Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Ethics"

3 stars

Air date: 3/2/1992
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by Sara Charno & Stuart Charno
Directed by Chip Chalmers

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

An accident in a cargo bay crushes seven of Worf's vertebrae; Crusher tells Worf the injury may be permanent and that he may be a paraplegic the rest of his life. This is not good news for our resident Klingon (not that it would be for anyone, granted); he sees this injury as the effective end of his life — so much so that he wants Riker to help him perform a Klingon suicide ritual in the name of "honor."

"Ethics" a better episode than I had remembered from when I originally saw it, and also better than what I know from its reputation. Granted, there are some very silly notions in this episode, most of them beginning and ending with Worf and his beliefs. The notion of a Klingon warrior seeing honor in assisted suicide seems fairly absurd to me, especially since there are conventional treatment options that would give back Worf as much as 60 percent of his mobility.

Riker is appalled that he has been asked to kill a friend whose life is very far from worthless. If there's a saving grace to the story's notion of Worf's desire to die, it's that Riker argues vehemently against it more than once and denounces it as the selfish insanity that it is. The flip side of that coin is Picard, whose insistence on respecting cultural beliefs has him defending Worf's point of view — never mind that this ignores the fact that Worf is a Starfleet officer who has duties, and Picard is the captain of a starship that arguably should be looking out for the good of the community and not just this one person's wishes.

Enter into this fray Dr. Toby Russell (Caroline Kava), a surgeon who wants to try an experimental procedure to replace Worf's spinal cord with cloned tissue; there's a very good chance Worf would die on the operating table under this procedure, which has never been tried on a living patient. Crusher is not impressed with Russell's methods; Russell puts the acceleration of her research ahead of individual patients' welfare. In one scene, Russell treats a man with an experimental procedure rather than a conventional one, and the man dies. Would he have died otherwise? Probably, but Russell seems more interested in advancing her research than saving the patient. Crusher has a big-time problem with this, and rightly so. Their confrontations are a selling point here.

"Ethics" ends up being a fairly engaging hour that examines these arguments of personal responsibility alongside the beliefs that come into conflict. There's the two-pronged approach of doctors carrying out (or not) the Hippocratic Oath, as well as Riker as a man trying to balance the need to respect his own beliefs alongside those of his friend. There's a nice monologue where Riker calls out Worf for choosing such a selfish course of action that doesn't even consider that it would leave Alexander an orphan. (Worf makes for one awful patient, I must say. I also must say that the story acknowledges that point.)

The final act, where Worf goes through with the experimental procedure, over Crusher's objections — and actually dies (temporarily) on the operating table — is well executed, albeit shamelessly manipulative. And, of course, Worf — who is in what looks to be extended rehab by the end of the episode — will be magically 100 percent by the next installment. But for all its flaws, I found this episode solid because of its ability to argue the various sides of its issues, even if I didn't buy all of them.

Previous episode: Power Play
Next episode: The Outcast

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281 comments on this post

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grumpy_otter
Wed, May 11, 2011, 6:29am (UTC -6)
Do you recall the first time you saw this one? When Worf died, I thought he might really be dead. They had killed Yar, after all.

I agree, they handled it well. I think I had a little tear in me eye when he came back.

Also wanted to say I like Caroline Kava in this episode very much--she played her part perfectly. They could have made her entirely a villain, and she wasn't at all. She DID care about her patients--just not quite as much as her own work. I loved her last look back at Crusher as she left the ship--I don't think her mind had been changed at all.

Having seen "Parallels," I was also thinking--"Hey, this is when Worf and Deanna first hook up!"
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startrekwatcher
Wed, May 11, 2011, 8:11pm (UTC -6)
This episode definitely gives you a lot to reflect on. I thought Worf was the perfect person to use in this episode. I thought Deanna was used well and I liked that they brought in Alexander who I don't mind and I liked the idea of Worf wanting Troi to raise him. I appreciated the mention of dead crewmates with Yar and Marla Aster. I didn't have a problem with Picard's advocacy for Worf's point of view--it wasn't like he endorsed it just respected it.

Like I've mentioned elsewhere when I first saw this I wasn't up on actor contracts and so I genuinely thought Worf died.
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Grumpy
Fri, May 13, 2011, 7:32pm (UTC -6)
Just occurred to me that a better choice for the accident victim would've been... Alexander. I mean, we *know* Worf's not going to die, but his son might. And if Riker is shocked that Worf would ask him to assist in his suicide, imagine how shocked Alexander would be when his dad tells him to off himself!
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Elliott
Fri, May 13, 2011, 7:34pm (UTC -6)
This one is easily a 3.5 if not a 4. I find it hypocritical that you dismiss Worf's beliefs here as "insanity" and praise Bajoran religious doctrine which brings that coveted "grey area" into DS9. Actually, I cannot only empathise with Worf, I personally know people who feel the exact same way ("if I'm ever told I have to live on life-support, pull the plug"). It's not insanity at all. Is it clear-cut? No, no. It's reasonable and complex and makes great use of Crusher, Troi, Riker, Worf and even Alexander in one episode that also features a strong guest character. Picard's speech to Riker is exactly why he stands as the moral compass of the Federation and Star Trek in general. Love it. Possibly the best Crusher episode of the series as well. Her delivery here is chilling and engaging.
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Josh
Sat, May 14, 2011, 8:12pm (UTC -6)
An interesting episode, to be sure, and I've always like the Dr Russell character - both in conception and execution. A few other comments: For a long time I'd always thought that Worf was actually paralyzed below the neck rather than the chest - this is probably because he is seen lying down in nearly every scene. Surely he could get to a chair! I'm also a bit more convinced by Worf's wish to die overall - yes, he could regain some mobility, but what of bowel/bladder/sexual function? All would surely have been affected as well.

Also, the surgery scene is about as ridiculous as most TNG "medicine" is. But I suppose that's par for the course.
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SC
Mon, May 16, 2011, 6:06pm (UTC -6)
I don't really see what Picard should have done differently. Worf can resign his commission, if need be, but in his current state he'd be of minimal use to Starfleet anyway, so there aren't really any pressing justifications for denying him the chance to commit suicide. Picar strikes the right tone (unlike Sisko in "Sons of Mogh").
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Plain Simple
Mon, May 23, 2011, 11:40pm (UTC -6)
@Grumpy: "Just occurred to me that a better choice for the accident victim would've been... Alexander. I mean, we *know* Worf's not going to die, but his son might. And if Riker is shocked that Worf would ask him to assist in his suicide, imagine how shocked Alexander would be when his dad tells him to off himself! "

Had they done that, it would've effectively killed Worf as a character. How could we, as the audience, continue to root for Worf as one of the good guys, if he instructs his son to commit suicide! No, it might've made for a powerful episode, but it would've been the end of the character of Worf on TNG.
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pviateur
Tue, Aug 16, 2011, 2:50pm (UTC -6)
Pet peeve #356: Why is it that despite the ship being rocked and attacked every other episode, nothing is ever secured? I can't imagine a more dangerous situation than those stacked barrels in the storage compartment all unsecured! Okay, I'll buy no seatbelts, but absolutely nothing aboard is secured against sudden movement of the ship. In the instance of Worf's accident which was entirely preventable by the simple expedient of securing the barrels, Picard should have been investigated and court martialed or at the very least, Worf would have had an air tight case if he decided to sue Starfleet.
Amd speaking of Worf and Starfleet, if he takes being a Klingon so seriously (more seriously than any "real" Klingons on the show)why did he ever bother joining Starfleet at all?
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Elliott
Tue, Aug 16, 2011, 2:57pm (UTC -6)
@ pviateur

There are no lawsuits in the 24th century because there's no money. Star Trek is never supposed to convince you of it's plausibility. It's an allegory for Christ's sake. Are these really the things people think about when they watch TV?
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Jay
Sun, Sep 25, 2011, 6:35pm (UTC -6)
Interesting that in the time between when Worf "died" and when Alexander came in to gape at him, they dressed him and flipped him over on his back.
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Captain Tripps
Tue, Oct 11, 2011, 1:45pm (UTC -6)
Suicide has been tied to honor in human culture since, forever, depending on the reasons and the methods. It kind of fits into everything else we know about Klingons as it is, and comes up again much later during DS9 with Kurn.

If I had been viewing this when it first aired, they would have had me convinced that Worf was actually going to die, they played that right to the end.
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Chris
Sun, Oct 23, 2011, 8:59am (UTC -6)
Could they really have allowed Worf to die effectively from a barrel falling on him after all the fuss about Tasha's meaningless death?
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Plain Simple
Sun, Oct 23, 2011, 1:09pm (UTC -6)
In some shows having a meaningless death would be called realism, but I guess it does not really fit the clean Star Trek universe. Unless you're wearing a red shirt, of course.
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Jay
Fri, Nov 4, 2011, 12:31pm (UTC -6)
@ Chris...the mass of cargo that Danar knocked over onto Worf in S3's "The Hunted" seems much more significant then the barrel of whatever in this episode, but Worf wasn't even slightly injured by it.made the incident seem rather trivial and contrived.
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Jack
Sun, Jan 22, 2012, 10:47pm (UTC -6)
Why couldn't they just put Worf in the transporter and rematerialize him using the pattern from the last time he used the transporter before the accident? That's exactly how they restored Pulaski in "Unnatural Selection"...
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Plain Simple
Sun, Jan 22, 2012, 10:52pm (UTC -6)
@Jack: That's always been one of the wider problems when trying to see Star Trek as a whole: Technologies that magically save the day in one episode are conveniently forgotten the next week if the drama calls for a different solution (or lack thereof). I guess you just have to roll with it to enjoy the show. Sometimes it's quite jarring, but in most cases I don't care too much.
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Jack
Mon, Jan 23, 2012, 9:58am (UTC -6)
True. Still, it's hard to grasp how "revolutionary" replicating a spinal cord is when the transporter essentially does the same thing, with the rest of a body attached, every time it's used.
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Keiren
Thu, Apr 26, 2012, 5:51am (UTC -6)
Thats because the show is not about the answer, its about the questions... Thats why everything is reset every week, to ask more questions on a different subject.

However its still TV, so it has to attempt an interesting story also.
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Tim
Tue, Jun 5, 2012, 12:03pm (UTC -6)
Interesting look at euphonasia, I can definitely see how Worf would go for this route. Thought that Riker just leaving the knife in his room was a bit odd though, and seeing as Worf knows Picard is au fait with Klingon customs, I'd have thought that he would ask Picard. But anyway, the doctors discussions were interesting, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to be left with winy Alexander (who was ok in this episode), so I thought Diana did a good job. Liked it.
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John
Thu, Jun 21, 2012, 8:54pm (UTC -6)
I'm with Jack. 24th century medicine ain't what it used to be.
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Glenn
Tue, Sep 11, 2012, 1:19am (UTC -6)
Agreed with the above about the lack of simple tie-downs for barrels stacked 15 feet in the air. An explosion that causes the barrels to fall is plausible, but simple unsecured barrels are yet another reason Picard should never be let near a starship after all he's let happen to his crew.
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Jason
Tue, Oct 9, 2012, 4:50pm (UTC -6)
I've always wondered why they made Brian Bonsall wear blackface as Alexander. He's K'Ehleyr's son, and they didn't make Suzy Plakson do that.
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Peremensoe
Tue, Nov 20, 2012, 1:42am (UTC -6)
The quibbles about unsecured cargo, and about medical capabilities, have merit.

The concept and characterization, on the other hand, seems just fine. The Klingon attitude toward suicide in such a case is perfectly understandable to me. How did you think Worf would feel about it?

And I completely disagree that making Alexander the victim would be a major problem. Worf actually did attempt to kill Kurn, who was *not* crippled, and that didn't "end" him as a "good" character. I don't see why contemplating--with great anguish!--killing his son should be a "bad" thing.
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Peremensoe
Tue, Nov 20, 2012, 2:11am (UTC -6)
I mean, I think it's a better story this way--more character development for both Worf and Alexander, if he's the one laid low. I just don't think the contemplation of ritual death makes Worf a bad guy, whether it's his own death at hand, or Kurn's, or Alexander's. I'd be disappointed in him if he *didn't* want to do the honorable thing, by his lights--however much it hurt.
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mephyve
Wed, Jul 24, 2013, 2:31pm (UTC -6)
Cool episode. Despite the fact that you knew they wouldn't kill off Worf or leave him paralysed, the story was a nice character study. Everybody was in character and behaved as you would expect, except for Riker. He studied the Klingon culture extensively and should have known Worf would want to off himself rather than live as only half a man, give or take ten percent. I had to laugh when Riker quickly said that Worf could ask 'anything' of him because I knew what Worf was going to ask.
Crusher as expected, was a stick in the mud. Too stuck on her own ideals to give the other doctor decent credit for saving Worf's life. Anyone else would have said, ' I don't condone your methods but thank you for saving my friend.' Beverly just had to take the sarcastic route.
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William B
Sat, Jul 27, 2013, 1:46pm (UTC -6)
Like Jammer, I had not remembered this episode as being very good, but it turned out to impress me quite a bit. In fact, it impressed me more than Jammer. The big criticism I had of the episode when I was younger was that I couldn't understand why Worf and Crusher didn't both agree to Russell's procedure earlier. Surely if Worf was going to kill himself if he didn't get full mobility, there was no reason for Crusher NOT to do the procedure? And surely there was no reason for Riker to even consider participating in the suicide ritual when he could just have gotten Worf to do Russell's procedure? I couldn't quite understand where the characters were coming from, and chalked it up to a failure in the script. But now I have a different perspective.

I do think that there are still areas where the script could have spent a little time polishing the characters' perspectives, but I recognize now, more so than I had before, how rigid Klingon beliefs really are, and what that implies. The episode should have underlined this point much more, but it seems as if Klingon beliefs dictated that Worf should simply kill himself -- even kill himself rather than consider any procedure, even one that has a chance of restoring his full mobility. The process of recovering his mobility is itself an embarrassment, and every minute that Worf continues surviving with a paralysis is, by Klingon standards, "borrowed time." Picard points out, when he talks to Beverly, that Worf simply cannot and will not come all the way to accepting Crusher's perspective, but that he may make the compromise to try a procedure that has a chance at restoring full mobility, even though (as the episode confirms at the end) it will still require work, and some admission of failings and some willingness to "be a burden." I had not realized until this viewing, more than a decade after I had last watched it, that even this represented a step for Worf that Klingon custom would not dictate; that even this represents a consolation toward acknowledging his body's fallibility and living with it rather than accepting death as a release from the possibility of being other than the great warrior he sees himself as being.

Similarly, while I had not understood why Crusher didn't concede earlier on to do the procedure for Russell, I now get why she refuses to go through the procedure until she does. She does really believe she can simply restrain Worf from committing suicide for days, weeks, a year if need be; and her commitment to life and humanist principles is strong enough that she also simply will not believe that Worf will never come around, until Picard tells her straight-out that he won't. I do think that there is still a bit of a miscommunication in this story -- Riker never goes to talk to Crusher about performing the ritual in her sickbay -- but I suppose the way this makes sense is that had Riker agreed to perform the ritual, he would then have to go argue his case to Crusher, and if Worf had someone agree to perform the ritual he would eventually have to appeal to Picard (or some higher authority) to grant him exit from sickbay. Because, as it turned out, Riker never did agree to the ritual, and Worf could not bring himself to put Alexander through it, it was never really an issue that he and Crusher were in direct conflict, even though they were in indirect conflict to enough of a degree that they both had to compromise and move toward the centre.

What really works about this episode, then, is that Worf's injury spins off and creates several different stories, all of which are related but not strictly the same. They are all about ethics -- medical ethics in Crusher vs. Russell, cultural ethics in Riker trying to decide what to do about Worf's request (and speaking to Picard about it), parental ethics in Worf acceding to his responsibilities as a parent to Alexander, personal ethics in Worf weighing to what extent he should sacrifice his honour and the aspects of personal integrity (and personal autonomy) that come with that to the greater community. Ultimately, it's Crusher and Worf who are the biggest protagonists of the episode more than anyone else, and they are also the two who make the biggest compromises in their beliefs to come toward the centre, because they recognize, ultimately, that the circumstances demand it and that the people they care about require it. They don't compromise all the way; while it might have been brave to have Worf accept partial paralysis (the "60% mobility" solution), Picard's description of this being too far for Worf to travel is effective and believable, and Worf's willingness to choose to at least attempt to live when his Klingon instincts tell him to die because his son needs a father is an impressive display of honour. Meanwhile, Crusher has to participate in a procedure with little chance of working, going against the "do no harm" dictum, because her patient's beliefs make this the only option. The other characters ultimately, while they may face their own struggles, maintain the positions they started with -- Picard firmly believing in Worf's individual rights to choose what he does with his life, Russell fully committed to her scientific research and to the long game of possible benefits down the road, Troi devoted to Alexander's well being above all else, and Riker, while he struggled the most of anyone, finally finding a way -- through Klingon law -- to force Worf into acknowledging his responsibilities to live for his son. Not all these perspectives are quite as fleshed out as I would like, but all of them make sense, and there is time devoted to all of them and reasons to sympathize with all their positions.

The standard issue medical drama jeopardy made me roll my eyes. That Worf had redundant synaptic functions which saved him is supposed, I think, to demonstrate that Russell's disinterest in anything but her own research hurt her -- it is ironic that the redundancy Russell could see no value in is the very thing that saved her patient and thus her research. I appreciate that irony, but wish they had approached this with a little more subtlety -- having Worf simply be in great trouble in surgery and pull through as a result of these backup systems would be preferable to a long scene in which Alexander is informed of his father's death. There is the slightest implication that it was Alexander and Troi's return to Worf's room which reactivated Worf's synapses, or something, which is cheesy. Regardless of the intent, I was kicked out of the story for this portion of the episode, though I appreciate why it was important to the show to make the procedure seem dangerous and nearly fail. Possibly there was no way around this issue, but I still am not entirely happy with the result.

Overall, I think this is a 3.5 star show -- not quite top of the line, but very very good (and the best episode since "Darmok").
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Cheyne
Mon, Oct 21, 2013, 6:40pm (UTC -6)
I thought Crusher was especially impressive here... she's come a long way, and is almost as interesting as Pulaski. Excellent!
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Nissa
Fri, Jan 10, 2014, 11:39pm (UTC -6)
I actually really hated Dr. Crusher in this episode. If Worf wanted to try an experimental treatment, he should have every right to do so. After all, he doesn't regard his life as worth much at that point, and risking death means that the research can go forward and add meaning to his loss.
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Andrew
Sun, Apr 27, 2014, 1:59pm (UTC -6)
I have one major problem with this episode. It seems like the crew isn't that distressed after Worf is paralyzed. Things only get tense as it becomes more and more about Worf's honor-suicide.

Maybe it's down to the directing, but shouldn't they be pretty upset over simply the fact that Worf was so gravely injured? They're kind of smiling and have the same tone as usual.

We don't get a scene of the crew together talking about the paralysis, or them gathered around Worf to support him. Kind of strange.
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Picard from USS Phoenix
Tue, Apr 29, 2014, 2:50pm (UTC -6)
"The notion of a Klingon warrior seeing honor in assisted suicide seems fairly absurd to me, especially since there are conventional treatment options that would give back Worf as much as 60 percent of his mobility."

One, thing that really irritates me about those reviews is this arrogant anthropocentrism: "Of course is a silly custom, because we humans automatically know what's objectively wrong and right!" This same happened when Jammer was talking about "TNG Half a life" when he automatically said that Kaelon's custom is obviously stupid, without even considering why it even existed in the first place. If aliens exists, they are culturally different that us - do we have the right to judge them by human standards? And both episodes were, essentially about euthanasia. That's what klingon custom stands for; it's just an excuse to talk about this difficult issue. It's all about human dignity, wellbeing and utilitarianism as well. Worf never would be happy knowing that he is not what he used to be, as well he would undoubtedly think that he is useless and, that he is burden for others - even if this wouldn't be entirely true. Now, do we have moral right to take away Worf's freedom to choose and force him to live unhappy life, because we don't like his point of view? What I like about this episode is that all all parties involved - Worf, Crusher, dr Russell, Riker - have good arguments to support their position and writers of "Ethics" didn't forced you to agree with any of them - they allowed us to draw your own conclusions, and that's why it's one of the best TNG episodes.
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Garrison
Sun, May 4, 2014, 2:22am (UTC -6)
Interestingly I happenend to watch this episode on BBC America the same day I watched DS9's "Sons of Morg" on DVD. Picard is seeing the death ritual from Worf's POV, while Sisko in no unsure terms refuses to allow Worf to assist his brother's suicide.
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SkepticalMI
Sat, Jun 21, 2014, 11:59am (UTC -6)
Remember Me may be the best Beverly-centric episode, but this is certainly a worthy runner up. But it's not just Beverly, almost every character in the episode shines here. The title Ethics is quite appropriate here, as we get an examination of morality and how it intersects with everyone's culture. These sorts of episodes can be horribly preachy and completely destroy the narrative (see the next episode as an example). But here it was done well, mainly because nobody's views were shortchanged. We just got a great big mixup where nothing seemed easy.

The medical ethics was probably the most interesting part, thanks to some decent writing and good acting. Beverly is both naive and strong-willed; she has a stong basis in medical ethics and believes in them absolutely. She's right, of course, that the first rule is to do no harm. And she has some strong justifications in complaining about Dr. Russell's methods. In particular, Russell's actions at the conveniently timed emergency were fairly appalling. Mostly her lack of empathy and her ability to simply use people as experiments. Her complete uncaringness that one of her patients died is a strong rebuke to her position and is meant to make us despise her. And yet...

She's right about Worf! Beverly was wrong! Bev cared so much about her code of ethics that she didn't bother to consult with her patient's ethics. Like William said, she simply thought Worf would sit around waiting for a solution forever. In her rush to keep the Hippocratic oath, she forgot to look at Worf's side of things, and see that he would have gladly risked his life for an experimental procedure.

And at some point, don't experimental procedures need to be done? Don't we need to know if something like that would work? How many people need to die while we wait for FDA approval? And how many would die if we didn't wait for it?

So Bev has a point. But so does Russell. And in the end, it's Worf's ethics (that he can't stand living as a cripple, even if it's mostly a normal life for someone else) that forces Russell's way to be the right way. Or at least the right way in this case.

Meanwhile, Worf had some interesting problems too. He wanted to perform his ritual suicide, but didn't want to subject Alexander to it. But then he seemed at least willing to go with the treatment, or at least try to be rehabilitated until the shame got too much for him. But it did make it clear that he was conflicted, and it's quite obvious that he only doing it for Alexander. Once again, his Klingon ethics conflict with his desire to be a good parent to a decisively non-Klingon kid.

And that's not even getting into Riker's talk with Picard.

So on the whole, a pleasant, low key episode that works well.
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dlpb
Tue, Jul 8, 2014, 1:46pm (UTC -6)
essentially about euthanasia. That's what klingon custom stands for; it's just an excuse to talk about this difficult issue.
======

It's not a difficult issue. If someone wants to end their lives in a dignified fashion, it is THEIR right. It is THEIR life. Anyone who disagrees with this is denying them their freedom. Especially when they will suffer needlessly as a result.

Unfortunately, Star Trek always seemed to side with the deluded anti euthanasia side.
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msw188
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 7:50pm (UTC -6)
dlpb,
I honestly don't want to start a fight, but your stance assumes that an individual has the right to consider their own wishes before the wishes of those around them. This is as much a 'cultural' assumption as any other, and is only 'freedom' in the sense of holding the individual higher than the family/community/society. That's fine and I think I tend to agree with you, but that doesn't mean the issue isn't difficult. Especially in the case of the individual having a dependent. I think this showcases why Alexander was very necessary to the story here.

I think this episode to me is like Darmok to Jammer. I want to love the episode and I respect what it was aiming for, but it fell short for me. McFadden gets some great material and none of the deliveries are poor, but some of the scenes seem to be missing that extra 'something' that great actors like Stewart can bring to the table. Speaking of Stewart, I appreciated the need for the early Picard-Riker conversation, but it felt jarring to see Picard take an almost confrontational approach seemingly from the start. Was the beginning of their conversation cut during editting, or just never written/filmed?

Anyways, I think the main thing McFadden is lacking here is the ability to portray true arrogance. Her looks of disbelief, disgust, and disdain for the other doctor (and even her disbelief at Picard's stance) are passable, but somehow I wanted more. Her stubbornness, in my opinion, comes from a certain arrogance whereby she recognizes herself as THE medical authority on the ship. In her mind, that includes the ethics of medicine as well. At least, that's the idea I get from the dialogue, and I like that idea. I just don't fully get it from McFadden's actual delivery. Instead, I get a sort of 'conviction' without quite the 'fire' of arrogance/authority. It's not bad, but it just doesn't get me very engaged in the material.

Finally, the ending feels over-wrought when the viewer knows that Worf will survive. I don't remember seeing this one when it aired, so I can't say if those scenes would have been tense without knowing the outcome. Watching this now, I'd probably go with a low 3 star rating, mostly for the concepts and questions brought up.
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Taylor
Sat, Aug 30, 2014, 11:44pm (UTC -6)
"Ethics" - aka "Worf gets his spine crushed and Riker, Troi and Crusher give him shit for it for most of an episode."

While the whole Klingon honor thing gets to be a bit much in general, in this case it makes perfect sense to me a Klingon would have no interest in living with a severe physical disability. And thus it shouldn't be such a big surprise to Riker, either.

And Crusher mostly made sense, except that it made no sense she didn't want Worf to even hear about the experimental treatment - wouldn't it be her natural obligation to let him know?

I still liked the episode more than not - I just thought some of the character motivations served more to illustrate the extreme sides if the debate, rather than being so believable.
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Lal
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 12:28pm (UTC -6)
@pviateur: I was thinking similar thoughts when the barrel dropped on Worf. All they needed was an extra bar or two on that shelf, and no barrel would have dropped. But they had to have some clear-cut way to paralyze Worf, I guess.
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Andrew
Sat, Oct 18, 2014, 9:29am (UTC -6)
The episode was good but I would have liked some more involvement from Riker (for his conflict with Worf to have gotten a bit more intense and to have had at least some sort of follow-up after the procedure) and Picard (for us to have seen the at least one conversation he had with Worf).
The episode is also hurt by that the series hadn't previously suggested much closeness between Worf and Riker, at least for some time, and had between Worf and Picard.
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Robert
Mon, Oct 20, 2014, 8:33am (UTC -6)
I actually liked the choice of Riker and, in the very next episode, Worf risks his career to go down to the planet with Riker and save Soren.

When Riker was considered for the Ares Worf wanted to go with him and felt certain Riker would accept, especially since he viewed it as a dangerous mission.

In another episode (can't remember which) they were playing one of those Klingon holodeck programs together.

They weren't close friends perhaps in a human sense (like O'Brien and Bashir) but I think Worf felt Riker was the closest he had nearby to a "Klingon Warrior". It made a certain amount of sense.

Picard was his commanding officer.
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Gustav
Wed, Nov 26, 2014, 12:55am (UTC -6)
What I would like to mention to everyone here who is saying that "people don't understand Klingon culture" in response to criticism of Worf wanting to commit suicide, is that Worf really is quite naive when it comes to Klingon culture. I mean, Riker knows more than Worf does, and he just did a very short tour of duty on one Klingon ship. So that whole argument seems very contrived to me.
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$G
Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 7:45pm (UTC -6)
I didn't expect this episode to be so well received in here. Frankly, I didn't expect to like this episode at *all*. But, honestly, I agree with the posters who think this is the best hour since "Darmok". Everyone's mostly mentioned the good stuff, but I'd just like the echo the enjoyment for all the different story threads that plausibly resulted from what could have been a one-note premise. I particularly enjoyed the Crusher-Picard scene, which made me miss the dynamic of the starry-eyed Federation gal vs. the seasoned Fed diplomat from "Symbiosis". Crusher doesn't get enough good material.

One surprising thing for me was the Worf didn't pick Picard for the suicide ceremony. Considering how much he'd already done for him on Qonos, you'd figure he'd be a natural choice. I thought Riker did well, though.

Troi's role also worked for what it tried to accomplish. And while Alexander's role is always seems a bit Full House-y to me, I liked seeing her not only take care of him but nearly get choked up at the thought of Worf entrusting him to her.

3.5 stars for me. Solid overall, and goes way over and above what it needed to.
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Peter
Tue, Apr 28, 2015, 10:35am (UTC -6)
This episode was really good and exemplified one of the main reasons I love Trek. Who else would do a popular TV episode about a dry, intellectual subject like medical ethics.

I did understand Worf's expressed desire for suicide in the context of his Klingon warrior nature. The 60-70% mobility restoration of conventional treatment would seem to be enough, however. But that's besides the point. The episode seemed to be skirting around the issue of assisted suicide in our own culture, but it did not go far enough in that regard, in my opinion. They seemed to make it a point to say that Worf was not in pain, he was fully expected to live (i.e., his condition was not deteriorating and ultimately terminal), so those conditions don't meet the standards for euthanasia in our society.

Before the episode could fall short on the medical ethics front, the character of Dr. Russell, with her risky experimental treatments, brought that back into focus. Her character was perfectly written and acted, as was Dr. Crusher's in this episode. It is so rare to see a Crusher-focused episode, and she's a character I really like, so that also made it a winning episode for me.

The young boy who plays Worf's son is also consistently good. I mean, he looks like he is all of about 7 years old and under a lot of makeup and prosthetics to boot. That the kid does such a convincing job is remarkable.
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Troy
Mon, Jul 6, 2015, 12:55pm (UTC -6)
This is a 3 star episode, very well done. The tit for tat rivalry between the doctors is great and very plausible. Tge guest doctor was very well written and performed. Others have suggested that the injury being non-curable in the time of transporter technology are spot on, this is an Aesop fable about the 20th century, not the 24th. Repairing spinal cords can't be more than a century away and I suspect within a generation. But that is a small quibble for this satisfying episode.
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Luke
Fri, Aug 14, 2015, 2:21am (UTC -6)
All right, let's talk about doctor assisted suicide, shall we? :P

Let me just put this out on the table before I go anywhere - I'm all in favor of it, with the caveat that the person choosing it needs to be in his or her right mind when deciding the matter. Personally, I doubt it is something I would ever choose for myself and I would certainly use any and all powers of persuasion at my command to convince someone not to go through with it. But, at the end of the day, who am I to force someone to conform to my beliefs on the matter? It's that person's life and so it should be that person's decision. I guess I'm like Bill Clinton when he said that he was "personally Pro-Life but politically Pro-Choice," even though he was talking about abortion. While I may not agree with Worf's decision to end his life, ultimately it's his decision to make, not mine or anybody else's. I may even disagree with the cultural tradition that Worf is invoking here (in fact, I think it's stupid), but (again) since he's clearly in his right mind, a.k.a. not delusional, he should be allowed to do it if he so wishes.

What I love most about "Ethics" is that it takes the time to examine the issue from many different angles. You have Picard taking what is essentially the same position I would take. You have Crusher who is adamantly opposed to the idea. And you have Riker who is torn between which side to come down on. And to that the fact that they didn't feel the need to drag the episode down with some unnecessary B-plot with a tech issue and you have a real winner of any episode! Heck, they even have Alexander acting like a normal kid (always a plus for Trek in my book) and a fairly decent use of Troi as a counselor.

The one sticking point for me is that they made Crusher WAY to obstinate in her opposition, in my opinion. Now, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I really like the character of Crusher and love it when they allow her to have the spotlight. Here, however, she's just so maddeningly inconsistent. She's absolutely 100% correct in her denunciations of Dr. Russell; the woman clearly puts her research ahead of her patients. And yet, she's 100% wrong when it comes to Worf. This exchange is particularly glaring....

PICARD: If he can't make a full recovery, Worf will kill himself.
CRUSHER: Not in my Sickbay, he won't! I'll put him in a restraining field and post security around his door before I let him commit suicide.
PICARD: And how long will you keep him there? A week? A month? A year?
CRUSHER: If I have to. Suicide is not an option.

So, suicide is not an option, but forced imprisonment because you disagree with me is? Geez, Beverly, you're not making your case look good. Then there's this line (from the same scene).... "The first tenet of good medicine is never make the patient any worse." So, she's never harm you, now off to your jail cell, you thought criminal! Thankfully she eventually sees reason, but the fact that Picard, nor anybody else, never calls her on this rather blatant hypocrisy harms the episode for me.

8/10
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Niall
Fri, Aug 14, 2015, 5:45am (UTC -6)
My family and I thought the same thing when we watched it.
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Mike
Mon, Sep 7, 2015, 5:31am (UTC -6)
The idea is OK but the script is awful.

Nobody acts in character, except unfortunately Crusher, who is the cliche life-at-all-costs doctor. Even the guest character makes her argument well in one scene and then jumps to experimenting on people.

The outline of the script is exploitative in, again, cliche ways. Who are these people Riker mentions as dying? Are they really gonna kill off Worf. May as well kill off the voice of the computer.
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Robert
Tue, Sep 8, 2015, 8:11am (UTC -6)
"Are they really gonna kill off Worf?"

Come on... main character (or the ship) in peril is basically a staple of EVERY OTHER Trek episode. If you use that as an excuse to not "buy" the episode, you're probably not buying the entire series :)

I do agree with you that the guest character could have been more smartly written to be less crazy. Crusher's assessment that she's a nutjob that got lucky is spot on, the episode could have made her "greyer".

I do wonder who you think acted out of character though?

And as for "Who are these people Riker mentions as dying?"

Sandoval and Fang-lee - They were never in the show before. Likely random "red shirts".

Marla Aster - The mother of the son that bonded with Worf in "The Bonding" following her death on an away mission where Worf was in command.

Tasha Yar - I should hope you know that one :)
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Diamond Dave
Sat, Sep 26, 2015, 11:23am (UTC -6)
For an examination of medical ethics and those surrounding assisted suicide this fall short for me. The characters immediately take entrenched positions at polar opposites, which means we only get to see black and white, and not the shades of grey. So Picard is the cerebral, culturally sensitive opposite to Riker's visceral, anti suicide reaction. Crusher is the classic first do no harm doctor, Russell the opposite risk taker for the potential future benefit.

That this all winds up in a frankly unconvincing death scene - when, let's face it, the only tension is how Worf will recover, not if - merely adds to the vaguely unsatisfactory air.

That's not to say that there are not some scene highlights - indeed the Worf/Riker and Worf/Troi scenes match those where Crusher and Russell clash. But overall, once again this series, it misses as many hits as it makes. 2.5 stars.
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Nic
Fri, Dec 11, 2015, 10:08pm (UTC -6)
I agree with Elliott (!!!) This is a 3.5 star show, knocking down 0.5 stars for the manipulative surgery scene. Everything else was stellar.

I understood Worf's point of view, and Picard's, and Riker's and Beverly's, and Russell's. There are no easy answers in situations like this, and the episode acknowledges it.
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Jason R.
Fri, Jan 22, 2016, 4:25pm (UTC -6)
Many humans would agree with Worf. There is nothing "absurd" about his beliefs and I found Riker's speech insufferably arrogant and self righteous. Worf should have punched him in the face.
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stephen palmer
Thu, Mar 31, 2016, 8:26am (UTC -6)
I'd like to draw attention to Worf's debilitated condition at the end of this episode. It really looks like Worf would take a long time to fully recover from his injury, despite the "miracle cure".
And yet, next episode shows him clobbering aliens as though nothing had happened. What could have been a a tremendous opportunity to show Worf's character and courage in a new light (recovering with dignity, taking the opportunity to further bond with his son etc) is lost.
I guess the story editors felt that episode to episode continuity like that might make Star Trek too soap opera-ish, but it does trivialise the seriousness of Worf's physical crisis in this episode.
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Ivanov
Fri, May 6, 2016, 4:45pm (UTC -6)
While I like this episode I never understood why Dr Crusher was so against the procedure. Didn't Riker tell her Worf was going to commit suicide if he couldn't walk?
3.5 stars.
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Torridd
Tue, Jun 14, 2016, 3:11pm (UTC -6)
In the thread, there don't seem to be a lot of opinions on Dr. Russell. Someone wrote that she was uncaring though and I disagree with that. She had her own methods. Maybe she wasn't as dedicated as Crusher, but like she told Crusher she doesn't like losing patients either. I really like the tension between she and Crusher and the dialogue at the end. They both have very good points, but I can't fault Russell too much.
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Dan
Fri, Sep 30, 2016, 1:24am (UTC -6)
I agree this is a great one. Makes really good use of the characters—the best we've seen from Crusher and Troi, and maybe Riker, all season. (There's been *a lot* of Troi lately, but not until her few scenes here did I feel like she really clicked. There's been very little Crusher, so it's refreshing to give her something this good.)

I also liked Half a Life more than the consensus—probably the last episode that had me saying "wow, this is good" (sorry, Darmok)—so I guess I've got a soft spot for ethical dilemmas involving suicide in alien cultures.
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Beej
Fri, Jan 20, 2017, 1:31pm (UTC -6)
Grumpy_otter said: "Also wanted to say I like Caroline Kava in this episode very much--she played her part perfectly. They could have made her entirely a villain, and she wasn't at all."

Ha ha ha ha ha! What?! You could practically see her twirling the ends of her mustache as she rationalized her use of an experimental drug on that dude in the shuttle bay. I'm absolutely certain that scene was there only for the purpose of making her less sympathetic and Crusher more so. I rolled my eyes so hard I'll probably need an untested procedure to get 'em pointed right again.

In general I found Worf's point of view presented entirely unsympathetically. You'd think (well, I'd think) that in a Utopian future it would be unequivocally accepted that the right to die was a fundamental one. Instead apparently your doctor has the even more inviolable right to hold you prisoner indefinitely. Progress!

Tne one thing I did like about this ep is that at least a character outside the Enterprise bubble was allowed to do their job competently and "save the day". Dr. Pulaski would've pushed Dr. Russell out of the way and fashioned Worf a new spine out of spit and baling wire.
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Jasper
Sat, Feb 18, 2017, 1:48pm (UTC -6)
Great episode. Some really moving scenes between Worf and Alexander. I don't like Alexander much, but in this episode the interaction between him and Worf was powerful stuff. Granted, the accident itself was silly, but otherwise a very clever episode about medicine, from a doctor's and from a patients view.
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Outsider65
Sun, Mar 19, 2017, 2:20am (UTC -6)
Beverly was very unethical here, wanting to hide the experimental procedure from Worf and force him to accept her less risky but less effective alternative. What gives her the right to make that call for him? As a patient it is his right to decide on what treatment he is given and he should be given all the options. I've never been a huge fan of "doctor" Crusher but this is a little much even for her. Why did no other character call her out on behaving so unethically?
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Jason R.
Sun, Mar 19, 2017, 8:32am (UTC -6)
"Beverly was very unethical here, wanting to hide the experimental procedure from Worf and force him to accept her less risky but less effective alternative. What gives her the right to make that call for him? As a patient it is his right to decide on what treatment he is given and he should be given all the options. I've never been a huge fan of "doctor" Crusher but this is a little much even for her. Why did no other character call her out on behaving so unethically?"

I strongly disagree. A doctor's ethical duty is not simply to present every "option" and let the patient decide while washing her hands of the consequences. The Hippocratic oath is no lightly satisfied.

While we, the audience, of course know that Dr. Russell's procedure was going to be successful (due to the fact that it was inconceivable that they'd kill of Worf), Dr. Crusher didn't know that - indeed, based on her assessment, it was basically an untested, highly experimental procedure with an unacceptably high risk of death being proposed by a doctor who had demonstrated a willingness to gamble with her patients' lives for personal glory.

Keep in mind Worf was not some terminal patient facing certain death. He was stable and with time could have regained much of his prior function. Again, we know that he was committed to suicide should he not regain his functioning, but Beverley didn't. Lots of human patients undoubtedly would have threatened suicide as well and yet changed their minds in time.

Even in countries where assisted suicide is legal, I doubt the procedure is simply to hand someone a needle (or a dagger) the instant they profess the desire to off themselves, within a couple days of suffering a catastrophic (but non life threatening) injury. This is the kind of thing that would probably require extensive psychiatric consultation over many months!

It takes Picard's unique insight into Klingon culture to convince Dr. Crusher that Worf likely cannot be swayed from his decision, and even then it's a borderline call for her since this procedure was extremely likely to kill him, notwithstanding Kilingon ex machina.
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DLPB
Fri, Apr 14, 2017, 4:38pm (UTC -6)
Jason R. You're wrong. Watch the episode again. Crusher admits that she is prepared to lock Worf up and post guards to watch over him in order to keep him from committing suicide, which Picard explains is an inevitability should Worf not be fully cured.

That is wrong by any measure of ethical normalcy. She is deciding to supersede his culture, beliefs, and rights, because they conflict with her own. I am sure the writers didn't intend to portray Crusher as a crazy loon. But they did. Even more so than the hit job they did on the other doctor, simply to make Crusher's position look more sympathetic to the audience.

I have been bedridden before with severe pain after an operation. I knew it wasn't going to last. I remember thinking "If I had to live like this, I'd definitely want to be euthanized." I think a lot of people who defend Crusher and the anti-euthanasia stance would feel very differently if they themselves were in a hopeless position and forced to endure pain for the rest of their lives—whether that be mental or physical pain.
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Peter G.
Fri, Apr 14, 2017, 5:11pm (UTC -6)
DLPB explains an utterly relativistic theory of medical ethics where a course of action may be moral depending on how comfortable you are when making it, following an absolute statement that someone else is wrong about the topic. Oh the irony abounds.
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Tara
Fri, Apr 14, 2017, 8:09pm (UTC -6)
Peter g:

Not seeing the irony.

Dlpb is speaking up for a specific principle: patient autonomy. This is the accepted modern American model.

By my standards (I'm a doctor) Beverley was an ass.

By my standards as a TV watcher, the writers were asses. Respect for the myriad different values of different species was surely taught at Starfleet Med School. It would hardly be good for interstellar diplomacy if Beverley constantly felt entitled to pour blood into Jehovah's witnesses and lock up honorable suicide-minded Klingons.

in my practice, suicidal patients are watched around the clock and prevented from killing themselves. But that's because we are humans and follow the creed that suicidal ideation is proof of mental illness.

This creed is not true for Worf. As best I can tell, his wish to die is in line with Klingon values and he is expressing it in a clear headed and culturally appropriate way. If he is meant to be seen as deranged by depression and incompetent to choose his fate, the episode did a poor job of showing this. (They should have given us a wheelchair bound Klingon on the view screen saying "Worf, quit whining and live on with courage! Like a true Klingon!")
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Chrome
Fri, Apr 14, 2017, 11:01pm (UTC -6)
@Tara et alt

It's interesting because this is the same stance Crusher takes in "The Enemy" when Worf refuses to give blood to a Romulan. I'm guessing here that the writers think Crusher's actions are those of an enlightened 24th century doctor or some such, believing that societal values outweigh personal liberties. Personally, I think that notion is garbage and Crusher should be reprimanded for putting her interests above a patient's wishes, no matter how noble her intentions are.

That said, if Dr. Russell failed to fully disclose the chances ands risks to Worf, as Crushers suggests, she's also in the wrong and doesn't deserve praise.
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Peter G.
Sat, Apr 15, 2017, 1:18am (UTC -6)
@ Tara,

I'll try to be clear in my response, sorry if some of it sounds blunt:

"Dlpb is speaking up for a specific principle: patient autonomy. This is the accepted modern American model."

No, DPLB said that Crusher refusing to let Worf kill himself was "wrong by any measure of ethical normalcy," which is completely and unequivocally false. The modern American model is for doctors to follow the law, which can change over time. It is NOT to allow unlimited patient autonomy. If and when a state passes a euthanasia law allowing a crippled adult to seek death, and additionally where the doctor doesn't have to be a party to it, then you'd have a case for modern law suggesting that Crusher would be denying Worf some kind of moral right. And even THAT supposes that the law being such would in and of itself create moral rightness, which is a declaration that moral principles are based in nothing more than what is legal or allowed by the state (e.g. that the state is the moderator on morality). A lot of suppositions are required there to support Crusher being definitively in the wrong. And of course in Worf's case he isn't even seeking medical-assisted euthanasia, but rather just wants to commit suicide by any means possible, so the law would have to not merely allow for doctor-assisted death, but also give carte blanche to *anyone* wanting to commit suicide. Are you seriously going to suggest that American law (to say nothing of medical ethics) allows for this in our time? As a medical practitioner I hope you don't think so.

"in my practice, suicidal patients are watched around the clock and prevented from killing themselves. But that's because we are humans and follow the creed that suicidal ideation is proof of mental illness."

No, that's not why you do it. You are primarily obliged to prevent it because suicide is illegal, and because the law states that it can't be allowed if it's preventable. I mean, what you say may be why you personally believe in preventing patient suicide, but even if you flipped your position on whether suicidal desire is proof of mental illness (let's say it was proven eventually to be a false equivalence) it would change nothing. If the law disallows suicide and/or euthanasia then the medical notion of what does or doesn't prove mental illness would be irrelevant; the person would be prevented from killing themselves, period.

But I can go even more directly to your point by pointing out how Western-centric the idea is that an anti-suicide ethic is a distinctly "human" value, since it's false that all human societies have held this value. This is especially evident since the Klingon kamikaze mentality, honor system, and ritual suicide are blatantly lifted from the Samurai code. But you did specify that it's a psychiatric creed that suicidal thought is ipso facto a sign of mental illness, which of course is simply a circular way of saying that since suicide has been decreed to be unacceptable a priori that anyone desiring it is by definition mentally ill. The relevant factor here isn't whatever "ill" is supposed to mean in this context, but rather the supposition upon which it's based, which is that suicide is 'bad' in the absolute sense. So intrinsically your comment actually refutes what DPLB said anyhow, which is that one would change their mind on suicide if they were suffering - e.g. that the ethics of legalizing suicide should rest in the comfort level of the person asking for it, rather than any general principles. If this were true then it would make no sense to call someone asking for suicide "mentally ill", since it would then be seen as a perfectly rational thing to request. You can't have it both ways, which is why I called his comment ironic. He was taking an absolute stance backing a position that was relativist in its specifics.

And I'm not even going to get into whether euthanasia or suicide are "morally correct" in the absolute sense (moral realism), but I will point out that I think it would be presumptuous to believe that since the Western world is beginning to decide that assisted suicide should be allowed that this is a 'good decision' in the long run. It seem so now to many people, but the fact that it's becoming popular as a notion of course doesn't speak to whether it's a good idea. For all we know by the 24th century it will have been "proven" that it's very bad and will, by that time, have been disallowed again.

"This creed is not true for Worf. As best I can tell, his wish to die is in line with Klingon values and he is expressing it in a clear headed and culturally appropriate way."

Picard expressed multiple times over the series that Starfleet respects but does not operate under the rules and norms of other cultures. It no doubt tries to incorporate cultural elements from its member races, but does not allow behaviors that are otherwise illegal or unethical just because some race believes them. Sisko later said much the same thing on various occasions. If, for instance, suicide is illegal under Federation law, then Crusher is 100% correct in trying to preserve Worf's life. Picard's argument was that, regardless of the law, Worf would in fact end up dead if he wasn't given the experimental treatment, but in our present day and age such advice could easily lead to a prison term if the experimental drug hadn't actually been approved for use yet. It sounds like rational, down-to-Earth Picard logic, but legally speaking he was basically saying to hell with the rules. I can respect that, in a way, but can hardly fault the doctor who was abiding by the law.

By the way, I'm not the biggest fan of Crusher in this ep either, but that's mostly due to the fact that the writers failed to properly illustrate the issue I think they were going for. Crusher's position *appeared* to be much weaker than it really was due to storytelling error. The issue, to an extent, boils down to what the actual status was of this experimental treatment and whether it was approved for patient use. If so, and Crusher refused it on Worf's behalf, then that's not so good, but if Crusher was right that patient lives were being used for medical experimentation then there's no conversation. That these facts are not brought to light in the episode is one of its many weaknesses. The result is it ends up looking like a hit piece on Crusher when, on the balance, hers should have been the stronger position.
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Tara
Sun, Apr 16, 2017, 4:53am (UTC -6)
Well, I won't rebut that whole thing, - would take forever. We can agree to disagree mostly.

One thing though: Your claim that suicide's illegality is what matters (in medical decision-making and ethics) is simply completely wrong.

Legality of patient behavior is never a consideration. We aren't cops, just like cops aren't doctors. Patients do illegal things all the time right in their hospital rooms.

If you are a doctor who learned a different version of medical ethics - maybe because you trained in a different era or another country - I'd love to hear about that.

Otherwise, I am perplexed by you attempting to correct me about my own job.
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Jason R.
Sun, Apr 16, 2017, 9:04am (UTC -6)
Tara I find your distinction between Worf's decision to kill himself for cultural reasons and that of some of your human patients (for other, perhaps equally valid reasons) arbitrary. Why does culture trump but not, say, a considered choice based on personal values.

Yes Worf is a Klingon but as Peter noted there are some human cultures that endorse suicide in certain circumstances. If you encountered a patient with that culture would you be be fine with him telling you he planned to off himself in accordance with his culture?

Yes, as a doctor you aren't bound to enforce criminal law as a matter of course, but I'll wager whatever medical association that grants you your license, not to mention the hospital or clinic you work in have regulations about this sort of thing that you are bound to follow and if someone announces this intention, regardless of his cultural background, there are procedures to follow that probably begin with some kind of temporary involuntary commital. The alternative is you could risk being sued by the family of the individual I imagine.

Even in assisted suicide / euthenasia friendly jurisdictions I am pretty sure some kind of psychiatric evaluation is needed before you can just hand someone a dagger and say good luck.

Picard was hardly a certified expert in Klingon culture, nor was Beverly. But regardless, even if she had to concede she would be unable to prevent Worf's suicide in the long run because of his culture (I do think it is fair to say her threat to lock Worf up forever was a bluff) that did not require her to violate her medical ethics by turning Worf into a guinea pig for some half baked expiremental procedure. The Hippocratic oath still applied regardless of Worf's values.

Correct me if I'm wrong Tara, but as a medical doctor you can't just roll the dice on a patient's life with unproven dangerous experimental procedures, even if the patient's prognosis is poor or no other good alternatives exist.
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DLPB
Sun, Apr 16, 2017, 10:38pm (UTC -6)
What I said stands for itself. It doesn't need a pillock putting his own meaning on it :)
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DLPB
Sun, Apr 16, 2017, 10:40pm (UTC -6)
Also, have you noticed the same boring tactic people use when they don't like what someone has said? Always taking the argument to the person. Whether you like it or not, Crusher was prepared to keep Worf under house arrest indefinitely because his culture and beliefs did not gel with her own. That is exactly what the episode shows. Don't blame me, snowflake. Blame the writers.
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Peter G.
Mon, Apr 17, 2017, 10:09am (UTC -6)
Tara,

"One thing though: Your claim that suicide's illegality is what matters (in medical decision-making and ethics) is simply completely wrong. "

If suicide was 100% legal and acceptable, I don't see how a doctor would have any business preventing a patient doing so. Medical ethics might suggest that a doctor can allow it but not assist, but a doctor couldn't disallow it. Likewise, if suicide were 100% illegal, a doctor would not be allowed to assist, nor would the patient be allowed to kill themselves if it could be prevented (as is the case in the U.S. now). Medical ethics and the law are not identical, as you say, but medical ethics cannot allow something the law deems illegal, and so this is a hard constraint. Patient suicide is prevented because of the law, not because of medical ethics, because the law is the stronger arbiter of its lack of acceptability. If suicide was legalized and medical ethics ruled that it must still not be allowed in a hospital, then you'd have a case for suicide prevention being strictly a medical ethical decision.

"Legality of patient behavior is never a consideration. We aren't cops, just like cops aren't doctors. Patients do illegal things all the time right in their hospital rooms. "

Right, but are you telling me that if a patient announced "I am going to kill myself" you would (a) do nothing about it, and (b) that if you did nothing and the patient did kill themselves, that there would be no legal repercussions for the doctor who allowed it to happen without notifying authorities? I don't think this is this case. If you correct me on this and tell me that you literally have zero liability or legal responsibility if a patient commits suicide under your care when you knew it would happen, then I'll drop this particular point. Note that I didn't claim that a doctor must enforce all aspects of the law, such as preventing a patient jaywalking or robbing a bank. I'm strictly speaking of the patient trying to kill themselves with the doctor passively looking on as it happens. As I understand it even a patient protected by confidentiality (under care of a doctor or therapist, for instance) must be reported if they make it clear they are going to kill someone else or themselves.

Assuming I'm correct in these statements, the issue is really what the law says about suicide, which in turn makes us wonder what Federation law says about this, which we aren't told. I find that a serious plot hole in the episode, since if Federation law protected a patient's right to suicide then Crusher would be totally in the wrong, whereas if it was illegal then 'committing' him to prevent it would be demanded by the law, and Crusher's position would simply be a reiteration of what the law demands.
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Tara
Mon, Apr 17, 2017, 11:29pm (UTC -6)
Scenarios:

(1) A patient shows up covered in cigarette burns, saying "I am burning myself because Jesus keeps telling me I gotta burn Satan outa me."

Now, this is perfectly legal: you're allowed to burn yourself with a cigarette and you are allowed to listen to the words of Jesus whether real, imagined., or hallucinatory. But I would have the right (probably the obligation) to get a 72-hour involuntary hold on this patient, and then a forced psychiatric assessment. I would have to right to hold the patient against her will and even put her in restraints or post a sitter (guard) over her. If a psychiatrist found her mentally ill and a danger to herself, and a judge agreed, the patient could be held against her will in a facility for a long time.

This is not because the patient is a criminal. (Go burn yourself with cigarettes and tell a cop you did it on a bet; you will not be arrested!) It is because the law allows doctors to protect mentally ill or demented or otherwise incompetent people who are mentally unable to protect themselves. It's what a kind society does for its mentally infirm.

(2). A heroin addict is hospitalized with endocarditis (life threatening heart infection). After a day or two she says "fuck this; my check came in today and I am leaving the hospital to buy heroin, and I am going to party until my money runs out." (THis is a common scenario.) Assuming she is sane, I have no right in the world to hold her against her will, chase her down the street, or camp out on her doorstep begging "Don't do drugs!" That would be kidnapping, stalking, and criminal harassment on my part.

Yes, heroin-buying is a criminal act and yes she will probably die from her actions. But that's her choice and I can't stand in her way.. Sane adults have the right to break the law and risk their lives without their doctors impeding their liberty.

As for "Would I stop a suicidal guy?" - I already addressed that in my initial post. Please retread it. Yes, I would be obligated to hold him for evaluation because IN MY SOCIETY, suicidal ideation is considered PROOF of mental illness and therefore a scenario-one situation..

However, as I said: in Worf's Klingon culture it is implied that suicide is the culturally accepted, totally normal action of a sane Klingon paraplegic. In a Klingon, it does not prove mental illness. Therefore Worf's statement of suicidal ideation is a scenario-two situation.
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Peter G.
Tue, Apr 18, 2017, 12:15am (UTC -6)
Tara,

Thanks for the detailed response. In your scenario (1) you're discussing holding a patient who will be a danger to themselves. The reason you state for the hold is because a kind society wants to protect people. I agree that this motive is in play, but my point isn't that this *isn't* a factor, but rather that it's the lesser factor compared to the law requiring death threats (even to oneself) to be treated in a certain way. Even if the medical establishment (hypothetically) was callous or a given hospital didn't care if a patient lived or died, the law would still require a certain response to a death threat. And it's not because the patient is a criminal, per se, but rather because a certain kind of threat must be dealt with in a certain way.

If a psychiatric patient disclosed to a therapist the intention to bootleg a film, they would be obliged to retain confidentiality, whereas if the intended crime was a murder they would have to report it. So it's not about crime in general, but strictly about a death threat or suicide. I already specified in my previous post that " I didn't claim that a doctor must enforce all aspects of the law, such as preventing a patient jaywalking or robbing a bank. I'm strictly speaking of the patient trying to kill themselves with the doctor passively looking on as it happens." Your scenario (2) seems therefore to be basically in agreement with what I said.

Regarding this comment:

"Yes, I would be obligated to hold him for evaluation because IN MY SOCIETY, suicidal ideation is considered PROOF of mental illness and therefore a scenario-one situation.. "

My point two posts ago (and I apologize for how long it was; in hindsight that was a mistake on my part) was that the linking of suicidal ideation with mental illness
is not a strictly human thing, but specifically an *American* thing. It may also be true in some other countries (such as Canada and European ones), but in each case it's because that's how the laws of those countries work. In feudal Japan the laws did not work that way, and so their culture normalized suicide. If a man from Canada wanted to commit suicide in feudal Japan (assuming the proper circumstances were met) they would no doubt understand completely, whereas if a feudal Samurai wanted to commit suicide in a hospital in America they'd put the involuntary hold on him that you mentioned. It's not the culture of the individual in question that applies, but rather the laws of the nation in which the event is going to happen. You might imagine a nation where murder is sometimes legal (like Ancient Sparta), but if an Ancient Spartan wanted to do so in modern America he would be arrested rather than having his cultural beliefs respected. So you see the beliefs if the land are what dictate what will be accepted or not, not the beliefs of the individual as regards killing and murder. Klingon culture may allow suicide, but Federation law might not, and this is the vague part of the episode. If both cultures allow it I would find Crusher's position to be inexplicable, and so I must somehow conclude that the Federation law about this is weird and has complicated clauses. Riker was speaking about killing Worf as if it was actually an option and that he was rejecting it, which strikes as odd yet again. Is it legal, or isn't it? What the writers seemed to be doing is using the personal beliefs of each crew member to get across what they personally make of the situation, and none of the seems to at all be concerned about what is actually allowed or what Federation policy is about it. This is cheating a bit, but (SPOILERS) Sisko makes it very clear later on that suicide on a Federation station is illegal, so I have to wonder, then, what else there is to defend in Crusher's position. If it is illegal, and she would put a temporary hold on him, that makes sense. And if the experimental treatment was illegal research, then she wouldn't submit Worf to that either without breaching ethics. It all seems to stand up. It makes more sense if we just assume that suicide is illegal under Federation law, and the using experimental trials is also not allowed under medical ethics.

So for Worf to want to commit Klingon ritual suicide on the Enterprise would seem to fall under Federation law (which respects but does not condone or assist with beliefs counter to its own), just as if Worf wanted to murder a crew member Klingon-style for questioning his orders, but it's not a Klingon ship and he doesn't get to employ Klingon laws on the Enterprise. Worf is on a Federation ship and so it's those laws that will be followed, not the Klingon ones. Picard has likewise stated even to Worf directly that he expects Federation conduct from him. In fact, when Worf killed Duras PIcard told him straight-up that this was in violation of Federation law, and men were on their way to stop him. *That* he has a belief that is held elsewhere is irrelevant when discussing what Worf is allowed to do in a Federation culture. Worf may not be 'mentality incompetent' according to his culture's standards, but by ours he is still breaking a law by threatening to kill (himself or others) and he's be committed either way. On a psychological scale if you wanted to declare him mentally unfit you could try, but since he's a Klingon you'd have to either use human logic on him, or else Klingon logic to declare him unfit. If you use his values, then he isn't "mentally unstable" by American standards, and yet must still be held temporarily so that the threat to himself or others can be evaluated. That wouldn't change at all, which proves my point that holding suicidal people isn't to do with the cultural norm of the patient but about the laws in the country in which the patient is treated.

The episode never established Federation policy here, whether the experimental treatment was legal to administer, and even whether there is euthanasia in the Federation. In fact I bet this omission was deliberate because they didn't want to open that can of worms, even though it was at the heart of the episode. I think they chickened out in the end and used the magic procedure to fix everything so that the individual objections never really had to be dealt with.
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James
Thu, May 25, 2017, 7:44pm (UTC -6)
Why does that doctor who comes on board have the exact same hairstyle and wardrobe as 21st century Hillary Clinton?
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Andrew
Sun, Jun 4, 2017, 7:02pm (UTC -6)
The way Worf, Picard and Riker all spoke and acted to me strongly conveyed that assisted suicide was permitted under Federation law but Riker and Crusher had a strong personal abhorrence to it, that it was a controversial request as most humans felt closer to Riker and Crusher's views than Picard's but not that Worf was asking that people and Picard accepting of act illegally.
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Andrew
Sun, Jun 4, 2017, 7:11pm (UTC -6)
That Crusher admits and emphasizes, when Picard disputes the practicality of her restrictions, that she's talking about what she will permit in *her sickbay* (rather than what any doctor and medical establishment would do) suggests she is acting out of her personal ethical beliefs rather than having the law support her position.
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Outsider65
Fri, Jun 9, 2017, 6:17am (UTC -6)
What I don't think is right is Beverly hiding a medical option from him and declaring she will hold him captive indefinitely to prevent him from his ritual suicide.

This is his life, and if he's willing to risk it to try an experimental procedure, that is his choice. Beverly's job was to tell him ALL the options, as well as the risks. You could argue that she thought the risk was too great, or that it would violate "do no harm". However, Worf is entitled to a second opinion, and to getting another doctor. Trying to keep him from knowing about the option or talking to the other doctor in order to manipulate him into doing what she wanted him to do was despicable. In fact, trying to prevent him from getting a second opinion was probably criminal.

Riker almost goes through with the ritual with Worf, indicating that it is not illegal, meaning Beverly has no authority or right to imprison him in sick bay. Even if she did have a legal grounds for keeping him there, she has no right to impose her will on him, to force her decisions and opinions on him, as she wanted to.

Writing this out made me realize why I detest Beverly. Well, in addition to her being insipidly bland, a horribly incompetent doctor who blatantly disregards patient rights, and the boyfriend talk with Troi. I hate Beverly because she's self-absorbed and manipulative. She's always trying to get her way, often through deception or coercion. Worf refuses to give blood to his sworn enemy? She runs to Picard, trying to use Picard's authority to force Worf into violating his own morals. And this despite the intended recipient vehemently saying he'd rather die than receive a transfusion. A family forbids her to perform an autopsy on their deceased son, but she really wants to? She does anyway, and runs to Picard. AGAIN. He basically shakes his head and says "I can't help you now." How many times has he gotten her out of trouble in the past?

There's something so horribly conniving and disgusting about the way she uses her friendship with Picard to her own gain, and the way she nags him when she doesn't get her way.

It's never, never about medical ethics with her, and always about her own desires and opinions. Her arguments are almost never rational or coherent, but always impassioned pleas based on her own ignorant standing. She never has a leg to stand on and isn't convincing even when she's right. She has no care for other people's cultures or circumstance, only her own ideas of what should be done. And she violates patients' desires, cultures, and morals left and right and declares them "stupid" without even attempting to understand them.

She's a weak, stupid character and an insulting two dimensional stereotype consisting of various "feminine" traits but no redeeming qualities. Weak, stupid, incompetent, emotional, irrational, ignorant, nagging, manipulative. These are all negative female stereotypes and they all describe her behavior. I've finally pinpointed why her very existence makes me angry. I find her extremely offensive.
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Del_Duio
Fri, Jun 9, 2017, 9:52am (UTC -6)
@Outrider65:

In another episode she gives an alien an autopsy even though both the family members and Picard told her not to. Even my small daughter picked up right away on that and wondered why she didn't get in serious trouble (at the least).

How Bev's not in some sorta' doctor jail is anyone's guess.
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Tara
Thu, Jun 22, 2017, 9:32pm (UTC -6)
@outrider65,

Bravo! Well said. Especially your sixth paragraph: I couldn't agree more. She's all braying emotion, and seems to lack even the capacity to calm down and apply reason and ethics. How did this idiot become CMO on the Federation's flagship?

I got the impression Worf doesn't really matter to her. She doesn't consider his point of view or have any apparent compassion for him; his body is pretty much a prop for her strutting self-important theatrics.

This behavior might have suited the Julian Bashir character in an early episode of DS9;, since he was portrayed as young and untried and egotistical in the first season. But Crusher is supposed to be a seasoned physician. And she's horrible.
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Linda
Fri, Jun 30, 2017, 10:29pm (UTC -6)
Crusher or Pulaski, I actually don’t have a preference.

In the scene where Crusher and Picard discuss Worf’s medical condition, Crusher speaks of the lengths that she will go to keep Worf from committing suicide. She is clearly emotional, Worf is not just a patient but a friend. The tactics she speaks of using are tactics, which some feel are ethically debatable. But it’s all talk and possibilities on her part. They are not tactics that she ever engages. To me, she is talking through her problem, trying to wrap her head around Worf’s decision, and Picard helps her come to the decision not to employ them.

Riker brings the dagger to Worf and expresses extreme dismay and disgust at the request. He dramatically leaves the dagger as a signal that he, Riker, has no desire to be a part of this process. He leaves the dagger, on the bed at Worf’s feet. Would Worf’s injury prevent him from retrieving the knife from the foot of the bed where Riker left it? Apparently not. Later Worf gives the dagger to his son and tells him to bring it back to their quarters. Clever. Riker refused to participate in the suicide ritual, but gave Worf the ability to carry out the deed if he so wished.

To me the biggest problem I had with Crusher was that she tells Worf immediately upon his waking up after the accident:

Crusher: I'm afraid there's no way we can repair this kind of injury.

And yet the very next thing we hear is:
Captain's log, stardate 45587.3. Lieutenant Worf has been removed from active duty following a severe injury. Although a neuro-specialist has arrived, Doctor Crusher believes his paralysis may be permanent.

“May be permanent.” I’m thinking that Crusher essentially flat out tells Worf, we can’t fix this, you’ll always be like this. When really, she hasn’t finished assessing the situation yet. The diagnosis was premature.
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Tempeh
Thu, Oct 12, 2017, 7:41pm (UTC -6)
I used to hate this episode because I thought it was too talky and it's obvious Worf is going get to get cured, but I just rewatched it and I think it's great. The medical ethics arguments going on between Crusher and the other doctor are thought provoking. Both of them have good points. I felt emotional when Worf was asking Deanna to be the kid's mother if some thing bad should happen. The only thing a little "off" was Picard's full support behind the idea that Worf's life is over. By the way when did Riker and Worf become good friend? It seemed to come out of nowhere. I don't remember them being together. 3 stars.
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Derek D
Sat, Dec 30, 2017, 2:00am (UTC -6)
From the comments I read above I appear to be in the minority, but I thought Caroline Kava's depiction of Dr. Toby Russell was awful: hollow, lacking the right emotional tone, unconvincing.

I also disagree with Jammer about Worf's decision to commit ritual suicide as being "absurd." From my perception of what it is to be a Klingon, Worf's desire to end his life since he can no longer be a fully-functioning warrior makes a lot of sense, whether it is congruous with my personal beliefs or not.
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Joshua
Wed, Jan 3, 2018, 1:48am (UTC -6)
Looking back on this episode, I have to wonder if Section 31 ever offered Dr. Russell a job.
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Matt
Fri, Apr 27, 2018, 2:18am (UTC -6)
A compelling episode.

I must admit I laughed pretty hard when Worf bellowed this gem while talking with the doctors.

"I will not be seen lurking in the corridors like some half Klingon machine!"
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Rahul
Tue, Jul 24, 2018, 7:52pm (UTC -6)
Quite impressed with this one for its examination of moral/ethical issues with compelling arguments from both sides. Strong performances from Crusher, Riker, Troi, and Picard who provided the opposing viewpoints. Dr. Russell and her lack of ethics -- she's always in a good mood and begins complimenting Crusher as soon as she comes aboard, as if sucking up to her. I don't think many viewers won't be touched by some of the poignant scenes surrounding the surgery on Worf and its aftermath.

The Klingon belief of suicide for a paraplegic has to be seen from their cultural standpoint -- but the human criticism of its selfishness was well made by Troi and Riker. Worf's belief in suicide here is much more believable given that he's a Klingon with a well-established culture of honor etc. as opposed to the BS suicide in "Half a Life". And we can understand from a Klingon point of view why it makes sense to them -- Worf would be useless as a warrior, would be shamed etc. So this argument worked for me.

Picard was a bit strange in this one: Argues for the experimental treatment on Worf and tells Riker that Worf's life is over. I think what this episode does very well is give compelling arguments from both sides of the coin, thus making none of the numerous issues in this episode black or white -- especially when Picard makes the counter-argument.

Thought this was a particularly strong episode for Crusher. I agreed with her viewpoints but also liked her acting (frustration at losing Worf in the OR, having to break the bad news to Alexander, chewing out Russell on a few occasions). This was an episode that built up well to the climax of the surgery, which was quite riveting to watch.

"Ethics" does have its near tear-jerking moments like when Crusher has to break the news to Alexander, who is actually a valuable addition to this episode. This is the best episode for him -- liked his little smile when Worf chooses to live and go ahead with the experimental surgery. I suppose the ending is convenient -- Worf should really be dead but his backup systems (which were established earlier in the episode) kick in -- and of course he'll be 100% by next week as he'll breeze through rehab and all the chemicals Crusher pumped into his body.

A strong 3 stars for "Ethics" -- engrossing hour of TNG with not a lot wrong other than Worf coming back from the dead. But we never believed he'd not be 100% by the next episode -- the only question is how. Plenty of good interactions: Worf/Riker, Crusher/Russell, Picard/Riker, Troi/Worf -- very well written, acted.
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borusa
Wed, Oct 10, 2018, 2:51pm (UTC -6)
I thought this was another transcendent episode.
All of the characters who served in this episode were well presented eg Riker's position was very well portrayed by Frakes, Picard was able to talk with authority on Klingon cultures because of his role in that arena and it was nice to have Alexander showing understandable concern for his father and confusion over his initial 'Klingon' intransigence.
The ethical dilemmas were shown in a nuanced way.
I liked this one.
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Rodeo
Wed, Oct 24, 2018, 12:25pm (UTC -6)
Good episode until crushers spiteful little speech at the end of the episode.
Considering worf was going to kill himself as the alternative.
I think the doctors methods were reasonable in that while a few may die in the process, the long term goal is the preservation of life.
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K'mpec Is Still Fat
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 11:29pm (UTC -6)
I liked Hillary Clinton as the experimental doctor in this episode.

It'd be funny if they killed off Worf this episode and brought him back on DSN with no explanation whatsoever.
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meister
Sun, Apr 21, 2019, 8:25am (UTC -6)
7/10 for giving Crusher a good medical episode. Unfortunately it was a medical episode and not really futuristic or Star Trek in my books. They tried to give the situation a true dilemma since Worf was threatening to kill himself. But he also did try the conventional treatment even after saying this. You can't judge a person's intentions in the early days after an accident. The episode then muddied the water by having the visiting doctor kill a patient from the disaster. At least I assume that's what she did. She didn't try the conventional treatment but instead assumed the new one would solve all and it hadn't been tested. So even though Worf chose the experimental treatment, the visiting doctor is shown to be unethical.

Picard was interesting counselling Riker to assist Worf in suicide. I thought that was over the top especially when Riker discovered that there was more to the tradition and used that as a loophole. Clever Riker!

Troi was good with Alexander who is one of my favourite characters. I like the way he shouts "No". He shows his feelings instead of our insincere adult hiding of feelings. I l know he is young and doesn't control his emotions but isn't that the point really? not all of his outbursts are unreasonable tantrums. Sometimes he is just showing us reasonable emotions. Kind of a nice break from the bridge crew blandness. He is also cute af.
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Meister
Sun, Apr 21, 2019, 11:40am (UTC -6)
I agree with parts of Outsider65`s portrayal of Crusher. I am not a fan of Crusher and in a recent episode she harassed the captain into doing the memory recovery insinuating there would be an interesting (embarrassing) memory revealed. (at a work official social function no less). And there have been other horrible behaviours.

However I believe Crusher was exaggerating that she would keep Worf prisoner. As much as I dislike her and her keeping all options from Worf etc, I don't believe she was serious. It was a friend and colleague of hers. (Ironic considering suicidal Americans can be locked up - for all those expressing outrage, isn't her threat consistent with that? and does your outrage at Crusher threatening locking Worf up mean that maybe today`s suicidal behaviour shouldn't be considered evidence of mental illness then? what am I missing here?)

But doesn't Star Trek always portray their doctors a little "off" (I know that's not helpful) ? (Pulaski ironically excepted, she had a learning curve with Data but improved) Bones represented emotion over Spock`s reason. Bashir was just a brat but allowed to be since he was "brilliant doctor". Beverley is also a brat in her own way. But it is around the fact she feels she has an inside lever with the captain (thanks Outsider65 for pointing out all the times she runs to the captain) ...Is there a theme here on the doctor characters that others can help me with. I sense something common but can`t put my finger on it... is it their personal arrogance? professional arrogance? Pulaski was strong but didn't she take herself out of the equation during any drama or conflict or mystery to solve. She might enforce medical principles but it was never about her in the end (when she was on the job). I don't know...

My personal opinion is that medical treatments or lack of them has three risks: the risk of death and catastrophic disability, the risk of disability, and the risk of short term discomfort. It is, or should be, my choice as to how much of each of those risks are acceptable. I would like the information from my doctors as to those three risks but it is not up to them what amount of any of the three risks is unacceptable for me. Perhaps others with long term chronic illness can relate to me.

Interesting the discussion on why suicidal patients are locked up. Surely there is a difference between depression and a decision that life is over; it isn't always a mental illness. Is it really illegal in USA? How about Canada? Western Europe?
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HaliaWestron
Sun, Jan 19, 2020, 11:54am (UTC -6)
One, thing that really irritates me about those reviews is this arrogant anthropocentrism: "Of course is a silly custom, because we humans automatically know what's objectively wrong and right!" This same happened when Jammer was talking about "TNG Half a life" when he automatically said that Kaelon's custom is obviously stupid, without even considering why it even existed in the first place. If aliens exists, they are culturally different that us - do we have the right to judge them by human standards? I completely agree, I would also say its a somewhat biased modern western viewpoint and reading this in 2020 it feels incredibly shallow and even bigoted. There are plenty of cultures in which ritual suicide is a social/culturally accepted path. To state that the episode fails because Worf's cultural mindset is 'silly' is failing in critical thought. Throughout TNG (and other star trek series) Klingons are shown to have a culture that espouses ritual suicide in various situations. They are also a people with very specific views about the physicality needed. Perhaps Jammer should have listened to Picard a few more times............... "that's a very human perspective, for a KLINGON in Worf's position, his life is over...... we don't have to agree with it, we don't have to understand it"
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Chrome
Sun, Jan 19, 2020, 2:57pm (UTC -6)
Excellent comment, Halia.
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Michael Wallis
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 1:32pm (UTC -6)
Beverly needed to get down from her high horse in this one. The research surgeon was completely ethical in presenting Worf with the new treatment. She provided full disclosure and obtained Worf's informed consent. Great to see Riker heroically representing the pro life position and reversing Worf's embrace of the barbaric culture of death.
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Tarr
Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 2:01pm (UTC -6)
Dr. Crusher came off as extremely petty here. Dr. Russell did not hide the risks to Worf, he agreed and was given all the information and was in compis mentis. Crusher acted more like Dr. Pulaski than her usual wise persona.Her self indulgent, hissy fit in the last scene diminished her and underlined that Crusher is not suited for heroic medical research but belongs treating crew injuries from holodeck recreational activities. It was wonderful to see Riker stand up and rebut Worf's cowardly rationalizations for abandoning his motherless son.
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Rae
Sun, Mar 22, 2020, 7:21pm (UTC -6)
The sheer amount of commentors here who don't see any issue with comparing Worf's situation to assisted suicide- not to mention the writer's who also apparently saw this as a valid comparison- is astounding. Worf was NOT terminally ill, he was not dying, he was not in pain- he had a disability. He had a disability millions of people live with, here, on planet Earth, today and when this episode was made. In fact, he was expected to regain 60% of his mobility! This is not a situation where assisted suicide would be considered, nor should it be.

The fact that everyone here seems to think they are comparable is just ableism. Lack of mobility is not a death sentence, and it does not mean your life is over. This is a "metaphor" for suicide, just ordinary suicide, not assisted suicide.
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SouthofNorth
Mon, Jun 1, 2020, 9:47pm (UTC -6)
2 Stars maybe 2.5. As usual, Trek chickens out on a serious premise and all will be forgotten by next week.
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Top Hat
Tue, Jun 2, 2020, 8:51pm (UTC -6)
Tim Lynch's review from when the episode aired mentions that it was rumoured that Dr. Russell was originally planned to be Pulaski. I've never heard anything to support this claim, but it's an interesting counterfactual: bring Pulaski back and set her at Crusher at odds. It wouldn't have quite worked with this story as told, not the least because she has an existing relationship with Worf. What do people think?
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Jeffrey Jakucyk
Wed, Jun 3, 2020, 10:33am (UTC -6)
That's an interesting idea re: Pulaski. You're right that it wouldn't really work with the story as told. I can totally see Crusher and Pulaski butting heads over personality and other more trivial matters, but the circumstances would need to be different. Pulaski tends to be rather flippant when it comes to protocol, but not when it comes to her patients. Dr. Russell puts her *patients* at risk ostensibly to further her research, but more likely as a means of self aggrandizement. Pulaski on the other hand puts her *self* at risk for her patients and even seems to be embarrassed by her accomplishments and acclaim, as evidenced in Unnatural Selection. She's a bit of a hothead and even said that she tends to leap before looking, but that's still pretty different than Dr. Russell.

So I think for the story to work with Pulaski, you'd have to get rid of the questionable medical ethics. Maybe replace that with Pulaski mirroring Picard's viewpoint in the same way that Crusher mirrors Riker's. Pulaski would be pro-suicide, but maybe she's the one who brings knowledge of Klingon ceremonies to Riker and realizes that neither of them can help Worf go through with it. Worf's obstinance can still lead to Pulaski suggesting a risky treatment, just not one that's her own pet project. After all, there's plenty of medical procedures that are well established and vetted but still dangerous. The only problem is that half the conflict in the episode has been removed, leaving only the suicide question. Is there enough meat left? I can't think off the top of my head of a way to fold in the USS Denver triage to the story since that was used only for the medical ethics drama.
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Skeptical
Wed, Jun 3, 2020, 7:45pm (UTC -6)
Jeffrey,

I think there would be a bit more of a problem then just "not enough meat" with your proposal (although I agree that what you said would probably be the best way to go). The other issue is that it just makes Crusher into a loser. Regardless of one's opinion on "right to try" medicine, in this case it HAS to work for Worf to make the series continue on, so Pulaski would have to be right and Crusher have to be wrong. And then to have Pulaski on the side of Picard (who is more often than not presented as the moral center of Trek) makes Crusher wrong again. It doesn't look good for the main character to be beat up quite so much. In the episode we do have, it's fine that Crusher is wrong about the procedure, because she was right about Russel's callous demeanor (and her arrogant dismissal of Klingon redundancy is shown to be wrong when that was the only reason her procedure worked). But in the episode as proposed, Crusher would simply be taking her lumps, and taking from a potential rival in the series. One would have to even the playing field a bit.

I think if it was to be Pulaski, they would have to drop "Ethics" as the core of the episode. Yes, the Klingon vs human view of disability could still stay largely in-tact, and the "right to try" viewpoint you bring up could be shown, but there would need to be something else. A personality conflict between Crusher and Pulaski could be a nice balance. Since Pulaski would be a "special" guest star, simply seeing those two together could have enough meat to get through the rest of the episode.

I'm not sure what it would be though. Pulaski's lack of protocol might work to some extent. It could salvage some of the USS Denver triage bit. Pulaski may be a guest, but in the heat of the moment starts acting like she's in command (perhaps bolstered by the fact that she knows some of the Enterprise medical staff), and ends up stepping on Crusher's toes or causing some other problem by doing so. It would obviously be a lesser issue than Russel (and wouldn't result in Crusher banning Pulaski), but could provide some conflict. The only problem is, Crusher isn't necessary one to stand on protocol either. She is clearly a doctor first and Starfleet second, so whatever issue Pulaski causes has to end up being a problem medically rather than procedurally, which makes it somewhat less believable.

And whatever personality conflicts that the episode does create could be resolved during the surgery scene at the end, as the two would be forced to work together on a procedure that neither is comfortable with, and both of their strengths would be required for it to be successful or something. I don't know, that's kind of trite, but with skilled authors might work. I think that would also solve some of the "Crusher is a loser" issue. Instead of Crusher being opposed to a "right to try" procedure in general, she could simply be concerned that it's risky with inexperienced doctors (and make up some medicobabble on why the procedure needs to be done soon) and thus default to the human vs Klingon ethical problem.

So basically, instead of the A and B plot both being about ethics, now one plot would be ethics and the other be a clash of personality. So significantly different, but possibly still worth watching with the right authors. And it would have been kind of nice to see Pulaski return.
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Peter G.
Thu, Jun 4, 2020, 10:13am (UTC -6)
I do like the idea of Pulaski mirroring Picard's viewpoint of respecting Klingon culture, which fits in with some development she had in S2. What the episode tried to be but failed to an extent was to argue that medical ethics would actually change depending on the species involved. Crusher is essentially right if the patient was a human, and she is also right *if* Russel was using patients for her own ends (which I'm not convinced is the case). But Crusher is dead wrong about Worf, and the reason the episode fails is that, as Skeptical suggests, there is no drama if Crusher is just out to lunch, and it's also bad optics to have a main character look like a fool. As things stood here, the only reasonable choices were try to experimental treatment or Worf dies. Him killing himself should have been considered as inevitable if they didn't do it. Yes, *maybe* they could talk him down from that, but this is a separate ethical issue of its own, regarding whether they even have any business telling a Klingon that his culture is wrong about suicide. And that issue is barely touched on in the episode, even though it's even more relevant to our plot than the medical ethics issue is.

Having someone defend Russel's procedure not on its own terms, but on the terms of it being the right choice *for a Klingon* is what the episode needed. It needed the message that although professional ethics have to be objective (meaning every doctor follows the same rules in the Federation), the weight of which procedures they should be performing should change based on the species in question and their belief system. As we see in Babylon 5, it might be wrong to do invasive surgeries on a species that forbids it, and likewise it might be reasonable to do dangerous surgeries on a Klingon warrior who is absolutely willing to accept the risk and doesn't fear death. The reason the episode becomes tedious is because it comes about Crusher's hunch that Russel is being unethical, even though we essentially know nothing about Russel beforehand, and also don't really care either way. Russel says she's being reasonable, Crusher disagrees; big whoop, we know nothing about the science either way since it's technobabble, so we are stuck having to sort of agree with Crusher on principle because she's a lead. The entire problem doesn't hit home and barely even makes sense other than if we just take Crusher's word for it. Having a Pulaski instead of a Russel, basing her idea on Worf's well-being rather than standard human values, would be both interesting and challenging: can medical ethics change based on the patient?
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Jason R.
Thu, Jun 4, 2020, 12:23pm (UTC -6)
Peter to be fair, Picard makes the very point you do, which sways Crusher to permit the procedure. Crusher's viewpoint, if I am being charitable, is not contrary to what you are saying. Crusher isn't saying that Klingons should be forced to live when they wish to die or that is not really her main point; she is saying that Russell was unethical to put her own glory ahead of her patients. Crusher is accusing Russell of acting in a conflict of interest. That does not change even if she grudgingly concedes that doing the procedure is the only real alternative given Worf's strong cultural imperatives.

That said I agree that it would have been far more interesting to see Pulaski argue for Worf's rights as a Klingon than see Crusher chide some rando guest character for a lack of professional ethics.
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Peter G.
Thu, Jun 4, 2020, 2:29pm (UTC -6)
@ Jason R,,

Picard does bring up the argument, which is what put in my head that this should have been a far more significant theme in the episode. The way the episode it titles, and the way most of it is spent, we're given a lot of air time around two key issues:

1) Whether being crippled is as terrible for Worf as it sounds.
2) Whether Russel was violating medical ethics in using untested procedures.

(1) sort of gets addressed by way of showing us that for a Klingon being crippled is as good as dying, but what it doesn't show us is how much that applies to Worf. The extent to which he really will follow Klingon teaching should be the focus here, but instead it becomes "human vs Klingon" which we kind of already knew. (2) takes center stage later in the episode, but actually ends up being a loose end that's never tied up. We come out of the episode having made no progress on whether in fact Russel was being unethical, as the matter gets dropped once they realize they have to operate on Worf. We also don't learn much of anything about the merits (or demerits) of using experimental procedures on patients who request them. There's actually a whole arc in Boston Legal (which I just finished watching) about whether terminal patients should have the right to use unapproved medications, because what have they got to lose. That's quite an issue to unpack, but it wasn't even mentioned here even though it's essentially the issue in question.

So my idea, having said all this, is that the question of medical ethics vis a vis patients of different cultures, could have been an interesting one. Picard did come in to speak on behalf of respecting Klingon culture, but in terms of the plot that only served to squash discussion of the other topic, that of Russel's ethics. So the two lines of argument were at cross purposes and the result is the episode is a muddle, with none of the above situations really getting a full hearing or resolution.
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Gerontius
Thu, Aug 27, 2020, 8:09am (UTC -6)
The assumption that suicide would be illegal in the Federation seems a bit questionable. After all, it isn't in much of the world, including Western Europe. Anyway that doesn't seem the issue in this episode, it's seen as about ethics, not law by Picard and Riker at any rate.

I can't see Worf determination to take his life as either unlikely or absurd. And it's not a case of Klingon tradition compelling him against his own wishes, as it was with with the scientists in Half a Life. If he was human he might well make the same choice. I think it was off the point to see this primarily as a matter of respecting Klingon culture was beside the point. Precisely the same ethical issues would have potentially involved if the episode had been about a human being - example, Picard or Riker, or maybe if they had brought Captain Pike back for an episode.

I don't think it's the right choice, and I think it was right for Riker to try to make him change his mind, and get it across to him that it was the reverse of courageous. But that's a different matter from Crusher's determination to forcibly prevent him.

The matter of the operation was different. I think that to choose to undergo a dangerous procedure in the hope of recovery could be a perfectly ethical one to take. I can quite conceive of making that choice myself and regarding it as ethically right, whereas I believe that suicide could never be.

For a doctor it would be different, and only where the only other outcome would be death could an operation with a 73% of survival be ethical. But in those circumstances it would be fully ethical, and it would be reasonable to see that as the situation in this case. "Professional ethics" might be another matter - that can be tied up more with protecting the doctor rather than the patient at times.

Crusher's stuff about "do no harm" was oversimplistic. In Worf's view failing to operate would involve greater harm being done to him. The fact that the visiting doctor saw this emergency, and also that of the other patient who died, as an opportunity to further her research did not mean that she saw the treatment she favoured as the best choice for the patients involved, and a better choice than the treatment Crusher preferred.

There was never any indication that the visiting doctor was doing anything that she did not believe was the beet option for her patients. I felt Crusher was very much at fault, both in wishing to prevent Worf from hearing about the possible treatment, and for being so hostile towards her colleague at the end of the episode.
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Gerontius
Thu, Aug 27, 2020, 8:14am (UTC -6)
Sorry - I got my sums wrong. We were told the operation had a 37% charge of survival and full recovery. That doesn't change the argument.
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James G
Wed, Sep 2, 2020, 1:19pm (UTC -6)
A superb episode this one; possibly one of the very best of the fifth series so far. These more personal stories are not really my thing; I'd far rather have a confrontation with Romulans or an alien entity taking over the ship's computer. But this personal story was actually quite compelling.

It's difficult to imagine that Starfleet health & safety protocols are so poor that a heavy item of cargo can flatten someone in a cargo bay. It's also hard to imagine that a civilisation with warp drive, replicator and transporter technology can't fix a broken spine (either Beverley or Russell uses the word "humanoid" to describe Worf. Wouldn't it be amusing if the other "humanoid" species had a similar convention? I'd love to hear Worf describe Riker or Picard as "klingonoid").

Anyway - upon this shaky foundation, a rather engaging story is constructed.

I find Picard's attitude much wiser than Riker's. Riker's speech to Worf in sick bay is a bit overcooked. It's selfishly human-centric. But it has a powerful twist, when he insists that Worf's son should be the one to assist him to die.

Patrick Stewart acts beautifully in this one - check out the uncertainty and caution in his manner before he asks Beverley to consider using the experimental treatment.

I'm not a liberal, or a feminist. But this episode passes the Bechdel Test very handsomely, and that's unusual and welcome. But I find Beverley 's stance and dialogue rather sanctimonious.

A nitpick - Russell describes Klingon anatomy as a good design, but not practical. But evolution doesn't do impractical. It doesn't throw in superfluous ideas on a whim, like rear seat vanity mirrors in a car.

I think there are some actual good old-fashioned CRT monitors in sick bay in one of the scenes when we see Riker in there.

The twist when we see that Worf survives after all reminded me of Spock's inner eyelids preventing him from going blind.

It occurred to me that this would have been a very good way to write out Worf's character, had that been necessary. It would have been dramatic and effective, much more so than seeing him lose his life in some Klingon factional conflict or to a Romulan disruptor. Powerful and unexpected, like Henry Blake's demise in M*A*S*H.

Anyway - really very good.
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Earl
Mon, Sep 7, 2020, 4:00am (UTC -6)
I understand all of the issues that people are arguing in the comments. I'm surprised to see more understanding and thoughtful reflection in the comments, than in the review itself. Mostly because this isn't a mainstream review, it's a regular guy's blog. It wouldn't surprise me if it was a rotten tomatoes critic review.

That out of the way, my biggest gripe is with Beverly. I don't buy her "using untested treatments is wrong" stance, because that's what we've seen her do for four and a half seasons. Every Star Trek episode, that has anything at all to do with medical issues, has the chief medical officer coming up with untested treatments on the fly. She may as well be calling McCoy, Polanski and herself "bad doctors" for saving their crews from unknown alien parasites. From the TNG references to TOS in "Naked Now", it sounds like the federation doesn't put treatments through a lot of testing anyway. Dr McCoy's treatment from "Naked Time" is just accepted despite it only being used that one time. Granted 400+ test subjects is more than any vaccine gets in modern times before approval.
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Jason R.
Mon, Sep 7, 2020, 8:56am (UTC -6)
"Every Star Trek episode, that has anything at all to do with medical issues, has the chief medical officer coming up with untested treatments on the fly. She may as well be calling McCoy, Polanski and herself "bad doctors" for saving their crews from unknown alien parasites. "

There is a big difference between improvising a treatment for a deadly condition on the fly (where the alternative is death) versus operating on an otherwise healthy patient with an experimental procedure in furtherance of your career over the patient's best interests. At no point did McCoy or Pulaski or Crusher ever do that.
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Robbie
Fri, Oct 2, 2020, 12:05pm (UTC -6)
Crusher's attitude in this episode really annoys me. It's fundamental that someone owns his or her own life, NOT the doctor conducting the treatment! If Worf wishes to take his own life (regardless of how silly others think it is), Dr. Crusher has no business saying no. If Worf chooses to RISK his life on an experimental procedure, that is not her call. If she had decided no, Worf should be within his rights to tell her to stick it and have the procedure done by someone else. How dare she talk of restraining him. I also didn't like the way she behaved when the procedure succeeded. Not gracious at all.
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Matt B
Mon, Dec 28, 2020, 11:10pm (UTC -6)
I usually agree it's Jammer and most of the commenters but not here. This was a bad boring episode. I knew what was going to happen from the start. There easy nothing interesting here. And I love Crusher and Darmok.

Half star at best.
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Jaxon
Thu, Dec 31, 2020, 2:03am (UTC -6)
As others have said, Beverly's attitude was beyond tiresome here...starship medicine is totally on the fly.

How "tested" was her cure for the Barclay disease in "Genesis? Or the Doctor for the Salamander Syndrome in Voyager?
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Polaris
Thu, May 13, 2021, 12:24am (UTC -6)
I did not like this episode. Beverly presented a partial recovery treatment to Worf as the only option, despite knowing his cultural beliefs. A patient should know about ALL the options and their risks, and make an informed decision about their treatment based on that. Worf would have ended up killing himself if she had her way. And we’re supposed to root for her point of view I guess, since she shamed the experimental doctor before, during, and after the surgery. It was also stupid how the other doctor froze up while Worf was dying in surgery so Bevs could step in and take the lead.

On another note I’d like to think in the future we would respect the idea of self chosen euthanasia for terminal illness, at least. Worf’s condition wasn’t terminal though, and complicated because he had a young child.
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Frake's Nightmare
Mon, Aug 2, 2021, 4:25pm (UTC -6)
That Ellen DeGeneres has picked up some mad surgical skills by the 24th C!
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Tidd
Thu, Sep 30, 2021, 3:15am (UTC -6)
A very grown-up episode, and welcome for that. It’s really a contemporary discussion on medical ethics, focusing on two main issues:

1. How far is it justifiable to perform radical new procedures on volunteer patients who have lost all faith in conventional medicine, and who are prepared to take the risk involved?

2. Is the right to die via assisted suicide ever justified, for patients of sound mind who have made a free choice in the face of a life not worth living due to pain or extreme disability?

These are issues still as relevant today (and no nearer a clear ethical answer) as they were in the early 90s. Crusher’s condemnation at the end - “You put your research ahead of your patients’ lives “ - sums up the debate perfectly. As a disabled person myself, I think Crusher is wrong here; should medical oaths transcend the free choice of a patient willing to try ANYTHING, whatever the risk, to improve their quality of life? No, I don’t believe they should, not in every case. And if a new procedure is shown to work, after being tried on a dying patient, doesn’t that then give hope to many others in a similar position? Let’s not forget Spock’s dictum: “The needs of the many…”

As for the assisted suicide question, that, as they say, is a different kettle of fish. I have no cLear answer to that, and I guess few people do. The different approach by different national governments shows that mankind has no definitive belief on the question.

I did think Worf had really died when I first saw the episode. Repeat viewings negate the impact, but that’s an inevitability!

3 stars.
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Tidd
Thu, Sep 30, 2021, 3:25am (UTC -6)
@Jason R

“ There is a big difference between improvising a treatment for a deadly condition on the fly (where the alternative is death) versus operating on an otherwise healthy patient with an experimental procedure in furtherance of your career over the patient's best interests”

That assessment of Russell’s motives was all inside Crusher’s head. At no point IIRC did Russell say or do something to demonstrate that her career mattered more than the potential of life-giving experimental procedures.
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Jason R.
Thu, Sep 30, 2021, 7:04am (UTC -6)
"That assessment of Russell’s motives was all inside Crusher’s head. At no point IIRC did Russell say or do something to demonstrate that her career mattered more than the potential of life-giving experimental procedures"

You're forgetting that when Russell was treating a patient from that disaster, she used an experimental unapproved drug in place of the standard treatment. She used the patient as a Guinea pig, without consent.
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Tidd
Fri, Oct 1, 2021, 3:28am (UTC -6)
@Jason R

RUSSELL: “I made the choice that I thought gave him the best chance of surviving. Isn’t that what you would have done?”

That sounds very much like two contemporary doctors disagreeing about the best treatment to give a dying or critically injured patient. The judgement of one might involve greater risk than the more conservative plan of the other, but you can’t necessarily infer from that that the riskier treatment is to do with enhancing the doctor’s career at the expense of her patients. Many doctors do take risks - at least the best ones do - if they believe it to be the course that will save the patients.
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Jason R.
Fri, Oct 1, 2021, 7:21am (UTC -6)
@Tidd you are taking Russell's self serving justification for her actions at face value. Crusher isn't just accusing Russell of using experimental or risky procedures; she's accusing her of having an ulterior motive I.e. being in a conflict of interest in seeking to test these procedures on patients.

A doctor's ethical duty is to the patient full stop. Russell was clearly prioritizing other things. Even when Crusher finally agrees to the spinal procedure, it's in spite of this issue with Russell's motives.
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Tidd
Sat, Oct 2, 2021, 1:51am (UTC -6)
@Jason R

Let’s look at the two things more closely: first, Russell’s radical but very risky treatment she had developed for paraplegic patients. It was the only thing that gave Worf any hope, and without it he MIGHT (Riker’s arguments notwithstanding) have undertaken the rather preposterous Klingon suicide. Therefore the risk of him dying as a result of Russell’s experiment was not identical to a human in the same situation; but even we are free to consider risky new treatment and assent to it. As someone with advanced MS I know pretty well what the implications are.

The other situation - where the colonist died after Russell administered an experimental drug - yes, you could easily criticise her judgement here. What you CAN’T do is accuse her of trying to further her own career. It wasn’t HER drug after all, but a new technique she had studied. She personally had nothing to gain.

What we are left with is two doctors. One will take risks - which is fine if with the consent of the patient. The other is more conservative and takes a ‘safety first’ approach. Both in their different ways are caring for their patients. Which - if either - is the more ethical? That’s a question it looks like you and I will never agree on.
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Booming
Sat, Oct 2, 2021, 2:40am (UTC -6)
Best of luck to you, Tidd!
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Jason R.
Sat, Oct 2, 2021, 7:21am (UTC -6)
@Tidd that the procedure was ir wasn't right isn't the issue - even Crusher was eventually in agreement to proceed, albeit after some arm twisting. But the doctor's motives were the issue here.

"It wasn’t HER drug after all, but a new technique she had studied. She personally had nothing to gain."

Those are facts not in evidence. You can't know that. And Crusher suggests just the opposite - that she DID have something to gain. Now you can say you don't trust Crusher's statement, but why? What kind of storytelling is it to invest in a particular ethical debate that turns out to be moot because some character arbitrarily doesn't know what she is saying? We have to assume that Crusher isn't just a dumbass. Wrong from an ethical standpoint? Sure fine. But your interpretation just breaks the story.
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Jason R.
Sat, Oct 2, 2021, 8:29am (UTC -6)
Just a clarification. She may have said the drug was developed somewhere else - I don't have the details in front of me. But that's irrelevent because it is clear from Crusher's comments that she does have something to gain by pioneering the use of new treatments. Her conflict of interest is the issue explicitly raised by Crusher. You can disbelieve Crusher - but that just renders the story pointless and the writers idiots, so why read it that way?
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Tidd
Mon, Oct 4, 2021, 2:38am (UTC -6)
@Jason R

“ it is clear from Crusher's comments that she does have something to gain by pioneering the use of new treatments”

The writers are not indulging in pointless debate. They are presenting us with medical ethics - which is the title of the episode after all. Two doctors, each with a different approach to experimental techniques. Crusher is the conservative one of the two and sees Russell’s approach as “career furthering”. What’s pointless about a storyline that reflects that dichotomy in medical practice? It’s an issue in contemporary medicine, and TNG often discusses issues relevant to our own times.
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Jeffrey Jakucyk
Mon, Oct 4, 2021, 3:44pm (UTC -6)
CRUSHER: What happened here?
RUSSELL: He went into neural metaphasic shock.
CRUSHER: From leporazine? That's unusual.
RUSSELL: He couldn't take leporazine, his blood pressure was too low. I had to try a different treatment.
CRUSHER: A morathial series?
RUSSELL: No. I tried a new rybo-therapy I've been working with. It's called borathium. I've had some very good results.
CRUSHER: You used this man to test one of your theories?
RUSSELL: Borathium is decades ahead of leporazine and morathial.
CRUSHER: Morathial would have saved his life.
RUSSELL: His injuries were so severe I don't think any conventional treatment could've saved him.
CRUSHER: The point is, you didn't even try standard treatments.
RUSSELL: I made the choice I thought gave him the best chance of surviving. Isn't that what you would have done?
CRUSHER: I think you used this situation in order to test one of your theories just like you're trying to do with Worf.
RUSSELL: That's what this is really about, isn't it? Lieutenant Worf. I'm offering him a chance to recover fully. A chance you can't give him.
CRUSHER: What this is about is the kind of medicine you seem to practice.
RUSSELL: I make no excuses for my approach to medicine. I don't like losing a patient any more than you do. But I'm looking down a long road, Doctor. This man didn't die for nothing. The data that I gathered is invaluable. It will eventually help save thousands of lives.

I think the critical point here is that Russell used an experimental treatment on a patient who could not consent to it, and she did not attempt conventional treatment first, she just wanted to collect data. Granted in a triage situation there may not be time to attempt multiple treatments, and they may even counteract one another, but it's also not the time or the place for such experimentation. It doesn't sound like there have been any clinical trials or other vetting, just Russell's questionable holodeck simulations. That's Dr. Mengele territory.

RUSSELL: Well, I'd say your patient's recovery is going well. [long pause] You're not even going to acknowledge what I did for him, are you? You just can't admit that it was my research that made this possible.
CRUSHER: I am delighted that Worf is going to recover. You gambled, he won. Not all of your patients are so lucky. You scare me, Doctor. You risk your patient's lives and justify it in the name of research. Genuine research takes time. Sometimes a lifetime of painstaking, detailed work in order to get any results. Not for you. You take short cuts, right through living tissue. You put your research ahead of your patient's lives, and as far as I'm concerned that's a violation of our most sacred trust. I'm sure your work will be hailed as a stunning breakthrough. Enjoy your laurels, Doctor. I'm not sure I could.

Russell wants all the glory without doing the work required to maintain an ethical practice, that's Crusher's objection. "What *I* did for him" "MY research." It's all about her ego. The triage situation is much worse than Worf's predicament if you ask me. At least Worf has some conventional treatment options and is sound of mind enough to consider alternatives. Was Crusher right to consider keeping Worf locked in sickbay for the rest of his life and never tell him about a possible alternative treatment? No, but that doesn't make Russell right.
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Jason R.
Mon, Oct 4, 2021, 4:04pm (UTC -6)
"Was Crusher right to consider keeping Worf locked in sickbay for the rest of his life and never tell him about a possible alternative treatment? No, but that doesn't make Russell right."

This was a blatantly empty threat anyway. It is ludicrous to believe Crusher could imprison Worf indefinitely. She was making a statement like me saying "I'll kill him if he does that" - it doesn't mean I am literally a murderer.
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Booming
Tue, Oct 5, 2021, 12:56am (UTC -6)
@Jeffrey
"That's Dr. Mengele territory"
No, it is not. Not even remotely close.
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Tidd
Wed, Oct 6, 2021, 4:01am (UTC -6)
@Booming

I agree with you. A doctor who genuinely wants treatments (however new and controversial) to cure patients, being compared to a Nazi “doctor” who believed he was free to conduct obscenely cruel experiments on those officially viewed as sub-human? That’s offensive.
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Booming
Wed, Oct 6, 2021, 4:40am (UTC -6)
@Tidd
Furthermore, everybody who survived the already horrific experiments was sent to the gas chambers. Mengele often personally oversaw the gassing not only of his "patients" but also of new arrivals. Mengele also worked at the "ramp" where doctors decided who would die immediately and who would be allowed to live a little longer. He certainly murdered thousands, probably tens of thousands.

Comparing that to what Russell did...
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Jeffrey Jakucyk
Wed, Oct 6, 2021, 9:12am (UTC -6)
Sorry, I was only using him as an example of "medical experiments without patients' consent."
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Jason R.
Wed, Oct 6, 2021, 9:21am (UTC -6)
From what I have read of Mengele and the "research" he conducted, he was basically a sadist using medical research as a pretext to satisfy his desires. I don't know for sure but I doubt that any of his work yielded anything meaningful from a scientific standpoint. Even for the time, it was trash, all ethics aside. So when it comes to Mengele there's no real ethical debate about "the greater good" or "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" because what he did was never even something that qualified as "research".

I suppose though there's an ethical question buried somewhere in this - mostly hypothetical (for the above reasons) - what if his research really did reveal something useful? Would we want to enjoy the fruits of that work? We covered this issue ad nauseam in the Nothing Human thread.

But anyway, I digress. Russell is obviously not a Mengele. What she is, arguably, is some non-existent version of him in an alternate universe where 1) He was a real scientist doing real research and 2) He was 99% scientist and 1% monster versus the reality (where the proportion was likely the reverse).

Anyway PHEW - we didn't really need to go down this rabbit hole, did we?
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Booming
Wed, Oct 6, 2021, 10:41am (UTC -6)
@Jeffrey
That is the thing. Russell's behavior is questionable but she wants to help her patients. In the case of the injured survivor she could not get consent. Was her behavior wrong. Well, that is what ethic boards are for.
Mengele never had patients, he had human Guinea pigs. Most of his victims were healthy. Jason is correct that it was more or less pseudoscience.

Here, for those who feel a little too happy right now
https://washingtoncitypaper.com/article/200707/did-josef-mengele-produce-any-useful-medical-research-data-gathered/
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 6, 2021, 12:16pm (UTC -6)
The only issue of contention here seems to be that Russell was willing to use an experimental technique on an unconscious (therefore critical) patient. By definition this situation involves a lack of time and therefore cannot accommodate a buffet of treatment plans. Russell's plan was less tested and approved, but had in her estimation a decent chance of working. Crusher's method was tested and approved, but in Russell's opinion, was going to be ineffective, therefore pointless.

The only issues IMO that require us to second guess Russell are:

1) Whether Russell is actually correct that Crusher's method was going to most likely be ineffective, and waste Worf's last chance for a solution.

2) Whether it's really true that Crusher's method even if successful would leave Worf in a state that he deemed unacceptable.

The consent issue is secondary, first of all because you don't need consent from an incapacitated patient lacking a power of attorney, you do the best treatment you think will work, and second of all because we *already know* that Worf essentially has refused consent for Crusher to leave him crippled but alive. If anything the consent angle puts Russell in the stronger ethical position than Crusher. I'm also not sure of the legal or ethical validity of browbeating and threatening a patient who may be facing death or paralysis into agreeing with your position, and whether that's consent in any meaningful way other than having a signature on a document. There are some twists and turns in the plot about Worf's attitude through all this, but it's not as if he *requested* the standard treatment and then unbeknownst to him Russell gave him an alternate treatment to get data for her experiments.

Now about (1) and (2) above, first of all nothing in the episode suggests to me Russell was being dishonest in thinking her method was actually better. What it lacked was time-tested credentials, but I believe she honestly thought it was Worf's best chance. At worst this would make her irresponsible, but certainly not malicious. She did seem to have his best interests in mind, as a happy marriage with furthering the study of her treatment. If she had a pattern of always rejecting standard treatment in favor of hers, that would be another thing, but we are not told that, so we must assume it's not true.

(2) Involves the validity of the standard treatment in the first place. If Russell's plan was the *only* plan that could leave Word satisfied, then its odds of working seem irrelevant; it's that or nothing, so may as well try it. This could easily be concluded whether or not Worf happened to be awake to verify it; he was already said plenty on the topic. And this also speaks to whether Russell had a pattern of only using risky techniques. In this particular case it seems logical to use Russell's method, and if Russell reserved her method for similar cases where it was the best shot, on a case by case basis, then the entire issue of medical ethics is really moot IMO. Peoeple IRL life ask for experimental treatments all the time, this is not unethical. It would only be unethical if you were giving someone an experimental treatment when you knew it wasn't their best bet, but you wanted to further your own career or study. If Russell does the standard treatment when it's the best shot, and this one when it's the best shot, it seems to me there's not much to discuss in terms of ethics. No one even now expects medicine to only be an old boys' club where you can only use treatments that have been around for 30 years. Technology and medicine change to quickly for that.
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William B
Wed, Oct 6, 2021, 12:40pm (UTC -6)
I would have to revisit the episode to have a full sense of it. I think that in fact what we're seeing is that Crusher and Russell are both somewhat correct and somewhat wrong, with the episode leaning toward supporting Crusher overall. Crusher eventually accedes to supporting the procedure, and the procedure works, so I don't think the point is that the procedure itself was definitely wrong. I think that Russell was still meant to be wrong though.

I think one of the hints that Russell is not entirely above board -- and by this I mean not that she's being deliberately dishonest or malicious, but that she's insufficiently careful and insufficiently respectful of her ethical responsibilities as scientist and doctor -- is actually her disdain for Klingon physiology and the redundancies there embedded, and the fact that eventually it's those redundancies that save Worf. Interpreting this more metaphorically, Russell's contempt for the Klingon redundancies I think is meant to show a kind of lack of respect for *safeguards* entirely, for process, for there being guardrails and checks and balances. This mirrors her overall desire to push forward with an experimental treatment which Crusher contends has not been adequately tested. And I think her relative disinterest in understanding why the redundancies exist is meant to show a kind of incuriosity about why established systems already exist, or even about the internal existences of her patients. To be clear, I'm not demanding reflexive defense of tradition in all cases or anything, but I think the issue is that Russell doesn't seem to understand, or, moreover, *want* to understand why she should slow down. The fact Russell doesn't really understand that redundancy and it's eventually what saves Worf suggests to me that we're meant to see Russell as not really having done the due diligence that she knows what she's doing and has done a proper cost-benefit calculation for what's best for her patient *while understanding the patient, and the dangers of her procedure*. This is mostly serious because of Russell's position as scientist and doctor.

And to be clear, if I'm right in this, the flaw isn't Russell deliberately endangering her patient, but not having the willingness to really understand her patient before going in for the procedure, which suggests she's prioritizing her research. Of course Russell wants Worf to survive the procedure. It's a matter of degree.

As to whether the episode does a good enough job of showing that Russell is violating the letter and spirit of the medical ethics in a literal, non-metaphorical sense, I'd have to revisit it. Possibly on its merits if we take the medibabble completely literally, Russell is totally in the clear.

I'm also not saying that if a medical procedure IRL were saved by some bit of physiology the doctor hadn't taken seriously before that that would prove that that doctor was bad or whatever. Just trying to figure out what the text is saying, that sort of thing.

Crusher's problem is also, I'd argue, not seeing Worf clearly, in the sense that she projects her values onto him, though as Jason says I think her arguing she wants to restrain Worf for the rest of his life if need be is an empty threat. Worf gets the final say, as he is conscious. Why I'm mostly sympathetic to her though is that Crusher's default position though is to keep her patient (and friend) alive, which is a pretty good starting place IMO, even if she has to be talked down from her initial position to one that recognizes that Worf gets to decide what life looks like for him and so what chances he'll take. So anyway I think that it was right to do the procedure on the merits, but Russell was insufficiently careful about it IMO.
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Booming
Wed, Oct 6, 2021, 4:26pm (UTC -6)
Jeffrey has definitely a point. My main problem with Russell when it comes to the unconscious guy is not the question of consent but the fact that she uses an untested treatment without consent, even though there was a tested alternative. That puts her on shaky ground. With Worf her behavior is fine.

Russell's disdain for redundancies which in the end save Worf further reinforces the impression that the episode leans towards Crusher's view. I must admit though that I like the subtlety of this little story nugget.

Still the questions in this episode are a tougher nut than writers were willing to discuss.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 6, 2021, 6:38pm (UTC -6)
I'm not sure if's fair to blame Russell for being ignorant of the Klingon redundancy issue. I doubt testing on Klingons was ever standard for normal Federation treatments, especially on Federation starships on which only the Enterprise had a Klingon on board. Similarly when Bones was operating on Sarek we shouldn't be judgement on his being shaky on the effects on unknown treatments on Vulcans since he had little to no experience with it.

If Russell got lucky that Worf had a redundancy keeping him alive, we could just as soon suppose she got unlucky initially in that a Klingon had more of an adverse reaction than a human would have. Sure, you could transfer the argument to saying a lack of trials on Klingons still means she was guilty of not respecting the realities involved. But all that means is she was satisfied with a % chance of failure purely due to unknowns coming into the equation from Klingon anatomy. But that only matters if the % chance is what was at stake between her treatment and Crushers. If the Crusher method would have a 20% chance of success, and Russell's method had 25% PLUS unknowns, it could be seen as negligent to just use Russell's method willy nilly. But in this case the scenario is different: unless I'm remember wrong, it's that Crusher's method is basically useless to Worf. So as far as I can tell it doesn't matter if Russell's method has an even lower chance than normal on a Klingon if *only* her method would give Worf a quality of life he could accept. Any chance at all would be better than Crusher's method.
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William B
Wed, Oct 6, 2021, 6:55pm (UTC -6)
The point I was making isn't that Russell was unaware of the redundancy, but that she knew about it but thought it was stupid and said as much.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 6, 2021, 11:04pm (UTC -6)
Haha, as usual I regret diving in without having rewatched the episode first, so I'm doing that right now. Right away I'll remark that the teaser involves a conversation about Worf folding with 2-pair, and losing to what was apparently a couple of 6's from a bluffing Troi. Geordi knows this because he 'peeks' at the hands when they're over with his VISOR. Putting aside the fact that this is actually outright cheating (since knowing the hidden cards even after a hand is against the rules for a reason), we have a scenario where a strong hand folded and gave victory to a bluff. Maybe this is a clue about the ethics issue. Is Ron Moore trying to say that, reviewing the episode as a whole, Crusher had the stronger hand but Russell ended up winning on a bluff? If so it would mean that she had a weaker hand than we supposed, i.e. her theory was much less solid than she let on. I'll keep watching to see if this pans out.
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William B
Wed, Oct 6, 2021, 11:13pm (UTC -6)
It could also be about Worf "folding" too easily in the wake of the injury. But Troi, advocating for Alexander, wins in the end.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 12:54am (UTC -6)
Sorry to give my report in chunks, but here's part 2. First of all the Riker/Picard scene is awesome, with the most father/son dynamic maybe there's ever been between them. Picard is pushing hard for Riker to assist Worf, or at least to consider seriously Worf's request. Their later scene is also stellar.

The ethical battle begins after Worf angrily throws off Crusher's mechanical claptrap. I'll note that Russell dutifully assists Crusher in trying to sell this idea at first. Only after Worf rejects is does she swoop in with plan B against Crusher's instructions. Now two things on this: (1) Crusher requested that Worf think about it for a while before deciding, so Russell did take away his chance to do that once she offered plan B. (2) In the previous scene Crusher dismissed Russell's idea out of hand, and based on her frown in this scene apparently believed she had forbidden Russell to bring it up. Now Crusher is the CMO, but Russell is a spinal expert (which Crusher isn't, that's why Russell is there), and was brought in specially to help. She does not work for Crusher, and is there as an expert consultant. Is it really proper to bring in this expert and then squash her recommendation without allowing her to present it to the patient? That too seems improper.

As a sidebar, and I think this is Ron Moore's mistake, Russell discussed her idea as having worked on the holodeck, and now wants to use human subjects (shades of Dr. Jekyll). But neither of them mentions that normally you'd try this first on rats and stuff. But I think this type of point isn't meant to be the issue, so I'll forget it.

Another compounding factor is the Starfleet *did* refuse 3 times to allow Russell to try her experiments, which is one of the things I couldn't remember. So more shades of Dr. Jekyll in this regard.

I think the clincher scene is supposed to be in the cargo bay, where Russell asserts that a near-death patient would probably have died if given the conventional treatment, so opted for what she frames as a double-win: better chance for the patient, and getting valuable data that can save others. What we need to solve is whether this is a lie or not. If Russell’s claim is taken at face value, it does seem like a win-win, even though it’s a touch ghoulish how nonchalantly she said the death gave her valuable data. But Crusher seems sure that what actually happened is she took someone near-death and used them as a test subject regardless of whether it was best for them. Basically “eh, this one’s probably a goner so I’ll test a theory on them” type approach, which would indeed be unethical. I get the impression we’re supposed to believe Crusher’s take on it here. Who you believe here seals who is right in the final verdict. It may be the point that you can’t know who to believe, but I hope not because that would be a cop out.

I’ll also point out that when Picard confronts Crusher about confining Worf indefinitely, she is not making an empty threat; I think she is completely serious. And this is part of why I have trouble accepting where the episode is pushing us. Crusher’s approach is conservative in all the scenes, both in sticking to approved procedures, but also in refusing to make situational concessions she personally views unacceptable. And that means the ethics in question aren’t necessarily objective ones, but rather whether her personal beliefs trump those of Russell and Worf, and whether due to being the CMO that makes her personal belief the law of the land on the Enterprise. That’s maybe why the Captain had to approach her. What’s more, we have one line from Crusher that is so distressing it puts her entire perspective into relief:

“CRUSHER: The first tenet of good medicine is never make the patient any worse.”

But if that were true then doctors would never perform surgery, since any surgery has a % chance of making the patient worse, or even killing them. Some standard procedures are high risk. And indeed Crusher’s entire position seems to be based on minimizing potential losses, even though it means minimizing gains. And to be honest I don’t think that’s even reflective of current medical ethics (or those of 1992). Maybe this is Moore’s fault, I’m not sure, but either way it means Crusher’s attitude is centered around being so averse to risk that if something can make things worse she won’t do it, even if it’s the only chance. And that is *so* not a Trek message. It’s weird to even have a main character make a statement like this.

The Worf/Riker scene seems a bit overwritten, but Riker nails down why Worf asked him and not Alexander: Worf actually can’t face watching his son lose his father. This point causes Worf to give up suicide in favor of Russell’s treatment, but Worf may not have given up the idea had there been no full recovery option. The Alexander angle was what Troi was working all along, so it did manage to push Worf to consider a recovery option. This may be a red herring, though, since there’s no reason Worf wouldn’t have tried Russell option even without pressure. Why not allow a doctor to heal him fully? So his attempts at suicide seem to imply that offscreen Crusher forbad Worf to accept Russell’s treatment or something, and that now once again offscreeen she has finally allowed it due to Picard’s intervention.

The actual procedure tells us very little, other than one of Worf’s Klingon ‘unnecessary redundancies’ kicked in and saved him. What’s funny is Russell dismissed them in the earlier scene not because she wasn't interested in them, but because in her opinion having more organs means more chances of organ failure. The redundancies work well if you’re stabbed in combat (probably why they have them), but not well if you’re sitting at home and want to avoid cancer. So are these ‘redundancies’ supposed to be a metaphor for Starfleet’s medical bureaucracy? But it’s not like Crusher’s rules are what saved Worf in the end, so this doesn’t map well. The way the episode paints it, Russell just got lucky, basically a deux ex machina she didn’t deserve, to show how unjust it is that she succeeded. But since the procedure’s actual failure was a deux ex machine too (i.e. a contrivance of the writing) I don’t see much difference there. It seems like a wash: dramatic something something Worf in jeopardy, and then something something he makes it. It's all hand waving from our perspective anyhow.

The last scene has Crusher outright denouncing Russell, and I take it this is supposed to be the last word on the debate. But Caroline Kava (Russell) never played the character as being two-faced. For better or worse she plays her scenes with conviction, albeit with a slightly blithe attitude. And after Crusher is done, Kava does something interesting and twice makes as though she has something to say, and finally decides not to. It’s a fascinating ending because it makes us wonder: did she have a valid reply, but decide that Crusher was beyond reasoning with? Or was she about to make a feeble excuse and realize she couldn’t fool Crusher? We’ll never know. And likewise, we’ll never know whether she was honest or not in the cargo bay. The entire episode rests on Crusher being right about her hunch, which in turn seems backed up by how Moore wanted us to read the episode. But I think Kava’s performance actually undermines this easy answer and makes it much harder to see whether Crusher is right or is actually paranoid incorrectly about Russell’s real motives and methods. Moore and even the director seem to want us to believe Crusher, but Kava seems to have gone another way and I find her position credible, if uncertain.

@ William B, you could be right about the teaser. Playing Alexander (the ‘smaller hand’) to victory in the face of Worf folding seems consistent, and a clearer read than my idea. But in the teaser she’s bluffing…so I’m not sure how that fits. Are we meant to understand she’s grasping at straws with Worf too? Maybe it’s because the Alexander angle would only work to give Worf enough time to choose a medical procedure, rather than dissuade him completely. So it was a trick, in a manner of speaking.
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Top Hat
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 9:25am (UTC -6)
Could we say that the scene about Russell treating the unconscious patient with the irregular method is the weakest in the episode? It seems to exist to evil Russell up a bit and thus stack the actually ethical issue on Crusher's side.
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Rahul
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 9:45am (UTC -6)
Episode made me think that Russell's treatment is sort of analogous to these rapidly developed COVID-19 vaccines that governments, public health authorities want us to take despite all the problems with them popping up. Russell's putting her medical research / reputation above all else while governments/big pharma ... not sure what they're putting above all else -- don't think it's the health of the general public.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 9:49am (UTC -6)
@ Rahul,

Except that here Russell is in opposition to 'big government' and the regulatory bureaucracy. She is the lone voice being squashed by the establishment from her POV. So I don't see how that analogy maps.
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 10:03am (UTC -6)
As I see it, Crusher's objection to Russell stems from an inference Crusher has made about her *motive*, not her methods. Crusher is not arguing that Russell's technique or even her decisions are faulty per say, but that the motive behind them has been corrupted by a quest for personal glory and in Crusher's binary view, any deviation from the Hippocratic oath is unacceptable.

In regards to the unconscious patient, we have to assume that Crusher is not wrong that Russell 1) Is using a treatment that is experimental and *not* generally approved for use on human subjects; and 2) Russell has something to gain reputationally by proving the effectiveness of a new treatment.

So Russell's sin is not that she made a bad judgment call about one drug versus another or took risks with a patient's life, but that she acted in a conflict of interest.

Now if we're being more generous to Russell, we could equally argue that her motive isn't merely personal glory but also the "greater good" so she sees the use of an experimental cure as being beneficial to future patients - and indeed that is how Russell justifies herself.

But even accepting Russell's characterization of her motives, this would still offend Crusher's basic assumption that the needs of the specific patient *always* prevail, even where the "greater good" may be served by sacrificing that individual. Crusher would argue that a physician who sacrifices one person for the benefit of others is "playing God" with peoples' lives while running roughshod over her Hippocratic oath.

Where Crusher arguably falters in this scenario, is failing to consider that the unique circumstances of the individual sometimes demand flexibility and even recourse to options that she would otherwise consider to have unacceptable risk. Crusher is, in a sense, "playing God" too by arrogantly presuming that her own values should prevail over her patient's.

I see both Crusher and Russell as being both right and wrong in this situation. Russell wrongly puts her own personal reputation ahead of the good of her patient, while Crusher wrongly puts her own values ahead of the values of her patient. Both make choices on behalf of their patients that deny their patients an essential aspect of personhood.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 10:10am (UTC -6)
@ Jason R.

"So Russell's sin is not that she made a bad judgment call about one drug versus another or took risks with a patient's life, but that she acted in a conflict of interest."

If that's so then anyone using experimental techniques would be in a conflict of interest, which I'm sure cannot be right. People accept experimental methods, knowing the risks, all the time, and the doctors who suggest it aren't violating ethical boundaries. You give the patient the option and let them choose. What's messy about the cargo bay incident is it was a person near-death who couldn't consent. But according to Russell it was not only a chance to produce data that could save others, but was also - in this particular patient's case - also a superior treatment option. Unless Russell is lying outright (which Crusher believes she is) what we're told is that the regular method would have probably been useless, and she thought her version gave him a chance. It's a he-said-she-said whether we believe this or not.
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 10:22am (UTC -6)
@Peter presumably the Federation has rules that permit experimentation once certain criteria have been met. In fact we know this is the case because Crusher herself alludes to Russell being turned down several times in proposals to use the spinal treatment on live patients. It is reasonable to presume that the drug she used on the disaster victim was in a similar category.

To be clear, Russell's motive for personal glory isn't just about the vague notion of innovating experimental procedures, but in doing so *quickly*, being on the cutting edge and getting there before anyone else. If she just plodded along within the system she might never get there or she might not get there before another researcher, or she might get there in a decade instead of a year.
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William B
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 10:22am (UTC -6)
Thanks for the deep dive/rewatch, Peter. I had forgotten what Russell's objections were to the Klingon organ redundancy. Anyway I think probably it's about Russell's attitude to bureaucracy/safeguards. The "redundancy" also gives a clue to the episode's structure, wherein there are kind of two plot strands about how to decide what Worf will do, the medical ethics side and the personal side, with Crusher vs. Russell in one plot and Worf vs. Riker in the other. It sort of bothered me in the past that there isn't more discussion between Crusher and Worf, and it's a weird structure to have them go almost in parallel, but I like to think the episode is maybe arguing that what appears to be a storytelling redundancy is actually part of the point. In real life, there really *are* a number of simultaneous decisions going on when it comes to a patient's outcomes, and while arguably there could be a little more contact between the stories, to *some* extent they necessarily are separate. It is not really practical, even in the best, most open case, for the patient to get a full understanding of the medical procedures on offer, and so the discussion of how to evaluate the procedures on offer *to some extent* has to be between doctors/scientists who are going to perform the procedures; but then the decision about what choices a person makes about their values and quality of life has to be with the patient and their family. To be clear, I absolutely favour patients having access to all the information, and so I'm not saying that it should be the case that the patient has little to no ability to contribute to the *medical* side of the decision making, but I think, again, it's just not practical to expect Worf to become a spinal expert in a couple of days, and so the medical evaluation has to be largely among the doctors/scientists. And perhaps the messy decision making process in which there are all kinds of players making arguments, inflected by their own biases and feelings, is what can lead to good outcomes.

As for Crusher's line, of course you're right, and I would prefer it if the episode were more rigorous, but I also think it's meant to evoke the Hippocratic Oath (first, do no harm), and what that really means, which is that you shouldn't choose to make the patient worse. This is, perhaps, axiomatic, but I think the point is that if something has an almost certain chance of making someone worse but a small chance of making them better, it's not justified in Crusher's view.

Anyway I agree that the poker game at the beginning is probably important, particularly given the "You gambled, he won" line at the end. I wanted to add that Worf having "two pair" is also a signal to the redundancy being important for the story, ha ha.

I totally agree with what Jason just wrote.

I think my preferred reading of the episode is where Crusher is just slightly more right than Russell, but not significantly more right; that in fact Russell has a point, is *mostly* within bounds, but she has her thumb on the scale to get what she wants (which is to further her research -- not necessarily purely for personal glory). However, it might be that there is not enough information in what's on screen to be sure of this.
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Rahul
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 10:37am (UTC -6)
@Peter G.

It maps b/c the COVID vaccines are experimental, have not gone through years of testing etc. just like Russell's treatment is experimental.

And as I said, Russell, like governments/big pharma aren't putting the patient's health as their top priorities. The patient's health is ostensibly a priority, but it is not the most important thing.

The fact that Russell is just one person and government/big pharma are massive entities is irrelevant -- it all has to do with their motivations, which are sort of analogous in that it's not primarily about the patient's health.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 10:43am (UTC -6)
@ Jason R.,

"presumably the Federation has rules that permit experimentation once certain criteria have been met. In fact we know this is the case because Crusher herself alludes to Russell being turned down several times in proposals to use the spinal treatment on live patients. It is reasonable to presume that the drug she used on the disaster victim was in a similar category."

I think the episode is creating an equivalence between 'Starfleet bureaucracy' and Crusher herself, and in fact both grudgingly agree to allow Russell's treatment near the end at exactly the same time (Crusher consults with them before agreeing). And the bureaucracy isn't just about establishing safe criteria, but about actually ensuring the progress is slow and 'safe'. So this is a value judgement embedded into the system, here personified in Crusher. And if Crusher is supposed to be its examplar, it does make it look very much that Russell has a point that they are refusing to allow actually good treatment methods purely because they are brand new, even if they in fact give a better chance than the current methods. What we might choose to take from the episode isn't that Russell was irresponsible, but rather that certain situations warrant taking special risks, and a blanket rule isn't going to be able to cover the variety of real life situations.

"To be clear, Russell's motive for personal glory isn't just about the vague notion of innovating experimental procedures, but in doing so *quickly*, being on the cutting edge and getting there before anyone else."

IMO even if Russell privately feels this way, she should be judged purely on the logic of her case by case choices. Otherwise what's she's guilty of is just thought crime and not much more. That's why I think the cargo bay scene rests entirely on whether her experimental treatment in fact had a better chance for the victim than the standard. She may be gung go to use a new treatment, but if she only does so when it's the better option I don't see a problem with that. Her personal excitement at getting a chance to do so is sort of no one else's business, unless her actual decision-making becomes dishonest. And the episode doesn't give us any info on whether that's happening. It seems to me 100% clear her option was better for Worf than Crusher's option, so in the one case we see best she is not using faulty logic.

@ WIlliam B,

"This is, perhaps, axiomatic, but I think the point is that if something has an almost certain chance of making someone worse but a small chance of making them better, it's not justified in Crusher's view."

I can see that. But in this case it's not Crusher's call, it's Worf's, but she's making it her call and she knows it. And that does violate medical ethics. The medical oath is supposed to mean you try to do the best for the patient, but "best" just means use your full ability. It isn't a prescription for particular treatment plans! If a patient wants a risky treatment you can suggest against it, but the oath doesn't mean you ignore the patient and use a 'safe' plan. In this case Crusher's plan wasn't safe at all since it would result in Worf dying for sure. Hers was the least safe plan, really, which makes it ironic to call Russell the irresponsible one.
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Booming
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 11:02am (UTC -6)
The RNA vaccines are in development for 40 years, the specific covid vaccines were tested with fairly standard methods and have already saved countless lifes and will likely save tens of millions over the next decade alone. On the other hand I have already donated my life savings to the Gates foundation, so who knows.

Anyhow, Worf may not be able to understand the science but he can make a risk assessment. My father was saved by a still ongoing experimental treatment, administered at the best hospital in the country and it does not cost him a dime. Thank you wellfare state. 😁
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 11:11am (UTC -6)
"I think the episode is creating an equivalence between 'Starfleet bureaucracy' and Crusher herself, and in fact both grudgingly agree to allow Russell's treatment near the end at exactly the same time (Crusher consults with them before agreeing). And the bureaucracy isn't just about establishing safe criteria, but about actually ensuring the progress is slow and 'safe'. So this is a value judgement embedded into the system, here personified in Crusher. And if Crusher is supposed to be its examplar, it does make it look very much that Russell has a point that they are refusing to allow actually good treatment methods purely because they are brand new, even if they in fact give a better chance than the current methods"

There is just no evidence that the bureaucracy is exceptionally slow and that Russell is being impeded by foot dragging nor that approval for the procedure is being delayed merely due to aversion to new ways of doing things. That isn't even implied anywhere.

Crusher's point is that procedure is fantastically risky, experimental, and totally inappropriate in a non emergency situation. Russell's position is that by taking risks with Worf's life, she can not only (possibly) help him but also leapfrog years of work to advance the state of medicine. It is this dual motive that offends Crusher.

I could be wrong, but my recollection is that Russell was ready to propose the procedure even before Worf expressed his intention to commit suicide. She didn't evaluate his individual circumstances and conclude that this was his best option; she immediately proposed it because she wanted to test her new procedure and this was a golden opportunity to do it, just like the disaster victim was an opportunity to run trials on her new drug. In both cases, the patient's circumstances are actually post hoc rationalizations for something she intended to try all along.

"IMO even if Russell privately feels this way, she should be judged purely on the logic of her case by case choices. Otherwise what's she's guilty of is just thought crime and not much more"

Crusher is inferring, from Russell's actions, that she has an improper motive. It is the way Russell acts coupled with how she explains those actions that lead Crusher to question her motives.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 11:26am (UTC -6)
@ Jason R,

"There is just no evidence that the bureaucracy is exceptionally slow and that Russell is being impeded by foot dragging nor that approval for the procedure is being delayed merely due to aversion to new ways of doing things. That isn't even implied anywhere."

True, we don't hear from Starfleet directly. I am operating on the assumption that Crusher is our version of their decision-making, i.e. slow and careful. All we get is Crusher's POV on that so it's what we have to go with. Given how quickly and finally Crusher shuts down Russell's suggestion it seems in line with Russell's view of the bureaucracy. But yes that's an inference on my part.

"I could be wrong, but my recollection is that Russell was ready to propose the procedure even before Worf expressed his intention to commit suicide."

Worf asks Riker to help him die in the scene prior to Russell first discussing her experimental technique with Crusher. From a narrative standpoint, the viewer already knows that when Worf throws off Crusher's device he has decided to die. Whether or not Russell would know this is sort of too much of a meta question, since the plot of the episode up to that point is clear that Worf wants to die and Crusher's method is unacceptable. It would be a waste of airtime to have a separate scene where Russell finds out about his desire to die.
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Jeffrey Jakucyk
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 3:49pm (UTC -6)
Narratively yes, we as the audience know about Worf's desire to die before Crusher or Russell. She only brings up the experimental genetronic procedure after Worf abjectly rejects the motor assist leg bands. "Sixty percent of my mobility? No, I will not be seen lurching through corridors like some half-Klingon machine, the object of ridicule and disgust." Based on a quick scan of the transcript, it's unclear when either of the doctors learn about Worf's suicidal tendencies, so it likely happened off screen.

Anyway, backing up a little in the script, here's the exchange about Russell's genetronic procedure that I think is relevant.

RUSSELL: It's a good design in theory, but in practice, all the extra organs means just that much more can go wrong. Let me show you something. I've been experimenting with DNA based generators. This is a genetronic replicator. It reads the DNA coding of damaged organs, translates that into a specific set of replicant instructions and then begins to grow a replacement.
CRUSHER: I've read of some of the preliminary work you've done.
RUSSELL: The early results have been very encouraging. Beverly, the genetronic replicator can create a completely new neural conduit for your Lieutenant Worf.
CRUSHER: Replace his entire spinal column?
RUSSELL: Exactly. Instead of splicing and pasting together broken connections like a couple of glorified tailors, we create a new living system.
CRUSHER: I had no idea you were already using this on humanoids.
RUSSELL: I haven't been. This'll be the first time.
CRUSHER: First time?
RUSSELL: I've done dozens of holosimulations. The success rate is up to 37 percent.
CRUSHER: Even a holographic patient would balk at those odds.
RUSSELL: Sooner or later, it has to be tried on a living patient.
CRUSHER: You're talking about a spinal column. Even before we could replace it, we have to remove the existing one, and we don't know enough about Klingon neurological medicine to re-attach it. If something goes wrong, he'll die. I agree it has remarkable potential, but you're still in the most preliminary stages of research. No, I'm afraid I can't justify the risk to Worf. We'll have to do with more conventional approaches.
RUSSELL: You're probably right. It's too radical an approach.

later...

CRUSHER: You're using the desperation of an injured man as an excuse to try a procedure that you couldn't do under normal circumstances. I checked with Starfleet Medical. They have turned down your request to test genetronics on humanoids three times already.
RUSSELL: Are you really going to hide behind the rules of some bureaucracy? Beverly, your patient's life is at stake here.

So all Russell has done are holosimulations, and even those have pretty lousy results. She hasn't done the work necessary to be authorized for human(oid) trials yet. Calling the process slow or bureaucratic suggests that it could or should be different, but I see it as she's simply not following proper vetted procedures and is trying to skip ahead to the end. Bad medicine.

Also, the whole "Covid vaccines are rushed and untested and dangerous" thing is complete nonsense, thanks @Booming for bringing some rationality into that part of the discussion.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 4:16pm (UTC -6)
"So all Russell has done are holosimulations, and even those have pretty lousy results."

Crusher certainly things so, and I think Moore expects us to think so too. Except I don't seem to have the reaction Moore is expecting when I hear "37% success rate in simulations". My reaction is just to ask what odds the alternative treatment offers when a spine is crushed. If it offers 50+% then 37% is not up to snuff yet, especially when it's only been simulations. But this isn't like Cdr. Maddox, who had never succeeded and yet wanted to dismantle Data to fix his crisis. Russell did know enough about the issue to succeed, it just wasn't a guarantee. 37% starts to sound excellent to me if there is no alternative offering a full recovery. At that point it's the patient's call. Personally I don't think it matters how little Crusher or anyone else thinks the procedure should be tried; Crusher was trying to prevent Worf hearing the option, and was angry when Russell told him. It's fine to blame Russell for swooping in so opportunistically, but the bottom line is that if she hadn't done so Worf would probably have killed himself. That is really all that matters. Maybe Russell got lucky, or maybe she knew this was the right first patient to try it on and was using good situational judgement. Either way Crusher's attitude and methods would have resulted in disaster. I'm not sure how it's possible to know that and still condemn Russell outright. She is worthy of some criticism, and certainly Moore wants us to judge her even more harshly than that, but I'm not sure Crusher has a leg to stand on in her own defense. Like what, "If only I had my way...Worf would have eventually given up his Klingon values!" That's not a win either, and violates a certain type of unofficial prime directive.
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 5:31pm (UTC -6)
Even notwithstanding the ordering of Worf's suicide conversations with Dr. Russell's discussion re genitronics, there's nothing in the episode to suggest that Russell was proposing the procedure specifically in response to Worf's suicidal ideation. We are, I think, intended to think that she was going to propose it no matter what, and Worf's actions just became a convenient pretext.

""Either way Crusher's attitude and methods would have resulted in disaster. I'm not sure how it's possible to know that and still condemn Russell outright. She is worthy of some criticism, and certainly Moore wants us to judge her even more harshly than that, but I'm not sure Crusher has a leg to stand on in her own defense. Like what, "If only I had my way...Worf would have eventually given up his Klingon values!" That's not a win either, and violates a certain type of unofficial prime directive."

I can condemn it the same way I can condemn any act of malpractice, even if everything happens to work out well.

As I mentioned earlier I am not really on team Beverley here in the sense that I agree that she was ridiculous in trying to force human values on Worf.

But to be fair here, of course it's not a win if Worf ends up half-paralyzed for the rest of his life and of course that was never a serious possibility for the show. But in real life terms, Crusher was more right than wrong. With 24th century tech, Worf would be in vastly better shape with far better mobility and quality of life than almost anyone with a comparable spinal injury today. It's not like he'd be living his days in a nursing home in diapers.

It was a 37% chance *on simulations*, presumably on *non Klingons* to boot. To say that this was risky was an understatement - plot convenience aside this was almost certain to kill Worf, full stop, and Russell knew it full well.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 5:47pm (UTC -6)
@ Jason R,

"It was a 37% chance *on simulations*, presumably on *non Klingons* to boot. To say that this was risky was an understatement - plot convenience aside this was almost certain to kill Worf, full stop, and Russell knew it full well."

The last part of this sentence is IMO roughly equivalent to the cargo bay scene in terms of how much the story hinges on it. If you believe she was undervaluing the life of the victim in the cargo bay then she's reprehensible. If she was giving him what was in her medical opinion (she is after all a highly skilled doctor) a better treatment then it's just a question of a how conservative one is. Doctors now have a huge range in terms of how willing they are to prescribe new meds versus only sticking with tried and true, or necessary meds. Some approaches no doubt are riskier than others, and some doctors are more conservative than others.

Here, if you believe Russell *knew* it would probably kill Worf then there's really no discussion. I believe the actress played it truly believing he had a good shot. Never did I see her betray doubt when no one else was looking, or have a two-faced position on her treatments. I personally take her at her word in the cargo bay that she felt her treatment was the better option, due to lack of any other input other than the writer's, who I know is pushing for the viewer to doubt Russell. That's why I say that the actress may have subverted the writing intention by giving her more conviction than perhaps the script implies she should have. Like I said, it all boils down to whether you believe Russell at her word (and assume that she is highly competent rather than just ignorant about her own treatments' success chances) or believe Crusher's suspicions that she's not placing her patients first. It's obvious to me Moore expects us to understand Russell is wrong, but onscreen I don't see that clear a case.
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Booming
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 6:05pm (UTC -6)
If Russell is such a risk taker then why did Crusher ask for her expertise. Should Crusher not have known beforehand that Russell had a tendency to put patients at risk or are we supposed to believe that Russell showed this behavior for the first time? Why did Crusher even get an expert only to then constantly disagree with that expert?
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 6:12pm (UTC -6)
"Here, if you believe Russell *knew* it would probably kill Worf then there's really no discussion. "

What part of the fact that 63% of her simulated patients died leaves the probability open to doubt? And she knew jack squat about Klingons to boot. I'd say her own evidence, taken at face value, revealed she knew that this plan was far more likely kill Worf than save him.

And ya, I agree she did play the part with more conviction than the script likely intended. Personally I am not reading her as some kind of evil character who just wanted to gamble her patients' life for personal glory. I'd say she had lots of motives - but Crusher'd read is the same as mine, which is that the motive that actually made the difference in her decision making, was either personal glory (uncharitably) or the desire to advance medical science (charitably) but either was a violation of her hippocratic oath.
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 6:14pm (UTC -6)
"If Russell is such a risk taker then why did Crusher ask for her expertise. "

Crusher isn't omniscient. She never even met the woman before. It's not like lady put "shady eithics" on her LinkedIN profile.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 6:27pm (UTC -6)
@ Booming,

I agree with those questions. It seems like the script intention was stacked against Russell, like she was being set up to be a villain. Why indeed did Crusher essentially take zero advice from her, even though the reason she's here is presumably because Crusher is over her head with the severity of the case. And guess what, here's an except from an online transcript, which contains a portion of scene not in the Netflix recording. Dagnabbit, did they edit down the episode? Sigh, I don't relish having to revisit some of these and check my Bluray to see if there's more dialogue.

RUSSELL: Before we get down to business, I just wanted to say that I had the pleasure of reading your paper on cybernetic regeneration recently.
CRUSHER: Really? You're the first person to mention it.
RUSSELL: I thought it was brilliant.

[Corridor]

RUSSELL: Your ideas on bio-active interfaces border on revolutionary. It's going to be a genuine pleasure working with you.
(***)
CRUSHER: Thank you. Have you had a chance to review Worf's case history yet?
RUSSELL: Only briefly. I must admit, I was a little shocked to find the state of Klingon neurological medicine to be so primitive.
CRUSHER: It's a cultural bias. When I contacted the Klingon Medical Division, they informed me that they usually let the patient die in a case like this. As a result they've done almost no research on neurological trauma.
RUSSELL: We'll be in uncharted waters.
CRUSHER: Worf is having a hard time dealing with his injuries. He's always been a difficult patient, but now. He's a little tough at first, but I'm sure you'll get to like him after you get to
(***)
RUSSELL: Doctor, I know that as a starship doctor, you have to maintain close ties with patients, but I think it would be best if I maintain a discreet distance. That way, I can give you a completely objective opinion regarding treatment.
CRUSHER: Yes. You're probably right.

So first of all Crusher is supposedly doing 'revolutionary' research, and it involves cybernetics, so you'd think she wouldn't be so conservative in her approach. The entire section in (***) is cut in the Netflix versions, so watch out y'all. But I think it sheds some light on the need to be not so by-the-book, since they both admit to being in the dark regarding Klingon anatomy. Starfleet surely *has no* approved treatment for Klingon spinal injuries, so that makes Crusher's position even more suspicious.

But then check out a piece of dialogue I didn't take seriously enough before (I'll quote it again):

RUSSELL: Doctor, I know that as a starship doctor, you have to maintain close ties with patients, but I think it would be best if I maintain a discreet distance. That way, I can give you a completely objective opinion regarding treatment.
CRUSHER: Yes. You're probably right.

Why insert this dialogue into the episode? We've had many medical episodes (as @mephyve has pointed out), and never do we get a disclaimer specifically saying that someone wants to remain objective rather than go based on loyalty or friendship. If you watch the scene, you'll see Crusher have a big reaction to Russell's comment here, like it's a wild idea but she'll go along with it. It's not just casual agreement. And then the plot takes a turn (IMO) for the strange with Crusher refusing to allow any risks in Worf's treatment. Could it be the full version of the script is alluding to the fact that Crusher is in fact not being objective, and that Russell's cold (blithe) attitude is in fact what objective really looks like? Just weighing numbers and chances? Crusher is practically livid over the matter by the time Picard pays her a visit, and it really doesn't look like she's being objective. How could threatening to strap him down until he agrees to live be objective? So I wonder if this exchange isn't supposed to tell us something serious about Russell's approach or character? She doesn't get sentimental, she just assesses and acts, and if people die that's data for the books. It's cold, but also could be seen as objective (so long as it's not dishonest). Sidebar, I think I once read an abstract about how sociopaths might make for good doctors.

So could it be that Crusher's dismissal of Russell's ideas, and her highly emotional reaction to the situation, may ultimately be linked? I hadn't thought about this before, but it would fit. Why else foreshadow the need for objectivity in this early scene?
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 7:47pm (UTC -6)
The purpose of the interlude is to demonstrate that Russell prefers to look at the big picture rather than the needs of her patient. It goes to the theme of her shirking her hippocratic oath which applies to the patient in favour of some abstract greater good. At least that is my reading of the intention of that interlude in context. Nowhere are they suggesting that her "objectivity" makes her a better doctor.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 8:05pm (UTC -6)
Aha, so you see "discreet distance" as implying she wants to devalue their humanity. Funny, I read it as "I want to make an unbiased decision." Maybe our preferred interpretations are coloring how we read this passage.
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Jeffrey Jakucyk
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 8:54pm (UTC -6)
"Doctors now have a huge range in terms of how willing they are to prescribe new meds versus only sticking with tried and true, or necessary meds. Some approaches no doubt are riskier than others, and some doctors are more conservative than others."

The difference here is that the new meds in Russel's case are basically untested, and barely beyond the theoretical stage. It's "I've had some good results with Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine."

"...you see 'discreet distance' as implying she wants to devalue their humanity. Funny, I read it as 'I want to make an unbiased decision.'"

Can it be both? Discreet distance or professional detachment is good medical practice, but it's also standard procedure when working with lab animals too. "Cool hamsters, what are their names?" ... "I wouldn't get too attached, Bart. We're dissecting him next week."
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Booming
Fri, Oct 8, 2021, 2:08am (UTC -6)
I want to point out a few things.
- The line "first, do no harm" is not in the Hippocratic oath. Not in the original, nor in the revised modern versions. Lots of operations cause harm but the benefit is deemed more important. A cancer operation will involve removing lots of healthy tissue to minimize the risk of the cancer reappearing.
- The episode has several shortcomings. What is Crusher exactly? She seems to be a general physician but also an expert in some areas and a surgeon. I guess we now know why Wesley is the way he is. His mother is never around because she is accumulating dozens of degrees?!
- Is Russell a researcher or a practitioner? Aren't people normally one or the other?
- The moral dillema feels forced. The whole shuttle bay scene feels like it is only in their vilify Russell because the writers noticed that without it Russell is kind of right. Russell recommends a treatment and Crusher refuses to even mention it to Worf, only after realizing that Worf will die is Crusher willing to give Worf that information, then they try Russell's treatment and Worf is cured and he lived happily ever after... Ok considering what happens to Worf in the coming years maybe not happy but he lives.

To be fair, I can see the other viewpoint that some present here and think that this view is equally valid. Sadly the episode itself is a little too close minded/preachy.
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Tidd
Fri, Oct 8, 2021, 3:11am (UTC -6)
@Rahul

“t maps b/c the COVID vaccines are experimental, have not gone through years of testing etc. just like Russell's treatment is experimental.

And as I said, Russell, like governments/big pharma aren't putting the patient's health as their top priorities. The patient's health is ostensibly a priority, but it is not the most important thing.”

I can understand people’s concerns about the lack of long term testing of the Covid-19 vaccines though urgency and necessity shortened the normal time scales. However, as soon as someone uses the code phrases “governments/big pharma” I shudder inside and think “uh oh, lack of rationality just round the corner”. Just to reiterate Boomer’s point: the risk from the vaccines have proved to be absolutely minuscule compared to the known mortality rates and long-term health problems from Covid-19. It’s not even a debate; science is the ruling factor here.

So what, in your opinion, is “the important thing”?
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Rahul
Fri, Oct 8, 2021, 9:14am (UTC -6)
@Tidd

The important thing is putting people’s health first and preserving individuals’ freedom to choose whether they want to get the vaccine or not. Do you agree with that?

When governments essentially force vaccinations, they are not doing the above, nor are they even utilizing “the science” properly.

Do you think countries like Norway and Sweden trust the science? Apparently they have removed all restrictions and aren’t seeing increases in infections or deaths. Just recently Pfizer scientists themselves were saying natural immunity is more effective than their own vaccines (which appear to be safer than Moderna’s).

Interesting to note that in 2021 there are more COVID deaths than in 2020 (according to Johns Hopkins).

I actually shudder when people say “trust the science”. The question is, what do you do with the science? Or what do governments do with the science? “Trust the science” reeks of authoritarianism. Look at Australia. What is going on there is unconscionable. The US and Canada may soon be going down that road the way things are trending.

There is so much cognitive dissonance around using the vaccines, lockdowns, vaccine passports, etc.

I’m no medical expert but it seems to me there is a lot more to be learned about these COVID vaccines. Wasn’t there some news about Moderna causing heart problems in some young adults recently? This is but one reason, it would seem to me, that it takes like 10 years to fully test a vaccine.

So don’t tell me “It’s not even a debate.” You’d be a fool to not even question or think critically about what government/big pharma is telling you. But I believe I understand how you and Boomer think and where that leads. And it's not pretty.
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Jason R.
Fri, Oct 8, 2021, 9:51am (UTC -6)
Rahul I actually share alot of your concerns. But on the question of long-term side effects from the vaccine, you should also consider that nothing is known about the long-term side effects of COVID either.
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Booming
Fri, Oct 8, 2021, 10:17am (UTC -6)
Ok Tidd most of us here know Rahul and he has posted dozens of posts about how the left tries to steal our precious fluids. So before you climb mount madness, like some of us did before, let me roll aside a few mistakes of Rahul.

- There are more death in 2021 (if we believe Chinese numbers from 2020 which comrade Rahul obviously does) That can easily be explained by the fact that most western countries were hit around april or may 2020 and the first wave was fairly mild compared to the second wave which happened in winter 2020/2021 when vaccination rates were still very low. Death occurs around 3-4 weeks after the initial infection. Then there are more aggressive variants in 2021. I could go on but it this should already explain Rahul's mistake.

- It does not take 10 years to test a vaccine, it does or more accurately did sometimes take 10years or more to develop a vaccine. The seasonal/yearly flu vaccines are obviously developed and tested in less than a year.

- Rahul is right about Australia. It's a nightmare. Not because of covid. Just in general. No Australia. I'm joking. ❤❤❤
The have far less dead than most western countries. Is that Rahul's problem?

- I could write about Sweden but I'm too tired.

Have fun, Tidd
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Peter G.
Fri, Oct 8, 2021, 10:18am (UTC -6)
@ Rahul,

I see that whole side of it. In terms of your comparison of the covid scenario with this episode, I still don't see a good match between Dr. Russell and big pharma. Your chief complaint about the government and big pharma seems to be the authoritarian streak of telling people what's good for them even if you don't know, and trying to force them to comply. Well if you map that framing onto the episode it seems to me this fits Dr. Crusher perfectly. Dr. Russell is certainly pushing her ideas, but apparently is also content to allow Worf to disagree, unlike Crusher who not only refused to provide an alternative option (even if she didn't like it), but also doubled down on her therapy option even when Worf refused it in horror. She was absolutely intent on requiring him to comply with both her attitude about life and about his treatment plan. I think Picard's intervention was the only thing pushing her off her course and which got her to reconsider Russell's treatment option.

Say what you like about Russell's risky method, she was neither of the inclination nor in the position of authority to force Worf to do anything, so I really don't see how story-wise it maps onto big government and big pharma. I know you're connecting them via the lack of regard for patient well-being, but I personally do think Russell cares about the patients. She just doesn't care about getting proper authorization to try our her theories; that may be a fault, but it's not the same fault you're attributing to the government now.
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Sigh2000
Fri, Oct 8, 2021, 4:37pm (UTC -6)
Russell seems to me to be an independent researcher. IMO, Beverly considered herself the more qualified physician, being in Starfleet and backed by its apparatus. The episode complicates matters by having Russell give up on Worf, while Beverly IIRC has greater staying power to get him revived.

Re. Rahul's statement that "Just recently Pfizer scientists themselves were saying natural immunity is more effective than their own vaccines" is not the whole story as far as that goes. Science's article on the the study in Israel (reported 26 Aug 2021) states:

"The researchers also found that people who had SARS-CoV-2 previously and received one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine were more highly protected against reinfection than those who once had the virus and were still unvaccinated." -Meredith Wadman, Science, Vol 373, Issue 6559.
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Rahul
Fri, Oct 8, 2021, 5:15pm (UTC -6)
@Sigh2000,

The Science study you're quoting appears to be comparing a person who previously had COVID and then got 1 dose of Pfizer with a person who previously had COVID and didn't get the 1 dose of Pfizer. I think in this case it's not hard to see that the first person would be more highly protected (and probably due to his own body's production of immunity, though I'm no doctor).

But that is not the situation I was refering to. I'm talking about a person who never had COVID and then gets a dose of vaccine vs. a person who had COVID, got over it (which the overwhelming majority of people do), and didn't get the vaccine. It seems to me, based on what the Pfizer scientists are saying, the latter person would be better protected (by natural immunity).

You might want to check out: https://www.projectveritas.com/news/pfizer-scientist-your-antibodies-are-probably-better-than-the-vaccination/
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Sigh2000
Fri, Oct 8, 2021, 9:30pm (UTC -6)
@Rahul
Thanks . Got the gist of what 2 of the 3 guys said.

From my other reading* I gather that the difference in antibodies between persons who have recovered from Covid and persons who have been vaccinated is that recovered persons (who have remained unvaccinated) have antibodies that are much more diverse with respect to SARS-CoV-2 since they developed in relation to whole viruses, while vaccine-recipients have antibodies which are less diverse, since they developed from highly specific segments of the virus used to make the vaccine. These highly specific antibodies protect against the so-called "spike protein" which the virus uses to invade human cells.

* https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/10/prior-infection-vs-vaccination-why-everyone-should-get-a-covid-19-shot/
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Tidd
Sat, Oct 9, 2021, 1:51am (UTC -6)
@Rahul

“ But that is not the situation I was refering to. I'm talking about a person who never had COVID and then gets a dose of vaccine vs. a person who had COVID, got over it (which the overwhelming majority of people do), and didn't get the vaccine. It seems to me, based on what the Pfizer scientists are saying, the latter person would be better protected (by natural immunity).”

Just to unpack your statement… Yes, the overwhelming majority of people do recover from Covid-19 (though some take a hell of a long time to get over the effects); however, the older someone is or if they have underlying health problems , the more likely they are to die. In the UK, millions have been infected since March 2020. Of those, 130,000+ have died. 130,000! That amounts to around 13,000 school shootings if you want it in grim US terms. Even if that represents only a small % of infections, it’s still a huge total of deaths.

And yes, I DO trust the scientists. And no, our government is NOT forcing anyone except health workers to have the vaccine. But guess what: 90% of the population and rising have chosen to have it. Of the remainder, some can’t have it for health reasons. Some have put it off but will get it in the light of the risks from infection, and the rest (a small minority of the unvaccinated) are Anti-Vaxxers with whom I have no sympathy whatsoever.
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Booming
Sat, Oct 9, 2021, 2:27am (UTC -6)
To give a little more context. The antibody response after an infection is almost always more effective than a vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccines have an effectiveness rate between 20% and 50% while getting the flu will give you basically 100% protection from getting the same flu again.

Having a serious negative reaction to the rna vaccines is very unlikely, around 5 to 1000000, including inflammation of the heart for Men under 30. It is a very safe treatment, far safer than vaccines made the old way. I wonder if Rahul never noticed that almost every medication comes with a several page long patient information leaflet. The fact that we know about the extremely unlikely heart inflammation for young men is not a sign for how unsafe the rna vaccines are, quite the opposite, it is proof for how thorough the testing and monitoring of negative side effects is.

Tidd has pointed out the number of death is 138.000 to 8.080.000 infected for the UK. So with modern medicine, which many countries on this planet do not have, the death rate for the UK is 1.7%. One should add here that around 1/6 of covid patients get seriously ill. Covid damages the lungs, so many of these patients will have long lasting negative effects.
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Rahul
Sat, Oct 9, 2021, 8:32am (UTC -6)
@Sigh2000

"From my other reading* I gather that the difference in antibodies between persons who have recovered from Covid and persons who have been vaccinated is that recovered persons (who have remained unvaccinated) have antibodies that are much more diverse with respect to SARS-CoV-2 since they developed in relation to whole viruses, while vaccine-recipients have antibodies which are less diverse, since they developed from highly specific segments of the virus used to make the vaccine."

Yes, this makes a lot of sense to me. And I also believe (again, I'm no doctor) that the antibodies developed in people who have recovered from COVID-19 provide better protection against variants, for the reason you provided (developed in relation to whole viruses), as compared to a vaccine.
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Sigh2000
Sat, Oct 9, 2021, 9:09am (UTC -6)
@Booming & Tidd.
Good grounding.
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Rahul
Sat, Oct 9, 2021, 10:36am (UTC -6)
@Tidd,

"And yes, I DO trust the scientists."

Yes, I have come to understand that science/scientists are sacrosanct to you. My only question is which ones? Do you realize there are a lot of varying scientific findings/opinions out there? Would I be correct in assuming you trust the science/scientists that are publicly endorsed by health officials and governments? The science around COVID has become highly politicized and I think what's more important to people is how the science is being used. So I think it might be more accurate to say you trust the government/public health officials than the science?

Also, the science is in a constant process of changing. What the science may say one day could be different on another day. Government/public health officials have changed their recommendations now and then as well -- and their recommendations vary in different jurisdictions. Norway/Sweden do 1 thing, US/Canada do another thing. Who is using the science the right way? Personally, I think the Scandies have got it right.

What of the scientists who suggest Ivermectin can reduce the impact of hospitalizations? Seems to me certain public health officials don't want them to have a voice as it detracts from vaccine mandates.

Just to be clear as well, I'm not against people choosing to get vaccinated. I'm opposed to governments mandating it, vaccine passports etc. Widespread vaccine mandates may not be the case in the UK, I'm not sure -- I can't speak to that. But in the US and Canada, there is no question it is being mandated and people are being coerced (by denial of services) into getting vaccinated. So I think people finally throw in the towel and get the jab.
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Trent
Sat, Oct 9, 2021, 12:02pm (UTC -6)
Rahul said: "You might want to check out: https://www.projectveritas.com/news/pfizer-scientist-your-antibodies-are-probably-better-than-the-vaccination/ "

ProjectVeritas is a Far Right group funded by some of the worst organizations on the planet. It's bankrolled by DonorsTrust, Donors Capital, Koch Industries, Cato, Republican billionaires, and countless libertarian groups (Bradley, Reason, the Atlas foundation, the Foundation for Harmony & Prosperity etc).

No surprise that ProjectVeritas is also run by a multiple-felon (James OKeefe), and has a reputation for lying, entrapment, solicitation, faking rape allegations, joking about aborting black babies, and other horrible behavior. Sites such as this deliberately mislead, whip up fear and prey on uninformed people.

Notice that once you trace the origins of almost all anti-vax websites, videos or "experts", you will find some wealthy libertarian group bankrolling them. These groups are started for the explicit purpose of destroying government (destabilize it as a pretext for privatizing everything, and/or lowering corporate tax), and destroying anything remotely resembling social democracy, socialized medicine, collective organization or civic responsibility.

That's the central goal of every libertarian group: rolling the world back to feudal Japan.

Beyond this you have the usual suspects funding disinfo: Russia and China are funding hundreds of targeted antivax sites to sow divisions, as are "alternative" and "holistic medicine" companies, evangelical millionaires, and as the Republican Party largely exists as the engine via which corporations lower corporate tax, it has similarly promoted anti-vax theories to erode trust in their opposition.

So while one should always be skeptical, and so skeptical of vaccines, one should always be aware that most antivax stuff is coming from folk with a goal, and with a bad track record. And in most cases their fears (fears of spike proteins, magnetism, heart problems, 5G, clots, infertility etc) are either wrong, or ignore naked statistics.

For example this ProjectVeritas link manipulates you into thinking that because the virus "produces better/more antibodies", that it is better than a vaccine (this is true for most viruses), but extrapolate this for an entire global population, and you're talking countless million avoidable deaths. We see a form of libertarian sociopathy in this logic: a hyper-focus on the individual (and typically a very privileged one), over larger society.
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Rahul
Sat, Oct 9, 2021, 12:24pm (UTC -6)
@Trent

And I suppose George Soros is a saint in your eyes? Republican billionaires are among the worst people on this planet? Get a hold of yourself! How can anybody take what you said seriously?! Can you just go back reviewing VOY episodes or something instead of spouting far left nonsense?

I don't know who or what is behind Project Veritas but I would just consider what these Pfizer scientists are saying. If you don't want to believe them, that's fine. But it makes sense to me (with my limited knowledge of immunology).

You talk about libertarian groups bankrolling anti-vaxx sites. I don't know if that's true or not. What I do know, for example, is that wealthy left-leaning groups like the Tides Foundation, fund campaigns to smear the oil sands. So what? It is up to the individual to see (if they have enough intelligence) what makes sense and what is bullshit.
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Trent
Sat, Oct 9, 2021, 2:45pm (UTC -6)
Soros was a Republican donor for decades, and his brand of economics remains virtually identical to your typical libertarian or Republican (he's fond of Hayek and Keynes, after all).

It's only when he stopped funding George Bush, and bankrolled Obama, that right wingers suddenly cooked up various "anti Soros" conspiracies. And so from 2007 onwards, pundits like Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck began going on long rants in which Soros was "destroying the world" and suddenly a global super-villain (https://rationalwiki.org/w/images/7/7a/Glenn_Beck_Soros_chart.jpeg). That Soros' beliefs are virtually identical to these guys - he even bankrolled anti-communist opposition parties across Europe - flies over their heads.

So when people mention Soros, it's usually a red flag. He's mostly a good diagnostic tool for detecting antisemetism and wingnuttery.

It's also worth noting that Soros' net worth was $8.3 billion as of 2019. The Kochs was 90 billion. Moreover, the latest studies we have say that over the past decade, 92 out of the 100 richest U.S. billionaires contributed to a political cause; they have combined wealth of $2200 billion, and they almost exclusively contribute to conservative causes.

So even if we accept your belief that Soros is "far left" (he is not; he funded the Republicans until 2007, and the Democratic Party is economically right wing), his influence is negligible compared to other wealthy people, and certainly when compared to the largest banks, investment groups and/or megacompanies, who again bankroll similar policies.

And the Tides Foundation is not "left wing". It is liberal. The idea that it funds anti-tar-sands stuff in Alberta, which is what I assume you're talking about, is a old conspiracy (https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/11/29/analysis/tides-not-funding-and-co-ordination-juggernaut-behind-anti-pipeline-activism). And in any case, anti-tar-sands lobbying globally is vastly out-paced by Big Oil lobbying/funding, and corporate lobbying (hence why aggregate CO2 keeps going up).

Anyway, my point was, you are posting a fake (often criminal) news site funded by dark money groups who have an explicit agenda to do bad stuff.

The best thing to do when you come across anti-vax news is to track down the actual study your news site is citing, or to do the math and place the numbers your site feeds you, in proper context.

For example, Project Veritas has a page that "shockingly" says that there's been 92 deaths among 18-29 year olds within 30 days of receiving a vaccine. But note that at the time of the article, approximately 25,200,000 Americans aged 18-29 were vaccinated . It's not clear how many of those aforementioned 92 deaths were caused by the vaccine, but let's assume all of them were. This would mean, for 18-29 year olds, your chances of death are…

1-in-7,000 chance of death caused by COVID, if you catch COVID

1-in-19,000 chance of death caused by COVID in the pandemic so far, regardless of whether or not you actually caught it

1-in-273,000 chance of death caused by COVID vaccination – at worst – likely much lower.

1-in-458,000 chance of death caused by COVID vaccination if you’re healthy – at worst - likely much lower.

I then went and checked the odds of a human being getting hit by lightning in America. The odds are 1 in 300,000.

So a healthy person is more likely, based on your website's data, to die getting hit by lightning, than from the vaccine, and yet the way the article frames its data is to convey the opposite impression (vaccines are killing kids!).

That's what these sites do. Twist facts, get people angry, paranoid and then weaponize them for specific aims (Soros! Climate hoax! Killing kids!). And massive amounts of dark money is being channeled from libertarian groups into them.
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Rahul
Sat, Oct 9, 2021, 3:43pm (UTC -6)
@Trent

Over the years of checking out this site, I've generally enjoyed reading your commentary but I must say I'm shocked at the left-wing verbiage you've been spewing -- didn't think that was part of your modus operandi. Maybe I haven't paid close enough attention over the years.

Sounds like you want to get all your news content from CNN -- that's your choice. I'd say there's plenty of fake news on that platform. I will admit I'm not very familiar with Project Veritas -- but when I heard about this story about Pfizer scientists trashing their own vaccine, I checked it out. The journalism seems above-board to me. I don't think it is a fake news site, let alone criminal. A lot of interesting tidbits can be obtained through undercover work. I look at all kinds of news sites as I'm leery of the mass media these days and their biases.

If you want to fixate on who funds this, who funds that then go ahead. For example, there are plenty of left-wing organizations funding all kinds of climate alarmism -- and they are the ones behind climate paranoia which is affecting kids, mental health etc. The more rational people would say there is no need to use scare tactics when dealing with the climate.

But I know you are an intelligent guy and I'm glad you do your own math to see if what PV says about vaccine deaths makes sense or not. If, however, you are of the belief that we should have vaccine mandates, passports etc. and that the number of cases will drop as will the number of deaths, then I think that really remains to be seen and right now I have my doubts especially given the experience of countries like Norway and Sweden. It is also undeniable that certain governments have used COVID to increase their powers and restrict the freedoms of the people who voted them in.

I sincerely hope you are not accusing me of antisemitism or wingnuttery. I could accuse you of some pretty nasty things as well, but I'd rather not go there because I'm still willing to think you're a potentially reasonable person. As for Soros, the reason I brought him up is you were talking about right-leaning billionaires. Soros is funding movements that want to defund the police, which is absolute idiocy and very much far-left.
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Booming
Sat, Oct 9, 2021, 4:16pm (UTC -6)
Pfizer scientists trashing their own vaccine... omg. Yes Pfizer is reporting scientific results that are surprising for those who know nothing about vaccines.
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Jason R.
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 6:21am (UTC -6)
"Maybe I haven't paid close enough attention over the years."

Haha obviously. Trent was the guy who thought rioters torching small businesses was a-ok.

FYI unless I'm wrong, Project Veritas were the ones who took that Acorn video resulting in the downfall of that organization. That was their high point. Their low point was getting caught trying to bug a congressman's office and / or trying to get a CNN reporter to sleep with the founder as some kind of plot to embarrass her (it didn't work). I think the founder did some time over the bugging Congress thing, lol.

Not exactly swimming in credibility.
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Sigh2000
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 10:06am (UTC -6)
Assuming the Pfizer scientists were real to begin with, which I cannot verify, the issue is how to interpret their statements.

@Rahul "when I heard about this story about Pfizer scientists trashing their own vaccine, I checked it out. The journalism seems above-board to me."

the 'scientists' seemed to bear grudges against their own company's corporate motives... and insinuated that the vaccine had been developed for a disingenuous profit motive. This is not the same thing as trashing the efficacy of the vaccine. The designed take-away is to reject the vaccines because big pharma produced them.

If the scientists are so uncomfortable with the corporate behavior they impune, perhaps they should resign.
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Rahul
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 10:17am (UTC -6)
Personally, I'm thankful PV made an effort to produce this journalism. I am interested in facts and the truth and it seems pretty clear that natural immunity is superior to immunity from a Pfizer (and presumably any other) vaccine. That's all that really matters and it makes sense to me.

Now, that will make many (like Trent) uncomfortable as it could empower those who don't want to get vaxxed or at least unconditionally obey the edicts of public health authorities / government.

Anything that goes against promoting vaccinations seems to be shunned. Ivermectin is another example. But those like Trent can't argue with facts so what is left to do? Try to discredit the source in any way possible -- deflect the thrust of what is being said. One has to at least wonder, why did PV appear? Likely b/c mass media is not telling us the whole truth or any of it, in some cases. How about we keep an open mind and just judge the individual pieces of reporting instead of putting more focus on who backs the source and what may or may not have happened in the past?
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Rahul
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 10:29am (UTC -6)
@Sigh2000

I should say "trashing their own vaccine" is a poor phrasing on my part. It's not very accurate.

"The designed take-away is to reject the vaccines because big pharma produced them."

That's not the whole story. You're neglecting the whole natural immunity vs. vaccine immunity part, which is the main thrust of the reporting (1st 2 bullet points). Then the 3rd bullet goes into "evil corporation" etc.

If you've recovered from COVID and have naturally produced antibodies, why bother getting vaxxed as your immunity is superior anyway? And the consequence of that would be that you should not be discriminated against b/c you haven't gotten vaxxed.
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Sigh2000
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 10:39am (UTC -6)
@Rahul
Well stated.

With the recent reveal that AT&T is coroporately associated with OAN, as well as CNN, the overall meaning of outlet ownership has to be kept as a separate unit of analysis in vetting the information being broadcasted.

Reuters: Dallas-based AT&T, a mobile-phone and Internet provider, also owns entertainment giant Warner Media, which includes CNN and HBO.

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-oneamerica-att/
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Jason R.
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 10:42am (UTC -6)
"If you've recovered from COVID and have naturally produced antibodies, why bother getting vaxxed as your immunity is superior anyway? And the consequence of that would be that you should not be discriminated against b/c you haven't gotten vaxxed."

My take on this is that the favouring of vaccines over natural immunity is pragmatic. Basically proving that someone has natural immunity is difficult or impossible. So many people have had COVID without a diagnosis or think they had it based on symptoms but are just making assumptions. So trying to determine who has the immunity or even who has had COVID is a logistical nightmare. How many people do you know who are convinced they had COVID because of a bad cough or the sniffles 6 months ago? Heck I know people who believe they had it back in Nov 2019. All these people probably would just assume they are immune.

The nice thing about vaccines is there's no doubt if you had one or didn't have one.
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Jason R.
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 10:47am (UTC -6)
I will just add that the evidence I have read suggests that being vaccinated after having had COVID or vice versa provides superior protection to either just having COVID or just getting vaccinated. So from public health's perspective, vaccines are a no brainer.

I will say though that having happily gotten vaccinated at the earliest opportunity, I don't get the whole vaccine mandate thing nor do I understand why vaccinated people seem more fearful now than ever, even though the risk to the vaccinated has dropped to minimal levels. I got vaccinated so I wouldn't have to give a shit what others do
I go to the gym, I eat out, and I don't care if the guy on the bench press next to me got his vaccine.
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Rahul
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 10:52am (UTC -6)
What if you once tested positive for COVID, got over it (like the vast majority of people do) and have gotten on with your life? Isn't there a record of your positive COVID test? Couldn't that be used somehow as proof of natural immunity (which I also believe lasts longer than vaccine immunity)? I don't know -- just wondering about what could be done to prove natural immunity.
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Sigh2000
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 10:54am (UTC -6)
@Jason R
Agree with you that proof of immunity is an important public health issue.
From a public health standpoint vaccination provides at least some way to establish the proportion of the population which has protective antibodies in place.

I had a terrible flu event in December 2019 \, would call it my worst ever, then recovered...but never would claim that I had natural immunity to Covid 19. Never even crossed my mind

Vaccination is something done for the common good.
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Trent
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 11:22am (UTC -6)
Veritas faked their Acorn videos as well. Acorn was one of many groups targeted, post the 2008 election, because they helped poor people vote (none of these groups have ever been guilty of or charged with election fraud). The pretext that the "wrong people were voting" then rubber stamped a new era of computer-assisted gerrymandering and voter suppression. I live in Britain, and similar tech is now being used here as well.

Regarding police, Rahul: the US police budget is 114.5 billion dollars, with about another hundred billion on incarceration and about 80 billion on other corrections. This is an annual budget which dwarfs most nations.

The "defund the police" meme doesn't mean what you thinks it means; it's based on the advice of social scientists, who believe pumping money into social services, community services, poverty and education, leads to less crime, and so less spending. And they are correct, as most social scientists are.

Scientists are similarly correct about climate change. It is not a coincidence that you "accidentally" found an alt-right website like Veritas and "passionately believe in oil sands". Koch Industries is the largest holder of oil sands and refineries in the Alberta fields in Canada, the largest privately held company in the United states, and has numerous petrochemical interests. They are also the chief funder of Project Veritas.

Regarding your comments on "climate alarmism": type "climate alarmism" into google now. The top pages are a recent article by Bjorn Lomborg (Koch and Big Oil funded), Spiked News (hundreds of thousands of dollars from Koch Industries) and by Jim Inhofe, a Republican Governor paid by Exxon and British Petroleum.

Which is more likely, that scientists are alarmist (studies show the opposite; climate scientists unconsciously lowball their figures to avoid seeming sensational), that the 55 million humans exposed to droughts last year were imagining it, that the 65-75ish million displaced from their homes or into becoming refugees "didn't find it too alarming", or that people who own oil companies have a vested interest in slandering scientists?

Scientists are similarly correct about the safety of vaccines vis-a-vis the death or "harm" rates of Covid. The latest published studies about the worst health problem caused by the vaccines (myocarditis IMO), puts the average person at a 0.0233 percent risk. The risk of getting myocarditis from covid (78 percent of covid patients develop heart conditions, with 60% having ongoing myocardial inflammation, see www.cardiovascularbusiness.com/topics/co...eart-damage-recovery) is vastly higher than the risk of getting myocarditis from the vaccines.

It's also worth remembering that, contrary to the Veritas "revelation" by Pfizer scientists (Veritas has been pushing "herd immunity" rhetoric for years), scientists have been saying for months that natural immunity tends to outpace vaccine immunity.

Here's immunologist Marion Pepper earlier this year: "[our] study shows the benefits of natural immunity, but this doesn’t take into account what this virus does to the body to get to that point." And immunologist Dr Sofia Grigoriadou: "Pursuing a path of natural immunity leads to more antibodies, but, paradoxically, more dead bodies."

This has always been the case with viruses, or at least the viruses we're all familiar with.
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Sigh2000
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 11:30am (UTC -6)
@Rahul
I think the whole 'superior immunity' aspect is complicated. It cannot be assumed to be equivalent among recovered persons.

I do think in principle that if someone can show that their natural antibodies are sufficient protection against contracting the virus, they need not undergo vaccination.

The question remains whether many people in the potential natural immunity category would ever comply with being tested to provide the required proof. I fear not.
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Trent
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 11:51am (UTC -6)
Sigh said: "The designed take-away is to reject the vaccines because big pharma produced them. "

The notion of a "Big Pharma" is also silly.

The vaccine Sputnik V was developed by the Russian state. Are the Russians "Big Pharma"? And of course the Chinese state have their own vaccine. Is China Big Pharma? Russia and China are completely at odds with the major western pharmaceutical companies.

The other big vaccine provider is Bharat Biotech, a recent Indian company. Are they Big Pharma? Moderna is certainly "Big Pharma", but note that their vaccine was developed in partnership with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is basically a bunch of pleasant social workers and civil-sector scientists.

Meanwhile The Oxford vaccine was made by a university; that's not Big Pharma.Then you have Cadila Healthcare, an Indian company which makes cheap knock off drugs for poor people and is the chief provider of covid vaccines in India. Cadila Healthcare is "Big Pharma"?

I would only call the Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer vaccines "Big Pharma vaccines" (ironically, they're some of the biggest funders of the Republicans, and so anti-vaxxers, which in turns increases outbreaks, and so increases their profits). But they are just two companies. The rest are a mottled collection of academic institutions, schools, recent start-ups, or state companies.

Rahul said: " I am interested in facts and the truth and it seems pretty clear that natural immunity is superior to immunity..."

Again, you're missing the point. Indeed, Project Veritas has framed its story precisely to make you miss the point. Pursing a path of natural or herd immunity, leads to more people dying. We're talking countless millions and millions of dead people. Do you understand why? We know the death rates concomitant with natural immunity, and we know the infection rates. Veritas' sneaky withholding of this information (we're just revealing the truth!), is an exercise in sociopathy.
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William B
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 12:01pm (UTC -6)
I wanted to add that I think suggesting that Trent is "getting his news from CNN" is a huge misunderstanding about where Trent is coming from and what his politics are. Unless I'm mistaken (and feel free to chime in) Trent would view CNN as neoliberal propaganda boosting big money interests that is only "to the left" of the Kochs in certain (not entirely unimportant but still kind of superficial) respects.
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Rahul
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 12:40pm (UTC -6)
To try and respond to some of the recent comments:

@Trent -- when you talk about the US police budget, why don't you look at per capita spending? You should know that when you compare budgets of various countries, you don't use absolute figures. Also, it makes zero sense to me to spend this police budget on various social programs -- just watch the crime rates spike and extremist groups run wild. And what if a burglar comes to your home? Are you going to call a social worker? Not sure how you can have so much trust in social scientists, who have gotten so much wrong re. crime/punishment etc. in the past. Are you, in fact, a-ok with rioters burning down small businesses?

Are you familiar with the investigative journalism of Vivian Krause? I recall looking at some of her stuff uncovering left-wing groups funding campaigns to landlock Alberta's oil sands. So while you point at right leaning groups backing this, that, and the other thing, the left does the same. That is why I say to focus on the end product and see if it makes sense.

What do you have to say about what Sweden/Norway/Denmark are doing to handle COVID? I'm sure you must have a spin on that. Have their death rates been excessive? I don't think their vaccination rates are notably high. Singapore is an interesting example unfolding now -- they've got a high percentage vaccinated and cases are soaring. They say the cases are mild etc. Let's see how that plays out.

@Sigh2000 -- Getting tested is nothing compared to getting a vaccine (and potentially having to deal with side effects etc.) so I'm not so sure people would be so against getting tested, especially with some of these rapid testing methods.
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Sigh2000
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 1:04pm (UTC -6)
@Rahul: For reasons that are part of my history (when, how and where I grew up) I am disposed toward vaccines.* I was taught that they are beneficial to society. I respect that other people do not have that history.

It would be great if those who have recovered would go through testing, and accept that fear of possible side effects have legitimately put some people off the idea of getting vaccinated.

*
https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/man-who-developed-40-vaccines
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Sigh2000
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 1:32pm (UTC -6)
Correction: @Rahul
It would be great if those who have recovered would go through testing, and *I* accept that fear of possible side effects have legitimately put some people off the idea of getting vaccinated.
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Rahul
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 2:33pm (UTC -6)
@Sigh2000

No worries.

Just to be clear, I also believe (in general) that vaccines are beneficial to society. They've helped eradicate a number of diseases.

Re. the COVID vaccines, I don't know of incidences of people resisting getting tested. I see no issue with it, personally. I think the issue was public health (in the initial stages of the pandemic) not rolling out testing / rapid tests fast enough.
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Booming
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 4:11pm (UTC -6)
Well, Sweden actually has a very high death rate compared to the other Scandinavian countries.
https://www.statista.com/statistics/1113834/cumulative-coronavirus-deaths-in-the-nordics/

Sweden essentially pursued a herd immunity strategy for a while which did not turn out well. Sweden also has a ban on non essential travel for people from outside the EU. Similar rules are in place for the other Scandinavian countries.

Project Veritas ,whose name seems to have been plucked right out of 1984, have been proven to lie, to cheat and to misrepresent. As Bush so eloquently put it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjmjqlOPd6A

I guess some can still be fooled.

And in what country are forced to vaccinated if you can prove that you had covid??

Oh and by the way. The "Pfizer" vaccine was developed by a small German company called Biontech. Pfizer only helped testing and producing it because Biontech did not have the capacities. Two of the three founders are children of Turkish immigrants who already received the German great cross of merit with star and sash. 😚
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Sigh2000
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 4:40pm (UTC -6)
@Booming
Thanks. Nice success story.
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Trent
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 10:17pm (UTC -6)
Rahul said: "Trent , when you talk about the US police budget, why don't you look at per capita spending?"

It's worse if you look at per capita spending. Per capita, the US spends more on policing than any country bar the tax haven Luxembourg, and ranks first in spending as a percent of total government expenditure.

Rahul said: "Also, it makes zero sense to me to spend this police budget on various social programs"

Regardless, the science is clear. We have enough studies showing the linkages between poverty, mental health and crime, and how things like mental health programs reduce crime, or how things like nonprofit community organizations reduce crime and even murder rates. Funding mental health, substance abuse, family support, child and family services etc, similarly reduces crime.

Incidentally, the funders of your Veritas site spend copious money promoting material which advocates the view that crime is not socially constructed, or a product of economic systems, but an inescapable product of biology and genes (the author of the influential "Bell Curve", which was explicitly written to sanction the rolling back of social welfare, remains on the Koch payroll). From this stems the belief that crime is a "natural" part of society, or certain groups, and so is best dealt with by jails and cops.

Rahul said: "And what if a burglar comes to your home? Are you going to call a social worker?"

Diverting funds to social programs does not "lead to less police officers". These policies typically propose more cops, and propose reducing the issues cops have to deal with, which in turn frees them up to focus on crime. Currently, police officers in the US must essentially function as drug counselors, crisis intervention counselors, homeless counselors, mental health counselors etc etc. Since 9/11, they've also been roped into anti-terrorism work, cyber work, and white collar policing. The police are increasingly doing things not in their job description, and they themselves admit this.

Rahul said: "Are you familiar with the investigative journalism of Vivian Krause?"

Yes, she is a liar, not a journalist (she was a nutritionist and worker for a conservative MP), and most of her conspiratorial claims have been debunked. She also admits that 90 percent of her income comes from the oil, gas and mining industry.

Rahul said: "So while you point at right leaning groups backing this, that, and the other thing, the left does the same."

That's like saying Green Peace is the same as Big Oil. Which is of course nonsense. Which is of course why the ultra rich hire people like Vivian Krause to invent boogeymen. Because if you can convince people that sneaky Americans and the Tide Foundation are funding an anti tar sands campaign (they're not) in Canada, you can distract away from the fact that for decades this campaign has been led by Canadians and First Nation leaders, many of whom are volunteers and don’t even get paid (and that the owners of all these "Canadian" pits and mines are American).


Rahul said: "Anything that goes against promoting vaccinations seems to be shunned. Ivermectin is another example. But those like Trent can't argue with facts so what is left to do? Try to discredit the source in any way possible "

All these things you're talking about (Tar sands! Ivermectin! They want to remove police! Natural Immunity!), are fake topics. They're just buzzwords and lies common in certain echo chambers to make people paranoid and angry.

The largest seller of Invermectin is a giant pharmaceutical company called Merck. Merck reiterated several months ago that there is no scientific basis for using invermectin against COVID. The company with the most to gain financially from it told us that that it wasn’t worth pursuing.

The latest meta-analyses of the drug (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-021-01535-y) also sees no benefits of it, and have refuted the handful of studies - most of which have been retracted - which showed benefits. Of the roughly 200 ivermectin trials (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?cond=&term=ivermectin&cntry=&state=&city=&dist=&Search=Search) that have been done, most have found it antivirally useless. The few that did, turned out to be methodologically useless (done on patients who were undergoing other treatments, or asymptomatic, or tiny groups, or ivermectin "cure times" mirror, and are inseparable from, natural immunity "cure times" etc), or just plain fraudulent. So I'm not sure which "facts" you are alluding to. There is a big Oxford trial going on now (as well as some other big, serious trials), and if the drug works, we will know soon.

Currently, scientists think the confusion over ivermectin is due to the drug treating secondary conditions in a very small subset of people. The parasite toxoplasma gondii is known to complicate covid infections, and a number of people unknowingly have it. The idea is that ivermectin as an anti-parasitic is treating the protozoan, which then has knock on covid benefits. Another theory is that it blocks a pathway (NF-kB) which regulates certain cytokines which has an accidental knock on effect on the immune system, which eases the covid symptoms in some patients.

That's the kinds of things scientists are looking at re ivermectin. I don't think anyone outside the alt right takes it seriously as a covid wonderdrug.
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Gorn with the Wind
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 10:32pm (UTC -6)
Extremely well said, Trent.

All of us could do well to take a page from Star Trek and assume the best intentions in each other, and assume the worst of structures of authority.

This includes not only oil and gas companies — who have an obligation to lie about climate change so they can maximize short term returns to their shareholders — but also the cable news media who are of course funded by these behemoth corporations and will lie to protect their interests at every turn.
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Trent
Sun, Oct 10, 2021, 10:38pm (UTC -6)
Rahul said: "What do you have to say about what Sweden/Norway/Denmark are doing to handle COVID?"

The three countries epitomize what scientists have been saying since last year. Herd immunity tactics (Sweden) will fail, and aggressive lockdowns, restrictions and caution (Norway, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand etc), will slow transmission rates. Denmark, for example, was one of the first countries to lockdown, and only ended their lockdown last month.
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Jason R.
Mon, Oct 11, 2021, 7:47am (UTC -6)
I won't bother trying to refute Trent's arguments on criminal justice reform, which seem defensible although I am pretty sure we are getting the motte to BLM's bailey on what "defund the police" means.

But speaking of disreputable organizations with dubious credibility, BLM was founded on a fraud far more egregious than anything Veritas perpetrated. The entire Michael Brown affair, right from the "hands up don't shoot" lie right was fraud. Every detail, every aspect of it (which BLM still perpetrates with impunity) was a fucking lie.

But whatever. I'm sure the Nazis in charge (oh forgive me, I meant to say "trained Marxists") are trustworthy and we should follow their advice on criminal justice reform.
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Jason R.
Mon, Oct 11, 2021, 7:55am (UTC -6)
You know what, I really don't want to get into this and regret posting. Absent a delete function I request that my post below be disregarded. I won't comment on any more non Trek topics on this thread. Thanks everyone.
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Rahul
Mon, Oct 11, 2021, 9:00am (UTC -6)
I could spend a lot of time, effort and refute everything that Trent has said re. defunding the police, landlocking Alberta's oil / Vivian Krause, even Green Peace etc. The negative spin / lies that Trent puts forth on these topics is astounding. But I don't have the kind of time on my hands that Trent does. People are free to believe what they want to believe. The takeaway here is that the left has its narrative, flawed/toxic as it is, and one of the methods for perpetuating it is to cancel, name-shame anything and anyone who opposes it.

I'm not familiar with the Michael Brown affair, but it's pretty clear that the far left extremist BLM movement's ideas on criminal justice reform / defund the police would only serve to give it more opportunity to perpetuate violence and intimidation. BLM actually does a disservice to blacks and its claims of being against racism are highly hypocritical.

I do think it is best this thread ends as it hasn't been about Trek for some time now. I do maintain that Trent is one of the better contributors on this board when it comes to talking Trek and I know he's one of the few here (it looks like to me) who seems to really appreciate TOS.
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Sigh2000
Mon, Oct 11, 2021, 9:46am (UTC -6)
@Rahul
Thanks for the re-direct back to Trek. Would welcome that.
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Booming
Mon, Oct 11, 2021, 10:02am (UTC -6)
I will also now write a long post where I show how filled I am with hatred and then say"let's not talk about this anymore and go back to star trek".
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William B
Mon, Oct 11, 2021, 10:29am (UTC -6)
I really like the Worf/Riker scenes. What do people think?
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Rahul
Mon, Oct 11, 2021, 10:37am (UTC -6)
@William B

Yes, I like them too. Worf/Riker have this kind of macho male bond that I don't think any other 2 on TNG really exemplify. I think of Riker trying out Worf's holoprogram of "calisthenics." It is its own kind of friendship/respect.
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Jason R.
Mon, Oct 11, 2021, 10:49am (UTC -6)
"I will also now write a long post where I show how filled I am with hatred and then say"let's not talk about this anymore and go back to star trek"."

Booming I intended to withdraw my post and that's it. Not telling other people what they can post about. Nothing good would come from further discussion on my part.
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William B
Mon, Oct 11, 2021, 10:55am (UTC -6)
@Jason I don't think Booming's comment was directed at you.

@Rahul yeah there is a nice male bond there, more action oriented than the nerdier Data/Geordi dynamic.
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Booming
Mon, Oct 11, 2021, 11:34am (UTC -6)
yeah this was directed at Gruppenführer Rahul.
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Peter G.
Mon, Oct 11, 2021, 12:46pm (UTC -6)
@ William B,

"I really like the Worf/Riker scenes. What do people think?"

I actually really like the episode, much more than I used to. The individual scenes are mostly really good. The Riker/Worf scenes are interesting because I feel like Worf's warrior nature enables Riker to step up and be more confrontational than he would be with a human. There's a part of Riker which is a warrior, and is exceptionally strident, and he can unleash that on Worf knowing he won't offend. That's a kind of respect too.

But then my favorite scene is the quiet scene in the Captain's Ready Room where Picard and Riker are going over work details, the tension hanging in the air the whole time. And here we see a different dynamic, one where Picard is quietly being a teacher of patience to Riker the man of action. And the father/son dynamic comes out between them too, because only with Picard can Riker allow himself to appear vulnerable and confused, in need of support. The two of them really carry it off well. But as usual I have to give a lion's share of the credit to Frakes, who imbues these scenes with so much energy and heart. Steward would have had nothing to work off of had Frakes not come into those two Ready Room scenes in a state of turmoil and need for guidance. They could easily have been exposition scenes, and most actors would have played it like that.
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Sigh2000
Mon, Oct 11, 2021, 1:21pm (UTC -6)
@ William B --"I really like the Worf/Riker scenes. What do people think?"

The scenes are very strong, and I agree with Peter G. that Frakes is the reason that they work so well. The Riker character is "strident" (agreed) but beyond that he pushes to the limits of high-handedness, particularly in view of the fact that Worf is just lying there, grievously injured. Cultural insensitivity on Riker's part is effectively shown, but it all happens in the service of their friendship. I kept thinking...what would I do in this situation...not an easy one IMO.
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Sigh2000
Tue, Oct 12, 2021, 6:09am (UTC -6)
Just re-watched "Ethics" in full. An excellent episode.
Saw in it that:
Beverly has issues ...these really interferred in her giving Worf true informed consent...she doesn't want Worf to even know about Russell's alternative treatment.

Years ago I saw Beverly as 'in the right' on this one. Today I can see that she was biased against experimental options. There is a back story (never revealed) perhaps relating to Beverly's early years in medical research, which might have filled us in as to how her bias developed against practitioners like Dr. Russell.

Earlier, I suggested Russell was an independent researcher, when she in fact was affiliated with the Edelman(?) Neurological Institute or some such organization.
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Tidd
Tue, Oct 12, 2021, 1:39pm (UTC -6)
Sigh. I've been away from this topic for a few days, I come back and there's page after page after page of additional comments. Too much for me to wade through though maybe I'll just reply to one thing Rahul said to me.

As there's no email subscription to the forum (unless I've missed where it is?) I have to ask: how do you guys know when someone has posted a new comment? The only way I manage it is to revisit episodes where I know there's been a discussion I've been involved in. However, as time goes by, I start to forget which they are, so unless I make a habit of scrolling EVERY review of EVERY episode (within reason) there's absolutely no hope of replying to anything someone has addressed to me, as I simply won't see it.

For example, maybe someone has addressed a comment to me in a review of a TOS episode ? I don't go there anymore so I will never see it, and the comment will never get a reply. The person who addressed me in a TOS comment will probably think I'm rude, but there's no helping that as I won't have seen their comment.
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William B
Tue, Oct 12, 2021, 1:50pm (UTC -6)
@Tidd,

Basically I (and I think most others) use the "Comment Stream" feature (the website slash comments) to see recent comments on any pages on the site. Otherwise you can search your name.
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Tidd
Tue, Oct 12, 2021, 1:53pm (UTC -6)
@Rahul

"Yes, I have come to understand that science/scientists are sacrosanct to you. My only question is which ones? Do you realize there are a lot of varying scientific findings/opinions out there? Would I be correct in assuming you trust the science/scientists that are publicly endorsed by health officials and governments? The science around COVID has become highly politicized and I think what's more important to people is how the science is being used. So I think it might be more accurate to say you trust the government/public health officials than the science?"

Sacrosanct is a strange word to use. Are you asking if I choose science rather than superstition, conspiracies, and general ignorance? If so, the answer is a resounding Yes. And yes I do realise that there are good scientists, not so good ones, and very poor ones. But history remembers the good guys; bad scientists - with few exceptions like Mengele, who wasn't really a scientist anyway - usually end up in the dustbin of history. No, I don't trust government scientists more than academic scientists, but sometimes the latter are selected by the more enlightened politicians.

"Also, the science is in a constant process of changing. What the science may say one day could be different on another day. Government/public health officials have changed their recommendations now and then as well -- and their recommendations vary in different jurisdictions. Norway/Sweden do 1 thing, US/Canada do another thing. Who is using the science the right way? Personally, I think the Scandies have got it right."

Yes, science does change. Herd immunity with respect to Covid went through an early stage of popularity, but is now disregarded. As for the Scandies, I don't enough about their approach to the pandemic to comment.

"Just to be clear as well, I'm not against people choosing to get vaccinated. I'm opposed to governments mandating it, vaccine passports etc. Widespread vaccine mandates may not be the case in the UK, I'm not sure -- I can't speak to that. But in the US and Canada, there is no question it is being mandated and people are being coerced (by denial of services) into getting vaccinated. So I think people finally throw in the towel and get the jab."

The problem is that there is an American mindset which can be summarised as "No-one tells me what to do". Hence the resistance in many quarters to being vaccinated. Here in the UK, only health workers have been told that they must be vaccinated to keep their jobs, and that measure came very late in the day. Mostly it's been voluntary, and now it's being applied to those aged 12+ and so far 85% of the population have voluntarily been jabbed, with more to come.
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Chrome
Tue, Oct 12, 2021, 2:06pm (UTC -6)
@Tidd

In addition to William B's good suggestion, you could also use the "Search and bookmark options ▼" and set up an RSS feed for custom terms like "Tidd" or "DS9" or "Q Who" which could help narrow the comments to wade through.

There isn't a Reddit/Twitter-style alert system yet, though AFAIK.
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 12, 2021, 2:11pm (UTC -6)
I only ever just follow the Comment Stream.
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Tidd
Tue, Oct 12, 2021, 3:05pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G @Chrome @William B

Thank you all for your suggestion about the Comment Stream. :) Yes, I can see it has its uses. Mind you, if you miss a few days, that might be equally difficult as it seems to cover the entire franchise as well as other stuff like BSG which I don't watch! But I'll bear it mind.

Does a name search find all references to your own name, not just your own posts?
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 12, 2021, 4:03pm (UTC -6)
@ Tidd,

Yeah, you have to move past posts for shows you don't watch, but a nice thing is you see reviews for episodes you haven't seen in a long time, like in VOY, and it's cool to see the reflections. Getting back from a 1-2 week trip and catching up is...yeah. Moral of story: spend your trip reading the comment stream :)
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Tom
Tue, Oct 12, 2021, 7:02pm (UTC -6)
"Are you asking if I choose science rather than superstition, conspiracies, and general ignorance? If so, the answer is a resounding Yes."

Well, the above reply could have been (and no doubt was) given in the past to support such incorrigible things as eugenics, racial apartheid, death camps. Selling harmful 'health' products (cigarettes and coca(ine)-cola), foods and medicines. And because we're all Trek fans we're more than likely to look back on scientific knowledge as a path of progress, evolution, growth, I'd argue it's very dangerous to blindly 'choose' science to justify whatever it seems to call for in the absence of all other factors, especially basic human rights. It also gives a legitimacy to governmental and corporate decisions which can claim to be impartial and science-based, but of course never are because of the way democracies and business corporations work.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 12:03am (UTC -6)
@Tidd
"Does a name search find all references to your own name, not just your own posts? "

That depends on the parameters you set for the search.

You can either search by "comment author" to see your own posts. Or you can search by "comment text" to search for a specific string, including your username.

It's quite a useful setup.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 1:16am (UTC -6)
@Tidd
"Here in the UK, only health workers have been told that they must be vaccinated to keep their jobs, and that measure came very late in the day. Mostly it's been voluntary, and now it's being applied to those aged 12+ and so far 85% of the population have voluntarily been jabbed, with more to come."

The UK is a rare exception, though.

In most of the western world, you can't live any kind of normal life without being vaccinated. This is something that should never have happened in democratic countries, yet here we are.

@Tom
"And because we're all Trek fans we're more than likely to look back on scientific knowledge as a path of progress, evolution, growth, I'd argue it's very dangerous to blindly 'choose' science to justify whatever it seems to call for in the absence of all other factors, especially basic human rights"

As a scientist (physicist) I'm quite disturbed by the kind of cr*p that passes as "science" these days.

Real science follows the scientific method. Real science is about hearing all points of views and carefully assessing them in view of the evidence.

The stuff that's going on with Covid and the related vaccines, on the other hand, is not "science". Terrorizing people into blindly accepting "The One Right Point of View" is not science. Silencing minority views is not "science". Calling every single person who doesn't agree with the majority "an antivax kook" is not science.

In short:

Trusting the scientific method will never do you wrong.

Trusting people who misuse the word "science" to further their own agendas, on the other hand... Well, you get my drift.
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Sigh2000
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 8:36am (UTC -6)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
"Trusting the scientific method will never do you wrong."

Agreed...decline in our curricula has carried with it a weakened awareness that the teaching of science needs to include a special emphasis:

namely that there is something called the "scientific method" and that it was a battle hard fought to establish that method in the first place.

If the history of that battle is not taught, we have the second problem, namely

a manipulation of the word science as a hollow concept and then get

the "cr*p that passes for "science" these days."

Thanks for your post

If "Ethics" had been written after March 2020, I wonder if Beverly out of her own rigidity would have called out Russell specifically on violation of the scientific method (and not just because of her alleged violation of the Hippocratic Oath).

Then again, the scientific method is covered by the Oath*:

*The text of the revised Hippocratic Oath refers to the necessity of having respect for the "...hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk".
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Jason R.
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 9:33am (UTC -6)
One pet peeve of mine is when science is misapplied to problems it was never meant to (and can't) address. The scientific method could help you understand whether or not a vaccine is effective in preventing the spread of COVID but it can't tell you whether or not a vaccine mandate is good public policy.

And while some see the two things as indistinguishable, in fact they are absolutely not the same thing and should never be confused. I really dislike how questions of public policy and even ethics / morality are frequently masked or falsely characterized as being about "science" in the media. This transforms scientists into high priests and politicians rolled into one - a terrible combination.
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Sigh2000
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 12:19pm (UTC -6)
@Jason R
" I really dislike how questions of public policy and even ethics / morality are frequently masked or falsely characterized as being about "science" in the media."

In the US (I can't speak for what has happened in other nations) poorly chosen language in the media has certainly not helped to shape the debate over vaccination in a helpful direction. The tendency is to act as if science answers all questions and anyone with remaining questions is just not very smart. Such harshness has not won over any adherents.
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Booming
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 1:27pm (UTC -6)
When Tidd or anybody says: "She believes in science." then she is actually saying that she believes the global scientific consensus on the matter. Because believing that all the scientists all over the world are in cahoots to push vaccines is pretty much the same as believing that climate change is a Chinese conspiracy. If there is a cheaper way than vaccines then a lot of countries would take that route and the scientists who work in academia or for the state would inform the state of such a cheaper route.

I agree that apart from certain professions like health care workers nobody should be forced to be vaccinated but I also think that society shouldn't pay the tests for the people who do not want to get vaccinated. If businesses do not want to risk their employees getting sick then they can refuse service for untested people. As we say in Germany "life is not a pony farm". Just order take out instead.

So how about really getting back to the episode, sweethearts.
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Jason R.
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 1:42pm (UTC -6)
"I agree that apart from certain professions like health care workers nobody should be forced to be vaccinated"

I am surprised. You seem to be in the minority from what I have seen.
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Booming
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 2:12pm (UTC -6)
@Jason
"I am surprised. You seem to be in the minority from what I have seen."
What have you seen?
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Jason R.
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 2:37pm (UTC -6)
@Booming most polls here in Canada seem to support vaccine mandates, including compulsory vaccination on pain of firing. Our Federal government is even requiring it for employees who work exclusively remotely from home. While the courts may overturn some or all of these laws, they seem to be popular. I figured the same would be true in Germany and other first world democracies.
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Booming
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 3:00pm (UTC -6)
Could you give me a few sources?

" I figured the same would be true in Germany and other first world democracies."
No, actually mandatory vaccinations would be illegal in Germany. The public seems to be split with a slight edge for mandates.
Here are the numbers for the different party supporters :
https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/1255968/umfrage/umfrage-zu-eine-impfpflicht-gegen-corona-nach-parteien/
(CDU/CSU: Cons.; Linke:socialist; SPD:social dems; Grüne:greens; FDP: Liberal; AfD: right wing populist)

Canada seems to be far more forceful in it's approach than most countries.
https://www.reuters.com/world/countries-make-covid-19-vaccines-mandatory-2021-07-13/
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Jason R.
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 3:35pm (UTC -6)
https://www.ipsos.com/en-ca/news-polls/majority-of-canadians-support-vaccination-mandates
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Booming
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 3:49pm (UTC -6)
Fascinating.

Do you think that is somehow related to the fact that Star Trek Discovery is filmed in Canada? :)

Seriously though, as a social scientist I have to find out how that happened. No spoilers, please.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 4:06pm (UTC -6)
@ Booming,

"Seriously though, as a social scientist I have to find out how that happened. No spoilers, please."

Although all social matters are by definition complicated, it might be worth looking into the correlation between authoritarian tendencies in government and authoritarian tendencies amongst the populace. Trying to make others do what you'd prefer they do, through social pressure or force of law, is most likely a mentality that enables (or likewise is fed by) governments that act paternalistically and always presume that their acts are the height of morality.
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Jason R.
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 4:27pm (UTC -6)
I have my own idea about how it happened.

The first factor is Trump. He is the embodiment of the ugly American stereotype that Canadians despise. He has been associated with anti science anti vaccine conspiracy beliefs for a long time now.

The second factor is the fear factor from the pandemic. There is a very large portion of the population now that is so afraid of COVID that they will literally do anything to avoid the virus.. I know people who are vaccinated but up until a couple months ago, wouldn't leave the house without a mask and gloves, even outdoors. Some of them look like they are ready to go work on a Lev 4 laboratory. These people will never go back to normal, never, not as long as COVID exists. This is their life from now on.

The fourth factor is COVID itself and the political ramifications. Every politician or health authority that has downplayed the virus or attempted to loosen restrictions - every one - has been burned by the virus, repeatedly, publicly. This has happened all over the world including in Canada.

The end result is that people who don't get vaccinated, who are connected in popular culture with Trump, are scapegoated for the pandemic not going away, which results in people (led by the neurotics I mentioned) demanding harsher and harsher punitive measures against them in a futile attempt to suppress who they believe to be the Typhoid Maries causing the pandemic. And any politician who resists is instantly in danger of being tarred by the Trump brush, not to mention terrified that COVID numbers will rise and they will be blamed.

So you have two forces working synergistically- a fear of COVID led by the neurotics plus a fear of COVID led by the smart politicians, plus a hatred of Trump supporters, who are associated with anti vaxxers and are blamed for prolonging the pandemic.

Add to everything above the fact that Canadian society is increasingly illiberal overall (individual freedoms are no longer valued at all by the majority) and you get the results of the poll I mentioned.

It makes no difference how many people are vaccinated or how effective the vaccines are. Like I said the fear I have described long ago became decoupled from any rational scientifically based conclusions.

You have people terrified that anti vaxxers are going to kill them despite the fact that risk of serious illness / death from COVID is minimal for most once vaccinated - it makes zero difference to them. The anti vaxxer / Trumpers have become the living embodiment of the pandemic for them.
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Booming
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 4:42pm (UTC -6)
After a quick look it seems that democracy enjoys huge support in Canada. So I would not call this issue authoritarian. It is more a question of the so called "Tyranny of the majority" which is a difficult topic because it is a different thing for whoever you ask. That is what the constitutional core (unchangeable parts of the constitution) is for but I'm not sure this applies here. It seems that in this case the vast majority favors these policies. So if the highest court of Canada does not intervene then it is just democracy at work. I must admit that I find it concerning and puzzling. Canada is well on track to the vaccination safe zone which should be somewhere between 75% and 85%.

About your hypothesis that authoritarian tendencies in government and the populace are correlated. Complicated issue, can we leave it at that. I would have to explain several things before I could even start to dive into your hypothesis.
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Jason R.
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 4:48pm (UTC -6)
I didn't say authoritarian, I said iliberal.
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Booming
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 5:00pm (UTC -6)
@Jason
just saw your second post. Times like these always bring limitations, not unlike wartime. To quote the evil stepfather of political science: "Sovereign is he who decides on the exception."
And people react strangely in these times. Overall Canadian politics do not seem too crazy. People will need some time to calm down. The USA on the other hand... no democratic variable goes in the right direction there and god knows what happens in Russia when Putin dies.

Anyway...if the world plays it smart we will be done with covid in 9 month. If not than maybe 24-36 month. It really depends on how quickly the rich countries help the poorer ones to vaccinate.
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Booming
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 5:02pm (UTC -6)
whoops.- Sorry so the first post was for Peter and the second for Jason.
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Jason R.
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 5:12pm (UTC -6)
@Booming fyi no one here is talking about or cares about the third world. The message being pushed pretty consistently is that unvaccinated people are responsible for the pandemic, which will end when they get vaccinated, full stop.

I really hope your timetable is correct but I am skeptical this pandemic will ever "end" I.e. that we will return to normal. The pandemic here is endemic and I don't mean just the virus.
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Booming
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 5:34pm (UTC -6)
@Jason
The Spanish flu went on for a little over two years and also had four waves. The difference today is air travel. Maybe we will see travel restrictions based on vaccination rates. Covid is so infectious now, just a matter of time until all the unvaccinated get sick. The ones that survive will be immune.

Will we go back to normal. More or less.

Sorry @Peter, I did not see that the one post was written by you. Got a little confused.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 5:48pm (UTC -6)
@ Booming,

Just for clarity, by "authoritarian" I meant disposed to believe government should be more rather than less encompassing in the scope of its powers, and additionally the idea that others should be made to comply with particular moral concepts through force of law. I did not, however, mean that such policies are necessarily tyrannical or inhuman, just that people want the government controlling other people for better or worse.
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Booming
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 6:05pm (UTC -6)
@Peter
Technically, apart from some liberal or libertarian movements, all political factions want more power for the government. Some want (simplified) more police and prisons, other want more welfare spending. And while Libertarians might want less state power, power does not disappear. In such a country the rich would rule. For me Libertarianism is just a fancy way of saying "we want oligarchy".

Maybe you mean the fairly new phenomenon of the illiberal democracy? Most famous examples are Hungary and Poland.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illiberal_democracy

Ok, guys let's now really get back to the episode.
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Sigh2000
Thu, Oct 14, 2021, 9:02pm (UTC -6)
The episode thread seems to have seven crushed vertebrae.
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The Real Trent
Wed, Nov 10, 2021, 3:56pm (UTC -6)
Rahul said: "I could spend a lot of time, effort and refute everything that Trent has said re landlocking Alberta's oil / Vivian Krause, "

Interestingly, since our last convo, Canadian conservatives have released the results of their years long inquiry - which cost millions of dollars - into whether Vivian Krause is right that foreign bodies are funding activists to kill Canadian oil (see: https://www.nationalobserver.com/2021/10/22/opinion/anti-alberta-energy-inquiry-outrageous-657-page-nothingburger, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Inquiry_into_Anti-Alberta_Energy_Campaigns).

Their own report definitively proved what I said, and Vivian Krause has now tactically backed off from her more grandiose claims. The 600+ page report also goes on to say that environmental activism had no meaningful impact on the local oil sector (any drop in oil sales was due to global market fluctuations).

In other words, Canadian conservatives created a boogyman (Soros and hippies want to kill oil!), whipped up fear via their propaganda wings, believed their own conspiracy, spent millions of dollars investigating it, and then realized that they'd been lying to themselves (a bit like Trump spending millions to check his election conspiracies, and discovering that he'd made them up).

The largest Ivermectin studies (in Oxford, as mentioned earlier) still haven't come in yet, but some big ones in Malaysia (no benefits seen), and recent data leaks (https://theintercept.com/2021/09/28/covid-telehealth-hydroxychloroquine-ivermectin-hacked/), point to it being a similar scam.
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Rahul
Wed, Nov 10, 2021, 4:44pm (UTC -6)
@The Real Trent (or Trend or whatever you are calling yourself now) -- since you want to re-hash, I'll indulge you this once (knowing full well this has nothing to do with Trek).

As you might expect, I was following news of the release of that report and while the headlines may suggest nothing untoward was underway, the report is hugely problematic and suffers from massive transparency issues. That is a real shame given how much time/money was spent on it.

I have seen the stuff about the "Tar Sands" campaign from groups like CorpEthics who once posted on their website: “From the very beginning, the campaign strategy was to land-lock the tar sands so their crude could not reach the international market where it could fetch a high price per barrel.” Canada's national broadcaster CBC reported it and soon that description was changed.

The issue with left-leaning foundations funding such campaigns is the money trail is very hard to track and the 600+ page report is heavily redacted. Yes, it was, in the end, a huge waste of money since I don't think it accomplished or proved anything.

As for Krause, this is from her Twitter: https://twitter.com/FairQuestions/status/1454203056862597120?s=20
She says: “A few months ago, @CanadianPress ran a story about me having “backed away” from my own assertions. That story was entirely false. Canadian Press retracted the story & apologized without reservation.”
So you're dead wrong on Krause.

Since you seem so intent on debunking anything I say, what about the easiest thing to debunk which you never addressed despite going to great lengths on other issues, namely -- are you a-OK with rioters torching small businesses in the aftermath of George Floyd?
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Jason R.
Wed, Nov 10, 2021, 5:38pm (UTC -6)
I don't think it's a secret that environmental groups have campaigned to landlock Alberta's oil and destroy its Petro industry, right along with the Federal government under Justin Trudeau which supports them - and they succeeded. The tar sands are dead, done. Anyone who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves.

The Liberals don't care because they don't need Alberta to win elections and they have basically written the Province off anyway. Justin Trudeau could never set foot in the Province and withdraw all his candidates and it would mean zip. Alberta could leave Canada and they'd still be landlocked and impotent.

Glad I don't live there.
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The Real Trent
Wed, Nov 10, 2021, 9:40pm (UTC -6)
Jason said: "The tar sands are dead, done."

Why do you say this? The sands are now more productive than during the pandemic, more productive than before the pandemic, 80+ percent more productive than in the early 2010s, and emission caps placed on them remain higher than current outputs (and so are a license to increase production). They've also set several output records over the past 18 or so months.

Production is a wiggly line going up (and emissions too, more than doubling from 2005 to 2020), unless Trudeau passed some new law I don't know about.


Rahul said: "So you're dead wrong on Krause."

But Krause is now claiming that you are wrong.

Note that when Krause says she "has not backed off her claims", it is only because she now claims to have not said what she is famous for having said (and which you believe). Krause is trying to pull the "I didn't really mean it!" defense.

So today she says she, quote, "has never accused environmental groups of being used by U.S. interests to further that country’s oil industry" and that she "has seen no evidence of funding from commercial oil interests" and that she "never claimed" these things.

But for years she has been saying that Rockefeller oil and other US oil interests have been pumping cash into Canada and engaging in, quote, "economic protectionism". For years she has been saying environmental groups are "not independent" but doing the bidding of their US puppet masters. She's literally on record in a parliamentary committee hearing in 2012 saying that the tar sands campaign was started by US oil companies in 2008, and that US funders have a "strategy to sway market share, to manipulate markets, and protect trade interests.”

This is all on record. Now she's lying again to claim she didn't say it. And she's done this boogieman routine before- when she was a propaganda spokesman for the largest Salmon fishery in Canada, she claimed US "shadow groups" were using environmentalists to "shut down salmon fisheries". It's a quite sneaky form "both sidesism", in which environmentalism is discredited as, not an honest movement with real concerns and actors, but just another cynical capitalist game, done for market share.

Rahul said: "“From the very beginning, the campaign strategy was to land-lock the tar sands so their crude could not reach the international market..."

This conspiracy obfuscates how the same "US oil companies" said to be funding environmental groups, already own Canadian tar sands. Exxonmobil already has majority ownership of "Canada's" Imperial Oil (one of the largest land holders in the Alberta tar sands). The Kochs - the largest private company in the US - similarly has some of the largest tar sands holdings. The "Canadian" Suncor Energy is likewise networked with Shell and Exxon. The "Rockefellers" supposedly behind the anti tar sands campaign are themselves already the holders of the tar sands (The Rockefeller's Standard Oil became Chevron, Imperial and Exxon, all with major Canadian tar sands holdings).

Poor little Canada is not "under siege" from "naive environmentalists" being used by evil "Big Oil". Canada is Big Oil.


Rahul said: "are you a-OK with rioters torching small businesses in the aftermath of George Floyd? "

That's not how societies work. All throughout history, business makes rioters.

Any system that actively produces an underclass, inherently cannot provide full employment (as aggregate wages lags behind the aggregate cost of goods, cycles of overproduction, under-consumption, bankruptcy and unemployment are set up), and in which all profits increase aggregate debts (and so poverty, foisted on participants against their will), sets up the conditions which cause property to be torched.

Is torching still nevertheless wrong? Any argument one uses to claim this, will have even more philosophical counters.
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Booming
Thu, Nov 11, 2021, 4:29am (UTC -6)
You know nothing, Trent Snow.

I understand where you are coming from but keep in mind that most people don't think in abstract concepts of ownership, capital accumulation and overproduction cycles. Many people lost everything in these riots. I guess they are again part of the underclass. Rahul will now just claim that you are cruel or callous. Maybe both. You really walked right into it. The small shop owner is not responsible for the functioning of a modern capitalistic society, nor can he/she do anything about in-group out-group bias for example racism. Show a little compassion, man. Maybe people will view your ideas a little bit more favorably if they do not fear that these ideas were born in a cold heart.
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Rahul
Thu, Nov 11, 2021, 8:32am (UTC -6)
@ Trent / The Real Trent / Trend

So it’s clear now that you’re an avowed communist. I didn’t realize how truly fucked up you are and feel pity that you just don’t understand some basic universal values. Communism is pure evil and it destroys everything in its path.

To say “business makes rioters” and accepting the torching of small businesses that enterprising and hard-working people work so hard to build just shows you are completely clueless about how a healthy society should grow.

I really don’t see how anybody can take you seriously after the terrible and completely flawed rationale/narrative that you put forth.
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Booming
Thu, Nov 11, 2021, 10:10am (UTC -6)
@Trent
You see. Rahul is not interested in any debate. Look at how he dismissed the report by the conservatives. No facts, just vague accusations and then quickly jumping to something else because accusing the conservatives of being leftists would probably go too far, even for him. He knew that he made a terribly bad argument. He therefore ended it with an obvious trap so that he can accuse you of being evil. Were you asleep the last 20 years? This is how right wing populists win every debate.
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Luke
Thu, Nov 11, 2021, 3:51pm (UTC -6)
Booming saying someone isn’t interested in honest debate.

Top keks.
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Gorn with the Wind
Thu, Nov 11, 2021, 9:21pm (UTC -6)
“Communism is pure evil and it destroys everything in its path.”

I got a hearty chuckle out of this being said on a Star Trek site. Thanks for that.

Think I’m going to pay it forward by visiting the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” Facebook page and railing against the evils of capitalism.
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Jason R.
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 7:11am (UTC -6)
"I got a hearty chuckle out of this being said on a Star Trek site. Thanks for that."

You think a story about a ship named "Enterprise" is communist? Okeeedoke comrade.
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Booming
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 7:51am (UTC -6)
The Federation is a post scarcity society where the state controls basically everything like transport, communication, energy, work, provides free healthcare, housing, food and education. Of course money and economic classes don't exist. Certainly has a lot of aspects of left wing utopias.
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Gorn with the Wind
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 9:24am (UTC -6)
Silly me, I thought it was called “Enterprise” because it’s a giant intergalactic car rental agency
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Jason R.
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 11:03am (UTC -6)
@Booming I don't agree that the State controls everything - there isn't any evidence of that in the show. Or is the Picard vineyard and Sisko's restaurant government owned? In any event a post scarcity society isn't communist or capitalist.
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Booming
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 11:16am (UTC -6)
@Jason
The state controls certainly far more then it even controls in China. There is really no way of saying if Picard or Sisko own anything. Maybe they are tenants who get the place if they produce wine/creole food. Furthermore, Picard, if the Federation even accepts RobotPicards claim to the property, has no children. The state gets it eventually. Point being, the state controls a looooooooooot.

"In any event a post scarcity society isn't communist or capitalist."
It certainly looks far more like a leftist than a capitalistic one. One could also say a lot of leftist demands are realized to the max while there are no capitalistic norms in existence anymore.
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Luke
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 1:26pm (UTC -6)
It may not be a capitalist society, but it certainly isn't a communist one either. Let's just look at a few examples....

1.) From Picard's speech to the Borg Collective in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I" - "My culture is based on freedom and self-determination." Freedom and self-determination aren't exactly hallmarks of a communist society, are they?

2.) They believe in things like individual rights, constitutional protections against self-incrimination, privacy, the right to bear arms, the right to peacefully secede and form a new government, religious toleration, and private property (just look at how Worf responds when his quarters on DS9 are burglarized in DS9: "Bar Association"). I don't know of many communist regimes that believe in any of those things.

3.) How about the Prime Directive? I certainly have my issues with the principle, but isn't it's core tenet "live and let live"? Isn't that the very essence of libertarianism - i.e. the polar opposite of communism?

4.) Finally, I'll just quote something Skeptical wrote years ago in the comments for DS9: "Looking for Par'mach in All the Wrong Places".... "for that matter, what is the Trek motto of 'we seek to better ourselves' if not the ultimate capitalist, individualist message? It's not some magical government initiative that created this utopia of Trek, it's brilliant scientists creating value by inventing replicators and the like. More accurately, the ENTIRE Trek utopia relied not on a government program, not on central planning, but on a lone nut sitting in Montana who built a warp drive for the sole purpose of getting filthy stinking rich."

But, hey, they don't use money so they must be commies, right? Seriously guys, top-levels keks in these comments recently. Keep it up, cause I'm getting quite a good laugh out of it.
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Gorn with the Wind
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 2:49pm (UTC -6)
Communism and capitalism are economic systems. Neither The Communist Manifesto nor The Wealth of Nations are moral or spiritual handbooks.

The great thing about Star Trek is that it breaks free of the sorry, oppressive history of regimes of all economic stripes and dares to imagine something better.

Economically speaking, Trek is communist with shades of anarchism (mutual aid). Morally speaking, it embodies Enlightenment values such as reason, individualism, self-determination, and so forth. The cherry on top is anti-imperialism via the Prime Directive. None of these things are mutually exclusive.
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Rahul
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 3:11pm (UTC -6)
Communism is a lot more than just an economic system -- it is totalitarian control of a population. Unfortunately, some people (higher % among the younger generations) tend to romanticize it and socialism.

There are many societal aspects to communism that have nothing to do with the economy such destruction of the family structure, the church etc. These are areas that capitalism doesn't concern itself with.

Economically speaking, Trek would have had to develop to where it is based on a predominantly capitalist foundation. It would never be the utopian society it is purported to be after decades upon decades of communism, which would only result in millions upon millions of dead. One only needs to look at history for empirical examples or pay attention to Solzhenitsyn / Vaclav Havel etc.

So the irony of Trek is that its braintrust was rather socialist and didn't think very highly of capitalism -- one only needs to look at how capitalists (Ferengi) are portrayed.
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Booming
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 3:34pm (UTC -6)
@Luke
I'm not sure what your intent is here. It seems on one hand you are interested in a discussion, on the other hand you end your statement with gamer lingo insults.

Whatever it may be
1) I wrote leftist utopia. Not that I'm a big fan of communists today but if you would actually take the time then you would find out that communists ideals are about freedom and self determination.. Again I'm talking about ideals or utopias here. A Chinese worker is not better off than a Mexican worker. A Chinese economist I read about made the argument that parts of Europe with free/public healthcare, free education and so on are the closest to socialism in the world.

2) The Soviet constitution was actually very modern and had very extensive protections. Problem was that through enemy of the state laws and some articles any of these protections could easily be undone. My point is, the Federation is pretty much in line with a communist utopia. What do you think communist utopia means? Potato soup all day and big brother? There is private property to some degree in communism. Not landownership, though.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1977_Constitution_of_the_Soviet_Union#Constitutional_rights

3) For me Libertarianism is just a fancy word the rich invented to get an oligarchy through the backdoor. Furthermore the USA, as the most libertarian nation, is certainly not doing anything close to "live and let live" considering that it started more wars than any other nation since 1945.

4)
While I liked that aspect of the movie, meaning the whole first contact thing, it is also really dumb. Sticking a space ship on an ICBM. Yeah... that is not going to work. On a more general note, who cares what the guy who invented warp wanted, a hundred years before the Federation, when we were still very primitive.

" what is the Trek motto of 'we seek to better ourselves' if not the ultimate capitalist, individualist message?"
Literally every societal system proclaims that it is about bettering the people who live in it.

" it's brilliant scientists creating value by inventing replicators and the like"
Scientists employed by the state.

Risa's elaborate force fields and so on are provided by the Federation. The Risan people have no money and everything is for free.

You also have not addressed any of my points. Specifically that we never see any capitalistic enterprise inside the Federation. Or the fact that free healthcare, education, food, housing and so on are the very opposite of capitalism. The only planets were humans are capitalistic are horrible nightmares like Farius Prime or New Sidney. One could also mention that a society without money cannot be "capital"istic. So yeah instead of bringing up new fairly small points that are linked to you not fully understanding what the word utopia (a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions) means, maybe write a few words about abundance of evidence that the state plays a central role in almost every aspect of life in the Federation.
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Booming
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 3:42pm (UTC -6)
@Rahul
"There are many societal aspects to communism that have nothing to do with the economy such destruction of the family structure, the church etc. These are areas that capitalism doesn't concern itself with."
Both aspects of this statement are incorrect. The soviet constitution guaranteed freedom of religion and they did not try to destroy the core family model. Capitalist states through many ways enforced for a long time the breadwinner family model (Kids read your Talcott Parsons!) and in many capitalist states the church was financially supported and it's influence increased through other ways. In God we trust? Yes, capitalistic countries certainly do.
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Rahul
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 3:53pm (UTC -6)
@Luke

Good post -- I think you're on the right track as far as how things are able to work in the Trekverse. Your examples make sense. But I don't know what is meant by "keks"...

The most important thing is property rights (after human rights are protected, of course) and the PD would not be what it is if the Federation were a communist organization. Do the Cardassians or Romulans have a PD? I don't think so.
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Jason R.
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 4:28pm (UTC -6)
I would call the Federation a post capitalist liberal democracy. Regardless of whether you want to characterize this as "left wing" or not it plainly has vastly more in common with liberal democracies like the USA than with any communist countries.
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Luke
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 5:22pm (UTC -6)
@Booming
"I'm not sure what your intent is here. It seems on one hand you are interested in a discussion, on the other hand you end your statement with gamer lingo insults."

Maybe my intent was to put some points out there and then end it on a joke. You know, for laughs. To lighten the mood. Chill out.

"1) I wrote leftist utopia."

And I wrote that the Federation isn't capitalistic. What's your point here?

"2) The Soviet constitution was actually very modern and had very extensive protections. Problem was that through enemy of the state laws and some articles any of these protections could easily be undone."

So.... in practice they had no protections. That really isn't helping your case here since the Federation is shown as having airtight protections.

"3) For me Libertarianism is just a fancy word the rich invented to get an oligarchy through the backdoor."

And for me communism is just a fancy word the poor invented to help them force the rich to do their bidding. See how that isn't an argument?

"Furthermore the USA, as the most libertarian nation, is certainly not doing anything close to "live and let live" considering that it started more wars than any other nation since 1945."

Um.... so the USA doesn't do anything close to libertarianism while simultaneously being a libertarian nation? Methinks you have a contradiction in there somewhere.

"4) ...On a more general note, who cares what the guy who invented warp wanted"

Oh, so now intent doesn't matter. It mattered quite a bit when you were talking about ideals vs. practical reality in #1. Again, methinks you have a contradiction in there.

"'it's brilliant scientists creating value by inventing replicators and the like'
Scientists employed by the state."

You mean like the guy who invented warp drive. He wasn't employed by the state. He was a lone nut operating on his own. How about the guy who invented the transporter. He wasn't employed by the state. He invented it because he wanted to. For crying out loud, how about the guy who invented a little thing called.... .... Data. He certainly wasn't employed by the state. In fact, he was considered to be an abject failure and roundly ridiculed by virtually everyone to the point where he had to flee to some random back-water colony where he could pursue his research and invention literally on his own.

How about when Data created Lal? Was that done on behalf of the state? No. In fact, the only time the state was involved (either in the decision to create her or in her actual construction) was when the state's representative stepped in and tried to forcibly remove her from Data against his will. And didn't said representative get blocked by Picard on the grounds of "order a man to turn his child over to the state; not as long as I'm his captain"? Please show me a communist regime where you're allowed to simply refuse to comply with a state command.

"You also have not addressed any of my points. Specifically that we never see any capitalistic enterprise inside the Federation. Or the fact that free healthcare, education, food, housing and so on are the very opposite of capitalism."

Well, that's a nice straw-man you've constructed there. I refer you back to #1 where I agreed that the Federation isn't capitalistic.

"The soviet constitution guaranteed freedom of religion"

That's nice. Tell me, how many churches were built in Russia between 1917 and 1991.
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Luke
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 5:24pm (UTC -6)
@Rahul
KEK is just another way of saying LOL. In other words.... top laughs.
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Luke
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 5:37pm (UTC -6)
@Jason R
That's exactly what the Federation is.... a post-capitalist liberal democracy, not a communist/socialist utopia.

Trek is often mistaken as some kind of socialist or communist utopia. This is far from accurate. Whereas Marx envisaged socialism as the collective ownership of the means of production and communism to be a stateless, classless, property-less, border-less society, Roddenberry envisaged Trek as a vision of a post-scarcity liberal order. It comes complete with a state (the Federation) that imposes law and order, a military (Starfleet) with a formal hierarchy, and clearly defined borders with other states. Private property is commonplace. Kirk's family owned a farm. Picard owned countless historical artifacts and his family owned a vineyard. Sisko's family owned a restaurant. Quark owned a bar.

Star Trek isn't a communist utopia. It's a liberal utopia for the moral idealist. It's the property-less, classless, mono-mind that is the Borg Collective that represents communism, not the Federation.
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Gorn with the Wind
Fri, Nov 12, 2021, 10:57pm (UTC -6)
Regarding Communism and atheism: most of us are constrained by our limited view of history. We’ve all been taught the evils of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc., and rightfully so.

Dig deeper and you’ll find Utopia by Thomas Moore, Catholic liberation theology in the US, and even proto-Star Trek ideologies like Cosmism in Tsarist Russia. You might not like it, but it isn’t godless.
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Booming
Sat, Nov 13, 2021, 3:14am (UTC -6)
@Jason
"I would call the Federation a post capitalist liberal democracy."
I would maybe say Scandinavian social democracies are even closer but certainly the USA are closer than China to what the Federation is. Post capitalist, well that's good enough for me.

@Luke
1)
My point was that there is a potentially huge difference between a leftist utopia and a communist utopia. If you see Marx as the starting point for communism then socialism was around quite a bit longer. So while communism is leftist, not all leftist utopias are communist. One could also add that there are like 50+ versions of communism. From Stalinism to anarchic communism.

2)
"So.... in practice they had no protections. That really isn't helping your case here since the Federation is shown as having airtight protections."
Correct, effectively you had none if you were going against the grain. I mentioned it to show the ideals they were aspiring to. Not the reality that existed

3)
"See how that isn't an argument?"
I was just giving my opinion about Libertarianism. No argument here.

"Um.... so the USA doesn't do anything close to libertarianism while simultaneously being a libertarian nation? Methinks you have a contradiction in there somewhere."
Yes. That was my point. The most libertarian nation is the most warlike. I guess your point is that it is not really libertarian but as we both have pointed out: ideals vs reality. Same could be said about China and Communism. Russia and China should have never become communist countries in the first place if they had followed Marx. They just skipped the capitalistic phase which Marx believed to be essential for the development of a socialist and then communist society. China is now kind of trying to do the capitalistic phase but under communist rule, like Lenin wanted to with the NEP. It's all a mess. But for a political scientist like myself it is certainly interesting to watch.

4)
"Oh, so now intent doesn't matter. It mattered quite a bit when you were talking about ideals vs. practical reality in #1. Again, methinks you have a contradiction in there."
I don't understand in what way the wishes of somebody creating an engine has any influence on the values of a society that came into existence much later. I'm not questioning that some people are motivated by personal gain, if that is what you mean, even though in case of Cochrane that is really stupid. I would assume that you are already rich if you can build a space ship in the post apocalypse. So he build a ship to get rich, even though he must have been rich to build it??? God, the TNG movies are stupid!

"You mean like the guy who invented warp drive. He wasn't employed by the state."
I don't think there was a state back then.
And on a general note. Star Trek sometimes has this extremely simple notion about how scientific progress works. The one guy alone trope. I get why they do it that way. It's easier for the audience to comprehend and there is also this modern believe that being a genius is kind of like a super power which I can guarantee you is not true. For example building a warp capable space ship probably requires at least experts from 50 scientific fields. All in all probably thousands of highly skilled people. Same goes for the transporter or Data.

" I refer you back to #1 where I agreed that the Federation isn't capitalistic."
Well, if there are no poor, no homeless, everybody has a nice place to live, can get a great free education, full bellies, no economic exploitation, no stock market, no rich, no privately owned big companies, no corruption, free healthcare and lots of personal rights (+ several things I did not name). That's good enough for me.

"That's nice. Tell me, how many churches were built in Russia between 1917 and 1991."
They already had a lot in 1917. So it wasn't necessary to build any. I'm joking, of course.
Point is, there is leftist religious movements like liberation theology. So religion and leftism are not necessarily opponents.
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Sigh2000
Sat, Nov 13, 2021, 8:38pm (UTC -6)
Comparatively little is shown to us about the Federation. Post-capitalism seems to fit. Information being the core value would explain much about Starfleet: it being an armada of research vessels making contact with new species and incorporating the knowledge sets of the cultures encountered. Red-yellow-blue uniformed crews of a 24/7 x 365 days/ a year navy are drawn from a hundred planets to keep these explorations on-going. Information is harvested by the ships, while M-class planets are seeded with colonies (many of which seem dedicated to growing veggies). Private property clearly exists, and acquisition is allowed (e.g., Sisko's home construction plans) .

Intellectuals compete for grants and dart around the Alpha quadrant to attend scientific conferences. Visits to Risa are built into the post-conference itineraries of these luminaries, who are sure to pick up an authentic hand-crafted horg'ahn or two while enjoying the ministrations of skilled masseuses during extended stays. The latter are trained, one would imagine, at a thoroughly hygenic post-capitalist digital manipulation academy located on Argelius. A Starfleet-subsidized Uber or Lyft service shuttles the eager students back to Risa, although I've been told that Rigel IV once again became a destination for many, after word of Redjac's demise was circulated and tipping was re-introduced with the newly available gold-pressed latinum. . . . . : )
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Booming
Tue, Nov 16, 2021, 2:15pm (UTC -6)
Found a video to highlight my problem with the trope that a genius is an allscientist.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xD9N1DhCCdg&ab_channel=JonathanJones
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navamske
Fri, Feb 25, 2022, 5:57pm (UTC -6)
Near the end, when they were operating on Worf while wearing those costumes, I thought they looked like the sperm in Woody Allen's "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* *But Were Afraid to Ask."

It was uncanny how much that visting doctor looked like Hillary Clinton.
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Gaius Maximus
Thu, Mar 3, 2022, 3:11pm (UTC -6)
I'm very surprised at how many people seem to think that Crusher was acting unethically by not bringing Russell's treatment to Worf's attention. This clearly isn't just a risky procedure, it's an unapproved and unauthorized procedure. It has a 37% success rate in a totally controlled, simulated environment, and has been denied approval for human(oid) testing not just once, but three times! If it's unethical not to offer this to a patient, the same would apply to any form snake oil treatment anyone could come up with. "Well, the recommended form of treatment for your condition is a surgery with a long and difficult recovery time, but some people recommend wishing really hard on this magic rock and you'll be instantly cured. I'm ethically obligated to offer you this alternative." Ridiculous. From a 21st century perspective, I would have expected both Russell and Crusher to lose their jobs and medical licenses for performing such a procedure.
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Peter G.
Thu, Mar 3, 2022, 4:11pm (UTC -6)
@ Gaius Maximus,

I think the issue isn't Crusher failing to mention it at first, but declining to do so when she had a specialist on board, and when Worf was threatening suicide when Crusher's option was put forward as Worf's only choice. Outside of this context, yes, there's no reason Crusher should bring up an experimental treatment. But the context is the whole point of the episode: you are dealing with a Klingon who will die rather than do the safe treatment. The main thrust of the medical conflict is that Crusher won't accept Worf's position, and Picard finally convinces her that he's not just being emotional but is in fact correctly stating Klingon belief.
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Robert
Sun, Mar 6, 2022, 7:29pm (UTC -6)
I work in medical, and I loved this episode. However, it had a major flaw.

In the instance when Dr. Russell used an experimental treatment on the injured man and he died, she would not just be relieved of duty, she would probably have had her license suspended pending a medical board inquiry; and if the inquiry showed criminal negligence, she would be jailed. You can't use an experimental treatment that you've been "working with" unless it's been cleared for human(oid) trials and has a better chance of saving someone than conventional therapy. And to meet that requirement, you have to TRY conventional therapy first. Furthermore, such experiments can't be carried out without the knowledge of regulatory bodies, the doctor in charge of a ward, and the administration. In this case, that would be Dr. Crusher, Picard, and Starfleet Medical. Dr. Russell just went ahead and did it without talking to anybody in charge. Yeah, totally illegal, and a violation of what in today's world would be the Nuremberg code.

How was Dr. Russell able to travel to the Enterprsie via another starship with all her experimental equipment yet nobody knew, despite her being rejected for trials on humanoids 3 times prior? She was basically breaking the law on so many levels. Why travel with that equipment unless you intend on trying to use it? It doesn't matter if Worf said yes. It doesn't even matter if Dr. Crusher said yes. If the medical regulatory body says no, you can't do it.

It also doesn't matter that Worf survived and recovered. Dr. Russell would still be in trouble for breaking the law, not just medical ethics. Dr. Crusher would be seen as an accomplice to possible criminal negligence.

I realize this is sci-fi and I shouldn't be so nitpicky, but in the 90's they knew and understood medical ethics. They could have gone deeper with this, especially considering how it's supposed to be the 24th century and they have a way more advanced understanding of medicine than we do.
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Robert
Sun, Mar 6, 2022, 7:31pm (UTC -6)
P.S. The only times in the past 100 years when a doctor did experimental treatment, it worked, and then they got a Nobel prize or something, was when they experimented on THEMSELVES.
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Peter G.
Mon, Mar 7, 2022, 2:18am (UTC -6)
@ Robert,

"You can't use an experimental treatment that you've been "working with" unless it's been cleared for human(oid) trials and has a better chance of saving someone than conventional therapy. And to meet that requirement, you have to TRY conventional therapy first."

I think if you check again I think you'll see that Russell didn't use the experimental method without permission. The only thing she did without permission was tell Worf about it to let him decide. Trying the conventional therapy was exactly what Crusher and Russell were going to do, except that Worf said he'd rather die. Even right now on Earth I'm pretty sure that if you refuse to accept the conventional treatment the doctors are surely permitted to use riskier methods if that is your only remaining chance. And patients do also have the option to sign up for clinical trials for drugs or procedures that are not yet approved (although they would be approved for testing). That being said, you could just go to another country where the laws are different and have it done there if you run into red tape. And interestingly that leads to the next point:

"It doesn't even matter if Dr. Crusher said yes. If the medical regulatory body says no, you can't do it."

The episode isn't that interested in the legal side of things, however when Picard tells Crusher that she should consider allowing Worf to use the experimental method, that sounds to me like he's signing off on it if Crusher wants to go that route. In cases like this I suspect a Starship Captain has enormous discretion, including making decisions that are effectively law. If he okays a procedure it is ibso facto legal on his ship. If he's wrong he'll answer for it, but Dr. Russell wouldn't.
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Balok Face
Sat, May 21, 2022, 5:30pm (UTC -6)
Those walking bars in the last scene seemed like a relic from the 20th Century, but then again, they did have some sci-fi buttons on the side. Maybe that's how you apply the "Catch my Fall" settings (obviously set to zero in this scene).
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John
Sat, Dec 3, 2022, 8:18pm (UTC -6)
I want the episode where they raise an incident report, including the part where nobody secured a heavy load above head height.

You'd think in the future there would be some basic Occupational Health & Safety rules in place...
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William B
Sun, Dec 4, 2022, 12:15am (UTC -6)
They didn't show it but they did it, and Lieutenant O'Brien was busted down to Chief Pretty Officer over it.
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Peter G.
Sun, Dec 4, 2022, 12:37am (UTC -6)
"They didn't show it but they did it, and Lieutenant O'Brien was busted down to Chief Pretty Officer over it."

It was such a severe demotion that they erased all records of him having attended the academy and even convinced him that he enlisted as a soldier in the infantry. The infantry made him the man he is today. He was doing his part, are you? Join Starfleet security and save the world. Service guarantees citizenship. The Borg send another cube our way...but this time we're ready. Planetary defences are better than ever. Would you like to know more? ROUGHNECKS! ROUGHNECKS!
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William B
Sun, Dec 4, 2022, 3:02am (UTC -6)
They even put his months old daughter into a relativistic accelerator so that she would age several years and he would know he missed on some early years of her life.

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