Technobabble

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Technobabble refers to the rampant use of scientific or -- more often -- pseudoscientific jargon within a science fiction program or in a debate. Star Trek, particularly recent Star Trek, is notorious for excessive technobabble to the point that fans and critics often refer to the practice as Treknobabble. While it usually tends to take place in fictional works, conspiracy theorists of all kinds are often masters of using technobabble to try to make their arguments sound smarter than they actually are.

Treknobabble

"It's some sort of chromodynamic module powered by a tri-polymer plasma." -- B'Elanna Torres, VOY "Prototype"
Freely translated: "It's a color-changing part powered by the flame from a mix of three plastics."

As the example shows, technobabble is often meaningless, randomly throwing scientific-sounding terms together with no regard for whether they actually have any relationship.

Sometimes, legitimate technical jargon is referred to as "technobabble" by those who do not understand the jargon. Understandably, such people cannot tell the difference between legitimate jargon and random terms. It seems that writers who abuse technobabble often assume that their viewers will not know or care about the difference, an attitude that many who do know the difference find incredibly offensive.

Chuck Sonnenburg described the situation in one of his Voyager reviews:

"The reason is because, regardless of their made up physics, they're still using real terms in improper ways. If you watched The Longest Yard, and they said that so-and-so was such a great football player because he was a goalie for the Brooklyn Red Socks, where he played with Vince Lombardi and O. J. Simpson in the '62 Superbowl at Montreal, you don't need to know much about football to know it's wrong, but the more you know the worse it gets."

Star Wars Technobabble

Not to be outdone, George Lucas brought technobabble into Star Wars: The Phantom Menace with the introduction of midichlorians.

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