a defining Spock moment

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Mister Atoz, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. Mister Atoz

    Mister Atoz Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I don't know why, but one of Spock's most eminently quotable phrases is "Unknown, Captain." He only says it 9 times in the entire series, and no other character speaks those words...not Scotty, not Sulu.

    "Then kindly tell me what happened to the stars!"

    Eyebrow up.

    "Unknown, Captain".

    "Fascinating" of course, is Spock's most famous, if brief, aphorism.

    ~ Atoz
     
  2. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It puts him ahead of "scientists" who are wedded to their biases and ignorance.

    I worked with another video tech who would say the wackiest things to students and professors, instead of "I don't know, I can research that for you." One day he walked in while I was showing Turbo Incabulator to a co-worker. Pinhead stood there nodding his head, as though the techno-babble made sense to him. And here's the punchline: I heard pinhead using some of the nonsense terminology to a student later on. And he was absolutely serious.

    I have great respect for someone who can say, "I don't know."

    Kudos, Spock.
     
  3. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    Interesting viewpoint.
     
  4. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^ A follow-up to this is an exchange from "Arena":

     
  5. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Maybe somebody was keeping count of those 'unknowns' cuz Spock keeps saying it in TMP whenever Kirk asks him anything about VGER's weaponry.
     
  6. Green Shirt

    Green Shirt Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Or as Kirk said in The Immunity Syndrome,"Insufficient data is not sufficient, Mr. Spock. You're the science officer, you're supposed to have sufficient data all the time".

    Captains want everything, and they want it now.
     
  7. Mr_Homn

    Mr_Homn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    "Captain, the most elementary and valuable statement in science, the beginning of wisdom, is 'I do not know.'"
    - Data (TNG Season 2: Where Silence has Lease)
     
  8. TheSubCommander

    TheSubCommander Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    For me, definitely Journey to Babel, when his mother pleads to him to turn over command of the Enterprise and save his father, he refuses because its not the logical thing to do, then she slaps him and leaves. Then he puts his hand on the door.
     
  9. Mr_Homn

    Mr_Homn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Too many to list. Spock might be the most "defining" character of the entire franchise.
     
  10. Mister Atoz

    Mister Atoz Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Good discussion, Trekkies. The essence of the words "Unknown, Captain"-- so simple, so elegant. It's the reason why God was invented. The words correspond very well with a quiet Universe full of distant stars.

    As for the arrogance of scientists, I recommend "Knowledge or Certainty" from the Ascent of Man (book and TV series) by Jacob Bronowski.

    "Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge or error, and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we *can* know although we are fallible. In the end, the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ: Think it possible you may be mistaken."

    http://ronrecord.com/Quotes/bronowski.html

    ~ Mister Atoz
     
  11. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Teal'c took "Indeed" from him and made it his own.
     
  12. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Teal'c isn't fit to wash Mr. Spock's jockstrap. :lol:
     
  13. solariabsg25

    solariabsg25 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    [​IMG]

    he certainly does the eyebrow!
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Indeed. ;)

    The useless "I don't know" should really have been replaced by "Here are my X best guesses, Captain, each accompanied by the specific bit of missing information that will make or break the hypotheses. You can choose which missing bit or bits to pursue, in which order", with the value of X depending on how much of a hurry the heroes really are in...

    That'd give Kirk something to chew on, as well as insert extra scifi intrigue into the episode - say, three exotic scenarios at the price of one!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. MarsWeeps

    MarsWeeps Fleet Captain Premium Member

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    Vulcans never guess...except in ST IV.
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Then that's a shortcoming of Spock's that he should amend at once... If a scientist cannot formulate a hypothesis, he should go play golf.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. Mr_Homn

    Mr_Homn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Guessing is not the same as forming a hypothesis...
     
  18. Kolinahr

    Kolinahr Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    No it is not. Guessing is just saying whatever random idea comes into your head. It's gut instinct. A hypothesis is formed when one thinks about what one knows and then decides that X is the likely outcome. It's not guessing.
     
  19. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not that good guessing doesn't help--that can lead to a hypothesis.

    I saw an early photo of the Xenia Ohio tornado. In the still, it had two suction vortices in a double helic. Since a tornadic storm is an updraft, and a smoker on the sea floor is an updraft...hmmm---Vortex generated abiogenesis?
    Chemestry takes you so far forward--biology only so far back--I'd like to think some kind of mechanical forcing could play a part.

    Stream beds or channeled scablands) often have vortex ruts in them with a single stone--rather like natures mortar and pestle/centrefuge.
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    That's just saying the same thing twice, the second time with pomposity.

    The true distinguishing feature of a worthwhile guess/hypothesis is that it comes with its own means of evaluating its validity. That is, any guess must contain an objective criterion, a hinge point for the teeter-totter between true and false. And this criterion must hinge on data that is not yet available, so that one can then objectively seek the bit of data and see what it tells about the guess.

    Say, Spock could tell Kirk that he believes the thing that ate Gamma Seven and the Intrepid could be a malevolent lifeform or intelligence that seeks victims, or an indifferent natural phenomenon that stumbled upon Gamma Seven after which the starship intercepted her to her own peril. He would then specify that the data he lacks is on whether the phenomenon homes in on victims, and suggest as the litmus test that Kirk stand off and wait whether the thing moves to attack. If not, the thing might still be maneuverable but wary, so Kirk should provoke it with, say, a phaser attack.

    This would bring Spock's scientific mumbo-jumbo to Kirk's area of competence and allow him to choose between options, rather than just chauffeur the starship deeper into the danger zone in an aimless pursuit of more data.

    Forming a hypothesis that hinges on already known data is just masturbation; it involves subjectively interpreting that data. And "thinking about what one knows" does not make it any less subjective or any more convincing. It just takes one deeper down the path of self-delusion.

    Spock is being fundamentally unscientific if he thinks there is insufficient data to form a hypothesis, i.e. to make a guess. A hypothesis is formed when data is lacking. If one believes one is in possession of a full dataset, then the time of hypotheses is well past, and there's no science remaining to be done; the truth is already known...

    Timo Saloniemi