Scott Lohman - Star Trek and Humanism
Posted: 31 May 2011 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Host: Robert Price

Do you often wish you lived in the far future? Or on a different planet? Do your friends and family think you belong there, too?

Cheer up! This may not be just because you’re a science fiction nerd! It may be because you espouse a worldview that is in the distinct minority in our time and place—Secular Humanism! It is a vision of a better future. And that is no doubt why many of us feel such an affinity for SF, and of course for Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. It is a vision of a future when scientific Humanism has prevailed.

Join Robert Price, himself a notorious Sci-Fi/Fantasy geek, as he interviews the far more respectable Scott Lohman, a lifelong Trekker and a prominent leader and broadcaster for Humanists of Minnesota.

And by the way, did you know Captain Kirk never once said the words “Beam me up, Scottie”?

http://www.pointofinquiry.org/scott_lohman_star_trek_and_humanism/

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Posted: 02 June 2011 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Look, I love Star Trek, I love Roddenberry and I love that the future he envisioned didn’t include religion or belief in the supernatural. But the vast majority of this discussion had nothing to do with that intersection and more to do with science fiction goofiness like the invention of the Klingon language and unrelated aspects of sci-fi analogies and predictions regarding racism and “world government.” A very disappointing episode.

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Posted: 03 June 2011 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Since my previous comment on an earlier episode was fairly critical, I feel I need to note that I felt this interview seemed fairly well done with regards to the back and forth.  I also don’t have as many complaints on the content as Sarcen…sure I would have enjoyed more discussion specific to the intersection with humanism, but I’m equally satisfied with the content that was there.  Perhaps I’m showing my bias as one that admires and enjoys the Star Trek universe, but I also recognize that most of the better interviews are not scripted and should be allowed to just flow naturally.

Hopefully the elements of humanism in the discussion might entice someone that has not watched any of the series to go back and watch some of it so that they might find something they enjoy, either as an example of a fictionalized realization of humanism or merely as a fun and thought-provoking example of the art of video.

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Posted: 04 June 2011 09:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I found this episode disappointing as well. I would have liked to hear a more detailed discussion of what a humanistic society could look like, based on examples from science fiction. For example, Stargate SG-1 hinted at the existence of this kind of society in its portrayal of the Tollans:

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v673/advancedatheist/?action=view&current=BEFOREREASONANDSCIENCE.mp4

Given how the human mind responds so strongly to stories as ways of understanding the world, humanists need to take more of the initiative in using story to show the advantages of the humanist world view. Ironically the emergence of Ayn Rand’s world view as an alternative humanism shows the power of bad novels which push the right buttons. Where do we see Rand’s humanist competitors?

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"There was a time before reason and science when my ancestors believed in all manner of nonsense." Narim on Stargate SG-1.

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Posted: 04 June 2011 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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AdvancedAtheist - 04 June 2011 09:47 AM

I found this episode disappointing as well.

Where do we see Rand’s humanist competitors?

Definitely a shallow episode.

Try: http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Voyage_from_Yesteryear-1685344-198567-Politics_of_Anarchy_in_Outer_Space.html

psik

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Posted: 04 June 2011 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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psikeyhackr - 04 June 2011 10:09 AM

Definitely a shallow episode.

Try: http://www.lunch.com/reviews/book/UserReview-Voyage_from_Yesteryear-1685344-198567-Politics_of_Anarchy_in_Outer_Space.html

psik

Too bad Hogan fell into woo in his last years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_P._Hogan_(writer)#Controversy

Gregory S. Paul might argue that people in most developed democratic societies come closer to living the humanist dream than Americans. I don’t think the lives of ordinary Canadians, Swedes, Japanese or Australians would impress Americans as particularly futuristic, however.

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"There was a time before reason and science when my ancestors believed in all manner of nonsense." Narim on Stargate SG-1.

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Posted: 04 June 2011 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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AdvancedAtheist - 04 June 2011 10:25 AM

Gregory S. Paul might argue that people in most developed democratic societies come closer to living the humanist dream than Americans. I don’t think the lives of ordinary Canadians, Swedes, Japanese or Australians would impress Americans as particularly futuristic, however.

I think we let the mediots (media idiots) try to tell us what the future should be like too much.

The media doesn’t give a damn about the future they just want to brainwash us to make a buck today.  I didn’t notice at the time but we seem to have been stagnating in every way except technologically since about 1970 and we probably aren’t doing things with technology that we could be.

Why make a bigger deal of spreadsheets on computers than accounting when double-entry accounting is 700 years old?  That is kind of funny.

http://www.bsu.edu/news/article/0,1370,-1019-11714,00.html

One would almost think that worthwhile knowledge that could impart power to each individual is not being distributed.  Wouldn’t humanism mean empowering people?

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Posted: 04 June 2011 05:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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So, how does a typical day go in a humanistic, science-fictional society in “the future”? Do you wake up in the morning in a bed with more than one other adult lover or spouse because people commonly live polyamorously, as some characters do in Caprica? Do you even need to sleep in the first place? Does your body age the way it does now? Do you have physical or cognitive enhancements, either through technology, biological modifications or new mental disciplines? (In pre-Gutenberg times, just learning to read turned you into that society’s version of a mentat.) Do people normally have the physiques of athletes?

In other words, what examples can you point to in science fiction and other genres which engage the imagination and the senses to drop you into the middle of a humanistically actualized world?

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"There was a time before reason and science when my ancestors believed in all manner of nonsense." Narim on Stargate SG-1.

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Posted: 05 June 2011 07:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I watched every episode of the original Star Trek and saw two or three of the movies. Never having cable, I let it go at that. Lots of fun.
  Perhaps when a generation that sought wisdom in the lyrics of rock songs finds it in science fiction, I should call that a step in the right direction. But when they can toy with the idea that World Government, let alone the U. N., is a good thing, I want to go back in a dark room and hold my head and moan.
  Star Trek was popular culture first, science fiction second, and futurism third. I’m not that impressed by the record of futurism, forget the other two. Most impressive of examples I’ve seen were a final chapter in an 1870 paean to progress tome and a bizarre “Vision of the Year 2000” in my small town newspaper in 1838. Even so, the later could predict a robot that could saw wood with a crosscut saw, but could not foresee a chain saw. Quite telling. It did predict “uncouth” people in “ludicrous” clothing and that does impress me. Futurists and science fiction dreamers do best, umm less badly, with technology, worst with social and cultural consequences and changes.
  All very nice, but I’d like Point to drift back to more solid ground. Baby boomers are all but paralyzed with self absorption and liberals are consumed by conceit and I’m afraid they are taking Point down with them. And by the way, evangelism is one of the more discomforting behaviors of the religious. God help us when atheists follow suit.

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Posted: 05 June 2011 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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rg21 - 05 June 2011 07:45 AM

Star Trek was popular culture first, science fiction second, and futurism third.

Exactly!

psik

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Posted: 05 June 2011 09:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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psikeyhackr - 05 June 2011 12:38 PM
rg21 - 05 June 2011 07:45 AM

Star Trek was popular culture first, science fiction second, and futurism third.

Exactly!

psik

It was also humanism.  Gene injected a lot more humanism into the show than people realize.

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Posted: 08 June 2011 02:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Mriana - 05 June 2011 09:00 PM

It was also humanism.  Gene injected a lot more humanism into the show than people realize.

Humanism was practically the default perspective of science fiction before Star Trek appeared in 1966.

Do you know of anything Roddenberry said about his sci-fi reading before creating Star Trek?

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Posted: 09 June 2011 04:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I was born in 1990, so I’m not in the generation where I can “remember” things from 1977. I enjoyed the episode, but it was one of my least favorites Point of Inquiry has ever done. I’ve always loved sci-fi, but I wish this episode was truly about humanism and sci-fi and even maybe fantasy too, and more on the topics only skeptics or at least especially skeptics would be interested in, like atheism and/or humanism and like other commenters have mentioned, less about Geeking out essentially. XD I enjoyed the episode but a bit of it went over my head and ultimately it did sort of fall short and disappoint me. ;) I loved the new Star Trek movie btw and that’s the only experience I have with the fandom. :P

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