One of the things that keeps me from throwing in the blogging towel in an era when climate change denial seems to be a prerequisite for membership in the party of Abraham Lincoln is the quality of the comments I get. The praise is nice, the thoughtful exploration of the ideas I introduce is better, but what I really enjoy are the snarky swipes at my character by those who can’t come up with anything more cogent to post than a dismissive reference to Star Trek. See here for a typical example,
The first thing that occurred to me when such comments began to appear — almost immediately after I adopted the current name for the blog — was that it’s a bit ironic that anyone who is familiar enough with the Star Trek lexicon to recognize the origin of the phrase “Class M” would try to insult me for being a Star Trek fan.
The second thing is that it’s symptomatic of those who just aren’t willing to go where the evidence leads. When all else fails, post some irrelevant ad hominem attack. Thanks, you’ve just reinforced the meme that global warming pseudoskeptics are idiots.
On the other hand, it is regrettable that there seems to be a whole slice of the demographic pie that doesn’t understand the contribution Trek has made to modern culture. You may have heard Nichelle Nichols’ tale of how Martin Luther King Jr. convinced her not to give up playing Uhura by pointing out how important it was for African American youth see one of their own playing an officer on the bridge of the Enterprise each week. But that’s just one example.
This week Natalie Angier has a piece in the New York Times that uses the occasion of Natalie Portman’s Oscar win to delve into the world of scientifically minded celebrities. She writes:
Leonard Nimoy, who played the most famous TV scientist of all time, Mr. Spock, came from an arts and theater background and in real life is nothing like his character. Yet he told me that because Mr. Spock and “Star Trek” have inspired so many young viewers to become scientists, researchers who meet him are always desperate to give him lab tours and explain the projects they’re pursuing in peer-to-peer terms. Mr. Nimoy nods sagely and intones to each one, “Well, it certainly looks like you’re headed in the right direction.”
Star Trek got me interested in science fiction. Science fiction got me interested in science, science got me interested in ecology, and climatology is the logical next step.
As for “Class M,” it was a remarkably prescient idea. In the 1960s, most science fiction envisioned planets more or less like Earth. By inventing a term that implied a whole spectrum of conditions, and planting our world right in the middle, creator Gene Roddenberry was acknowledging that there is no reason why every planet had to be like ours. The implication is that there is no guarantee Earth will always be Class M, either.
If you find this sort of thing silly, that’s fine. There are plenty of other blogs out there.