Why Humans in Trek Are Exceptional: They’re Dumb & Lucky

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Humans, judging by the technology of the other members of not just Starfleet but the other alien species that Starfleet encounters, are playing a massive amount of catch up in the galactic scale. Yet somehow Earth ended up as the center of Starfleet even though our species is a new player in the game. How did that happen? Surely, Vulcans, Andorians and the other members of the Federation had ideas for alliances before Zefram Cochrane took a joyride on a warp engine? Why do humans have all the luck?

Exhibit A in this argument none other than James Tiberius Kirk, Captain of the Enterprise with a long history of rule-breaking behavior. Whether its reprogramming the Kobayashi Maru test to win the no-win situation, travelling back through time on multiple occasions to save the Federation, or even hijacking his old ship to save his best friend, you’d think that Kirk would be dead or worse a thousand times over. Yet he is lionized by future generations of Starfleet and even oddly respected by his enemies. Kirk is exceptionally lucky because a lot of the time the problems are caused by the dumb actions of his very human crew members who might, say, touch a disease victim with a bare hand. His luck cancelled out their dumb action and saved the day.


There are…various reasons why we love Wesley Crusher around here, but he’s also another great example of this principle. It doesn’t seem like a smart idea to put families on board an exploratory vessel, even if it has sweet saucer separation powers. But without Wesley, the Enterprise would have been destroyed long before the heroic powers of Commander Riker’s beard would have come into play. Or course, Wesley balances that out with some dumb moves of his own, but in his defense, the death penalty for stepping on someone’s garden is also an example of dumb non-human behavior.


Commander Sisko continues this trend by somehow being chosen as a central figure of the Bajoran religion…just as their region of space became important due to a stable wormhole. While Sisko isn’t as reckless as some other humans he still has moments when he does something that should have turns him into so much space dust. He punched Q, and thought it would be fun to time travel to see how things were back in Starfleet when Kirk was still young.

Humanity plays a big role in Starfleet, but one that we imagine causes non-humans a lot of headaches and awkward paperwork. We tend to go big or go home and for the most part, it’s worked out. There will be a day where our luck will run out and that will be a true test of our willpower, ambition what we’ve learned in the stars. But, until then, hold our Romulan Ale as we attempt to plug a warp core into another warp core just to see what happens.

What do you think? Is humanity part of Starfleet because of dumb luck? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to tune into our Star Trek RPG show, Shield of Tomorrow on Geek & Sundry Twitch and Alpha every Friday starting at 4 PM PT, followed by our aftershow on Alpha, Behind The Shield, where the crew discuss the episode and debate topics like this one.

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Feature Credit: Paramount

Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He writes about kaiju, Jedi, gangsters, elves and is a writer for the Star Trek Adventures RPG line. His blog is here, where he is currently reviewing classic Star Wars RPG adventures. His Twitter is here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.