Friday, June 06, 2008

Does the Prime Directive apply here

There are still tribes of Native Americans who do not have contact with the modern world. Should they be told about medicine, sanitation, and agriculture? What about electricity, cars, and Justin Timberlake? Or should everyone avoid contact with them so that their culture can be preserved?

I think that it should be up to the tribe members themselves on whether or not they want anything to do with the outside world. Of course, for them to make that choice they would have to be contacted. It is unfair to them to be denied the very knowledge of all the comforts and conviences that we enjoy. Even after these people learn about modern ways of life, they might decide (and should be allowed to decide) to continue on as they are, just as Amish freely choose to do without cars and I freely choose to do without an iPod.

Suppose the federal government decided to preserve Fort Wayne's way of life and sealed us off in a dome. While the rest of the world gets holodecks, hovercars, and the cure for cancer, everything here stays the same.

Ultimately, a culture cannot be "preserved". Cultures are dynamic, not static. Cultures are enriched by interactions with other cultures. Why insist that one particular culture shouldn't be similiarly enriched?


  1. Robert,

    I cant believe I am doing this; but as an avid Trekkie, I must stipulate that indeed the Prime Directive always applies in principle and should be used as a guide for infiltrating cultures that have not achieved certain capabilities, or for that matter certain immunities to modern era diseases.

    Before we or any government allows for a crash or forced modern assimilation of any culture there should be a anthropological assessment and cultural preservation record done. This will also assist in the communication with the native people until we manage to develop a universal translator. The people of Brazil through their government have asserted both an environmental and cultural studies concern over peoples within their jurisdiction and how another government (Peru) is trying to assert they dont exist.

    It is almost as absurd as when the President of Iran said that no gay people exist in the country but yet they whipped and hung two teenagers for just being gay, not for sex, a couple years ago.

    Both are unquestionably reprehensible and the government of Brazil was doing what it could to invalidate the claim of another government over the native people within its jurisdiction just for oil profits.

  2. Since no society on Earth has developed warp drive, what technological or socialogical benchmarks do you think should be in place before First Contact is intiated? Keep in mind that they may not reach those benchmark if they do not have the matierial resources required. The reason why Europeans and Asians advanced faster than other continents is because they had access to horses.

    They may never even reach a basic benchmark such as reading and writing without outside help. Only one culture has ever developed an alphabet on its own.

  3. “Suppose the Federal government decided to preserve Fort Wayne’s way of life…”
    Before that happens, I want OUT of the dome. I live among the NASCAR fans and guys wearing too-tight IU sweatshirts because they down too many wings and pitchers of beer, but that doesn’t mean I like it.

  4. I was surprised that no one protested that you called an Amazonian tribe Native Americans, but that is what they are. I read someplace that some other inhabitants of our hemisphere object to people from the United States calling themselves Americans since they are Americans too by virtue of the fact that Amerigo Vespucci managed to get an entire hemisphere named after himself. Not bad, considering the best his boss could do was to get Colombia named after him. I still haven't quite figured out why we are not the United States of Vespucci.

  5. fozy bear,

    Technically speaking, if those two were the only gay people in Iran, then it is correct to say that no gays exist there. Immoral perhaps, but not dishonest. Now if he says no gays ever existed in Iran, then he is a damned liar.