Analysis

Mythos in Star Trek Discovery 1.10 Despite Yourself

This blogpost is focused on looking at how Lethe, the sixth episode of Star Trek: Discovery fits into the events and themes of the previously established universe. I’ve written similar blogposts looking at each previous episode (you can read the first here, and a full list under the Star Trek Discovery tag).

The Pseudoscience of Star Trek’s Parallel Universes

The TNG episode Parallels has Worf travelling through parallel universes .On his way back to the Enterprise from a holiday, Worf’s shuttle passes through a “quantum fissure“, which causes a “quantum flux” in Worf’s cellular RNA. As a result throughout the episode when Worf is close to Geordi La Forge, a “quantum field pulse” that Geordi’s visor sends out, interacting with Worf’s altered state, pushes him into the body of himself in a slightly different parallel universe. During this process Data confirms Worf’s account by noting that his ‘quantum signature’ is different to the rest of the crew – a line repeated in Despite Yourself.

These shifts are very subtle at first. The first Worf notices being that Picard shows up unexpectedly at a party. These differences become more divergent from the main timeline, until Worf ends up in a timeline where Captain Riker commands the Enterprise, Worf is his first officer, and Wesley Crusher is a member of the senior crew.

The coincidences of the Mirror Universe often seem incredibly unlikely – same people, children of the same parents, serving on the same ship…even though the fundamental philosophy of their society is different. But using Worf’s example justifies this. In a multiverse of infinite possibilities, he travels first to those universes most like his own, getting further and further away, but never too different. (He is always serving on the Enterprise, never anywhere else.)

Perhaps the Mirror Universe has a few big differences in it’s ‘quantum signature’ but is otherwise similar to our own, which makes it easier to access than some others. If you think of it in terms of magic rather than hard science, it works. I doubt that any of this has anything to do with the real theoretical science behind parallel universes, by Hugh Everett and others. It’s probably best to think of this level of ‘science’ in the same manner as magic – what matters is that it serves the story and is internally consistent.

(Incidentally, Burnham refers to the ‘mirror Discovery’ which I think is the first textual mention of the term ‘mirror’ in relation to the mirror universe.) There’s certainly no mention of the term in Mirror, Mirror – the TOS episode which introduced this timeline.

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Comedy

Toby Young’s Eugenics Speech

Toby Young has been mired in controversy this year, with the latest revelation being that he attended the London Conference on Intelligence, where several pseudoscientific arguments on the superiority of white and male genetics have been made over recent years.

I’ve decided to discover a memo written while constructing a speech delivered to the LCI. It might be real for all you know.

Lynne,

I’m sending you a draft copy of the speech I’m going to give to the secret eugenics conference, just to check on the scientific accuracy of my speech. [I’ll see what I can do. Though I’m not keen on the phrase ‘secret eugenics conference’.]

Welcome ladies and gentleman. And welcome also to the not so gentle men, such as the the guy in the third row with the swastika tattoo on his forehead. (Wait a moment for people to turn around.) I’m joking of course, there are no members of the working class here.

I’m here to talk to you today about eugenics, an area of science that has a negative reputation as the result of some misapplications in the 1930s and 40s. Because of these…unfortunate uses of eugenics – the whole genocide thing – many people reject the idea entirely out of hand. I personally have been no-platformed by Teach First, who deleted my blog on eugenics. [That’s not what no-platforming means. I’ve been rejected by many journals, you don’t have a right to be paid for your words in whatever publication you want.]

This conference has a long legacy of brave speakers, willing to challenge taboos. One of my predecessors at this podium, Emil Kirkegaard, argued that paedophiles should be allowed to rape sleeping children provided that they’re unaware of what’s done to them. Many of the ideas expressed at this conference and those like it will be considered controversial to mainstream ivory tower elites. But the development of new ideas requires debate. Without an in-depth discussion, can we really say for certain that it’s wrong for a paedophile to rape a sleeping child?

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