Starfleet's View on Its Sciences Division and the Star Trek Symbol

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Baxten, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. Baxten

    Baxten Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Feb 25, 2017
    Whether you believe that Starfleet is a military, paramilitary or something else, there is a good reason that this topic warrants its own thread.


    There is a claim that Starfleet's primary purposes are science and exploration but I've found a prime example that directly contradicts it when you look at how Starfleet views its own sciences division.

    TNG: "Tapestry"


    (Picard is a science lieutenant)
    WORF: Can I help you, Mister Picard?
    PICARD: Mister Worf.
    (Worf takes a PADD from Picard)
    WORF: This is not for me. You should take it to Commander La Forge in Engineering.
    PICARD: What's happened?
    WORF: Is something wrong?
    PICARD: I'm not sure. Mister Worf, what is my rank and position?
    WORF: You are a Lieutenant junior grade, Assistant Astrophysics officer.
    DATA: Are you feeling all right?
    PICARD: Who's the captain of this ship?
    DATA: Captain Thomas Halloway. Perhaps I should escort you to Sickbay.
    PICARD: No. I can find my own way there. Thank you, Commander.​

    [Doctor's office]

    PICARD: Q, what have you done?
    Q: I've done exactly as I promised. I've returned you to the present.
    PICARD: But this is not the present I remember. You said nothing would change.
    Q: Nothing has changed, Jean-Luc, except for you. But then again, that's what you wanted, wasn't it? To change the man you were in your youth? Well, you did it. This is the man you are today. And You should be happy. You have a real heart beating in your chest, and you get to live out the rest of your life in safety, running tests, making analyses, and carrying reports to your superiors.​

    [Ten Forward]

    (Riker and Troi are at a table)
    PICARD: [. . .] First of all, and I would like you to be absolutely straightforward with me. How would you evaluate me as an officer?
    TROI: Well, er, your performance records have always been good. You're thorough, dedicated.
    RIKER: Reliable, steady, (searching desperately) punctual.
    PICARD: I see. What would you say if I told you that I believed that I was capable of being very much more.
    RIKER: Perhaps we should discuss this at your next evaluation.
    PICARD: I would appreciate it if we could discuss it now. You see, I feel that I would like to move beyond astrophysics to Engineering or Security, something that might even lead to Command.
    RIKER: Frankly, Lieutenant, I don't think that's realistic.
    PICARD: Why?
    TROI: I really don't think this is the place to be discussing this.
    PICARD: Please. This is important to me. I believe that I can do more.
    TROI: Hasn't that been the problem all along? Throughout your career you've had lofty goals, but you've never been willing to do what's necessary to attain them.
    PICARD: Would that be your evaluation as well, Commander?
    RIKER: I think I have to agree with the Counsellor. If you want to get ahead, you have to take chances, stand out in a crowd, get noticed.
    PICARD: I see.
    RIKER: Now, we don't want to lose you. You're a very good officer.
    PICARD: Just not one who stands out.
    RIKER: Why don't I talk to Commander La Forge in Engineering and we'll see what we can do.
    PICARD: But, Command?
    RIKER: Well, we'll see.
    [. . .]
    (Riker and Troi leave)
    PICARD: All right, Q, that's enough. You've made your point. Q?​


    PICARD: [. . .] Are you having a good laugh now, Q? Does it amuse you to think of me living out the rest of my life as a dreary man in a tedious job?​

    This example clearly demonstrates how Starfleet views its divisions:
    • Command (includes Starfleet Tactical)—: most respected, "lofty goals" career.
    • Engineering and Security: —fairly respected (middle of the road).
    • Sciences—: least respected, "dreary" and "tedious" job.
    It also demonstrates that Starfleet has what is, essentially, a warrior caste, which looks down on other castes.

    Someone might say that it's just Picard, not all of Starfleet, but remember that he is an exemplary representative of Starfleet, a "hero" of the show.


    Starfleet has multiple divisions but Star Trek has always been represented by the Starfleet Command/Tactical symbol on screen:


    What does that tell you about Starfleet's primary purpose?

    EDIT 1: If it were only about the pips, Picard would have stayed in the command division but with a lower rank. Clearly, the episode is making a point about Starfleet divisions as well.

    EDIT 2: The bottom line is this: Picard could have stayed in the command division as a lower-ranking conn officer (flight controller), whom he used to be in his youth. Flight controllers in TNG wore red uniforms and were part of the command division. However, the episode made it a point to change Picard's division to sciences. That's not reading "too deep" into it, that's a direct message of Starfleet's view on its divisions.

    EDIT 3: Keep in mind that, at the time, Picard is in command of a flagship, so he's expected to reflect the majority view of Starfleet or he would not be commanding a flagship. He was also meant to be the star of the show and someone the audience was expected to root for. In other words, he was Starfleet's mouthpiece or spokesperson in TNG.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
  2. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

    Jul 23, 2001
    As I just pointed out in the military thread, there is a separate agency in the Federation dedicated to exploration and scientific pursuits without weapons, combat, or rank structure, the guys who wore the gray jumpsuits throughout TNG.
  3. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

    Jun 14, 2005
    Science officers are looked down upon? Spock did not seem to be. Nor are the "castes" completely separated, besides the obvious example of Spock: Starship captain Sulu was a science officer before he switched to helm. Starship captain Will Decker was a qualified science officer. Starship captain Janeway served as a science officer.

    I'm not sure what bearing real-world promotional material should have on an in-universe question, but in TMP the star was used for all badges and the other three devices disappeared, so that was pretty much standard after 1979.
  4. GabyBee

    GabyBee Captain Captain

    Mar 29, 2010
    Didn't we JUST have this thread?
  5. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

    Jul 23, 2001
    Of course in the real world, the reason the arrowhead with the command star is used to represent the franchise is because it's easier for Average Joe to look at a symbol containing a stylized star and get that that's Star Trek than if they looked at a an eye or strange looking lower case "e".
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  6. Baxten

    Baxten Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Feb 25, 2017
    And yet look at Picard's reaction when he got to be one. The rest is just lip service for main characters.

    If you believe that, then you are in the wrong thread.

    Promotional material? Have you seen the title sequence for Star Trek 2009?


    All part of the film.

    And the star in TMP was still taken from the command/tactical division.
  7. GabyBee

    GabyBee Captain Captain

    Mar 29, 2010
    I think you're taking things a bit too literally.

    Also, Command and Tactical are not the same division. Tactical is part of Operations Division. Note that Worf, Tasha, Tuvok, etc. wore Operations gold.
  8. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 20, 2016
    The views expressed by Picard in Tapestry are his own, they are not the official views of Starfleet. He considers that job dreary, the assistant astrophysics officer in his artifical heart timeline probably does not. The issue is real heart timeline Picard did not use the position as a stepping stone for other things as pointed out by Riker and Troi. He could have been Head of the Science department and have the position of Lt Cmdr. It was good enough for Spock, just not good enough to Picard.
  9. Shamrock Holmes

    Shamrock Holmes Captain Captain

    Jun 30, 2009
    That was true during the TNG-era (one of the things that I increasingly dislike about that era). However, it wasn't always true before that.

    TOS Pilots: Helm/Navigation officers wore Command "gold" rather than the lighter khaki or beige tunics worn by engineers. Security personnel wore blue, but with a different patch than science officers. Suggesting the Security and Tactical aren't even the same, never mind part of "Operations".
    TOS: Phaser Room personnel mostly wear Command "gold" as do the regular helm and navigation officers. Security somewhat oddly wear the red tunics of "Operations" (otherwise Engineering, Communications and Support).
    TMP: Increased the number of departments to six. Helm/Navigation and Communications personnel have Gold assigment patches, as opposed to Command (which have white) and Security and Services (likely inc Mess and Yeoman, which have Grey) or Engineering and Maintenance which have Red. No specific Armory personnel are seen but while they could be with either Helm-Nav-Comms or Eng, it's unlikely they're combined with Security.
    MM: Security now has it's own department (possibly two [dark green & dark blue], tho the latter, if they aren't an error, would seem to be SpecOps rather than regular Starfleet), Armory is either part of Helm/Engineering (gold) or Nav/Comms/Sci (grey).

    Personally, I favour a slightly modified version of the TMP system (despite not being overly fond on the TMP uniform generally): Command (1-star Flag Officer and above), Operations (Engineering and Maintenance), Tactical (CO, XO, DOs, Bridge and Armory), Operations (Security and Services), Staff (Research, JAG, Diplomatic Corps).
  10. Baxten

    Baxten Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Feb 25, 2017
    Check again.

    Memory Alpha: Starfleet Tactical

    Starfleet Tactical (or Starfleet Tactical Command) was an agency within Starfleet Command.​


    Once again, Picard is an exemplary representative of Starfleet, someone the audience is expected to look at as the finest of Starfleet.


    It's not even just Picard's personal views, it's the whole premise of the episode: choose a non-violent solution with the Nausicaans at the casino and end up in a "dreary" and "tedious" sciences division; choose a violent solution and end up in a stand-out command division.



    NAUSICAAN 1: They are undari. Cowards.
    COREY: What did you say?
    NAUSICAAN: Coward. Like all Starfleet you talk and you talk, but you have no guramba.
    COREY: Why don't we find out.
    PICARD: Don't be a fool, Corey. Look, there are plenty of other people to play dom-jot with. Now just go about your business.
    NAUSICAAN: Maybe I play with her. Give her good time.
    (Corey is about to hit the Nausicaan when Picard pushes him over)
    NAUSICAAN: Orcho lok resnik. Starfleet.
    PICARD: I'm sorry, Corey. He was reaching for a weapon.
    COREY: I don't know who you are any more, but you're not my friend.
    MARTA: Goodbye, Johnny.
    (Corey and Marta leave)​



    NAUSICAAN: Coward. Like all Starfleet. You talk and you talk but you have no guramba.
    PICARD: What did you say?
    NAUSICAAN: I said, you are a coward.
    PICARD: That's what I thought you said.
    (and Picard hits the Nausicaan. Corey and Marta take on the other two but don't do nearly as well. Finally Picard gets stabbed, sees the knife sticking out of his chest, and laughs)​

    Even if you make an argument that it was just Picard's youth, what about the rest of his life after the incident? It makes zero sense that a non-violent solution lead to a "tedious" science job.

    Combine it with the message they are pushing in the latest Star Trek films. As this video about Star Trek 2009 puts it, "Let this be a lesson, kids: you can break every rule and be an a**hole and you will be handsomely rewarded."

    This doesn't look like the episode was an isolated case. This looks like an agenda.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
  11. Shawnster

    Shawnster Commodore Commodore

    Jul 28, 2008
    Clinton, OH
    How the producers and art departments use the Star Trek delta symbol (and the command starburst inside) is irrelevant. That's real-world iconography and not in any way indicative of what the people in-universe think. The fact is that the casual observer or a quick glace will easily recognize the delta and not something else like the Federation seal.

    As for "Tapestry," I think the OP is taking the quotes out of context. Picard is trying to get HIS life back. He's trying to get back in the Command track. He's not a good example of what a typical person in a normal situation (not manipulated by an alien godlike being) would think about the science divisions of Starfleet.

    Spock, a Science Division officer, rose to the rank of captain but did not follow the standard command path. He did not, for example, take the Kobyashi Maru. Crusher, in the alternate "All Good Things" was also a captain despite following the medical track. Geordi, in VOY: "Timeless" was a captain who followed the Engineering track to get there.
  12. GabyBee

    GabyBee Captain Captain

    Mar 29, 2010
    Baxten, I think you're making a conclusion, and seeking out cherry picked citations to support it. That's not how evidence based logic is supposed to work. If you want to suppose that Starfleet has some kind of internal institutional contempt for science... you are going to have an extremely hard time proving that out, because... Starfleet just doesn't. If you want a kill-happy warrior caste that spits on the nerdy scientists sort of vibe, Starfleet is not it.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
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  13. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Apr 11, 2014
    This is always interesting given Eddington's remarks regarding the "red uniform" vs. "the gold uniform." Though, he's a bit jaded and bitter, so perhaps not the best reference.
  14. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 20, 2016
    Picard is a fallible human being, the episode is about him and his choices. And sometimes humans make the wrong ones or believe they do.

    It does if that is how he chose to live his life. He was lucky in that he did not have to own his new choice for very long, Q gave him his former life back. The life he really wanted. Assuming the whole thing was not a Q influenced vision.

    The US way of life has been trumpeting that message for decades e.g Mr Trump in the White House. However it really works if you're extremely wealthy, male and very very pale skinned.
  15. Baxten

    Baxten Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Feb 25, 2017

    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

    David Marcus, a Federation scientist.

    DAVID: I've tried to tell you before. Scientists have always been pawns of the military [Starfleet].​

    It all adds up.
  16. psCargile

    psCargile Captain Captain

    Mar 4, 2010
    Yes, you can find any supporting evidence for your idea when such evidence is removed from context.

    We don't fall for it.
  17. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    The glorious Shetland Isles!
    I'd assume that many of those in the Sciences chose to do so for their love of that field. Most would likely have had very interesting and impressive careers in civilian work though joined Starfleet for the sheer diversity it would offer, the chance to be on ships making new discoveries, etc. so many may not have much interest in advancing to a position of Command. Spock was a scientist first and foremost, his role as XO seemed secondary to him (in point of fact he hadn't seemed to have undergone any command training, such as the infamous No-Win Scenario). Jadzia Dax was DS9's initial Second Officer (before Worf arrived) and would go on to command the Defiant during the Dominion War.

    I'd assume that being in the Science division then sometimes officers may be overlooked as they may not put themselves forward, seeking advancement. There will be those who do (Captain Ransom went from being an exobiologist to captain) through their various actions, as well as others who may decide to shift away from a life of research and analysis in favour of a little more excitement--so might want to go into engineering, operations or even security, wanting to get a ship of their own.
  18. Prax

    Prax Commodore Commodore

    Jan 1, 2017
    Middle West
    I think the real question we all have is:

    Was Picard the Assistant Astrophysics Officer or the assistant to the Astrophysics Officer?
    BillJ likes this.
  19. dswynne1

    dswynne1 Commander Red Shirt

    Nov 5, 2013
    I think whoever came up with this thread forgot that Spock, Janeway and a number of characters from different divisions eventually became starship captains in their own right. There is NO "caste system" in Starfleet. However, there IS an attitude in Starfleet that if you're not trying to become a starship captain, you're just playing it safe, hence the conversations in the TNG episode "Tapestry". "Real Heart" PIcard was a career Starfleet officer, but because he "played it safe", he never took advantage of the opportunities that Starfleet could provide. Same with the Reginald Barclay character, though you could say that there were psychological factors involved. At any rate, STAR TREK is about "taking chances", using the characters as vehicles for exploration of the self and the unknown. And as the Q character in "Q Who?" once stated, to paraphrase, "If you can't take a bloody nose, why don't you crawl under your bed? It's not safe out here. There are treasures to be had, both subtle and gross, but it's NOT for the timid." I think those words are good to live by, otherwise, you won't get noticed, and, unfortunately, you will be dismissed as "playing it safe".
  20. Baxten

    Baxten Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Feb 25, 2017
    I wonder how the Enterprise's officers in the astrophysics lab would react, if they knew what Picard really thought of their job.

    "Dreary and tedious, huh? In that case, you can run your own damned analyses!" ~ a random astrophysics officer.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2017