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The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old May 10 2013, 05:32 PM   #16
Cookies and Cake
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x15 "Pen Pals"

Just for the heck of it, from the Star Trek Writers/Directors Guide, third revision, April 17, 1967:

TOS Writers Guide wrote:
GENERAL ORDER NUMBER ONE
The only Starfleet Order that concerns us in most stories. It is a wise but often troublesome rule which prohibits Starship interference with the normal development of alien life and alien societies. It can be disregarded when absolutely vital to the interests of the entire Earth Federation, but the Captain who does violate it had better be ready to present a sound defense of his actions.
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Old May 10 2013, 05:49 PM   #17
Timo
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x15 "Pen Pals"

In the actual episodes, the issue only appears to arise twice: in whether or not to interfere with the pseudo-Romans in "Bread and Circuses", and in whether or not to meddle with Vaal's disciples in "The Apple". Elsewhere, the Prime Directive or the General Order 1 either is not quoted as part of the ponderings, or has a slightly different impact on the story.

It is perhaps unfortunate that the pseudo-Romans were so explicitly a "primitive society", suggesting the PD applies to those only. The Gamma Trianguli humanoids were not explicitly primitive or advanced as such, but they certainly weren't technologically on the same lines as the Federation, so the impression again was of the PD regulating how our heroes look down on cavemen.

It really looks as if this "PD stops at warp drive" thing was purely a fan invention from the very get-go...

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Old May 11 2013, 06:56 AM   #18
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x15 "Pen Pals"

WORF: There are no options. The Prime Directive is not a matter of degrees. It is an absolute.
PULASKI: I have a problem with that kind of rigidity. It seems callous and even a little cowardly.
...
PICARD: So we make an exception in the deaths of millions.
PULASKI: Yes.
PICARD: And is it the same situation if it's an epidemic, and not a geological calamity?
PULASKI: Absolutely.
PICARD: How about a war? If generations of conflict is killing millions, do we interfere? Ah, well, now we're all a little less secure in our moral certitude. And what if it's not just killings. If an oppressive government is enslaving millions? You see, the Prime Directive has many different functions, not the least of which is to protect us. To prevent us from allowing our emotions to overwhelm our judgement.
The slippery slope argument, that we must take an extreme position because it's the only way to avoid the other extreme, is a lazy, unsophisticated and fallacious argument. It's unfortunate that this is presented to us as an example of thoughtfulness and insight. It's not as bad as the seminar on humor and charisma in Okona, but it's another uncomfortable sign of Dunning-Kruger afflicting the writers.

It's not the position of government and law enforcement to tell parents how to raise their children, but in cases of abuse or neglect they do intervene. It's not the general policy of the US to use military force to intervene in the internal affairs of other nations, but in cases of genocide or crimes against humanity, it does intervene. We've evolved a rather complex system of standards and procedures for determining when to intervene, and sometimes bad decisions are made, but making it easier by adopting "Don't intervene" as an absolute is lazy and potentially catastrophic.

In this particular story, "Don't contaminate the Dremans with knowledge of us," is nonsense because of the colossal footprint the Enterprise is leaving. The tectonic crisis and its sudden abatement will be the most studied event in the planet's geological record. Scientists who assume a natural explanation for the abatement will try to shoehorn it into every natural theory, setting science back greatly. Others will interpret it as a miracle from God, completely changing the nature and role of religion in every culture on the planet. How is that better than telling the truth?
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Old May 11 2013, 07:29 AM   #19
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x15 "Pen Pals"

I thought the actual high point in the debate was this [http://www.chakoteya.net/NextGen/141.htm]:

TROI: If there is a cosmic plan, are we not a part of it? Our presence at this place at this moment in time could be a part of that fate.
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Old May 12 2013, 04:24 PM   #20
Timo
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x15 "Pen Pals"

How is that better than telling the truth?
It avoids all the hassle of wading through planetary resistance when saving the primitives, for one thing. If Picard told them he'll be firing biblical-level weapons at their world, he'd quite possibly be facing a wall of human(oid) shields waving placards saying "Aliens go home!" in various degrees of misspelling...

My gripe with the "solution" is more with its unlikeliness of lasting success. A powerful natural phenomenon was blowing up planets left and right in a relatively quick and recent wave of destruction. Picard's team stopped this from happening on one world by "reducing tectonic stress". Well, supposedly this phenomenon is building up tectonic stress somehow - such stress is not a prevailing state on the planet, as its civilization is unaccustomed to it. Picard has not stopped the phenomenon, nor investigated it properly. He has reduced the susceptibility of Drema IV to it by fiddling with local dilithium deposits, but clearly the phenomenon has destroyed other worlds as well, worlds whose level of susceptibility or status of dilithium deposits Picard does not know.

I could see Picard and pals going for such a feel-good "solution" if they unthinkingly "saved" planets left and right for a hobby. But they thought this one through, in a conversation that sort of suggests they routinely think through things like this. Why go for instant satisfaction if there's no proper plan on how to proceed from there? The Dremans did not die on Picard's watch, but Picard would be a fool to be satisfied with that. It'd be like Kirk's inexplicable decision to divert an asteroid from meeting a planet in "Paradise Syndrome" when he fully well knows that another rock is already coming, and then another, and another...

Of course, we can speculate that plans were made, reports were written full of recommendations, etc. Surely the Federation would want to contact this species that sits on a wealth of dilithium ASAP...

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Old May 12 2013, 05:47 PM   #21
Dale Sams
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x15 "Pen Pals"

While we the audience appreciate the PD discussion...the idea of the senior staff having to have it is ludicrous. PRIME Directive. They probably take 40 hours of this in the Academy.
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Old May 12 2013, 09:32 PM   #22
Merry Christmas
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x15 "Pen Pals"

Timo wrote: View Post
It'd be like Kirk's inexplicable decision to divert an asteroid from meeting a planet in "Paradise Syndrome" when he fully well knows that another rock is already coming, and then another, and another...
The main problem for the people of that planet was that the usual deflector operator died without instructing his replacement in the operation of the deflector.

Spock spoke of a teaching or instructional mechanism in the deflector control room.

The solution is fairly obvious.


Last edited by Merry Christmas; May 13 2013 at 12:44 AM.
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Old May 13 2013, 01:10 AM   #23
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x15 "Pen Pals"

Dale Sams wrote: View Post
While we the audience appreciate the PD discussion...the idea of the senior staff having to have it is ludicrous. PRIME Directive. They probably take 40 hours of this in the Academy.
Some would say that treating something of importance like the Prime Directive as an absolute rule is a bad idea. One big reason is that the Prime Directive is not some principle established by some perfect entity that knows everything and does all the right things. It was created by flawed, ignorant people. If you follow something that's created by such flawed people and use ignorance as a basis for your judgement (we don't know what the consequences will be), it's likely to result in flawed outcomes.

Even Picard acknowledges this in a season one episode "Justice".

Picard: I say to any creature who may be listening, there can be no justice so long as laws are absolute. Even life itself is an exercise in exceptions.
It's a good speech, but one that no one, including himself would look back on.
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Old May 13 2013, 01:46 AM   #24
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x15 "Pen Pals"

Jeyl wrote: View Post
Some would say that treating something of importance like the Prime Directive as an absolute rule is a bad idea.
How many times have Kirk and Picard broken the PD and have never be punished for it? I consider it more of a suggestion than an absolute law.
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Old May 13 2013, 01:57 AM   #25
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x15 "Pen Pals"

Dream wrote: View Post
Jeyl wrote: View Post
Some would say that treating something of importance like the Prime Directive as an absolute rule is a bad idea.
How many times have Kirk and Picard broken the PD and have never be punished for it? I consider it more of a suggestion than an absolute law.
Or, maybe the writers really did consult the writers guide:

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
Just for the heck of it, from the Star Trek Writers/Directors Guide, third revision, April 17, 1967:

TOS Writers Guide wrote:
GENERAL ORDER NUMBER ONE
The only Starfleet Order that concerns us in most stories. It is a wise but often troublesome rule which prohibits Starship interference with the normal development of alien life and alien societies. It can be disregarded when absolutely vital to the interests of the entire Earth Federation, but the Captain who does violate it had better be ready to present a sound defense of his actions.
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Old May 13 2013, 07:29 AM   #26
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x15 "Pen Pals"

Timo wrote: View Post
How is that better than telling the truth?
It avoids all the hassle of wading through planetary resistance when saving the primitives, for one thing. If Picard told them he'll be firing biblical-level weapons at their world, he'd quite possibly be facing a wall of human(oid) shields waving placards saying "Aliens go home!" in various degrees of misspelling...
I meant after the fact.
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Old May 13 2013, 09:01 AM   #27
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x15 "Pen Pals"

This is the episode I (unfairly) remembered as "the one I had to fast-forward through on the VHS to get to the good one". I wish I had given it more credit as it's very good.

Jeyl wrote: View Post
WORF: Is there any indication that this is the work of an unknown intelligence?
RIKER: This is geology, not malevolence. These planets live fast and die hard. The question is, why?
Riker's response to Worf's speculation is just.... unprofessional. Since Riker has not only encountered god like beings capable of destroying whole worlds at this point (including himself), he's also studied historical missions in Starfleet. I mean, how does one forget about the Doomsday Machine incident where a force of unknown intelligence destroyed many planets and almost destroyed the original Enterprise?
This is exactly what I thought on seeing that scene. how can Riker just dismiss Worf's input so easily. He later tells Wesley that command doesn't get any easier, it certainly doesn't if you treat your fellow professional's in this manner!

Good Wesley development that didn't make me want to gouge out my eyes.

One thing no-one appears to have pointed out in that "Prime Directive Meeting" is Picards strange line - "in a situation like this, we have to be cautious. What we do today, may profoundly affect the future. If we could see every possible outcome...". He's the Captain of a bloody starship and is probably changing the future on a daily basis. Is he this unsure about every command decision? Hardly the attitude you expect in a leader.

I love the scene with Riker, O'Brien and Data in the transporter room
"O'Brien, take a nap. You didn't see any of this. You're not involved."
"Right, sir. I'll just be standing over here dozing off."
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Old May 13 2013, 09:13 AM   #28
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x15 "Pen Pals"

MikeS wrote: View Post
One thing no-one appears to have pointed out in that "Prime Directive Meeting" is Picards strange line - "in a situation like this, we have to be cautious. What we do today, may profoundly affect the future. If we could see every possible outcome...". He's the Captain of a bloody starship and is probably changing the future on a daily basis. Is he this unsure about every command decision? Hardly the attitude you expect in a leader.
I didn't mention it, because it is precisely the textbook justification for the Prime Directive. I thought that was self-evident.

Consider TOS: A Piece of the Action. One instance of cultural contamination, in the form of a single book, radically altered the development of the Iotians, in a way that was totally surprising to Kirk, Spock, and McCoy:

Memory Alpha wrote:
Prior to the Non-Interference Directive going into effect, the Earth vessel Horizon visited the planet and left behind a book called Chicago Mobs of the Twenties in 2168. This book became so influential among the population that they completely mimicked the criminal underworld society of Prohibition-era Chicago on Earth.
Picard would have been taught this at the academy; in that context his statement there is perfectly reasonable, as a reflection of his training.
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Old May 13 2013, 11:03 AM   #29
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x15 "Pen Pals"

Dream wrote: View Post
How many times have Kirk and Picard broken the PD and have never be punished for it? I consider it more of a suggestion than an absolute law.
Than how come other Starfleet characters treat it like it's an absolute? When Janeway and Paris travelled back in time on a planet that was about to be completely destroyed with it's entire population, Tom has the idea of warning them which leads to this exchange.

JANEWAY: Don't even think about it, Tom. The Prime Directive is clear. We cannot allow our presence to alter this planet's natural course of events.
PARIS: Even if the natural course of events is annihilation?
JANEWAY: Yeah.
PARIS: My father used to talk at length to us about the Prime Directive, once a year, like a holiday sermon.
JANEWAY: He considered it the guiding principle of space exploration.
PARIS: To be honest, I tuned out most of his sermons years ago.
JANEWAY: Well, tune back into this one, because I agree with him. You have no idea what the consequences might be once you involve yourself.
PARIS: The consequences would have to be better than mass destruction.
JANEWAY: You're not to warn these people. That's an order.
Janeway's stance on the Prime Directive certainly doesn't treat it like a "suggestion". She tells Paris that he doesn't know what the consequences would be if they got involved, and he refutes it by stating that if they do nothing, the entire planet (including themselves) would be destroyed. Instead of actually contemplating that notion, she instead enforcers her stance by just pulling rank. She doesn't use reason, she uses rank.
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Old May 13 2013, 11:10 AM   #30
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Re: Episode of the Week: 2x15 "Pen Pals"

Jeyl wrote: View Post
Janeway's stance on the Prime Directive certainly doesn't treat it like a "suggestion".
Funny, she should have been the captain most likely to bend the rules since she was so far away from Federation space.

"Q Who?" time!
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