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Old February 15 2013, 09:37 PM   #61
Dream
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

WesleysDisciple wrote: View Post
Would like to note Picard DID chose to allow a race to die out once.

But worfs brother prevented it.
Worf's brother didn't prevent anything. Only a single village was saved, the race will still die out after a few decades.

It was a badly written episode.
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Old February 15 2013, 10:34 PM   #62
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

Jeyl wrote: View Post
WesleysDisciple wrote: View Post
Would like to note Picard DID choose to allow a race to die out once.
And in Season 2's "Pen Pals", after much discussion with the crew, he decides to not let the race on the planet die out.
Pen Palls is some ways even worse than Dear Doctor. "We must not interfere with the natural development of primitive cultures, even if it meant letting them go extinct"... Yes, because when a civilization goes extinct, it continues to develop.
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Old February 15 2013, 11:18 PM   #63
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

Mach5 wrote: View Post
Pen Palls is some ways even worse than Dear Doctor. "We must not interfere with the natural development of primitive cultures, even if it meant letting them go extinct"... Yes, because when a civilization goes extinct, it continues to develop.
And this true philosophy that Picard preaches that there is only one decision to follow is all undone when he hears Sarjenka.

Picard: Your whisper from the dark has now become a plea. We cannot turn our backs.

And like that, Picard sticks to his saying from the Pilot.

Picard: If we're going to be damned, let's be damned for what we really are.
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Old February 16 2013, 12:14 AM   #64
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

"No hold on, this is not some species that was obliterated by deforestation, or the building of a dam. Dinosaurs, uh, had their shot, and nature selected them for extinction!"
— Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park (film)

Despite the fact that Jeff Goldblum's character made his remarks in the context of a confrontation with a demonstrably dangerous population of beings that were out of their natural time, that quote still seems rather apropos.

Here's the debate from TNG: Pen Pals:
Pen Pals wrote:
PICARD: It is no longer a matter of how wrong Data was, or why he did it. The dilemma exists. We have to discuss the options. And please talk freely.
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: Doctor, I'm sure that is not what the Lieutenant meant, but in a situation like this, we have to be cautious. What we do today may profoundly affect upon the future. If we could see every possible outcome
RIKER: We'd be gods, which we're not. If there is a cosmic plan, is it not the height of hubris to think that we can, or should, interfere?
LAFORGE: So what are you saying? That the Dremans are fated to die?
RIKER: I think that's an option we should be considering.
LAFORGE: Consider it considered, and rejected.
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.
LAFORGE: Right, and it could be part of that plan that we interfere.
RIKER: Well that eliminates the possibility of fate.
DATA: But Commander, the Dremans are not a subject for philosophical debate. They are a people.
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.
PULASKI: My emotions are involved. Data's friend is going to die. That means something.
WORF: To Data.
PULASKI: Does that invalidate the emotion?
LAFORGE: What if the Dremans asked for our help?
DATA: Yes. Sarjenka's transmission could be viewed as a call for help.
PICARD: Sophistry.
PULASKI: I'll buy that excuse. We're all jigging madly on the head of a pin anyway.
WORF: She cannot ask for help from someone she does not know.
DATA: She knows me.
RIKER: What a perfectly vicious little circle.
DATA: We are going to allow her to die, are we not?
PICARD: Data, I want you to sever the contact with Drema Four.
(Data goes to a wall panel and taps in commands)
COMPUTER: Isolating frequency.
SARJENKA [OC]: Data. Data, where are you? Why won't you answer? Are you angry me? Please, please, I'm so afraid. Data, Data, where are you?
PICARD: Wait. Oh, Data. Your whisper from the dark has now become a plea. We cannot turn our backs.
The viewpoint discussed here, that Federation interference to save a sentient species might be part of the natural order, is a product of 24th century philosophy in the Star Trek universe. Furthermore, the debate in Pen Pals is a direct challenge to the rationale of the non-interference directive prevalent in the 23rd century of TOS.

Therefore, it's far more consistent with the established parameters of Star Trek to have the 22nd century beings who will form the Federation adopt a stance more sympathetic to the idea of a natural order which would be interfered with, if, say, humans stepped in to save a species from extinction. Otherwise, you wreck the continuity of ENT with TOS, and you undermine the significance of the debate in Pen Pals.

It actually fits the in-universe history of Star Trek better, if you think that Archer is making the wrong choice.
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Old February 16 2013, 12:41 AM   #65
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

Cosmic plans, fate...

Jesus fuck...
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Old February 16 2013, 12:58 AM   #66
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
"No hold on, this is not some species that was obliterated by deforestation, or the building of a dam. Dinosaurs, uh, had their shot, and nature selected them for extinction!"
— Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park (film)

Despite the fact that Jeff Goldblum's character made his remarks in the context of a confrontation with a demonstrably dangerous population of beings that were out of their natural time, that quote still seems rather apropos.

Here's the debate from TNG: Pen Pals:
Pen Pals wrote:
PICARD: It is no longer a matter of how wrong Data was, or why he did it. The dilemma exists. We have to discuss the options. And please talk freely.
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: Doctor, I'm sure that is not what the Lieutenant meant, but in a situation like this, we have to be cautious. What we do today may profoundly affect upon the future. If we could see every possible outcome
RIKER: We'd be gods, which we're not. If there is a cosmic plan, is it not the height of hubris to think that we can, or should, interfere?
LAFORGE: So what are you saying? That the Dremans are fated to die?
RIKER: I think that's an option we should be considering.
LAFORGE: Consider it considered, and rejected.
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.
LAFORGE: Right, and it could be part of that plan that we interfere.
RIKER: Well that eliminates the possibility of fate.
DATA: But Commander, the Dremans are not a subject for philosophical debate. They are a people.
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.
PULASKI: My emotions are involved. Data's friend is going to die. That means something.
WORF: To Data.
PULASKI: Does that invalidate the emotion?
LAFORGE: What if the Dremans asked for our help?
DATA: Yes. Sarjenka's transmission could be viewed as a call for help.
PICARD: Sophistry.
PULASKI: I'll buy that excuse. We're all jigging madly on the head of a pin anyway.
WORF: She cannot ask for help from someone she does not know.
DATA: She knows me.
RIKER: What a perfectly vicious little circle.
DATA: We are going to allow her to die, are we not?
PICARD: Data, I want you to sever the contact with Drema Four.
(Data goes to a wall panel and taps in commands)
COMPUTER: Isolating frequency.
SARJENKA [OC]: Data. Data, where are you? Why won't you answer? Are you angry me? Please, please, I'm so afraid. Data, Data, where are you?
PICARD: Wait. Oh, Data. Your whisper from the dark has now become a plea. We cannot turn our backs.
The viewpoint discussed here, that Federation interference to save a sentient species might be part of the natural order, is a product of 24th century philosophy in the Star Trek universe. Furthermore, the debate in Pen Pals is a direct challenge to the rationale of the non-interference directive prevalent in the 23rd century of TOS.

Therefore, it's far more consistent with the established parameters of Star Trek to have the 22nd century beings who will form the Federation adopt a stance more sympathetic to the idea of a natural order which would be interfered with, if, say, humans stepped in to save a species from extinction. Otherwise, you wreck the continuity of ENT with TOS, and you undermine the significance of the debate in Pen Pals.

It actually fits the in-universe history of Star Trek better, if you think that Archer is making the wrong choice.

and you're still returning to the "nature's plan" nonsense. I guess if nature says you should be near-sighted, you shouldn't correct your vision with glasses. That's blatant interference-who are to interrupt nature's plan for you that involves you bumping into furniture and being unable to drive or read street signs from a distance?
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Old February 16 2013, 01:09 AM   #67
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

I'm just disturbed when allowing people to die who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time or simply didn't develop fast enough is peddled as some kind of "enlightenment".
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Old February 16 2013, 01:22 AM   #68
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

sonak wrote: View Post
and you're still returning to the "nature's plan" nonsense. I guess if nature says you should be near-sighted, you shouldn't correct your vision with glasses. That's blatant interference-who are to interrupt nature's plan for you that involves you bumping into furniture and being unable to drive or read street signs from a distance?
Actually, I'm pointing out the progression of philosophies debated and adopted by characters in-universe. If "nature's plan" is nonsense to you, take it up with Troi, Phlox, et al. They were the ones taking the idea seriously. What I'm saying is that in-universe there is clear progression over the centuries, in how the characters interpret the proper role of themselves within the context of a hypothetical "nature's plan". That should be clear from these and other episodes.
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Old February 16 2013, 02:10 AM   #69
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
Actually, I'm pointing out the progression of philosophies debated and adopted by characters in-universe. If "nature's plan" is nonsense to you, take it up with Troi, Phlox, et al.
Just as Trek canon itself lacks consistency, so do in-universe philosophies. "Nature's plan" is a highly unscientific concept. It is in fact very close to creationism, which is basically a religious concept, and yet, in "Who Watches the Watchers" Picard dismisses religion almost with disgust.
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Old February 16 2013, 02:23 AM   #70
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

Mach5 wrote: View Post
CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
Actually, I'm pointing out the progression of philosophies debated and adopted by characters in-universe. If "nature's plan" is nonsense to you, take it up with Troi, Phlox, et al.
Just as Trek canon itself lacks consistency, so do in-universe philosophies. "Nature's plan" is a highly unscientific concept. It is in fact very close to creationism, which is basically a religious concept, and yet, in "Who Watches the Watchers" Picard dismisses religion almost with disgust.
Well, except that in-universe in Star Trek, there actually is evidence which people might misinterpret as evidence of a cosmic plan, such as that resulting from the activities of the Preservers and the ancient humanoids in TNG: The Chase. Even Q alluded to the idea that humanity's evolution consisted of a progression that the Q were monitoring.

Otherwise, I agree with what you're saying.

Now that having been said, as a rule, it's more interesting dramatically when characters have inconsistent beliefs, than not, because it's a source of conflict.
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Old February 16 2013, 02:50 AM   #71
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
sonak wrote: View Post
and you're still returning to the "nature's plan" nonsense. I guess if nature says you should be near-sighted, you shouldn't correct your vision with glasses. That's blatant interference-who are to interrupt nature's plan for you that involves you bumping into furniture and being unable to drive or read street signs from a distance?
Actually, I'm pointing out the progression of philosophies debated and adopted by characters in-universe. If "nature's plan" is nonsense to you, take it up with Troi, Phlox, et al. They were the ones taking the idea seriously. What I'm saying is that in-universe there is clear progression over the centuries, in how the characters interpret the proper role of themselves within the context of a hypothetical "nature's plan". That should be clear from these and other episodes.

oh, ok. If that's what you're saying, then I agree with you that "nature's plan" does have some onscreen support from various characters.


Unfortunately, it's an absurd and unscientific idea. It makes Phlox look more like a shaman or a crackpot mystic than a doctor with a background in science.
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Old February 16 2013, 05:56 AM   #72
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

A problem is the pseudo science makes the supposed moral dilemma less gray and makes the main characters totally unsympathetic.

Its easy to see Phlox using eugenics to justify not helping the Valakians, on the basis that the Valakians are threat to the "natural development" of the Menk and the Valakians need to "go away" before the Menk can truly develop. That logic has some scary parallels to the real world.

Phlox doesn't come off as a alien who is applying different logic to see a situation, he comes off as a cruel and psychopathic monster who is using eugenics to justify letting billions of people die in a plague. I don't see why Phlox being an alien justifies any of that, the Cardassians are aliens and no one is going to say what they did on Bajor was okay because of that fact.
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Old June 26 2013, 11:20 PM   #73
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

He wasn't definitively saying he favored the Menk. He was saying that there were factors worth considering on both sides of the argument and he wasn't prepared to favor the Valakians at the risk of condemning the Menk. His decision was not to act in favor of either side, but to let natural evolution take its course.
Hey Chris,

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."

I'm not comfortable with that at all.

(Admittedly, I was equally uncomfortable with the choice in Terra Nova)

It's to one of Star Trek's flaws it doesn't recognize technology and civilization are all about defying nature. I had a similar problem with William Riker in "Pen Pals" says "If nature has a plan, who are we to intefere with it." Bluntly, as a religious man, it offends me because there's the obvious rebuttal that we aren't part of it. If it's a purely secular question, nature most decidedly doesn't have a plan or if it does, the same rule applies.

In Star Trek, I'm okay with the PD because the Federation simply doesn't have the resources, moral authority, or knowledge to be able to handle changing everything. Likewise, there's worse things than death. However, I prefer the novel, "Prime Directive" which had Spock state that the PD doesn't apply to natural disasters like a meteorite.

"A living culture" as Kirk would say. Which can't live if it's extinct. The PD would totally protect the Valakians IMHO.

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.

That the quality of life is to be judged by their smarts versus their capacity to love or live. For me, my big issue is that this is very Anti-Archer because he has constantly fought on behalf of the little guy. His choice to do nothing is dissonant with his actions in other episodes. It also leads to murder by omission many times over. In a very real way, Archer is far more morally culpable than Kodos the Executioner who at least TRIED to save lives through his actions.

But the sticking point there is the word "cure." It assumes that what was happening to the Valakians was a disease, an aberration. As Phlox perceived it, it was just the natural life cycle of the species. Think of it in terms of an individual.
I've actually had this conversation before and had this been written SLIGHTLY differently, it could have been a very interesting moral dilemma in Trek. I.e. What if the Valakians were dying because of pollution? That the Menk were alright because they lived in unspoiled wilderness for the most part.

The episode is very clear, though, it's a disease. At least it was to me. Given the sheer number of times that Star Trek has illustrated the Federation delivering vaccines and other items to other worlds, it seems odd we're not letting "nature take its course" there.

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?

Are the humpback whales not worthy of life because humans are smarter and have killed them off? I thought Star Trek IV was all about the beauty of so-called "lesser" but intelligent lifeforms.

You know perfectly well I'm saying nothing of the kind. I'm saying fiction is allowed to make breaks from reality, and that Star Trek has already made many breaks from reality that are far more ludicrous than this particular one. I just don't understand how one can accept evolutionary impossibilities like humanoid aliens and interspecies hybrids yet be so adamantly unwilling to accept the questionable evolutionary theory of this episode. It's a contradiction in terms to object to the idea Phlox expresses as intolerably fanciful while treating the very existence of Phlox himself, an even more fanciful premise, as an acceptable break from reality.
I agree with you, Christopher. I accept the following breaks from reality whenever I watch Star Trek:

* Aliens exist.
* Aliens are, by and large, just like us.
* Faster than light travel exists.
* It is possible to make peace with your enemies virtually every time.
* Near-divine beings exist in great numbers yet are "just" aliens.

The thing is, most of this leads to the value of science-fiction as storytelling morality and the questions of. Specifically the morality of acceptance, tolerance, and exploration of new possibilities.

My distaste for Dear Doctor, admittedly, comes down to a sense of moral outrage as well as how the thing seems to contradict Trek's central message. In an episode about moral dilemmas and diversity, the lesson is seemingly this: "Some people are more entitled to being treated as people than others. That two very different people cannot co-exist without diminishing the other. That in the future, the strong [smart] will leave the weak [dumb] behind."

This isn't the first time I've had that feeling. I had a similar one with VOY: "Ashes to Ashes" which seemingly had the message. "Differences can't be overcome. You're better off staying with your own kind."
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Old June 26 2013, 11:35 PM   #74
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

Whoever decided to turn the principle that 'We can not interfere in other cultures' into 'We must let them die because nature said so' is a horrible writer.

That's the best thing Into Darkness did: They took the prime directive back.
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Old June 27 2013, 12:01 AM   #75
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Re: Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
Whoever decided to turn the principle that 'We can not interfere in other cultures' into 'We must let them die because nature said so' is a horrible writer.

That's the best thing Into Darkness did: They took the prime directive back.
I like Tom Paris' line that "They're all going to die! Anything's got to be better than that." When Janeway cited the Prime Directive.

That was probably my favorite part of Into Darkness when Kirk blatantly ignored the PD and even Spock logiced himself into going along with it. And really that's the only time -anyone- has tried to hold a captain accountable for breaking it.

This episode of Enterprise just ruined the character of Phlox for me. With morals like that, I could just see him chipperly working in a concentration camp too or something, saying he's not the one who made things like this, he's just going along with it. Archer at least was already established as a bonehead.
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