Monday, November 16, 2009

Tiffany Michelle--is she insane, or just stupid?

I've been catching up on episodes of "The Amazing Race" that I missed last month while I was out east. Last night I watched the one before they get eliminated. (Saw that one just now.) They're in Dubai. They've been having a rough time of it there, and are hoping that the next clue will tell them to go someplace else.

Just before Tiffany opens the envelope, she pauses for a few seconds and reverentially says, "Please, Jesus, let us leave Dubai."

Now, this can't be meant at the most literal level, which would imply that they're being held prisoner and can only leave Dubai if there is divine intervention. They're free to do whatever they want. Under the circumstances, it seems most likely that what she means is this: "Please, Jesus, make this envelope contain an instruction that we fly to another part of the world."

But how nutty is that? The route for the race was obviously planned long in advance. The clue inside the envelope was printed, presumably, before the race even began. Other teams that are ahead of them have already opened their envelopes with identical clues and started working on the task assigned. So she is asking Jesus to magically change what has already been written on the clue. I'm not sure if she expects that, as a result, they will be told to go somewhere else while the other teams continue on in Dubai (because Jesus fell down on the job and didn't grant her wish; maybe she failed to click her heels three times, or burn incense, or sacrifice a goat as a burnt offering, or whatever else one must do to get the proper attention of supernatural beings), or if she thinks that Jesus will not only change the printing on the clue, but also reverse time and make all of the clues say something different than they did when they were created. Perhaps her intention is that Jesus will reverse time all the way back to pre-production meetings so that no option other than having the teams leave Dubai at that point is ever considered.

If she really believes that there is a supernatural being that works this way, and exercises such awesome powers on her specific behalf because she is so special to him, even when the goal is something as trivial and silly as winning a reality TV show, she is genuinely looney.

And logically speaking, if Jesus has that kind of powers and is willing to use them for her benefit because he is so in love with her precious self, wouldn't it have been a whole lot easier just to ask him for a million dollars to begin with, and skip the whole race thing?

Her request is just as shockingly daft, and in precisely the same way, as Jerry Yang asking Jesus to change the cards after the dealer has already shuffled and cut the deck, or Shannon Elizabeth fervently believing that the combined mental efforts of herself and her supporters can accomplish the same thing.

My guess is that if directly confronted with the insanity of her prayer, Michelle would come up with some flimsy explanation, such as that's not really what she expected to have happen. Of course, I'd then want to ask what she did expect to occur as a result. I mean, she's taking a moment away from a race to ask Jesus to do something--what is it, exactly, that she expects him to do, if not just what her words say? If she is really not expecting anything to happen, then it seems to me that she is guilty of having no faith, and/or taking the name of her lord in vain. If I were Jesus, I wouldn't take kindly to being bothered with requests from people who don't really expect me to do anything about them.

I can already hear the protestations coming in via the comments feature: "It's just an expression of her faith. It's not meant to be taken literally." To which I reply: Rubbish. She chose those specific words out of an infinite number of possibilities. I.e., if her thought was simply a more general, "Jesus, we could really use some help to do well on whatever this next task may be," well, words just about like those would have been more suitable, and they are, I assume, within her vocabulary and comprehension. She did not choose to say that. She said, "Please, Jesus, let us leave Dubai," which is not even close to being some vague wish about helping them with whatever the next challenge might be. It is very specific in nature.

So she either meant what she said, and she is insane, or there is a profound disconnect between what she says and what she means, which, to me, says that she is too stupid to select words that at least fall in the general direction of her intended meaning.

Either way, not a very flattering insight into the mind of Tiffany Michelle.


Conan776 said...

I suspect that being in a very religious yet Muslim (or any other non X-tian) nation would tend to bring out the average lapsed Christian's latent tendencies. Heck, if I suddenly ended up in Arabia tomorrow I'd probably go to Mass on Sunday and I don't even know the last time I crossed the threshold of a church.

bastinptc said...

Blame it on the producers of the show. Anything out of their mouths is coached. At least, that's the way I look at these reality shows, which is just another reason to avoid them.

Keiser said...

I think the idea is that God/Jesus have already set in motion things that will happen to/for us. So apparently since God/Jesus know(s) you will praise him/them, then him/they would set up the universe such that all things would fall into place, and whoever plans out the route would no longer choose a certain location and Tiffany Michelle can leave Dubai.

Besides, even if they did change the universe for a deck of cards, the cards wouldn't merely swap places. That would probably cause a continuum disturbance like a bang, puff of smoke, and a guy with a mustache, tuxedo, and hat pulling away a cloth, possibly even a wormhole to a desert planet where Kurt Russel has a nuke. Instead, they would implant a suggestion in the dealer's brain to press just this hard here during the shuffle to put this card there and that card here and then only cut to this other card and POW four of a kind on the river.

gr7070 said...

>>>Perhaps her intention is that Jesus will reverse time all the way back to pre-production meetings so that no option other than having the teams leave Dubai at that point is ever considered.<<<

Or maybe perhaps her intention is that the instructions that were put on the card were to have her leave Dubai. Which is exactly as she asked for. She didn't ask that they be changed. She asked that that's what they be.

If they're not that, then her prayer was answered with a no. She didn't ask for the response to be changed. She asked for a specific response.

Sheesh Grump. Your issues with religion have clouded your thinking. Certainly that happens often with those who have a huge "issue" with religion whether it be pro or con.

Anonymous said...

It must be so nice to have such a care-free life that you can obsess over something so trivial while the rest of us go on worrying about mortages and gas prices and our kids' health.

Rakewell said...

gr7070: If she is asking that the instructions tell them to leave Dubai, and, in fact, the instructions had already been printed to that effect, then you would say that her prayer was answered affirmatively? (Because you say that if the instructions are otherwise, then the answer is no.) If so, then are you saying that her prayer on the day of shooting somehow retroactively caused the instructions to have been printed to tell them to leave Dubai? If so, how does this reversal of the normal arrow of time work?

It seems to me that it is a pretty weak god that can only answer prayers that are in the form of asking for things to be as they already are. I.e., the instructions are what they are. Ask that they stay that way, and your prayer is granted! Ask that they be changed, and sorry, but we can't do that.

Why should I ask for help from a being that can accomplish no more than I can on my own?

Grange95 said...

I think you are giving the statement too much "truth value". This statement strikes me as more of an exclamation of disapproval of being in Dubai than an actual expression of an expectation of true divine intervention. In other words, I read her statement as a mere colloquialism meaning nothing more than, "I hate Dubai. I want to go someplace else." I really don't interpret her comment as an actual expression of a religious belief.

The Blue Knave said...

I'm with Grange. "Please, Jesus, let X happen" is common parlance in popular culture and has nothing to do with religion, faith, or the expectation or belief in miracles.

It certainly indicates a common human psychological belief that an event hasn't taken place until we've had the experience of it taking place (e.g. calling for a card, even though the deck is shuffled).

But your suggestion that the fact that the deck is already shuffled implies you think there's some possibility of change before the deck is shuffled. In fact the forces at work are all perfectly deterministic--just not easily calculated--so asking for specific cards prior to shuffling the deck is no better.

On the other hand, if quantum dynamics is to be believed (and it's quite possible that the current mathematical expression of quantum theory is really just a codification of our ignorance), theorists suggest that some waves do not "collapse" -- ie., settle into a specific state -- until they are observed (thus the schroedinger's cat experiment) such that perhaps calling for cards after the shuffle is perfectly rational within scientific theory. The reality of card order genuinely is not settled until they are observed! Not that they shift around, and neither that they are blank, but simply that the quantum events at the head of the causal chain that eventually determine the card order as seen are all spawning multiple universes such that in our universe my bullets are beat by a flush, but in that other universe, the one I wish I was in, I'm up against pocket kings, the chips are all in, and all three streets are useless garbage.

Rakewell said...

"I'm with Grange. "Please, Jesus, let X happen" is common parlance in popular culture and has nothing to do with religion, faith, or the expectation or belief in miracles."

That's clearly not true as a generalization. I.e., it is surely the case that some unknowable percentage of such utterances really are just what they appear to be: requests for Jesus to exercise supernatural powers to intervene in the natural world.

Which, in my view, is precisely the problem. If a wish or hope is expressed in a way that nobody--at least no adult in possession of common sense--would interprest literally, there is no difficulty discerning what the speaker means. For example, if I say, "I hope Santa brings me a new computer for Christmas," I assume that nobody over the age of about 6 is going to think that I actually believe in a red-suited fat man that makes warp speed deliveries down chimneys on Christmas Eve. I think everybody would know that I am either just expressing a wish that I had a new computer (without regard for how that wish might be accomplished), or I am overtly dropping hints about what some generous loved one might want to get me.

But because a large number of people really do believe in a Jesus who listens to and answers their prayers, and has infinite power to make literally anything come to pass, if one phrases a generic hope in the specific form of "Please, Jesus...," then one has to expect that at least some listeners will assume that your words mean exactly what they say. If you don't intend for listeners to make such inference, then it's pretty damn dumb to choose words that *on their face* invite exactly that understanding, when you could instead choose words that carry no such possible connotation.

So, as I said originally, if Tiffany had no thought of actually invoking the power of Jesus to do something along the lines that she was apparently requesting, then she is terribly stupid for not being capable of finding words that actually matched her thoughts. After all, coming up with "I hope we get to leave Dubai now" isn't all that difficult. If such a simple declarative statement is beyond her ability to formulate, then she is a moron.

Anonymous said...

Maybe your being a bit harsh on her because you don't like her personally.

Couga said...

You are a kook! In the same article you are criticizing a person for the daftness she exibits while choosing words expressing her feelings, but yet you say "She chose those specific words out of an infinite number of possibilities".

I was unaware of the infinite number of words in the English language.

HighOnPoker said...

You're reaching a bit here, Rakewell. Is her statement any more daft than saying that 24 is a monster hand? I'm not against the mighty 24, but there is no need to be so literal on everything.

Cardgrrl said...

People invoke the names of deities as a form of verbal emphasis. It's a way of being extra-dramatic in expressing your desires, and it's purely idiomatic.

People do it all the time, some more archly, ironically, and deliberately than others. Perhaps we are all "terribly stupid."

Or, you know, not.

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, Cardgrrl disagreeing with the Grump - is there trouble in paradise?

Rakewell said...

I thought of three responses to that last comment, and couldn't decide which one to go with. Take your pick.

Snarky: Yeah, two people disagreeing on something obviously means the end of an otherwise good friendship.

Teasing: Yes, Cardgrrl is wrong about lots of things--but I put up with her anyway!

Straightforward: We disagree about LOTS of stuff. But I'm not sure why you would see that as problematic. As the saying has it, if two people always agree about everything, one of them isn't needed.

Anonymous said...

The Grump's three responses to (that other) Anonymous just goes to show - as does his original thoughts on Tiffany Michelle's comments - that he takes life and himself way too seriously.

astrobel said...

how many readers reacting to this post ! I have to go with Grange and Cardgrrrl on this one.
Anyway, we all say things that, if analyzed carefully, would seem rather foolish.
Still, interesting points made from all angles.

Pete said...

Maybe she was trying to be funny? By using the word Jesus some people might think she is being a lot more serious than how she actually feels at that moment.

Some sarcasm perhaps.

It also could have been a line given to her by the producers. It could be that someone off camera said try this line, and they did that multiple times with multiple lines with the on-camera people not really caring what they are saying because they just want to get that shot done with. And then in post a producer chose that one take to be used.

It's just TV.

unaha-closp said...

When Tiffany Michelle accepts the Rakewelll Challenge you'll tell us, right?

We'd all like to rail that one.