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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old May 29 2015, 07:54 PM   #1
Starborn Dragon
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Psychic Abilities For Humans?

In the pilot that never aired, they showed that in the personnel records that human actually had an Esper rating in their personnel records. Gary Mitchell had an APERCEPTION QUOTIENT of 20, which they claimed was above average, and I think this is how he was able to develop his powerful abilities.

But since then, these abilities have been dropped in humans and i believe this has never really been brought up ever again, at least for humans.

They have pretty much delegated psychic abilities to other races, with Spock being the most prominent, and the woman in the Episode Wolf In The Fold.


Is there any official reason why they decided to drop this practice? Why shouldn't humans be able to develop these abilities in themselves?
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Old May 29 2015, 08:07 PM   #2
T'Girl
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Re: Psychic Abilities For Humans?

There was Miranda Jones.



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Old May 29 2015, 08:58 PM   #3
USS Triumphant
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Re: Psychic Abilities For Humans?

I think the obvious answer - which isn't very satisfying as an in-story explanation for why it was there to begin with but went away - is that things like that make the human characters less relatable for the audience. Especially with the majority of sci-fi fans, whom (I like to think, anyway) don't believe in such hokum as psychics.
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Old May 29 2015, 09:04 PM   #4
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Re: Psychic Abilities For Humans?

Starborn Dragon wrote: View Post
In the pilot that never aired, they showed that in the personnel records that human actually had an Esper rating in their personnel records.
The air date for "Where No Man Has Gone Before" was September 22, 1966.
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Old May 29 2015, 09:14 PM   #5
Greg Cox
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Re: Psychic Abilities For Humans?

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
Starborn Dragon wrote: View Post
In the pilot that never aired, they showed that in the personnel records that human actually had an Esper rating in their personnel records.
The air date for "Where No Man Has Gone Before" was September 22, 1966.
Yes. Just to clear up any confusion, the pilot that never aired was "The Cage," the one with Captain Pike, not "Where No Man Has Gone Before," the one with Gary Mitchell, which ultimately aired as a regular episode on the TV series.

And footage from "The Cage" was, of course, recycled for the flashbacks in "The Menagerie."
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Old May 29 2015, 09:18 PM   #6
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Re: Psychic Abilities For Humans?

I actually think Troi should have just been a human esper like the ones in TOS. If they weren't going to do anything beyond contact lenses (that often were hardly noticeable and just mimic a rare human eye condition anyway) they just should have made her human.
There's enough in Trek that's not "scientific" and why would psy powers in Betazoids, Deltans and Vulcans (i.e. almost human aliens) be easier to believe than in humans. Babylon 5's telepaths rocked and they were human.
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Old May 29 2015, 11:34 PM   #7
Starborn Dragon
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Re: Psychic Abilities For Humans?

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
Starborn Dragon wrote: View Post
In the pilot that never aired, they showed that in the personnel records that human actually had an Esper rating in their personnel records.
The air date for "Where No Man Has Gone Before" was September 22, 1966.
Yes. Just to clear up any confusion, the pilot that never aired was "The Cage," the one with Captain Pike, not "Where No Man Has Gone Before," the one with Gary Mitchell, which ultimately aired as a regular episode on the TV series.

And footage from "The Cage" was, of course, recycled for the flashbacks in "The Menagerie."

According to my DVD it was the one with Gary Mitchell that never aired.

Hmmmm....

Of course I could have misheard it and got things criss cross, so i will check it again to be certain.
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Old May 29 2015, 11:48 PM   #8
USS Triumphant
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Re: Psychic Abilities For Humans?

Orphalesion wrote: View Post
There's enough in Trek that's not "scientific" and why would psy powers in Betazoids, Deltans and Vulcans (i.e. almost human aliens) be easier to believe than in humans. Babylon 5's telepaths rocked and they were human.
I don't know that it is easier to believe as real-world fact, so much as that since a viewer is already suspending disbelief to a certain extent for an alien character, anyway, it is less of a stretch to add ESP, too. And, since they have different sense organs and a different evolutionary environment and path than ours, a reasonably acceptable Treksplanation can be given for what they can do - maybe even one that will really have some sort of real world use at some point.

And I disagree about Babylon 5, but that's totally subjective, so you can still have it.
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Old May 30 2015, 12:11 AM   #9
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Re: Psychic Abilities For Humans?

Starborn Dragon wrote: View Post
Of course I could have misheard it and got things criss cross, so i will check it again to be certain.
Good idea.
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Old May 30 2015, 12:31 AM   #10
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Re: Psychic Abilities For Humans?

USS Triumphant wrote: View Post
I think the obvious answer - which isn't very satisfying as an in-story explanation for why it was there to begin with but went away - is that things like that make the human characters less relatable for the audience. Especially with the majority of sci-fi fans, whom (I like to think, anyway) don't believe in such hokum as psychics.
Well, at the time "Where No Man" was made, the idea was taken more seriously. In the '60s and '70s, some experiments seemed to show there was some kind of legitimate psychic phenomenon going on. It was later that we figured out that a lot of the experimental subjects were frauds; scientists merely report the evidence of their observations, so if you can fool their senses, i.e. give them bad data, they'll draw bad conclusions. Which is why it took magicians like James Randi and Johnny Carson to expose the frauds. (Carson and Randi totally demolished Uri Geller on The Tonight Show by setting up their tests in ways that didn't let Geller use the cheats he normally used.) Also, a lot of it was bad experimental design by researchers who were maybe a bit too eager to believe. (Like Zener cards, those cards from Ghostbusters with the shapes on them. Since there are only five of them, the odds of making a string of lucky guesses are much higher than they'd be for regular cards; also, some experiments failed to avoid reflective surfaces in which the testees could see the cards' reflections.)

So there was a lot of SF in the era that took psi powers seriously -- The Demolished Man, for instance, or a lot of Larry Niven's and Anne McCaffrey's work. (She was on record as believing that psi powers were real and scientifically valid; otherwise she wouldn't have used them in her work, since she always considered her work science fiction rather than fantasy.) WNM's idea that future science would have learned to codify and test for psi abilities in humans was pretty much in keeping with the thought of the era.



Starborn Dragon wrote: View Post
According to my DVD it was the one with Gary Mitchell that never aired.

Hmmmm....

Of course I could have misheard it and got things criss cross, so i will check it again to be certain.
Nope, it aired. It was the third episode broadcast. And I saw it constantly in the TV syndication package when I was growing up, so yes, it aired as often as any other episode (except "The Cage").

There is, however, a slightly different version of the second pilot that didn't air. It had a different title sequence with a different logo and a different theme built around Alexander Courage's Kirk motif, and it was edited slightly differently with a scene or two that weren't in the final version. Copies of it have been shown to the public at various times (the Smithsonian had a copy, as I recall, and it was probably shown at various conventions), but it was never shown on broadcast TV. That unaired version is available as a bonus feature on the 2009 TOS box set, so maybe that's what you're thinking of.
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Old May 30 2015, 12:58 AM   #11
Greg Cox
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Re: Psychic Abilities For Humans?

Starborn Dragon wrote: View Post
Greg Cox wrote: View Post
CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post

The air date for "Where No Man Has Gone Before" was September 22, 1966.
Yes. Just to clear up any confusion, the pilot that never aired was "The Cage," the one with Captain Pike, not "Where No Man Has Gone Before," the one with Gary Mitchell, which ultimately aired as a regular episode on the TV series.

And footage from "The Cage" was, of course, recycled for the flashbacks in "The Menagerie."

According to my DVD it was the one with Gary Mitchell that never aired.

Hmmmm....

Of course I could have misheard it and got things criss cross, so i will check it again to be certain.
Trust us on this. We know whereof we speak.

There is nothing to check. It was "The Cage" that never aired. Not "Where No Man Has Gone Before."

Some us actually remember watching the Gary Mitchell ep way back in sixties . . .
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Old May 30 2015, 02:41 AM   #12
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Re: Psychic Abilities For Humans?

USS Triumphant wrote: View Post
Orphalesion wrote: View Post
There's enough in Trek that's not "scientific" and why would psy powers in Betazoids, Deltans and Vulcans (i.e. almost human aliens) be easier to believe than in humans. Babylon 5's telepaths rocked and they were human.
I don't know that it is easier to believe as real-world fact, so much as that since a viewer is already suspending disbelief to a certain extent for an alien character, anyway, it is less of a stretch to add ESP, too. And, since they have different sense organs and a different evolutionary environment and path than ours, a reasonably acceptable Treksplanation can be given for what they can do - maybe even one that will really have some sort of real world use at some point.
Would you be fine with human espers if the explanation given was them being genetically engineered?
I agree, not even Hollywood evolution is fast enough to give us mental powers in 200 years..
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Old May 30 2015, 03:04 AM   #13
USS Triumphant
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Re: Psychic Abilities For Humans?

Orphalesion wrote: View Post
Would you be fine with human espers if the explanation given was them being genetically engineered?
*Maybe*. But only if the esper powers honestly followed from things we know we can do now - sensitivity to being watched, subconsciouses that pick up on details and jump to conclusions and let us know things we don't "know", etc. OR, if they involved mixing in genetic material derived from those other alien evolutionary tracks I mentioned - in which case they wouldn't be purely human.

The only exception I can see would be if someone had a really good, well-crafted story to tell about humanity in the future of the Federation on the cusp of becoming beings of energy like the Organians or the Q (probably due to development being accelerated by contact with such beings). But it would take a real talent to pull that off well, especially for a whole series, because it would be too easy to tip such a story over into either being boring because the characters have too much power, or annoying because the characters are limited by artificial stupidity regarding how to use their powers. (The latter being what I felt like was wrong with "Smallville" and what is often wrong with superhero fiction in general - but that's a whole other topic.)
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Old May 30 2015, 03:19 AM   #14
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Re: Psychic Abilities For Humans?

Orphalesion wrote: View Post
Would you be fine with human espers if the explanation given was them being genetically engineered?
For me, there's a more fundamental problem: How do psi powers work? What physical principle allows them to operate at all? There's rarely any kind of actual theory to explain it; it's usually just a handwave, some kind of exotic "psionic energy" that can do whatever the writers want it to do at any given moment, including the violation of countless laws of physics. It's essentially just magic by any other name. Even the real-life scientists who were credulous enough to find these powers plausible never offered any kind of theoretical model for the physical mechanism behind them.

So I wouldn't be prepared to believe in human or alien psychics unless I got a credible definition for what psionic powers actually are on a fundamental level, and how they work. You can't just say people can be genetically engineered and somehow mumblemumble get magic mind powers; the fundamental premise that such powers can even exist in the first place needs to be justified first. And that's the part most fiction just skips over.

I could believe that aliens could evolve modes of communication that would be undetectable to us. Heck, plenty of animals already have those -- ultraviolet or infrared vision, senses of smell and hearing far keener than ours, the ability to sense electric fields, etc. You could have essentially "empathic" ability to sense others' emotions just by using infrared vision to see changes in their blood flow, or by using a heightened sense of smell to read their hormonal shifts. The reason animals often seem "psychic" to us is because some of our senses are just really, really weak in comparison to theirs and we miss a ton of stuff that's plain as day to them.

So maybe an alien species could communicate with one another through pheromones or electromagnetic fields or thermal signals or something we can't detect with our normal senses. Maybe they could've evolved some ability to link their nervous systems directly by touch and share thoughts or consciousness that way, as an outgrowth of some evolutionary adaptation that arose for some other purpose, perhaps. Or maybe they're a high-tech race with bionic implants that link their minds in a cyborg Internet, a technological form of telepathy. But those would only work within their own species. They wouldn't let them read humans' minds or project their thoughts into our minds or whatever.

And telekinesis is far iffier. What's the mechanism applying the force there? What about action and reaction? Force needs leverage. If there's some kind of energy field coming from your body, how do you aim and direct it to move things the way you want? How do you anchor yourself to move things heavier than you? How do you have the energy? Energy can't be created out of nothing. If you want to exert enough force with your mind to lift a car, it requires the same amount of energy that it would take to lift the car with your muscles. You couldn't go full Tetsuo and send people and buses and buildings flying around without an enormous metabolic cost -- you'd pass out in seconds. At the very least, if a story is going to posit some kind of "psionic field" as the basis of this stuff, there needs to be a way to tap into it as an energy source.

There's also the tendency to use telepathy as a workaround for translation -- the assumption is that reading someone's mind lets you understand their thoughts perfectly without language barriers getting in the way. But that's actually backward. Each mind stores knowledge, memories, and concepts in a unique network of associations. There are commonalities in things like sensory perceptions and emotions and rough ideas, but the details of a person's thoughts would probably be incomprehensible if read directly, because they're encoded within the context of that person's unique web of associations. Language is how we read each other's thoughts, by using a mutually agreed-upon set of symbols as a medium for communication. If you could read someone's brain activity directly, maybe eventually you could decode their individual cognitive structure well enough to decipher their thoughts, but it wouldn't be automatic and universal. That's just another way writers use psionics as a story cheat.
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Old May 30 2015, 03:30 AM   #15
ZapBrannigan
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Re: Psychic Abilities For Humans?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Well, at the time "Where No Man" was made, the idea was taken more seriously. In the '60s and '70s, some experiments seemed to show there was some kind of legitimate psychic phenomenon going on. It was later that we figured out that a lot of the experimental subjects were frauds; scientists merely report the evidence of their observations, so if you can fool their senses, i.e. give them bad data, they'll draw bad conclusions. Which is why it took magicians like James Randi and Johnny Carson to expose the frauds. (Carson and Randi totally demolished Uri Geller on The Tonight Show by setting up their tests in ways that didn't let Geller use the cheats he normally used.) Also, a lot of it was bad experimental design by researchers who were maybe a bit too eager to believe. (Like Zener cards, those cards from Ghostbusters with the shapes on them. Since there are only five of them, the odds of making a string of lucky guesses are much higher than they'd be for regular cards; also, some experiments failed to avoid reflective surfaces in which the testees could see the cards' reflections.)

So there was a lot of SF in the era that took psi powers seriously -- The Demolished Man, for instance, or a lot of Larry Niven's and Anne McCaffrey's work. (She was on record as believing that psi powers were real and scientifically valid; otherwise she wouldn't have used them in her work, since she always considered her work science fiction rather than fantasy.) WNM's idea that future science would have learned to codify and test for psi abilities in humans was pretty much in keeping with the thought of the era.



Starborn Dragon wrote: View Post
According to my DVD it was the one with Gary Mitchell that never aired.

Hmmmm....

Of course I could have misheard it and got things criss cross, so i will check it again to be certain.
Nope, it aired. It was the third episode broadcast. And I saw it constantly in the TV syndication package when I was growing up, so yes, it aired as often as any other episode (except "The Cage").

There is, however, a slightly different version of the second pilot that didn't air. It had a different title sequence with a different logo and a different theme built around Alexander Courage's Kirk motif, and it was edited slightly differently with a scene or two that weren't in the final version. Copies of it have been shown to the public at various times (the Smithsonian had a copy, as I recall, and it was probably shown at various conventions), but it was never shown on broadcast TV. That unaired version is available as a bonus feature on the 2009 TOS box set, so maybe that's what you're thinking of.

Yeah, he's clearly got the unaired version of WNM on DVD, the one with cowboy-western theme music at the end.

Also, that's some good historical context, Christopher. The show's interest in psychic powers could very well be due to your explanation.
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