Main Straw Vulcan Discussion

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10:00:13 PM Sep 4th 2017
with the phantasy star series the newman are the most intelligent organic species and yet the most religious is this a subversion or a different trope
08:51:27 PM Jul 22nd 2017
I feel as if the case in Star Trek TOS's "The Galileo Seven" is more complex than it's given credit for, and isn't as much a "Straw Vulcan" as it is a full analysis of the conflict between logic and emotion. If you think about it, the crew that Spock has under his command, especially Dr. Mc Coy, aren't portrayed as behaving well. Spock himself is primarily responsible for saving the men under his command, and without him, everyone on the mission would have died. What's more, he's only able to do so because he behaves more logically than his crew would prefer. Their outrage at his logic is a result not of it being an inferior course of action, but of the fact that his apparent lack of emotion, particularly regarding the casualties suffered, is inherently disturbing to them. To them, it seems as if Spock is behaving mechanically, with no regard for human life. In reality, however, Spock is making the hard call, a call that none of them are capable of.

It's also worth noting that the crew's behavior is fairly mixed. Scotty, being an engineer, is mostly concerned with the task he is given: getting the shuttle to escape velocity. However, other members of the crew are not so level-headed, and their behavior ranges from distrusting to outright insubordinate, even though the decisions they take issue with are made to ensure them the best chance of survival. The reality is that Spock makes (mostly) the correct decisions, and yet the crewmen he commands lash out against him because they can't stomach the hard calls as well as he can.

As for the "mistake" Spock makes in his plan to frighten the native species away with warning shots, it should be noted that, not only was there no better option available, but the crew's reproach for him after its failure is outright hypocritical—the retaliation they proposed would have likely angered the natives just as much, if not far more so. Spock falters afterwards not exactly because his logic failed, but rather, I think, because of the stress of command. He made the best decisions available to him, given the circumstances, yet he lost two of the crewmen under his command. While prior, it was the crew who were struggling with the cruel reality of their situation, in this scene extends the struggle to Spock, as he is faced with one of the realities of command: even if you do everything right, you will still take losses.

Still, emotion isn't portrayed as completely detrimental: just before the escape, Spock is saved by purely emotional behavior from his crew, who risked not only their lives, but also in a move that jeopardized any chance they had of successfully catching the Enterprise to make contact with her. Emotion saved his life, taking a chance that logical analysis would deem far too great a risk to take. The risk, however, payed off.

Lastly, as to Spock's gambit at the end of the episode, it's essentially implied that emotion and logic, under some circumstances, coincide directly. Acts of desperation are generally made under circumstances wherein careful consideration and decision making are simply non-options. Spock's gambit was the only logical thing to do, but it wasn't a move made out of logic. Logic takes time, and he didn't have that. The only logical option was to let emotion take over, and that's what he did. If he had taken the time to reason through it, he would have come to the same conclusion, only it would have been too late. Therefore, both Spock and his human compatriots were correct: the action was both logically justified and emotionally undertaken.

Altogether, the episode is a great dissection of logic and emotion, displaying cases of conflict, harmony, and independence between the two. Sometimes, logic dictates a superior course of action to what emotion offers. Sometimes emotions defy logical analyses and actions because they cannot reconcile the realities that logic puts forth. Every now and again, emotion and instinct actually succeed at something which logical analysis would declare too great a risk. Most importantly, though, the episode shows how logic and emotion can work together to succeed when either one on its own would fail. The analysis provided for the episode in the examples tab seems to ignore most of this, and, crucially, misinterprets the episode's meaning. I suspect the analysis errs because it follows what the characters say rather than what the story shows, and, in this episode, those are two very different things.
04:28:31 PM Jan 6th 2017
I feel like this trope is trying to prove a point in a much longer argument. It's worded like a short essay.
01:47:26 AM Feb 13th 2015
Would it be too natter-y or blunt to re-emphasize the 'straw' part of this? I've noticed a LOT of misuse of this trope where The Spock would be more appropriate. If it's not being used to emphasize a moral about the value of emotion vs. "pure" reason, it's just a Vulcan, not a straw Vulcan. It's just the same way that portraying a character having an opinion is just portraying a man, not a straw man. (Well, assuming said character is a man.)
05:30:54 AM Jun 24th 2013
With regards to the "saving someone you love" example: That's not really true. There's no logical reason to place one human life as more valuable than others simply because you have a closer relationship to them. Besides, that assumes that helping others is good, which is actually an emotional principle, not a logical one. Logic is simply a method of determining facts, it has nothing to do with coming up with solutions, unless you are using it to achieve a desire or compulsion (i. e., an emotion).
01:47:44 PM Jul 23rd 2013
Since noone replied I'm deleting.
12:43:41 PM Aug 5th 2011
edited by 42
I feel like this page could do with a distinction between logic and reasoning. The page talks about "logic" as if it were just careful or rigorous reasoning, which may cause confusion because logic often refers to formal systems of reasoning/deduction.

This would help clear up a lot of confusion, for example, here:

"The story assumes that anything which doesn't fit a particular mathematical model of logic isn't 'logical'.

For instance, assuming that 'logic' means 'using syllogisms'. Even speculation and testing hypotheses can then be called 'illogical', despite being the foundation of modern science. Heck, even logicians don't use syllogisms all the time."

Actual logicians are concerned with the study of study of correct reasoning — drawing inferences (almost always deductive inferences, ones that must be true given the premises), distinguishing valid arguments from invalid ones, making one's way from assumptions to their (immediately implied) consequences.

Logicians in general not concerned with inductive reasoning, i.e. reasoning about what is probably true, given certain assumptions or premises.

I understand that in colloquial use the term "logic" basically does refer to something like "informal logic" or "rigorous reasoning", however, I feel that for the purposes of this article, it would make it much more clear and accurate to make the distinction.

When Spock says “logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” — this isn't a truth of logic. It might be a truth of ethics, or it might "stand to reason" that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, but its not a truth of formal logic in the way that "Either something is the case, or something is not the case, but not both", which is a truth of logic. So I can see how the term is used much more loosely.

07:13:34 AM Jun 11th 2011
Is there a trope where the character is overly logical, but not used as a strawman?
07:22:14 AM Jun 11th 2011
Nevermind, it's The Spock.
07:07:14 PM Jan 5th 2011
Are the Vulcans of Star Trek the trope namers for Straw Vulcan?
12:39:24 PM Apr 30th 2011
What he said. Are they the Trope Namer?
04:38:44 PM Aug 27th 2012
Definitely. "Vulcans" were INVENTED in Star Trek, and Spock was used as this trope from time to time.
10:49:27 PM Dec 5th 2010
T He last line in the examples is a short sentence and a link to a long article that seems to have nothing to do with this page. I'm gonns go ahead and delete it.
03:33:17 AM Sep 21st 2010
Removed, because it does not seem to be an example of the trope.
01:03:07 PM May 29th 2010
Hume wasn't saying emotion was a better guide than reason, he was saying that to use reason you must already have a want, which can only be the work of emotion.
04:40:49 PM Aug 27th 2012
Exactly. Logical automatons have no intrinsic motivations, so they only follow orders.
04:47:43 PM Aug 27th 2012
edited by Carracosta
A straight use of this trope is a super-logical person who makes terrible decisions out of carelessness and, well, bad logic. I suppose a direct Deconstruction of this trope would be a character who's perfectly logical (but not uncaring) who makes actually pretty good decisions, including some choices nobody else thought of. It would be someone who proves that logic is better than emotions in making decisions.
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