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Star Trek: TNG question about the Prime Directive.....

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Star Trek: TNG question about the Prime Directive.....

Old 04-29-03, 01:19 AM
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Star Trek: TNG question about the Prime Directive.....

calling all Star Trek geeks. I need some input.

So I got this wild hare and I am going to watch all 7 seasons in order. I've got all the discs loaded up in my rental queue. Here's my question.

In the 1st season episode "Justice" they talk alot about the Prime Directive. They state how they couldn't interfere with a civilization and such. Well, from watching enough ST, I've kind of gathered what the Prime Directive is and it's purpose. Here's the problem I have. I always thought that one of the main caveats to the Prime Directive is not to interfere with any civilization that is pre-warp. Clearly, the Edonians (as I think they were called in the "Justice" episode) were pre-warp. I can't say for sure, as they did not show any of their technology, but when they took that female on board, she was amazed that she was on a starship and was frightened at the sight of her people's "God". So I guess my main question is, has the Prime Directive become more specified as it progressed to the later seasons of ST:TNG and the beginning of Voyager? Did they have the idea of the Prime Directive from the beginning but they evolved it gradually during the series?

Kind of a weird question, but it really bugged me after I watched the "Justice" episode.
Old 04-29-03, 01:33 AM
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I think, if I remember correctly, that ep was dealing with the fact that Picard was breaking the PD but he had to save Wesley's life (although he should have just let him die ) and to try and fix Data.. so he brought her on board because he didn't have any other choice.. but Picard was always pretty careful when it came to the Prime Directive..
Old 04-29-03, 01:41 AM
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Originally posted by PhYbEr
I think, if I remember correctly, that ep was dealing with the fact that Picard was breaking the PD but he had to save Wesley's life (although he should have just let him die ) and to try and fix Data.. so he brought her on board because he didn't have any other choice.. but Picard was always pretty careful when it came to the Prime Directive..

Yes, it was that episode. But that wasn't my main question. My question was in the later episodes, they would not make contact with a civilization unless they had warp capabilities. This civilization clearly did not. When/why did this change? That's my main question.
Old 04-29-03, 01:58 AM
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The rule is actually pretty simple, and goes something like this:

Never, EVER, EVER violate the Prime Directive ... unless it serves the plot.

At least in this instance, however, it could be argued that the Edo civilization has already been "contaminated" by the alien "God" that presides over their planet, and as such, the natural evolution of these people has already been altered. Also, the Prime Directive is a Starfleet thing, and Starfleet personel should be willing to die to uphold it; however, the introduction of families onto the ship and Wesley's status as an innocent civilian (combined with the complex relationship between Picard and Beverly and Jack Crusher) made it more difficult to simply let him die.

das

Last edited by das Monkey; 04-29-03 at 02:01 AM.
Old 04-29-03, 02:05 AM
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You guys still aren't answering my question, though.

Specifically, am I right or wrong in my assertion that part of the Prime Directive is to not interfere with pre-warp civilizations? If I am right, then was this only clarified later in the series, hoping that fans would forget episodes like "Justice"? Or was there always this "rule" and it is just a continuity error?
Old 04-29-03, 02:21 AM
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I'm not sure what you're asking. The Prime Directive (aka First Directive, aka First General Order, aka General Order #1) has always been simply not to interfere with the normal development of any culture or society. "Pre-warp" is a decent guideline, but it's not explicitly mentioned in Starfleet's General Orders to officers. Another guideline that isn't explicitly stated in the General Orders is that it's not a violation of the Prime Directive to attempt to restore a previous infraction. It was like this for the original series as well. It's not a "continuity error" for the reasons I already described. Picard knew that he wasn't supposed to mess with these people, but the fact that their civilization had already been significantly altered by another alien combined with the fact that non-interference would cost an innocent civilian (not a Starfleet officer) his life made the situation vague. Kirk was known to "bend" the Prime Directive as well in similar situations. Janeway, of course, blatantly defied all rules of humanity whenever she chose, and it's why every self-respecting Star Trek fan hates her with unyielding passion.

das
Old 04-29-03, 07:22 AM
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Originally posted by Deftones
You guys still aren't answering my question, though.

Specifically, am I right or wrong in my assertion that part of the Prime Directive is to not interfere with pre-warp civilizations? If I am right, then was this only clarified later in the series, hoping that fans would forget episodes like "Justice"? Or was there always this "rule" and it is just a continuity error?
As das said the directive is basically not to interfere with the development of pre-warp societies. They could go down and visit the planet like they did in Justice and not be in violation but to bring the woman to the Enterprise and to save Wesley, that was a violation. As your learn when viewing the rest of the episodes, the Prime Directive gets bent quite a number of times which is probably why Star Trek writers have never put it in print anywhere.
Old 04-29-03, 08:14 AM
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Originally posted by Deftones
You guys still aren't answering my question, though.

Specifically, am I right or wrong in my assertion that part of the Prime Directive is to not interfere with pre-warp civilizations? If I am right, then was this only clarified later in the series, hoping that fans would forget episodes like "Justice"? Or was there always this "rule" and it is just a continuity error?
You are right. The PD is not clarified later & this is not a continuity error. This is a VIOLATION of the PD.

This is basically what everyone is saying above, in round about terms.
Old 04-29-03, 08:47 AM
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Wait...the Prime Directive has nothing to do with "pre-warp" cultures. The rule of non-interference exists for any culture, regardless of their warp capabilities. Generally, though, first contact will be made with a species once they achieve warp capability, as it is assumed that sooner or later they will run into each other anyway. We naturally assume they will be open to dealings, making the Prime Directive kind of moot. But if the species decides they want nothing to do with the Federation, the Prime Directive is still intact. The Federation only involves itself with cultures which invite it to (or, as das said, when it serves the plot).
Old 04-29-03, 09:17 AM
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Originally posted by Numanoid
Wait...the Prime Directive has nothing to do with "pre-warp" cultures. The rule of non-interference exists for any culture, regardless of their warp capabilities.

Not 'any' culture. It is for any developing culture.
Old 04-29-03, 12:11 PM
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Originally posted by Red Dog
Not 'any' culture. It is for any developing culture.
But all culture is "developing". I too take that the prime directive is aimed at non-interference in all internal matters of other cultures.
Old 04-29-03, 12:19 PM
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I'm assuming that there must have been some clear indication of technology from the Edo or else it is a violation of the PD to even let that civilization know that there are other worlds and other people on them. This was always clear-cut in TOS (not to say Kirk didn't have a fair share of violations). When you get to the episode "Who Watches the Watchers" in TNG's third season, you see exactly what that means and how a culture can be contaminated...quite different from the free & easy attitude of "Justice"

Michael
Old 04-29-03, 12:21 PM
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Originally posted by sherm42
But all culture is "developing". I too take that the prime directive is aimed at non-interference in all internal matters of other cultures.

No - look at the episode Return of the Archons in TOS. Same thing with A Taste of Armaggedon.
Old 04-29-03, 12:39 PM
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It's possible that the writers didn't define the contact rules for pre-warp cultures very well until later seasons.

I can't believe that the Legorians (the black warrior race featured in Code of Honor, early season 1 -- Tasha battles the leader's wife in combat) were anything other than pre-warp... Yet there's the Federation, trying to engage in diplomacy with them...

Perhaps contact with both races was established some other way -- and the Federation just dealt with it as a given...

Or perhaps the writers just hadn't dealt with those issues yet.
Old 04-29-03, 12:57 PM
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Races like the Legorians and the Edo are fully aware that they're not alone in the Universe and have met many alien cultures prior to Picard's crew. As fiver points out, this is a very different situation from an episode like Who Watches the Watchers?.

As I already stated, General Order 1 doesn't explicitly say anything about "pre-warp." The point is not to interfere in developing cultures by introducing advanced knowledge/power/technology/whatever to a group that is incapable of handling such advancements wisely, i.e. attempts to integrate such advancements would irrevocably alter their cultural evolution. It can generally be assumed that a civilization that has achieved warp is enough on par with the Federation that the Prime Directive doesn't have any applicable value; however, that does not mean that pre-warp societies are incapable of social and/or technological interaction with humans.

In any case, this was all laid out in the original series, so I don't see how it could be a writing issue.

das
Old 04-29-03, 01:10 PM
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My guess is Berman/Braga will clear up any perceived Prime Directive discrepancies during Enterprise's run........









..........ok, maybe not
Old 04-29-03, 01:18 PM
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Originally posted by das Monkey
Races like the Legorians and the Edo are fully aware that they're not alone in the Universe and have met many alien cultures prior to Picard's crew. As fiver points out, this is a very different situation from an episode like Who Watches the Watchers?.

As I already stated, General Order 1 doesn't explicitly say anything about "pre-warp." The point is not to interfere in developing cultures by introducing advanced knowledge/power/technology/whatever to a group that is incapable of handling such advancements wisely, i.e. attempts to integrate such advancements would irrevocably alter their cultural evolution. It can generally be assumed that a civilization that has achieved warp is enough on par with the Federation that the Prime Directive doesn't have any applicable value; however, that does not mean that pre-warp societies are incapable of social and/or technological interaction with humans.

In any case, this was all laid out in the original series, so I don't see how it could be a writing issue.

das
Ah, but wasn't it in First Contact when the Vulcans made first contact, only because they saw Efram Cochran make the first successful warp test. They even said something along the lines of us being insignificant until they saw that. I know that's the Vulcans, but I am pretty sure i've heard it said about the pre-warp thing on Voyager and maybe TNG.
Old 04-29-03, 01:20 PM
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Originally posted by das Monkey
Races like the Legorians and the Edo are fully aware that they're not alone in the Universe and have met many alien cultures prior to Picard's crew.
It's odd for the series to treat this as a given for societies with no space travel themselves. This is an issue that would probably be mentioned in later episodes, with some reference to what the Federation or advanced societies are doing there... but it is blithely ignored in Season 1...

Last edited by adamblast; 04-29-03 at 01:24 PM.
Old 04-29-03, 01:29 PM
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But non-interference goes beyond technology issues and such. For example, in the season one episode Symbiosis, Picard lets a planet that is keeping another planet hooked on a powerful narcotic go on their way without telling the victims that they are being exploited. The rule goes beyond just sharing technology.
Old 04-29-03, 01:31 PM
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damn you all for the spoilers! j/k. I've seen alot of the episodes, so I'm not concerned about it. I know that the PD goes beyond just technology, but I thought it was the baseline on whether they make contact or not.
Old 04-29-03, 02:01 PM
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Quoth Deftones <HR SIZE=1>Ah, but wasn't it in First Contact when the Vulcans made first contact, only because they saw Efram Cochran make the first successful warp test. They even said something along the lines of us being insignificant until they saw that. I know that's the Vulcans, but I am pretty sure i've heard it said about the pre-warp thing on Voyager and maybe TNG. <HR SIZE=1>


Voyager isn't canon. Janeway butchered entire races for her own selfish motives. It's part of the B&B Universe, which isn't Trek.

Anyway, coming down from the soapbox, the Vulcans viewed Humans as an insignificant gnat in the galaxy. When they detected Cochrane's warp signature, it made them sit up and take notice that maybe we were interesting enough to talk to. It wasn't a case of them trying to avoid contaminating our society. It was a case of them just not being interested in wasting their time on us until we had piqued their interest. As such, it's not related to the Prime Directive.

das
Old 04-29-03, 09:26 PM
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the alien/god ship thing was also used later on as a base that the Ent. destroys when an alien race wipes their memories
Old 04-29-03, 10:36 PM
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Originally posted by das Monkey
Anyway, coming down from the soapbox, the Vulcans viewed Humans as an insignificant gnat in the galaxy. When they detected Cochrane's warp signature, it made them sit up and take notice that maybe we were interesting enough to talk to. It wasn't a case of them trying to avoid contaminating our society. It was a case of them just not being interested in wasting their time on us until we had piqued their interest. As such, it's not related to the Prime Directive.
You guys keep confusing First Contact protocols with The Prime Directive. The Prime Directive is a Federation rule...the Vulcans couldn't have been following it or not following it since the Federation did not yet exist. They were following their own rules for First Contact.

[full-on geek mode] According to the Star Trek Encyclopedia, the Prime Directive prohibits interference "in the normal development of any society". That should not be confused to be read as "developing societies"...the use of the phrase "any society" pretty much speaks for itself. [/full-on geek mode]
Old 04-29-03, 10:44 PM
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Why doesn't somebody email Wil Wheaton and ask him? I'm sure he'd love to field the question. Or not.

http://www.wilwheaton.net
Old 04-30-03, 09:10 AM
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Originally posted by das Monkey
...It's part of the B&B Universe, which isn't Trek...
Truer words...

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