Captain Kirk’s Predecessor: Star Trek Was RAND Corporation Predictive Programming
Posted by Xeno on January 21, 2013
In a rare and recently unearthed interview from 1965, the actor who preceded William Shatner as first captain of the Enterprise, stated that the series was based on the RAND Corporation’s “projection of things to come”.
Actor Jeffrey Hunter, who played captain Christopher Pike in the Star Trek pilot “The Cage” told a Hollywood columnist in January of ’65 that he hoped the pilot-episode would be picked up as a series because he was intrigued by the fact that the series was based on the RAND corporation’s “projection of things to come.”
“We should know within several weeks whether the show has been sold.”, Hunter stated almost half a century ago.
“It will be an hour long, in color, with a regular cast of a half-dozen or so and an important guest star each week.”, he stated hopefully.
“The things that intrigues me the most”, Hunter said, “is that it is actually based on the Rand Corporation’s projection of things to come. Except for the fictional characters, it will be like getting a look into the future and some of the predictions will surely come true in our lifetime.”
Trekweb, the first Star Trek website ever to appear on the internet, republished part of the recently discovered interview with Hunter in the context of celebrations around the historic pilot-episode- considered by many “Trekkies” to be the blueprint of the entire Star Trek project. As Trekweb notes, the character of Captain Pike “remains a popular character with Trek fans.”
According to one Star Trek-dedicated website, the involvement of the RAND corporation in the series was limited to “technical advice” by RAND researcher Harvey P. Lynn Jr. As Trekplace points out, Lynn “provided Star Trek’s original series creator Gene Roddenberry with scientific and technical advice during preproduction of the series.”
According to Lynn’s son (Harvey P. Lynn Jr. died in 1987) in response to a question from Trekplace’s Greg Tyler in 2002, his father “worked at RAND as a liaison Officer between RAND and Project Airforce.”
In RAND’s own FAQ the question whether a RAND researcher designed the initial bridge of the Enterprise, is irritatingly anwered with the statement that Harvey Lynn was indeed “consulted, but as a private citizen, not as part of a RAND project.”
This is clearly at odds with the spontaneous statement made by Hunter, namely that the entire Star Trek series was based on RAND’s “projection of things to come”. Furthermore, a 2002 MSNBC article (Cached version) titled Is Star Trek in our future? noted that Lynn was not merely consulting on the pilot episode of the series, but was intimately involved in the creation of several aspects of Star Trek which have become part of our cultural nomenclature. The article also expands on the relationship between the series creator Gene Roddenberry and “Liaison officer” Harvey P. Lynn Jr:
“Lynn, it turns out, was an invaluable resource. He had been referred to Gene through Colonel Donald I. Prickett, an old Air Force buddy from his days as a pilot during World War II. “I am going to forward a copy of Star Trek to a physicist at Rand,” Prickett wrote Gene after he had read an early summary of the series. “He’s a retired AF type and I can count on him to keep it to himself – he is a creative, scientific thinker and will appreciate your concepts.”
Despite of RAND’s own statement that Lynn was consulted as a “private citizen”, the article goes on to say that “At first Lynn worked informally on the series. Later he was paid a whopping $50 per show for the use of his brain and expertise. He contributed indispensable insights that helped shape ideas like the ship’s computer (he suggested that it talk, in a woman’s voice), the sickbay (he suggested that beds be outfitted with “electrical pickups” that monitor the body) and teleportation.” …
As to predictive programming being some kind of evil plot, who cares? Great ideas have ways of becoming reality, but RAND did not invent the ideals in Star Trek of exploration, a peaceful unified world, elimination of money, treating alien life with respect, and so on. If some ideas in Star Trek were planted by think tanks to help us move in a better direction, good! People need inspiration to get off of their fat couches and evolve.