In episode 9 of season 6:'The voyager conspiracy' of Startrek Voyager, Seven of nine downloads too much information into her system through her alcove, 'learn while you sleep' and finds herself waking up with newfound insights due to links her brain makes between all the new bits of information.
At first this seems useful as she discovers connections between the spices Neelix bought a few months back and the power conduits losing their resolution.
In short: It appears the spices contained larvae of Photonic fleas that, when hatched, flew out into the nearest sensor grid that was open due to repairs Ensign Kim was making. The mating pair of photonic fleas and their offspring were since then feeding on the plasma particles in the conduits. Hence the power conduits losing their resolution. And hurrah! they are then able to correct it.
But the next night she downloads even more information and her brain starts seeing connections between random facts and starts spinning conspiracy theories while she tries to make sense of it all.
She then ends up having two different conspiracy theories backed up by the same facts.
Now what does that tell us?
As Tuvoc says, she uses circumstantial evidence to build her case(s).
And the fact that the same facts can be used to back up two entirely different theories proofs that these facts are nothing else then circumstantial evidence.
The conspiracy theories are just that, theories and suspicions without real proof.
"That is a logical, though highly speculative analysis." is all Tuvoc has to say about that.
Meaning: Could be true, could not be true...
Another one of his sayings:
'Speculation is not evidence.'
When Seven of nine asks commander Chakotay to meet her in the astrometric lab to tell him her suspicions that Captain Janeway stranded the Voyagers crew in the Delta quadrant on purpose and shows him her 'evidence' for it, he says:
'Conjecture!' Meaning:an opinion or conclusion on the basis of incomplete information.( Oxford dictionary)
She answers with:
Meaning: The action of estimating or concluding something by assuming that existing trends will continue or a current method will remain applicable.
Or in Mathematics: The extension of a graph, curve, or range of values by inferring unknown values from trends in the known data. (Oxford dictionary)
So they don't agree on what is valid evidence.
What do you think makes valid evidence?
The discusion continues and ends with Chakotay saying:
'You've uncovered some interesting facts, but your interpretation is farfetched. These are random incidents. Granted, some of them are hard to explain, but there's no conspiracy here.'
The next morning after downloading even more information Seven of nine comes to a different theory and she calls captain Janeway to the astrometric lab to tell her about the Maquis deceiving her under guidance of Commander Chakotay. Janeway's reply is: circumstantial evidence, not proof!'
At the end of this wonderfully clarifying episode Seven of nine gets paranoia because she sees too many links everywhere and her mind can not stop to try and make sense of it. Captain Janeway has to come to the rescue by reminding her how she has never betrayed her trust and of all the good things that have happened between her and Seven of nine, that have led to Seven growing as a human being. Seven then comes back down from up in her head to her heart and stops feeling paranoid.
With all the conspiracy theories going around about the lockdown due to Corona virus, I wanted to use the story told in this episode of this amazing series to illustrate these highly important principles of circumstantial evidence, conjecture and extrapolation. I wanted to start you thinking on what makes for valid evidence, with the knowledge of these principles.
I do not mean to say that none of the conspiracy theories out there hold truth. I don't know. Like Tuvoc said 'Speculation is not evidence' So I leave it open, though some I dismiss as too far fetched.
Personally I prefer lists with facts that I can base my own conclusions on. That is a safe way to go.
Have I got you thinking?
If so, care to share?
(Picture found on: https://www.themarysue.com/what-we-can-learn-from-star-trek-women/)