PLENTY OF STING IN SCORPION TALE

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - NEWS - ByAn­drewFen­ton

SCORPION boldly pro­claims at the be­gin­ning of each episode it’s “inspired by” the real-life story of hacker ge­nius Wal­ter O’Brien.

An ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of the show, he claims an IQ of 197 – the fourth high­est ever recorded and well above Al­bert Ein­stein’s 165. At 13, he sup­pos­edly hacked into NASA’s com­put­ers, and in­stead of go­ing to jail, made a deal with Home­land Se­cu­rity agents, to ex­pose flaws in com­puter se­cu­rity sys­tems.

To­day, O’Brien has a team of ge­niuses – just like on the show – work­ing with him in real-life com­pany Scorpion Com­puter Ser­vices, for which the TV show is one gi­ant ad.

But even Elyes Gabel (right), who plays O’Brien in the show, ad­mits he has some con­cerns over the ve­rac­ity of the story. To find his char­ac­ter he had to push those doubts aside and ac­cept O’Brien’s story as gospel.

“That meant ev­ery­thing he was say­ing I be­lieve rather than ques­tion­ing,” Gabel says. “That be­comes a very dan­ger­ous, treach­er­ous area if you don’t re­ally fully com­mit or be­lieve in what some­body is say­ing. Once I got rid of that, the bal­ance be­came: ‘How do I make this guy? How do I cre­ate vul­ner­a­bil­ity in a char­ac­ter?’”

In re­al­ity, many of O’Brien’s claims don’t stack up. He says he didn’t keep the pa­per­work show­ing he scored 197 on an IQ test in pri­mary school – but even if it were true, scores are scaled with age, mean­ing a high score as a child doesn’t re­flect his in­tel­li­gence as an adult. He hasn’t taken an of­fi­cial Mensa-ap­proved test since.

There’s also no ev­i­dence of the NASA hack and O’Brien can’t pro­vide fur­ther de­tails claim­ing he signed a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment. And, of course, Home­land Se­cu­rity was formed as a re­sult of the at­tack on the Twin Tow­ers and didn’t ex­ist when he was 13.

De­spite this, O’Brien is un­doubt­edly a very smart in­di­vid­ual who has been in­volved in the cre­ation of some very in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies which have been adopted by the US gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary. It’s just there may have been a lit­tle myth-mak­ing along the way.

But Robert Pa­trick, who plays Agent Cabe Gallo, says the myth on the show plays an im­por­tant role.

“It sort of an­swers a cer­tain kind of need that we have [as] hu­man be­ings,” he says. “We’re al­ways look­ing for some­one who has the an­swer in what­ever way, you know, in our life that we might need help. And Wal­ter rep­re­sents that to a cer­tain de­gree.” SCORPION SUN­DAY, 6.30PM, TEN

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