Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Statistical Probabilities"

3 stars

Air date: 11/24/1997
Teleplay by Rene Echevarria
Story by Pam Pietroforte
Directed by Anson Williams

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I don't care if the odds are against us. If we're going to lose, then we're going to go down fighting, so that when our descendants someday rise up against the Dominion they'll know what they're made of." — Sisko to Bashir, who has predicted the Federation's downfall in "Statistical Probabilities"

Nutshell: A problematic final sequence of events, but otherwise an intriguing and very effective story about the dangers of megalomania.

I didn't particularly like "Doctor Bashir, I Presume" last season. It surely had its moments, but it drowned in some horrendous scenes involving Leeta and Rom, had an unfulfilling and all-too-easy conclusion, had a central problem that felt conjured out of thin air, and when it ended it seemed like there wasn't going to be any follow-up to make the idea worth the time used to establish it. Well, here's the follow-up to the previous episode's revelation that Bashir was genetically enhanced as a child, and it's a good one. "Statistical Probabilities" is a strong hour of money-saving DS9 that gets to the heart of Bashir and his problem, tackling issues that went unanswered in "Presume."

The story brings four eccentric individuals to the station, where they're to learn from interacting with Bashir, who represents a sort of "best case scenario" for those were genetically enhanced. Bashir didn't suffer side effects as did these four, who, brilliant as they may be, exhibit social behavior that falls in the realm of the clinically insane.

The first rule of a "crazy people" story (which accurately describes part of "Statistical Probabilities") is to make sure that each crazy person has his or her own distinct characteristic. There's Jack (Tim Ransom), the aggressive, adversarial, hyperkinetic guy; Lauren (Hilary Shepard-Turner), the ever-calm, seductive man-chaser; Patrick (Michael Keenan), the plump, elderly goofy guy; and Sarina (Faith C. Salie), the pale woman who never says anything. These colorful characters seem like they were created to please an audience who simply wanted to see funny, lovable crazy people, but I don't know if "Statistical Probabilities" really needed to rely on the mental institution motif so heavily; this episode is really more about how these characters bring rise to Bashir's central problem. Nevertheless, even though they're sometimes a little cartoonish, these characters work, especially the strong-willed Jack (as energetically played by the entertaining Ransom), who proves to be a constant challenge for Bashir.

The problem faced by these four (and I suspect others like them) is that they feel useless to society, for there are many roles they're not permitted to take. An early discussion amongst Bashir and the senior staff does an excellent job of addressing why this denial is deemed necessary, while also highlighting a dilemma faced by a public that limits children who had no decision in the enhancements given to them by their parents. It's unfair to "punish" an innocent child who had no say in the matter. At the same time, however, such actions taken by the parents have to be discouraged, otherwise the procedure would become accepted and everyone would feel compelled to have their children enhanced in order to simply "keep up"—which could have disastrous consequences. I suspect the Eugenics War stemmed from a similar problem. Of course, there's the other problem that genetic resequencing is not an easy procedure, and because it's illegal it ends up being performed in "back alleys," so to speak, and not necessarily with ideal results (hence the side effects of the four people depicted here, who have spent a great deal of their lives in what is simply and ominously labeled "The Institution"). "Statistical Probabilities" does a good job of conveying these problems in the terms of a controversial issue, which makes for some interesting questions—questions which were not adequately brought into the light in "Presume."

At the same time, "Statistical" also rightly argues that these people do deserve the opportunity to contribute to society in a meaningful way. Specifically, these four begin analyzing the Dominion War, and with data supplied to them by Bashir they calculate and predict theoretical outcomes to battles and proposed compromises and agreements. They're fast and smart—and within days they come up with projections that would've taken Starfleet Intelligence months to calculate. The only problem is that they eventually come to the conclusion that the Federation can not win the war against the Dominion.

Resulting from this conclusion are well-conceived reactions by numerous characters. Bashir's reaction is to tell Sisko that Starfleet must immediately surrender or risk 900 billion casualties. A quick surrender, he adds, would result in fewer than two billion casualties. "Either way, we're in for five generations of Dominion rule." Sisko is appalled. First, there's the problem that Bashir's analyses are based upon assumptions and probabilities; second is the fact that even if Bashir could predict the future with 100 percent accuracy, he couldn't ask an entire generation of people to simply give up their freedom to the Dominion. ("If we're going to lose, then we're going to go down fighting.")

It's a particularly telling sign that Bashir makes it a point to slowly go through and explain his calculations to anyone who disagrees with him. A standout scene between Bashir and O'Brien gets to the heart of the matter when O'Brien refuses to take Bashir's statistical analysis as given. Bashir can't see how anyone would be willing to overlook such "conclusive" evidence of the Federation's imminent demise. "The way I see it," responds O'Brien, not happily, "there are two possibilities. Either I'm more feeble-minded than you ever imagined, or you're not a smart as you think you are." Ouch. Bashir had it coming, though.

What we have here is a perfect example of megalomania. Bashir and his new friends have found something in each other (as he explained to O'Brien in an earlier scene where the two played darts—a perfectly characterized scene, by the way) that Bashir has allowed himself to get caught up in. Bashir wants to give his subjects an avenue to contribute, and when he stumbles upon the war projections he's simultaneously in horror over the future of the Federation while exhilarated at the new discovery of purpose made by his friends. It's a very interesting situation for him to be in, but it's also a difficult and painful one, because people aren't likely to listen to the overly-large (and hopeless) predictions made by a bunch of "mutants." The danger here is that megalomania is not good for one's judgment—and Bashir's judgment is decidedly clouded. He should know that statistics are not the end-all/tell-all of the universe, but he badly wants to believe he's making the best decision and using his friends' gifts in a meaningful way.

The one glaring flaw in "Statistical Probabilities" is the crisis that arises at the very end of the show. In which Jack announces that Starfleet is wrong in dismissing the analysis and that his own decision to surrender should stand. In which he plans to contact Weyoun and Damar anyway, who are on the station for a diplomatic meeting. In which he talks about how he will use his access to battle plans and intelligence information to supply the Dominion with a means for a swift invasion (an action Bashir correctly recognizes as "treason"), which in the long run could "save lives." In three words: no, no, no. I don't care whether Starfleet is technically supposed to be a "military" organization or not, but it's in a war with a powerful adversary, and military organizations do not supply the casual civilian (much less an insane one) with crucial data and strategic plans that could have such extreme consequences if misused. One would hope such information is deemed "classified" and that Bashir wouldn't even have access to it.

While the intentions of this sequence of events are relevant in terms of Bashir's self-realization, the actual actions prompt nothing but incredulity. Once again, we have a microcosmic comic-book situation which claims to put the entire war situation "on the line." Such small devices that purport to impact the big-scale themes in such huge ways are very dangerous from a dramatic standpoint. It wasn't necessary in terms of this week's story, and I'm sure there could've been a way around it. All it does is make Starfleet security look like Swiss cheese. It's no wonder the odds are against them.

Despite that the way these events unfold is annoying, I did like the personal realizations that came out of them. Jack's willingness to make a decision that could theoretically affect billions (punctuated by his remark about being "the next best thing" to a god) underlines the relevant fear that "normal" people have of genetically enhanced megalomaniacs. Also, Sarina aiding Bashir in foiling Jack's plan was reasonable, and the fact that Jack couldn't even predict Sarina's "betrayal" of him made for a pretty good point: How can Jack be so sure about the future when he couldn't even predict the actions of one person in his own room? Bashir's disappointment at the turn of events definitely does a good job of bringing him back to earth, as he realizes that there's much more going on than the odds game.

In addition to its strong statements about megalomania, "Statistical Probabilities" finds relevance by reminding us that the Dominion War is very far from over. It supplies the return of Weyoun and Damar, whose working relationship reveals a Damar who finds himself at Weyoun's casual disposal even more so than Dukat did—which is interesting considering past episodes and how much Damar abhorred Weyoun's disrespect of the Cardassian power structure. There's also some pleasant humor, especially between Bashir and O'Brien in the earlier passages of the show. I only wish the ending hadn't gone so overboard. This show could've been great without some of the needless excess. It's a winner even with the flawed finale, but it could've been even more.

Next week: A rerun of "A Simple Investigation," followed by more reruns until the week of New Year's, when we're supposed to get a major Ferengi outing. See you then.

Previous episode: Resurrection
Next episode: The Magnificent Ferengi

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133 comments on this post

Mon, Jun 2, 2008, 11:24am (UTC -6)
"Also, Sarina aiding Bashir in foiling Jack's plan was reasonable, and the fact that Jack couldn't even predict Sarina's "betrayal" of him made for a pretty good point: How can Jack be so sure about the future when he couldn't even predict the actions of one person in his own room?"

I had a big problem with this. In the episode, its stated that the way the group's calculations work is that they become more accurate over time -- it is specifically a Long View type of statistical analysis. If this is the case, then -of course- Jack wouldn't be able to predict an event so close in time and small in scope as Sarina's actions; they're quite simply too close temporally and too insignificant corporally (regardless of the effect of those actions) to be predicted via the group's methodology. Much like Bashir's demonstration regarding gambling, sure its possible for wildly unusual collapses in probability to happen, but that's just the point... they're -unusual-. If you bet against the house often enough, you are going to lose. Period. If this didn't happen, then gambling would not be profitable for the house.

Bashir's logic is clearly flawed and the others of the group should've called him on it.
Mon, Mar 23, 2009, 8:22pm (UTC -6)
STD, Bashir's reasoning isn't really flawed, despite that whole bit about long-term results being more predictable than short-term ones. The key point here is that individual events can often galaxy-shattering consequences; Sisko's intervention with the Prophets that swallowed up an entire Dominion fleet is 100% unpredictable and changed the entire course of the war. So much is not included in even the best projections as to render them fairly hopeless in predicting large-scale events.
Wed, Jun 3, 2009, 8:32pm (UTC -6)
sounds like Asimov's Foundation books, and the theory of Psychohistory.
Tue, Jun 30, 2009, 7:50am (UTC -6)
I found it odd Worf was the one to mention how genetic engineering made things unfair for other humans. Things are already unfair, there are races that are smarter than humans, stronger than humans, with more abilities than humans, and in a few cases all of the above (see Vulcans).

I would've thought a Klingon that lived amongst physically weaker humans would've been more optimistic. But this might have something to do with his pessimistic law abiding mindset.
Fri, Oct 30, 2009, 8:29pm (UTC -6)
I really hated this episode for it's single glaring logical flaw that rendered it completely pointless.

As mentioned in a comment above me, these geniuses could not have predicted the Prophet's interference in the taking of the station, so their prediction for that event would have been wrong.

There are so many potential cataclysmic events that could destroy the dominion:

- a meteorite strikes the founders homeworld, killng them all... the vorta and jem hadar starting infighting and the invasion collapses

- as they push further into the alpha quadrant, the jem hadar encounter a virus that is lethal to them thanks to a flaw in their DNA. The virus has a 2-year incubation period and in extremely virulent, so by the time they realise what is happeneding they entire race is already infected. Within 5 years there isn't a single Jem Hadar left in the universe.

- Q turns up and uses his genuine godlike powers (as opposed to the founder's fake godlike powers) to push the dominion back through the wormhole and seals it forever

I could go on for days. In fact, the further in the future you try to predict, the more likely it is that something of this type will occur, ergo by the time you've gone out 1000 years it's almost guaranteed that something will occur that you didn't anticipate that will change things completely.

What I really don't understand is how the writers can get through producing an entier episode script and not realise this. They could include it in the story and still make the episode work, so are they just lazy?

Ruined the episode for me.
Sun, Nov 1, 2009, 6:15am (UTC -6)

I don't understand how the fact that black swan events happen equates to a logical flaw in the episode. Outlandish scenarios could happen to disrupt the integrity of the Federation as well.

The characters were working within the likely war scenarios that followed on from the information they were given, and in those they felt the Federation was hopelessly overmatched. Interestingly, several of their predictions that sounded unlikely at the time, such as the Romulans joining the alliance and the Cardassian rebellion, did in fact come true.

It is possible that the Jack Pack, or even Starfleet at the time, did not know or was still not certain that no more Dominion reinforcements would ever be able to come through the wormhole. This seems as if it ultimately made Dominion defeat only a matter of time.
Tue, Mar 9, 2010, 11:15am (UTC -6)
Odo's deadpan "I know, I honor you with my presence" was one of the funniest lines ever.
Mon, Jun 14, 2010, 8:23am (UTC -6)
I loved this episode, and was not bothered by it slight illogicality. It's true that probabilities like these become more accurate the farther into the future you go, and that while they are good at predicting the actions of large groups of people (say, 900 billion ;)) they are not so accurate for single individuals. I think that was the point of the episode and it came out beautifully.

In response to Nolan, this episode was actually based on Asimov's Foundation books and the theory of psychohistory. See Memory Alpha for more info.
Jake Sisko
Fri, Nov 11, 2011, 5:27pm (UTC -6)
Overall, I liked the episode; I like any episode that focuses on interesting characters. The colorful characters, alienation, and the new sense of purpose they found in predicting the outcome of the war made for some very interesting situations.

The only thing I didn't like about the episode was the idea that predictions get more accurate over time. They don't, at least according to Chaos Theory (butterfly effect). Later states have an incredible dependency on even the smallest factor among the initial conditions, which as we saw with Sarina, are not always considered or even known.
Mon, Jan 9, 2012, 8:05pm (UTC -6)
I liked this episode. Yes, there were glaring logic and plot holes, but to only acknowledge these shortcomings would be to completely miss the point of the show. This episode is classic Trekian Humanism: One person, no matter how small, overlooked, or insignificant appearing, can make a difference, no matter how overwhelming the odds.
Thu, Jan 12, 2012, 8:34am (UTC -6)
Two things that I never understood about this episode:

1) In the third season episode that's all in Bashir's head, wouldn't his big secret come out?

2) Knowing Bashir, he would have studied up on genetic engineering. So why was he so in the dark on the Klingon genetic experiments that led to the flat-headed Klingons in the fourth season of Enterprise?
Sean McCormick
Tue, Feb 7, 2012, 6:16pm (UTC -6)

1) When that third season episode was written, nobody had plans to make Bashir into an genetically enhanced superhuman two years later.

2) When that fifth season episode was written, the writers did not know, that someone would write an episode, explaining the klingon looks in the Classic Series that way eight years later.
Nebula Nox
Tue, Mar 27, 2012, 9:45am (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this episode immensely and thought it was fairly realistic. As O'Brien observed, the savants were not nearly as smart as they thought they were. How many times have scientists or mathematicians or even financial types created models and run thousands of simulations - while nevertheless missing key assumptions? And given the Jack Pack's lack of experience in the real world (as well as their arrogance) they would be extremely liable to this problem.
Paul York
Mon, May 28, 2012, 4:36pm (UTC -6)
It turns out that they were wrong; the Dominion did not win. So much for statistics -- what Mark Twain called "damned lies." And yet statistic and probability calculus and cost-benefit rations are commonly used to make momentous decision in our day and age. I see the episode as a commentary on that sad fact - a social commentary if you will -- except that economists are the ones doing the calculating and they are listened to by governments and corporations -- not ignored as crazy.
Wed, Jun 20, 2012, 9:46pm (UTC -6)
Bashir was specifically named the station's intelligence officer, so it makes sense that he would have access to information nobody else on the station does except perhaps Sisko. What doesn't make sense is why he would still be trusted with any intelligence after handing it over to the certifiably insane.

Otherwise, I'm with Neil, above. It is nonsensical for anyone to take these yokels' analysis seriously in a world in which, three episodes previously, the gods erased an entirely enemy fleet. Logic dictates delaying any surrender until the last possible moment to maximise the opportunity for the gods to step in again and tip the scales.

Mind you, it's not this episode that's at fault. It's the silly wormhole aliens in the first place. We know that Q isn't going to change the course of some munane war, because that isn't the sort of thing Q does. Q just changes whatever's necessary to flabbergast and annoy some human plaything, and then changes most of it back again. But the wormhole aliens now have a track record of just wiping Sisko's enemies out of existence on an inexplicable whim. Now that they have done that pretty much all sense of real danger has drained from the series and it is impossible to take episodes like this seriously anymore.
Wed, Jun 20, 2012, 11:55pm (UTC -6)
This is a weird episode for me. It's full of a lot of trite anti-intellectualism. Those "smarties" and their math? Well, they're just wrong, HAH! You shouldn't think, just DO STUFF! That's definitely one of the main themes with them getting rid of the smart people and Bashir playing dabo towards the end of the episode.

And it is such a ridiculous strawman they setup with the predictions of the future. Why did the predictions change overnight? Why couldn't they change just as much if they spent another day at it? If Earth gets destroyed by the Dominion (ironically as Weyoun suggested to Dukat in an earlier episode), doesn't the entire prediction fall apart? With elements like that in play and battle tactics, does it really make any sense that you could have confidence in those predictions? What if the Prophets destroy a couple thousand enemy ships again? What if another power shows up? What if the Borg attack the Dominion? What if some actual peace treaty is worked out? What if Starfleet poisons the planet needed to make white so the Jem'Hadar die? There are dozens and dozens of ways their predictions couldn't be so ironclad -- you simply can't have things "cancel" out like that, as their own overnight change shows.

What makes this episode about attacking a strawman intellectual is that no one attacks their predictions on these grounds. Sisko doesn't point out any of these extremely obvious flaws. Nor does O'Brian. And no saying "It's just statistics" isn't a cogent argument, because statistics can be extremely useful. Instead they make purely emotional arguments, as if that should be the basis of wartime strategy.

So instead we have obviously flawed thinking treated as good logic for the critical moments of the episode. As though what Jack did made some sort of reasonable sense. Heck, his whole plan is an example of how their thinking is flawed. If the Dominion getting those plans changes the outcome, then clearly there are massive things their models don't include. This is especially glaring since the founders are certainly some of the best intelligence operatives you could ask for. The Dominion could STEAL those plans, certainly that's something worth considering...well, apparently not according to the intellectuals in this show.

In the end, Bashir does touch on this lightly. Instead of using that as a way of shifting the work and focus of what they are doing (and instead of doing it far, far earlier), he uses it to dismiss their intellectualism. Their thinking is worthless because they didn't predict the actions of one person. But we earlier saw that their thinking WASN'T worthless with how they analyzed video...but that doesn't matter now. Intellectuals are wrong, and we certainly aren't going to use their fantastic mental capabilities. Go away intellectuals, we'll just trust in random chance to win this war! There's certainly nothing your dirty THINKING can do to help. If you make one mistake (that any idiot, including Bashir, should have been able to point out far earlier), then you'll only make mistakes. Chance though...chance never makes mistakes, or at least there's no one you can blame if it screws you over. That's better....right?....right?

Ugh, I like the characters well enough, but the episode was horrible, imho. It does not seriously consider what is going on and whether it makes sense.

In response to Nic, if they based this on the Foundation by Asimov, they did a crappy job at it. First, the whole plan in Foundation was to use that predictive ability to steer a course through history. This is profoundly pro-intellectual, and makes sense. If you have this capability, you can use it to make things better. Instead in this episode, "nothing" produces any change of any kind....except the changes that would change things (like the plans). Bizarre. Secondly, in the Foundation, predictions got more accurate with more people, but less accurate over time. A huge point of the books is that there has to be a secret force at work to make sure the plan stays on track, because it WILL diverge from what was predicted over time. The intellectuals in the books fully acknowledge you can't predict things completely and that you have to plan for the unexpected. This episode though treats such considerations as some sort of proof that analysis and thinking are just a bad and senseless thing to do.

Again, I hate this episode.
Latex Zebra
Sat, Jun 30, 2012, 6:43pm (UTC -6)

Have to agree. Watched it again tonight and had completely forgotten about that line and cracked up.

With this episode you could look at the bigger picture, that even in a Federation Utopia mental health issues are still something best dealt with by hiding people away.
Which is exactly the problem these days.

Sometimes TV needs to be fun though and this was just that.
Gaius Maximus
Wed, Sep 5, 2012, 8:12pm (UTC -6)
Laroquod - The only time I remember Bashir being called an intelligence officer was when he was picking up Worf's duties while he was off with Martok in "Soldiers of the Empire." Presumably, Worf took over again when he came back at the end of that episode, and any intelligence Bashir would have had from that time would be hopelessly out of date by this episode. The war hadn't even started yet, after all.
Tue, Oct 16, 2012, 10:11pm (UTC -6)
Just saw this ep for the first time last night. It was nice to finally revisit the Dominion War, which had been basically shunted aside since "Sacrifice of Angels". It was interesting hearing a raw discussion of the costs of the Dominion War, as well as the current course of the war. The thing that continues to bother me though is that the Dominion, pinned down in the Alpha Quadrant without the ability to obtain reinforcements/supplies, still seems utterly invincible and the Federation appears to be on the losing side despite some pretty significant victories under its belt since the end of S5: The destruction of the shipyards (Call to Arms), the destruction of the main K-W facility (A Time To Stand), the destruction of the array (Favor The Bold?), the retaking of DS9 (Sacrifice of Angels) and, most significantly, the apparent destruction of the reinforcements from the GQ in the Wormhole and the Prophets' intervention to prevent further Dominion reinforcements from the GQ (Sacrifice of Angels). Given those losses, it's hard to believe that the Dominion was, at this this point, still poised to win and the Federation so desperately losing- so much so that even Bashir was convinced that the Federation should surrender! It's a relief that he finally came back to his senses after Sisko and O'Brien (and even Quark to some extent) sobered him up a bit (and both Sisko and O'Brien were on target with their reactions to Bashir's suggestion). I was aghast at Jack's follow-up plan to deliver classified intelligence to Weyoun and Damar but thankful he didn't succeed. Seeing Weyoun and Damar hiding out in a storage bay waiting for him to show up was priceless, as was Odo's reaction to finding them there. LOL. All in all, it was an interesting and thought-provoking episode. Although I consider myself an intellectual, I realize that "the numbers" aren't the end-all/be-all of our existence and that there are significantly more variables in any given situation than can be adequately anticipated/accounted for in "the numbers" as the conclusion of the Dominion War approx 1 year later proved.
Tue, Nov 27, 2012, 3:08am (UTC -6)
To clarify: Bashir says "Starfleet Command was so impressed, they're giving us classified information regarding Starfleet's battle readiness".

I liked this episode but, as much as I understand that Jack (and the others) would believe in no alternative to statistics, I didn't buy Bashir believing it.

What pains me is that these four characters took so much pleasure in being useful and at the end, they're just dismissed. (Being accused of treason wouldn't stand as they are clearly institutionalized and labeled as non-fit to make their own decisions). These persons want to be useful - those who must be punished are their parents, not them - I'm sure the 24th century Federation could find something useful for them to do, instead of keeping them hidden in an institution.
Sun, Feb 3, 2013, 5:49pm (UTC -6)
I find Weyoun's character is juast as enjoyable as Garak or Dukat. His role was small this time, but I like how a line like "Besides, I think it's exciting" is said with that grin/smirk. Excellent actor.

A negative note: I think the last couple of episodes show DS9's sexist side a bit, seeing that they featured naive sex bomb Leeta, the sex-crazed 'evil Kira' and this time the mutant nymphomaniac. But I guess DS9 redeems itself somewhat with tough and no-nonsense female characters like Kira and Dax.
Lt Cmdr Black
Wed, Aug 14, 2013, 7:01am (UTC -6)
Surely Damar and Weyoun would have Starfleet security escorts whilst they were on DS9 and wouldn't be able to walk around freely to the extent that they can go out for clandestine meetings in storage bays?
Sun, Oct 27, 2013, 9:03pm (UTC -6)
Turning Bashir into a superhuman was a poor decision. The thought that anyone could predict far into the future with any degree of accuracy is absurd.

Sun, Jan 26, 2014, 11:37pm (UTC -6)
I actually love this episode, and it's one I'm willing to watch more than once. I'm not even bothered by the conflict at the end, as Jammer is. To me, this is Trek at its best: strange people, dangerous political implications, moments of good humor, and actors that do a good job. I love it, and whatever flaws people assign to it, real or imagined, are meaningless to affect the entertainment value. Four stars.
Thu, Feb 6, 2014, 1:33pm (UTC -6)
A ridiculous episode, with EVERY single cliché about "crazy people" in it: the silent one, the slutty one, the nice idiotic fool, the extravagant one...

All of that crossed with every single cliché and stupidity about "intelligence":

1/ It's absurd that people who have been locked away in an asylum for their whole lives with no exposition to the outside world (as we're told) could be such people's people they can read a face and deduct the wildest and most precise things about! That's not intelligence, it's insight. Plus it's worth mentioning that in real life, people with Aspergers (which these four "idiot geniuses" are obviously based on) are PARTICULARLY inept at reading faces.

2/ Statistical projections work by scenarios, since different courses of actions (which are not predictable) lead to different consequences.. "It's a statistical model that becomes more precise as time passes" - this is absurd. No amount of Trek techno-babble can make up for that. No statistical model can work this way, unless you can predict the future. Obviously, the farther from us the more unknown.

Anyway, a ridiculous episode I could barely go through... Up until "Sacrifice of Angels" I was loving season 6 but these past few episodes have been a complete let-down. Just like in season 5 - strong beginning, strong finish (hopefully) but the middle is just a bunch of filler-episodes. Very disappointing.
Wed, Mar 26, 2014, 8:24am (UTC -6)
I like humor but not buffoonery. The cartoon-cutout nutcases were an insult to viewers' intelligence. I might have liked a well-conceived show about genetically-engineered people who were depicted as more realistically disturbed and suffering.

Additionally, as soon as the savants identified the reason the Dominion was willing to sacrifice a lot to get Planet X for the manufacturing of ketracel white, the clear solution was to pollute Planet X on the sly and cause the extinction of the fungi the Dominion wanted.

I originally thought that Bashir's genetic manipulation had merely turned him from subpar to very smart and physically above average. It's irritating that he is now depicted as a cartoonish Math SUperhero with the brain of a computer.

Overall, worth skipping.
Wed, May 7, 2014, 4:04pm (UTC -6)
This is a prime example of an episode that I want to like more than I did. Despite that, this IS a good episode. The only glaring flaw for me was Starfleet allowing access to restricted information. I don't care how impressed they were with the analysis given by the "mutants".

I really enjoyed the statistical probabilities versus chance enigma presented here. I know that scientific predictions can be done accurately when based on certain undeniable laws. But when it comes to predictions involving potentially chaotic variables (i.e., people) it is much more difficult as one person or a group of people can cause unpredictable results.

Good episode that could've been fleshed out a little better. Just a matter of a few scenes that didn't quite resonate the way they had potential to. Otherwise it's a keeper with some great dialogue and elements worth pondering on.

3 stars.
Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 1:36am (UTC -6)
The mathematical content of the show isn't the point. But let me suggest that the mathematical content was pretty much spot on, at least under a few assumptions.

In particular, comparisons to "chaos" or "the butterfly effect" are not fruitful. The analyses Bashir and the Mutants were doing were more like predicting the climate than predicting the weather. Predicting the climate (i.e., average weather) can be done with high accuracy, even if the weather is varied.

So what are the assumptions? That 24th century humanity has discovered economic and political models that explain shifts in power, and that these have calculable expectations.
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 12:06pm (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this episode. Albeit I enjoyed the next (Jack/Lauren/Patrick/Sarina)episode more.

This episode made me think of 'The Voyager Conspiracy'.

Can't believe how easily Sisko and Star Fleet accepted their recommendations...

2.5 stars.
Sat, Sep 27, 2014, 2:04am (UTC -6)
Someone already mentioned it, but I like how Bashir suggests that a Dominion-occupied Federation will produce an uprising on Earth. It was just a few episodes ago that Weyoun projected that as well and suggesting annihilating its population.

What does that say about the soundness of Jack's (and co.'s) projections? They could very well be solid - but it also shows off how the Dominion minds are probably as good or equal to a genetically-enhanced human. Both the Jem'Hadar and the Vorta are engineered to be as good at their jobs as possible. The Dominion hasn't enduring for 10,000 years because of chance.

What's kind of interesting is how the Dominion and Federation are again at odds with one another. The Feds outlaw genetic tampering while the Dominion are built on it. The superiority complex it develops is neat, too, as the Founders (physically superior to everyone else) take it on themselves to control everything. Part of it is for their own security, yes, but there's never any debate on the part of the Founders about how morally or ethically sound they are. No - they're better, and they need not answer to anybody.

I like this one, although I didn't like it the first time around because of the unusual characters and performances. Though I still find them a little bit over-the-top, I like Jack and co. More than that, I like Bashir and I like seeing him have something to do except mope.

I really like how Bashir has changed up to this point in the series. He's very much the same character, but is far more sobered by the war, death, and disease he's had to deal with in his first five years out of medical school. I've read that Siddig was pissed off about the genetics thing and deliberately underplayed the lines written to show that off (a good move, I think), but I don't think we're seeing actor bitterness. No, it's just Bashir having grown up really quickly and having to deal with some heavy, heavy stuff.

Oh, and speaking of heavy stuff. I loved O'Brien's reaction to the bad news projections. Nothing that draws attention to itself, but Meaney was perfectly dejected in that scene.

I'd think higher of this one without the fairly tension-less bit about Jack contacting the Dominion, but it's still fairly acceptable since it's not really overplayed.

Overall, a recommended "texture" episode. It doesn't push the plot forward, but adds some nice nuance and intrigue to a few running storylines (the still-simmering conflict, the Damar-Weyoun relationship, and Bashir). This type of episodic fleshing-out of major storylines and characters is what DS9 does best. Though there are mis-steps, it's a great way to do arc-based narratives without being breathlessly plot-centric every week. 3 stars.
Wed, Dec 17, 2014, 12:53pm (UTC -6)
Agree 100% with Jons. This is beyond absurd. How ironic that a show about intelligence insults the viewer's so much.
Fri, Dec 18, 2015, 12:25pm (UTC -6)
I overall liked this episode for much of the reasons Jammer pointed out. However, I am really concerned with the way Bashir and co. came up with "conclusive statistics" that Starfleet would lose the war and that more could be gained ultimately by surrendering.

Okay, predicting the future with math was obviously influenced by Asimov's Foundation novels. And I give credit to the writers for being familiar with his work and trying to work a "psychohistory" type plot into the show. It just bothers me that Bashir would actually buy the math himself. He's been on the front lines throughout this series, and he knows how small factors could make his equations come apart like a house of cards. It really stretches the limits of the audience to believe the Bashir, a loyal officer, would even consider surrendering as an option, math or not.

Fortunately, Bashir does fall in line when his plan gets shot down by Starfleet. But to think that he would be so bamboozled by impossibly advanced math really hurts the character. It brings his loyalties into question. If Bashir had a chance later to collaborate with the Dominion in order to spare lives, would he do it? Has Bashir learned a valuable lesson about trying despite the odds? "Inquisition" will later touch on these questions, but if you still had this episode fresh in your mind you might actually side with Sloan, when he was meant to be depicted as a villain in this later episode.
Fri, Dec 18, 2015, 9:36pm (UTC -6)
I'm not horribly disappointed that Bashir didn't catch on to the error of his ways. Being super-intelligent doesn't necessarily mean you are also super-aware of your limitations and underlying assumptions. But it does seem strange that nobody else pointed out the blatant error in his analysis. This is especially true given that a giant game changer - the Prophets wiping out the Dominion fleet - just happened not too long ago. Surely the psychohistorian crew didn't anticipate that event.

Actually, perhaps the biggest misstep of the episode is the lost opportunity to tie this into the overall story arc further. I mean, while Bashir and company were wrong, they were only wrong by their assumptions. They were working on the assumption that the war would continue under "conventional" means. And, presumably, their calculations were correct in that sense. But they assumed that meant only two options: 1) lose the conventional war or 2) surrender. They never considered the third option: switch to a new strategy.

Which, of course, is exactly how the war was won in the end. It would not surprise me that the endgame of the war had been thought out yet by the writers, but Odo's disease could have been foreshadowed here.

They could have mentioned unconventional warfare as a possibility, as a flaw in the thinking of the geniuses. And perhaps then they could have questioned what sort of new strategy could be devised. Perhaps they even mentioned this to a shadowy higher up in Starfleet, who dismisses it in a vaguely offsetting kind of way. And then later, when Section 31 is introduced, Sloan could specifically comment on this episode and the need for an alternate strategy. And of course, we would eventually learn what that strategy was.

Yeah, not a huge deal, but it's better than Bashir jerking all the way to one side ("this is 100% true!") and then all the way to the other side ("our analysis is bollocks!") in the span of 20 minutes. Give some more weight to it.
Thu, Jan 21, 2016, 10:01am (UTC -6)
An asinine episode. Not that you can't tell from the title alone. "Statistical probabilities"? What other kinds of probabilities are there?

1 star.
Diamond Dave
Mon, Feb 1, 2016, 2:09pm (UTC -6)
Tricky one to mark this. I like the performances, but the nature of them makes it a difficult watch. I like the plot, apart from the speed with which Bashir goes to cheese-eating surrender monkey and back again. I like the bravery of portraying mentally ill people on screen, I like less the cliched roles in which they're portrayed. I like it, and I don't. 2 stars
Mon, Feb 29, 2016, 1:09am (UTC -6)
I have to admit, I couldn't even make it through the teaser of this one. Jack had one too many "Hm? Hm?"s in there. Jammers recap will have to suffice as a substitute. It's the only episode I've skipped to date.
Sat, May 28, 2016, 2:13am (UTC -6)
I suppose one's enjoyment of "Statistical Probabilities" ultimately rests on whether or not you like the "Jack Pack". Personally, I like them just fine. Sure, they're kind of cartoony and aren't used to their full potential - Jack sometimes comes across as little more than a guy who has had WAY too much caffeine, Patrick doesn't act very childlike aside from crying in one scene and Sarina doesn't really do anything until the end. But, they're wacky and enjoyable enough for me; and the actors do a really fine job with the material.

But what I love most about the episode is the fact that this might very well be the most right-wing outing Trek has ever given us. Let me lay down this beat for you, see if you pick it up.... What we have here, aside from a well-conceived story about the dangers of megalomania, is a tale about how centrally-planned societies simply cannot work. It's all basically a big middle finger to Plato's "The Republic", which I greatly applaud because Plato was.... well.... kind of insane and rather authoritarian in his philosophy (I've always much preferred Aristotle and his focus on the individual). You can have your philosopher kings running everything, trying to determine was is best for everyone else. But, no matter how intelligent they are - they can even be genetically enhanced uber-geniuses - they can't predict the future and they will never be smarter than millions (in the case of the Alpha Quadrant, billions or possibly trillions) of decentralized, local actors working on the ground in real time. Jack may be one of the smartest - or even *the* smartest - person alive, but he still could not see what would happen based on the actions of one individual. You can centralize control all you want, but in the end it's individualists who will win the day - that is just the nature of humanity.

Trek has always had a very healthy respect for individual rights (just look at what makes the Borg so scary, after all). But, it also has a decided tendency to glorify centralized control of society at large. So, this is a rather stunning break from Trek orthodoxy. Or.... maybe I'm just reading way too much into a story about a bunch of zany mutants. :-P

Peter G.
Sun, May 29, 2016, 1:40am (UTC -6)
@ Luke,

That's an interesting take on the episode. I always saw it as being more about how there is too much chaos and unpredictability to know how things will turn out, and that logic by itself is no substitute for hope and faith. Jack and the others would, after all, have been entirely correct except for the small matter of the prophets intervening and eliminating a Dominion fleet. That's another instance of a local event involving one decision that changed the whole course of the war. Granted, *no one* took the prophets seriously until then, but still, it showed that Sisko's faith (in the prophets, in this case) was just as important to his victory as his tactical knowledge.

I guess in the schema of American politics a message about faith still veers toward the right-wing and so that parallels the point you made about central planning.

One thing I would note, mind you, is that one should not confuse "central" planning with totalitarian regimes that are structured as bureaucracies. Historically we've seen some instances of the latter, but to date we have seen zero instances of a completely centrally planned democracy, for example. It probably can't work at present since, frankly, you'd need a computer AI to coordinate it, but in any case I don't think the dichotomy between "individual freedom" and "central planning" applies to the Star Trek universe, where it's clear that it is, indeed, possible to both have a humane and just society that is centrally planned due to technological capabilities we don't have. That's something to aspire to in the future, and doesn't require us to suggest that we need to move towards total central planning right now. Just a thought.
Joey Lock
Wed, Jul 27, 2016, 10:12pm (UTC -6)
What I appreciated most about this episode was the way it basically showed that people who consider themselves smart, bright geniuses who believe they know everything because they have higher qualifications are inherently flawed with their almost inherent sense of arrogance that anything they say is correct simply because they're smarter.

The conversation between O'Brien and Bashir was great, O'Brien is the everyman, the normal average joe who has years of experience and is going to be the one dealing with the actual situations whereas Bashir represents the ones who sit behind the desks with their knowledge and comes up with probabilities, then proceeds tell the regular joes what they should and shouldn't do simply because of a few calculations and assumptions they've made, rather than personal experience, despite all the statistical probabilities that go into stock markets these days, they still can't seem to predict stock market crashes and fluctuations very well because statistics alone aren't enough.
David Pirtle
Fri, Dec 9, 2016, 10:54pm (UTC -6)
This episode had me cringing from the opening scene, with its one-dimensional caricatures of the mentally ill standing in for genetic experimentation gone wrong. I kept waiting for it to get better. Didn't happen.
David Pirtle
Fri, Dec 9, 2016, 11:01pm (UTC -6)
And by 'better' I mean less offensive.
Sat, Dec 10, 2016, 1:37am (UTC -6)
@ David

It's interesting. I've been reading another review site that calls out Star Trek's offensive analogies, and it's just got me thinking how the views toward this franchise has changed in the new contexts provided by the passage of time.

Take this episode for example, today, it's rife with offensive portrayals of mental illness. As if presenting what an outsider thinjs mental illness looks like, then discussing it. Problem is, in the 90's this is what the 'common' idea of mental illness was. Of course, if this episode were about mental illnesses perception, then maybe it wouldn't use offensive stock depictions. Instead thus episode seems to be focused on how the mentally ill have a place in society and should have a role in it.

Of course these don't excuse it today, but it does reinforce this growing idea that Star Trek as a whole isn't made for minorities or people experiencing the issues it brings up. The Original series had to use analogy to get around the network, as did TNG, and at the time it was clever, but today, in the more open environment, I'm beginning to think these messages were aimed at straight white men.

The point is to get the dominant power structure to look at all these issues and say "hey, that's not cool, look what this type of behaviour is doing to people. Look were we as a species could be." and because its gotta get past the network and reach that specufic audience, not to mention being largely (though not completely) written by members of that audience, that outside the issues portrayal ends up being used.

For example with this episode; "Here's a bunch of mentally ill people, you recognize this, this is a common depiction of mental illness, you've seen this in the popular media, but look how marginalized they are." if course, since popular opinion of mental illness/race/gender have changed, partly due to the influence of Trek, so many of these depictions become offensive and trite.

So much of Trek has been about opening such topics for discussion, but since those discussions have now happened, and society has (hopefully) grown more open and accepting, Trek now looks outdated in it's messages.

Moving forward, Trek has not only got to talk to the already established white male power structures, but to the recently empowered minorities who are looking for validation of their identities that past Trek could not provide as consistantly due to the culture it was made in.

Course, I'm also a so-called "normal" (I'm really not) straight white man, so I fully acknowledge my percpective is skewed and biased itself, and I have no real standing to discuss these details in any specific detail. And I apologize if this view offends anyone, it's just been percolating a while and I thought I'd share it and see what others thought.
Peter G.
Sat, Dec 10, 2016, 8:33am (UTC -6)
@ Nolan,

"Take this episode for example, today, it's rife with offensive portrayals of mental illness. "

No it is not. You're reading into it what you want to about contemporary issues, when the subject matter is nothing of the kind. The 'mutants' in this episode are not mentally ill, they effectively have brain damage as a result of their genetic resequencing. You can't say what someone suffering from genetic alteration gone wrong ought to look like, because the technology hasn't been invented yet. There is, moreover, no contemporary equivalent to what Jack and the others are going through, as they really are being punished in a sense for what their parents did, which makes this true science fiction and not merely a modern issue dressed up. Whatever else you impute onto it is of your creation and not present in the material itself.

"Course, I'm also a so-called "normal" (I'm really not) straight white man, so I fully acknowledge my percpective is skewed and biased itself, and I have no real standing to discuss these details in any specific detail. And I apologize if this view offends anyone, it's just been percolating a while and I thought I'd share it and see what others thought."

You need to know, and I'm quite serious when I say this, that this type of view of self veers far away from the Trek ideal, not towards it. Perhaps you don't endorse the Trekkian world view, which is fine, but if you do consider that its humanist perspective suggests that every person's viewpoint is important, that no one is unfit to speak his mind, and that skin color and sex do not dictate whose opinion counts.
Sat, Dec 10, 2016, 1:42pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G.

In this edition of "If I had an edit button" I would have used it to make my comment in response to. David Pirtle , I'd fix the spelling mistakes caused no doubt by writing this at 3 AM on my phone and I'd definitely throw the word "potentially" between "it's" and "rife" in the passage you quoted.

Thing is, I actually enjoy this episode, yet I've seen enough people put off by the depictions of the genetically enhanced individuals and their relation to mental illness that I cannot deny the existance of the offence for some. As you say, that viewpoint is just as valid.

Furthermore, I'm not sure one can deny that the genetically enhanced characters are meant to stand in for or at leadt draw parallels to those with mental illness, nor that this is what the episode was trying to, in part, discuss. Yes there is the genetic enhancement angle, but it's not entirely dissimilar to the sci-fi dressings of TNG's 'The Outcast'. Or of TOS's 'Let That be Your Last Battlefield'. Given Trek's penchant for dressing up contrmporary issues in sci-fi trappings in order to tslk about taboo issues and the like, it's hard for me not to imagine that's not something they were attempting to do here, at least, again, in part.

As for my last paragraph, I only said that because I don't want others who might've had their viewpoint shaped by discrimination and so might have a viseral reaction to episodes like these that affect their feelings, to think that I thought my own viewpoint carried more weight than their personal experiences just because I THOUGHT about it for a few hours, oppesed to a potential life time of being put down upon. I bring it up to foster discussion, not to devalue anyone's personal feelings is all I wanted to make clear.
Peter G.
Sat, Dec 10, 2016, 4:13pm (UTC -6)
@ Nolan,

I agree that some episodes are blatant issue-shoehorning, such as "The Outcast" and "Force of Nature", but I don't quite get that sense from "Statistical Probabilities." The issue is presented as fairly cut-and-dry in terms of how it's necessary to prevent enhanced people from competing, and by and large the issue about genetic enhancement isn't that the people so enhanced aren't necessarily bad. Previously, Trek had firmly established that 'mutants' are to be feared, and I see this episode (on the coattails of "Dr. Bashir, I presume") as giving an alternate look on how such people may turn out. Some are lucky, like Bashir, and some not, like Jack. There really is no contemporary issue to be found here. The *temptation* to attribute the content to an analogy to mental illness may be there, but the actual content is not.

Regarding devaluing of opinions, I meant specifically that you should not devalue your own. "This is JUST my opinion" is kind of a scourge, where people are made to think their opinions matter less if they're in the 'majority' (whatever that means).
Sun, Dec 11, 2016, 11:10am (UTC -6)
Thematically, this episode is about intelligent people with good intentions coming to dangerously wrong conclusions. Also, like Peter, I wouldn't classify this being unfair to mental illnesses. After all, Sisko actually passed on the original work product of the mutants right over to Starfleet, and Starfleet was pleased with it. That doesn't sound like discrimination at all.

Sisko was only unhappy later because he was basically told he should surrender now. His displeasure had nothing to do with mental handicaps, rather it stemmed from the unpalatable option of giving up.
Sun, Feb 5, 2017, 12:35pm (UTC -6)
I kinda liked this, but hated the details.

Why were the four of them left alone in a room, when Jack is constantly threatening and carrying out threats to physically harm people?

Why was the set so weird? A bed in the middle of the room?

Why would their regular doctor leave them alone with Bashir, a man who has no training in these issues?
John Luck Pickard
Sun, Feb 5, 2017, 11:27pm (UTC -6)
Agreed. When Russian (or Soviet) intelligence got notes from someone who wanted to pass along secret information, Putin and Gorbachev never met someone in a broom closet. This is like watching Joseph Stalin try to find Klaus Fuchs in a bathroom stall somewhere outside of Albuquerque. "I am here for peace talks, comrade, no?"

Why is it so hard to find productive places to put these people in the 24th century? Are there no unskilled labor positions, not even of the "what's all this dirt doing in the boss's ditch?" kind?

Apparently in the future, mental illness (or defective genetic engineering) is strictly confined to white people between the ages of 30 and 65. Should I take from this the conclusion that minorities are less susceptible to have genetic engineering fail, that they are less likely to need genetic engineering in the first place, or that they do not have it performed at all?
Thu, Oct 26, 2017, 3:38pm (UTC -6)
Good episode here that ties in well with the Dominion war while also filling in some of the background on Bashir's genetic enhancing by looking at how others who went through what he did as a kid turned out.

Thought all the genetically enhanced people were reasonably well-portrayed, each with their own particular quirks. I suppose this is nothing particularly new (has been done in other shows whose names escape me now) but it does shine a light on the plight of these people and how hard (or impossible) it is to integrate normally into society for them. Gotta feel sorry for these folks.

Definitely cool when the genetically enhanced people started deducing all kinds of things about Gul Damar -- Sherlock Holmes like how they picked up so many little things just from watching his speech.

The idea of using statistical probabilities and scenarios for the outcome of the Dominion war is pretty cool. But how would these non-Star Fleet people be able to get this information to make accurate assumptions/calculations and then present it to Star Fleet? This is the major flaw with the episode. Doesn't Sisko or Bashir have any secrecy or security around this info or raise an eyebrow over how these people are able to do these calcs?

Some interesting lessons here about still taking your chances when the odds are stacked against you. Of course, over the long term you lose. The part about Bashir gambling and getting frustrated about the long-term prospects of gambling was particularly appropriate for this episode.

O'Brien plays the common man role here really well and his comment about the 2 possibilities: either Bashir is wrong or Bashir thinks he's even dimmer than normal -- is excellent. Bashir gets caught up in his superiority complex but O'Brien plays this well and gets his point across.

3 stars for "Statistical Probabilities" -- intriguing episode with an interesting take on megalomania. It built up nicely until a tame ending when the mute girl gives away Jack's plan and given that Jack didn't factor that in, the whole 900 billion deaths likely outcome of the Dominion war is thrown into question. Nevertheless, plenty of interesting stuff here as it moves the greater story arc along and nicely fills in some background about Bashir's genetic enhancements as a kid.
Peter G.
Thu, Oct 26, 2017, 3:47pm (UTC -6)
Funny thing about the statistical method the mutants were using, Bashir specifically told Sisko they were using a system where the further into the future you looked the more accurate the result would be. Any anomalous details that throw off the predictions would even out the longer you go, which is somewhat like saying you can predict your payout at a casino over the long term even though you can't predict what you will win or lose in a given day.

Well their method isn't necessarily flawed based on what we see, but part of the trouble is that Serena's interference happens in the extremely short term - almost immediately, which is precisely when the equations are most fragile. The takeaway from the episode at first glance would appear to be that you can't trust equations. But I think that's the wrong takeaway. I think the real lesson is that in the long-term the Federation *was* doomed, and that sometime special had to occur to tilt the scales in the *short-term*. In other words, there was a countdown before the accuracy of the equations would begin to kick in fully and the result of the war would become incontestable.


In point of fact, a major disruption in the Dominion war effort does happen in the short term after this, which is why the Federation later had a chance, and even then barely a chance. But the longer the delay for the swing in the Federation's favor the less it would matter. The mutants would have been shown to be accurate, I think, had the events at the end of season 6 happened a year or two later.
Tue, Dec 12, 2017, 2:26pm (UTC -6)
This episode had a lot of potential and some moments but ended up feeling, disappointingly, way too black-and-white, good vs. evil-goodies vs. baddies.
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 11:53pm (UTC -6)
I think that this is one of the reasons why I like Deep Space Nine over Voyager, considering the limitations of the latter. DS9 in its format, was allowed to explore the characters, and bring in guest stars that only enhanced that exploration. Whether it was exploring Kira's days during the Bajoran Resistance, or Worf's trying to stay connected to his Klingon's roots, or Bashir trying to help those who receive genetic enhancement, only for those people to go in a negative path, the show gave us rich characters that only added to the show. While I like Voyager, it was unfortunate that we did not see recurring guest stars. While it was fun seeing Q on the series the first time around, all subsequent appearances became pointless. Another poster made the comment about the episode not dealing with mental health. First, this show is less about mental health, and more about showing what if Bashir's genetic enhancement had gone in a completely different, negative path. I think DS9 has explored mental health far more than any of the other Trek shows ( or TV shows) in general. "Far Beyond the Stars" and "Its Only A Paper Moon" are just a few of the many episodes from Deep Space Nine that deals with the subject matter in a mature manner.
Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 7:15am (UTC -6)
I thought I'd seen all the DS9 episodes... but this one I had not until just now. And I am fairly sure why that's the case. I was ready to skip it when I realized I must have done that a few times already.

MY GOD. Is this the worst episode of DS9? I think it might be. At least Move Along Home was not part of a major story arc. Within the first 5 minutes, I was thinking "Spock's Brain". Not a good sign. As most of you who read my posts will know... I happen to find too much of DS9 - and TV in general - badly written. Way too often.

1. Mentally ill people are nothing like these pathetic caricatures (as others above have noted) portray them as. In fact, mental illness is a broad term for a massively complicated set of psychological and physiological symptoms and behaviours. That guy who keeps saying "Hm! Hm!" - I wanted someone to burn his eyes out with a phaser.

2. Savants don't behave like this, either. Not even close.

3. Calculating a square root is not proof of being genetically engineered. Daniel Tammet can do just that almost instantly. I am willing to bet hundreds can. Was he genetically engineered? Is he a mutant? The writers aren't doing any research. Lazy bastards.

4. Which moron thinks it's okay to make an episode that completely disregards how chaos theory actually works? To actually peddle this mash potato is either showing their contempt for the audience, or their own stupidity - Probably both.

5. The episode goes from bad to worse when it makes Bashir look like a snivelling, cowardly, defeatist moron.

I could go on. And on. And on. It's a total farce of an episode.
Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 7:21am (UTC -6)
PS If you like this episode, I think you are as thick as turd.
Peter G.
Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 9:05am (UTC -6)
Man, it's one thing to act like a jerk. But flaunting a lack of dialogue comprehension makes it go from abrasive to cringy.

"1. Mentally ill people are nothing like these pathetic caricatures
2. Savants don't behave like this, either. Not even close."

We've been through this already but I guess you didn't bother reading it. These are not mentally ill people, and they are not savants. They are genetically engineered humans with brains different from ours. Despite how much you might expect this to be the case, the episode isn't a thinly veiled statement about the mentally ill in our time and how we treat them. These people literally have a condition that does not exist in our time, and which has no parallel as we know it. This is science fiction. Their symptoms are the result of engineering gone wrong, not normal birth defects or developmental disorders. Any assumptions you have made here are your own provided by your unwarranted assumptions; they do not come from the show.

As far as the group being caricatures, it's certainly up to individual taste whether you like them or not, but they can't be caricatures because they aren't a stock representation of something that actually exists. This is a (for better or worse) representation of a new thing.

I'll take a random stab at this absurd comment as well:

"Which moron thinks it's okay to make an episode that completely disregards how chaos theory actually works?"

I suppose you have specific knowledge in the field of non-linear dynamics? If so, please tell us how the episode got it wrong. If not, it comes off looking foolish to criticize mathematical sci-fi methods that as of now don't even exist yet. You may as well tell us that Geordi's conception of warp field dynamics is totally inaccurate. As of now we barely have tools that can measure periodicy in fluids, no less model actual behavior or - even better - actually compute aggregate results in a fluid system. We don't know how to do this and so it's a made-up piece of math. But I will say this one thing about it: the notion of a non-linear method where fluctuations even out over long periods of time is entirely reasonable to conjecture because that's exactly the way macro-physics works anyhow. We can't predict individual small events but can predict large ones because we assume the small events even out over time. The smaller the time interval - or measurement of space - the less accurate this will be, down to the Heisenberg level where there is no direct accuracy possible.

"The episode goes from bad to worse when it makes Bashir look like a snivelling, cowardly, defeatist moron. "

Have you ever known someone who knew for sure they would die? Like a cancel patient, say? How about someone who knew their entire civilization would die? Probably not, I'd say. Seems pretty toxic to trash someone for having an emotional outburst after being given this kind of news.
Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 9:19am (UTC -6)
They are genetically engineered humans with brains different from ours.

That make them act totally moronic? Haha OK! I bow down to your rebuttal. Clearly, the writers are geniuses. Please, do yourself a favour and stop trying to defend stupid writing with stupid excuses. It makes you look even more foolish than this episode is. There are hundreds of issues with this episode, including a total misunderstanding of chaos theory and science. For me to accept for one second that this isn't bad writing, you'd need to explain all that away as well. "Oh, look, we can do square rooooots! We must be genetically engineeeered!"

The writers were using mental illness and savants as their base here, btw. It's obvious. And they got it totally wrong.
Peter G.
Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 9:34am (UTC -6)
They don't act moronic, they act mostly immature. It's amazing how much we can recoil when otherwise intelligent people act in a childish irrational way. There is an important contrast here between IQ and EQ.

As far as chaos theory goes, you're just digging yourself a deeper hole unless you ante up and show what you've got.

I do think it's fair to suggest that the writers weren't as adventurous as they could have been in depicting mis-engineered supermen. But since the overall tone of the episode was light comedy for the most part (with a few exceptional scenes) I think they didn't want to go dark and gritty with how messed up such a person could be. Maybe what upsets you is the jovial presentation of people who are otherwise damaged and not highly functional. That's a style thing, and I guess it could have been given a more serious treatment in a different kind of episode.
Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 2:33pm (UTC -6)
Surprised no one has mentioned Lauren's sultry line, "All those Admirals," which is one of the funniest one-liners in the entire series.

Mmm, all those Starfleet admirals.

Pure gold.
Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 10:00pm (UTC -6)
They don't act moronic, they act mostly immature.

You should become a politician. You speak the same shit they do.
Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 10:09pm (UTC -6)
As far as chaos theory goes, you're just digging yourself a deeper hole unless you ante up and show what you've got.

Also, the only ones who have dug a hole are the writers - and you. Let me clue you in on a scientific reality. I shouldn't have to, but here goes. Chaos theory is real. Just because it has the word "theory" there does not make it a guess. Evolution is a "theory", but it's still a fact that we are descended from more basic and earlier life. It's also a fact that as time progresses, the number of variables becomes impossible to calculate and factor into a meaningful picture (and those variables are impossible for us to ever have a 100% knowledge of due in part to the realities of quantum mechanics) . We can't form any kind of accurate long term picture with the accuracy they do in this episode. In any, way, shape, or form. This episode literally is against science.

As others have noted (and you have ignored, like you have done your entire life), any number of things completely prove the entire premise of this episode false—not least something that actually happened (according to Trek canon) in DS9: The wormhole aliens made the Jem Hadar fleet disappear into thin air.

Please, oh wise one, tell us why this wasn't factored into Bashir and co's projection? As someone else notes above, who was to stop Q turning up and doing the same? How would Bashir and co have ANY IDEA that was or was not going to happen?

Stop wasting my time. And yours.
Peter G.
Fri, Mar 9, 2018, 11:52am (UTC -6)

"They don't act moronic, they act mostly immature.
You should become a politician. You speak the same shit they do."

You don't know the difference between behavior born of stupidity versus that born of emotional immaturity? These people are brilliant, so it clearly is not the former.

"Chaos theory is real. Just because it has the word "theory" there does not make it a guess. Evolution is a "theory", but it's still a fact that we are descended from more basic and earlier life."

You seem to be arguing a straw man; not sure who ever posited that chaos theory isn't a "real thing." Please re-read previous post to see actual text.

"It's also a fact that as time progresses, the number of variables becomes impossible to calculate and factor into a meaningful picture (and those variables are impossible for us to ever have a 100% knowledge of due in part to the realities of quantum mechanics)."

Have you read about the birth of fluid dynamics and how the study of chaos became more formalized? I can't claim to be more than a layman with interest but I've read a few books on the subject, and I suspect you have not. The most startling thing early scientists realized was that despite not being able to make positive predictions about data points they were nevertheless able to - surprisingly - determine patterns and repetition in the chaos. In other words, despite the fact that discrete data points were 'random' the overall trends were not totally random. The biggest thing they found was that shifting the starting point of an experiment drastically shifted the result, meaning that unlike in other branches of physics, changing the arbitrary starting point made a big difference.

Here's a Wiki quote about it:

"'Chaos' is an interdisciplinary theory stating that within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns, constant feedback loops, repetition, self-similarity, fractals, self-organization, and reliance on programming at the initial point known as sensitive dependence on initial conditions."

In essence, there are underlying physical characteristics to fluid systems that nature doesn't ignore. Water movement, for instance, will never 'forget' the fact that water has a certain chemical structure and interacts with itself and gravity in certain ways. We may not be able to know where an individual water molecule will go, but we can tell where certain currents or vortex-type patterns will emerge. This is exactly the point made in this episode: that it's not possible to track individual choice (like Serena's) but if you go to a long-term analysis you can nevertheless track large trends. The mutants were not wrong about this, but simply underestimated how large an effect the very short-term effects of individual particles can have. In other words, they didn't sufficiently take into account the starting conditions! This is actually a coherent statement about how startling the results in fluid dynamics were, and the episode ends up serving as a beginner's primer on the difficulties in analyzing fluid systems. It's not that it's *impossible* to do so, it's that you have to be ever so careful about your starting premises.

Now, this is still sci-fi and we must assume they're using maths that don't exist now, so of course we can observe that even with the little we know of fluid dynamics it's not possible to make positivist statements about fluid systems. But this is also the 24th century and we assume they can do better. Contesting what they can do with almost 400 more years of math progress than us doesn't seem to be a very valuable criticism.

I hope this helps.

But in terms of the Trek world, it's true that a being like Q (or the Prophets) could accomplish something extraordinary and unexpected, which is what actually happens, and so the temptation is to conclude that 'calculating' the future is total bunk. Except for one thing: that is exactly what the Prophets can apparently do. I think it's quite ironic that the calculations made by advanced humans were inaccurate more or less *only* because of better calculations made by even more advanced beings. Jack and the others don't look quite so foolish when seen from that perspective.
Jason R.
Fri, Mar 9, 2018, 1:19pm (UTC -6)
To be fair Peter, the Prophets didn't *predict* the future in the way the mutants did; they literally knew it because they existed outside linear time.
Peter G.
Fri, Mar 9, 2018, 2:13pm (UTC -6)
@ Jason,

Right, they employed a different 'system' to observe the result of chaotic events. My point isn't that they used the same literal maths the mutants were using, but that they had an alternative (and far superior) method of 'calculating' the results of one action into the future. This is precisely what a chaos-oriented math would try to approximate. If it is factual (in Trek) that past, present, and future can be viewed as being one and the same, it implies that the 'code' of events is written into the universe in some way and can be accessed, which for lack of a better term we can call a technology. 'Laws of physics', as we call them, are merely very simple ways of trying to see how things affect other things, which the Prophets can do apparently perfectly. Whether it's because their vantage point lets them intuitively know the result, or whether complex mathematics are required as well, is not told to us and for the purposes of the series doesn't matter. The net result is that what the mutants were trying to figure out how to calculate, the Prophets actually can, and so we can conclude definitively that it *can be done*. Whether that means constructing an artificial wormhole, or whatever else, it's just a question of methods. Even the Q hinted that mankind could evolve to be like them, so the notion that mankind could get past the seemingly impossible complexity of fluid analysis is exactly what sci-fi is there to examine.

It would be one thing if the mutants' calculations were thrown off by an act of God or something, or even the Q themselves. But no, it was the work of the Real Game in Town in terms of calculating the future; they were at least bettered by their betters. I see it as being a nice piece of symmetry in the story arc.
Fri, Mar 9, 2018, 8:50pm (UTC -6)
Star Trek and its writers MUST be right and perfect... 'cause Peter G. says so—even when real science disagrees. Not mindless fanboyism at all, Governor.
Sun, Aug 26, 2018, 10:12pm (UTC -6)
"Statistical Probabilities" is a good episode that stops just shy of greatness for me. It's incredibly compelling when it focuses on the right things-the Bashir/O'Brien feud over megalomania, Sisko's uncompromising attitude even in the face of seeming defeat, and the idea of war as a numbers game. I also thought Bashir's explanation at the ending was the perfect refutation to Jack's argument-if one person could undo his plan, how could they trust anything he said? Unfortunately, the other members of Jack's group are too broadly drawn and cliché to be really effective. Not to mention several times the episode felt rushed, with a couple contrivances.
1-The fact that Starfleet would just hand over classified information to unstable individuals doesn't ring true.
2-Bashir's talking down of Sarina happened far too quickly. Just a couple minutes worth of conversation, and the climax of the episode was over.

3 stars.
Dark Kirk
Mon, Sep 3, 2018, 7:03am (UTC -6)
The scene where Jack intentionally cuts the counselor's hand with the smashed pad was easily forgotten except in re-watch, but jarring and effective in defining Jack.
Herr Nietzsche
Tue, Jan 1, 2019, 11:41am (UTC -6)
As a watcher this episode creates a series of grave contradictions in my mind.

First, the notion that transcending humanity and becoming superior is bad. From everything I’ve heard about these eugenics wars on Star Trek. It isn’t being led by superme that caused a war, it was undermen being unable to accept their inferiority and their place as ruled that caused a war.

Second, it is extremely obvious that being a shapeshifter makes one superior so by that logic the dominion should rule the federation (and I am not just saying that because I find the ideology of the federation repulsive) but surrendering would be bad for humanity because it would halt the survival of the fittest that war brings.
Peter G.
Tue, Jan 1, 2019, 4:13pm (UTC -6)
@ Herr Nietzsche (never thought I'd type that in my life),

I'll take it on faith that you meant your post unironically, and my comment will be based on that. While there are many reasons Nietzsche criticized what he thought of as the democratized spirit in men, and while it's even possible he would have found fault with the Federation as it's shown to us, I would caution you about understanding the "overman" as being someone meant to rule us. It is completely certain that this is not what he meant; and he even went as far in some of his books to denounce politics altogether, especially those involving those who *think* they're better than everyone else trying to gain power. And perhaps most importantly, he *hated* people who thought of others as being inferior, such as the Jews; in fact he refused to even call himself German on account of this. So while you are entitled to think that there are superior and inferior beings in the world/universe, you should be clear that Nietzsche did not mean anything like this in his books. The overman is chiefly one who overcomes himself, not others; and certainly not by force. I would recommend reading the Zarathustra again to reinforce this point, as you can see from Zarathustra's benevolent attitude towards those he would share what he learned, and especially in his never sticking around where he wasn't wanted. The only thing Nietzsche saw as being "fittest" is learning how to govern yourself so that you don't *need to compare yourself to others and fight with them*. The Founders are pretty much the opposite of this, even though it's hard to deny that being a shapeshifter seems like an evolutionary further point. But again, Nietzsche was never talking about literal evolution, and he says this verbatim.

Just thought I'd clear that up. Any idea that there are superior and inferior peoples in the world should be owned up to as one's own, rather than attributed to some famous person.
Gul Densho-Ar
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 1:29pm (UTC -6)
"Let He Who Is Without Sin..." ...BS episode with no redeeming feature except that it made me laugh at one point. For that I give it 0.5 stars.

"Statistical Probabilities" ...BS episode with no redeeming feature. 0 stars.

It also seems to ridicule mental health patients, so I wish I could give less than 0 stars. Oh wait, I can: -0.5. Worst episode. Of everything.
Wed, Jan 30, 2019, 10:09pm (UTC -6)
Watching and commenting:

--Well, off to a bad start with these stereotyped nut cases ready to work with Bashir. Crying old man who acts like a toddler, nasty hipster looking guy who talks super fast, sultry young woman cooing about Bashir, and a silent girl. All genetically engineered.

--OMG, super annoying. Let's get to a point.

--YAY, the war is mentioned. There's Damar. I wasn't sure we'd get back to this.

--Well . . . not enough Weyoun, too much genetically engineered mayhem.

--OK, they're taking this forecasting ability thing a little too far. Thousands of years into the future? I took a lot of stats, and used forecasting often in my job. Though I am an uncomplicated person, I call BS.

--Bashir losing his marbles.

--Oh, c'mon, they're letting these unstable folks have all this classified info?

Below average ep, saved only by the mention of the war.
Peter G.
Wed, Jan 30, 2019, 11:00pm (UTC -6)
@ Springy,

I can definitely see how this episode could push some peoples' buttons and come off as taking mental illness lightly. The point has already been made before that these aren't sufferers of mental illness but rather of genetic damage, but never mind that because as the episode plays that point perhaps becomes moot. What I actually find strange is the idea that the character concepts presented here are somehow stereotypes and cliche tropes that have been trotted out to make a 'crazy people' episode. It sounds like a reasonable argument on its face, until we take a closer look at their actual behavior and the reasons for it.

Take Jack, for instance. Is this actually a stereotype caricature? If so, where have you seen it before? I suppose the argument might be something like "manic crazy guy"...but is that really what he is? Most of his behaviors seem to me to have to do with being genetically enhanced, rather than mentally disturbed. For instance take his peppy movements, quick speech, and impatience: this is exactly what I would expect from someone with a super-quick thinking process, where reality was actually too slow for them. If I were writing a Flash or Quicksilver story this would be a part of it. Then what's left? His paranoia, for one. Is that also a symptom of his genetic situation, or perhaps a result of feeling persecuted his whole life? So now we may ask, is he really persecuted, or is that a paranoid delusion of his? Which leads to his other trait, which is getting insulted and hurt easily, and occasionally (like a petulant child) wanting to hurt others. So maybe we could argue that he's got a somewhat antisocial personality; and along with the 'Quicksilver problem' these two things alone would be sufficient to explain his behavior. He thinks too quickly for his own good, and was never properly socialized and so has antisocial and a somewhat persecuted attitude. Is that really all that crazy? Most normal humans with those latter traits would be functional in society, but when paired up with everything being accelerated his impatience and persecution complex go in fast forward. That sounds like a perfectly reasonable character description to me, and an interesting take on a super-fast brain in the wrong environment.

Then there's Patrick, who is perhaps less complex, but basically seems to be a grown child. I'm not exactly sure how this is supposed to be a symptom of genetic engineering, so it perhaps isn't as interesting as Jack's case. But at the same time it does raise a developmental issue, that if some parts of the brain develop too quickly then perhaps others would be impaired from developing at all. Maybe it IQ blocked out his EQ from advancing past childhood. I find his generally sympathetic as a character anyhow, but the 'overgrown brilliant child' isn't really something I've seen before either.

I could go on but my point is that if these are tired cliches, what are they cliches of? Or is it the general idea of "crazy people!" scenario that is the cliche, where fun is to be had by hanging around crazy people like in Cukoo's Nest or Crazy People? I guess I could see that point, except I do think it's an important sci-fi point to touch on of the dangers of banning genetic tech that some are going to illegally do anyhow like Bashir's parents. Is it so tired to inspect what happens with back-alley genetic modification?

I dunno. I sort of find objections to the premise of the episode a little strange, however I can certainly understand that YMMV on liking these people or not.
Thu, Jan 31, 2019, 4:52am (UTC -6)
@Peter G

--My objection to the portrayals is that they were boring and annoying.

--I can't speak to why others may have objected to the ep on the grounds that the ep "took mental illness lightly." I did not object to the ep on those grounds.

--I can't speak to why others believe the stereotypes were "trotted out to make a 'crazy people' episode." I do not believe this.

--I thought the four people were stereotypes of "crazy people," which made them boring. And I found the fast talk and crying and nymphomania annoying. The silent girl wasn't annoying to me, just boring.
Thu, Jan 31, 2019, 8:52am (UTC -6)

"--My objection to the portrayals is that they were boring and annoying."

Right, but you said they were stereotypes. Peter's point was that, no they're not. I myself wrote that they were cliche, but I do think I'd excise that from my criticism. The guest actors are just overplaying it by about 200%. It doesn't sink the episode for me, but I can see why they would for you. It's kind of like "..Nor the Battle to the Strong"-I can see through the iffy execution to see the compelling story underneath.
Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 10:20am (UTC -6)
Something I'm coming across almost daily is the phenomenon of "I wish I had read the production notes before I commented on this episode". My comment above seems unfortunately quaint so I'd like to add more.

Drachasor wrote on June 20, 2012:

"In response to Nic, if they based this on the Foundation by Asimov, they did a crappy job at it. First, the whole plan in Foundation was to use that predictive ability to steer a course through history. This is profoundly pro-intellectual, and makes sense. If you have this capability, you can use it to make things better. Instead in this episode, "nothing" produces any change of any kind"

Have you "Prelude to Foundation" by any chance? I don't want to spoil it for you, but it becomes obvious to Seldon from the outset that he can't save the Empire and the only thing he can do is mitigate the damage and set up a long-term second Empire. I think the showrunners were conscious of that here and had Bashir play "Raven Seldon" expressing a strategy that couldn't benefit the Federation presently, but would benefit the humanity and the galaxy of the future. It at least helps explain why Bashir would be uncharacteristically telling Sisko to surrender.

Peter G. wrote on October 26, 2017:

"I think the real lesson is that in the long-term the Federation *was* doomed, and that sometime special had to occur to tilt the scales in the *short-term*. In other words, there was a countdown before the accuracy of the equations would begin to kick in fully and the result of the war would become incontestable."

What's interesting is that all the predictions of the mutants do come true - besides The Federation losing, of course. Furthermore, the mutants were unaware of S31's capabilities and couldn't sufficiently account for it. The Changeling virus alone was probably enough to turn the tide of the war in the Federation's favor. One final thought, though. I don't know if the mutants could've predicted Sisko's actions in "In the Pale Moonlight", but if you think of the Romulans joining the war in favor of the Federation as *inevitable* then it undercuts a bit of the necessity of Sisko's actions in that episode.
Jason R.
Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 2:48pm (UTC -6)
Chrome actually their predictions were already known to be false if you were paying attention up to this point. They predicated their recommendation to surrender on the premise that a rebellion would eventually arise on earth and overthrow the Dominion.

But we already know that Weyoun had anticipated this and planned to eradicate earth's population (in one of the most memorable interludes between him and Dukat).

I doubt that this was lost on the writers. I think we are meant to see through their predictions as flawed from the outset and their comments on the earth rebellion are a tell.
Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 3:14pm (UTC -6)
"But we already know that Weyoun had anticipated this and planned to eradicate earth's population (in one of the most memorable interludes between him and Dukat)."

Dukat talked him out of it. Besides, this point is moot since the surrender never occurred.

However, I don't deny the flaw as it's spoken in the episode itself. An individual can disrupt the predictions as Sarina did. That itself is thematically similar to the Foundation novels too.

What Peter was talking about was that the predictions were more true over time without intervention, which was the point I was addressing.
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 6:18pm (UTC -6)
As Chrome points out, I was trying to describe (as is the case in Foundation) that in the very short term any fluctuation would throw off the future predictions, but the more time that goes forward the more the predictions would prove to be accurate. That Bashir quickly addresses this point in Sisko's office is, I think, a nod to the idea that short-term controls must be in place in order for the long-term to become accurate. In the case of the series, two significant things happen that render their calculations inaccurate:


1) Serena (extremely short-term)
2) The wormhole aliens (reasonably short-term)

Even the average fan seems to think that the Prophet intervention is ridiculous, so we can perhaps not blame Jack and the others for failing to include it in their calculations. But absent these two details I think it's a foregone conclusion the Federation was done for. It basically took (a) the mutants being clownish (as this episode is something of a comedy episode), and (b) an act of god, to prevent the inevitable. On that account I agree with them that it would appear that on the odds the Federation had no chance if you were to look at it purely as a tactical analysis.
Jason R.
Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 7:42pm (UTC -6)
In the Foundation novels psychohistory was only successful at predicting (and manipulating) the future because several layers of control were established in two "foundations" who continued to manipulate events as they unfolded, sort of like steering a kayak down the rapids. That and something called the "prime radiant" whose function I only vaguely recall. The point being that psychohistory was not about just passively making predictions about the future from a boardroom.

But the mutants are just full of shit - and not just because of the prophets and other out of left field short term events. We know they were wrong because of what Weyoun said. He was going to eradicate earth's population. He said so. He was also fully capable of it - that would have been 100% consistent with the Dominion MO. Indeed, the Dominion had existed for 4,000 years and the Founders were masters of genetic manipulatiom. Why wouldn't they have the same predictive powers as the mutants anyway?

I'm reminded of Sisko's speech to the Prophets in Emissary about baseball and the unpredictability of linear existence. He was completely right. The mutants' predictions were always garbage. They could never have predicted the future. They weren't the Prophets.
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 6, 2019, 12:12am (UTC -6)
@ Jason R.

When I suggest that the mutants were correct, I don't say it because I trust their methods implicitly - especially since I don't know what they are! - but because when inspecting the series it's actually apparent to me that they were correct about the general situation. You seem to be basing your dismissal of their findings on the specific possibility of Earth being demolished by Weyoun, which, if that had happened, the rest of the prediction might be been born out but the rebellion couldn't have begun on Earth. In other words, to what extent the prediction needed that particular clause to be accurate in order to be taken seriously is what your argument addresses. I personally don't see it as being quite so relevant whether a rebellion originates on Earth, or elsewhere, or nowhere, as compared to the basic tactical evaluation of the chances of defeating the Dominion in a straight war.

That said, as Chrome pointed out, could it be possible that the mutants would be able to foresee Dukat nixing the eradication of Earth? At this point we perhaps risk getting into the weeds, but if you're going to cite Weyoun's part of that scene as proof that the prediction *could have* been foiled, it seems equally valid to take the conclusion of that same scene as being the result of that 'could have'.

The funny thing about the comparison to Foundation is that psychohistory is actually reliable - but only to a point. True, they may have steered the boat to keep it in the rapids safely, but that would have been factored into the equations. But where the predictions fail is with the Mule, who is a game changer in that his behavior absolutely cannot be predicted, and likewise, since he can alter the decision-process of humans around him, they likewise can no longer be predicted. So the predictions do hold true, but only so long as sentient beings retain the properties we generally know them to have. If some individual were to come along that defied all accepted rules of how life forms work, then the equations would turn to bunk. And this is exactly what happens with the Prophets. So as I see it DS9 keeps more or less true to Asimov's version, if we want to compare them on a one-to-one basis.
Jason R.
Wed, Feb 6, 2019, 7:32am (UTC -6)
Well that's the problem Peter, it isn't just the Prophets. Assuming the mutants' methods are effective, there is zero reason to suppose that someone like Weyoun, with the vast resources of the Dominion, isn't capable of the exact same feats of prediction.

Indeed, I don't see it as a co-incidence that the writers chose to have the mutants base their predictions on the assumption of an *earth* based rebellion. That was intentional.

I don't care what methods the mutants were using, the whole enterprise turns to folly once other powers themselves employ similar methods to cheat the game.
Wed, Feb 6, 2019, 9:42am (UTC -6)
@Jason R.

I don't know if just having vast resources is enough to ensure success of psychohistory. After all, the Galactic Empire controlled the entire galaxy and its resources and couldn't use psychohistory to save itself. Then too, I think Trek (and The Foundation series as well) is trying to posit that it takes a certain human ingenuity to develop psychohistory.

Though I agree with you that Earth was used to give the audience a punch of the significance of the events, I also think Peter is correct that the rebellion didn't need to happen on Earth. Psychohistory only predicts *probable* outcomes of individual events. So, it could be said that there's a 40% chance for Earth to survive Dominion occupation and if it does, it will be the source of a rebellion against the Dominion. However, in the other 60% where Earth doesn't survive, the rebellion will occur on Vulcan instead and the result of Federation resurgence is the same regardless of the origin.

Of course we could get into details about why the Trek universe and Foundation universe are different and how the episode had to work within certain limitations to fit one model into the other, but I think the writers did tease us into believing Julian and co.'s methods were correct to some degree. After all, the initial predictions Julian & co. had about the Romulan entrance and rebellion and Cardassia are indeed in line with future events of the series.
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 6, 2019, 3:13pm (UTC -6)
@ Jason R.,

"Well that's the problem Peter, it isn't just the Prophets. Assuming the mutants' methods are effective, there is zero reason to suppose that someone like Weyoun, with the vast resources of the Dominion, isn't capable of the exact same feats of prediction."

This objection is reasonable if you want to be very technical, but raising it actually raises a much larger problem than you intend to. For instance if back-alley illegal engineering could produce Jack and the others, then assuming the Dominion really has mastered genetics they ought to be able to create an entire race of mental supermen, just as they already made combat supermen. Realistically, there's no reason why they couldn't do this. But if they had there would be no show, because the Dominion would sweep through the AQ in five seconds. So we must just take it as a conceit that they can't or won't do this. Maybe the Founders don't want minions smarter than they are, which could be logical, except that why can't they then...I dunno...shapeshift into being smarter too? The whole thing is a sci-fi black hole and I think for the purpose of the show we're forced to conclude that *no one* can safely create a race of mutant geniuses, and that the Jack Pack are completely unique. And even they wouldn't have been capable of anything except for Julian helping them, so in terms of storyline we could argue that their capacity to conduct military strategy was an unexpected possibility that normally wouldn't have been possible without Julian focusing them. Just like the AI, or telepathy, genetic engineering is a topic that Trek has always made brief comments on but clearly never wanted to invest time to explain as a topic of its own. I basically think that this ep is a Foundation nod, including psychohistory being legit, but the internal logic of it ends around there.

"Indeed, I don't see it as a co-incidence that the writers chose to have the mutants base their predictions on the assumption of an *earth* based rebellion. That was intentional. "

To be fair, this might have been a nod to the Foundation series as well (that Earth had been the instigator for progress all along).
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 7:18am (UTC -6)
2.5 stars. Fair episode

I am not a big fan of Bashir. The character is extremely annoying and Siddig’s acting is not up to par. He and Jadzia least interesting characters played by the two weakest links in the cast

But for the most part he wasn’t to bad in this episode except the scene in Quark’s when he was being a drama queen at the dabo table and bringing everyone down.

The Jack Pack we’re sufficient plot devices

Was glad to see a plot and it ties to the war. I’ll admit I was unsure how it would play out once the group had knocked out Bashir. The ending was just okay.
Sat, Jun 8, 2019, 4:24am (UTC -6)
The whole premise of this episode doesn't fly with me.

I think it's our society's stigma with genetic modification that would lead the writers to concoct a story where being genetically engineered could inadvertently put you on the autism spectrum. We can modify plants today with incredible precision. I would think that centuries from now, we would have figured out genetic engineering a bit better than what's depicted here.

Bashir and company, we're told, are incredibly smart, however they are apparently not smart enough to realize that their projections are probably unreliable given the near infinity of unpredictable events that could unfold. By having these "smart" people neglect to account for the unaccountable, they come across as more naive than intelligent.
bobbington mcbob
Sun, Jul 28, 2019, 3:00pm (UTC -6)
Hari, Hari Seldon
Mon, Jan 20, 2020, 7:54am (UTC -6)
You know, I was surprised by how much I liked this one. The moment I first saw the colourful assortment of seemingly one-note Ha Ha Crazy People!!! on screen, I was ready to skip ahead to something more interesting and less *dire*. I'd come back to it later, but only after picking up my eyes -- you know, after having rolled them right out of my skull.

But I left it on as background noise, while working on something else. And then it pulled me in. I'm glad it did.

This is indeed a *far* more interesting use of Bashir's genetic status than 'A Time to Stand' tried introducing. [Note: I haven't yet left comments on any part of this season's excellent opening salvo, but I do plan to. I watched them all last night, loved them, and took a hell of a lot of notes that are still in the process of coalescing into something more solid.]

Bashir can now Do Maths Real Good? Nah. Give me a single goddamn reason to care. (Give his actor a reason, too.)

Bashir, after years of passing as a neurotypical person, finds community with people whose brains function like his does? People who then proceed to work with him on psychohistorical predictions of the Dominion War? And now we're grappling with the possible fates of hundreds of billions of very real lives? hat's... several goddamn reasons to care, and a lot more than I expected. (And going on the Memory Alpha page for this ep, looks like it worked on giving the actor reasons to care -- it's one of his favourites, apparently.)

To work through these one by one:

Having read other comments here, I'll say this outright: there's zero possibility that there *isn't* a neurodivergence allegory going on here, and nothing I've read above gives me any reason to doubt that. It doesn't map *exactly* to neurodivergence (these people weren't born neurodivergent) -- but the mapping doesn't *need* to be exact to be an allegory, and it rarely is. TNG's 'The Outcast' isn't a perfect match, for example. "Some people in this nongendered society begin to living as a certain gender, and risk stigma/conversion therapy if they express this" doesn't map exactly to "some people in this heterosexual society experience attraction to their own gender, and risk stigma/conversion therapy if they pursue this" -- and yet it was explicitly intended as The Big Gay Rights Episode.

So we've unarguably got a neurodivergence allegory on our hands here. It definitely has pitfalls. The initial impression of "Ha Ha Crazy People" that I got, as did pretty much everyone else -- while mentioned elsewhere in these comments as a potentially useful shorthand for showing the audience what this episode is going to deal with, it's still a pretty crappy depiction to start off with. Additionally, people other than Bashir only seem to find worth in the "Jack Pack" once they turn out to be clever, and *useful* for their cleverness. Before that, they're just treated as tragedies of misguided science and isolated in a research facility. An episode like this would not and could not turn out the same way had these genetically engineered people *not* been clever, though Bashir's genuine kinship with them could still have played out.

That kinship he develops here is strong and compelling. He's spent his life having to hide, and now he's among people who have *never* hidden who they are (and never been able to) and have *been* hidden from society for it. The atmosphere that develops between them -- of unpatronising acceptance, not having to hide a single damn thing among people who are truly like you -- is really sweet, and something I imagine would resonate with a lot of people belonging to marginalised groups. I know it does with me. The celebration scene is a highlight there -- it turns the dimensionless quirks of the "Jack Pack" into nothing worse than simply their personalities, and those personalities are shown to be more than just the single adjectives you might apply to them at the episode's beginning. And Bashir really comes to treat them as genuine equals, regardless of how his... "high-functioning" status might set him apart in the beginning.

I love the psychohistory angle this goes for. To expand on what I said about 'A Time to Stand' earlier, with Bashir suddenly bringing up percentages on how likely they were to survive: I thought that was bullshit, and I thought Garak was right to dismiss it. But this almost redeems it in retrospect, showing there's far more thought to it than the pure numbers might show, and couching it in strong sci-fi concepts (good old Asimov).

I don't think it fully nails the landing on that. I think the scope of the concept -- and of the many-pronged political situation DS9 has built up -- might've been larger than what this can take into account for TV, and especially in only one episode. But it sure ain't a bad depiction for mainstream sci-fi TV.

And finally: billions of lives staked on projections. Well, this ep does a hell of a lot to reassert the feel of the Dominion War. And to give a handful of ordinary people access to info defining the fates of those billions? The megalomania aspect is, in my opinion, most interestingly considered in light of how little power these people have had until now. It's the biggest reversal possible for them. The first time they have the chance to make some sort of impact on *anything*, their chance is to make the deciding moves in an interstellar war! And when they've initially been offered a leap from nothing to *everything*, it's bloody hard to go back to nothing.

But it's not *just* megalomania, which I think is a vital thing to cover here. They have full faith in their predictions, and so from their perspective, the dilemma becomes a trolley problem. Take no action: cause a death count of 900 billion. Take an ostentibly "wrong" action: cause an astronomically lower death count, just in a more direct manner. I appreciate how frankly the episode depicts their plight: they're morally right, just on a basis that's factually wrong. I will say that Bashir reverses his opinion on their predictions too quickly -- if Sarina's one action can change his mind so completely, it makes him look horrendously short sighted for being so doubtless initially. But the fact that he understands them, no matter what, is crucial.

To conclude, I'm intrigued to see what comes of our "pretender" Damar. Precarious position he's in. He ties in well with the theme of individuals versus "the bigger picture" -- he's just a talking head for the Dominion here, and could so easily be replaced (perfectly in line with the Founders' attitudes -- the drop is the ocean; the ocean is the drop). But we'll see if his individualism asserts itself yet.
Jamie Mann
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 4:56pm (UTC -6)
Another episode which isn't particularly strong.

The idea that we finally get to meet some more genetically engineered humans is an interesting one in theory, but the people they introduce are an odd mix; emotionally immature and yet intelligent enough to be classed as weakly godlike (to use a phrase Charles Stross introduced).

What they end up being is characters which are more mythical than damaged. Im many ways, they remind me of a more classical interpretation of elves (or Eldar, if you're into WH40k); beings following their own paths according to whimsies we understand little about, and uncaring about the effects of their actions on other species. They're just as likely to leave a changling in a baby's crib as they are to provide gifts or advice...

Truth be told, the results are a little too bizarre; they're able to perform mental feats which would challenge even a Federation supercomputer operated by Vulkans, which includes the ability to extrapolate psychological information from even a brief inspection of a VR clip.

But at the same time: one has the emotional maturity of a toddler, one is arguably full-blown sociopathic and the third is something of a nyphomaniac.

(Quite why the latter is considered dangerous enough to deserve long term imprisonment is an odd one, unless she's prone to psychopathic or stalker tendencies when rebuffed...)

And from there, they come up with a grand theory; a prediction that the Federation's war with the Dominion is doomed to failure.

This idea appears to have been lifted wholesale from Asimov's Foundation, but the DS9 writers failed to take several things into account - which is all the more ironic because Asimov himself raised these points in his later Foundation books.

The first is that the Second Foundation was only able to maintain Hari Seldon's plan through constant manipulation behind the scenes, to ensure that things stayed on the right track. The second is that their attempts very nearly failed because of the intervention of The Mule - a mutant, with the ability to emotionally control other humans.

Or to put it another way: the plan was almost derailed because of a variable which could be neither predicted nor controlled.

And Star Trek is full of such variables. Not only do you have dozens of alien races, many of whom the Federation has little or no information on (e.g. the Breen), but you also have lots of godlike alien beings such as the Prophets and Q, who can - and often do - intervene with just as much whimsy as the genetically engineered characters in this episode. And then there's other factors, ranging from time travel to parallel universes.

As such, the idea that this motley group of characters could confidently claim to model events decades into the future strikes a very false note indeed.

Beyond that, there's not really much else to say about this episode. Though it does perhaps raise an interesting question about Bashir.

If he's just as super-intelligent as the other elves in this episode, what is he doing hanging around with baseline humans? It must be like spending time with children - or perhaps even babies or animals - beings unable to comprehend even a fraction of what he does, and just as predictable and manipulable...
Tue, Apr 7, 2020, 4:51pm (UTC -6)
I also think (like @Fenn) that this is an allegory for neurodivergent people. I am autistic myself, and work with non-verbal and hyperactive autistic children. Dr. Bashir's "hiding to appear normal" and "feeling understood" by the other mutants ("low"functioning autist, Kanner-Autist...) resonates strongly with me ("high" functioning autist).
Of course I don't think the writers did this completely on purpose or with the intend of writing a differenciated portrait of the fascets of the autism spectrum, and of course the characters are to cartoonist, but I really enjoyed the Jack Pack and Bashir in this episode.
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 7, 2020, 10:24pm (UTC -6)
@ Selenium,

Thanks for sharing that story, it's really nice to hear feedback about the episode that it struck you well in that way and for those reasons.
Mon, Sep 21, 2020, 8:34am (UTC -6)
I asolutely LOVE this episode. Beyond how well it is used to analyze one of the show's protagonists, it is a wonderful devastating commentary on technocracy, the rule of the sage elites and the false promise of social science (appropiately dissecting the difference between "risk," as portrayed by games of chance, and the "epistemic uncertainty" that characterizes the real world and foils attempts to make predictions about human societies). An incredibly relevant episode from the perspective of political commentary and one that many in academia should be compelled to watch. In the Top 5 DS9 episodes for me. Bravo.
Mon, Sep 21, 2020, 9:27am (UTC -6)
You statement is a testament to ignorance. First, many things can be very accurately predicted. second this show and many other shows depict a genius intellect as a form of super power which it isn't. Third, I doubt that you have even the faintest understanding of social scientific method.

And what false promises??? Do you know what science is? Social scientists make predictions based on empirical research. It is all build around falsifiability. These sciences are literally called probabilistic sciences, not deterministic, so no the people in the episode are doing the opposite of how social scientific method actually works.

Plus all the things, like predictions and measures based upon them, are done/provided by numerous scientific fields, first and foremost, economics, medicine and the legal system.

Medical researchers stop working! Dreubarik believes that what you do is witchcraft. How do you think the military works?!

I'm right now watching keeping up with the kardashians and this is still the dumbest thing I have heard today.
Jason R.
Mon, Sep 21, 2020, 9:39am (UTC -6)
Booming did you just call the legal system a "scientific field"? :)
Peter G.
Mon, Sep 21, 2020, 12:43pm (UTC -6)
And that's putting aside Booming's repeated equation of the social "sciences" with science (in this case, medical research), as if there's no distinction.

You want to disagree, go ahead, but don't call another poster ignorant prior to your posting radical fringe stuff that social scientists with credibility would never actually say. I thought Dreubarik's post was quite interesting, and in fact I agree that there is a perpetual problem - even to the point of world-ending mania - of certain small classes of people thinking they are smarter and know enough to decide for everyone because they are superior. This is an incredibly important message, and I agree fully that we have seen to many times in the 20th century people purporting to have "conclusive data" to back up a complete nonsense theory. I know more about the history of economics compared to the social sciences, but in that field time and again we see "brainiacs" who don't know wtf they're talking about but couching their statements in jargon that sounds compelling. Presidents fall for it all the time, as these theories come in an out of vogue. None of it has anything to do with science, mind you. Not that all of social science is exactly like this, but...well, I'll just leave out what I think of the accuracy of statements made by that field in general. We don't know jack about human behavior yet on a truly scientific level.
Mon, Sep 21, 2020, 3:52pm (UTC -6)
First I called it the law but that seemed wrong. I wasn't sure what the correct usage in English is, judiciary?

@peter G
medical research and sociological research actually use very similar methods.

"even to the point of world-ending mania - of certain small classes of people thinking they are smarter and know enough to decide for everyone because they are superior."
People believing that the end is near is maybe the most consistent and widespread believe humans have. All the big religions have some form of world end. I really don't see the connection to social science or that episode.

I mean all complex societies everywhere try to have a small group of people at the helm of societal institutions,

" but in that field time and again we see "brainiacs" who don't know wtf they're talking about but couching their statements in jargon that sounds compelling. Presidents fall for it all the time, as these theories come in an out of vogue. None of it has anything to do with science, mind you."
You are saying that economics isn't a science? Man I have to tell my former roommate, she studied economics. I knew that these endless pages of math weren't useful!

"We don't know jack about human behavior yet on a truly scientific level."
We actually know quite a bit. For example if you are a child of a working class family then the chance to get a phd is (I don't know the exact number for Germany or how it is in the US)around twenty times less likely than for somebody from the upper class. For masters degrees it is around 1 to 6.

Or how much money people in a certain part of a city earn and based on that predict the crime rate, domestic violence, drug use, political views. So many things.

I could give a million examples like that.

How any of this is related to a few nutjobs with magic iq in a DS9 episode still mystifies me.
Mon, Sep 21, 2020, 4:01pm (UTC -6)
to further explain why I didn't write the law. When I hear that word I immediately think of this movie which coincidentally also is about genetically engineered people, not scientists, though.
Jason R.
Mon, Sep 21, 2020, 4:33pm (UTC -6)
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 :)
Mon, Sep 21, 2020, 6:05pm (UTC -6)
If you want to be really academic here, medicine (the other field Booming mentioned) isn't a science either, but a practice which seeks to cure people using scientific means.
Tue, Sep 22, 2020, 12:08am (UTC -6)
@ Jason
" And I can sure as heck guarantee that no lawyer is going to tell you law is a "science""
I could mention constitutional scholars but now I have read a little about it. It seems that opinions are going in this direction about law. Stolen from researchgate:
1) "law" means jurisprudence (commentaries, opinions, glosses etc. on legal texts made by lawyers)
2) "science" is viewed as a tool of explaining phenomena (theoretical sciences) or making them more useful (practical sciences). That was - in brief - neo-Popperian paradigm of science (still popular among many philosophers of science).
The outcome of the debate was that jurisprudence is indeed scientific in two senses:
- when lawyers comment on the law as it is (de lege lata) they make so-called "humanistic interpretation" of it and this interpretation is a kind of scientific explanation (it explains why lawgiver issued a given legal text)
- when lawyers comment on law as it should be (de lege ferenda) they formulate postulates of improving legal system and this is a kind of practical science (or one may say "technology of law").

"what we call the "hard" sciences"
That is more a term used by non scientists.
The divide that is most commonly used is not hard and soft science but probabilistic and deterministic. As an example, if you give a group of patients a pill, then only a certain percentage will be cured. Or if you undermine the confidence of people, they tend to be more intolerant but only a certain percentage. Deterministic sciences are technically also probabilistic because we don't know the future, in other words, we don't know if the laws of physics will be true tomorrow or in a billion years. Maybe the apple doesn't fall then, so to speak.
But so far it does. :)

"economists are unlikely to tell you that what they do is on par with what an astrophysicist or epidemiologist does"
economist and epidemiologist are both probabilistic sciences, so in fact closer to each other while astrophysicists are in a deterministic field. But even they are only making interpretations based on the observable universe. Just look up dark matter. They just invented a force so that it fits their models. They really have no idea if it actually exists. That is true for many concepts especially in physics but also in many other deterministic fields.
Peter G.
Tue, Sep 22, 2020, 12:33am (UTC -6)
@ Booming,

This may indeed be a translation issue, because it is not the case in English parlance that the term "science" is ever used in a rigorous sense to include fields such as law. That lawmaking involves a necessary human element, and therefore observations and conclusions, is not the scientific method any more than literally any field at all is scientific. Your definition just means that we use thinking and observing to advance, but that's not what the term means in proper English. If it did then literally all areas of thought would be science in this loose way of speaking.

There is, however, a colloquial use of the term that just means "body of knowledge" or "technique", so for example we might use a turn of phrase like "I have perfected the science of persuasion", which is actually derivative of an old usage whereby science basically just meant human art. And like the term "art" there is now a technical meaning to both terms that has obsoleted the older and more inclusive usages. We can say, for instance, "the art of cooking" colloquially but are not confused into thinking that a cook is a literal artist. Although (once again colloquially) we do sometimes call high-level masters of a discipline "true artists" in order to underline how good they are, but that measures a degree of skill rather than a type of skill in that usage. But by and large the term "art" now refers either to 'the arts' or else to technical disciplines that have 'terms of art' which is to say technical jargon; although this latter use again should not confuse anyone into thinking that a professional knowledge in their terms of art is 'an artist', any more than a person who thinks scientifically (i.e. logically) is therefore a 'scientist'.

In the technical use of 'science' it can only mean a discipline making use not only of observation and thinking (which comprises all human endeavor) but rather employs hypothesis, experiment, data, conclusion, and new hypotheses. And even more specifically, not just any tests will do. For example I could test whether particular comments will annoy my friends, form a hypothesis, test it, conclude, and retest a new hypothesis, but this is not science. The main difference is that what we call "science" is specifically designed to remove the human element from the equation so that human error, prejudice, false judgement, and bias are eliminated maximally from the equation. Any field which employs a form of thinking such as "what kind of data do you think this produced" or even "what kinds of information are really data" is not what we would call science, although again colloquially there can be 'a science' of the study of that subject (meaning we learn about it). Psychology (especially social psych) and economics are particularly good examples of fields with plentiful study and tests, which whose conclusions are always couched in the assumptions of the test-makers and observers. This is why such a large degree (I would argue the vast majority) of study in these fields amounts basically to "did we even test in a meaningful way" and even if they did, still leaves them with "but what can we draw from this that is conclusive and which we can call solid data?" Making sense out of that quagmire is where the social sciences still have to cut their teeth, because the issue of the validity of the tests is enormous and thus far not solved. You can look at almost any psych study and poke holes in anything ranging from its methodology, sample size, conclusions, premises, you name it. This is decidedly not a problem in physics, where there is no question of getting 'real data' about projectile motion or luminosity. That is because in a way physics is a simpler subject, so that makes sense. Probably in 500 years psychology may be a science in this sense, but right now it is not (not to be confused with neuroscience, which is a different story).

So I think this is an English/German translation issue, maybe, because undoubtedly people do tests and make hypotheses in the social sciences all the time. Much data is drawn, numbers collected, samples measures, and all that. But what out of it came from really good tests and generated what we would call "solid facts" about the world is a big question. Yes, you can obviously take a survey and count the number of yesses and nos in the survey, and report the number. But that's not "data" in the sense that it's meant in physics or chemistry. I mean, it is literal information, so in that sense it's data, but it's not data in the sense of being hard numbers about the universe that no individual can refute. There are types of probabilistic tests, as you say, that show a certain result within a certain margin of error, such as (in medicine) how many people got the flu last season, and which percent were of which demographic, and therefore what can we expect next season. That may be accurate within a margin of error, but as there are no control and experimental cases in that type of study it's still a very muddy 'science' in the sense that you can't create reproducible results.

Does all of this make sense? I think maybe it's why there's so much bickering here on the term "science". Or at least I hope it is.

On a side note:

"2) "science" is viewed as a tool of explaining phenomena (theoretical sciences) or making them more useful (practical sciences). That was - in brief - neo-Popperian paradigm of science (still popular among many philosophers of science)."

I'm not sure whether Jason R or anyone else stated the definition of the term in precisely this way, so not sure why you're trying to refute it in this way. That said, the phrase itself "Popperian paradigm of science" is itself based directly in Kuhn's philosophy of science, which to wit is still a current and regular theory of the sciences. Namely, that a given paradigm reigns so long as it can best house the data, until the point where too many cracks in it force a revolution. I mention this because this type of revolution - one in which a longstanding paradigm is finally overturned - is specifically contingent on the field being one where there is a paradigm in the first place more or less universally accepted as "correct". At least, by enough of the majority that its basic assumptions are those used as axioms in the daily workplace. In fields ranging from economics to psychology to archaeology, there are no such universally accepted paradigms that are accepted as "facts of nature", and so therefore there can be no revolutions in Kuhn's sense - and therefore they are not sciences in the way he understood it. And I remind you that Kuhn is still current and accepted as at minimum a contender for the theory of how sciences work in practice.
Tue, Sep 22, 2020, 2:22am (UTC -6)
Nietzsche's "The Gay Science" (which used to be one of my favorite philosophical books and from what I understand was a difficult title to translate) may very well back up your argument there Peter G.
Tue, Sep 22, 2020, 7:28am (UTC -6)
@ Peter
What you are describing is empirical research and the divide you see is more because a social scientist cannot put people in the LHC and see what happens because that would be "wrong". :)

The point is that if we could do science without any regard for the wellbeing of the test subjects then we could produce far more general results. Every research that could harm people (and harm is meant in the most broadest sense) has to be cleared by an ethics board. For example, I mentioned this once. A famous study that any fresh student of sociology will encounter fairly early on is the employment discrimination study. You send a certain number of resumes to employers. One with a "white" name and one with a "black" name. Apart from the names they are identical. Then you measure how many invites employers send. (It is 2 to 1 for the US by the way). That has to be cleared with an ethics board because you are stealing the time of those companies and the companies have to be informed later on.
Everybody knows the really messed up stuff they did until the 60s like Milgram. So the problem is ethical boundaries not that we couldn't produce exact results.

"You can look at almost any psych study and poke holes in anything ranging from its methodology, sample size, conclusions, premises, you name it. This is decidedly not a problem in physics, where there is no question of getting 'real data' about projectile motion or luminosity."
That is what statistics is for. Look up confidence intervals if you want to know more.

I also think you are making an over-generalization. There are parts of human science where the data is weak. ex post facto designs often have that problem.
When you construct a questionnaire you have to follow a million rules. You would not believe it. And apart from that you need as much people as possible. The more people you ask the more easily can something be generalized. Optimally you would ask anybody. One form most people have encountered is a census. But there are many parts who are very accurate like demography and other fields.

In German science is called Wissenschaft, which literally means creating knowledge. So yeah there may also be a differing understanding of the term science.

"And I remind you that Kuhn is still current and accepted as at minimum a contender for the theory of how sciences work in practice. "
Sure, sure. I want to mention though that much of Popper's work preceded Kuhn's . I'm not sure what you mean with Popper being based on Kuhn. It's probably the other way around. I also think that you are applying the paradigm shift concept somewhat incorrectly. Popper by the way disliked the book and dismissed it outright and I would argue that he was and is still far more influential than Kuhn. Also one could argue that psychology for example had several paradigm shifts already. They drill far less holes these days, for example. :D

I find it somewhat amusing that you throw Kuhn at me. I'm impressed. Most people here don't have the faintest idea what they are talking about.

Sorry if that is all very incoherent. I'm on vacation, as much as these times allow...

Again my problem was that this guy wrote something akin to all them megalomaniac social scientists who do things should be forced to watch this episode because the word statistics is mentioned in it. I always laughed about the sentence from Bashir which goes like this:" We created an algorithm which becomes more accurate the more we go into the future." This is such obvious nonsense. very funny *chuckling*
Tue, Sep 22, 2020, 4:43pm (UTC -6)
As a graduate of one of the lesser regarded social sciences, I am absolutely tickled that a discussion of the validity of said sciences has become a discussion of what the *word* science means. Meaning making and the interpretation of words and symbols among different perspectives being a rather big area of social sciences. Ha.

That's all, carry on.
Sun, Nov 15, 2020, 3:24pm (UTC -6)
Well, looks like I’m eating my words re. my thoughts on Siddig’s unprofessionalism in “Dr. Bashir, I Presume”. That’ll teach me to comment before I watch the entire show.

If Siddig had just cheerfully carried along as an actor without showing how wrong some of his new characterizations of being genetically engineered were, we might have ended up with an even more annoying “doctor who clone” character. (Which is the vibe he gives off in earlier episodes.)

In this episode, it felt like the writers were giving him a chance to flesh out his characterization and redeem himself. Which he did.

One of the things I dislike about modern television is how easy it is for an actor to be written out, so they don’t get a chance to redeem themselves.

Back to this episode. The character actors did a good job, too. They were stereotypes/caricatures, but that was how they were written, and they brought them to life and made them convincing enough to get the point across.
Sun, Nov 15, 2020, 3:47pm (UTC -6)
"That’ll teach me to comment before I watch the entire show."
Never! Mistakes are to be made. Because nothing is more healthy and humbling than admitting mistakes.

I always liked Bashir a little more than the average fan. On DS9 he always seemed to be the most Trekkian character. Always the determined idealist.
Wed, Jan 20, 2021, 11:26pm (UTC -6)
This is a really good episode.

It seems quite obvious the Aspies’ projections are ridiculous. Did they consider what the Prophets might do? Etc. The reality is they couldn’t predict what would happen in an hour and they are predicting centuries.

But It does seem plausible this group would drift into this self kool-aid drinking mind trip.

The Jack crazy was annoying because he’s copying Brad Pitt’s 12 Monkeys character and not very effectively.
Wed, Jan 20, 2021, 11:34pm (UTC -6)
And if they could make such grand predictions, why didn’t they predict their recommendations would be rejected?
Mon, Feb 15, 2021, 7:55am (UTC -6)
Episodes like this and "Hippocratic Oath" really make me hate Bashir. First he is feeling sympathy for the Jem'hadar and works on a cure to make them stronger now here he suggests that the Federation surrender the war to them. Dude are you secretly working for the Dominion?

Then he thinks because he is genetically engineered that he's the smartest and what he thinks is always right "I know what's best for everyone how dare you not see that?" That and his sense of moral superiority makes him such an unlikable character to me.
Tue, Feb 16, 2021, 10:39am (UTC -6)
Without spoiling it for you, DonMel, if you keep watching you'll see that at least some people in the DS9 universe agree with every word of your first paragraph.
Mon, Jun 21, 2021, 4:41pm (UTC -6)
It is pretty comical to think Starfleet gave top secret information to a bunch of people from an insane asylum.
Fri, Jul 9, 2021, 6:51am (UTC -6)
I might well be opening a can of worms here, but over the past year I have drawn a huge number of parallels to this DS9 episode and some of the 'public health advice' based on mathematical models by real life megalomaniacs.
Mon, Oct 18, 2021, 4:55pm (UTC -6)
Very much Star Trek: Foundation in this episode, as Bashir and his fellow metahumans engage in a little psychohistory, predicting terrible consequences to deaf ears, right down to the, "If we plan our downfall properly, a new and better Empire - uh, Federation - will rise in the future."

What's interesting to me is that, like many fans who hate Bashir, DS9 takes a decidedly anti-intellectual tack in "Statistical Probabilities." The lesson of the episode basically boils down to, "Pfft. Eggheads. What do they know?" Which mirrors a lot of sentiment in the fanbase, who say things like, "I hate Bashir because he thinks he's so smart," despite the fact that Bashir *literally is* so smart.

Which is not to blame Trekkies; this is a very American sentiment, in general. Many Americans have an acute intellectual inferiority complex, such that they dislike, fear, and distrust any appearance of not just intelligence, but also expertise. They respond to expertise not with, "You're a top mind in your field; your words in that field carry extra weight," but with a dismissive, "You think you're so smart," or even, "You're just saying that because you have an agenda."

It angers them that anyone is smarter than they are, or more knowledgeable. This is a major reason why the recent triumphs of feeling over fact have been so marked, and why Americans have embraced the conflation of fact and opinion. The logical progression has been sadly predictable, and even more sadly inexorable, given the consequences that have resulted.

Anyway, "Statistical Probabilities" trafficks in this kind of anti-intellectualism, running with a smart-people-are-so-dumb storyline to the point that Bashir misses the glaringly obvious reasons why his group's analysis will be/is rejected, and why it's wrong. This is the old, tired trope that being smart means you lose your moral compass, and/or empathy. Bashir - a fucking DOCTOR, for fuck's sake - somehow doesn't account for the moral and empathetic implications of his group's work, suddenly incapable of understanding elementary human behavior.

If the writers had been *ahem* smarter, this episode might have been interesting and challenging. Instead, it's a preview of the entire series, "Bones."
Peter G.
Mon, Oct 18, 2021, 6:02pm (UTC -6)
@ Randall,

I'll offer a counterpoint to your take on it; call it an equal and opposite possibility. I think the episode may (also) be saying that people who believe they're smarter than everyone will almost inevitably start to think of themselves as also being above and beyond them. The god complex is something being examined, where not only the perception but the actual fact of being much smarter than others reduces empathy almost automatically, and where the paternalistic "we are better than you and will decide for you" is a reflection on the power-madness that comes with both means and motive to prove superiority. From this way of looking at it, it's not just an accidental plot hole that Bashir - a man of healing - has forgotten his bedside manner and is treating the entire race like little more than a petri dish. I would say this is in fact the point: even the most tenderhearted person might turn into a Gary Mitchel or a Khan in the right circumstance. Hide and Q pretty much openly explores this, but Statistical Probabilities does so perhaps more subtly (if my read is right). The superior mutants end up cloistering together and in opposition to the lowly regular humans. If we're going to bring up Asimov, then there are shades here of I, Robot, and of the dictum to save humanity coming with the solution of enslaving it.

I might also point out that, on a purely individual level, DS9 is making the case that Bashir has long been hiding what he is, and even after his reveal it's never allowed to really become apparent what he is until this episode. But now that he can unleash totally, emboldened by the mutants who by contrast make him appear relatively normal, it's no surprise that he would go much too far and in admitting his superiority openly would also lack the boundaries that require years to build up in tempering IQ with respect for others. He didn't have a childhood of living among normals to socialize him, so his options thus far were to hide or else to wield his intelligence like a cudgel. Even his 'joking' with O'Brien about being feebleminded is a major misstep, which even he knows barely passes as a joke and is really honest on some level. At what point do you begin to simply dismiss anything anyone else once you're sure they're all the equivalent of little children?
Peter G.
Mon, Oct 18, 2021, 6:04pm (UTC -6)
* anyone else says (last sentence)
Mon, Oct 18, 2021, 6:50pm (UTC -6)
Randall does bring up some interesting points and I think the idea that Bashir is acting a little off-character is an understandable criticism - perhaps an unavoidable side effect of trying to convey Foundation's story with Star Trek characters.

Peter's read is also a plausible one considering that the episode brings up the concept that here Bashir is finally able to converse with people "on his level". To that end, Bashir gets caught up in the euphoria of newly found comrades and forgets some of the tenets he mastered posing as a regular person. Those tenets likely grounded him. Season 7's "Chrysalis" also explores a Bashir that's overeager because he's found his perfect partner, one made by a marriage of his medical skill and mental powers. But that too backfires on him as he forgets the simple human concept of empathizing with his partner.

I'll add also that while Bashir's intelligence gets an indictment here, the episode isn't necessarily anti-intellectual. Starfleet and Sisko were willing to accept Bashir & co.'s predictions up to a point. It wasn't until the predictions became grim that Bashir was cast out. This mirrors the life of Hari Seldon who, at least in the books, was a hero of the Empire in his early career but then became an outcast (Raven Seldon) when the Empire started to decay. One might argue this episode is even *more optimistic* than Foundation. It leaves a door open in the ending for Bashir and the other augments to predict again — if they can figure out a path to *defeat* the Dominion.
Mon, Oct 18, 2021, 7:12pm (UTC -6)
@ Peter G

You make some good points; in particular, the trap of power and how it might change one's perspective on those who don't have it. That top-down view contrasts with my previous, bottom-up view. I suspect the truth, as ever, lies somewhere in the middle.

Having said that, the power trap trades in the same sentiment as the old saying, "Power corrupts." I prefer the updated version that states, "Power doesn't corrupt; it reveals." That is, give someone the power to do a thing, and what they do reveals who they always were.

Bashir's behavior suggests he's always had a superiority complex, a broken moral compass, and doesn't really care about the people around him. That doesn't sound like the Bahsir we've been watching for five and a half seasons. I suppose we could say that he has those *tendencies,* and struggles to overcome them daily, but this is a dim and rather cynical view of the character, and of humanity in general. I mean, nobody exercises power perfectly, but this is far beyond letting it go to his head a little. It reveals something truly ugly in his character.

*If* we accept the episode/characterization as well-written, and I'm not sure I do.

Captain Sisko is in command of DS9, and is revered as a sort of messiah among the Bajoran people. Does this power corrupt him, or reveal him? It seems to do the latter, as he navigates morally complex issues with a very accurate moral compass. He's not perfect, but neither does he go completely off the rails, as Bashir does.

So what's the difference? I can't help noticing that Sisko wields institutional power, that of the paramilitary Starfleet, and that of the Bajoran religion. It neither requires nor particularly welcomes any of the hallmarks of intellectualism. Skepticism, for instance, would tend to conflict with the Bajoran religion, as it's indisputable fact that the Bajoran "prophets" are extra-dimensional aliens, not supernatural entities. None of the trappings of Bajoran religion are relevant to the fact of the wormhole aliens; grabbing ears to measure pagh, walking with the prophets, etc.

And yet, Sisko continually slides toward religious interpretation of the aliens, eventually ceasing to call them what they actually are, and playing his role as Emissary straight. At this point, we're in that sufficiently-advanced territory, where any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and as a corollary, any sufficiently advanced intelligence is indistinguishable from gods. Except we know for a fact they're *not* gods. And yet...

Point being, Sisko is the anti-intellectual. His world becomes one of feeling over fact, faith over evidence. And guess who comes along to run face-first into that worldview? Dr Bashir. The intellectual. And he's set up to fail in this episode, because *his* power corrupts him. So either way, the fault is in our Julian. Either way, the avatar of religious faith is right, and the avatar of science and intellect is wrong.

So, while your interpretation is reasonable, and logically consistent, I can't help thinking it's based on a faulty premise. The evidence of what the writers did is before our eyes. Power corrupts Bashir, but not Sisko. I have my guesses why.
Mon, Oct 18, 2021, 7:20pm (UTC -6)
@ Chrome

I'd say the ending of "Statistical Probabilities" is less optimistic than "Foundation", not more so. Hari Seldon rebuffs the Empire's demands, and sticks to his predictions. Bashir and the "mutants" end up buckling to state power. The difference the writers give us (by default) is that Bashir and company are wrong, whereas Hari Seldon was right. And of course they *were* wrong and he *was* right.

Having said that, it's a little depressing that Asimov depicted a character/science free to pursue truth, without institutional interference, and finding it, whereas the writers of DS9 suggest that intellectual pursuit outside the grip of institutional power leads to Very Bad Things.
Mon, Oct 18, 2021, 7:39pm (UTC -6)

Actually, and I mentioned this earlier in the comment section, many of the predictions made in this episode by Bashir come true later on in the series. Given that, it does seem like DS9's writers do side with Bashir and the augments to a degree. It's just that they wanted to be even-handed and show the possible negative consequences of prediction by data.

Remember also that Seldon's predictions weren't always correct, and without spoiling the books too much, psychohistory isn't the best model for a new Galactic Empire.
Peter G.
Mon, Oct 18, 2021, 8:14pm (UTC -6)
@ Randall,

"Bashir's behavior suggests he's always had a superiority complex, a broken moral compass, and doesn't really care about the people around him. That doesn't sound like the Bahsir we've been watching for five and a half seasons. I suppose we could say that he has those *tendencies,* and struggles to overcome them daily, but this is a dim and rather cynical view of the character, and of humanity in general. I mean, nobody exercises power perfectly, but this is far beyond letting it go to his head a little. It reveals something truly ugly in his character."

We could take a different tack, though, in interpreting not only his current behavior but re-interpreting his past behavior. We could see his behavior with the augments as being a genuine superiority complex, but then we run into trouble tracking that with his past behavior. I personally agree that it doesn't track. But that still leaves it being an apparent superiority complex, hiding an inferiority complex. Looking over the seasons, and perhaps emphasizing S1-2, brash and cocky Bashir always seems to me to be trying too hard to impress. Kira rolling her eyes at him gives me no end of amusement because of how preposterous his attitude is. Someone sure of themselves would be content to be quiet, like O'Brien. Bashir craves attention, yes, but IMO it's validation he wants. The episode where the 1st in his class forgets him is telling, because he falls into a depression when he realizes he wasn't overblown in her mind.

If we fast forward to this episode and hypothesize that he does have either an inferiority complex, or else perhaps at least a glaring need to prove himself and be complimented by others, I can see how being among the augments would cause this to go into hyperdrive and put him in a mindset of getting these jolts of validation from the socially inept mutants, whilst also being complimented by the fact that he can run with them as equals while also being able to speak to normal people. It's a real ego boost, but one where instead of being satisfied he keeps needing more and more validation, which I think is why he's so beside himself when Sisko isn't impressed by the future-analysis. He says he's depressed because everyone is going to die, but maybe he's just depressed because Daddy told him no. Anyhow, it's an alternative to supposing he feels superior, which I think is more consistent with his past characterization.

It makes sense, btw, that he's feel inferior, since (a) he knows that he was born below average and needed genetic help, (b) only got where he was because of his parents' cheating, and (c) he seems to experience loneliness as one of his more prevalent emotions, which could lead him to feel like a failure.

Just on the issue of Foundation vs DS9 and which is more optimistic about prediction, I think we need to bear in mind what each author is actually saying. Asimov did have psychohistory work, however galactic affairs did need course corrections over time to keep things on track. This means that Seldon's predictions weren't a perfect deterministic fait accomplis, but maybe more of a plan of sorts that could come to pass *if* things went well. The augment prediction here seems to ride on the premise that they've taken *everything* into account, which is crazier than what Seldon does. And although they do a pretty damn good job on their predictions, it's simply ridiculous to think they could take everything into account. Mass social movements, available resources, and so forth, are perhaps predictable to a degree, but I don't see how they could predict things like technological breakthroughs, some war in the Gamma Quadrant with a race no one had heard of, some godlike alien of the week waltzing by, Q, or of course the Prophets. In short, they dramatically ignored some stuff that is quite clearly important in the Trek canon. Maybe we can ascribe this to a bad mapping of the Asimov onto DS9? Except even in the Asimov it's shown that Seldon's predictions can't take into account game-changers (his name starts with an M). So neither could ever really be effective except maybe in the medium-term at prediction.
Tue, Oct 19, 2021, 12:26am (UTC -6)
@ Chrome
@ Peter G

I think we've about covered it, so I'll leave it to any future readers to think about what has been said, and process it however they see fit. Thanks for the engagement. Peace and long life.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Tue, Oct 19, 2021, 10:19am (UTC -6)
I think the main difference between the DS9 scenario and American anti-intellectualism (which I do agree is a toxic and frightening situation) is that the "mutants" are simply declaring themselves correct and taking it upon themselves to implement their supposed solution. It's not "these mutants think they're so smart, we're not going to listen to them" it's "these 'normal' humans are so far beneath us they have no chance of even comprehending our brilliant theories." So it comes across as a case of "just believe us because we're smart" which is not far off from believing something on faith.

It's been a while since I've watched this one, and while I know there was back-and-forth with Starfleet (including the ridiculous notion that they gave the "mutants" classified information to work with), I still don't get the sense that there was any time given to properly vet any of these theories/calculations. That's the main problem here, IMO. Even if their theories were somehow proven, it doesn't follow that their solutions are also correct. They didn't account for possible black swan events anyway, it seems, so like O'Brien said to Bashir, "Either I'm more feeble-minded than you ever imagined, or you're not a smart as you think you are."
Tue, Oct 19, 2021, 10:36am (UTC -6)
And is Bashir really that smart? In the reveal episode of his intelligence he said his IQ went up 5 points for 14 days. That means 70 points but when we keep in mind he probably had an IQ around 60, then that amounts to an IQ of ~130. That is not that smart. Certainly not super Einstein.

I also chuckled about a line in this episode when Bashir says something like that their model becomes more correct the further in the future it predicts. Hahaha.

Nice debate, guys. Very interesting.
Wed, Oct 20, 2021, 2:22am (UTC -6)
Ugh. Re-watched the episode, and it's actually worse than I remembered. I forgot how heavily they leaned into the autistic genius trope, and how thick they laid on the, "You thought you were sooooo smart..." I get that regular writers aren't going to be able to write super-geniuses, but damn. Do they have to pack in so many hack stereotypes?

And yeah, it's well-steeped in anti-intellectualism, using O'Brien as the mouthpiece for whichever writer lost an argument at a party to someone smarter than they were, as Bashir runs afoul of the Dunning-Kruger Effect at every turn. Most people use that study to say stupid people are too stupid to know how stupid they are, but there's another side of it: The smarter you are, the more you underrate your abilities. Which makes it even less likely Bashir would behave that way. This episode is what a not-super-smart person thinks really smart people are like.

There's a lot of, "X is the last acceptable form of prejudice in this country" out there, and to that list, I'll add anti-intellectualism. "Statistical Probabilities" is not remarkable in its contempt for intelligence, by a long shot. I'll try to remember to avoid this episode in future.
Sean J Hagins
Sat, Nov 13, 2021, 1:42am (UTC -6)
A very good episode. I really think of Isaac Asimov's Foundation books when watching this (which apparently was the inspiration for the writers) The fact that there are things an individual (like the Mule) can do that will throw a wrench in all the careful planning is shown brilliantly here. Of course, it is different-in the Foundation series, the Mule was a mutant who was very much outside the scope of psychohistory, and in Star Trek, various events happen which are outside of the Alpha Quandrant vs Dominion war.
Sean J Hagins
Sat, Nov 13, 2021, 1:46am (UTC -6)
@PeterG-I did not read all of the comments, but I do agree that Seldon's plan was just that-a plan. As well, throughout the time period where it was used, the Second Foundation was also very active in giving it a push where needed. The predictions in this episode of Star Trek are blanket statements that don't take into account what will happen in future.
Mon, Dec 13, 2021, 10:25pm (UTC -6)
This episode plays best upon first viewing. Once you know where it's headed, it loses some of its impact; indeed, you're left just looking at wackos, slowing making fools of themselves.

But that first viewing is special. There's something thrilling about watching these guys run their permutations, and make wildly complex predictions. The episode's climax is also beautifully dour, at least before Sisko drops a dollop of optimism on everybody's heads.

I think I'd have liked if the pessimistic predictions were handed over to Starfleet and then accepted as being true. Have Starfleet and Vulcan computers then confirm that the odds of winning the war are low, which then spurs the Federation to consider negotiating surrender terms. Then go into season 7 with ultra-pessimistic vibes.
Tue, Dec 14, 2021, 2:26am (UTC -6)
@Chrome said, "Okay, predicting the future with math was obviously influenced by Asimov's Foundation novels. And I give credit to the writers for being familiar with his work and trying to work a "psychohistory" type plot into the show. It just bothers me that Bashir would actually buy the math himself. He's been on the front lines throughout this series, and he knows how small factors could make his equations come apart like a house of cards.”

There is a great comparison between Statistical Probabilities and the new Foundation Apple TV show here,

Of course it doesn’t hurt that Alexander Siddig was in both!

What’s fascinating about DS9 is, as pointed out by @Dreubarik, how perfectly it captures the hubris of the gifted.

These folks are clearly better at math than anyone. They have better models than anyone. And that leads them to believe that their models are the Truth. Anyone who doesn’t agree, is simply going against The Science. Like O’Brien,

O'BRIEN: The way you're acting, you'd think nobody with half a brain could possibly disagree with you.

BASHIR: Frankly, I don't see how they can.

Of course Asimov was himself one of those high-IQ science types, and he knew their faults first hand. So he set up a perfect Psychohistory, set up a scientific oracle - Hari Seldon - and then smashed it all to pieces.

He invented the Mule. (h/t @Sean J Hagins).

See the Mule was telepathic, empathic - he had an ability that was not factored into Seldon’s model. After all, the only model that is 100% accurate, is the universe itself. Everything else is 100% certain to be wrong - we just don’t know how or if it will matter.

In DS9, we had not one but two Mules, to change the course of the war.

First the Prophets. Could Bashir and his merry gang of savants predict what the hell those wormhole aliens would do?

Second, Section 31. Bashir could not have known that Federation citizens would resort to biological WMDs to commit genocide.

What about Q, as @Jamie Mann asks, or time travel? Did their models incorporate those potential plot twists?

If fact, contra to what @TheRealTrent says, watching this episode again and again is so much fun! Here’s what @TheRealTrent wants to see:

"Have Starfleet and Vulcan computers then confirm that the odds of winning the war are low…”

But then here is where @TheRealTrent makes a left turn,

“...the war are low, which then spurs the Federation to consider negotiating surrender terms.”

Go back. Rewatch the episode. See what Bashir actually recommends:

BASHIR: Actually, sir, we should give them Kabrel.

SISKO: Why is that?

BASHIR: If we don't, the Dominion will be forced to attack before their stockpile of White runs out. Here are the casualty projections. As you can see, an attack would result in devastating casualties for both sides.

SISKO: You're suggesting we stall?

BASHIR: It'll buy us time to rebuild our defences and bring the Romulans into the alliance.

SISKO: The Romulans?

The Romulans.

9 episodes later, in “Inquisition”, Section 31 tests Bashir to make sure he is loyal. He passes. And the very next episode, Starfleet approves of a plan to bring the Romulans into the war,

SISKO: I was off the hook. Starfleet Command had given the plan their blessing.

So by the end of season 6, far from, as @TheRealTrent says, DS9 going "into season 7 with ultra-pessimistic vibes,” instead Starfleet has taken a wrecking ball to Bashir’s models.

Their plan to infect the Founders is progressing methodically - something not accounted for in Bashir’s model. And their plans to bring the Romulans into the war have also succeeded. Not to mention that ever since “Sacrifice of Angels” it seems, even the Bajoran gods were on their side! The best Dukat can do is cut them out of the game.

They had to kill off Jadzia just to manufacture a little pessimism needed for a cliff hanger. Otherwise, by all accounts, everything was proceeding according to plan. With more than enough time to enjoy a baseball game with the Vulcans ;)

* - *

The point of the Mule was that no matter how perfect Seldon made his math, he could never predict everything. So he left open room for the current keepers of the plan (the Second Foundation) to make a difference. The point of DS9 was the same. No matter how perfect Bashir and his friends made their models, they could never account for everything.

Models are not evil. They can be very helpful.

BASHIR: Captain Sisko said he would take our analyses to Starfleet Command right away.

JACK: Imagine that, Starfleet Command.

LAUREN: All those admirals.

PATRICK: It's a party!

Rather, it is the Blind Faith that you know Everything just because you know more than others - that is Hubris.

Seldon did not suffer from hubris. He allowed room in his plan for the unforeseen to overtake his models. And so, in the end, they won. Same with Starfleet.

If you just roll over and accept when they tell you you cannot win, then you’ve already lost.
Wed, Dec 15, 2021, 2:45pm (UTC -6)
Mal said: "Their plan to infect the Founders is progressing methodically - something not accounted for in Bashir’s model. And their plans to bring the Romulans into the war have also succeeded. Not to mention that ever since “Sacrifice of Angels” it seems, even the Bajoran gods were on their side! [...] hey had to kill off Jadzia just to manufacture a little pessimism needed for a cliff hanger. Otherwise, by all accounts, everything was proceeding according to plan. With more than enough time to enjoy a baseball game with the Vulcans ;)

This is an interesting post. The war's typically described by fans as a close-call, with the Federation out of its depth and ultimately very-very lucky. But your description really sells the idea of a calm, collected, methodical organization, which does lots of thinking and calculating and manipulating and orchestrating in the background (or off screen). I've always viewed the Federation as rather tactically inept in this show (why not secure the wormhole much earlier? Why not park some superweapons at its mouth?), but in hindsight they seem on top of the Dominion for the last two seasons. And they were plotting their little Founder's virus at least as early as season 4.
Wed, Dec 15, 2021, 3:34pm (UTC -6)
"Statistical Probabilities" is a good episode of DS9 filled with believable characters. I met many high intellect individuals through the years who I felt, while watching, I was seeing brought to life again in these figures: Jack, Patrick, and Lauren. Some of those I met were free to be cruel, inflict pain and make others into toys. (I recommend viewing Hitchcock's film Rope in tandem with this episode).

Nevertheless, can't make the charge that IQ led to the abuses, for far less lofty minds are capable of those same behaviors.

The 'hubris of the gifted' (a terrific phrase, h/t to @ Dreubarik) shows itself to me to be a misguided faith in calculation as the premier measure of intellect (6.90343594).

The title comes from lines uttered by Sisko during a conversation with Bashir in which Bashir recommends surrender to the Dominion. It's an interesting dilemma isn't it: surrender, save billions of lives, lose the current war but in losing be absolutely certain (based on calculation) that the yoke will eventually be thrown off and a better federation created in the process.
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 7:59pm (UTC -6)
It's a good episode overall but it's filled with far too many just plain goofy things. At least twice twice it has Jack do a completely strange and unnecessary front flip for no reason at all and is honestly not even done well, the cut to a stunt man and back is pretty obvious.
Also I don't get what is supposed to make "Lauren" so dangerous to society or to herself that she must remain locked away. What is her "side effect" exactly? Super smart but too "super horny"?
Sat, Apr 9, 2022, 6:00pm (UTC -6)
I'm not sure anti intellectualism was intended here.

To me it just seemed characters like Miles were fumbling while disagreeing with Julian because they didn't want to be rude and point out that he's slipped into a kool aid delusion with his newfound and mentally ill friends.

The group's conviction of their projections of Dominion victory is ridiculous on its face because it requires perfect knowledge of now and the future. But Julian is, understandably, quite sensitive about the issue of the "mutants".

Also, Julian does eventually come to this understanding himself.
Mon, Sep 19, 2022, 12:22pm (UTC -6)
I liked this one although its purpose eludes me. Then again, most of the show's episodes have been pretty much standalone, so not a big deal.

The episode is the perfect example of characters being in service of the story rather than the other way around. The story was good, so the characters were amiable and engaging rather than annoying or tiresome, as would've been the case if they would've been given center stage or if the story was weak.

I think for folks with experience of "special needs" this ep. would carry additional meaning and appeal.

I totally subscribe to The Cisco's motto of going down swinging. You NEVER EVER get down on your knees and meekly await your execution. You NEVER EVER dutifully get on a cattle cart on the promise of being relocated to a summer camp. You NEVER EVER accept abuse, humiliation, mistreatment, or bullying just because whoever is dishing it out is bigger and stronger than you. Always, always, always fight back against those meaning to do you harm, no matter how hopeless. Better die on your feet than live on your knees.

Aside from that, is it me or has Bashir visibly aged?
Gilligan’s Starship
Sat, Nov 12, 2022, 8:15pm (UTC -6)
Good premise, but the cast of intergalactic “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” inmates was played a little too over the top. Bring in Louise Fletcher as Kai Winn and we could’ve had a scene with Nurse Ratched!

I’ve never gotten this far into the series before, so I hope they evolve past this “stuck up” version of genetically superior Julian, because he’s thoroughly unlikeable. And he’s an actor I really enjoy, he’s one of my favorite characters in Ridley Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven.”
Sun, Apr 30, 2023, 10:33am (UTC -6)
I thought @Fenn had the best take on this episode. The characters were exaggerations of different traits experienced in neurodivergent people, and it's clear that Bashir felt an elation at not having to mask his neurodivergence anymore when he was among them. Patrick had rejection sensitive dysphoria (extreme emotional response to rejection that is difficult to regulate). All of the group were very good at reading facial cues which is something that some neurodivergent people spend a lot of time analyzing since they have to learn these things to mask in society. I'm neurodivergent myself but not in the ways represented here, so I would imagine autistic people or people with NPD (the neurotypes they seem to be based on) would have varying reactions to the episode.

Given the history of unfair institutionalisation of people with inherited mental illnesses or neurodivergence, the eerie role of The Institution in their lives was compelling backdrop. Jack himself said that Bashir wasn't like them because he hadn't been sent to the Institution, and the previous doctor was the one who advocated for them to be separated from the unspecified "other" inmates. They had been through a lot. It is not surprising that once they had someone like them on the inside who was actually taking them seriously, they got carried away with their predictions.

NPD (Narcicisstic Personality Disorder) is actually another good parallel for what the people here are experiencing. Contrary to the more general use of the word "narcissist", this particular mental health diagnosis isn't about a person's ability to care for others or selfishness, but is about having an over-inflated sense of self-importance. The group here believe so sincerely in their predictions that they are willing to risk everything to save the world since they know better than everyone else. It's a sort of tragic situation that I thought was explored reasonably well here.

There are of course things that don't age well in this episode, but I agree with an earlier commenter that for the 90s this was a pretty good take - institutionalising people makes them frustrated when they want to participate in society and can lead to antisocial behaviours, and locking away people who can't perform "normal" behaviour is unjust. The scene where Bashir dances with them and refuses to be put off about the joy of it all even when O'Brien comes in and makes it seem like they're all weirdos really warmed my heart. (Interestingly, O'Brien earlier in the episode had some classic "we're not excluding them, we just don't want them *here*" bigotry. I liked that in the end he reminded Julian that the augments *did* contribute, referring to the Kasel system revelation, showing that his own biases had been challenged in the episode.)

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