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Old September 30 2009, 06:50 PM   #211
Yug
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

TheGodBen wrote: View Post
Whaaaaa? Firstly, I never said that my brother would get shorter because evolution does not work on a single generation,
Actually, some research reveals it's possible... But regardless, these comments are based on your generalized and simplistic analogy, not mine... I expanded on it to make the point.

What you're advocating here is Lamarckism and evolution does not work that way, traits "learned" over the course of one's life are not passed down to your offspring, only your predetermined genetic traits. For example, I'm pale and scrawny, but I could go to a gym and build up some muscles, and I could suntan until I'm a darker shade. It would be difficult because I'm not that way naturally, but I could become buff and tanned with enough work. However, that would not be passed on to my children because those are "learned" traits, my children would still have the genes which made me pale and scrawny.
I'm not speaking of "learned" traits, I'm speaking of the further capacity to learn (big brains) not just physically adapt.

But most importantly: I'm not short! I'm 6 foot.

Okay, if that's what you want to do, but that means we're going to destroy hurricane levees, destroy flash-flood canals, we'll stop warning people when tsunamis are about to hit in their area, volcanoes too, and we should stop trying to predict earthquakes. And we'll have to close down the hospitals as I've previously suggested. Lets let the random and unthinking forces of nature decide which of us lives and dies and lets not complain when it is somebody close to us who bites the bullet. After all, they were supposed to die.
Nope, that's the natural way of things, to develop those abilities to problem solve and preserve our species and better our world... it's called a survival instict, and takes a role in our own evolution. We're even evolved enough to want to protect lesser species for the good of our own planet, but we don't give guns to monkeys... or in this episode, warp drive to underdeveloped societies not ready to utilize such tech or use it in a way that interferes with the natural progress. That's part of the debate in the story.

I don't believe in a god or the notion that certain things are "supposed" to happen, I believe that the universe works under the principle of organised randomness; things happen under the laws of physics and biology but there is no plan to it.
Yup, agreed, that's my entire point about your comments... but you criticized the writer's of the episode for supposedly not understanding a concept that you have little grasp of.
That's my issue here.
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Old September 30 2009, 09:34 PM   #212
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

Yug wrote: View Post
TheGodBen wrote: View Post
Whaaaaa? Firstly, I never said that my brother would get shorter because evolution does not work on a single generation,
Actually, some research reveals it's possible...
Really? Don't take this the wrong way because I'm not trying to call you out on this, I'm just genuinely interested in this as I know nothing about it and I'd be interested if you could point me in the direction of a source on the issue.

But regardless, these comments are based on your generalized and simplistic analogy, not mine... I expanded on it to make the point.
Of course it is simplistic, I'm not a biologist and I'm not a teacher, I just read about science from time to time. And I was half-joking; who lives in an environment where there's razor-sharp fans whirring above their heads?

I'm not speaking of "learned" traits, I'm speaking of the further capacity to learn (big brains) not just physically adapt.
I could call you out on that you're not accounting for the lenght of a person's arm, how often that person would normally stick their arm above their head, how often they jump, how high they can jump, what sort of undulation exists on the ground, how fast the fans are, whether all the fans are at the same height, the size of the gaps in between the fans, the material the fans are made of, the protection these fans present from attacks by birds of prey... but that would be nit-picking.

You think I believe that there is only one factor at a time involved in evolution? I was being vague because I was only trying to explain how evolution can affect one physical attribute of a species, namely height. I didn't go into detail on all those other things because I wasn't trying to explain all those other things, and I think you know that.

Nope, that's the natural way of things, to develop those abilities to problem solve and preserve our species and better our world... it's called a survival instict, and takes a role in our own evolution.
I wouldn't call it the natural way of things, but it is the way things are and it is the way I think things should be. But if you want to live in a world where nature, and not intellectual thought processes, decides who lives and who dies then we have to get rid of all the things which protect us from nature. I don't want to live in that world, you don't want to live in that world, only hippies and idiots want to live in such a world.

We're even evolved enough to want to protect lesser species for the good of our own planet, but we don't give guns to monkeys... or in this episode, warp drive to underdeveloped societies not ready to utilize such tech or use it in a way that interferes with the natural progress. That's part of the debate in the story.
And that's not part of the debate I'm arguing against. Go back and read everything I've said since watching Dear Doctor, not once will you see me advocating giving the Valakians warp technology, and I've said at least once that one of the good aspects of the PD is that it prevents such technological contamination. Archer would have been a damn fool to hand over warp technology to these people. Hell, I even said that the first three acts of the episode is worth five stars, and Archer's decision not to give them warp technology happened in act three.

All I have advocated is that Archer and Phlox should have given the Valakians the cure they had.

Yup, agreed, that's my entire point about your comments... but you criticized the writer's of the episode for supposedly not understanding a concept that you have little grasp of.
That's my issue here.
Okay, you know more about evolution than me, that wouldn't be hard for anyone who works in biology or medicine. So you're saying as an expert that the interpretation of evolution provided in Dear Doctor is correct, and that Phlox was right to argue not to give a cure for this illness because the Menk might one day become the dominant species on the planet? That makes sense to you, not using medicine to provide a cure to an illness which is likely to kill an entire civilisation? Evolution intended that to happen, so we shouldn't use our brains to make it stop?
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Old September 30 2009, 10:59 PM   #213
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

I'm gonna hold my hands up and say that I think I understand the theory of evolution (I have GCSE Biology, that's it) and every time I try to wrap my head around the debate I keep getting blocked by the fact that Tasty Coma Wife was mentioned... Brings a whole new meaning to survival of the fittest.

I think Ben's last statement is quite right though, it's not really ethical to say that a cure shouldn't be provided for the Valakians just because the Menk might become the dominant species. To be fair, if they are going to become the dominant species in the long-term then there's not really a huge amount the Valakians can do about it, and there's nothing to say that the illness they had was the only thing that could make that happen is there?

Maybe it's just my strange view on the world/universe that says witholding (sp?) a cure is doing harm... but isn't "Do no harm" supposed to be a universal principle of medical ethics?

I thought Shran's reason for helping Archer wasn't bad, but only if taken with a large pinch of cheesy-line film salt. I hope they didn't mean it literally and it was just the Andorian's way of saying "I owe you one." There should have been at least a short flashback of him smacking Archer in the mouth though... maybe as a deleted scene we could put on repeat...
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Old October 1 2009, 01:08 AM   #214
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

Tallis Rhul wrote: View Post
I thought Shran's reason for helping Archer wasn't bad, but only if taken with a large pinch of cheesy-line film salt. I hope they didn't mean it literally and it was just the Andorian's way of saying "I owe you one."
I agree on the cheese factor, but I always put it down to owing someone something was in fact an enormous social faux-par on Andoria and left it at that - Shran is too cool a character for me to criticise anything he says or does. :P

Unless it's the entirety of his characterisation in These Are The Voyages...but that was hardly the character's fault.
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Old October 1 2009, 01:19 AM   #215
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

TheGodBen wrote: View Post
Mike Sussman: Hey mom, I'm finally living my dream of being a Star Trek writer!
Mother Sussman: That's great son. What did you write today?
Mike Sussman: Today I wrote a scene where the captain gets some ginormous Vulcan boobs in his face!
Mother Sussman: ...
I would love to know what MikeSussman has to say about this.
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Old October 1 2009, 04:02 AM   #216
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

About "Dear Doctor":
The species change by adapting to their environment.

Phlox discovered that the Menk were adapting toward incresing intelligence under Valakian influence.
The Valakians' disappearance would change the Menk's environment and Phlox couldn't have more than some vague predictions about the Menk evolution in the new circumstances - unless he could see into the future. And then, there are imprevisible variables - an asteroid hitting the planet, a disease - that couldn't be surmounted by the primitive Menk.
By refusing to give the Valakians the cure, Phlox+Archer prejudiced both the Valakians and the Menk:
The Valakians were denied a chance of survival;
The Menk survival/evolutionary future towards higher intelligence has become more uncertain - with the Valakians they were sure to become smarter across generations; without them, they MAY evolve in that way.

The episode is trying to create a moral dilemma by saying that under the Valakians, the Menk wouldn't evolve at all - this is directly contradicted by the episode itself (which showed the Menk developing at an impressive pace).
Even if we consider this assumption (and the bad science on which it is based) as true, Phlox+Archer's decision is still morally wrong (disgusting, actually) - they condemned a species to death so that another one has a chance of flourishing.
This is analog to letting a person die (a person that could be saved with certainty) so that a dr Mengele waana-be can chop her up for spare organs and use these organs in order to try and save another person (an action which may or may not succeed).
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Old October 1 2009, 08:33 AM   #217
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

ProtoAvatar wrote: View Post
About "Dear Doctor":
The species change by adapting to their environment.

Phlox discovered that the Menk were adapting toward incresing intelligence under Valakian influence.
Phlox never said the Menk's increasing intelligence was a result of the Valakians' control over them. In fact, he implied that the Menk's advance was being impeded by the Valakians.

Phlox: I've been studying their genome as well, and I've seen evidence of increasing intelligence. Motor skills, linguistic abilities. Unlike the Valakians they appear to be in the process of an evolutionary awakening. It may take millennia, but the Menk have the potential to become the dominant species on this planet.
Archer: And that won't happen as long as the Valakians are around.
Phlox: If the Menk are to flourish, they need an opportunity to survive on their own.
TheGodBen wrote: View Post
...So you're saying as an expert that the interpretation of evolution provided in Dear Doctor is correct, and that Phlox was right to argue not to give a cure for this illness because the Menk might one day become the dominant species on the planet?
I think Phlox's intent is to give the Menk the chance to reach their potential -- a chance that is arising because of the situation (the Valakians' genetic illness and decline).
Phlox: On most worlds with two humanoid species one would have driven the other to extinction. Here, they've developed a symbiotic relationship that seems to work quite well.
What I get from this is, the reason it works is because only one species is dominant. If the Valakians are cured, the Menk will not be freed from the Valakians' control because the Valakians will likely see no need for the status quo to change. The Menk would remain the lesser, dependent species, their potential unfulfilled.
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Old October 1 2009, 08:54 AM   #218
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

I say cure the Valakians and let them and the Menk sort out who gets the planet. Hey, it worked for the Centauri and the Xon!

Oh, wait...
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Old October 1 2009, 09:58 AM   #219
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

I must say I'm quite horrified at the folks in this thread who are attempting to justify and/or defend the ethics of "Dear Doctor". You do know that you're essentially arguing for Social Darwinism, right?

TheGodBen wrote: View Post
Yug wrote: View Post
Actually, some research reveals it's possible...
Really? Don't take this the wrong way because I'm not trying to call you out on this, I'm just genuinely interested in this as I know nothing about it and I'd be interested if you could point me in the direction of a source on the issue.
I think Yug may be referring to epigenetics, which does indeed give a (limited) ability for acquired traits to be passed on to several generations of descendants.

IIRC, there were breeding experiments done with plants a few years back where a certian type of thorny bush was exposed to a pest which caused said plant to react by growing larger thorns in defense. Descendants bred from that plant expressed the same oversized thorns as the parent, even in the absence of any environmental factors that could have triggered it. The effect eventually went away after several generations.
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Old October 1 2009, 10:09 AM   #220
ProtoAvatar
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

HopefulRomantic wrote: View Post
ProtoAvatar wrote: View Post
About "Dear Doctor":
The species change by adapting to their environment.

Phlox discovered that the Menk were adapting toward incresing intelligence under Valakian influence.
The Valakians' disappearance would change the Menk's environment and Phlox couldn't have more than some vague predictions about the Menk evolution in the new circumstances - unless he could see into the future. And then, there are imprevisible variables - an asteroid hitting the planet, a disease - that couldn't be surmounted by the primitive Menk.
By refusing to give the Valakians the cure, Phlox+Archer prejudiced both the Valakians and the Menk:
The Valakians were denied a chance of survival;
The Menk survival/evolutionary future towards higher intelligence has become more uncertain - with the Valakians they were sure to become smarter across generations; without them, they MAY evolve in that way.

The episode is trying to create a moral dilemma by saying that under the Valakians, the Menk wouldn't evolve at all - this is directly contradicted by the episode itself (which showed the Menk developing at an impressive pace).
Even if we consider this assumption (and the bad science on which it is based) as true, Phlox+Archer's decision is still morally wrong (disgusting, actually) - they condemned a species to death so that another one has a chance of flourishing.
This is analog to letting a person die (a person that could be saved with certainty) so that a dr Mengele waana-be can chop her up for spare organs and use these organs in order to try and save another person (an action which may or may not succeed)./QUOTE]
Phlox never said the Menk's increasing intelligence was a result of the Valakians' control over them. In fact, he implied that the Menk's advance was being impeded by the Valakians.

Phlox: I've been studying their genome as well, and I've seen evidence of increasing intelligence. Motor skills, linguistic abilities. Unlike the Valakians they appear to be in the process of an evolutionary awakening. It may take millennia, but the Menk have the potential to become the dominant species on this planet.
Archer: And that won't happen as long as the Valakians are around.
Phlox: If the Menk are to flourish, they need an opportunity to survive on their own.
As I said, bad science: evolution is not encoded in the genome of a species. It is an adaptation to the environment. If the Menk show signs of increasing intelligence, etc, it's because they live in a specific environment (aka with the valakians) and are adapting to it.
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Old October 1 2009, 01:14 PM   #221
Yug
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

TheGodBen wrote: View Post
Okay, you know more about evolution than me, that wouldn't be hard for anyone who works in biology or medicine. So you're saying as an expert that the interpretation of evolution provided in Dear Doctor is correct, and that Phlox was right to argue not to give a cure for this illness because the Menk might one day become the dominant species on the planet? That makes sense to you, not using medicine to provide a cure to an illness which is likely to kill an entire civilisation? Evolution intended that to happen, so we shouldn't use our brains to make it stop?
Yup, but evolution does not intend anything, it's adaptation that wins the day. Archer and his crew are in a rare position to intefere with that process or not.

But please don't make claims that they got it wrong, because you know what's right, because you don't. Not me, not the writers of the episode, not anyone could know the answers, that's the point. The concept is bigger than us all... and neither did Archer, he just stayed out of the way the best he could... that's the message of the episode, the series, and most of science fiction.

Last edited by Yug; October 1 2009 at 01:32 PM.
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Old October 1 2009, 07:13 PM   #222
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

NCC-1701 wrote: View Post
I would love to know what MikeSussman has to say about this.
Oh crap! Why did you have to tell me that he's a member? Now I'm going to feel awkward in case he reads the thread and I'll have to rate all his episodes with 5 stars. And I'll have to drop the series of jokes I had planned about his mother.

Gep Malakai wrote: View Post
I think Yug may be referring to epigenetics, which does indeed give a (limited) ability for acquired traits to be passed on to several generations of descendants.
Interesting, I never knew about that. I'll have to read up on it some time, but not tonight; I have less than 22 hours to select a thesis to work on, and I have absolutely no idea what I want to do.

(And if you see me posting on here later tonight, that's because I'm procrastinating.)

ProtoAvatar wrote: View Post
As I said, bad science: evolution is not encoded in the genome of a species. It is an adaptation to the environment. If the Menk show signs of increasing intelligence, etc, it's because they live in a specific environment (aka with the valakians) and are adapting to it.
That's one of the things which bugs me too, the Menk are advancing in their current environment and having the dominant species, a species closely linked to the Menk, die out would radically change their environment and hence their evolutionary course. Couple that with the fact that Phlox was criticising the humans earlier in the episode for believing that the Valakians were holding the Menk back whereas Phlox saw the Valakians as having a positive impact upon the Menk.

Certain breeds of dog are getting smarter because we're breeding them based on intelligence, but if humans died out then dogs would quite possibly be close behind us.

Yug wrote: View Post
Yup, but evolution does not intend anything, it's adaptation that wins the day.
Yes.

Archer and his crew are in a rare position to intefere with that process or not.
Rare? I interfered with evolution today, I went to college and came home without dying. And if I should use what I learned today to help build a computer network in a hospital then I'll be interfering with evolution on a mass level. I also crashed into or squashed numerous insects with my car, hence affecting the evolution of their species. And by using this computer right now I am drawing power from a large coal-burning power-station, and I think we all know how the planet is being affected by that.

We drive evolution, it does not drive us. You can't not interfere with the process of evolution, even if you locked yourself away then your actions will still have removed yourself from the gene-pool.

But please don't make claims that they got it wrong, because you know what's right, because you don't.
No, I don't know what's right, but I have a much better idea of what's right than what was presented in the episode. What was presented in the episode was close to gibberish.

Not me, not the writers of the episode, not anyone could know the answers, that's the point.
A point based on a faulty interpretation of reality. If 2+2=5 then I could argue that 5/2=2. It is internally consistent, but that doesn't stop it from being factually wrong.
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Old October 1 2009, 08:00 PM   #223
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

TheGodBen wrote: View Post
Rare? I interfered with evolution today, I went to college and came home without dying....
No no no, I spoke in the context of the series, apart from that you simply don't know what I'm talkin' bout cuz yer a little smarty pants ain't ya? Respect your elders sonny.

But hey, you're a good kid... go study, learn somethin'!

Love you, buddy !!
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Old October 1 2009, 08:20 PM   #224
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

Yug wrote: View Post
The concept is bigger than us all... and neither did Archer, he just stayed out of the way the best he could...
I think you are right insofar that this is what the episode is trying to get at, but imo the writers did a clumsy job of it. To see the problem with Phlox's reasoning, I think it helps to change the scale a bit.

Imagine that a city, let's call it New Picard, has an influx of an immigrant population. They don't speak the language, and they are poor when they arrive, so they end up working a lot of menial jobs and basically become the city's underprivileged class. But they've improved their situation slowly over time, and seem to be on the brink of making a major step forward.

Then a devastating plague hits the city, and the immigrant population just happens to be mostly immune, while the currently dominant population will be decimated. You are living in a nearby city, let's call it New Sisko, and you have a cure. Can you justify not curing the New Picardians because, if you don't, the city's underprivileged class will likely end up as the city's dominant population, due in part to the decimation of the upper classes?

There are just too many false assumptions here, most of which can be applied to Phlox's situation as well.
1) The Valaxian's lives are worth just as much as those of the Menk.
2) The Menk may be having their "evolutionary awakening" because of their current interaction with the Valaxian's, not in spite of it. (Note: I'm not sure what is meant by the phrase "evolutionary awakening," and can't think of anything it corresponds to in the admittedly limited reading I have done about evolution.)
3) The Menk will certainly continue to evolve, in one way or another, even if the Valaxians are cured.
4) The Menk might end up being the dominant species even if Archer intervenes to prevent the immediate deaths of the Valaxians.
5) Speculation about how one species might or might not evolve in the absence of another can't justify allowing an entire species to die when those deaths are readily preventable.

That is basically where my thought process has taken me, though I'm quite sure that others in the thread know more about evolution and probably ethics than I
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Old October 1 2009, 08:59 PM   #225
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Enterprise

I'm going to regret this; I can just feel it.

I think the basic dilemma had nothing really to do with evolution, and everything to do with playing God. It's one thing to happen into a situation where People A are oppressing People B, who do not want to be oppressed. Archer clearly feels that in such a situation, helping People B (say, the non-cabal Suliban) is the right thing to do because the underlying situation is not the natural order of things.

But with the Menk vs Valakian situation, he's stumbled into a natural situation, not bad guy vs good guy. He can fix the problem, swooping in like a superhero or a god, healing everyone in sight. But what about next time? How could he then not solve the next biological crisis he comes across? And then, why isn't he morally obligated to seek out such crises? There's a difference between the Malurians poisoning the people in Civilization, and being stopped, and the Valakians fighting a natural disease. It boils down to, is that really their job out there, righting biological wrongs?

Personally, I think you solve the problem right in front of you, and I would have given the cure but withheld the warp technology. I think he made the wrong decision. But I can see how the character would at least be disturbed about playing God, because that's an awful lot of power and an awful lot of responsibility for one man.
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