GENERICO.ruScienceA strange prophecy about the future has been discovered in a popular TV series.

A strange prophecy about the future has been discovered in a popular TV series.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine predicted one of the leading crises in the United States

In the 1990s, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine predicted a dystopian future in 2024 year in the Star Trek universe. Now the actions in the episodes have parallels with reality.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine predicted one of the leading crises in the USPhoto: Still from the series

It's always interesting to see fictional stories set in the distant future as a vision of what could have happened. However, the war described in 1984 by George Orwell never took place. Just like Stanley Kubrick's Trek, 2001: A Space Odyssey was not planned for the new millennium.

The Star Trek universe also inevitably faced the fact that several of the series' predicted events in its timeline turned out to be incorrect.

In the original 1960s series, the most famous villain, Khan, introduced viewers to the “Eugenics Wars,” a massive conflict that arose in the 1990s over experiments in human genetic engineering.

Subsequent episodes predicted more difficult times, with the outbreak of World War III scheduled for 2026, followed by an era of “post-nuclear horror”. These predictions of doom are key to the franchise's backstory, outlining humanity's difficult journey into the idealistic 23rd and 24th centuries where the action is largely set.

According to the third installment of the 1990s series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, one of humanity's key mistakes is set to happen in 2024. But, unlike other predictions of a global catastrophe, everything here is more at a primitive level.

The crisis in question is homelessness, and humanity’s conscious avoidance of solving the problem, which is a fatal mistake. The question is addressed in the two-part episode “Past Tense.” In this part, the main character of the series, Commander Jake Sisko, and his crew are accidentally transported back in time from their 24th century starship to San Francisco in 2024.

According to the series, Sisko is an expert on 21st century history and understands that the date of their arrival is of great importance. The hero recalls that the problem will lead to “some of the most violent riots in American history” and adds that this uprising will “change public opinion. The United States will finally begin to correct the social problems it has been struggling with for more than a century.”

The concept of sanctuary neighborhoods reflects the U.S. government's approach to homelessness in the 1990s, according to Carsey School of Public Policy senior fellow Steven Pimpara. He also notes that the situation with homeless people on the streets of New York is no better now. The city authorities are silent about the real number of homeless people.

“Sanctuary areas are simply a means to remove homeless people from the public eye,” he tells the British publication. “We see this in examples from the time the episodes were written. For example, in San Francisco, when Art Agnos was mayor, there was a group of homeless people who set up an unauthorized encampment outside City Hall. It was called Camp Agnos. He called the police and razed him to the ground.”

Pimpar also cites Rudy Giuliani's policies as mayor of New York in the 1990s as part of this approach to removing homelessness from the public eye. This was despite the fact that just a few years earlier, President Ronald Reagan had signed the Stuart B. McKinney Homeless Relief Act, which provided federal funds for homeless assistance programs.

In 1990, the U.S. Census Bureau found that there were 228,621 homeless people nationwide. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that number will rise to approximately 653,100 by 2023. But collecting accurate data on homelessness is notoriously difficult. “The data on this issue is not very good even today,” explains Pimpar. “In the 1990s it was even worse. So, you need to take these numbers seriously.”

However, Pimpar believes that this apparent negative trend is caused by policies that only seek to hide the problem rather than address its causes. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's point about sanctuary areas didn't come true.

“We don’t have these walled fortresses where we force the homeless into,” comments Pimpar, adding that “we have all kinds of sanctioned camps.” For example, San Diego has “safe sleep sites” – sanctioned campgrounds opened in response to the city's ban on public camping.

Pimpar argues that these sanctioned campgrounds are “better than nothing, for many people, because often the alternative is nothing.” But even if these policies are more benevolent than the series' sanctuary districts, they are still just temporary solutions.

Star Trek never promised a utopian tomorrow, admits series graphic designer Michael Okuda. In fact, many episodes warn of what can happen if we make the wrong choices. However, Star Trek says that tomorrow can be a better day if we are smart, if we work hard, and if we are ethical, compassionate and inclusive.”

Pimpar highlights one line from the episodes as key to this idea: “Everyone tells themselves this, and nothing ever changes.”

Although the predictions for 2024 seem literally wrong, the episodes carry an allegorical truth that shows how the United States is approaching the problem of homelessness.


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