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Old June 27 2013, 01:03 AM   #76
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

It's interesting how, in S3, they present the Xindi as being from a planet where 6 separate sentient species coexisted and developed, no prob. 'Course the Avians became extinct, but that wasn't due to other species' acts, prejudices or selecting one group over another, so far as I recall.

If the order of the episodes is reversed, and Dear Doctor comes after, say, The Shipment, then Archer, etc. could and should have said, "Well, the Xindi managed to have more than one sentient species grow and develop without it turning into civilization. Why the hell can't the Valakians and the Menk do that, particularly as an offshoot of overcoming this medical crisis?"

Hell, send Xindi councilors in, to show 'em how it's done.
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Old June 27 2013, 04:20 AM   #77
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

jespah wrote: View Post
It's interesting how, in S3, they present the Xindi as being from a planet where 6 separate sentient species coexisted and developed, no prob. 'Course the Avians became extinct, but that wasn't due to other species' acts, prejudices or selecting one group over another, so far as I recall.
Yes, it was. From http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Xindi-Avian:

The Xindi-Avian species was an extinct member of the Xindi race, wiped out during the conflict between the six Xindi species which destroyed their homeworld, sometime in the 2030s. As far as known, none of them fled before their homeworld was destroyed.
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Old June 27 2013, 04:23 AM   #78
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

Archer let millions die just to prove a point.

Disgusting.
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Old June 27 2013, 06:50 AM   #79
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

Dream wrote: View Post
Archer let millions die just to prove a point.

Disgusting.
But you gotta love the heroic music that was playing as Archer cited the need for a Directive to wash away their sins.
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Old June 27 2013, 12:52 PM   #80
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
jespah wrote: View Post
It's interesting how, in S3, they present the Xindi as being from a planet where 6 separate sentient species coexisted and developed, no prob. 'Course the Avians became extinct, but that wasn't due to other species' acts, prejudices or selecting one group over another, so far as I recall.
Yes, it was. From http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Xindi-Avian:

The Xindi-Avian species was an extinct member of the Xindi race, wiped out during the conflict between the six Xindi species which destroyed their homeworld, sometime in the 2030s. As far as known, none of them fled before their homeworld was destroyed.
Thanks, although the impression I get from the quote (and the show) is that they were casualties of war and not the victims of a Final Solution-type of situation. Of course I could be wrong. Thank you for finding the info.
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Old June 29 2013, 05:29 PM   #81
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

Wait...people hate on this episode? Why??

I'm new to ENT and just finished Season 1 and I loved that episode. We finally get inside of Phlox's mind a bit. He was a little bit weird and mysterious prior to Dear Doctor.
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Old June 29 2013, 05:30 PM   #82
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

BillJ wrote: View Post
Letting billions die on what may happen one day a thousand years down the road is wrong.
Ah, this is why.

Forget my previous question.

When watching, I focused more on Phlox's character and his inner thoughts because prior to that, you don't know much about him at all...
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Old June 29 2013, 05:35 PM   #83
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

Captain Kathryn wrote: View Post
BillJ wrote: View Post
Letting billions die on what may happen one day a thousand years down the road is wrong.
Ah, this is why.

Forget my previous question.

When watching, I focused more on Phlox's character and his inner thoughts because prior to that, you don't know much about him at all...
Yeah, this episode just ruined Phlox for me as a character. Not only condemning an entire species to death, but calling it the moral and ethical choice?
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Old June 29 2013, 05:41 PM   #84
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

R. Star wrote: View Post
Captain Kathryn wrote: View Post
BillJ wrote: View Post
Letting billions die on what may happen one day a thousand years down the road is wrong.
Ah, this is why.

Forget my previous question.

When watching, I focused more on Phlox's character and his inner thoughts because prior to that, you don't know much about him at all...
Yeah, this episode just ruined Phlox for me as a character. Not only condemning an entire species to death, but calling it the moral and ethical choice?
To be completely fair to Phlox...it was Archer's decision in the end whether or not to give the people the cure. Phlox did admit to Archer he had a cure and Archer decided to side with Phlox and not give it to them.

In the end, it was Archer's choice.

I suppose though, you know the EMH would have denied the captain's orders and given those people the cure even if Janeway said NO NO. Haha. He was really programmed with the "must do no harm" subroutine. He wouldn't even separate Tuvix!
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Old June 29 2013, 05:48 PM   #85
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

As I said last page though... Archer had already been established as a bonehead by this point. Yeah Berman... if you want us to sympathize with your heroes... don't have them kill off entire races!
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Old June 29 2013, 06:04 PM   #86
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

R. Star wrote: View Post
As I said last page though... Archer had already been established as a bonehead by this point. Yeah Berman... if you want us to sympathize with your heroes... don't have them kill off entire races!
Ah...I was in a rush trying to do something and couldn't read all of the posts. Forum fail on my part haha.
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Old June 29 2013, 06:49 PM   #87
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
I think Dear Doctor has some interesting historical parallels. However, the unfortunate fact is that the historical parallels tend to be rather unfortunate. The biggest historical parallels are the Black Death and what happened to Native Americans. The Black Death had its benefits, more or less ending feudalism in Europe. However, Phlox's argument could very easily be stated that the destruction of the majority of the people in the South and North Americas is "nature making its choice."
Well, that's not a very good analogy, because those were both cases where contact between different populations introduced a disease that one of the populations had little or no immunity to. Also, it was a disease, an external pathogen, not a natural part of the species' life cycle. What Phlox was saying was that the Valakian species itself had an expiration date built into its own genetics -- that they weren't suffering from a disease at all, just from reaching the end of their species' life cycle.

While that's a fanciful concept in real-world terms, as I've said, if it were the case within this fictional universe, I can see how Denobulan medical ethics could argue that it could be harmful to interfere with that natural life cycle -- just as many real-world doctors believe that easing the end of an individual's natural lifespan is a more desirable goal than trying to extend individual lifespans indefinitely. The same doctor who might go to all possible lengths to save a 30- or 50-year-old from a viral infection or cancer might not endorse similar extreme measures to prolong the life of a 98-year-old who's dying of old age, but instead would encourage the patient to accept the natural end of their life cycle.

And again, the episode was not saying that Phlox's view was unambiguously the right one. On the contrary, the whole point was to set up a situation that had no clear right answer, because that's far more dramatically interesting. And it was to show that Phlox was an alien, that his definitions of right and wrong wouldn't automatically conform to ours. It's the moral ambiguity in the episode that makes it so intriguing. Its goal wasn't to tell us what to think, but to give us something to think about.

I'm not saying I agree with Phlox's position either. But most of the critiques I hear are based on misunderstandings of what his position actually was, or what the problem actually was. We need to understand that clearly before we can validly assess the moral questions of the episode.


Likewise, I appreciate the fact DD is about Phlox and Archer attempting to make an ethically informed choice, but the problem is that the science behind their choice is most often associated with the absolute worst and Anti-Trek groups in human history. Phlox and Archer are judging the potential of the Menk to be superior life-forms because of their potential higher intelligence as well as motor skills.
Now, that is absolutely false, and just the kind of gross misreading I was talking about above. They never said either race was "superior." They just said the Menk had the potential to evolve more intelligence than they currently had, if they were given the chance. They never chose either side -- just the opposite, they chose not to take a side and leave nature to take its course. You really should study the episode more closely before judging it, because here you're judging it based on a completely wrong and invalid recollection of the facts.


I admit, part of my cultural discomfort might be due to my fandoms crossing. Would Phlox agree with Magneto that we need to destroy regular humans, or at the very least encourage them to die off on their own (keep them from breeding?) if it made more room for mutants?
Once more, a totally, completely incompetent analogy. Nobody is talking about "destroying" anything. Nobody is choosing to take action against the Valakians' survival; they're just remaining neutral. One could argue that in the Marvel Universe, it's likely that mutants will win out over normal humans just in the normal course of events -- after all, they're proliferating very quickly and have obvious survival advantages. Even without open conflict between the species, even with peaceful coexistence, just statistics alone would lead mutants to become the majority after enough generations, and eventually the specieswide norm. That's basically the situation here: one species naturally outcompeting the other because it has an advantage of fitness. It's not about one species actively trying to wipe out the other. There is no Magneto here. If anything, Phlox's position was more about refusing to become Bolivar Trask.


Are the humpback whales not worthy of life because humans are smarter and have killed them off?
As long as you're going to use these outrageous misrepresentations of the actual arguments in the episode, I refuse to discuss it with you any further. Your biases make it impossible to discuss the facts of the matter reasonably.
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Old July 3 2013, 08:24 PM   #88
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

This was written before I consulted the script and am retracting my earlier statements.

Which you provided in another thread. Thank you, Christopher.

Well, that's not a very good analogy, because those were both cases where contact between different populations introduced a disease that one of the populations had little or no immunity to. Also, it was a disease, an external pathogen, not a natural part of the species' life cycle. What Phlox was saying was that the Valakian species itself had an expiration date built into its own genetics -- that they weren't suffering from a disease at all, just from reaching the end of their species' life cycle.

While that's a fanciful concept in real-world terms, as I've said, if it were the case within this fictional universe, I can see how Denobulan medical ethics could argue that it could be harmful to interfere with that natural life cycle -- just as many real-world doctors believe that easing the end of an individual's natural lifespan is a more desirable goal than trying to extend individual lifespans indefinitely. The same doctor who might go to all possible lengths to save a 30- or 50-year-old from a viral infection or cancer might not endorse similar extreme measures to prolong the life of a 98-year-old who's dying of old age, but instead would encourage the patient to accept the natural end of their life cycle.

And again, the episode was not saying that Phlox's view was unambiguously the right one. On the contrary, the whole point was to set up a situation that had no clear right answer, because that's far more dramatically interesting. And it was to show that Phlox was an alien, that his definitions of right and wrong wouldn't automatically conform to ours. It's the moral ambiguity in the episode that makes it so intriguing. Its goal wasn't to tell us what to think, but to give us something to think about.

I'm not saying I agree with Phlox's position either. But most of the critiques I hear are based on misunderstandings of what his position actually was, or what the problem actually was. We need to understand that clearly before we can validly assess the moral questions of the episode.
This is a much more ambiguous point and basically implies some sort of guiding impulse behind biology. Which is not that fanciful, actually, since we know the Preservers (or a race similar to them) has genetic "guiding principles" built into the DNA of the Alpha Quadrant's various races. That everything was designed to come up humanoid bumpy-forehead races.

The Preservers, or Intelligent Design as a concept, basically has decreed that this race isn't going to survive and that the next race is going to take up the mantle instead.

It's not that Phlox and Archer are making the choice, it's the choice have been made for them many millions of years in the past. Their choice is whether or not to interfere with Intelligent Design as a conceptTM and attempt to impose their own transformative concepts on them. The consequences, thereof, being unknown like massive die-off or mutation. It's an interesting case of biological Prime Directive--which makes sense given the kind of amazingly advanced DNA control you'd need to "guide" evolution.

In this respect, my argument is quite different. Specifically, I think that Phlox and Archer's decision to "stand by" and simply provide drugs to provide the people involved a cure for the pain and horror of their condition is more defensible. At the very least, they're not practicing eugenics. It seems, instead, the Preservers/Intelligent Design Force were on a fairly grand scale.

However, on a moral level, I believe the action was still wrong. That resisting Godlike intelligences is as often what Star Trek is about and so-is a Pro-Technology plan. It's a dying species that has no real hope for survival on its own but I think our heroes would be more "heroic" (if that makes sense) if they chose to try and help the Valakian overcome their condition to try and continue their survival into the future.

Had the show ended with a "Up the Long Ladder" solution of the Valakians and Menks interbreeding, I'd have far less problems with it (and would find it cute, actually).

There's actually an X-men plot related to this that the Celestials implanted humans with an expiration gene to occur that would result in them being replaced by mutants (and had resulted in neanderthals being destroyed for humans). That this was the motivation for a character named Cassandra Nova to order the destruction of mutants because she believed herself to be the next stage after mutants and wanted to hustle it along. No such activity is being brought here.

In any case, you've changed my perspective of the work even if I think the fact that they choose to let "nature take its course" with the ticking time bomb is the wrong moral choice and not very Star Trekky (even if the PD is a precedent). It's less offensive to me, now. Thank you.
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Old July 3 2013, 11:40 PM   #89
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

Charles Phipps wrote: View Post
This was written before I consulted the script and am retracting my earlier statements.
I really appreciate your willingness to check your beliefs against the evidence and re-evaluate them accordingly. It's a vanishingly rare thing to find on the Internet. I'm glad I could help clarify the ideas of "Dear Doctor."

A few things, though:

This is a much more ambiguous point and basically implies some sort of guiding impulse behind biology. Which is not that fanciful, actually, since we know the Preservers (or a race similar to them) has genetic "guiding principles" built into the DNA of the Alpha Quadrant's various races. That everything was designed to come up humanoid bumpy-forehead races.
Definitely not the Preservers. The one verified instance we have of Preserver activity, the transplanting of Miramanee's people, happened less than 500 years ago: sometime after the Navajo emerged as a distinct culture (since Spock said those were one of the cultures represented) and after European diseases and colonization began threatening Native American populations (since there would've been no need to "preserve" them before they were in jeopardy). So the Preservers are a part of modern history, not ancient history, and certainly not billions-of-years-ago pre-pre-pre-prehistory.

Not to mention that what the First Humanoids did was to seed the primordial soup of uninhabited worlds with programmed DNA. They weren't preserving something, they were creating something new. So it makes no sense to call them Preservers simply from a vocabulary standpoint.


The Preservers, or Intelligent Design as a concept, basically has decreed that this race isn't going to survive and that the next race is going to take up the mantle instead.
First off, I think that "Intelligent Design" is a misleading and very loaded term to use here. It's basically just a new label for creationism, the argument that evolution doesn't occur at all and every life form was designed in its present form by God. The First Humanoids certainly allowed evolution to occur; they simply encouraged it to develop in a certain direction. Beyond that, they had no granular-level master design in mind, didn't program the exact specifics of every species' evolution, just established some recurring patterns and trends that turned out differently on different worlds.

Certainly evolution works differently in Trek (certainly Braga-scripted Trek) than it does in real life, with a greater degree of predetermination, but I don't think that necessarily represents the First Humanoids' "design."


It's not that Phlox and Archer are making the choice, it's the choice have been made for them many millions of years in the past.
Maybe not millions of years in the past, but as a consequence of their natural evolutionary process. Otherwise, you've got it -- Phlox isn't taking a side, he's just saying he doesn't feel qualified to tamper with the choice nature has already made, not given the enormous ramifications to two species. He's refusing to play God.

You can see a similar attitude in Phlox's views toward genetic engineering in the Augment-related episodes in season 4. While Denobulans do employ genetic engineering as a useful medical tool, Phlox is disdainful of Soong's and the Klingons' reckless tampering with genetics, of the way they're overreaching themselves and trying to make radical changes without sufficient knowledge to assess the consequences. He believes that's irresponsible, and that's much the same ethical principle that guides him in DD.


However, on a moral level, I believe the action was still wrong. That resisting Godlike intelligences is as often what Star Trek is about and so-is a Pro-Technology plan. It's a dying species that has no real hope for survival on its own but I think our heroes would be more "heroic" (if that makes sense) if they chose to try and help the Valakian overcome their condition to try and continue their survival into the future.
Granted, there could be a middle path: transplant the Valakians to another world, cure them, and let the Menk develop on their own. But that too could have unpredictable consequences. Who knows whether the Valakians could thrive in that other world's environment? Again, it's not a choice to be made in haste. And it could work out that way in the long run without Starfleet intervention, since the Valakians do have some interstellar capability and have a couple of centuries in which they might find a cure and settle other worlds themselves, or with help from another race.


Had the show ended with a "Up the Long Ladder" solution of the Valakians and Menks interbreeding, I'd have far less problems with it (and would find it cute, actually).
Who knows? That's another path that they could take in the next couple of centuries. The key is that curing the Valakians in the here and now would've closed off a paty for the Menk, but leaving things as they are keeps options open for both species. There are no guarantees for either, but there are options.


In any case, you've changed my perspective of the work even if I think the fact that they choose to let "nature take its course" with the ticking time bomb is the wrong moral choice and not very Star Trekky (even if the PD is a precedent). It's less offensive to me, now. Thank you.
It's certainly a problematical episode in the way the dilemma is defined, but there's not supposed to be a clear answer and it's supposed to be ambiguous whether Archer and Phlox's decision was right or not. That's what I like about the episode -- it makes you think and ask questions. I just regret that the situation it poses is confusing enough that many people misunderstand the facts of the story and thus aren't able to evaluate it fairly. Again, I'm glad you made the effort.
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Old July 9 2013, 05:16 AM   #90
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

Dear God, I hate! hate hate hate the Prime Directive!!!

Within the Trek Universe, it was an excuse to not get involved with any races if it meant you had to deploy resources to provide something for that race. Even in cases where they were involved by accident, they still call upon the mighty Prime Directive, even when it doesn't matter anymore.

For example, the TNG episode "Who watches the watchers" They reveal themselves to a primitive race by accident. They have no choice to explain to the indigenous people there who and what they actually are, otherwise they would have fucked things up pretty badly for them. Yet at the end of the episode it was basically "ok, you know what we are and where we're from, but we still won't get involved with you, you are on your own to reach our level"

The right thing to do was say "Ok, you know who and what we are, so now we have a moral obligation to at least send some Starfleet personnel to guide you on all the modern science we have, and to help you develop the technologies on your planet". This way, they would have probably been ready to join the Federation in a few decades.

But nope they don't do that. On Enterprise, they did even worse. in "The Communicator" they left an alien faction scared shitless that the other alien faction whom they are at war with has: Cloaking technology. Directed energy guns. Genetic engineering. Antigravity flying vehicles. Imagine the kind of repercussions that will have. It was easier to just tell them the truth. They already believed in it before they were misled.

Yet in TOS' "A piece of the action" they had no qualms about leaving the communicator on the planet, and it was left as a little "joke" to end the episode on a lighthearted tone.

And in Dear Doctor, they had no problem providing a workaround (already interfering with "natural evolution") but refuse to provide the cure due to fear of "interfering" with natural evolution.

Argghhhhh!!

Outside of the Trek universe, it was clear the "Prime Directive" was simply there to save money, since the Federation never had to get involved in anything, the shows never had to spend the money to show something that onscreen they could avoid doing. All basically a copout to be fucking cheap fuckers.
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