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Author Topic: "No-Win Scenarios", are there third options? Whats the truth of this?  (Read 309 times)


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Wanted to put this in a gaming section - couldn't figure out which one....

The New movie version of STAR TREK re-visits the idea of the "No-Win Scenario" that was introduved in ST II: The Wrath of Khan.

Are there really such things as No Win Scenarios?
Or are there usually third and fourth options to either winning or dying?
The kind of solutions that problem solvers and maybe adrenalin junkies with really good training can come up with?

Do any of ther REAL military services do these kinds of training situations for officers anmd the leadership track?

Are sunch 'no-win scenarios' comparable to those "Emo-Tourism" things we've discissed on these forums?

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"No-Win Scenarios", are there third options? Whats the truth of this?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2009, 05:28:47 PM »
I'd say it's entirely possible to truly get caught up in a no-win scenario but they might not happen as often as various forms of entertainment would make it seem.  They do however make for an intense dramatic story so I'm not surprised how often we see them.
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"No-Win Scenarios", are there third options? Whats the truth of this?
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2009, 05:58:27 PM »
To the best of my knowledge the military does not train anyone in handling no win senarios.  Nor do they spend any time teaching that there is no such thing as a...

At its best its a literary device, and a not particularly good one.  Kirk, in this case, may actually be the right one here: if you are in a 'no win situation' you aren't trying hard enough to win.   The only time you really REALLY are in a no-win situation, in real life, is when you've given up and stop trying.

History has demonstrated this time and again.  Marathon and Thermapolae both come to mind. That dude that knocked out Mike Tyson? yeah, him too.

In order to create a 'no win' situation it is necessary to artificially restrict the options for the person in that situation. Rules, if you will.

Bujold has an interesting one in one of her Miles Vorkosigan books, where in his military training he's given a situation involving toxic gas and a malfunctioning  emergency oxygen system. Only one member of the crew could possibly survive, and then barely. With his simple pocket knife (equivilent) he splices IV tubing from the medical kit and provides enough oxygen for everyone, 'winning' his kobiyashi maru quite handily.

Kirk, of course, is dealing with a computer program senario, and as anyone whose played video games regularly can attest, the programmers ALWAYS cheat for the computer.  Kirk can't win not because he's outnumbered but because 'chance' has been utterly subverted by the program to make sure everything 'possible' in the program will fail.  Kirk, of course, wins by hacking the program.

Fatalism is not something to cultivate in the military, I think.  It can serve its purposes in the rank and file (See also:Bushido), but when applied to officers it creates an appalling lack of creativity and strategic thought, the tendancy to look at problems and just 'give up' rather than seek solutions. Its bad for morale in general.  Spock's 'lesson' is quite... illogical.
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"No-Win Scenarios", are there third options? Whats the truth of this?
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2009, 02:53:26 AM »
I'd note that the scenario's presented a bit differently in the two movies, at least in the degree of specificity with which they show Kirk's solution. Also, the motivation for the scenario.

In training/evaluation I believe that no-win scenarios can be useful in seeing just how far someone will keep struggling mentally and emotionally. If there's a win condition then really haven't tested someone's limits.

They can also test flexibility as rigid adherence to predefined objectives (i.e. fixed definition of "winning" and "losing") isn't always desirable. For example given the rules of the game I'm pretty sure the real test is when the player realizes that survival is impossible, and must quickly adapt to a win condition of avoiding capture and inflicting maximum losses on the enemy. For this to be effective the nature of the game has to be kept secret.

In real life any situation where you lose had to have become a no-win at some point--after that, recovery was impossible. It's more a question of how the individual defines and executes goals to prevent reaching an unrecoverable situation.


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"No-Win Scenarios", are there third options? Whats the truth of this?
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2009, 08:24:31 AM »
They did something just like that in Next G, when that obnoxious Crusher guy has to pull out two people from a fire... he just decides guy number two can walk for himself, and leaves with the injured one. By making that decision, and therefore "losing", failing to save one of them, he "wins", he passes the test, and is acclaimed by everybody and their aunts as the next Chuck Norris.
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"No-Win Scenarios", are there third options? Whats the truth of this?
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2009, 08:49:42 PM »
There's a novel KOBIYASHI MARU that details how the rest of the bridge officers of original series dealt with the No Win scenario. McCoy didn't take it, the rest of the stories were pretty good. Scotty came as close to beating it as anyone could. His story was awesome.

The Next Generation story that most closely resembles it isn't the Wesley Crusher episode Sunboy was talking about, it was a late season episode called TO THINE OWN SELF. Troi is trying to take a bridge officer's test, and discovers the only way to win is to order Geordi to die.

My entire D&D career has either been about facing or creating the No Win scenario. I have no respect for people who give up- in Chess, in Magic: The Gathering, in life. Never give up, never surrender.