color. Maybe the red dye is a space mutant pheromone. Perhaps the material is a magnet for phaser beams. Not only does the red clothing increase chance of death on an individual basis, when put into a group of people wearing different colors, the red shirt is almost assuredly going to die first. This allows the better trained, higher ranking, less expendable personnel some extra time to escape what would otherwise be a grisly death. Someone's gotta die, you may as well be able to plan who it'll be.

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    $\begingroup$ I like this one. Alternatively, it could be like how WW1 fighter pilots tried shooting down the enemy captain. An enemy could focus a high-ranking red shirt, who is better at dodging, sparing his crew and thus reducing overall casualties $\endgroup$ – user1675016 Oct 16 '17 at 20:04
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    $\begingroup$ Kinda like the whole "You don't have to be the fastest runner, just faster than the slowest" when running from a group of zombies. $\endgroup$ – Taegost Oct 18 '17 at 12:34
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This sounds like a sampling bias.

I don't have hard numbers to back this up but I'm pretty sure that, compared to the general population of any city, people wearing brightly colored safety gear are at a greatly increased risk of being involved in an accident involving heavy machinery or construction equipment. What's strange is that most construction sites insist on having their workers wear high visibility clothing despite the statistically increased risk of an accident over the general population.

The reason local law requires high visibility clothing on construction sites is because for construction workers there is a reduced risk of an accident on the job site compared to not wearing it.

Sampling biases like this can lead to many incorrect conclusions from the data. In the case of red shirts, especially as part of a uniform, I'm sure a similar mechanism is at play.

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    $\begingroup$ The statisticians who work for C.A.T.S are quite sure. Multiple missions with control groups on different ships have confirmed it’s not just bias: that’s why they change uniforms every season... Sorry.. every so often. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 16 '17 at 11:47
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    $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs And of course, the C.A.T.S statisticians a̶r̶e̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶s̶o̶ ̶h̶o̶t̶ the best in the business. $\endgroup$ – Andrew M Oct 16 '17 at 15:03
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    $\begingroup$ Yea, people with day-glo colors have more work-related accidents. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Oct 17 '17 at 3:40
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    $\begingroup$ Has C.A.S.T just become C.A.T.S, or is this a different organisation? It's not a People's Front of Judea thing is it? $\endgroup$ – mcalex Oct 18 '17 at 8:14
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    $\begingroup$ @mcalex : it was a typo I now can’t fix, but also the Commune of Able Travellers in Space are the mortal enemies of C.A.S.T. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 18 '17 at 12:56
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The CAST Eugenics Bureau Public Health Commission has determined that colorblindness is an undesirable trait that should be removed from the genome. But there’s no reason to waste cannon fodder patriotic recruits who haven’t yet passed on their genes.

So, all new security officers are issued with red uniforms. If they say “but I’m supposed to get a green uniform”, the quartermaster says “woops, sorry, I haven’t had my coffee yet” and hands them the green one instead. If the recruit takes the red uniform, the quartermaster just says “I’m sure you’ll be a credit to that green uniform! Good luck with missions”.

No one says anything to the people wearing red; they just make sure to stand behind them when encountering new species.

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    $\begingroup$ Anyone who survives one mission in a red shirt gets promoted to orange. Then yellow, then green, and so on. The Computer is your Friend. $\endgroup$ – The Photon Oct 20 '17 at 17:25
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Turns out there's another, equally-well-researched, legit reason for this, in actual real life, here on earth.

In sports, statistically, if one team wears red, they do better.

National Geographic's article on this. reports researchers saying "Where there was a small point difference, the effect of color was sufficient to tip the balance." - it goes on to state that the preponderance of red wins was great enough that it could not be attributed to chance, and shows that the effect has been measured in other species (mandrils, zebra finches), not just humans... so why not aliens too?

Scientific American's article on this. states that red-wearing athletes won 60% of the time in balanced matches; blue-wearing ones won only 40% - that's a 20% difference! [edit: 10% change, 20% gap... but 50% difference!] They also note that this affects teams, as well as individuals.

Sure, that extra confidence and energy and perceived aggressive dominance by one's opponents can lead to death. Also, being highly visible can be a problem.

But why would one throw away a clear 50% strategic superiority and psychological edge that the color gives us? The mission is the important thing. Lives hang in the balance. Even fractions of a percentage point of advantage could save the lives of the crew, or even the C.A.S.T.!

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    $\begingroup$ TV Tropes article on this states that Red ones go faster because physics, biology, and quantum, but is not related to shirt colour $\endgroup$ – mcalex Oct 18 '17 at 8:18
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    $\begingroup$ 60/40 split is not a 20% difference, it is a 50% difference. Red will win 50% more games than Blue (from Blue's perspective) $\endgroup$ – paulzag Oct 18 '17 at 22:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Paulzag I thought I was being sneaky just doubling the 10% deviation, but you totally have me beat. A 50% advantage it clearly is! $\endgroup$ – Dewi Morgan Oct 19 '17 at 1:53
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The C.A.S.T. leaders are benevolent and soft-hearted to an extreme, and of course, would do anything to protect their people. This is C.A.S.T., after all- unlike the horrible past where people did things for money or power, these leaders are purely motivated by service to the greater good. They almost always come from elite families who know they know better than everyone else and who have been producing leaders for generations... you might say, they were bred for leadership.

As soon as the red-death correlation was discovered, they immediately insisted on a full review of all uniforms, by they themselves- they would dictate what would be worn- for the greater good.

To their relief, not a single approved uniform was that hopelessly dangerous color! So, basking in the warm glow of self-satisfaction, right after one of their number spoke a self-righteous monologue while staring off into the distance [as if through some invisible fourth wall] condemning the silly and primitive ways of a past that would have, no doubt, had vast numbers of people wearing red, while these same people made their own decisions and just generally mucked up the world without proper leadership, the leaders got back to proper business- such as warping at high speeds to conferences to discuss the negative effects of high warp speeds on space-time.

It was only several decades later that it was discovered that not only had leaders been bred for leadership... but also color-blindness.

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    $\begingroup$ Seriously, this made me laugh out loud... As I'm reading, I'm thinking to myself "This is the exact opposite of what the OP wanted" ... and then I read the last sentence. Well played! $\endgroup$ – Taegost Oct 18 '17 at 12:41
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you! :) I was picturing the C.A.S.T. leadership in a Wodehousian light... surely some of Bertie's sartorially challenged moments could be explained in a similar fashion... $\endgroup$ – grayness Oct 21 '17 at 7:05
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I seem to recall something about red being an alarming colour for humans while blue is a relaxing colour. Following from that, someone wearing red would be subconsciously classified as a greater threat than someone wearing blue or green. So, if you have two people, one in a red shirt, the other in blue, the red one is considered the bigger threat and shot at first. But that doesn't explain why other species would react in this way.

Another possible reason is that for species under a yellow sun, red and yellow stand out more than blue or green, due to the way our eyes evolved. Again, this wouldn't explain species evolving under a blue star. Unless of course, C. A. S. T. doesn't have any. These organizations do seem to have an unhealthy bias towards bipedal humanoid species.

As to why they keep producing red uniforms, even though they seem to get people killed:

  1. once the news got out, the price of red dye plummeted. One or two subunits per metre isn't much unless you're taking billions of items, then it's a massive price difference. And white needs replacing more often to look impressive.
  2. Somebody ordered a few billion units to get advantage of bulk rates and management won't sanction more funds until they've all been used.
  3. The Red Dye Manufacturers' lobby group and the Union of Red Dye Workers have unusually issued a joint statement saying they'll make times interesting for any administration that stops red uniforms, even though the equipment manufacturers making the machines used to process the red dyes for uniforms have issued a statement saying that their products can be easily adjusted to produce different hues and no additional training is required. Strangely, the outer Federation, ahem, Conjoined Alliance planet, whose only export is a very specific, and hitherto popular, red dye has not been heard from.
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    $\begingroup$ The question isn't why do people wearing red die more, it's why do their leaders, knowing that red makes them die more, still make them wear red. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 16 '17 at 12:01
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps @Nzaman has uncovered the answer! Different colored shirts are available as camouflage for different sun colors. The high mortality rate is not associated with people who wear red shirts. It is associated with people who wear the wrong camouflage for a given planet. In other words,... stupidity. Most of the fatal samples just happened to be taken from planets with yellow/white suns, the environment where the intelligence deficient choose to wear red. It isn't the shirt color, but rather the choice of shirt color which leads to high mortality. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Oct 16 '17 at 12:46
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    $\begingroup$ Aah, lobbying!! That makes total sense. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 16 '17 at 13:20
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Because red clothes are viewed as 'cool' or 'sexy'. The fact that the surgeon general puts a label on the tag claiming that they are bad for your health only seems to encourage today's youth to wear red. The fact that you must be 18 or older to even buy a red-shirt doesn't stop high-schoolers from wearing red underneath their normal school uniforms. Besides, how bad can it be? After all I can stop wearing red any time I want.

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  • $\begingroup$ You can't tell me what to wear! #TeamRed #YOLO $\endgroup$ – default locale Oct 26 '17 at 6:12
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Bureaucracy for the win; they have the gear already and it cost so very much...

This is far from the first case in which an organisation has continued a questionable process or practice because the materials for that practice are already in their inventory and they would rather use that inventory than having to write it off, at a drastic lose. So until the, massively over-ordered, stockpile of "red-wear" is depleted the higher echelon are stuck with it. Sorry just saw the word "produce" so make that until the massive and heavily over-ordered stockpile of Red Dye No. 4 is exhausted they have to keep making "red-wear" and people are stuck wearing it until it's all worn out.

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    $\begingroup$ Even better - the vogon in charge of purchasing has not implemented the memo because no impact studies have been done. After that a hearing needs to be held with sufficiently long comment period. For a big change like this appeals from suppliers are to be expected, which would certainly lead to having to re-evaluate the original impact studies, and of course any changes will be subject to hearings and comment periods... $\endgroup$ – ventsyv Oct 19 '17 at 16:26
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    $\begingroup$ @ventsyv - ...but while you're waiting, here's some poetry ... $\endgroup$ – T.E.D. Oct 20 '17 at 18:05
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This is simply a case of mixing cause and effect... The more dangerous jobs tend to have red shirts because (to quote Deadpool) then the baddies can't see you bleed. The lethality of the job is not actually hinged upon the color of the clothes, if they changed security to green, then simply green would be the new red.

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The red shirts are assigned to the departments where they put all the people who are too clever by half.

Everyone knows the leaders of C.A.S.T. give due consideration to all aspects  think things through make decisions with their heads up their advisers in close conference. When someone has the intelligence and insight temerity to question those decisions, well... his or her uniform color changes.

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    $\begingroup$ Very machiavellian. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 16 '17 at 16:34
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It's common knowledge that red makes things go faster, as documented on TVTropes. Individuals wearing red can get to where they need to be faster; they can accomplish their tasks faster; they can eat faster; they can get their medically mandated relaxation done faster, meaning they can get back to work sooner.

It would be irresponsible of the C.A.S.T organization to deprive its members of such a boost, allowing other, less benevolent organizations to leapfrog them and threaten the safety of C.A.S.T.'s members and any poor, defenseless, civilizations not yet assimilated welcomed into C.A.S.T.'s friendly arms.

Alright, so the speed boost might also make individuals a little clumsier, tripping more often and then falling a little faster, hitting the ground a little harder than their bodies can handle. Or they might punch the Giant Space Amoeba of the Week a little too fast, shattering all the bones in their arm and leaving them a tad vulnerable to the Amoeba.

For those individuals who have earned a bit more relaxation time, who require more precision for there tasks, or who do more thinking than physical activities, i.e. the Commanders, the Medics, the Scientists, and the Engineers, they can be issued uniforms of other colors. But for the disposable highly valued majority? High speed, high efficiency RED!

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    $\begingroup$ But... Moar Dakka?? $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 16 '17 at 19:14
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Karma

The C.A.S.T. believe that it is better to have many parts lives with significance than a few long lives where they are rarely on camera seen and without lines heard. They believe that the next part life will pay better and provide more professional satisfaction be more enriching.

If the C.A.S.T. were to wear a safer color, they would have to stay in their insignificant parts lives longer. They wouldn't be able to go on to the glory they deserve.

And death scenes pay better.

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  • $\begingroup$ ‘Things will be better in the next show.. Damn.. Reincarnation!’ $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 17 '17 at 15:09
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Simple, we call it risk management.

Lets assume that the statistical increase of risk is proven, that is its not correlated but directly involved by the color of people's shirts.

So if 1 person in 20 dies in an occupation wearing anything other than red, if they are all wearing red then 10 out of the 20 would die instead. That is a 10 fold increase.

But classifying people in a large organization such as C.A.S.T. by their discipline is important especially in emergency situations. And what better way to make their discipline known quickly than to just simply give them different colored shirts?

So we come to the question, which colors should we use? We do not want too many colors because if they start blending into each other then we may get confusion when trying to determine an individual's discipline in the shortest time frame possible, such as in emergencies.

Let's say that statistically using more colors then the 7 colors in a rainbow would cause enough confusion. So if we try to cut off red from the options we are left with only 6 possible colors to designate disciplines, which if you ask me is too small.

In a small team of 6 people or less with each member having distinct specialties you will get way with it. But what happens if you have more? You have to merge disciplines and make each category broader. Which forces one of two things to happen, either every individual with a specific color is trained in the whole generalized discipline, or you add extra complications to color scheme. And we are already limited from a previous assumption. So now each member must be trained in more disciplines to fit the generalized discipline represented by their shirt color.

So now that we have that set up, lets say we add red back into the options. We get 7 choices instead of 6. That reduces the amount each major discipline needs to cover for every individual wearing that color to fit a task that requires the discipline.

But red is a 10x increase in risk, so who gets the red color?

Simple, the discipline that is less prone to death, such as reserves back in secured home worlds.

Using previous example but with bigger numbers, lets say we have two disciplines. One has a risk of 100 people dying for every 1000, and the other is a measly 5 for every 1000. Who should get the red shirts?

Give it to the first discipline and you'll have everyone dead when they are needed. But give it to the second one and you will still have people left alive to train the next group.

Advantage of C.A.S.T. is that they are so big that extra man power is not a problem, especially when they have so much control over information as to redact their author's statements.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good point about relative riskiness. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 19 '17 at 5:59
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If they are "some of the smartest people in the known universe" then they surely know the difference between correlation and causation. They might have even made experiments with giving security troops (and only security troops) green shirts, and observed that now green shirts "produced" the most casualties.

On days where more ice-cream is sold, more people drown. Does this means that ice-cream causes drowning? Or might it be, that when the wetter is hot, more people eat ice-cream, but also more people go swimming?

So, as it doesn't matter, and as people are already used to the color red, they just keep it out of sheer cultural inertia. Maybe they like cultural inertia, and don't like the idea of renaming or recoloring something every ten years or so to become "the new black".

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Tradition. We wear red Shirts and we will wear red Shirts.

In any military circumstances (army or (space) navy), tradition is very important and not to be changed just because a few additional deaths.

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    $\begingroup$ In this context, I would like to cite Eugène Étienne, the french minister of war who in 1913 dismissed proposals for new uniforms with "Red trousers are France!". However in contrast to your second point, the casualties sustained in the first months of WW1 did actually convince them that maybe brightly coloured uniforms are not ideal for modern warfare. $\endgroup$ – mlk Oct 20 '17 at 13:15
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe there is a difference between Army and Navy. In the Navy (water or space), it does not make a big difference if your uniform is brightly colored or camouflage, because the enemy sees the vessel, not the soldier. For marine infantery, the rules for army counts again. $\endgroup$ – Julian Egner Oct 22 '17 at 16:00
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There is a subset of Trek fans who refer to the expendable dying shirt color as "Gold Shirts" because they started in the TNG era when the original Security (Red) and Command (Gold) swapped colors. Others (such as reviewer SFDebris) will refer to a Red Shirt in TOS and a Gold Shirt in TNG/DS9/Voy with the same narrative expectation (that is to die). The term Red Shirt is more famous out of the Star Trek community, because the term predates TNG (the color swap was partially because the term being used so much).

This of course neglects the films Star Trek 2-7 in which Starfleet went through a uniform phase where every department wore a red outfit with a color and cuff color denoting specific department.

Edit to add comment additions:

Basically, what was said elsewhere: It's correlation does not equal causation. The red has nothing to do with the causalities but the fact that its the department color of the primary fighting force, and thus more likely to be in dangerous situations. The color being bright and noticable would only work for humans... if the aliens see in different spectrum or have trouble with red spectrum, the idea of the forces being brightly colored is moot.

In addition, given that in all Television series, Engineering and Security wear the same colors, it might be a bit of a coded warning to other personnel to pay attention to this person, because they are probably doing something dangerous (i.e. Shooting a Honorable Warrior Alien that has boarded the ship or tampering with a plasma conduit that has gone faulty... neither of which you want civvies or your medical/science/command staff anywhere near). Modern Aircraft carriers employ red shirts to handle ordinance loading for this reason. If you see one running, don't ask, just follow and keep up.

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    $\begingroup$ While interesting this doesn’t actually answer the question... $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 16 '17 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ Basically, what was said elsewhere: It's correlation does not equal causation. The red has nothing to do with the causalities but the fact that its the department color of the primary fighting force, and thus more likely to be in dangerous situations. The color being bright and noticable would only work for humans... if the aliens see in different spectrum or have trouble with red spectrum, the idea of the forces being brightly colored is moot. $\endgroup$ – hszmv Oct 16 '17 at 15:26
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    $\begingroup$ In addition, given that in all Television series, Engineering and Security wear the same colors, it might be a bit of a coded warning to other personnel to pay attention to this person, because they are probably doing something dangerous (i.e. Shooting a Honorable Warrior Alien that has boarded the ship or tampering with a plasma conduit that has gone faulty... neither of which you want civvies or your medical/science/command staff anywhere near). Modern Aircraft carriers employ red shirts to handle ordinance loading for this reason. If you see one running, don't ask, just follow and keep up $\endgroup$ – hszmv Oct 16 '17 at 15:32
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    $\begingroup$ @hszmv I think you should write that as an answer. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Oct 17 '17 at 3:42
  • $\begingroup$ That last line is just Maxim 3 reworded: "An ordnance technician at a dead run outranks everybody." I approve. $\endgroup$ – Martin Carney Oct 18 '17 at 20:29
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Red uniforms are given awarded to the biggest troublemakers bravest patriots as a way to get rid of reward them for years of bucking the party line faithful service.

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You might think you're tough, but you're not tough until you've worn the Red Uniform. It's the emblem I've borne for the past 20 years.

We're the baddest of the bad. You need something done, ask a Red Uni. We get in there first, before anyone knows what hit them, and we're the last ones out, cleaning up all the mess you sissies leave behind.

Sure there are some who can't cut the mettle-- space is a harsh mistress. They're losers, imposters who weren't worthy to bear the Red, but still, we have undying respect and loyalty for those who went down beside us.

Now if you'll excuse me I have some ass to kick. And I'm bringing my rolodex and a bic pen.

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It's in the dye

It's very simple.

There is a single red dye is used universally for all red fabric across the whole of CAST. This dye was synthesised from an organic molecule found in a specific parasitic worm, and has become widely used because it is easy and cheap to replicate in large quantities.

Unfortunately, this specific dye has a property that is heretofore unknown: when absorbed into the body via the skin, it can trigger a neurological response that inhibits the individual's sense of danger.

Those wearing red become very slightly more willing to take risks. The more you wear it, the more likely you are put yourself into a position that will get you killed.

Why would the original parasitic worm have a molecule that can do this... maybe it has a life cycle similar to Toxoplasma gondii. It just so happens that the same molecule that helps the parasite do brain control also happens to be a perfect red fabric dye.

Well... perfect, except for one tiny detail...

[edit]
As for why the continue wearing red clothes despite the increased death rate, the reason is simple:

The same neurological response that makes you more prone to getting killed also makes you a better soldier. You respond to dangerous situations with more bravery and selflessness, and ultimately improve the chances for everyone else.

There are more deaths among wearers of red, but also more medals and more heroes.

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  • $\begingroup$ This does not answer the question. No matter what causes the effect - question only asks why they continue to do it. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 22 '17 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Mołot - The effect is unknown; nobody realises that it's a problem with the dye, so it keeps happening. I guess I didn't major on that point enough. $\endgroup$ – Spudley Oct 22 '17 at 19:31
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    $\begingroup$ But they know it will no longer happen if they will simply get rid of red coloured shirt. Question is - why didn't they? And you are not answering it. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 22 '17 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ The added reason answers the question quite nicely. :-) $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 23 '17 at 6:16
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The idea that the color red is the primary cause for people being killed is a false assumption. Actually it is the occupation those people have that is the primary reason for their job not being safe.

The EDIT ( the Earth Directorate for Intelligence Transformative analytics ), a brilliant board of real scientists, discovers this by replacing the color red with pink on certain away missions thereby showing that the danger of death migrates with that color.

The CAST thereby replaces its scientists with real scientists from the EDIT and efforts are being made for ensuring the poor Redshirts survival.

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    $\begingroup$ I’m assuming you missed the sentence about a variety of uniform styles? The C.A.S.T. Scientist have proven causation, not just correlation. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 19 '17 at 10:11
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Other factions know wearing red is dangerous so an organisation claiming to come in piece with red shirted members are not foreseeing any kind of danger and must not be a threat.

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protected by Mołot Oct 22 '17 at 19:13

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