IDIC (glossary term)

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If you're looking for fanworks titled IDIC, see that disambiguation.

Synonyms: I.D.I.C., Kol-Ut-Shan
See also: Vulcan, Your Kink Is Not My Kink
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IDIC is a canonical term from Star Trek: The Original Series and stands for "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations." In Star Trek canon, IDIC is a Vulcan philosophy and also a prestigious Vulcan award of merit. The phrase in Vulcan is Kol-Ut-Shan.[1]

"The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."

"And the ways our differences combine to create meaning and beauty."
-- Miranda and Spock, "Is There In Truth No Beauty?" (Star Trek: The Original Series)

"We've each learned to be delighted with what we are. The Vulcans learned that centuries before we did."
"It is basic to the Vulcan philosophy, sir. The combination of a number of things to make existence worthwhile."
-- Kirk and Spock, "The Savage Curtain" (Star Trek: The Original Series)

In my time, we knew not of Earthmen. I am pleased to see that we have differences. May we together become greater than the sum of both of us.

-- 'Surak', "The Savage Curtain" (Star Trek: The Original Series) [2]

The Philosophy

Gene Roddenberry originated the IDIC philosophy as a Vulcan belief that "beauty, growth, progress -- all result from the union of the unlike". The circle and triangle combine to produce the gemstone in the center as the union of words and music creates song, or the union of marriage creates children. [3] Star Trek fandom quickly co-opted the IDIC philosophy and internalized it to the point where it has become a cornerstone of real world fannish interactions. [4] "IDIC" is often used in fandom as shorthand for "To each her own," or to indicate non-judgement of fans with different preferences. [5]

Because for all that Trek was supposedly about New Worlds and New Civilization, when it was at its best it was always about understanding youself by seeing yourself through new eyes. IDIC isn't about notching some kind of cosmic bedpost, it's about the way that listening to a thousand different viewpoints is still not enough to tell the whole story - but that doesn't mean you stop asking. [6]

However, some fans are "turned off" by the Doylist revelation that the introduction of the IDIC symbol was pushed into the show by Gene Roddenberry, as a commercial for IDIC merchandise. [7] The practice of offering a premium within a program (for kids or adults) is as old as radio. Roddenberry may have been thinking of this practice when he thought of offering the IDIC to fans.[8]


Advertisement for the IDIC in Inside Star Trek 12, May 1969.

Fans first heard of the IDIC in the summer of 1968 via a "Vulcan Pendent" announcement, probably written by Roddenberry himself and published in the first issue of Inside Star Trek (July 1968, pp. 15–16). It describes "ardent rock hound and amateur lapidary" Roddenberry as having come up with the Vulcan philosophy after he presented Leonard Nimoy with a unique "hand-crafted piece of jewelry," a "pendent" [sic] of polished yellow gold (circle) and florentined white gold (triangle), with a stone of brilliant white fabulite — an artificial gem "developed by the laser industry and used in space mechanisms for its optical qualities," and thus well-suited as a gift for an actor in a science fiction show. Readers were encouraged to submit their interest in such a product to the then-Star Trek Enterprises mail order firm. It was noted that "less expensive materials" would keep costs down. The IDIC was first offered for sale in May 1969, first as a special announcement sent out to fans and then on page 4 of Inside Star Trek 12.

The Vulcan IDIC pendant was designed by Gene Roddenberry as a marketing premium long before the third season. As early as the end of the first season, fans of the show had begun writing in asking for copies of the scripts, film clip frames, etc., and these were soon sold through Roddenberry's "Lincoln Enterprises", run by Majel Barrett. As evidenced in some of his letters and memos, Roddenberry was fond of circle-and-triangle designs and had wanted to use them for purposes of theatrical unity as early as the first season's "The Return of the Archons".

According to the blog Star Trek Fact Check, "Roddenberry first tried to include the IDIC at the end of 'Spock's Brain"... In a July 10, 1968 memo to Fred Freiberger, Roddenberry outlined his idea for a scene with the IDIC. Perhaps emphasizing the importance the jewelry had to Roddenberry, the memo was titled 'Spock's Medallion.'

"This proposed epilogue began with Uhura presenting Spock with 'a boxed item from the junior officers of the vessel, which they have had made up to show their delight that Spock has been brought back to life.' Inside the box, of course, is the IDIC medallion, which Roddenberry says 'has great meaning to all Vulcans' and is 'like the 'cross' to Christians and similar symbols to other religions and creeds. ... Freiberger elected to ignore Roddenberry's story suggestion, likely because it was too late to implement in the episode."[9]

Roddenberry was successful in inserting the IDIC into the episode "Is There In Truth No Beauty?". According to William Shatner in Star Trek Memories, the book about TOS he dictated to Chris Kreski, Roddenberry sent down several pages of new script for the dinner scene, in which Spock was to give a long-winded explanation of the philosophy. The actors all knew IDIC was a mere advertising toy. The episode's director, Ralph Senensky, said that Leonard Nimoy first phoned producer Fred Freiberger about the IDIC debacle; Freiberger wouldn't do anything, so Leonard called Roddenberry. While Senensky remembered Roddenberry "vehemently denied these accusations" that the IDIC was a premium,[10] Shat said in his book that Roddenberry was honest about that.[11] However, the actors refused to film the scene until Roddenberry cut out the lengthy exposition.

In I Am Spock, Leonard Nimoy remembered objecting to the ethics of a product insertion. While he liked the IDIC philosophy, he didn't appreciate Spock being used as a "billboard" and "the whole incident was rather unpleasant; Roddenberry was peeved at me for not wanting to help his piece of mail-order merchandise get off to a resounding start, and Fred Freiberger was peeved at me for going over his head."[12][9]

Fan Uses of IDIC

Star Trek fans were immediately attracted to the IDIC and Lincoln Enterprises was soon flooded with orders. The symbol was subsequently offered as pendants in three sizes and as earrings, pins and patches. The largest pendant went for $7.50. Apparently Roddenberry failed to trademark the symbol, or wanted to leave it free for public use like Gerald Holtom's original peace symbol. Today, the IDIC symbol is printed on t-shirts and hats, and has even turned up on scrabble tiles for use by crafters.

Many fannish institutions have taken their name from IDIC or related subjects. IDICon, a K/S con was held in Houston throughout the mid-'80s. The Surak Awards were named after Surak, founder of the Vulcan IDIC philosophy.

There have been several Star Trek zines and newsletters called IDIC, and others with IDIC themes, such as the United Federation of Planets Journal, which has the subtitle, "Dedicated to the Universal Understanding of I.D.I.C."

In 2009, Vividcon's Challenge show had IDIC as its prompt.

A Fan Comments

  • In a 1985 issue of Interstat, a fan responds to a new subscriber's complaint about fans arguing with each other: "Those who bellow 'IDIC!' loudest in public are often those who displaythe crudest understanding of the not a delicate, hothouse, faraway philosophical idea. It's a tough, adaptable, demanding, way of living one's life. IDIC, when confined to a television or movie screen or to the printed page, is a very pretty thing. IDIC in everyday life isn't quite so attractive; it's often aggravating as hell and ugly as sin... [reading Interstat, I] began to realize that what I was witnessing—the blood feuds, the elite alliances, the extravagant praise and vitriolic condemnations—was IDIC in action. Within the pages of Interstat...within ST fandom itself...IDIC works. Oh it creaks and groans and more often than not seems past the point of total disintegration...but it does, somehow, hold together."


  1. IDIC on Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wiki
  2. Cheap Thoughts: Variety, the Spice of Life
  3. Inside Star Trek 1, p. 15.
  4. Star trek and sacred ground by Jennifer E. Porter and Darcee L. McLaren.
  5. bradygirl_12, Recs, The Nature Of BDSM, D/s, and Other Things I understand I'm probably in the minority with this opinion but that's fine. I am happy to honor IDIC. :) Posted Jan 3, 2010. Last accessed October 25, 2010.
  6. melannen, In which I cannily pretend to talk about Star Trek, but am actually talking about fanfic instead. Posted May 4, 2007. Last accessed October 25, 2010.
  7. kindkit, TOS reviews I sort of enjoyed the discussion of the IDIC symbol (yay Kirk for coming to Spock's defense) but knowing that it was just a marketing ploy by Gene Roddenberry rather palls my enthusiasm. Posted July 10, 2009. Last accessed October 25, 2010.
  8. He stopped just short of offering them to viewers for three Geritol labels and a dime. For some background and examples of radio premiums, see Jim Harmon, The Great Radio Heroes (MacFarland, 2001), and the website Old-Time Radio Premiums.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Don't Know Much About Vulcan Philosophy" in Star Trek Fact Check, August 23, 2013.
  10. Ralph Senensky, "Is There In Truth No Beauty?: Filmed July 1968", in [Ralph's Cinema Trek] probably in March 2011.
  11. William Shatner with Chris Kreski, Star Trek Memories (1993), p.287-289.
  12. Leonard Nimoy, I Am Spock (1995), p.123-124
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