President Obama drew a lot of criticism from sci-fi fans last week, when he conflated Star Trek and Star Wars in referencing a "Jedi mind-meld" during a press conference on the looming sequester. The gaffe quickly spawned a satirical #ObamaSciFiQuotes hashtag on Twitter, while the White House seized upon the opportunity to appropriate the sound bite for its own Twitter campaign. Both fan bases searched for explanations for Obama's apparent misstep, with some speculating that the President may have been confused by two forthcoming J.J. Abrams films, but according to MIT's Chris Peterson, his blunder may have been more calculated — and contextually appropriate — than it seemed.
"The needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many Bothans who died to bring us this information" #ObamaSciFiQuotes— Miranda Celeste Hale (@mirandachale) March 1, 2013
"I find your lack of logic disturbing." #ObamaSciFiQuotes— A Geek Mom (Shannon) (@ageekmom) March 2, 2013
Peterson's defense of Obama's apparent mixup revolves around his close reading of Star Trek's Vulcan mind meld and the Jedi Meld references in the officially-licensed Star Wars Expanded Universe series of books, comics, and other media. The former, per Wikipedia, allows for "sharing thoughts, experiences, memories, and knowledge with another individual," while the latter allows a group of Jedi to connect their brains and act as one person — a crucial distinction within the context of Obama's reference to convincing Republicans to "do what's right." Obama's portmanteau, Peterson argues, exhibits a "nuanced and considerable command" of the broader Star Wars universe, though it's obvious the president wasn't drawing from a wealth of Jedi knowledge.