May 23, 2005

Lucas Apologism

Posted in General at 3:20 pm by Ian

There are NO Episode III spoilers in this post.

Like many Star Wars fans, I have had quite a good laugh at George Lucas’s expense when Obi-Wan utters the single most absurd line in the entire trilogy

Only Imperial Stormtroopers are this precise.

That crazy old wizard’s finally lost it, we think. Stormtroopers can’t hit anything.

But after careful thought, I realized that ol’ Ben was right (from a certain point of view). Due to an unfortunate (and unforseen) combination of poor multi-agent algorithms and the Peter principle, Stormtroopers are both precise and incapable of hitting the broad side of a Star Destroyer.

First, we must consider what we mean by precise The dictionary definition is of little help, because what we really want is the meaning Obi-Wan would have used. And Jedi, like Batman, are scientists. So, realize that precision and accuracy are very different sorts of things to science. This (blatantly ripped off) chart should clarify things.
And by looking briefly at a sample target used in Stormtrooper readiness training, we see that Stormtroopers are neither precise nor accurate taken as a whole. But perhaps each Stormtrooper taken individually is precise. Since we know that Stormtroopers were cloned and exactingly trained, they must have been trained to fire in such a grid pattern, the net effect of a large-scale Stormtrooper assault being a kind of shotgun effect: very effective at defeating opponents such as Jedi, who can predict blaster shots. They might be able to dodge one or two blasters, but they would be helpless against a distributed attack.

But that still doesn’t explain the fact that they consistently fire around our heroes. Where are all the troops who should fire directly at the enemy? The answer is simple.

The Peter principle states

In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.

After continual war for nearly 20 years, it’s only natural that the best and brightest of the group would have all been promoted to higher levels within the Imperial Forces, stripping the ground troops of all those originally assigned to fire directly at foes. And, since the upper echelons of the Imperial Forces are not particularly forgiving of their underlings mistakes, the knowledge was lost forever.



  1. Victor said,

    Stormtroopers are actually highly trained, picked from the best of the best of Imperial troops, as evidenced by how quickly they took over the blockade runner in ANH. Efficient, deadly and force-augmented they are feared throughout the galaxy.
    It’s only because of the Hero Invincibility Effect that they’re such poor soldiers.

    Also, stormtroopers aren’t clones. Clone soldiers pretty much ceased to exist after the Clone Wars until Thrawn created a clone army for himself.

  2. Ian said,

    I see I have met my match.

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