Posted by: movieotaku | May 9, 2007

Evolution According to Star Trek

There was an extremely painful episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called “Genesis”. Written by Brannon Braga, this episode showed just how ignorant the Trek producers are about basic science. Captain Picard returns from somewhere to find his crew devolving into their more “primitive forms”. You know you’ve got someone without a clue when a cat devolves to an iguana. The eventual explanation is even hokier: some modified T-cells given to Lt. Barclay by Dr. Crusher caused a runaway virus that devolved the crew.OK, once might be enough, but Brannon hadn’t finished with this story idea. Later on Star Trek: Voyager, Brannon does this again with an episode where Tom Paris and Janeway devolve1 into newts. Vaguely more believable, as amphibians are considered to be the precursor form of land vertebrates, but our biology just doesn’t work that way. You can’t trigger genes in a grown adult and make them express themselves totally. If it was that easy to introduce a new gene and have it express itself, we would have cures for cystic fibrosis and a host of other genetic diseases right now. Once a cell has specialized itself, introducing new genes or forcing the expression of existing genes would cause havoc with your immune system as well as your existing body chemistry. This is bad science all around.

1 Kyle Creasey pointed out that the episode claimed they evolved into those newts like creatures.



  1. “Are we not men?
    We are Devo”

  2. The “evolution into newts” was explained to be because Paris and Janeway’s evolution was sped up that they evolved to the peak of Human evolution and then past into the degradation of evolution where the amphibian genes take over.

  3. Oops, I forgot to post a link to the Memory Alpha Wiki to the episode:

  4. The Voyager epsiode was even stupider than the TNG one, since it involved the “evolution” of an individual and suggested that evolution has a certain “goal,” irrespective of an organism’s environment.

    Being a large salamander would not seem to be an evolutionary advantage on board a spaceship designed to be operated by humanoids.

  5. It may be an evolutionary advantage to be a mindless newt existing in such a plot.


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