Mr. Spock of the original TV series Star Trek is the classic Analyst. He is driven by logic and firmly believes—actually he knows—there is one best way to do things. In The Art of Thinking, Allen Harrison and Robert Bramson describe the Analyst as one of the five styles of thinking. (Ranging from right brain to left, these are personified as the Synthesist, the Idealist, the Pragmatist, the Analyst, and the Realist.) But Gene Roddenberry depicted the Analyst earlier—in the character of Mr. Spock. Spock was brought to life by the acute interpretation of Leonard Nimoy who wrote two memoirs about his experience that seem to highlight his ambivalence about the role, perhaps due to the internal schism of the character: I Am Not Spock and I Am Spock.
Throughout the Star Trek series there is a constant struggle between Captain Kirk's closest advisors. Mr. Spock presents the analytical, logical thing to do—which sometimes appears to be heartless and cruel, even shocking. Dr. McCoy (played with embarrassing realism and humanness by the late, great DeForest Kelley) insists on the human thing to do. The character of Dr. McCoy matches remarkably well with the Idealist of Harrison and Bramson. The Idealist has high ethical standards, elevates people over facts, focuses on a holistic approach, and trusts his intuition over logic or "the one best way."
Debates rage between Spock and McCoy who try to sway Captain Kirk to their way of solving a crisis. Often the suggestions they make to Kirk are unacceptable to him, and he demands a third alternative to resolve the dilemma he faces. Interestingly, Kirk is the Pragmatist. He is humorous, personal, enthusiastic, tactical, and sometimes appears insincere. Where McCoy may be a "Bleeding Heart" and Spock a "Great Stone Face," Kirk is a "Politician."
But Star Trek fans (and some of them are rocket scientists) know that Mr. Spock is the real hero of Star Trek. There are times when the Analyst must prevail. There are times when you want the one, tried-and-true, best-and-only way to do something.
During brain surgery for example. You don't want creativity— you want perfection.
Often rocket scientists are thought to be pure Analysts, even the epitome of what Analyst means. And certainly there are times to emulate the Analyst—to be Mr. Spock.
But as we have seen throughout this book, the rocket scientist must draw from the full spectrum of the styles of thinking, so well described by Harrison and Bramson.
Was this article helpful?