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Jason R.
Wed, Oct 21, 2020, 5:43pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places

" Women are the people who do most of the grunt work of subsistence farming, lugging the water and last year’s baby on their backs, scrubbing the wash and cooking the meals, and they keep it up until the baby comes"

My wife is incapacitated at 6 months. But now that I think of it she never did much manual labor when she wasn't pregnant haha.
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Jason R.
Tue, Oct 20, 2020, 11:51am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Trek: Lower Decks

"This is purely anecdotal, but the Trek show--indeed the TV show, in general--that I've had the worst time talking people into watching was Deep Space Nine. All the people I've tried to talk into watching the show are deeply intelligent people with otherwise good taste, but there's never been a person who seemed enthusiastic about watching it and some have voiced disdain. In some ways it's the most critically acclaimed Trek show, but it is also a HARD sell."

I love DS9 but I never watched it on its first run and didn't discover it until it was off the air. This is odd because I grew up with TNG as a child of the 80s and DS9 came right off TNGs success at the height of the Berman era. I also did watch Voyager when it first aired for several seasons even though I disliked it almost immediately yet continued to watch.

So why is DS9 such a hard sell even to fans of Trek?

Some will say the first season was weak but that is a cop out - Voyager's was even worse. I remember hating Voyager's first season especially the dreary Kazon who I never wanted to see again after Caretaker but kept coming back. But I just kept watching anyway, week after week!

Trying to put myself back in my younger self age 13 when Ds9 came on the air? The word "dark" comes to mind, but not tonally - I mean aesthetically.

I think DS9's hard sell is due to a couple of very superficial factors: the title of the show and the art design. The title has a certain hard scifi edge to it that I think puts people off. It reminds me of Moon44. It is gritty. It is utilitarian. It sounds like an Interstellar bus terminal.

The art design is very "dark" with an ugly utilitarian Cardassian designed Station. The opening sequence is just this ugly station round and round - it is dark and monotone.

Note I am not taking issue with the opening or the space station design insofar as I don't hate them on an artistic level - quite the contrary - but the off the cuff feeling you get could be slightly offputting and alien / uncomfortable. It is anything but warm and fuzzy.

Compare this to Voyager which was a simple uncomplicated title and a sleek pretty space ship design that evokes optimism and wonder. The Voyager opening showing a pretty iconic Trekkian style starship sailing through pretty alien vistas with its booming orchestral notes evokes wonder and optimism and "light" - the total antithesis of DS9's opening.
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Jason R.
Tue, Oct 20, 2020, 9:03am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: Evolution

"Aside from the soap, unfortunately, this is a prime embarrassing example of the worst science in Star Trek being computer science. You put salt and pepper on an egg in ST and you’ve created an intelligent new life form that must be protected."

Lol 1000% agreed.

It's not the fact that 24th century science can conjure up advanced AI from nothing (Moriarty, nanites, exocomps, Emergence....) that is ridiculous but that everyone always keeps acting so surprised when it happens. It's like they don't know how their own technology works. Are they idiots or something?

Do they let children play with antimatter too? Oh wait - in Peak Performance Wesley's school project literally contains antimatter - stupid question I guess haha
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Jason R.
Tue, Oct 20, 2020, 8:44am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 1

"So, my point is this: for me, "good Star Trek" has always just been about "good writing." I have no preconceived notions about whether the story should be Big or Small, or Optimistic or Dark, or Family-Friendly or Violent, or anything like that. I just want it to be well-written, creative, compelling, intelligent, all those sorts of things, regardless of what theme, tone, or approach the writers choose to take."

I agree but only to a point. People watch Star Trek not merely because it is well written but because it is *Star Trek*.

This isn't some meaningless abstraction. Corporations pay billions of dollars for "brands" which includes the rights to call their product a certain name and tap into that good will.

Saying that you don't care what it is as long as it is "good" implies that such brands don't matter at all which is nonsense. Slap a Star Trek label on anything and some people will watch regardless of quality; that is the point of a brand!
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 15, 2020, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S3: That Hope Is You, Part 1

"Kutzman-Trek is like some kind of rapey, Stockholm-syndromey relationship, the dude drilling your eyeballs whilst whispering in your ears the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights."

Haha
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Jason R.
Wed, Oct 14, 2020, 5:58am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: The Measure of a Man

Picard's speech is rhetorically brilliant.

Riker has already established that Data is almost certainly just a machine. So Picard is in a trap - as long as he focuses on the question of Data's sentience he will probably lose because let's face it, the superficial evidence before the court favours Maddox. In that narrow argument, Picard is toast. Whether Riker turning Data off is legal it cuts to the very heart of the issue. When Picard tells Guinan Riker nearly convinced him, he's speaking for the audience. Even as a fan of the show you see Data just fall over like a puppet and you have doubts!

But then thanks to Guinan Picard realizes the way out of the trap is to ignore the question of Data's sentience, or at least shift the focus.

Alright Maddox, what do you envision happens if you win? And that is the trap for Maddox because Picard knows that Maddox will go on about the limitless potential of armies of Datas.

And suddenly, the new question becomes: what if Maddox wins and what if he is wrong, even by the slightest degree? What does that tiny 1% sliver of doubt mean?

And that's what wins it for Picard. Louvois might think that there is a 1% chance of Data's sentience and a 99% chance of him being a machine. But is she willing to gamble on setting in motion a generational tragedy? Will she be the instrument of an atrocity, the next Hitler?

Suddenly hypothetical worries about the Enterprise computer refusing a refit seem petty. Picard has brilliantly put the burden not just on Maddox but on the court and that burden is absolute, utter certainty. Because anything less is utterly unthinkable.

As a lawyer, I can certainly take issue with the laxness of the courtroom procedure but not with the rhetorical skill of the two sides and the razor sharp focus of the writing. This is the kind of episode that a newcomer can step into and enjoy without knowing the first thing about these characters. In fact, a newcomer might benefit from a certain objectivity that regular viewers who know Data might lack.

While some of the musical cues give away Maddox as the "bad guy" initially, the courtroom procedure is a perfectly even contest where both sides make splendid arguments without the writing forcing the audience to a "correct" answer.

What I especially enjoy is Maddox's conversion - it feels earned because even he is swayed by Picard's implacable logic.

This is the episode I would show a newcomer to Trek. And people hate Season 2? Bah!
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Jason R.
Mon, Oct 12, 2020, 2:57pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S3: The Ensigns of Command

Although it is laughable that no one states the obvious to the colonists prior to Data's demonstration, I do think the episode makes a pretty good allegory for a fundamental challenge in human psychology - how do you persuade people to go against their own immediate interest based on a hypothetical, invisible threat?

The scene where Data described the attitude of the various colonists to Riker (10 favour negotiation, 12 don't believe the threat is real, 5 want to fight...) rang true and would have made a great reference to the climate change debate years before it came about. Data's challenge is to show, not tell. But the underlying problem is that this is not always possible in the real world until it is too late.
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 8:24am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

"I'm not sure about that. Let's say a materialist was standing before Jesus. And let's say, notwithstanding historical accuracy, that this materialist witnessed numerous miracles performed, systematically breaking each of the laws she thought governed her reality. Matter created from nothing, bodies resurrected, illnesses cured instantaneously. Wouldn't that be enough to say, okay, maybe my worldview wasn't correct after all? Because if not, if there is really no miracle or law of the universe that could be broken to convince the materialist, what are they left with?"

How do you know he created something from nothing? Maybe he's an alien with a replicator or he's just some genius who invented it? Any sufficiently advanced tech seems magical.

Heck, even if you knew he was pulling something from something from nothing, you might just revise your understanding and just call it a new discovery in physics.

I mean the inside of a black hole is as close to breaking physical law as anything. What the hell is a "singularity" but our science throwing up its hands and saying "fuck it". It might as well be matter emerging from nothingness and we have barely any understanding of it (and arguably, it is physically impossible that we ever will!) yet you don't see astrophysicists declaring black holes proof of divinity. Whatever happens in them, they are assumed to be products of natural law as would Jesus be even if he did resurrect the dead!
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 5:59am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

"So if there is any room for proof of a divine being in any kind of test devised for humans to undertake, then I do not see it."

True but this is almost tautological in terms of a 21st century materialist framework.

A caveman didn't need proof beyond what his eyes could see. Lightning, the Sun, the Moon, even fire, would have been self-evidently awesome cosmic forces and maybe he thought they were manifestations of a God or Gods but either way he wouldn't care if they were omnipotent or merely powerful - that they were beyond his understanding was likely good enough reason to bow his head to them.

Now we consider everything to be within our understanding or potentially so.

Even the inside of a black hole, which we have no understanding of and almost certainly, can *never* have understanding of (due to the innate laws of the universe!) we do not consider divine.

So no, a modern materialist will never find "proof" of the divine because his own worldview excludes the possibility of such a priori.

But getting back to DS9 the Bajorans are not bound by a materialist viewpoint.

I don't understand how Elliott et al. can't understand that not everyone is bound by it. I guess you could say the Bajorans are stupid if you wanted to, but even if that was true, so what? In that case, there are "stupid" people by the billion today in our technological 21st century civilization so why not in the 24th, especially among an alien culture?

I agree with Peter that some just can't accept a portrayal of religion that doesn't cowtow to either an overtly atheist perspective or to a materialist one, which might as well be atheist in this context.
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Jason R.
Mon, Oct 5, 2020, 12:18pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: The Search, Part II

"Instead, we get the "The Search". It's the only good-faith piece of Federation diplomacy with the Dominion in the series, albeit all done with a cloaked, heavily armed warship which quickly breaks into a Dominion base, hacks their property, breeches their territorial space, and quickly destroys some Dominion ships."

Haha. Trent you crack me up. Are you trying to satirize or parody yourself with this post?
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Jason R.
Sat, Oct 3, 2020, 9:33am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: In the Pale Moonlight

"TNG's version of the Dominion war is basically those Crystalline Entity episodes (
"It's an unknown creature, capable of stripping all life from an entire world... insatiably ravenous for the life force found in intelligent forms like us!"). A mass murdering, planet gobbling alien and Picard priority is to talk to it. Picard woulda nuked that thing into a billion shards if push came to shove, but you saw him exhausting other options first. I've always felt this kind of writing was edgier and more subversive than what DS9 touted as "subversive" and "adult"."

I agree to a point. Choosing to spare a planet destroying entity or even just a murderous rock blob a la the horta is very subversive and distinctly Trekkian.

On the other hand even you qualify your statement "if push comes to shove..." thereby acknowledging that even Picard could not just stand by and permit people to die to avoid sullying his own hands by killing.

In DS9, push comes to shove with the Dominion. It is subversive to subject an "evolved" society to the kinds of no-win scenarios that were always neatly sidestepped in TNG.

Regarding the "ticking time bomb" this need not be a literal bomb but can be thought of as any extreme situation where survival necessitates violence or some other normally immoral response. Self-defence is the classic example as are numerous other scenarios carved out under the law from necessity to the battered wife pre-emptive "self-defence" argument.

Mal is correct that scifi and fantasy cheats on this point by providing not only the protagonist but the viewer with perfect information, squeezing out the moral ambiguity. But on the other hand, these scenarios do certainly happen all the time, especially in wartime, which makes wartime leaders easy prey for revisionist smears and takedowns by charlatans and opportunists.
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Jason R.
Fri, Oct 2, 2020, 1:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: In the Pale Moonlight

Well Peter that is the fundamental problem - many of us agree that lies are wrong except to defeat an existential or otherwise dire threat, but of course we will never ever have the level of information in real life that permits us to understand definitively if a threat truly meets this high threshold.

The vast majority would agree with Sisko, but only because of a level of knowledge that is impossible outside of fiction.

This reminds me of the torture debate that arose in the Bush years after 911. Most of the public, if their feet were put to the fire, would probably endorse Jack Bauer style methods if it was a true ticking time bomb scenario like a suitcase nuke going off in Manhattan. But even in those rare situations the act of preventing the disaster precludes any certainty that said methods were the only way to do so. It's akin to an uncertainty principle, where the act of halting a disaster makes it impossible to know if you were justified in doing so and hence taints you with the moral implications of those methods.

So we are all left with an ugly deal with the devil and a stark choice. Do we disclaim lies and torture, knowing that one day we may be destroyed as a consequence, or do we strike this deal, knowing that we will be tainted by it and become morally suspect with no chance for exoneration.

This, incidentally, goes to the heart of the Rodenberrian "evolved" humanity as put forth by Picard in TNG. It's easy to be evolved when you're flying around in a night invicible Galaxy class starship or if you're a Q or Organian or something. But that vision is nothing unless it's tested. And Sisko fails the test. Or rather, he plunges his hands in the muck so that others don't have to (to borrow a metaphor).
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 1, 2020, 8:23am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Manhunt

You know I keep coming back to these Season 2 episodes and keep enjoying myself with every one, even the fluffballs like this one.

I agree 100% with Tara's earlier comment that Troi's age is being played for laughs here in a hypocritical manner. But then again, here we have competent, charismatic Pulaski doing her thing and showing us what a mistake it was to bring back Crusher. Just having Pulaski in the show should adds a star to every episode even if she is just standing there and lending gravitas to the character.

I also liked so many little moments in this episode, from Worf's intriguing fascination with the Fishmen (and calling out Wesley on his bigotry) to Data's hilarious comic moments in Lwaxana's quarters.

This is more of a 2 star outing for me, but a fun 2 stars.
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Jason R.
Mon, Sep 28, 2020, 5:41am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

"That's like saying you'd take the French killing 15 million in the Congo, or the Brits killing hundreds of millions elsewhere, over 6 million slaughtered Jews."

If you can prove Great Britain murdered 100,000,000 people anywhere in its entire history then I will happily concede that they have Japan and Germany beat.
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Jason R.
Sat, Sep 26, 2020, 10:37am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

"German Imperialism of the early 20th century - barred by the other Empires from pillaging Africa, and expanding at home - was but the Imperialism of the Allies squeezed into a shorter, more violent time-frame."

I think I will take the British Empire over the Nazis particularly speaking as a Jew but we will have to agree to disagree buddy.
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Jason R.
Fri, Sep 25, 2020, 6:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

Well Booming I don't doubt that once the USA enters the war that is a game changer - but so much could or would have gone terribly wrong before that which could have effectively ended the war before then. Maybe Churchill's books on the series are biased but I certainly didn't get the impression from them that Germany was an easy opponent. No documentaries I have seen about the Battle of Britain suggest that it was some cakewalk - indeed but for Hitler letting himself be goaded into the blitz (rather than continuing to hammer the RAF airfields) it seems the RAF would have been vanquished and Operation Sea Lion was potentially in play. As I see it if GB falls either militarily or by suing for peace, there is no chance of victory against Germany USA or no USA - D Day is gone.

As for the Japanese, my impression is that they were much more of an upstart against the USA but then again they had some amazing tech with the Zero fighter that far outclassed the Americans and had they wiped out the USA carriers at Pearl Harbor who knows?

Maybe we are again running into another translation issue with the "underdog" expression. Frankly I am a little surprised at you agreeing with Trent's borderline equivalence between Nazis and allies - you always seem more hardcover anti fascist in these situations.
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Jason R.
Fri, Sep 25, 2020, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

@Booming I am not trying to be difficult here but the French lost. The Nazis marched through Paris. However you want to slice it the Nazis were superior where it counted. This wasn't a plucky underdog defeating a superior foe - the French were wiped out and the British nearly got annihilated at Dunkirk. No one after Dunkirk thought Germany was an underdog.

I mean the Iraqis might have had more ground troops than the USA in the Gulf War but who cares? The Arabs also had a ton more men and tanks than the Israelis during the s?Six-day-war - big deal.

As for the Pacific theater, I may have overstated my point when I said the Americans couldn't win if the carriers had been sunk at Pearl Harbor but it is a fact that destroying the US carriers was the primary objective of the Japanese at Pearl Harbor and had they succeeded it's arguable that the Battle of Midway in particular would not have been the decisive victory (or any victory) and the turning point of the war.

I am hardly the first person to suggest that the failure of the Japanese to sink the American carriers at Pearl Harbor doomed them. And I note that the Americans had just 3 carriers in 1941 at the time of Pearl Harbor, the same number they fielded at Midway. They were hardly churning the things out like gumballs!

Finally why are we talking about "heroism"? I didn't say the Allies were heroic for the record (although they certainly were). I am just disputing this suggestion that the Axis powers were underdogs in WW2.
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Jason R.
Fri, Sep 25, 2020, 12:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

Yes that was the exchange I was thinking of. I will add that with the wormhole, the Gamma Quadrant was effectively directly adjacent to Bajor which was basically Federation space by that point.
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Jason R.
Fri, Sep 25, 2020, 11:42am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

"The Dominion flat out told the Federation that *any* incursion into the gamma quadrant was a violation of their territory."
When did they do that?"

I believe it was in the episode The Jem'Hadar when the Jem'Hadar beams into ops with the Bajoran datapad and informs them that the Dominion considers any incursion into the wormhole as a violation of their territory. Then Dax responds that they won't be dissuaded from exploring the Gamma Quadrant.

"They were from start to finish. Maybe the short phase between the defeat of France and the attack on Russia.
The French army was bigger and better equipped than the German army (apart from the air force) and there the was the BEF as well. Not to forget the Maginot line.

The French were just lead very badly and made some grave strategic and tactical mistakes. Same is true for the Red Army in 41, less so in 42 and after.
When the USA joined, the production of the Allies vs the Axis was around 10 to 1."

I'll concede that the Allies were the incumbent powers after World War I and may have had some paper advantages. But the incumbent always has a paper advantage at the start.

But the Germans innovated heavily on the technological front and of course invested in the Luftwaffe to become a dominant air power. Their defeat of France was not just due to French incompetence but innovative German strategy coupled with game-changing technology such as the Panzer tank which just circumvented the Maginot Line via Belgium completely surprising the French who were apparently still fighting WW1.

You could point out that the British navy outnumbered and outclassed the German one but who cares? By the time of the Battle of Britain the Luftwaffe dwarfed the RAF and air power was what mattered in that theater just as sea power (specifically carriers) was what mattered in the Pacific theater.

I could point out fairly plausibly that had someone other than Churchill been in power after Dunkirk it's likely Britain would have sued for peace with Germany. Even assuming the US still enters the war do you see D-day without Britain? Nope.

And on the Pacific side, awfully lucky that America's carriers were on exercises during Pearl Harbor and weren't sent to the bottom of the ocean. No carriers = no chance of victory against Japan.

So yes, I am taking serious issue with this revisionist history casting Axis powers as the underdogs in this. I concur that the Dominion is probably not a perfect analogy for the Axis (the Axis never had the kind of overwhelming advantage in numbers and resources of the Dominion) but then again, I never saw the Dominion War as a proxy for WW2. The comparison with Nazis was more in political philosophy I think vis a vis the Founders.
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Jason R.
Fri, Sep 25, 2020, 8:10am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

"That is not really comparable. More like Japan declaring the Chinese sea/East Asia their domain."

The Pacific Ocean comprises 30 percent of the Earth's surface. The Gamma Quadrant is 25 percent of the galaxy. Close enough.

The Dominion flat out told the Federation that *any* incursion into the gamma quadrant was a violation of their territory.

As for the Axis being the underdogs in WW2 that is a little hard to swallow but I suppose it depends on the time frame. After the fall of France and Dunkirk? Very hard to swallow.
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Jason R.
Thu, Sep 24, 2020, 7:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S5: The Ship

@Trent I think you make some good points. I have to admit that "Churchillian" thinking is more of the same and if Trek is to be utopian it can't really be the same.

But on the other hand, if the alternative were easy, someone would have done it successfully presumably. It's hard to see how your ideas aren't just appeasement dressed up and repackaged. I mean in the case of the Dominion, they claimed the entire *gamma quadrant* for themselves. If Imperial Japan declared the entire Pacific Ocean their domain, should the USA as an enlightened power accede to this demand to avoid provoking them? More importantly, does this avoid war or make it even more likely to occur?

I don't pretend to know the answer to this conundrum. But I will again agree with you that if the answer is just matching power with more power, then where is the utopia? It's like Kirk and Lincoln just beating up the evil team in a fist fight and claiming "good" triumphed. Ummm ok but what happens if evil knows king fu? :)
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Jason R.
Thu, Sep 24, 2020, 6:55am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Melora

@Booming well that's because they probably are bothersome and problematic. If I have to, say, install a ramp so that one employee in a wheelchair (out of say 50) can access my business, that is bothersome and creates problems.

Doesn't mean I shouldn't be bothered mind you. Many good and necessary things cause bother and even problems.
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Jason R.
Thu, Sep 24, 2020, 5:36am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Melora

"The disabled person being the problem and acting difficult while the normies are not. Never seen that before...

In the original draft, written by a disabled person, it was actually the other way around. The normies were the once creating the problems and the disabled person was the one who had to deal with that but for some very easily understandable reason they didn't do it that way."

Imagine that, human beings caught up in their own narrow perspectives.
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Jason R.
Tue, Sep 22, 2020, 8:26am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S3: Distant Origin

The Voth are a very cool concept.

Of course like most Voyager ideas it turns to nonsense when you think about it for a minute.

I mean they fled Earth and ended up.... in the Delta quadrant 70,000 light years away? Ummm why? How?

Isn't that like someone fleeing New York on a raft and settling in Japan?
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Jason R.
Mon, Sep 21, 2020, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S6: Statistical Probabilities

"@Jason
First I called it the law but that seemed wrong. I wasn't sure what the correct usage in English is, judiciary?"

Honestly I'm at a loss to even guess what you are referring to here. I know of no legal field that posits itself as "science". Maybe some field that studies law from an anthropological perspective?

If I may make a supposition, perhaps this is less of an ideological dispute and more of an english translation problem?

"Science" is a methodology whose application to disciplines outside of what we call the "hard" sciences (physics, chemistry, etc...) is, at the best of times, controversial as Peter alluded. Fields like economics may have some methodological similarities with hard sciences but even economists are unlikely to tell you that what they do is on par with what an astrophysicist or epidemiologist does. And I can sure as heck guarantee that no lawyer is going to tell you law is a "science" although if you have cash in hand I know a few who will happily make the argument in court haha :)
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