Infallibility of Star Trek

(from several years ago and the hyperlinks may or may not work)

It has recently come to my attention that a certain group of uninformed amateur film critics have been spreading misinformation about Star Trek containing numerous “plot holes and contradictions”, which they deem “nits”. This article is intended to demonstrate that such accusations are groundless and only intended to preach to the choir of the lowest common denominator skeptics, the ones who seek out plot holes in the most trivial details and argue that this somehow proves Star Trek is mere fiction.

The article I’m critiquing can be found somewhere or other. No, I’m not telling you where it is unless the author embarrasses me in public.

At one point in “Devil in the Dark,” Kirk says to Spock, “You go right. I’ll go left,” except that he points right when he says “left” and points left when he says “right.” Happens to the best of them.  This is the first plot hole mentioned, and immediately reveals the author’s ignorance of the rich Star Trek universe. As any _ HYPERLINK “http://www.fstdt.com/../../kidshealth.org/kid/body/eye_noSW_p3.html” _entry-level biology textbook_ will tell you, the human eye receives an inverted (upside-down) signal that the brain is then forced to compensate for. Similarly, the eyes of many species in the galaxy have left-right reversal of vision, which, from their point of view, would account for this seeming discrepancy. His ethnocentric opinions of how other species should view the world around them are altogether arrogant.

“In the scene where Picard and the others are transported into the courtroom [in “Encounter at Farpoint”], Q appears and Data says, ‘At least we’re acquainted with the judge.’ I jumped three feet above my sofa. ‘We’re?’ Well, well, well. Seems that Data unlearned how to do contractions after the pilot.”  Yes, folks. This skeptical individual is actually wondering that strange things happen in the presence of an entity, such as the Q, capable of altering fundamental constants of the universe on a whim. Nothing more needs to be said here.

When Data is speaking with Admiral McCoy, he says, ‘I’m an android.’ (major error) When Riker is first viewing the record of Q’s visit, when he turns from it the special effects guys forgot to fill in where his shoulder was and the actual screen can be seen.”  Gee, let’s see–“I am” vs. “I’m”. A sufficiently brisk pronunciation could readily account for the appearance of Data using a contraction. Why do these bozos always pick the most inane examples in vain attempts to stroke their ego?  “Special effects guy”? Is this person really under the impression that Star Trek is mere fiction? Unfortunately, the epic adventures of the Enterprise gang were recorded on primitive magnetic media to facilitate human viewing. This leads to many optical illusions, film defects, double-exposure and other problems that can account for this seeming boo-boo. Of course, had DVD technology already been widespread, we wouldn’t be having this particular discussion.

“Data graduated from the Academy in 2345. In ‘Conundrum,’ Data’s bio screen listed that he entered the Academy in 2341. ‘The First Duty’ established the Academy as a four year institution. The remark [that Data makes on the holodeck stating that he graduated with the class of ’78] is wrong.”  This individual again shows his basic lack of knowledge, this time ignoring the calendar used by the United Federation of Planets. At this rate, we’ll soon be seeing the uninformed arguing that since the ancient Mayan calendar isn’t in tune with the Gregorian, one of them is wrong! Federation stardates take the form 00112.2, such as 37801.5 (Data’s presumed graduation date, if you’ll pardon the pun). Once again, we see that referring to it as the “class of ’78” is only wrong if you don’t already believe Star Trek is inerrant!

“Captain Picard tells Yar to rig main phasers into an energy beam and lock it onto Farpoint station. But when the beam is engaged, it is coming from the captain’s yacht on the bottom of the [saucer section] not the phaser banks”  If this person had done his homework, he would have known that the saucer section, _ HYPERLINK “http://www.fstdt.com/../../starships.virtualave.net/galaxy/galaxy_specs.htm” _as shown in these schematics_, contains TWO phaser banks. A Galaxy Class starship would certainly be a waste of resources if it couldn’t even shoot craft below it! How dumb does he think Federation engineers are?

“As a friend pointed out, during the saucer separation sequences in Encounter at Farpoint and Arsenal of Freedom, the stars indicate that the ship was going at warp. But the saucer has no warp drive. After the separation it should have immediately [dropped] to impulse.”  What laws of physics is this person using?? Has he even heard of the _ HYPERLINK “http://www.fstdt.com/../../www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/conmo.html” _Law of Conservation of Momentum_? In case he got his physics lessons from “Science for Dummies, 3rd Edition”, _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___an outside force is needed for change in velocity. Since subspace contains no dust particles or cosmic debris to cause friction, you could hypothetically attain any speed and then maintain it indefinitely.

Dr. Crusher says, ‘send it to the starship, charged to Dr. Crusher,’ when referring to a bolt of cloth she finds at a merchant shop. Huh? I’ve never seen any Starfleet officer paid, nothing seems to cost anything on the Enterprise, and how could you have money in a society in which virtually anything can be created via replicators?”  Looking at the universe through rose-colored Federation glasses again, are we? Although nothing in Terran society seems to involve money by the 24th century, others, like the Ferengi, have fertile trade industries. Moreover, intellectual property laws are still maintained, so replicating an evening gown without due compensation would be illegal. One needs only look at the counterfeit clothing industry to understand why. This poses no problem when human inhabitants are happy to have their work enjoyed for free, but other societies are not as utopian.

“The Enterprise is being pursued by Q. Prior to the saucer separation, Picard orders a salvo of torpedoes to be fired (from the rearward Photon tubes). Eight torpedoes are fired, but when you count the detonations there are only five.”  I think the writer of this particular tidbit should get a high-resolution TV set instead of that 1940’s black and white model Granny left him in her will. _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___It’s clear that several shots can converge to produce the effect of one explosion when you don’t look carefully enough. And if a new TV doesn’t fix the problem, you have to remember that the original copies of Star Trek, recorded on holographic optical media that contained no errors, are unviewable with our backwards technology.

“Another example of Data using contactions is where Data says to Riker, ‘I can’t see as well as Geordi . . . .'”  Has it occurred to our resident skeptic that “can’t” and “cannot” are errors an AI program like the Universal Translator could easily introduce into the films? He doesn’t really think people still speak 20th Century English in the 24th, does he??

“Q takes Picard, Troi, Data and Yar to stand trial for the crimes of humanity. Why then, is Data, an android, included in the group? It makes some sense that Troi be included, being half human, but Data has no human DNA. He has no DNA, period!”  Data is an offshoot of humanity, what could be considered an artificial human. By that logic, would in-vitro fertilized humans also be unaccountable for the crimes of their forefathers??  Human society has always recognized this not to be the case, as any of a number of competing creation myths can show you. What’s next – he’ll be saying that Adam and Eve eating a magical fruit isn’t grounds enough to condemn all their descendants to a fiery death? _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___

“Riker beams aboard the Enterprise and is greeted by Yar in the transporter room. From here, Yar turns to lead him out of the transporter room and into the hall. When the door opens, we see a blue uniformed crewmember standing in the hallway. Yar enters the hall and a red uniformed crewmember passes by the door. As Riker enters the hall, the blue uniformed crewmember start walking behind him. Making you think that she missed her cue and started walking a bit late. Anyhow, Riker exits the scene behind a wall and the camera position changes to just down the hall from them. We see Yar and Riker, but the two crewmembers have vanished!”  You’d think this would actually be impressive if the two crew members who “vanished” didn’t have shore leave that let them disembark to the planet below. They merely called to be transported down while the camera was on Riker and Yar. Of course, as Arthur C. Clarke once wrote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Heh. “Vanished”, indeed.

“Look very closely at the circular stained-glass window in Groppler Zorn’s office (The best time to look is during Part II, just before the window is blown out during the alien assault.) The colored pattern on the window spells out Zorn’s name, in English, no less!”  You know this article is bottom-of-the-barrel when our author isn’t even familiar with _ HYPERLINK “http://www.fstdt.com/../../skepdic.com/pareidol.html” _pareidolia_. Out of all the chapters of Star Trek in existence, it’s almost guaranteed that strange things like patterns arising from cracks in the glass will be found by people looking to nitpick every minor detail! Perhaps, soon, he’ll be telling us he can see Mohammed’s name in a tortilla._ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___

“At one point, Picard orders that all communication be stopped and use only hard copy printouts. But when he records a log, he taps his combadge and starts talking. The worst part of this is not that he is using a radio but he is summarizing everything that’s going on. Not exactly a great time for him to go against his own orders.”  And where, exactly, did he “go against his own orders”? Does our skeptic expect him to replicate a goose feather and ink bottle and start scratching out a “hard copy”?  Even with our primitive technology, speech recognition is already a big industry. The computer must have been recognizing his spoken words on-the-fly and printing them out behind the scenes.

“[In the holodeck], Data throws a rock at the wall. It hits the wall and the image of green plants temporarily blurs into squares. Shouldn’t the holodeck dissolve the rock and show a picture of the rock landing on the ground?”  Shouldn’t boats never capsize? Shouldn’t computers never crash? Shouldn’t cars never refuse to start?” The inventive minds who designed the holodeck were still only human, after all. Everything simulated in the holodeck has real weight and mass, as evidenced by the numerous chapters were it malfunctioned and started killing people. The ability of a rock to temporarily disrupt the holographic walls may be an oversight on the part of the engineers, but it’s no real problem in the veracity of Star Trek.

“When the viewscreen replays what had happened on the way to Farside for Riker, why didn’t he see Troi? She and Tasha, Picard and Data should have figured prominently in the logs. But Riker is shocked to see her on the Enterprise at the beginning of part 2.”  The replays were obviously meant for different purposes and audiences, as anyone with the most basic familiarity of the underlying themes would understand. Little unimportant details like “Troi was there” or “Picard almost died on that away mission” or “Florida was just assimilated by the Borg” need not be included in every replay – this is no inconsistency, and the allegedly differing accounts only complement each other when taken together.

“When Troi, Yar and La Forge are under Farpoint, Riker is contacted by Yar. La Forge and Troi join the conversation. La Forge and Troi both tap their communicators to talk to Riker when Yar had already opened a channel to him. Yet, on the alien ship after Riker opens a channel to Picard, Troi can be heard on the Enterprise without tapping her badge.”  As any aficionado of the series should know, combadge signal strength varies with environment and atmospheric conditions. While the alien ship was much closer to the Enterprise and had only a thin layer of air inside, the planet contained a highly ionized atmosphere and was much farther away. That’s probably the reason why both La Forge and Troi needed to activate their communicators, boosting the signal to compensate.

The Naked Now “Just before the star collapses, the Enterprise is seen, in orbit, hovering over the Tsiolkovsky. But in the next scene, the star collapses and the Enterprise is 15 minutes away.”  Has it occurred to this (not exceptionally bright) fellow that not every minute scene need be recounted for the message the series presents to be perfectly valid? Of course not. It’s self-evident that there was a 15-minute gap on the record between the time the Enterprise was orbiting and the time it was far away.  I’ll shortly be expecting his complaint that the bathroom scenes are also omitted. _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___

“Data calls up the record for the original instance of the water problem on the first Enterprise. The graphic on the computer screen illustrates the refitted movie version of the Enterprise, rather than the original you might expect.”  Or maybe the computer simply misread file A from location B and mixed up the images? For this to be a contradiction, one would have to demonstrate that even the most unlikely scenarios I could fabricate on the spot were false. Can’t do that, can you? Coincidentally, no one’s ever been able to demonstrate – to me – that Star Trek contains inconsistencies.

“When Dr. Crusher injects herself and Picard with the antidote, they should start to recover as quickly as Geordi, but they don’t.”  Sheer genius! I guess all those patients who respond to medical treatment differently “should start to recover as quickly as” the rest. Boy, am I glad this guy’s medical education is limited to fretting about the booster shots he’ll need before 4th grade. _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___

“For glaring starters, the use of current computer terms demonstrates the writers’ eagerness to use current technical buzz words, but also reveals the fact that they failed to check to see if they were being used properly. As a programmer you should instantly recognize the error in the scene when Picard orders Riker and Data to ‘download this information to Doctor Crusher. . . .’ Perhaps this gaff is why these terms are rarely used ever again.”  Folks, remember – friends don’t let friends ignore linguistic context. This is exactly what happens when you stick to outdated 20th century usages in lieu of the modern ones. Why, only a while ago a “broad band” would be the opposite of a “boy band”. _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___

“Lutan spoke of the Ligonian’s general reluctance to accept visitors, and yet somehow the Federation had compiled an exceptionally detailed description of the planet’s culture and resources. The alien culture was, by its own admission, not as technologically advanced as the Federation; yet they had a very sophisticated transporter system that could even elude the tracking of the Enterprise sensors. Then there’s the hapless extra who caught the ‘fist-o-spikes’ glove in the stomach. In the close-up, his abdomen was clearly seen bleeding, but when they carried him off, there wasn’t a mark on him. Also, in the final scene Riker orders La Forge to set course for Styris Five, and La Forge acknowledges setting course for Styris Four.”  The first might only pose a problem if the Ligonian’s accepted no visitors at all, and even then, Starfleet Intelligence would still be able to paste together a rather detailed report on the planet, as the CIA has done for remote locales. As for the second – has this amateur Siskel and/or Ebert ever heard of _ HYPERLINK “http://www.fstdt.com/../../www.ccdump.org/dermalreg.html” _Dermal Regenerators_? Had a doctor been there and healed his skin with such a device while the unfortunate victim wasn’t on screen, then vanished back from view with no indication he was ever there, there’d be no problem.  “Fayev”, by a strange linguistic coincidence, must be the Styrian name for their planet, which in the Starfleet classification is Styris 4. Both Riker and La Forge would have been correct.

“While on the planet, watch Deanna’s arms. In the group shots, Deanna’s arms are at her sides, while in the close-ups, her arms are behind her back.”  While I’m as impressed as I could possibly be with the author’s arm fetish _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___, this poses no problem, as people tend to move around a lot while under stress anyway.

“[When Yar and Yareena beam back to the ship], Dr. Crusher runs over to the transporter pad where Crusher gives Yareena two doses of the antidote that will help Yareena to live. But, when Crusher gives her the second spray of medicine in Yareena’s right shoulder, I noticed that Doctor Crusher was wearing a small white faced watch with a small leather band.”  Dr. Crusher obviously needed to check the time to make sure it wasn’t too late to administer the antidote, and since she probably kept an antique 20th century Timex watch in her pocket for just such a situation, she put it on for the duration of the procedure.

“. . . all during the show they keep getting reports on how bad the plague on Styris IV is. But . . . the last scene of the show when they leave Ligon II with the vaccine they set course for Styris IV at warp 3.”  The crew of the Enterprise would never be so careless, so there must have been a temporary engineering problem, which they didn’t mention, that forced them to use a lower velocity while they fixed it.

“Lutan and Yareena had a mating agreement. When Yareena died and was resuscitated, that bond was broken. However, Lutan wanted Yareena to die so he could inherit her wealth. Why, when Yareena died, did they conveniently enforce one law and break the other?”  This is only an apparent contradiction, and is different than an actual contradiction. If our uninformed skeptic had even bothered to obtain and read a copy of Ligonian post-mortem laws, he would have no doubt found some loophole that prevented the other law from being enforced, such as the fact she came back to life. On the other hand, he’s amply demonstrated that he’s neither doctor or lawyer material by now. _ INCLUDEPICTURE “http://www.fstdt.com/winace/grin.gif” \* MERGEFORMATINET ___

“When LtCmdr. Data tells the joke during Lt. La Forge’s ‘shaving scene’ he says, ‘A man goes to the store to buy some kidneys. He says to the shopkeeper, “I’d like a pound of kitilies please…”‘ Data uses the contraction ‘I’d’. Then he says, ‘The shop keeper says, “You mean kidneys don’t you?”‘ Another contraction, ‘don’t’. One could [also] argue that he uses a contraction when he says the punch line, ‘Diddle I?’ because he means ‘didn’t’. Finally Data says, ‘including the kitilies, I’ve told 662 jokes . . . ‘ Another contraction, ‘I’ve’. Four in one scene!”  Data was obviously repeating, verbatim, what he overheard on the Intergalactic Tonight Show with Jay Lightyear. A tape recorder that successfully relates “I’ve” can hardly be blamed if it can’t reuse that contraction intelligently in different sentences, can it?  The last mention of “I’ve”, while at first troubling, has at least two solutions (and don’t get your hopes up, skeptics – we have plenty more!). Either Data was mispronouncing “I have” as “I. Vvv”, which is common in certain kooky dialects, or he was once again repeating what he heard on the subspace airwaves.

There are many more alleged problems listed at the place I found this article, but most of them hardly even warrant a response. Concerned readers losing their sleep over any such problems can send them in via email, and I’ll address them as I did the preceding.

And with this, the article ends. Needless to say, biased, closed-minded skeptics claiming Star Trek is full of “plot holes” and “internal contradictions” should watch the show and movies more carefully, preferably with an open mind (the type that knows there are no inconsistencies). If they’d only believe that, all these “problems” could be easily reconciled, as I’ve shown with this response.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carolina Courtland
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 19:29:08

    Someone is a big Star Trek fan. 🙂

    Reply

  2. womanintears
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 23:03:15

    umm… did i give it away?! LOL… i suppose that is a fair assessment 🙂

    Reply

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