Why do so many people rag on "Dear doctor"

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Enterprise' started by WesleysDisciple, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  2. Mach5

    Mach5 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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. :lol:
     
  3. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  4. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    "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:
    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.
     
  5. Mach5

    Mach5 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Cosmic plans, fate...

    Jesus fuck... :rolleyes:
     
  6. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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?
     
  7. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    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".
     
  8. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  9. Mach5

    Mach5 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  10. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  11. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  12. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    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.
     
  13. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    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.

    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.

    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."
     
  14. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  15. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  16. jespah

    jespah Commodore Commodore

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    It's interesting how, in S3, they present the Xindi as being from a planet where 6 separate sentient species coexisted and developed, no prob. 'Course the Avians became extinct, but that wasn't due to other species' acts, prejudices or selecting one group over another, so far as I recall.

    If the order of the episodes is reversed, and Dear Doctor comes after, say, The Shipment, then Archer, etc. could and should have said, "Well, the Xindi managed to have more than one sentient species grow and develop without it turning into civilization. Why the hell can't the Valakians and the Menk do that, particularly as an offshoot of overcoming this medical crisis?"

    Hell, send Xindi councilors in, to show 'em how it's done.
     
  17. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, it was. From http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Xindi-Avian:

     
  18. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    Archer let millions die just to prove a point.

    Disgusting.
     
  19. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    But you gotta love the heroic music that was playing as Archer cited the need for a Directive to wash away their sins.
     
  20. jespah

    jespah Commodore Commodore

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    Thanks, although the impression I get from the quote (and the show) is that they were casualties of war and not the victims of a Final Solution-type of situation. Of course I could be wrong. Thank you for finding the info.