Bashir's genetic modification: yes or no?

Discussion in 'Deep Space Nine' started by DevilEyes, May 7, 2010.

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Did you like the 'Bashir was genetically modified' retcon?

  1. Yes, I think it was a good plot and it worked

    47.3%
  2. It was an interesting storyline, but I didn't completely buy it

    33.8%
  3. No, it made no sense

    14.9%
  4. I'm not sure

    4.1%
  1. RobertScorpio

    RobertScorpio Pariah

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    As with most things TREK, I seperate TOS from the other shows. It comes, really, from another time. ENT had no excuse to treat the subject as screwy as it did. DS9, as you said, did the best job of it in modern TREK era.

    Rob
     
  2. RegFan

    RegFan Commodore Commodore

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    I think it was good for his character.
     
  3. Praxius

    Praxius Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    While I found the Jack crowd a tad on the annoying side, the episode and such was still entertaining to me personally and was still a pretty good episode. I think the thing I liked about it the most had to do with the point of Statistics and Analyses, no matter how much work someone puts into it, no matter how much of a genius someone thinks they are, are never 100% accurate and it is impossible to account and factor in every single probability.... thus anybody who believes in statistics to the point of almost religious attachment, are fools.

    In regards to not allowing genetically modified people into Starfleet, I believed they addressed this principle of theirs in the episode..... when a child is modified against their will or without their direct knowledge of it by their parents, they are not responsible for what has happened, and thus should not be penalized for the crimes of their parents. Since his father decided to go to prison because of this situation, he was allowed into starfleet, and thus, technically any other modified human in a similar situation would be allowed to join starfleet too, so long as their parents face their punishments for their crimes.

    I believe the rules towards Starfleet and Modified humans were mostly related towards individuals who seek modification on their own free will, as adults, ie: you join a group or some force, allow yourself to be modified to compete in that group, then quit and try and join Starfleet.... which they'd be turned down and possibly face charges.

    At least that's how I see it.




    Also, let's not forget near the beginning of the series where Bashir and O'Brien first played Springball..... Bashir bragged himself up (warned O'Brien) about his abilities and being one of the best in the Academy....... then pulled off some crazy jumps and flips, hit the ball, and the ball flew past O'Brien before he knew what was going on..... then continually beat O'Brien for a pile of more games before Bashir got someone in his medical team to call him out for an emergency..... before the Emergency was O'Brien having a heart attack.

    And O'Brien was PO'd, lol.

    It seemed after that first experience between them, Bashir seemed to tone himself down a bit with future games like Darts and such.
     
  4. Praxius

    Praxius Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Double Post
     
  5. Kai Winn

    Kai Winn Captain Captain

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    i want to see a good reason why genetic engineering is outlawed, but the annoying weirdos of ds9 don't deliver it. ds9 tried to portray the funny dimension, and the absurd, and failed.
     
  6. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    :wtf:

    You thought that the show was trying to justify why the genetic engineering is outlawed? Is that something like the reasoning of a poster from the VOY board "If the Doctor is the property of Starfleet, he can't be sentient"? Or, in this case, every law in the Federation is necessarily 100% right, and the show's task is to provide examples why it's right? So if genetic engineering is outlawed, that means that the show has to feature only incredibly bad and dangerous Augments that should not exist?

    I think you got it backwards.

    But then you call them "annoying weirdos" and blame them for not providing a good proof why genetic engineering is outlawed... eh, sorry, you've completely lost me here. :confused: What would you have liked them to be? Normal, sweet and perfectly adjusted? Well, then they certainly wouldn't prove that genetic engineering should be outlawed, would they. :vulcan:
     
  7. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Annoying weirdos?! :guffaw: No wonder I liked them so much, I'd fit right in.
     
  8. Praxius

    Praxius Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well when I recently watched those related episodes in DS9 not too long ago, when Bashir was talking about the crew he was working with, he pointed out that they were examples of what could happen when you didn't have a good doctor to perform the procedures, which Bashir was lucky in having.

    Jack was a prime example of the Khan problem, where he felt because he had the superior abilities and intelligence, it was his duty to make the hard decisions and for others to follow, regardless if they understood or not. (ie: knocking out Bashir and attempting to contact the Dominion to allow them to defeat the Federation in order to save more lives)

    Back in the Eugenics Wars that Khan was a part of, I greatly suspect that the medical know-how for genetic modification was much more limited then in the DS9 era, which allowed for more chance of problems to occur in the process... which seemed to occur (or else there wouldn't have been a war I imagine)
     
  9. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, but incomplete knowledge probably wouldn't, on average, lead to more devious supermen, than it would more dysfunctional mutants and spontaneous abortions.

    I mean, say what you will about Khan and his guys, but they were able to operate socially well enough to survive Ceti Alpha, which is more that I can say about the Jack Pack.

    What I really wonder is how much confinement and social judgment have to do with Jack being a dick. I mean, did they put him in a mental health facility for decades because he was deranged, or did he become deranged because he was in a mental health facility for decades?

    And, of course, there's Lauren, whose only apparent mental disturbance was that she was... slutty. Wait, what the hell?

    The only ones who clearly belonged in involuntary confinement were Patrick and Sarina--and even Patrick is arguable, I see people that dysfunctional at Wal-Mart all the time, and no one's trying to lock them up.
     
  10. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, I'm no expert, but it Jack seemed to be a case of hyperactive-impulsive version of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Whether a personality disorder is enough to keep a person in a mental hospital is another matter - if he weren't a "mutant", he might not have been considered fit for mental hospital any more than Barclay.

    Lauren seemed to suffer from erotomania, judging by the way she told Bashir she had found another man and that he shouldn't be jealous - as if they had been in a relationship, or as if he had ever shown a romantic interest in her. I wouldn't be surprised if she had stalked people in the past.
     
  11. Praxius

    Praxius Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Indeed... while Khan and his crew survived decently well on the planet Kirk shipped them off to, they were trained and geared for war/conquest... they knew how to survive under harsh conditions and if they didn't know, their level of intelligence would allow them to know soon enough... Jack and crew never had military experience or went through what Khan went through, so there's one difference.

    But being genetically modified doesn't automatically mean someone is going to be war-like and try and take over the galaxy.... there's good chance that various side effects can/will occur, like Sarina who was detached from everything around her in a way that made her intelligence and abilities kinda moot..... it's not just protection of the people around them, but protection of those being modified from unforeseen side effects from the procedure.

    As the Admn. said in Bashir's case when he was discovered, prison and banning people from Starfleet isn't a perfect solution, but it's some sort of deterrent and has some success, rather then doing nothing at all.

    Myasishchev ~ "Yeah, but incomplete knowledge probably wouldn't, on average, lead to more devious supermen, than it would more dysfunctional mutants and spontaneous abortions."

    Rear Admiral Bennett in "Dr. Bashir I presume" stated:
    It's not that every modified human will be evil or devious.... but it's more or less a 50% chance either way, which the risk is too great to take.
     
  12. Danoz

    Danoz Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    :lol: I didn't know that was an improvisation by Ford.
     
  13. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^I think it was his idea, though. I vaguely remember the sword stuntman guy being kind of pissed, too, although that might be just my supposition overlaying on factual memory. I mean, I'd be pretty upset.

    I actually went back and watched "Bashir, I Presume"--no great sacrifice, since this is one of my favorite episodes, and it came off as even better this time though--but some things really hit me this time.

    Wait, what kind of genetic engineering is bad?

    I had thought about before, but my thoughts about it sort of coalesced on today's rewatch--Bashir wasn't really subject to genetic engineering as the term is usually used.

    Bashir was subject to somatic gene therapy. That is the rewriting of adult cells with new genetic information to improve the functioning of organs or the organism as a whole. It is widely considered to be dangerous, and in any even it is very difficult. However, it also raises none of the questions that germ-line genetic engineering does.

    Germ-line is of course engineering at or near conception, affecting all cells in the resulting organism, inserting, removing, or altering code in a manner that will be passed on to descendants. The main problem with germ-line engineering is explored in Gattaca and to a much simpler degree in Space Seed. That problem, basically, is that germ-line engineering pits its children, these new, improved organisms, against the existing population of normals and their unmodified children. The problem is thus essentially a class and race conflict, and is best understood by analogy from those contexts.

    Somatic gene therapy, by contrast, is potentially available to anyone. It does not connote an otherness to its recipients, because whether they wind up awesome like Bashir or just have a functioning liver, anyone can potentially get the treatment and have the development of their cortices critically accelerated ("the technical term," sez Bashir :p ). Thus the aspects of racial (or even interspecies) conflict inherent in germ-line engineering is absent.

    In a society such as the Federation's, it doesn't even make sense as a class conflict, between those able to afford it and those not, because there is no discernible economic division between people that would preclude one man from getting somatically engineered while permitting some more fortunate other.

    So really what we're left with is an unexamined ideological problem with transhumanism, manifest as ancient and apparently well-settled law, embraced by not only humans (as we are wont to do with mystical notions about the specialness of humanity) but the aliens in the Federation who surely must outnumber us and could override such luddism through the democratic process if they wished.

    At least the Federation can't be charged with cognitive chauvinism

    Because being mentally retarded is just a different way of perceiving the world in the Federation. I guess the cognitive diversity people won in the future.

    Bashir points out that genetic engineering is legal to repair serious birth defects. He also speaks of his childhood memories, when he was unable to distinguish a cat from a dog, or a tree from a house (!)... at age six. Also notable is that few scenes later he mentions how his IQ rose five points a day for over two weeks. That is x>70 points (I'm no lightning calculator like Bashir, but I can do that :D ). Just to make a rough estimate of his current IQ, I'd put it around 150 at maximum, and more like 130 or 140. (His weird powers, like the aforementioned lightning calculation, are not really indicative of intelligence--indeed, some of the world's foremost lightning calculators have been of average cognitive function, autists, or just plain dumb [of course, others have been excellent mathematicians].) Anyway, this would put the initial IQ somewhere near or below Forrest Gump range. In any event, a kid who cannot tell a tree from a house at age six and is not blind is probably best characterized as seriously mentally retarded. I find it fascinating that someone who is genuinely confused over the taxonomical classification of felis catus and canis lupus familiaris, about four years after he should have sorted this problem out, is not considered to have suffered a serious birth defect.

    There really is a nascent cognitive diversity movement, pioneered by Aspergers' sufferers and autists--who may have a point. It's sort of like champions of deaf culture, with inability to hear being painted not as a disability, but as a different way of living, worthy of as much respect (and protection) as race or sexual orientation or mutant powers or whatever. And hence not amenable to a "cure." Same deal with cognitive diversity supporters. These sort of people are easily identifiable as sort of deluded, but their arguments have enough merit to them to be considered, and people who have lived with such conditions/ailments for their whole lives are obviously very susceptible to being told that they are special and not only worth saving but worth deliberately replicating. Really, I could actually see the diversity-directed liberal culture of the Federation embracing this kind of thought, even if it is after a fashion abhorrent.

    For the record, I know where I stand with the militant deaf culture guys--they're pretty much deranged. If there are militant blind culture guys, they're even crazier, because it is beyond obvious (not to say "easy to see") that blindness is a disability. Low-functioning autists should also be cured, were it possible. Asperger's presents a more difficult case, as a more viable candidate for "simply different" rather than "obviously ill," and maybe even a potentially viable adaptation.

    I've been told we're severely underquota for this month, Doctor, so you stay

    Yeah, the legal deal struck at the end struck me as bizarre. "Your dad agreed to go to prison, so you're allowed to stay in Starfleet"?:wtf: So, it's okay that Bashir is violating and will continue to violate legislation or administrative regs--as long as his dad goes to prison. Maybe there's some stop-loss provision that allows the Starfleet JAG to blithely ignore service requirements. I mean, this is like someone on your submarine crew turning out to have a vagina, but the USN JAG is like, "Well, since your mom's going to prison for a crime unrelated to you lying (under oath) on your application forms, you can continue to serve on the USS Ohio."* It's just... weird.

    *Yes, I know they're doing a pilot program starting soon. Good for them. After all, submarine life is long and hard and full of seamen, and female officers aboard would no doubt be a welcome change of pace.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2010
  14. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Regarding some types of disabilities--would it always be explained by genetics? What about trauma in utero or even just random chance?
     
  15. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, repairing trauma is not a job for somatic gene therapy, and it's no kind of genetic engineering. I'd guess it would just be outside the scope of the law. Indeed, presumably, cloning replacement organs is just fine. No one ever bugged Worf about any potential legal implications regarding his spine replacement.

    Now, if your kid never developed a spinal cord in the first place because the genes which express it aren't functioning, that would fall under the scope of the exception to the prohibition on genetic engineering.

    I sort of wonder how they decide what genes to repair the malfunctioning ones with, too. Do they have the DNA of Joe Bauer from Idiocracy on file, and whenever someone needs replacement genes, they pull out the most average human genetic code there is? Otherwise you're stepping dangerously into augmentation territory. Or maybe they get the worst DNA that still meets the baseline standard. So if you're born without the genes that express the front parts of your skull (like this heartbreaking little girl I once saw :( ), you get some ugly dude's mug because that's the least impressive set of eye sockets and noseholes that still functions according to Federation minimum facial guidelines.
     
  16. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What I always imagined happening is that in the case like you describe, when there is something seriously wrong, functioning genes would be drawn from one's direct lineage--i.e. from your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or even your siblings, since someone in your family is likely to have a functioning copy. This way nothing augmented or unnatural is added...you benefit from what your own family already has to offer even though that particular gene might not have passed down right. So the person you describe might end up taking very sharply after a particular relative, but that trait would belong to the family.

    As to the question I asked, though--I was wondering if perhaps what happened with Geordi might be explainable in other ways than genetics (such as trauma to his mother during the pregnancy at a critical stage of development). With Bashir, it might well have been genetic.
     
  17. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Heck, I don't know what could turn your eyes into balled honeydew.:vulcan:

    You know, it's funny, looking back at the episode, since it actually predates the entry of the neurodiversity debate into mainstream discourse, but it strikes a pro-neurodiversity theme with Bashir's bitterness about being involuntarily changed/cured.
     
  18. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I noticed the neurodiversity issue as well--and since I saw the episode for the first time many years later, I actually thought that was the intention.

    BTW--what did you think about the suggestion that if a genetic graft is needed to cure an illness, that it is drawn from one's own family? (Rather than someone's definition of "average," "natural" would be determined by what you might have stood a chance to inherit from your own forbears.)
     
  19. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Oh, sorry. I thought that was actually a pretty workable, balanced idea. Certainly better than my (tongue in cheek) ones :p --but then, if you take anti-augmentation sentiment to its logical extremity it would forbid the "eugenics" of choosing one's own (and presumably best available) mate!

    Which raises another question: assume for the moment Bashir was germ-line engineered instead of somatically; is the Augment allowed to breed?:shifty:

    (Ignoring whether he physically could. Something I'd have to ask someone with more insight into reproductive genetics--one of the leading theoretical methods for human germ-line engineering is the addition of artificial chromosome, to avoid interfering with gene interactions, and if such an approach was followed with Augments, I don't know if they'd be capable of producing viable offspring with normals. Then again, Klingons and Trills can reproduce, so human on Augment action should be pretty tame.:rolleyes:)

    I suppose one could. I'd have to see the actual law to know for sure. It also runs afoul of certain fundamental freedoms which presumably exist in the UFP (and which I believe have been explicitly referenced, for example in "The Offspring" iirc).
     
  20. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Another question, regarding the neurodiversity argument? Wouldn't it be a reasonable assumption that in 24th century society, there is much more accommodation of people of varying intellectual abilities? We are now beginning to make progress now in the 21st century with helping those who have intellectual disabilities to find work that provides the right level of interest and personal challenge. And though Jules Bashir most likely did have an IQ that was on the high end of "intellectually disabled," the fact that he was being sent to school at all, even though he found mainstreamed classes very challenging, does suggest in the 24th century he probably WOULD have been helped in finding such employment and in developing life skills required either to live alone, or to live in a situation with the correct level of assistance. Given that, might Julian have had an argument, that his situation as he was would not have had to be something that he would have experienced as unfulfilling, if his parents had been willing to engage the right resources?

    And that last, I suspect, was the Bashirs' hangup. I get the feeling they would've felt some sort of "shame" in asking for those supportive services, not to mention they seemed ashamed of having even HAD a son like Jules Bashir in the first place. Might Julian have been right that if his parents had adjusted themselves to their son's situation appropriately, that he could have led a life that, even though he would never have been a doctor, would still have had intrinsic worth?

    Personally, I think so.

    Thankfully Julian Bashir led a fulfilling life, too, from what we see. But the life that Jules was entitled to have by his intrinsic worth as a person was taken away from him.