And while Spock is mocked for his cool, dispassionate presentation of his thoughts, I’ve come to realize that this attitude is exactly what you want from a scientist during a crisis, whether it’s a massive oil spill or a long-term threat like climate change.
What people miss even more about Spock is that, beneath it all, he is one of the most emotional and passionate characters on the program. He just gets all worked up about things people often take for granted or think are not worthy of strong emotion.
Even he doesn’t recognize it: In the episode “This Side of Paradise” Spock says, “Emotions are alien to me. I am a scientist”.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Spock is more passionate about science than Dr. McCoy is about medicine or Mr. Scott is about the Enterprise. Watch any episode and you can see Spock’s intensity when he investigates whether there is life on a planet or if the Enterprise will explode. The deal is: Spock is passionate about doing science, but — and perhaps this is where the disconnect occurs — dispassionate about presenting what the data tell him.
As an oil spill scientist involved in many aspects of the release of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the ongoing recovery and research, I read quotes from really good scientists who are known to be passionate about what they do, but who became passionate to the point of sounding ridiculous when they presented their views.
Spock would have never acted like that.
I lost my cool when speaking to reporters who just wanted someone to give voice to the most dire sound bite possible. And I made so many mistakes in the logic of my scientific approach; so many missed opportunities. I was lost in the fog of war. There is no fog in Spock. Whether observing some strange new world around him or analyzing complicating or conflicting data, he keeps his cool, keeps searching for some grain of objective truth that will (inevitably, because each show was only an hour long) crystallize out of the confusion.