Why Aren't the Bajorans Super Advanced?

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Why Aren't the Bajorans Super Advanced?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Wed Nov 29, 2017 5:26 pm

In the original Bajoran episode, we get this log entry from Picard as he looks over a Bajoran refugee camp :

Captain's log, supplemental. I read about the achievements of the ancient Bajoran civilization in my fifth grade reader... they were architects and artists and builders and philosophers, when humans were not yet standing erect. Now I see how history has rewarded them...


Now "when humans were not yet standing erect" is a somewhat vague term. The Smithsonian has the first evidence of upright ancestors at about 6 million years ago and "fully bipedal" about 1.9 million years ago.

So at a very minimum, Bajoran civilisation was flourishing about two million years ago. We also know from DS9 that Bajorans were building solar sail spacecraft around the mid fifteen hundreds, and even achieving interstellar travel with them.

Given that, why aren't Bajorans some ultra-advanced species in the TNG timeframe?

One possibility is that their civilisation has risen and fallen over time. Perhaps they build up to a certain level, then collapse, then build up again, then collapse, and so on in a never ending cycle.

That idea bothers me because there's no real reason why they should keep having their civilisation collapse like that. It's not a pattern anybody else seems to follow, and not one that anybody has ever mentioned as fitting the Bajorans.

So the only thing that really makes sense to me is that they just develop really, really slowly. In fact they go for vast periods of time without developing at all, it seems. Why might that be?

Well I got to thinking about the whole D'jarra thing. Accession establishes that the Bajorans long had this caste system in which everyone's jobs were basically hereditary. There were D'jarras for mentioned for artists, priests, soldiers, farmers, politicians. But what is not mentioned is any D'jarra for scientist, researcher, engineer, or anything like it.

So I wondered if perhaps this whole D'jarra thing had stifled their growth. Perhaps they achieved some low level civilisation 2 million years ago, something about like ancient Rome, say, and then when the caste system came along they just stayed there because there was nobody to do the research and improvement any more. Whatever research and progress did happen came about pretty much by accident, farmers coming up with better fertilisers, architects coming up with slight improvements to materials, but all without much of the cross-pollination of ideas that happens in our culture.

So it took them 2 million years to get to spaceflight, and then they were probably still tooling around in wooden solar sail craft when the Cardassians showed up in warships and conquered them all overnight.

Make sense?
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Re: Why Aren't the Bajorans Super Advanced?

Postby Varthikes » Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:21 pm

Makes sense. Especially with what Picard says in "Emissary" about factions renewing old grievances. There was probably a lot of tension and distrust between these castes.
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Re: Why Aren't the Bajorans Super Advanced?

Postby Teaos » Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:51 pm

Would they simply run out of natural resources over two million years? Even basic things like good quality rock and easy to access metals would get hard to find, and unless they had fairly good population management and replanting, population and deforestation would be an issue.
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Re: Why Aren't the Bajorans Super Advanced?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:23 am

Teaos wrote:Would they simply run out of natural resources over two million years? Even basic things like good quality rock and easy to access metals would get hard to find, and unless they had fairly good population management and replanting, population and deforestation would be an issue.

I guess it depends.

Wood is a renewable resource if you're sensible about how you use it, so that would never run out. Rock isn't, really, but rock is pretty plentiful and it does last an awful long time - there are plenty of rocks lying around that could be used in construction right now which were mined thousands of years ago. Hell, there are examples of Roman concrete lying around that is still in good condition today - which is something our own concrete couldn't do.

If they're at a low state of development then I see no reason they couldn't go for millions of years without running out of stuff.

The population boom we've had is mostly an anomaly, to my mind. We largely cured infant mortality but kept on having babies at an absurd rate for cultural and social/economic reasons. But you notice that in all the developed countries there's no population boom going on at all, and the worldwide population is expected to level off and start dropping as the world develops. So yeah, I can believe that a planet who did things better - or at least differently - is going to avoid what we're going through on that front. (Not that I buy into the overpopulation thing at all, but that's a different argument.)

Once they're spacefaring they're inevitably going to be using up resources, though. I know they built wooden sail ships, but getting those things off the planet still means 20th-century-level technology and science. But then once you're into space in a significant way there's a lot of resources to plunder up there. All the metals you could want, potentially cheap energy, etc.
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Re: Why Aren't the Bajorans Super Advanced?

Postby Mikey » Thu Nov 30, 2017 11:52 am

I can certainly see the caste system stifling development. In addition, Bajor is ruled in a de facto, if not nominal, way by a single world-encompassing religion that often uses its position to further its own hegemony. That is a tremendous antagonist to research and new trends of thought.
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Re: Why Aren't the Bajorans Super Advanced?

Postby Talondor » Fri Dec 01, 2017 7:15 am

Maybe you are taking the "standing erect" line too literal. Perhaps it is a metaphor for civilization itself.
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Re: Why Aren't the Bajorans Super Advanced?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Fri Dec 01, 2017 9:49 am

I don't really see how it could be taken any other way.
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Re: Why Aren't the Bajorans Super Advanced?

Postby Griffin » Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:19 am

Perhaps they meant the invention of viagra
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Re: Why Aren't the Bajorans Super Advanced?

Postby Nutso » Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:07 pm

Maybe they didn't have oil. Without oil, where would we be?
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Re: Why Aren't the Bajorans Super Advanced?

Postby Mikey » Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:44 pm

Nutso wrote:Maybe they didn't have oil. Without oil, where would we be?

Using solar, geomechanical, and small-pellet nuclear?
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Re: Why Aren't the Bajorans Super Advanced?

Postby McAvoy » Sat Dec 02, 2017 2:20 am

Graham Kennedy wrote:I don't really see how it could be taken any other way.


Honestly I think it was a turn of phrase. A poor one. Seems like he meant before Humans existed. So instead of millions of years but hundreds of thousands of years ago.

It also makes more sense because millions of years is a very long time and evolution can definitely take in effect over that period.

Hell for us we are seeing small differences between early humans and us.
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Re: Why Aren't the Bajorans Super Advanced?

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sat Dec 02, 2017 2:37 am

McAvoy wrote:
Graham Kennedy wrote:I don't really see how it could be taken any other way.


Honestly I think it was a turn of phrase. A poor one. Seems like he meant before Humans existed. So instead of millions of years but hundreds of thousands of years ago.

If it was said by somebody else, perhaps. But Picard is an Archeologist. That's really not the kind of mistake an archeologist would make.
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Re: Why Aren't the Bajorans Super Advanced?

Postby Coalition » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:30 am

You do have examples of cultures on Earth that never really advanced. The Australian aboriginal cultures developed fire, but nothing really beyond that.

Inuit culture developed kayaks, igloos, sleds, and other pieces of technology that were useful, but nothing much beyond that.


So the Bajorans could be similar where they advanced to a point (building solar sailor), then just 'chose' to regress. What would be fun to ask, is what convinced them to regress? Overall philosophical choice, or did someone from outside use a bit of memetic engineering?
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