back to article Celebrity publicist develops mathematical 'fame formula'

A celebrated celebrity PR consultant has written a book in which he offers "mathematical" proof that fame - or anyway, spikes in fame - last fifteen months, rather than any traditional period of minutes. However, the bogo-scientific gloss applied to publicist Mark Borkowski's theories is so fragile as to shatter at a glance. …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Fame, infact, has a half life, with the value of B altering the decay rate.

  2. Tim

    You all have too much time on your hands.

    The scientists must be bored, so look for some fame formula, the el-reg decides to analyse this waste of time, and in-doing, wastes yet more time.

    Any normal person can work out that if someone was famous before they married another famous person, they will become more famous for a bit, and this will wane until we hear they are in rehab......

    Now get on with proper news!

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Antonio Cavallo
    Thumb Down


    ft = b + p((1/10t) + (1/2t2))

    "At t = 0, f is infinite".

    Last time I've checked this at t=0 the function is b.

    If p is negative then it is an inverted parabola

    .. perhaps is still bullshit.

  5. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: You all have too much time on your hands.

    It never ceases to amaze and amuse me how much time people will spend explaining that they don't want to waste their time on something they consider to be a gross waste of everyone's time.

    Personally I don't care that I just wasted my time pointing this out. I am all about the time-wasting.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Another flaw...

    Surely the nature of the spike alters the rate of decay of fame?

    For example, being shot dead by a jealous lover will generate a lot of column inches in the immediate term and will necessarily be followed up by a trial in about 12 months' time.

    The model takes a truly consequent event like this as independent, which is absurd in terms of statistical relationships.

    Similarly, releasing a film (AKA "movie" in Americanese) will generate a large spike in publicity, followed by a consequent smaller spike as part of the DVD release. And again, this model takes these as independent events.

    Checking in to rehab means later checking out of rehab.

    Marriage results in divorce. (Remember, this is celebrity land.)

    A new album will be accompanied by a tour 6 months later. And in the world of pop, it will generate a series of singles releases, so there will be a series of interrelated spikes.

    I could go on....

  7. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Fame ...... Fool's Gold

    The Fame Formula: How Hollywood's Fixers, Fakers and Star Makers Created the Celebrity Industry by Mark Borkowski

    Yes, and if it is an Artificial Construct of no Real Intrinsic Value, can it be Ruthlessly and Mercilessly Milked to Cause Collapse of a Virtual Economy....... and they would probably make a Film about IT too, if they had a Script and Beta SMARTs.

    SPRatman and the Fall Of Capitalism to AIRHeads and Deadheads. The Dark NeoCon Knightmare....... Playing in a Theatre of Operations soon, near you. :-)

    Does Russia have a Film Industry/Perception Management and Dream Machine?

    Or China?

    Or Japan?

    Or UK?

    Just for a Change of Scene and Self Serving Spin.

  8. whoami
    IT Angle

    Is It me cause all I can hear is bla bla bla

    #include MyHumbleOpinion;

    this.value = (bullshit + e^WTF);

  9. Adrian Jackson

    These formula 'news' stories annoy me.

    They're always based on meaningless formulae which tend to have painstakingly crafted constants multiplied by unquantifiable values ('fun factor', 'base fame', 'happiness'). And they're invariably just pathetic attempts to plug a new book or product anyway, which the press (by which I normally mean the BBC News website) just lap up.

    The level of irritation (I) they cause is roughly:

    I = (0.7(NQ)^2 + 1.6 Y) / B

    Where N is the average newsworthiness of the stories it appears above in the list of headlines, Q is the quantity of real news stories that were ignored because they weren't as 'interesting', Y is the inanity of the variables used, and B is the number of beers I've had.

    It's perhaps interesting to note that as B tends towards infinity, I fall over.

  10. Steve

    Disgraceful omission

    I don't care if you get the right numbers - without proper units it's a meaningless answer.

    May I suggest that it should probably be measured in hiltons?

  11. nancy

    oh it really works

    Being fairly good with numbers myself I have worked out that I am in fact already as famous and popular as Amy winehouse..

    there's more on it all here..

    There's an online fame calculator that you can try...

  12. Vaidotas Zemlys

    typesetting error?

    probably the formula reads:

    F(t) = b + p(1/(10t) + 1/(2t^2))

    Then at t=0, F is infinity. It is not that hard to typeset simple math formulas so their meaning is not ambiguous. I am amazed how many times people get it wrong. I am also amazed why such type of "magical" formulas usually restrict to simplest relationships: sums, polynomials, power functions and etc. Why nobody uses the inverse of hyperbolic sine for example? It is much more impressive :)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You've got things reversed.

    If you put in t=0:

    f(0) = b + p((1/10t) + (1/2t^2))

    = b + p(1/0 + 1/0)

    = b + p( <inf> + <inf>)

    Chucking some random figures into a.n.other spreadsheet program (OK, I admit it, I used excel) shows that this is something looking almost like an exponential decay - which I probably hould have worked out from the fact that there's a t^2 in there.

    So glad I worked that out. :)

  14. Mr D
    Dead Vulture


    Im never ever getting that 5 minutes back........

  15. Mike Crawshaw

    "It's not quite devil worship,"

    He's right.

    Devil-worshippers have amazing parties. I can't imagine anything worse than being stuck in a room full of attention-desperate Z-list wannabes all snaffling the complimentary Bucks Fizz*.

    *OK, I can imagine some worse things. But not many.

  16. Mister Cheese


    Not quite... I'll explain (although I shouldn't need to here):


    Let t=0


    f(0)=b+assert failed

    core dumped

  17. Anonymous Coward

    @Prof O. Und

    >maybe he'll work on the formula for infamy next (much more interesting).

    I understand that infamy is measured in a unit called CoCs - "Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!"

    Mine's the one with Kenneth Williams biography in the pocket.

  18. Mykilr
    Thumb Up

    @ Adrian Jackson

    That comment made the article worth reading.

  19. Jeff Rowse

    Slow day in Whitehall?

    At least Mr Page has (finally) found something they actually *do* do cheaper and better in America - make people (in)famous.

    Mine's the one with the kevlar lining and the Mickey Mouse badge on the pocket...

  20. Jeff Rowse

    @AC (@Prof O Und)

    "unit called CoCs"

    What, Call(s) Of Cthulhu?

    Mine's the one with the Elder Sign on the back and the Tyndalos doggie snack in the inside pocket...

    "Hastur? Hastur? Is there a Hastur in the house? Oh, buggAARRGGHH!!"

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    when B = Bullshit

    can we sing let it B??

  22. Jamie Kitson

    Mark Borowski

    Funny, just noticed the same name here:

  23. Frumious Bandersnatch
    IT Angle

    infamy, infamy ...

    I prefer the Register's formula. It's a better fit with my epectations.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    I'm going to live forever, I'm going to learn how to fly - high

    I feel compelled to note Borkowski's appalling lack of dimensional analysis.

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. Lukin Brewer

    Frankie Goes to Hollywood got there first.

    I think this is just a generalised version of the equation associated with the band "Frankie Goes to Hollywood".

    A simplified version was derived by the mathematicians who compiled "The Spitting Image Book".


    Frankie Go Downhill

    Welcome to the Same Record as Last Time

    [hype + bullshit + talentless Liverpudlians] + Trevor Horn = FRANKIE!

    FRANKIE - Trevor Horn = not much to be honest


    NB: Trevor Horn was their producer. When most of the group (including the lead singer) failed to turn up to record "Relax," Horn went ahead and completed the track without them.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    still having trouble with the maths here

    I am sure there should be an additional component to the equation but cannot for the life of me work out whether one should attribute an inverse or directly proportional relationship between "fame" and "showing off yer pishflaps in public"

  28. Markus Bleicher
    Gates Halo

    Math teacher's horror

    How many people reading an IT news site follow Mr. Page's lead and wrongly belief

    1/10t=1/(10t) and not (1/10)t.

    Luckily, MS Excel is on the right track.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    of far more use

    would be a formula that accurately allowed us to predict the worst policians by measuring their hypocrisy, fascism ratio, lack of common sense, total ignorance, and ease of purchase.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    That Dragan Dabic hoax website (was re: Mark Borowski)

    <notices stencilled rat at bottom of page>

    Holy crap, it's Banksy!

    ;-) heh. funny guy.

  31. Matt Eagles

    Faintly refreshing

    At least the PR wonks are admitting they made up the formula rather than shopping around for a Professor in need of a cheque.

  32. Chris

    re: math teacher's horror

    How many people with no mathematical training whatsoever follow Mr. Borowski's lead and create a formula which ignores the standard order of operations and think that 1/10t is the same as 1/(10t)?

    I don't know how many such formulae there are attempting to quantify the unquantifiable. So we will now have Celebrity "Science" as a field of study alongside Political "Science" and all the other subjects with "science" in their name, that aren't.

    I once heard that Policticians all believe they are Economists, Economists all believe they are Sociologists, Sociologists all believe they are Psychologists, Psychologists believe they are Biologists, Biologists believe they are Biochemists, Biochemists believe they are Physical Chemists, Physical Chemists believe they are Physicists, Physicists believe they are Mathematicians, and Mathematicians believe they are God. But God is an Astronomer.

    As a mathematician, I resemble that remark, but I sure hope we don't have to put publicists on that list.


  33. Rodrigo Rollan

    @ Sarah Bee & @ TIM

    I´ll go little bit further on your train of thought: It is utterly amazing, awe inspiring and generally mindbaffling (WOW) that this person is actually earning money selling his book........ I feel humbled. We humans really deserve what we get

  34. skeptical i
    Dead Vulture

    @Chris and "$some_new science"

    Ayep, you got that right. And speaking of bullshit "forumula" creation, the section of the federal bureaucracy that deals with alcohol abuse has this bit in one of its "how to complete the client intake form" manuals:

    Weekly = how often/days X how much/# drinks

    It was only after I read the "explanation" in the subsequent paragraph that I learned that the mathematical order of operations does not apply here, and that the "equation" could have been more clearly spelled out as "weekly = (number of days per week in which alcohol is consumed) X (average number of drinks consumed on each of those days)".

    Vomiting vulture (think cheap red wine) because the equation should better accommodate "I drink until I puke" as an input.

  35. skeptical i
    Dead Vulture

    @Chris and "$some_new science", P.S.

    s/forumula/formula/ig; #dummycake

  36. pctechxp

    wait a minute....

    amanfrommars' comments nearly made sense.

    I thougjht it would be Max Clifford pumping out this kind of bilge.

  37. Daniel

    wazzza .... harra ...wha?

    what happened ... is the cricket over ... where's my teeth ... ?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Plucking numbers from thin air

    That's a fantastic equation you have there - define some variables, assign these variables from an absolutely arbitrary manner (i.e. thin air) and it'll make up what you want.

    Tell you what, here's a similar formula for the success of Microsoft Windows Vista in a given market:

    c = (u*n)t

    Where c = suCcess, u=Units sold, n=Nation or territory and t=Totally made up value plucked from the amount of snuffalumps you saw in mcsnuffaland last snuffaThursday, around snuffingstonstopgo o'clock.

  39. James O'Shea

    Arm candy, 200 years later.

    It's not only history geeks who know about Lady Hamilton. At least a few town planners do, too. There's a development named 'Trafalgar Park' in Kingston, Jamaica which features a 'Lady Hamilton Drive' which intersects a 'Lord Nelson Way'.

    It should be noted that someone likes his little jokes... Trafalgar Park is located between the British High Commission and the French Embassy.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022